Monday, December 22, 2014

Stride Run Streak

A local store 'Strides', every December, encourages/challenges runners to run every day for the month of December.  It's become known amongst the crazies (er runners) as the Stride Run Streak.

The first I heard of it was last year, deemed it crazy, and went about regular holiday prep.  This year with a suggestion from a friend, I jumped on board.  How hard can this be to run a mile every day?

A few people would say to me "You are really going to run on Christmas Day?"  I always thought "sure why not?"  Then "oh wait, did I tell my husband that?"  Thankfully, as usual, he is more than supportive of this craziness.  Only laughing slightly when I get off the treadmill at 10:30 at night.

I've run in Banff, many times on the treadmill in front of the Christmas tree, in the afternoon with the kids around me and my two year taking photos.  I've run three times in jeans, too tired at 10pm at night to change.  Even once in pyjamas.  Once I hit Day 16, the nights I really wanted to quit, I'd tell myself "I'm over halfway, why quit now?"

I've uploaded all of my runs to Strava.  And was pretty amazed last night when I saw that this month compares pretty closely in mileage and hours, to my heaviest training month (April) leading up to the Calgary Marathon beginning of June.  In April I ran 15 hours, and 141 kilometers.  At Day 22 today I sit at 10 hours and 102.  Not too far off and still another 10 days to go.  Those miles really do add up!

There are some great things I've taken from this.  The online comraderie of other streakers on Facebook, from a community I don't normally run with as the store is down South, has been really fun.  I never thought I'd be able to run every single day in a row.  I can.  That from someone who for the past year plus, has struggled to get in three runs a week.  It's great to see what I actually have in me heading into marathon training in January.

I have a secret goal of a certain distance to finalize all of this on December 31st.  When I finish I plan on treating myself to some new run gear.  Maybe a new hat, and a new Buff.  Then I might, might, take January 1st off.  But then again, it would be a nice way to start a New Year :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Checking in on the Christmas Crazies

How are you all doing?  Christmas is now just 20 days away.  Holy cats!  And with the Christmas Season comes all the craziness that goes along with it.

My task this week has been to wrap and mail all the things that need to get to other places.  I got my last package out this morning, but still have Christmas cards to go. On top of Christmas I also have my sons birthday to prepare for, so have an additional list for that.  This week was getting out his birthday invitations.  Seems really early for a January birthday, but with Christmas Holidays in there, if they didn't get out the beginning of December, there was no other time to invite his school friends.  Phew!

Amidst all the busyness of lists and things to do, I also try to find an overall sense of peace and calm.  Other than a few items, all of my holiday shopping was done in November.  I really like not having to rush to stores in December.  My husband leaves all his shopping for me until Christmas Eve Day.  I have no idea how this doesn't drive him crazy.  He also manages to get it done in only a few hours.  I'm always so impressed by that (and glad I'm not the one doing it!).

I find my knitting has started coming with me every where so I can get a few stitches in amongst normal daily life, and I'm staying up later just to try and get projects done.  Every Christmas I tell myself I'll only do a few handmades, but the list always grows.  I just can't help it, but that is a whole other post.

I'm getting items crossed off, and other things added on.  How are you doing?

I came across this video on Facebook yesterday - it made me smile.  I hope it makes you smile too.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Verdict is In!

Last week I went and had my hair cleaned up by my hairdresser I've been seeing for a number of years now.  I was a little bit nervous about the appointment as it was my first cut since going product free.  This could go two ways.  My hair was in horrible condition and WHY would I do this? or Wow your hair is awesome!

When I first sat down in the chair and told her I was no longer using product, she laughed and said "You're no fun".

As she started cutting my hair, halfway through her tune changed.  She said my hair (which is very fine) felt thicker.  That the hair cuticle itself seemed thicker, and my hair was healthier!

Product free for the win!  She was then very interested to hear about my switch to baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and about a month ago, the move to using Rocky Mountain Soap products.

After my last post about going shampoo free, a friend and reader suggested the Rocky Mountain Soap products.  It's a perfect fit.  The products come unscented, and they also have no sulfates (the shampoo even has apple cider vinegar in it!).  Win!  I find I'm using the shampoo and conditioner just as frequently as I was using the baking soda combo (about every 4 days).

