Monday, January 31, 2011



It turned out to be a stormy month.We had 3 snow storms in 3 weeks, and there is another one in the forecast for this week.


In between all those storms, things have been busy. Some fun stuff and also some work stuff, so I ended the month feeling pretty tired out.

I have also been trying out some new workouts – from The Female Body Breakthrough by Rachel Cosgrove. I had followed along with great interest as Charlotte and her gym buddies tried it out. I read the book for myself in early December.


I won’t go into any detail about the book here – because it’s been so long since I read it – but I will say it was a quick read. I actually got through it in an evening, though I skimmed/skipped some parts. The ‘why you should lift weights’ arguments are not new to me, and I found the client success stories got repetitive. Hence the skimming. I guess the ‘Revolutionary’ bit is the reduced cardio in Cosgrove’s program.

I can’t claim that I have been following the program; basically I’ve been trying out the strength training routines. I’ve done 3 of the 4 phases so far. A lot of it feels pretty familiar to me, especially having worked with Lindsey last winter & spring. Again, the difference would be the reduced cardio – and reduced overall training time.

I do think it is a solid program and would probably be good for someone looking to get started on a weight training plan. I’ve enjoyed the workouts, I find they go by pretty quick – though that may have something to do with my discovering The Great Buffy Rewatch on Nikki Stafford's blog; I’ve been inviting Buffy and the Scoobies along on my workouts (Yes I own all of the DVDs. Shut up.) which keeps me entertained.


I should mention here that I was able to skip through the early phases as a lot of this is familiar to me. The 3rd phase is definitely more difficult – Ms. Cosgrove increases both the difficulty and the reps for a lot of moves. Seems a little unfair.  :)

Also, these workouts are designed for a gym, not for a home exerciser. I was able to adapt/adjust/substitute based on past workouts (Lindsey in particular is good at adapting gym moves to home equipment). And I did the same thing if the difficulty level proved to be impossible – either adjust to make the exercise doable or reduce the reps. It’s good to challenge myself, but trying to do something that is too hard for me is just going to lead to frustration or injury – neither one of those is good. So my philosophy is to back off and work my way up.


Jan 31: RC Dial It In Workout B[40 mins]
Jan 29: RC Dial It In Workout A + Treadmill Walk[60 mins]
Jan 27: RC Dial It In Workout B[45 mins]
Jan 24: RC Dial It In Workout A + Treadmill Walk[75 mins]
Jan 21: RC Define Yourself Workout B[45 mins]
Jan 18: Treadmill walk[40 mins]
Jan 16: RC Define Yourself Workout A[40 mins]
Jan 13: Burn & Firm Pilates DVD[45 mins]
Jan 11: UB Circuit + Abs[40 mins]
Jan 10: LB Circuit + Treadmill walk[40 mins]
Jan 08: RC Define Yourself Workout B[40 mins]
Jan 07: Treadmill walk[45 mins]
Jan 05: RC Define Yourself Workout A[60 mins]
Jan 03: RC Base Phase Workout B[40 mins]
Jan 01: RC Base Phase Workout A[40 mins]


I also read The Hormone Diet this month. That one took a bit longer to get through than the Cosgrove book. Still mulling that one over, but I will post my thoughts eventually. Maybe there will be a shoe post as well. You never know.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Brunch – Coconut Flapjacks

When we were home over the holidays, I was flipping through a Bon Appetit magazine at my in-laws house and saw a recipe for Spiced Coconut Pancakes with Tropical Fruit. It was in an article by Mark Bittman talking about his new Food Matters Cookbook. The article and the recipe caught my interest, so when I got home I looked up the cookbook on amazon. After reading some reviews, I decided to order the cookbook.


My fist step with a new cookbook is to page through it and get an idea of what is in there. I was surprised that some of the recipes seemed so very basic. Is it really necessary to write a recipe for salad greens tossed with oil and vinegar? Or for a basic tomato sauce?

On reflection, I suppose the answer to that is yes. Husband and I both grew up on home cooking. We – and our siblings – learned to cook at a young age. Most of our friends are foodies who like to cook and experiment in the kitchen. It’s easy to forget that not everyone has that comfort level in the kitchen. That there are many people who don’t cook at all. So it makes sense that if you want to bring people back to cooking real food, you need to give them some basics.

