Week in Review

How does every week seem to fly by so quickly? I swear it was just Sunday night and I was getting ready for the week ahead. Anyway,s I feel like I had a productive week, so that definitely feels good.

Salt and Pepper Chips and Margarita March 2015

Tuesdays are my long days at work. By the time I was done I was in no mood to make something to eat, so I ended up going out. We decided on a really great Mexican restaurant that I hadn’t been to in awhile. They have amazing margaritas, so of course I had to have one. I ordered beef fajitas that were also pretty tasty. If you’re in Calgary you  have to go to Salt and Pepper.

I’ve been showing my dad how to use Facebook. Although he had some of the basics down, I helped him figure out a few other things that he wasn’t sure of. He’s even up to 5 or 6 friends now! He got his first comment on a photo that he’d added so he though that was pretty cool.

Potato Skins March 2015 (1)

I’ve been a part of the Gastropost community for a few months now. In conjunction with the Calgary Herald, every week gastroposters receive an email with their mission for the week. This last week was “the perfect potato”. I spent a few days thinking about it and I finally decided on making potato skins. After a trip to the grocery store to pick up a few ingredients that I didn’t have, I got to work cooking. They ended up turning out really great. You can find the recipe I used here from The Brown Eyed Baker. My photo ended up being picked so it was featured in the Calgary Herald on Wednesday.

Seed Starting March 2015

I also spent some time starting some seeds indoors. While we’re still months away from being able to plant most things outside (Calgary’s last frost date isn’t until the end of May), I wanted to get a head start on some of my favorite veggies. I planted mostly tomatoes, with a few zucchinis and a butternut squash. After a quick trip outside to be watered, they’re ready to go. The zucchinis and squash will be the first to germinate, so I’m looking forward to seeing them pop up in a week or so. The tomatoes will take a few more days to appear. Check out this post for how I do my seed starting.

At the moment I don’t have much planned for the weened, and that’s perfectly alright with me. I have plans to get together with a few other ladies for some crafting Sunday afternoon, but that’s it.

Leave me a comment with a highlight from your week. 

5 Reasons to Try Outdoor Soccer

5 Reasons to Play Outdoor Soccer March 26 2015

1. Soccer is an amazing cardio workout, but it doesn’t seem that tough when you’re playing. You have small breaks when the ball goes out of bounds and someone has to run after it to bring it back, or when you sub off so a teammate can come on. You’re running all over the field, changing directions and covering other players. You’re not going in a straight line for very long. Did you know that professional soccer players end up running 5 km in a 90 minute game?

2. You can find a team and league that fits you. The league that I played it was recreational and non competitive. While we all put in our best effort, we didn’t keep a record of scores or which teams won. There were only 4 teams, so we ended up playing each team quite a few times by the end of the season. I know there are lots of other leagues that take winning seriously and have a minimum skill level required to play. Whatever level you want to play at, you can find it.

3. There’s not much equipment needed. The only things you absolutely need to play outdoor soccer are cleats, shin guards, and socks to put over your shin guards. I was able to get cleats, shin guards, and two pairs of socks for under $200. It’s a pretty good investment knowing that it’ll last for multiple seasons. Other than that you’ll need the usual workout clothes – shorts, shirts, and sports bras – which you’ll likely already have.

4. Other than being on the basketball team in grade 7, I haven’t really played team sports. Being on the soccer team, playing with the same women every game, and making friends was really fun. I had no idea I was going to get that out of soccer. It didn’t just stay on the field either. A few times we went out for drinks after games, and we stayed in touch over the summer by email.

5. There’s something about working out with others that makes me push myself further than I would if I was by myself. When I’m going after a ball that’s just rolled past me I try my hardest to get there before a member of the opposing team. Seeing others leave everything on the field makes me want to do the same thing.

What I Ate Wednesday

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As always, thanks to Jenn and Laura for hosting What I Ate Wednesday.

WIAW Breakfast March 25 2015

Breakfast was my usual combination of cereal, yogurt and fruit. This time it was Oatmeal Crisp and vanilla yogurt with an Granny Smith apple. I love the crunch and tartness of Granny Smith’s. They’re my all time favorite kind of apple and pretty much the only ones I buy unless I’m doing some baking or cooking with them and a specific kind is recommended.