After the trip to my hairdresser I'm now feeling even better about my choice to drop sulfate hair products. What about you.  Would you ever make the switch?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Keeping Your Water Cozy

There are a few essential items you need if you're a runner, to keep you outside during the cold winter months.  Some good grips on your shoes so you don't slip on ice, appropriate running gear so you can stay as warm as possible, and a way to keep your hydration from freezing.  Oh yes, a real issue.

It dips below -10C and making sure you have hydration (& fuel!) for your longer runs becomes a real issue.  Tucking it inside your jacket, putting it inside your mitts (your gels and bars anyways), and even inside your bra (yes I've done this with my phone).

Last year to get around this, I sewed a cozy for my phone, and a cozy for my water bottle.  It was pre hydration pack days, and the days of my Iphone 5 battery that would die if it 0C.  I took some quilt batting, and some minky fabric left over from my sons baby quilt, and made little pockets.  Because my phone was so finicky, it was only taken out in dire conditions because as soon as it was exposed to the elements.  Zip it had no battery and turned itself off.  The comical part to this, is once it was warmed back up, turn it on, battery was back to where it had been.  Anyways, the water bottle cozy also worked well.  It fit into my waist pack, and between the cozy and flipping my bottle upside down, I was in business.

But I switched to a hydration vest last year, and the day before the Last Chance a couple weekends back, I called my brother in a mild panic.  How do you keep your hydration pack from freezing?  He wore it under his jacket.  I got off the phone and thought there HAD to be a better way.  So as a crafter and sewer, I set to work.

For the brief mockery I got, this hydration pack cozy was AMAZING.  My water folks was room temp until 16K, and it NEVER froze.  Nor did any of fuel.  I had the pack under my jacket, and my fuel inside the vest.  Not only did it keep my water warm, it also kept me warm!  The quilt batting on my back proved to be a nice source of warmth.

Here's how you too can make your own if you're crafty inclined:

You need to be able to have the cozy come off easily, so either a zipper needs to be put around, or in my case, I used a metal snap closure.

First, trace around the outside of your pack where your hydration pouch sits.  You need to cut this "pattern" out of both your quilt batting (twice), and once with a cover fabric (or twice if you also want to cover the back).  The back of mine is only the quilt batting.  For the purposes going forward I'll describe how I constructed it for my UltraSpire vest, as each pack will be slightly different.

First you need to attach your metal snap to both pieces of quilt batting.  Mine had prongs that flipped out, so I just needed to push the prongs through the batting, then push the prongs out sidways.  With that done, I sewed together my flannel with one of the quilt battings using a 1/4" seam, flipped inside out and pressed (piece A).  For tidiness purposes, I took the second piece of batting and sewed the edge in 1/4" (piece B).  I then sewed piece A to piece B, only along the BOTTOM until it hit the lower set of ties.  Hydration packs need to be washed, and I didn't want anything complicated to have to take apart on a weekly basis.

Side view so you can see that only the bottom of piece A and B are sewn together, leaving the side open.
So how does it actually stay on??  Along the top edge, both piece A, and piece B have a piece of velcro in the corner, sewed down on a diagonal to keep the velcro secure.

And voila!  One hydration pack cozy to keep you, and your water, nice and warm.  A fellow runner commented after the run that all of her gels were frozen as well as her water.  That was the point I was really glad I took the few (maybe half hour?) to sew this cozy together.

If you make one, I'd love to see how yours turns out.  Keep warm friends!

Monday, November 24, 2014

'Stache with Stash!

I recently did some stash busting, to create this adorable 'stache for my eldest daughter.

We had a week of incredible cold (temps in the negative teens), and she asked to wear her scarf to school.  A fleece scarf that came free with her snowsuit, when I think she was 2.  A knitting Mom can do better than that!  Plus she was using it as a balaclava and was always having to ask someone to tie it behind her head.

I turned to an online group of friends on Ravelry who suggested Incognito.  Seriously, how fun!

This knits up in no time flat, and there are about six possible 'staches to choose from.

I first knit poirot, which unfortunately was too wide and narrow and didn't look like a moustache at all when my daughter wore it.

This one is just perfect and was an alternate moustache a Ravelry user created.

