19 April 2014

Journal Day \\ nine

How would you say your upbringing or background has shaped your idea of beauty? Were you taught to apply makeup or do you hair by your mother or friends? If not, where did you observe what is now your norm as far as beauty practices? And although most of us have been inundated by different cultural beauty "norms" via the media, would you say that television and magazines have had a strong impact on shaping what you think of as beautiful? This week, write about your idea of beauty- how your background has shaped it and what that means for you today.


Your upbringing certainly shapes much of how you view the world - your perception of beauty included. My family was mostly blessed with good genes & my mother has never needed to wear much makeup. I remember her always looking very put together, a feat she continues to achieve to this day. That didn't necessarily mean a lot of makeup but it did mean dressing well & taking care in her appearance. She always told me it's better to be too dressed up than to be too casual - & that's something I find myself believing now, as an adult.

I was not allowed to wear makeup until midway through Junior High. Even as my peers began experimenting with makeup, I did not. I think I first wore a little makeup in the eight grade. In fact, I saw my grade eight photo recently & I am definitely wearing a terrible shade of brown lipstick (why was brown lipstick ever in? It looked terrible.). I swam throughout Junior High & High School so makeup never became a huge priority. I did sometimes take the time on my days off or if I was going to a party or dance, but it was never a daily ritual. 

Even once I hit University, it didn't become a priority. I taught swimming lessons as of third year & often couldn't be bothered to put makeup on if it meant I was going to jump in the water later that day. I spent more time on my hair & makeup as I started going out to clubs & bars with friends. My girlfriends & I would turn on music & have a few drinks together as we got ready for the night. I think that's a fairly natural evolution for girls my age. 

In my last few years of University & in the year following graduation, I worked at Starbucks. My shifts often began before the sun came up & I prioritized sleep over makeup. I was not & will likely never be a morning person, despite my penchant for taking early shifts (I'd rather have my evenings free.).

Now that I work in an office, I spend a lot more time on my appearance. I basically went from spending no time to a little time. Living in Montreal & France shaped my clothing choices too. Both place more importance than Calgary on dressing well & that has translated into my life now. I actually like dressing up a bit for work. I love heels & I love nice clothes, especially silk dresses and shirts. So it always feels fun. I also wear more makeup than I used to. I still wouldn't say that I wear a ton & I'm not afraid to go without, but I like playing with a bit of eyeliner & find false lashes to be a fun addition to a special event. I've gotten into the habit of curling my hair every day & that's definitely something I'd like to try to break a bit. Especially in the summer, it's good to let it do whatever from time to time.

I like to think that I don't look to magazines & the media for examples of beauty, but I think that would be a lie. To a certain extent, there's always a bit of influence from them. With the fairly recent addition of CrossFit to my life, I've gone back to how I used to think of beauty in high school a bit more - strong, fit, & confident are some of the most beautiful qualities a woman can have. I'd still like to get to a better place in terms of confidence in my appearance. I think that's something that most women unfortunately struggle with to some degree. 

It's funny to think that my idea of beauty evolved over the years to wind up right back where it started. I love the idea of finding beauty in strength. I'll never have tiny little toothpick arms but these arms of mine do a lot of awesome things. I'm learning to love that. 

...

This post is in response to Danielle's prompt on her blog, Sometimes Sweet. Find the rest of my responses in this series here.

11 April 2014

Dear Calgary


I've been catching a ride with N into downtown lately so I haven't had my usual morning walk. This morning, however, I dropped him off at the airport before work and, as a result, found myself walking in.

My usual route takes me through Rotary Park, down a large wooden staircase, & across the iconic Center Street Bridge before I even hit the hustle & noise of the Core. For how close we live to the City Center, it's incredible how tranquil the first part of that walk is. 

Calgary is an usually sunny city, but even on this rare overcast day, this walk is beautiful. Walking through the park, sipping on a latte from one of my favourite shops, as the city collectively awoke, reminded me of how much love I have for this place - the cowboy town turned city. 

As you reach the top of the stairs, the trees part to reveal the city, & what I personally believe to be one of the most striking skylines. While the spring air was moist & heavy in the park, it seemed to lift as I headed towards downtown. "I love this commute", I thought, sipping my coffee. After this particularly harsh winter, this kind of spring morning was just what I needed. I couldn't have imagined a more perfect way to start my day.