WIAW Lunch March 25 2015

I wasn’t feeling very motivated to make anything fancy for lunch and there were no leftovers in the fridge. I ended up deciding to go with a salad (which I forgot to take a photo of). It was a pretty simple salad, just some spinach, carrots, cherry tomatoes, hemp seeds, and poppy seed salad dressing. Not long after I knew I wanted something else to eat, so I made a grilled cheese sandwich as well. Sometimes a salad will do the trick, but this one didn’t have any sort of protein in it, so I needed something else to go with it.

WIAW Dinner March 25 2015

I had some chicken in the fridge and some frozen veggies in the freezer so I decided to make a stir fry for dinner. I picked up some sweet and sour sauce at the grocery store. I already had rice in the pantry. I’ve made stir fries a million times before. They’re so quick and easy to make, it’s hard to go wrong with them. The frozen vegetable mix I used this time was from Europe’s Best. I usually don’t get it because it’s a bit more expensive, but I picked it this time because it was on sale. I have to admit that I was impressed and really liked it. I’ll be keeping my eyes open and stocking up on it when it goes on sale in the future.

What do you put in your salads to give it some staying power?

Mari Winsor’s Flat Abs Pilates DVD Review

Mari Winsor's Flat Abs Pilates DVD Review March 24 2015

 

I’ve been using Hoopla a lot lately for my workouts. You should absolutely check to see if your local library is a part of it. Not only are there lots of fitness and workout DVD’s available to borrow, there’s also all kinds of movies, TV shows, and audio books.  I recently discovered that Hoopla also has quite a few of Mari Winsor’s Pilates DVD’s. I recently tried my first one, Mari Winsor’s Flat Abs Pilates (affiliate link), so I wanted to share what I thought of it.

Workout 1 This workout was called Flat Abs, and let me tell you, it definitely worked my core. In the 20 minutes it took me to complete it my abs felt like they were on fire and I was sore the next day.  I haven’t done much Pilates previously, so I felt like I was constantly trying to figure out if I was doing things correctly. Mari was good at cuing, which helped to make sure I was working the right body part. It was also helpful that there were people demonstrating the easier and harder modifications. I almost always did the easier version. I can tell that people who do the advanced ones are hard core! The only downside was that it was sometimes tough to see the modifications because for the most part the camera was on the person doing the regular moves.

Workout 2 This workout was 23 minutes long and called Abs Definition. It was tougher than the first one. I definitely struggled a few times with some moves. I just didn’t have the core strength I needed to complete them. I think because of this, Mari Winsor’s Flat Abs Pilates would be better suited to someone who has a Pilates background. I found this workout a lot less fun than the first one. I think that’s because it was so hard and I was struggling to keep up. A lot of the modifications in this workout involved keeping your legs bent instead of straightening them out. This meant you weren’t using your core as much.

Workout 3 The last one on the DVD is called the Total Body Workout. Clocking in at 13 minutes, I thought this would be a great add on to a cardio workout. It covered upped body, lower body, as well as core work, all in a short amount of time. This was also my favorite workout of the three.

Despite the fact that this DVD was focused on working the core, there were hardly any crunches in any of the workouts, which was nice. I meant it help my attention and I didn’t get bored from doing the same thing over and over. Once again, I think the people that would get the most out of Mari Winsor’s Flat Abs Pilates (affiliate link) would be those who have done some Pilates in the past and have a basic knowledge of it already. I think if this was my first introduction to Pilates I’d be a little overwhelmed.

Do you have a favorite Pilates workout? Leave me a comment telling me about it. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog, I appreciate it!

CoSchedule Review

CoSchedule Review March 24 2015

 

For the last little while I’ve been using CoSchedule. Like I mentioned on Friday, even though I’d heard about it from lots of other bloggers saying that they really liked using it, it took me awhile to try it myself. I’m glad I did though, because CoSchedule (affiliate link) makes sharing my posts so much easier! If you’ve never heard of CoSchedule before, check out this video to give you an idea of what it’s all about.

Now that you know what CoSchedule can do in general, I’ll share some details with you. All of these screenshots are from my own blog, so you can see how I use it. I was surprised at how quick the editorial calendar fills up with posts, drafts, and social media shares.