Bonus is I didn't have to buy any yarn for this project.  All stash I had tucked away.  The pink and purple are Cascade 220 and from a ballet bag I knit for my daughter 4 years ago.  The 'stache is created from a hat I made for her I believe when she was 2!

The weather has warmed up, but we are all ready for the cold when it hits again now :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Man Colds and Running

I've come down with a man cold.  I explained this to my husband last night who looked at me and questioned what exactly that is.  I chuckled to myself that a man doesn't know the term 'man cold'.

My head feels like it is in a bit of a vice, I'm cold, congested, having trouble sleeping, and generally would like to crawl into bed and stay there for a long time.  Amazingly Wednesday night I did go to bed at 7:30pm. I usually think I'm pretty good about having a cold, but this one, despite that I would consider it mild, is doing me in.

There are some positives with having a man cold.  We are hunkering down at home, I'm casting on some new knits (can't show you though, top secret for Christmas!), and drinking lots of tea.  The kiddos are probably happy too as they are getting a bit more run of the house ha ha.

The downside, other than all the symptoms listed above, is I'm not getting my runs in.  I was determined to try and run at least 3 or 4 times a week this month, and for various reasons am still only fitting in 2.  Shoot!

One switch is my youngest is no longer napping, which made fitting in a run tricky during the day, as her naptime used to be my treadmill time.  I've started running while she is awake.  I haven't attempted more than 5K.  That seems like a healthy amount of time for toddler freedom ha ha.

Here are some snapshots of her antics (which are actually really fantastically well behaved).  My hope is as I do this weekly, it will become part of hers (and mine) normal routine, and I won't need to worry about why it's so quiet when she leaves the front room where the treadmill is.  (Can I also say I think it's incredibly cute that 'treadmill' is part of her regular vocabulary?  Or that at class yesterday she recognized I was wearing 'running socks!').  Training them early ;)

I need to keep working at getting more running time per week, and making that a priority in my schedule.  Toddler Freedom treadmill runs are helping, but I need to fit in a couple more.  First I need to get over this cold (and get some more sleep!), then will work on getting my feet out there more often!

Now to go drink some more tea, and find those needles :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

#flatrunner (and Last Chance Half Race Review)

If you run (or even if you don't), and have an Instagram account, go check out the #flatrunner.  I stumbled across it one day and it gave me a chuckle.  It also serves as great inspiration for running costume possibilities!

Last Sunday I ran my last race of the year.  Saturday it was mid teens here, but with a warning Arctic air was coming and it would be our last day of Fall (er more like Summer really).  It was really hard going to bed Saturday night knowing we would wake up to Winter the next morning.  Even harder knowing I had a half marathon to run it in!

The race started at 10am, which

at first I thought would be great giving a chance to sleep in (har har with three kids), and have a bit of a relaxing morning without the usual crazy morning race prep.  I found 10:00 to be too late.  I was really ready to go by 9am.  I also  knew that the temp (with windchill) of -15C was going to continue to drop throughout the day.  Let's get this done!

All runners hunkered inside until we started shuffling out to the cold at 9:55.  As many races are going, this was a no headphone event.  Some still wear them, but as mentioned in my previous post, I'm trying to learn to do without.  Both my Nano and Ipod batteries were low, so it was an easy decision to leave them in the car.  I also left my phone behind (so no photos to share which is unfortunate as there were some great opportunities), but it was equally nice to disconnect.

I had moments where my elbows were freezing (around 7K), and then my hands (around 12K), and alot of time to think, partly about my running gear.  I have some FAVORITE pieces.  I've been running off and on now since 2002, and most of my pieces date back to those early days.  They have held up well, and some pieces I'm starting to replace, but trudging along on Sunday, I was sporting my favorites, and thought I'd share them.

Here's my flat runner, reconstructed after the race, with the help of my kids (leg position thanks to my son!).

My favorite pieces are:

Sugoi Speedster - really can't say enough about this top, and it's unfortunate to see it's impossible to purchase now.  It has mitts that fold down from the cuffs, and a hood you can flip up.  I can't count how many times during the race this past weekend that I flipped the hood up or down when I needed just that little bit more warmth.  And those mitts that flip out, BEST thing when my hands were frozen and needed one more layer.

