Friday Favorites July 20 2018

Happy Friday! I'm so glad that the weekend is here! This has been a hot week here in Calgary. Hones here generally aren't built with air conditioning, so I've been spending more time than usual in the basement where it's cooler. I had forgotten how miserable it is to try to fall asleep when it's hot. Thankfully the weekend is supposed to be a bit cooler in the low 20's C (or 70's F for my American readers), so I'm looking forward to that!

Friday Favorites

90's Rock Anthems playlist on Spotify

If anyone else was a teen in the 90's and grew up listening to Bush, Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, and Soundgarden, this is the playlist for you. I think I heard about it on Instagram, so I decided to check it out. Since I have a Google Home right next to my computer, I'm usually listening to something on Spotify while I'm blogging, and I've had this playlist on shuffle for a week now. It's my favorite playlist at the moment. You can find the playlist here.

Guacamole

Guacamole

I've been craving guacamole for the last few days. My boyfriend told me about an avocado dip/sauce from Venezuela that sounds really good. It's main ingredient is avocado. Then yesterday he texted me about these giant sized avocados that are 2.5 lbs. As much as I love guacamole, I'm not sure if I could eat that much of it! Anyways, avocados have been on my mind lately and as a result, yesterday I was craving guacamole. I ended up picking some up when I was at the grocery store yesterday and had some with my dinner. It was delicious. I was a bit disappointed to see when I got home that I'd gotten the spicy guacamole instead of the regular one (as I'm not a spicy food fan generally), but it was pretty tasty.

Neutrogena Sunscreen

Neutrogena sunscreen

Like I mentioned above, it's been hot and sunny here. Because I work outside, that means that I've been going through a ton of sunscreen. This Neutrogena one (affiliate link) has been my latest buy and I'm really liking it. I typically go through at least a couple tube of sunscreen each summer, and so far this one has been my favorite this year. It absorbs into my skin quickly without leaving a greasy feeling behind.

Tanis Podcast

I'm very grateful that I'm able to listen to my ipod while I'm at work. Yesterday I was listening to one of my all time favorites – Tanis. If you're a fan of creepy, paranormal mysteries (think X Files), then give it a try. They're currently in the middle of season 4, but I highly suggest that you start at the beginning. It'll make a lot more sense, plus you'll be able to binge listen to it, which I can guarantee you'll want to go once you get started.

What was one of your favorites from the past week? Leave a comment about it below. 

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

How I Simplify Meal Planning

In today's post I'm sharing how I simplify meal planning and make it as easy as I can each week to buy all the healthy food I need for an entire week's worth of meals.

To be completely honest, before I started meal planning I thought it was this big thing that would require a ton of work and planning. In my head it was just too much trouble to actually do. I figured that I'd forget something no matter what, so what was the point of even trying?

Little did I know that once I got the hand of it, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Instead of going to the grocery store multiple times each week, I only go once. I use the food I buy, instead of forgetting that I already had something in the fridge and letting it go to waste. Below I've listed the streamlined steps I take each week to simplify my meal planning.

How I Simplify Meal Planning

What do I already have?

First off I like to take stock of what is already in the house and available to me. What is already in the fridge or pantry? Does something that I bought last week that I didn't use up have to be eaten in the next few days? Then I'll make sure I use it in my meal planning. I make sure to take advantage of the ingredients that I already have.

What's on sale?

I look through the grocery store flyers (or look online – most of the flyers are available on grocery store sites and are personalized to your location if you put your postal/zip code in). Is there a big sale on chicken? Then I'll use that in a meal instead of pork chops that are regular price. I also like to stock up on staples when they're on sale. Everything from frozen veggies to pasta to beans are perfect for saving for later when they're on sale. Those are things that I know I use on a regular basis and will keep for awhile.

Find recipes

Once I have an idea of what ingredients I definitely want to use, I'll look for recipes. I've printed out my favorite go to ones, and leave them in the kitchen so that I always know where they are and they're easy to look through. There's lots of places to find recipes online, from food blogs to Pinterest. One of my favorite places is budgetbytes.com. You can type in a search word or browse recipes by main ingredient or region of the world that inspires the recipe.

I also like to schedule my meals at this point. Since I'm only feeding myself, I only need to cook a couple times a week for lunches and dinners, so I'll schedule meals on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday and eat leftovers in between. Having a plan in place makes it a lot less stressful when it comes to figuring out what to make for dinner when I'm already hungry.