Calgary has a bit of reputation as redneck, conservative, a little rough around the edges. But I love it. This little city in the West, bordered by snow-capped mountains on one side & wide open prairies on the others. This city is home. It's had its share of growing pains, but haven't we all? It's still a young city & it's got a lot going for it. It's evolving & coming into its own & I'm so excited to be here to experience it. 

If you're looking for a nice way to start your day, grab a coffee at Luke's DrugMart & head over to Rotary Park. Walk through the park to the stairs. Head down to Center Street & cross the bridge. Take the pedestrian ramp to the river path & walk along the river towards Eau Claire or the East Village - each have their fair share of perks. It's worth checking out!

Enjoy the weekend! 



10 April 2014

Journal Day \\ eight

Would you consider yourself a religious person? Quite simply- what do you believe happens when you die? Have you always believed this? Do your current beliefs align with what you were taught as a child? And if not, what was the turning point? This week, talk about your religion or spiritual beliefs (or perhaps your lack of), and try to sum up, if you can, what you believe happens "next."



Religion. Oh boy. I wasn't going to post a response when I first saw this prompt. I'm always a little bit hesitant to discuss religion with anyone. While I'm not generally shy about my opinions, this is something I try to think twice about before offering my thoughts. Danielle posted this morning though & her response inspired me to write something. I've posted a Journal Day response every week so far & I think it's silly to censor myself in regards to this. I know not everyone will agree with what I have to say. So as Danielle did, I will just preface this post with this disclaimer: I don't mean to question your beliefs or lack thereof. Please do not take offense to what I have to say here - I don't want to judge you & I hope you won't pass judgement on me either.

Religion is an incredibly interesting topic. I can't think of many other topics with so many different variations of belief (or disbelief). There is so much emotion tied to this topic that it's a little intimidating to put my thoughts out there, but here goes...

I do not consider myself to be a religious person, at least not in the sense of organized religion. This idea does not come from a place of disrespect or rebellion. This is something I've come to realize in the last 10 years. I don't have a problem with other people believing or not believing - I think as long as we are respectful of each other & of others' beliefs, we're on the right track. 

We grew up with some knowledge of the Anglican faith. As a baby, I was baptized in a beautiful Anglican Cathedral, the same one in which my parents were married & my brother would later be baptized. We attended church around both of those events, but as we got older services took a backseat to swim meets & soccer practices. I was never opposed to church as a child, but I was also happy to sleep in or play sports. It wasn't a priority for me. 

I had many friends of different faiths & backgrounds throughout school. I attended public school in a province that offers a non-private catholic school option so most of my religious peers were either Christian or Jewish. For the most part, we didn't discuss or think about religion much. The public school system is meant to welcome any & all religions. There was one exception at the end of High School. As I spent more time with a Mormon family, I did think of religion more. Although I never really discussed my own beliefs with them, their discussions with me about their beliefs caused me to focus a little more on the topic. I think that's when I came to the conclusion that, although I had never identified with my atheist peers, I didn't identify with organized religion. I was somewhere in the middle of things (oddly enough, this seems to be where I fall on the political spectrum too...)

You hear this often from non-believers: I like science. Or I like facts. & I can identify with those statements. In order to believe, you have to have faith in the unknown &, while there are some things in which I trust completely, a higher power isn't necessarily one of them. Now, I'm not saying I don't believe in a higher power at all. I'm just also not saying I do believe. I don't know if there is, but it's not something I generally occupy my time thinking about. I'd rather just be. & be present. 

Sometimes I think it's easier to believe in something then to wrap your mind around nothingness. Having faith in a world after death is comforting. It means there's more to life than just what's going on here & now. It means that life doesn't just end when you die. It means good people will go to a good place together. (Or maybe it means something different to you. That's ok too.) I just don't know if I genuinely believe that. I'm not going to write it off, but I'm not going to spend a lot of time thinking about it either (beyond the thinking I've already done, I suppose). For me, either possibility is valid - something might happen next or it might not. 