Sugoi Midzero Bun Toaster - I'm pretty sure these are what mine are anyways.  They have wind protection which is awesome to keep my thighs and butt warm.  These are a must for me in the winter.

Compression socks - the ones pictured are from Lunatik athletiks.  I'm new to wearing compression socks on my longer runs, but these were great as an extra layer of warmth on the weekend.

Sugoi Wind Jacket - I'm not sure what this jacket is even called, that's how old it is, but it's phenomenal.  Has underarm zips, a big zip pocket on the back, and it keeps the wind out.  A good wind protection is essential.  I briefly checked out getting a new one, but can't part with this one yet.

Flip mitts - I love that they can be gloves, or mitts.  Easy to flip the cover back to grab a gel or snack, then flip the top back over for wind protection.

Other random bits shown here are a long bra tank, a toque from Lululemon, my Rudy Project sunglasses,  and Buff.

I decided while running I needed to treat myself after the run to some new gear, and quickly decided it would be a new Speedster.  Since that isn't available now I'm on the search for a great thermal layer.  Do you have a MUST in your wardrobe you would recommend?

Overall, this race was fantastic and I will most likely run it again.  Amazing cheering volunteers (some even with cowbells!), that made the colder weather feel warmer with their enthusiasm.  Aid stations were well stocked (and I took amusement in the fact that the gatorade was a slushie by kilometer 15).  The medals were nothing to rave about, but warm french toast, scrambled eggs, and fruit salad, were delicious to warm up with.

The race ran short with a final distance of 20.7K.  If the distance had been accurate this would have been a personal best for me of 2:03:14.  Unfortunately, the perfectionist in me just can't rationalize with that, given calculators tell me my finish of the actual distance would be closer to 2:05.  Still, I'm really happy with the finish given the weather conditions.  In 2014 I ran 5 half marathons, and each time have slowly chipped back my time.  My first half of the season was 2:15:14, and I have managed to chip off 12 minutes off of  that!

I'm glad I raced it, glad I'm finished it, and happy to have a bit of a break until marathon training starts up again in January.  Until then, going to keep warm and enjoy the upcoming Holiday season.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Winter is a coming!

I have some usual runs I do, while trying to fit running into my life with three little kids.  Usually while my daughter is at her weekly activities and I'm solo without the other two, I will squeeze in a run.  But last week as I dropped her, the sun was already setting by 6:30.  My usual pathway was already dark, and I felt the constant need to check over my shoulder.  As a woman, I just don't feel safe running solo in the dark.  It's a pathway that isn't frequented by many people, and now especially as the light and temperatures dropped, I knew it was my last time on that path for awhile.

This past weekend, snow flurries hit, and once again, I said goodbye to a pathway I have loved.  When I started running again a year ago now, I stayed away from the usual paths travelled by runners, preferring to find community pathways that were a little less travelled.  And I have come to LOVE them.  They are beautiful, quiet, tree lined, and offer a wonderful sense of peace, that I so need in this season of my life.  Snow underfoot, I truly would have done better with snowshoes this past weekend.  And as I plodded along through the snow, I knew it was the last time I would run that path as well.  Less travelled means it isn't cleared by the city.  The time has come I will soon be trudging along with the other crazy winter runners out there, on the paths that are well cleared.

I haven't quite adjusted to the upcoming change in temperature, or the change in  light.  As mentioned above, I'm a scared night runner.  I do have a treadmill, but it's hard to squeeze in a run at home with three little people that are up and about (the littlest no longer naps).  Not to mention, despite the temperatures, running outside is alot more fun than in a living room.  I've been doing alot of thinking of ways that can help me feel more secure as this (sadly) long season of cold winter running approaches.

  • I run with a reflective jacket, but I recently purchased a reflective vest.
  • I don't run with music anymore.  If I'm out at night, it's just me and my thoughts.  I found this extremely difficult at first, but now it is kind of serene.  I feel more secure being able to hear what is around me.
  • I've always done this, but am more cautious now.  I stop at intersections and cross walks and make sure a car is at a complete stop before crossing.  In the past three weeks, I've almost been hit three times.  Cars just do not expect pedestrians out anymore.
  • A headlamp.  I'm thinking about picking one up.
If you are a winter runner, how are you adjusting to this change of season?  What are your tips for staying safe on the road?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lovely Locks?