In addition to the basics though, there are plenty of interesting recipes to consider. The inclusion of a recipe for Ma Po Tofu is enough to make me like Mark Bittman just because I love it so very much. I  already have my own Ma Po Tofu recipe but I’m happy to see someone else spreading the Ma Po Tofu love.  I was also happy to see a recipe for a Brown Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk, something I had been planning to try even though I didn’t have a recipe to work from – now I don’t have to wing it.

This weekend, with no plans or obligations, I decided it was a good time to test some recipes. For dinner last night I made Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Chipotle accompanied by Jalapeno Cheddar Almost Whole Wheat Quick Bread.



They were both good. Not Wow-I-Can’t-Wait-To-Make-This-Again good, but it was a satisfying meal. The quick bread lived up to it’s name, coming together both quickly and easily. Definitely a good option to have in your recipe arsenal (though maybe not as quick as tea biscuits, as a loaf takes longer to bake). The chowder was good, though I thought it was missing a little something. Likely just a matter of playing with the seasonings.

However, it was filling, it was a healthy meal, and we have leftovers. I could see making both of these things again.

This morning I finally made the Coconut Pancakes – or rather Coconut Flapjacks, as the recipe in the book is a bit different than the recipe I saw in Bon Appetit. I actually didn’t realize that fact until I searched for the recipe to link to it for this post. I just remembered that I wanted to try the coconut pancakes.



The text of the cookbook is very basic. No pretty photos of food. Just the text of the recipe, and in some cases variations – like the Jalapeno Cheddar variation of the quick bread.

The Coconut Flapjacks recipe was pretty easy to throw together – basically your dry ingredients, coconut milk & water. Then, based on the recipe, they should cook up like regular pancakes. I pulled out my snowflake griddle pan and set to work.



They didn’t look very impressive, and they were really hard to flip over. I didn’t see how I could have messed it up, as the recipe was fairly simple, but I’ll be honest: I didn’t have high hopes. They did, however, smell like fresh baked coconut macaroons – that was a little bit promising.

Mr. Bittman says these flapjacks can be served with fruit or – his favorite way – sprinkled with turbinado sugar and a squeeze of lime. We have a fruit syrup that Husband’s parents gave us that I thought might be good.



When I was finished making the flapjacks, Husband cooked up some eggs and back bacon. Then we served up our brunch.



These I really liked. They had a nice texture, a little more hearty than your usual pancake, maybe a little more chewy, but still light with a subtle coconut flavor. The fruit syrup was definitely a nice complement, as were the sugar and lime. These I will definitely make again.    

And there were leftovers – normally I half pancake recipes because I know it will be too much for just the two of us, but for some reason today I didn’t. But that’s okay – I can just look forward to flapjacks for breakfast tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Working Out with Jackie


Back in September Mizfit  reviewed a Jackie Warner workout DVD. I had never heard of Jackie Warner, but the DVD sounded like just what I’d been looking for.  I have strength training DVDs, but they are mostly full body workouts.

Yes, I like full body workouts. But sometimes I would like to be able to split it up over 2 or 3 days.

Yes, I could make my own workout plan. But I like working out with DVDs. So much easier to just pop in a disc and follow along, rather than having to think about it.

So, of course, I looked it up on amazon and discovered two DVDs. Eventually I even got around to ordering them. What’s more, I tried them out.  :)


The DVDs


Workout: One-On-One Training with Jackie  has 3 20 minute workouts – Upper Body, Lower Body and Core. Each workout is made up of segments where you do (usually) 3 strength moves for one minute at a time, followed by one minute of cardio. If I had to choose only one of these DVDs, I would choose this one because:

a) It has a specific warmup and stretch for each of the 3 workouts

b) It has a menu option that allows you to choose the workouts you want to do, which is nice if you want to do 2 of the 3 workouts.


Personal Training with Jackie: Power Circuit Training  has 3 15 minute circuits – again: upper, lower and core. These circuits are made up of segments where you do 3 strength moves for a minute each, then for the last minute you repeat those same strength moves for 20 seconds each.