The point is that I don't know the answer to what happens next. I don't think anyone does. & instead of worrying about it, I'm going to do my best to enjoy my time in this world. I hope you can respect that, whether you agree with me or not. 

...

This post is in response to Danielle's prompt on her blog, Sometimes Sweet. Find the rest of my responses in this series here

8 April 2014

Eat \\ Bacon & Gauc Deviled Eggs

While I do a lot of cooking at home, it isn't often that I post a recipe on here. Our kitchen is pretty tiny, with dark counter tops & terrible lighting, so I don't often bust out the real camera. If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen a lot of my food iPhoneography already (although that's only picking back up again now that the sun stays out later). I spend most of my day thinking about what I just ate, what I'm going to eat, or what I'd like to eat. My love of food definitely isn't the reason for the lack of recipes on here.


I love experimenting in the kitchen. It doesn't always turn out right, but the more I take chances, the more I get a sense of what works & what doesn't. I'm not anywhere near as good of a cook as I'd like to be, but I'm definitely proficient. & I get better all the time.

In that last few years, I've come to realize that I've surrounded myself with people who are pretty similar in that respect. My friends all love food. I suppose it'd probably be pretty hard to hang out with me if you didn't. In the summer especially, we throw a lot of potlucks. I love trying out new recipes, but one I come back to regularly is deviled eggs. I just love them! & I've made quite a few variations of them over the last couple of years. Many are a little on the complicated side, but one of my favourites is from George, the Civilized Caveman.

A couple weeks ago, I was headed out to a potluck after CrossFit & I couldn't decide what to make. We had a bit of a busy weekend planned so I wanted something quick & easy. None of my usual recipes are very hard, but I didn't feel like messing around with an avocado. I just wanted to be super lazy. So I came up with this modification on my usual recipe.

I don't like measuring so this recipe involved me eyeballing everything. As a result, none of these measurements are exact. I think it's hard to mess up devilled eggs anyway. Don't stress if you like exact measurements. This isn't baking. It's going to be alright.



Ingredients

- 4 strips of Bacon
- 1 T of Green Onions
- 3 T of Wholly Guacamole
- 2 T of bacon fat, melted
- 1 T favourite hot sauce
- a dozen eggs
- dusting of Paprika

 Start with your bacon. Cook up about 4 pieces. I like this gluten-free bacon in the picture because there also isn't a lot of added nitrates or soy (I prefer to avoid unfermented soy). You can use any bacon you like. I'm not the bacon police.

You're going to want to start boiling some eggs now too. Everyone has their own method so I recommend going with that. Whatever works for you. Personally, I put all my eggs in a pot & bring it to a boil. Once it boils, I take it off the heat & put a lid on it, setting the timer for 15 minutes. Once that timer goes off, I dump the hot water & put those eggies in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Everyone says this method is foolproof.

Everyone is wrong! (Just kidding!) Sometimes this works for me & sometimes it doesn't. Either way, hard boil some eggs. Then peel them, cut them in half, & put all those delicious yolks in a bowl. I put my egg white halves into the container I plan to use now to save time & dishes. (See? Lazy!)

Now you can start adding your other ingredients. Chop the bacon into small pieces, reserving a few pieces for a garnish if like. Add the bacon, guacamole, bacon fat, & hot sauce to the egg yolks & mix it all together.

Once it is all combined, grab a plastic bag & put your filling into it. (You can also use a pastry bag, I guess. I'm just not that fancy.)


Cut one of the corners of your bag on the diagonal. Your hole should be medium-sized. If it's too big, you'll have trouble controlling your filling, but it's too small, it won't dispense. You want it to be juuuuuust right.

Now just fill your eggs with the filling. I like to do each in a circular motion. Sometimes it works, sometimes it totally fails. I probably cut my hole a little bigger than is ideal this time, so there wasn't much pattern to this filling. They still look & taste good, so don't stress.

Garnish with green onion and paprika (& bacon, if you reserved some). Tada! Easy peasy deviled eggs with no weird mayo products. Give them a try!


5 April 2014

Journal Day \\ seven

Do you use social media in your daily life? Do you think it adds to your relationships with others, or takes away from them? And furthermore, do you think social media adds more positive or negative to your life? Write about your relationship with social media, and talk a bit about how you got started, and what role it plays in your world.