It has been two months now since I stopped using shampoo and conditioner on my hair.  You can read more about it here.

There was a few times mid September when I thought of tossing the towel in on the whole thing.  Why was I doing this anyways?  Maybe people were staring at my hair everywhere I went thinking "seriously woman? Wash your hair!?"  Then maybe again they're not.  My friends are yet to hold an intervention.

But I did think maybe there was a middle ground.  Shampoos out there that are sulfate free.  What I have found, is that there aren't.  If they don't have sodium laurel sulfate, then they have sodium coco sulfate.  Coco being derived from coconuts.  That seemed like a good alternative.  Coconuts are natural after all.  But the more reading I did, the more I decided that it wasn't really an alternative at all.  Here's one article that talks about the differences between the two.

Deciding I was going to continue with my baking soda and apple cider vinegar routine, I also had to be ok with for me, that means using that treatment about every 4/5 days.  I've read some people end up going an entire month.  I just can't do that.  Maybe it's the oils in my hair, or the running I do, but that seems like the balance I need to not look scary!

Here's the regime I am using:

I take about 1 tbsp of baking soda, and mix in about 2 tbsp of water.  I pour that on my scalp and scrub it in and let it sit.

I rinse with water, then apply the apple cider vinegar solution.  I use about 1 tbsp to 1 cup of water.

I rinse with water, then while still in the shower, comb my hair, and rinse with water again.

So simple, and noyone has yet complained about how I smell either ;)

Negatives to this, is I really hoped it would improve my skin as I struggle with eczema.  I've noticed no real difference.  What keeps me going on this is I used to have incredibly frustrating fly away hair.  That is no longer an issue, and I have more body in my hair as well.  It no longer feels flat and limp.

The next test will be what my hairstylist thinks when I get a hair cut next!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ain't Noyone Have Time for That!

Laundry.  The bane of my existance.  I manage to get laundry washed, but folded and put away is a whole different gamat.  And that being with not having to wash my hubby's stuff, and having help from my big two to get theirs put away.  It just seems never ending.  (Especially after 13 days of sickness, but who is counting).

Regular laundry aside, I've had a basket of handknits sitting in our bathroom for the past two months.

I came clean (ha!) about it yesterday to a friend who chuckled at me.  I haven't been knitting, because I haven't been washing.  And if I'm not finding the time to wash the handknits, then why am I knitting?  It's a bad circle of thought for a knitter to be caught in.

After confessing to my friend, I confessed a little bit broader.  Here was my IG post.

The feedback I got was really lovely.  That these handknits represent alot of love.  That they are precious.  Wash them a bit at a time.  Make a 'pattern' so I don't need to measure each time.  Buy superwash.

I woke up this morning to find a class of my sons had been cancelled, and all of a sudden we had a whole day layed out before us without plans.  It was 8 am and I set to work.  I brought down the entire basket, and am proud to say, in 45 minutes I had washed all but one shawl and a hat, and covered almost my entire bedroom floor in clean handknits.

I used two sinks, a number of times, and I gave up on the wires, the blocking mats (I wouldn't have had enough), and I gave up on the measuring tape.  I washed, I hung, I layed them out scrunching when necessary, and tugging when needed.  I just hope they all will still fit - ha ha!

It feels really good to have this done, and now I am going to do my best to stay on top of it.

And you know what else?  Today is #iloveyarnday.  How appropriate!  I hope to find some time today to pick up those needles and set to work.

Thanks for all the encouragement friends!  I needed that gentle push.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

In Recovery

Two weeks ago my littlest came down with a cough, that at night was much more like croup.  For two nights I had Buckleys rub on her chest, a humidifier going beside her, head propped up, and tylenol administered.  The croup passed, we had a few illness free days, and then she got hit with a bad bout of diarrhea.  That was 10 days ago.  We have been to the Dr twice, have had tests done, and the good news, it isn't bacterial. The bad/sad news is it is taking her a long time to beat it.  I'm also thankful my other kiddos are doing well.  My middle was hit with it for one day, then bounced back quickly with just a lingering head cold.  Needless to say, this past week has seen alot of couch cuddling, quite a few tears and requests of being held, so much less posting, and much less doing.  Which is also ok.  Less can sometimes be more, especially when trying to heal a little person.