This DVD does not have specific warmups & stretches – it uses the same one for each workout. On both of these DVDs I find the stretch routine to be really short, and if you’re cramming stretches for all 3 workouts into one minute, you’re really not getting much of a stretch (in my amateur opinion). Also, using the exact same warm up over and over could get a little boring. I’m just sayin’.

However, this DVD does include a 40 minute and a 15 minute total body circuit which is nice to have if you want to get in a full workout in a short amount of time. I did do the 40 minute routine, but have yet to try the 15 minute total body circuit.

My Experience with the Workouts


These are challenging workouts, but I think they are adaptable to many fitness levels. Jackie gives good instruction on form, and offers modifications in a lot of cases. And she mentions often that if you can’t do the full range of motion, just do what you can and keep moving. And of course you can make it more challenging by adding/upping your weights.

I do find that I have to use lighter weights than I would use in a traditional strength training session in order to keep going for 60 seconds. They move through their reps pretty fast sometimes too, and I don’t always keep up the same pace. But, as Jackie tells me to do, I keep going for the full minute.

The exception being core. I admit it, the core segments defeat me. Have mercy.

Also, they switch from one exercise to the next pretty quickly – which I guess is sorta the point – Keep moving! But sometimes I need to switch dumbbells and there’s not a lot of time to figure that out. But, hopefully that will get better as I get more familiar with the routines.

More on the stretch/cool down thing

I started out with the One-On-One Training DVD (the one with the 20 minute workouts). The first day I did upper body. A couple of days later I did lower body + core. After which I ended up walking funny for several days. That Lower Body workout was killer.

So, when I got to the Lower Body routine of the second DVD, I followed it up with a yoga session. Yay! I could walk afterward! It was a miracle.

Back to DVD #1, I did the Lower Body workout and followed it up with a slow & easy treadmill session. Again with the walking! Magical!

Hence, my complaint about the lacking-ness of the stretching segments on the DVDs. But, lesson learned; I make sure to get in a good cool down and/or stretch after the lower body workouts and I’m fine.

All in all, I’m pleased with these DVDs. They give me a workout option that I’d been wanting in my collection. The workouts go fast, you do not have time to get bored, and when you finish you know you’ve worked hard. What more can you ask from a workout DVD?

How’s the weather where you are?

We are currently on our way to being buried. We left work early because of the weather, and this is what it looked like when we got home.





It’s still snowing.

Dontcha wish you were here?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winter Resolution

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again: I have a really hard time keeping up with housework. It pretty much seems like an impossible task. One of the things I had counted on doing during my vacation was giving the house a really good cleaning. That didn’t happen and it was a big part of the reason I was cranky going back to work last Tuesday.
You’d think that if it’s so important to me to have a tidy house, I’d just get it done. Sounds so simple. My mother always kept our house spotless. My sisters both seem to do okay. But the good housekeeping gene seems to have completely skipped over me. I want to keep things looking nice. I just don’t seem able to accomplish it.
I did manage to get the living room all neat and tidy in the last couple days of my vacation. Yep, one whole (tiny) room. And I remember sitting there that evening, feeling like a weight had been lifted. The mess and disorder stresses me out. I need to do something about it. I don’t need things to be perfect or spotless. I just  want to not feel like I’m in the middle of a disaster zone.
Part of the problem is that we have too much stuff in too little space. I get easily overwhelmed and frustrated. So I decided that I need to figure out the problem areas and come up with solutions. I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions, but I am going to take this on as my winter project. Maybe if I can get things organized, come up with better storage solutions, it won’t be so hard. Maybe that is wishful thinking, but I’m giving it a shot.
Today’s project was to tackle the cupboard of baking supplies.  With dinner cooking away in the slow cooker, I spent the afternoon pulling everything out. I got rid of some things. I organized things in storage bins.
I ended up with this:
On the top, I used 2 large storage containers (stacked) and 4 small storage containers (stacked in twos). Hopefully this will make it easier to find things. Or else it will be really irritating when I need to pull out the storage bins. Remains to be seen.
On the bottom, I got rid of some things that didn’t need to be there. I used a couple of storage baskets for small items that were hard to keep tidy.
And then I straightened up the living room.
Baby steps.
One thing I did do during my vacation, despite being sick, was bake many batches of cookies. Most went home to my parents & In-laws.
But I also made a batch to try out these cookie cutters that Husband gave me last year:
It looks like there is a recipe on the back of the package, but since it’s in Japanese it didn’t help me much:
So I decided to try shortbread cookies thinking they wouldn’t spread much so they should hold the shape. I should also mention that it’s been probably….15 years since I’ve made plain shortbread cookies.
The cookies did spread, not a huge amount, but enough that I thought they might not work. And since I was feeling pretty crappy at the time, I just packed the cookies away in a container and forgot about them.
One good thing about being sick, I was able to forget about cookies. Not a normal state of affairs, I assure you.
But I finally had to give it a try and I actually did get some to work.
Kind of fun, don’t you think?
The cookies have been sitting around since the week before Christmas, and I know a lot of people say shortbread gets better with age, but I wasn’t sure. However, Husband ate one and said it was fine. So I guess now that we’ve played with our food, we can eat it.  :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Last Day of Vacation