Groceries

Make a list

I then make a list of all the ingredients that I'll need for the recipes that I've picked. I'll check the pantry and fridge again to double check what I already have and when I need to buy. I like to make a list on my phone of everything that I need. I can then order things on my list based on how my grocery store in set up (bakery > meats > canned items > dairy > produce). While it does take a few extra minutes to do that, it ends up saving me time when I'm at the grocery store. Instead of going back and forth across the store I know that the milk and yogurt will be one after the other on my list and in the same aisle at the store. Once I've found an item and put it in my cart I can also delete it from my list. It makes it a lot easier to see that I've gotten everything that I need once I'm done shopping.

Putting away groceries

Once I get home I like to take a look at my meal plan and figure out what goes in the fridge versus the freezer. If I went grocery shopping on Saturday morning and I'm not making beef stroganoff until Thursday night, I'll put the steak in the freezer. If I'm making chicken stir fry the next day, I'll put it in the fridge. Once again it'll take a minute or two to think things through, but it'll be easier than trying to figure out when I need to use perishables up by and it keeps things from going bad.

Now that you know how I simplify meal planning, what's a tip that you have? 

Lower Body Strength Workout with Cardio Bursts

Today I'm sharing a lower body strength workout with cardio bursts.

Happy Wednesday! Is it really hot anywhere else right now? It's so hot there's even been a heat warning in place. Thankfully it's supposed to cool down a bit today, which I'm very grateful for. It's kind of miserable trying to fall asleep when I'm laying in bed sweating.

I'm excited to share a new workout today. It combines the best of both strength training and cardio. All the blue exercises are strength training ones. You'll do 12 reps for 3 sets before you move onto the next exercise. Rest for 30 seconds between each set. Each cardio burst is in pink. You'll perform them for 30 seconds. Below the graphic I've added descriptions for all the exercises just in case you're unfamiliar with any of them.

Lower Body Strength Workout with Cardio Bursts

Dumbbell squat

With feet hip width apart and dumbells in your hands at your sides, use the glutes to lower your hips back and down while bending at the knees and ankles. Once you’ve reached the lowest position you can without leaning forward too much or letting the knees collapse in, return to a standing position, again using your glutes to propel yourself.

Dumbbell deadlift

With a dumbbell in each hand. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly bend forward at the hips, letting your arms hang down and keeping your back straight. Using your glutes, lift your torso back up to the starting standing position.

Leg press

Sit down in the leg press machine. Place your feet hip width's apart so that your knees are over top of your toes. Release the safety and push your feet away from your body using your glutes and quads. Once your legs are fully extended, slowly bring your feet back towards yourself, once again using your leg muscles to stay in control of the speed. Repeat. At the end of the set rest the platform on the safety again.

Butt kicks

Stand with your feet hip width apart and your arms bent comfortably at the elbow. Bend your left knee and bring the heel of your left foot behind you so that it touches your butt. Lower your left foot back down to the ground and repeat with your right foot.

Alternating lunges

Stand with feet hip width apart. Step forward with one foot so that the forward leg’s thigh is parallel to the ground, and the back leg’s shin is parallel to the ground. The back knee shouldn’t touch the floor. Use your quads and glutes to step the front foot back towards your back foot and end by standing straight up with feet hip width apart again. For the second lunge step forward with the other foot.

Glute bridge

Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet close to your butt. Raise your hips up off the floor by contracting your glutes, leaving only your feet, shoulders, and head on the floor. Relax your glutes and return your hips to the floor. To do a single leg glute bridge, raise one foot up so the knee is straight. Use your remaining foot on the ground to push off the floor and raise your hips while contracting your glute.

Donkey kicks

Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keeping your knee bent, lift your left leg so that your knee is parallel to the floor and the bottom of your foot is parallel to the ceiling. Lower you leg back down and repeat with the right leg.

Skaters

With your knees slightly bent, jump to the right and land on your right leg with your left leg bent behind you with your foot just off the ground. Keep your left foot off the ground. Pushing off with your right foot, jump to the left and land on your left foot, keeping your right leg bent and right foot off the ground behind you.

Alternating side lunges

Similar to the forward lunges, side lunges require that you step out to the side instead of forward. Step out to the left first, and then the right.

Clam shells

Lay on your side on the floor with your hips bent at a 45 degree angle and your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. With your legs stacked on top of one another, slowly lift your top knee up while keeping the top heal on the bottom heal. Then lower your knee back down. Make sure to use your glutes do the movement. Once one side is done flip over so the top leg is on the bottom and repeat with the second leg.