Here's what this past week looked like from my phone photo roll:

A morning of treats.  Mac Nut Latte and Applesauce pancakes.
Laundry, so many loads of laundry were done to clean and sanitize.  Getting to actually putting the laundry away though is a task I failed at.  
This was taken on the worst day where peanut wouldn't leave my lap.  I put the littles into the car and got a latte in a drive thru.  The 20 minute drive there, and back, was worth it.
All is not dire in the land of the sick.  There are some sweet snuggles to be had.
Sweet freedom.  Managed to get out for a 12K run this weekend.  A much needed escape.
 I'm hopeful this week will bring some much needed healing to the littlest of our crew.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tis' Almost the Season

Can you  believe that Christmas is almost around the corner?  It's hard to want to believe that given Summer only just ended, Fall has just begun, and the days here are still in the 20's.  But before we know it, Christmas carols will be on the radio!

I like to start shopping early for my family, especially since there are 7 birthdays all celebrated in December and January!  So far I've already picked up my sons 5th (holy cats!) birthday gift, and yesterday out at Costco picked up some stocking stuffers.

As a crafty person I like to make as many of the gifts as I can.  But am also realistic about the amount of time I have, and that frankly, some things are just cheaper bought.

I've had fabric since my eldest was 2, along with a pattern to make her a housecoat.  I pulled out the pattern, measured her now at the age of 7, and was determined to finally make it for her.  Until I realized yesterday the pattern is only appropriate for a toddler.  Hmmmm.  No problem, I'll make it for my littlest and get more fabric for the eldest and the right pattern, but at the back of my mind realizing that the original fabric and pattern cost me close to $50.  That's alot for a housecoat.  And you know what I found yesterday afternoon at Costco?  A purple housecoat, in size 7/8 for $15.  I may be crafty, but I'm also not dumb!  That $15 housecoat entered my cart.

There are a few handmade items on my list though that won't be bumped off.  I have:

A hat for one of my sons teachers
A capelet for my Mom that was meant for her birthday 2 years ago (wow this shows I should not commit to making things as gifts).
The housecoat for my littlest (might as well use up what I have!)
And I'm working on a Lego idea for my son

That list is pretty short, but I know at least the second item will take me quite a while to complete.  My Dad loves handmade socks so if I have time those might be added to the list as well (for either his December birthday OR Christmas!).

How about you?  Have you started planning/plotting/snooping for ideas?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sugar Free Pizza Sauce

One of the items I was surprised to find sugar in, was our go to pizza sauce.  Thankfully, the web turned out this great recipe that was quick to make, and the kids loved too!
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional or sub more olive oil if you're being healthier)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh basil, (i think the gourmet gardens tube from the produce department tastes better in this sauce) chopped *3/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped *1/2 dried
  • 2- 8oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5 tablespoons fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. in a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter and heat until almost shimmering. add the garlic, stirring a few times around the pot and then quickly add the onion powder, red pepper flakes, basil and oregano. stir a few times and allow the herbs to bloom.
  2. add parmesan cheese, and brown sugar and then quickly dump in the tomato sauce, tomato paste and water. stir to combine and bring to a light boil. turn down to low, season to taste and allow to simmer for 1-2 hours for ultimate flavor or use immediately if needed.

The only changes I made to the recipe was substituting a carrot from our garden for the brown sugar.  I read on another pizza recipe site that carrots can help add sweetness (not to mention sneaking extra veggies into the kids).  All three of mine devoured the pizza, the littlest two knowing no difference, and the eldest who knew I had made the sauce and said it was even better than what we had had before!  Win!  Next time I may even add a red pepper.  Sneaky sneaky.

This recipe made up 3 portions worth of sauce.  I portioned out the remainder (we made one pizza to eat) and froze the extra in ziploc bags.  When I know we are having pizza night again, I'll just pull one out the night before to defrost.  (Hint - if you freeze it flat it will defrost quicker!).

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Running with the Dinosaurs

September 13th my family and I hit the road and headed to Drumheller, AB, a short hour and a half away.  Drumheller is known for its' Dinosaurs and Hoodoos. I had signed up to run the half marathon distance of the Dinosaur Run and have been excited for months about the opportunity to run in such a different and stunning landscape.  It was also the inagural year of the marathon, and I wanted to check it out and see what it was like for future possibilities.  Drumheller did not disappoint.