CoSchedule Editoral Calendar March 24 2015

Basically with CoSchedule you can keep track of posts, drafts, tasks, team members, and social media shares all in one place. First off, CoSchedule is an editorial calendar. I’ve mentioned before on the blog how much easier blogging is when I have drafts and posts scheduled and I know what I’m going to write about. There’s nothing worse than staring at an empty screen and having no idea what to write about.

CoScedule Tasks March 24 2015

 

Not only can you plan when to write posts, but you can also add tasks that have to be completed for each posts (research, making a graphic, taking photos, etc.). The tasks also have deadlines, and you get emails notifying you when the deadline is coming up. I think the tasks feature is a great one. I usually have more than one post in the works at a time, so I can keep track of exactly what I still need to get done for each post before it comes time to actually write it. Trying to remember if I’ve made a graphic for Thursday’s post is tough for me to remember, so having it on my editorial calendar helps me out a lot. In addition, if you have tasks that you use for more than one post, you can also create templates for those. That way it’s quicker and easier to add them to posts.

CoSchedule Social Shares March 24 2015

Another great feature of CoSchedule is being able to schedule social media shares for your post. Once you’ve added the CoSchedule plugin to your WordPress blog, it adds a section at the bottom of the post editing screen that allows you to schedule sharing links for your post. It has suggested days (the day of your post, the day after, a week after, and a month after), as well as times. You simply choose the social media channel, write a few words about your post, pick a day and time, and you’re done. I also like that it shows you exactly what your message will look like once it’s sent. I really like that this is at the bottom of your post editing page. It’s literally at your finger tips. It feels very natural to fill in the social media sharing after you’ve finished writing your post.

One thing I was never very good at was remembering to share my posts on social media after they were published. I’d usually share it the same day, but I’d get caught up with other things and forget to share it after that. I put a lot of work and effort into my posts, so it makes sense to get as much exposure as I can for each one. CoSchedule solves that problem, as I can do all my sharing at the same time as writing my post. There’s nothing left for me to forget to do.

Another thing I really like about CoSchedule is that if you decide to move a post to another day, you simply drag and drop it in the editorial calendar from one day to another. In addition, all the social media shares that you’ve scheduled to go with that post move as well. There’s no more editing tweets and Facebook posts when you’ve changed the date of your post.

The only thing I wish CoSchedule would do is sync with Windows Live Writer. I usually use Live Writer to write my posts, but since I’ve been using CoSchedule I’ve been using the post editing in WordPress. I would love to connect the two tools, but as of right now it’s not possible.

All in all I’ve really liked using CoSchedule (affiliate link). I know it’s helped me spread the word more efficiently and effectively for each post I publish. While I’m still using the 2 week free trial as I’m writing this, by the time this post publishes I’ll have upgraded to the paid version. At only $10 per month, or $9 per month if you sign up for a year, I think it’s a great deal. It keeps me organized as well as helps me to share my blog content better.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog, I appreciate it!

Weekly Workouts March 15 to 21 2015

Weekly Workouts 2

Sunday March 15 I did workout #3 of Jillian Michaels Kickbox FastFix (affiliate link). While the Kickbox Fastfix wasn’t one of my favourite DVD’s, I was pretty sweaty by the time I was done, so it must have done something right. Plus it was a quick workout at only 20 minutes, so it was nice to have it over and done so I could get on with my Sunday morning.

Monday March 16 I tried Flat Abs Pilates (affiliate link) for the first time. I did the first Flat Abs workout that clocked in at 20 minutes. It’s a good thing it was short because by the time I was done my abs were on fire. It’s amazing how many different ways my core was worked without doing a single crunch. While I’d done Pilates before with a book, it was my first time following along with a DVD. I have to admit that I enjoyed it. I know I’ll be doing more of of these in the future.

Tuesday March 17 This was my early day at work so I took a rest day. I did walk a few blocks to and from the train station to a meetup.com meet up though, so I got at least a little bit of activity in.

Bowmont Walk March 2014 (2)

Wednesday March 18 Instead of workout out in the morning before work I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and go for a walk after I was done work. I’ve walked along this route probably a hundred times before, but the river is always so pretty, I feel myself drawn to it. I’m so glad the weather is slowly but surely improving and spring is on the way.