Fire hydrants

On your hands and knees with hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips, move your knee away from the floor and your body so that your thigh is close to parallel to the floor and at a 90 degree angle to your torso. Lower your knee back down to the ground in the starting position. Repeat.

High knees

Starting in a standing position, quickly bring your left knee up in front of you as high as you can. Step back down and repeat with your right leg. Repeat.

What's your favorite lower body exercise? 

As always, talk to your doctor before beginning to workout. Honor your body and modify this workout as needed for you. 

July 2018 Workout Playlist

I'm sharing my latest workout playlist today.

I hope your week has started off good. Yesterday I booked a few days off from work later on in the summer. Even though I'm not going anywhere, it feels goof to know that I have some time off coming up!

Elliptical Workout

Before I share the workout playlist, I thought that I'd share my workout from yesterday. I spent 40 minutes on the elliptical for some steady state cardio. I then spent 10 minutes walking the track for my cool down. My workout flew by – maybe because it's my first workout of the week and I took two rest days over the weekend.

I made a protein smoothie for breakfast when I got home. I forgot that I was out of frozen berries (which is a go to ingredient for me when it comes to protein smoothies), so I used some fresh strawberries instead. It tasted good and helped too cool me down after my workout.

It's an eclectic playlist this month – I've included everything from hip hop to pop, both old songs and new. These songs always pump me up and get me going, so I thought they'd be perfect to put together in a workout playlist. If you're looking for more workout music, check out my playlists page here. You can also find this playlist on Spotify.

July 2018 Workout Playlist

Crazy in Love was the first Beyonce song that I really liked back in the day. I remember listening to it on my car in university with friends. It seems like such a long time ago now. Isn't it funny how certain songs can bring back memories so clearly?

I added Still DRE by Dr Dre and Hypnotize by The Notorious BIG because I watched Unsolved and I had forgotten how good a lot of 90's hip hop was. I hear songs watching Unsolved that I hadn't heard in years.

What's a favorite song that's on a workout playlist of yours right now? Share it in the comments below. 

Weekend in Review July 16 2018

Friday

It ended up being really hot on Friday evening. I was sweating just sitting on the couch and doing absolutely nothing. Needless to say, it was pretty miserable. Air conditioning isn't something that homes are generally built with here in Calgary, so when it's hot outside, it's usually hot inside too. I didn't feel like doing anything, so I ended up just watching TV. I actually started watching Unsolved on Netflix.

I'm now a few episodes in and I'm enjoying it. It has a great soundtrack – I'm sure it's been ages since I've heard some of those songs. The actor that plays Detective Poole looked very familiar to me, but I wasn't able to figure out where I'd seen him before. I finally googled it and I found out that he also played William in Westworld. Apparently I didn't recognize him without his white cowboy hat.

Saturday

I started  off the day at the grocery store. I got there early and was able to avoid most of the crowds. They had strawberries on sale, so I decided to take advantage. They were really good and only lasted 36 hours. They were quite possibly the best $3 I spent while I was there.

Groceries

I made these pork and peanut dragon noodles for lunch. I got the recipe for it from Budget Bytes, which is a go to resource for me when I'm looking for recipes. I've made them before, and they turned out just as delicious as before. They're also great as leftovers. I think that they end up getting a bit milder the longer they stay in the fridge.

I decided to head over to a thrift store on Saturday afternoon to see if I could find any good deals. I ended up getting this Fossil tote bag for a really great price. It looks like its hardly been used as there's no wear on it. While I don't always find things when I go thrifting, it's definitely fun when I do.

Fossil Tote

My laptop fits in it (just barely), so I have a feeling it'll become my go to bag to use when I need to take my computer with me somewhere. On the way home from shopping I decided to stop at Starbucks and get something to drink.

Passion Tea Lemonade

I went with my usual hot weather drink – a passion tea lemonade. I'm not a coffee drinker (I don't like the smell or taste), so this tea and lemonade combo is perfect for me. Do you always go with something with coffee at Starbucks or something else?

Sunday

Sunday morning I stopped by the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and the grocery store to get a few things. I popped into Tim Horton's before I went home to get coffees for my parents and get a couple donuts. I went with a maple one with cream inside. So tasty and so bad for me at the same time.

Maple Donut

I finished up some laundry on Sunday afternoon and got some blogging done before spending some time reading Lilac Girls (affiliate link). While I'm not too far into Lilac Girls yet, I'm liking it so far. I'm a big fan of historical fiction, so when I saw that it takes place during WWII I was pretty sure that I'd like it.

Now that you know what I did, what was the highlight of your weekend?

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