I am not remotely ready to go back to work, but back I go tomorrow morning. I had things I wanted to get done while I was on vacation and most of them didn’t happen. Trying to let it all go, since there’s nothing I can do about it now. However, I did manage to squeak one thing in today.

I love pancakes, but they are usually a holiday/long weekend breakfast. Early in December I picked up a cool griddle pan at Costco and I was looking forward to trying it out when my vacation started. When vacation finally did roll around, I was so tired and I kept thinking I would feel better the next day…Which I didn’t, since all that was leading up to the flu.

Finally, today was the day.


Is that not a cool looking pan?

While I was at it, I decided to try out a new recipe. For years now, I’ve been using a Nigella Lawson pancake recipe that I’ve been quite happy with. But, I have a new cookbook to start experimenting with.




It actually is very similar to the recipe I had been using; I guess pancakes are pretty basic.

It took a bit of practice to get the right amount of batter in the little molds and to flip the pancakes without messing them up, but it made such fun little pancakes!





I thought they came out looking really nice, and they had a nice light and fluffy texture. I did think they tasted a bit salty, but Husband did not notice that. I will definitely  make them again, but cut back on the salt a little bit maybe.

All in all, a successful kitchen experiment and an appropriate breakfast for the snowy day we woke up to.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011!

As usual my vacation has flown by and I haven't quite managed to do all the things I had hoped to do. Still, I have a few days left - back to work on Tuesday - to make the most of.

I ended up getting sick the first week and was still feeling fairly miserable when we went home to Nova Scotia for Christmas weekend. Then the day that we were supposed to come home there was a storm, so we were delayed by a day. Unfortunately, we couldn't take the ferry home as we had planned, and the weather was still not great on the day we came home, so it was a long drive. A lot of it looked like this:

We were tired, but oh so glad to get home.

That was Tuesday; on Wednesday we had an appointment to bottle wine (see recap here) which ended up being kind of fun. Then we went out and bought groceries, then came home and relaxed.

Yesterday was Husband & my 9th wedding anniversary, and oh yeah, New Year's Eve, so we went out to dinner with friends. Missed my baby sister who normally comes to spend New Year's with us, but she moved out west this summer. It was still a good evening with friends though!

Anyway, just wanted to say Happy New Year to all my blog friends! Hope you had a fun New Year's Eve and that 2011 will be a fabulous year for all!

December Workouts

Dec 22: Total Body Circuit + Treadmill walk[60 mins]
Dec 16: Treadmill walk/jog[30 mins]
Dec 13: LB Circuit + Treadmill walk[45 mins]
Dec 11: UB Circuit[20 mins]
Dec 08: Treadmill Walk/Jog + Abs[45 mins]
Dec 07: The FIRM Power Half Hour[30 mins]
Dec 05: LB Circuit + Gentle Hatha Yoga #2[45 mins]
Dec 03: UB Circuit + Treadmill walk[35 mins]
Dec 02: The Studio Barefoot Cardio DVD[45 mins]
Dec 01: Cardio Sculpt DVD + Treadmill walk[60 mins]