Thursday March 19 I was pretty tired this morning, so when my alarm went off I couldn’t get myself out of bed. I skipped my workout, slept for 45 more minutes, and then got up to get ready for work.

Friday March 20 Usually I finish work a bit earlier on Fridays. I took advantage of that by going for another walk even though it was cold and snowing on and off. It wasn’t too long but I’m glad I was able to get outside and move.

Saturday March 21 I had plans to do a Pilates workout, but sleep won again and I slept in instead. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been exhausted this week. I’m hoping I’m able to get enough sleep this weekend to turn things around for the upcoming week.

Now that you know my workouts, share one of yours in the comments below. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog, I appreciate it!

Fun Facts Friday

It’s Friday, woohoo! This week has felt like it wouldn’t end, so I’m pretty excited I’m done work for a couple days. As usual, I’m going to be sharing some randomness in today’s post.

U2 Ticket March 20 2015

Remember how I bought a ticket to go see U2 in Vancouver in May? Well it’s officially less than 2 months away! I don’t think it’s sunk in yet that I’m going to be seeing them live. I’ve wanted to do it for so long, it still seems kind of surreal. I’m also pretty stoked about having a few days off from working and being able to spend some time in Vancouver exploring. My hotel is right downtown so I’m within walking distance of so many cool things (restaurants, Stanley Park, the water)

I’ve been using noisli.com for the last couple weeks and I’ve really been enjoying it. When I first heard about it I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it or how much of a difference it would make in my concentration. I have to say that it’s just enough noise to cover up any distractions outside of the room I’m working in, but not too much stimulation to pull my away from my work. My favorite combination of noises are the rain and thunderstorm.

I saw this somewhere on Twitter this week. It’s a yoga mat holder shaped beer carrier. Not only is it hands free (you sling it over your shoulder), but it also keeps your beer cool too. This would be perfect if you’re going picnicking or for a hike. Having a beer at the end of a long walk up the side of a mountain would have to be pretty refreshing.

CoSchedule March 2015

I’ve been using CoSchedule for the last week or so, and I’ve been liking it more than I thought I would. I’ve heard about it all over the place from other bloggers but for some reason I was hesitant to give it a go. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be signing up to keep it once my trial is over. It’s so nice to have my blog posts and social media promoting them all in one spot.

This weekend I have plans to go out for drinks with a friend from work. Other than that and getting some things done around the house I don’t have much else planned. Every once in awhile I need a weekend like that.

Leave me a comment with something fun you’re doing over the weekend. 

Goat Cheese Spinach Pasta Recipe

Goat Cheese Pasta Pinterest March 29 2015

 

Goat cheese and pasta are two of my favorite things. I’m pretty sure I could eat both of them every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of either one. When I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner one night I saw the goat cheese in the fridge and thought that it would be good on pasta. I tried it out that night and it was delicious. With a little bit of tweaking I managed to come up with a pretty delicious recipe that I thought I’d share with you today.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 250 gr goat cheese (I used two logs of honey goat cheese when I took these photos, but plain goat cheese works just as well.)
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 big handfuls spinach
  • 450 gr pasta (I used fusili but this recipe can be made with just about any shape of pasta.)
  • Dash of ground pepper

Goat Cheese Pasta March 19 2015 (1)

Directions: 

Cook pasta according to package directions. While doing that crumble up the goat cheese into a medium mixing bowl. Chop the butter into small pieces and add to the mixing bowl. Then add the Parmesan cheese and mix together until it’s all combined. Wash the tomatoes and chop in half.

Goat Cheese Pasta March 2015 (5)

Once the pasta is done cooking, reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining. Put spinach in the colander and drain pasta over it to wilt the spinach. Add the pasta and spinach back into pot.

Goat Cheese Pasta March 19 2015 (2)

Add 1/3 cup of pasta water to the cheese mixture and stir. Slowly add more water until the cheese is melted and it’s the consistency that you like. I found that 1/2 cup was right for how I like it – perfectly creamy without being too watery.

Goat Cheese Pasta March 2015 (7)

Add the tomatoes and goat cheese mixture to the pasta and spinach. Mix thoroughly to make sure the pasta is coated. Top with a bit of ground pepper and enjoy!