Oh, social media. I feel like this topic comes up often in conversation. I use many different forms of it often: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. I was one of the first of my friends to get a Facebook account, after the American friends I met in France insisted I join so we could easily keep in touch. I think I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon in 2008 & I joined Instagram a few year later when I finally got an iPhone. 

I have to say that I absolutely love Instagram. I love the communities & challenges I've been exposed to because of it & I love following friends & making new ones. It's fun catching a glimpse into people's lives & I enjoy capturing little moments of mine that I might otherwise overlook. I enjoy Twitter for the same reasons, in addition to being able to follow news & other forums. 

I do think it can be a double-edged sword though. I've found myself opening Instagram without even realizing I'm doing it. I usually try to take a break & put my phone away when that happens, but it's remarkably easy to get caught up. N & I have had a few spats over our phone usage. I don't like when he plays games on his all the time & he doesn't always like when I'm on Instagram. In that regard, it doesn't add to my relationship. 

I think in a lot of other ways it can add to relationships though. I've inspired and been inspired by fitness friends & challenges, found great new recipes, & kept up with relationships I may not have otherwise. I don't use Facebook much anymore aside from posting photos, blog posts, or creating events, but I do find it really useful for those purposes, as well as for keeping in touch with friends overseas. It keeps things organized & I like that aspect of it. 

Going forward, I'd like to get better at putting my phone away & shutting off social media from time to time. I'd also like to learn to be more effective when I do use it. I think it can be a great tool when used properly & in moderation. (Ha! Everything in moderation, right?

...

This post is in response to Danielle's prompt on her blog, Sometimes Sweet. Find the rest of my responses in this series here

2 April 2014

March In Instagram

This month's Instagram Recap was this close to being only food pictures. It was a good month for eating, guys. A very good month. Between Big Taste, birthdays, ski trips, & dinner dates, we got fat & happy in March. I decided to throw in a few non-food photos though since not everyone is as into shoving food in their face as I am (Blasphemy! FYI - we could never be friends).

Now that April is here though (& everyone keeps reminding me I'm getting married in less than 5 months), I should probably think about eating better. Maybe. I probably won't, but it's a nice thought.

Anyway, here's what we got up to in March according to my Instagram.

1. We weren't able to ski for N's work trip (boo broken ankle!), but we did enjoy some time in Banff. Love this little town.
2. If you've never experienced Big Taste YYC, you really need to check it out. Restaurants all around town put on set menus for $15 - $25. Duck Fat fried Brussels Sprouts were just one tasty piece of our week. Check it out next March!
3. I've registered for the 50th Annual Calgary (Half) Marathon! Got some new shoes & started my training runs. Let's do this!
4. N's brother came to town so we had brunch at noTABle again. It was incredible again. That steak. Those hash browns. I'll go there anytime!
5. Drinks with the future SIL for St Paddy's Day. N's brother was in town, working at the Earl's Tin Palace for the re-opening, so we hung out there for a bit.
6. We headed out to BC to ski Panorama for the weekend. This mountain has one of my favourite views from the summit.
7. This was taken last week. Yes, you read that right. As in the end of March. Thanks, yyc.
8. We tried a new pizza place with a couple friends. Our first time trying Chicago Deep Dish & that is too much pizza for this girl. My california style was delicious though, as were the meatballs. They've got some kinks to work out with the service, but the food is delicious!
9. I haven't been practicing my handstands as much this month, but I think I've gained some strength doing the open. It doesn't look like much, but that there is handstand push-up progress, people!

31 March 2014

Journal Day \\ six

Everyone has different things that keep them going. Sometimes it's the people around us, other times it might be what's waiting for us on the other side of hard work. Whatever it may be, there's usually some sort of motivation to get up every day, get things done, or maybe even go the extra mile. With that said, what would you say is your biggest motivation in life? Has it always been this way? 


Photo by @wanderingseth
I read this prompt on Sunday & have been thinking about it since. I knew that many people would post that their children are their biggest motivation, but I know this isn't the case for me. We're not there yet. I hope that someday it will be my biggest motivation, but that's not what either of us wants right now.