Race package pick up was small but easy to find. Lots of goodies included but non that stick out as WOW that's great I received that.  I am a big fan of the shirt though.  Fun athletic design, and also women specific sizing.

The race was started off by the mayor of Drumheller (!) and they had a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11 prior to the race start.

The entire race was on pathways - but I had no idea how extensive the pathway system was in Drumheller! All you need to do is follow Mile-a-saurus ha ha.

We ran a bit through town, over the bridge, then out towards the museum.  I was concerned the night before we would end up running the highway, but we took a turn off of it and ended up running along the pathway system.  The Tyrell museum was about at the halfway point.

The volunteers on this course were amazing.  Especially since we heard that the Tough Mudder race was out just the weekend before and these same volunteers had helped out with that as well.  For each turn of the course there were volunteers there to make sure we all stayed enroute.  Water stations were every 3K and at one near the finish they were all even dressed up as pirates!

This course is the first I have said I will do every single year.  Everything about it was that great.  And check out the medal!

I shaved an amazing 5 minutes off of my time from my half in July.  So super pumped about that.  Finished in 2:04 and change.

If you are looking for a race not far from Calgary, I would highly recommend you give this one a go.  And with all the dinosaurs around, it was just as much fun for the kids too :)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Where I stand with sugar

I'm writing this on the eve of my fifth day without sugar.  I've been keeping a daily commentary going on Facebook with how each day has felt.  Looking back, and I knew it at the time, the second day was the worst.  I craved EVERYTHING.  Thankfully I have a strong will power and avoided our treat cupboard, but it was surprising how much I craved sugar.  And I didn't think I had that much sugar to begin with in my diet.  But I've learned, it's in EVERYTHING.

It is recommended that a woman not consume more than 25g of added sugars per day, and men 37g.  It adds up fast.  Here are a few examples:

A medium slurpee has 15g of sugar
A caramel macchiato from Starbucks has 37! (Keep in mind part of that is the sugar in the milk, so you can take off about 12 from that total).

Now the extra kick for me, is I started substituting with honey.  It's nautral right?  It is, but your body still sees it as sugar and treats it that way.  Any benefit that honey offers over sugar is so minimal (about 2% I read) that it truly is no different.  The only difference is you can use less honey when cooking, than what is needed for sugar, so it reduces it a bit.  But honey is still counted as an add.  Boo!

So needless to say, I've been doing some refining (ha!) around here with how I prepare our food, and I will start to share those recipes with you here on this blog from time to time.

What I can tell you on Day 5, is that fruit and vegetables have SO much more flavour and I find myself reaching for grapes or cherry tomatoes as a snack.  And (shock), that morning latte?  I think I've come to realize I loved the sugar, not the latte.  It's just not as appealing anymore.  I make one every morning and only drink half the cup.  What I do miss is a good chai, so I'm working on coming up with a good (sugar free!) substitution.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sweet Sugar

My older brother is a vegetarian turned vegan.  He is also an ultra runner and triathlete.  He's hardcore about his body and his health, and as he has made these amazing changes, I've been turning to him for nutritional advice when stuck with a question for the kids, and now, myself.

He texted me yesterday saying he wanted to "talk about sugar".  I responded that I knew it wasn't good for us (refined), but that I had to pick my battles and sugar wasn't one of them.  We chatted a bit more back and forth, and I went about doing tasks in the house.  As I picked up toys and put away laundry I got to thinking.  Why was I so quick to say I couldn't do without sugar?  And perhaps, if it was my first instinct to say no, I really should say yes.

So I said yes.  And committed it to Facebook (heck, share the accountability and get some others on this band wagon).  So I'm going 30 days sugar free.  Yesterday at 4pm when I decided to do this, I was taking the easy sugarless train.  I was saying no to obvious sugars - candy, syrups in my lattes, things of that sort.  And I wasn't going to check labels.  But I got curious.  I was told no more than 24g of sugar a day, fruit not being counted as it is natural and has fiber.