Goat Cheese Pasta March 2015 (2)

This recipe made 4 to 5 servings, but you can always halve it if you don’t want to make quite as much. I also ate it as leftovers at lunch time the next day and it was just as delicious the second time around.

What’s your favorite sauce for pasta?

What I Ate Wednesday

WIAW-2015_thumb.pngThanks to Jenn and Meghan for hosing What I Ate Wednesday this week.

WIAW Breakfast March 18 2015

Breakfast consisted of something a little different for me. Instead of my usual cereal I switched it up with an English muffin with margarine. English muffins always feel like a treat for me, so when I saw them in the pantry I knew I had to have one. I’d forgotten than I’d picked them up at the grocery store the day before. I should probably get them more often as they’re so fast and quick to make. It’s also kind of nice to have something hot to eat in the mornings. I also had some vanilla yogurt and a Granny Smith Apple to round out my meal.

WIAW Lunch March 18 2015

Apparently I was all about the apples, because I had another one at lunch. I paired it with some turkey lunch meat, mozzarella cheese, and melba toasts. I was craving something crunchier than a sandwich, so I thought crackers were the way to go. Although it was a really simple meal, it hit the spot. I need to remember how good something like this can be. Meals don’t always have to be fancy to taste good.

WIAW Dinner March 18 2015

For dinner I cooked up some of my favorite Thai vegan food – ginger “chicken”, which is actually made out of soybeans. It comes frozen and is ready to eat within 10 minutes of heating it up on the stove. I ate it over a bed of brown rice. I’ve been on a brown rice kick lately. I forgot that the texture is a bit different, which I actually like better over white rice. I think next time I’d add some stir fry veggies. I usually get some sort of Thai vegan food whenever I’m at the farmer’s market. It’s tough to walk past their stall without stopping to look, which usually leads to me buying something.

Leave me a comment with your favorite easy meal. What’s one thing you always get when you go to the farmer’s market?

 

 

 

Barre 3 Online Workouts Review

Barre 3 Online Workouts Review March 17 2015

If for some reason you haven’t heard of barre workouts yet, I can’t wait to tell you about them. I’ve really been enjoying them. It’s basically a combination of yoga, Pilates, and ballet. There’s no jumping or running around so it’s low impact, which I appreciate on the days that my plantar fasciitis decides to flare up.

After going to a few barre classes at my local Lulu Lemon that I thoroughly enjoyed, I decided that I wanted to do classes on a regular basis. I’m on a pretty tight budget at the moment though with school, so when I heard about Barre 3 online workouts I thought it would be a perfect fit.

It’s now a few months after I signed up and I have to say that it was a great decision. I have so much flexibility with doing it online. I feel like I got the basics down with the in person classes before I started online. One thing that I really like about barre workouts is that there’s a minimal amount of equipment that you need. I use a yoga mat, light weights, and a ball. The yoga mat and dumbbells I already had. Once I signed up for online classes I ordered a really affordable ball from Amazon (affiliate link). There’s even some workouts that don’t require any equipment which are great if you’re working out away from home.

I like that I can pick the length of the workouts – anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes – as well as the body parts you want to work – core, upper body, lower body, or total body. There are also prenatal and postnatal classes as well for moms. Being able to pick the kind of class I want without having to worry about a schedule at a studio is awesome.

The setup for each workout is pretty similar. The teacher starts off with a warm up, then you get into the main part of the workouts. This will consist of lots of small movements that really get your muscles burning. At the end of my first workout I was amazed at how even though I didn’t feel like I was moving much I was sweaty and tired. The workout then ends with a cool down and stretching.

For the most part there’s three people in each video – someone leading the class with two others demonstrating easier and harder modifications. I really appreciate the modifications. Sometimes I feel like I want to challenge myself and try something a little harder, while at other times I want to tone it down a little. I have done a few videos where it’s one teacher leading it, but the modifications have always been communicated pretty clearly.

All in all I’ve really been enjoying the online workouts from Barre 3. For the price of one class at a studio I get access to as many workouts as I want in a month. I think that’s a pretty good deal. I definitely think it’s worth it.

Do you do any barre workouts? 

This post contains an affiliate link. Thank you for supporting my blog, I appreciate it!