I think everyone goes through a phase in life where they're a little bit selfish. Every year, I find I'm less so, but my life is still primarily about me. What I want, who I want to be, what I want to do. It's evolved from those angsty teenager days of true selfishness & it will continue to evolve as I add more pieces to my puzzle. One of the more recent additions has been N. 

This guy motivates me in many ways. He's my example of patience & the calm to my storm. He reminds me not to make a mountain out of a molehill (although I often still do). He's the easygoing, optimistic one, & this inspires me to look at things from his perspective. Think before you speak, you know? 

Another big motivator was born of Fitness Friday. These Friday workouts started over a year ago & I honestly never expected much to come of them. I honestly kind of figured it would remain the couple of us in Solutions, being goofs at the end of the week. Somehow, it took off though & when I don't feel like writing up a workout, these people that show up every week motivate me to do so. It's for them that I keep doing this & because of them that I look forward to Fridays for a reason other than the weekend. 

My biggest motivation in life is myself though. I'm happiest when I feel strong, healthy, and successful. There are so many things that contribute to these feelings - eating healthy, spending time with family & friends, working out, finishing a project at work, having people enjoy something I've written...so. many. things. I guess in a way that means that what's waiting for me on the other side of hard work motivates me as well. I think that's a big reason why I love CrossFit. Why I love cooking (& eating, & thinking about food, & planning travel around eating). Why I love being busy. Why I love planning. 

...

This is my sixth post in response to Danielle's Journal Prompt. For the prompts & other responses, check out Danielle's blog Sometimes Sweet. Learn more about the project here

21 March 2014

Early Rising

Edmonton Kinsmen Center 1999
Rookie Party 2003
I'm no stranger to early morning workouts. Competitive swimming was a huge part of my life growing up & the sport is known for it's grueling practice schedule. I resisted these morning practices for as long as possible, citing every excuse from not having a ride to too much homework. Eventually I got my licence & started driving myself to morning practices. I'd wake up around 4:15 am, eat breakfast, & head out for the day. I was often the only car on the highway as I headed down to Lindsay Park (I'll never get used to calling it Talisman Center, guys).

We were expected to be on the pool deck by 5:15 to warm up before jumping in the water. Practice started at 5:30 sharp & none of our coaches were very understanding if we weren't in the water by then.After practice, we'd do weights before getting ready for the day at school. At 4:30 pm, we'd be back on the poll deck for round 2.

Dinos 2003
We did this every Monday, Wednesday, & Friday unless we had a swim meet that weekend. I'm still impressed with myself for making those practices, but sometimes I'm ever more impressed with my coaches for making them. Jumping into a pool has a way of really waking you up quite quickly. Watching kids swim back & forth in a pool for a couple hours doesn't have quite the same effect.   

It's no surprise that I didn't have too much of an issue with opening shifts at the Y or Starbucks once I left the competitive swimming world. 5 am wakeups are a walk in the park when you compare it to my former swimming schedule. I took a lot of open shifts at both of those jobs. I still prefer working early to staying late.

This morning I relived a bit of that crazy competitive swimming life. We're heading out to Panorama this weekend with some friends, so I won't have the opportunity to do the )pen workout tonight or Sunday morning. They run a 6 am class throughout the week so I hauled myself out of bed at 5:15 am this morning to complete this week's workout (14.4).

Richmond, BC 2003

Richmond 2003
Honestly, I was dreading getting up at that hour. Surprisingly, when the time came I didn't even have to hit snooze (N would probably tell you I'm a slave to that snooze button). The only downside to weekday morning CrossFit is that it's pretty hard to make it back from Airdrie during rush hour.

It's nice to get the workout out of the way right away. Now I can focus on enjoying our ski weekend. I scored 139 reps (not amazing, not terrible) &, as usual, am replaying the workout in my mind. What things I could have done differently in order to get a better score (uhh row faster, pick that med ball back up right away)? That's the nature of competitive sports though &, if you ask me, half the fun of it.

ps. I hope you've enjoyed these hilarious old swimming photos. Nothing says beautiful like goggle marks & dry skin.