I started looking at labels.  Curry paste last night had 1g.  Today looking at our Peanut Butter it had ICING SUGAR in it.  Seriously.  Icing sugar.  The soy version had CANE SUGAR.

And the more I delve, the more I see a real change is needed.  I could list here all the scary things about sugar, but you can quickly dig them up with a simple Google search.  I'll get you started with this link my cousin posted yesterday.

I truly thought the kids and I didn't consume much sugar.  But it appears we consume more than we even realize.  I'm not going all crazy, but I am going to start looking for alternatives in our baking, and in the products we use.  Something so prevalent in our diet that can cause heart disease and cancer?  Why would I say yes to that???

Today I've eaten a kiwi and a nectarine I know yesterday I would have passed up.  I'm already grabbing more whole food, and plan tonight to pull out my yogourt maker and get a batch started.

What are your thoughts?  Would you ever think about going sugar free?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Skipping Fall

Fall is my most favorite time of year.  Warm sweaters, chilly mornings but warm afternoons, the warm glow of the sun.  Last Sunday morning was HOT.  Summer was still in full swing, and as the afternoon moved along, cold wind swept in, and the kids had to bundle up in blankets outside.

We knew there was snow coming, and I spent Sunday cleaning toys out of the backyard, and pulling plants from our garden.  I pulled everything but the carrots knowing they were snug under the dirt.  We were ready.  Or so I thought.
Some carrots from earlier this Summer.  We've had a great crop this year!
We woke to SNOW Monday morning.  More came by Tuesday.  I don't think we were really ready, nor were the trees.

Full snow gear was pulled out - hats, mitts, snowpants, boots.  We have an interesting mix at our front door of winter apparel mixed with crocs and bike gear.  Our city doesn't normally shut down due to snow, but the falling tree branches took out power to many areas of the city and the roads were a mess.  We had a snow day in September this past Tuesday!

The mornings are still chilly (3C this am), but the weather is supposed to warm up again (expecting 22C by Sunday).
Some trees near where my eldest goes to school.  Such devastation from the weight of the snow.
I hope Fall appears and we haven't skipped right over it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Playground Snacks

It's back to school again, and with it comes the struggle for my eldest of getting enough time to eat.  She's a grazer, and (rightly so) she also wants time to play.  Recess is only 15 minutes to do both, so over the past couple of years, we have tried to come up with quick snacks that can fill her up, but are also portable.  Here is one of our favorites.


  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl, mixing gently so the crispy rice cereal doesn't get crushed. Mix until well-combined.
  2. Using a cookie scoop (or roll small amounts in your hands), drop rounded tablespoonful-sized portions onto a parchment or wax paper lined cooking sheeet. I used my cookie scoop and then rolled the scooped portion out between my palms.
  3. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. At this point you can serve them or combine the chilled granola bites in a large tupperware-type container or ziploc bags to freeze or refrigerate. They will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week or for a few months in the freezer.

I'm not a big fan of pre-packaged granola bars, especially the no nut ones as they seem loaded with sugar.  I will say that this one is also quite sweet, but I prefer it as it is made from scratch.  I minimize some of the sweetness by cutting the chocolate chips in half, and I add in raisins or craisins.

The whole batch makes a cookie sheet full that I immediately toss in the freezer.  When they are all frozen I transfer them to sandwich bags, and back into the freezer they go.  While I'm making lunch in the morning I'll put a couple into her lunchkit for snacktime, and by the time snack rolls around they are good to eat (I have eaten them frozen though and they are just as tasty).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Turning 35

There were alot of good things about 34, but it was also a really growing/stretching year for me.  I'm ok to see it behind me, and honestly shocked that I sit here today at 35.

I was thoroughly loved on this past weekend.  There was a fondue dinner with my closest friends, lavished on with gifts and laughter.  There was dinner the following night at a friends house while our kids played.  Brunch on Monday (my actual birthday), with cinnamon buns made by my brother.  Naptime saw me doing some school prep, but also winding yarn for a project just for me.  Playground and river visits, home for more cake made by a friend and decorated by my kids.  It was a full rich day and left me with a full and grateful heart.

We are two days in to the new school year, and if the past two days are any indication, this year is going to be really great.  I'm happy to leave the challenges of 34 behind me, and embrace a year of new ahead.