Friday Favorites: Christmas Baking + Striped Mittens

In today’s post I’m sharing a few of my favorite things from the past week.

Christmas baking

This week I started doing some Christmas baking. My brother requested that I make rum balls. My dad wanted gingerbread cookies. I always make Chex mix because it’s nice to have something savory to balance out all of the sweet treats at this time of year. I also may make shortbread cookies. They’re my favorite. I typically only have them at Christmas so it’s a treat that I really look forward to at this time of year.

Yesterday afternoon I made the rum balls. Unfortunately I underestimated how many chocolate sprinkles I would need though. I ended up having to use colored sprinkles until I ran out of those too. Finally had to resort to rolling the last dozen or so of the rum balls in sugar. I suppose it’s typical of 2020. While they may not look as delicious as they do most years, they’ll still taste good.

Pink and blue striped mittens

I used some new yarn this week and knit up a pair of mittens. I love the bright and colorful stripes on these mittens. They’re super cute and they knit up great. I put off making mittens for a long time because I thought that they would be really complicated and hard to make because of the thumb. I’m so glad that I decided to take a chance and try to knit them though because they were a whole lot easier than I was expecting.

If you’re also a knitter, I made them using The World’s Simplest Mittens pattern by Tin Can Knits. It’s a really well written pattern that’s very clear to follow. The best part of it though is that it includes sizes from toddler to adult large in yarn weight from fingering to chunky. Whatever yarn and needles you have on hand, you can make a pair of mittens. I used a DK weight yarn Lion Brand Big Scoop in cake batter (affiliate link) for the above mittens in an adult small.

The Lies that Bind

I started reading The Lies that Bind (affiliate link) by Emily Griffin earlier this week. It drew me in right from the first few pages which doesn’t always happen. I believe this is the first book by Emily Griffin that I’ve read. I’m pretty sure that someone on Instagram recommended it to me. I can’t remember who it was, so if it was you, thank you! Below I’ve added a synopsis of it from Good Reads.

It’s 2 A.M. on a Saturday night in the spring of 2001, and twenty-eight-year-old Cecily Gardner sits alone in a dive bar in New York’s East Village, questioning her life. Feeling lonesome and homesick for the Midwest, she wonders if she’ll ever make it as a reporter in the big city–and whether she made a terrible mistake in breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, Matthew.

As Cecily reaches for the phone to call him, she hears a guy on the barstool next to her say, “Don’t do it–you’ll regret it.” Something tells her to listen, and over the next several hours–and shots of tequila–the two forge an unlikely connection. That should be it, they both decide the next morning, as Cecily reminds herself of the perils of a rebound relationship. Moreover, their timing couldn’t be worse–Grant is preparing to quit his job and move overseas. Yet despite all their obstacles, they can’t seem to say goodbye, and for the first time in her carefully constructed life, Cecily follows her heart instead of her head.

Then Grant disappears in the chaos of 9/11. Fearing the worst, Cecily spots his face on a missing-person poster, and realizes she is not the only one searching for him. Her investigative reporting instincts kick into action as she vows to discover the truth. But the questions pile up fast: How well did she really know Grant? Did he ever really love her? And is it possible to love a man who wasn’t who he seemed to be?

As for this weekend I don’t have much planned. I have a virtual appointment tomorrow morning and that’s about all that I’ve committed to so far. Is anyone else enjoying the phone/online appointments right now as much as I am? I’m all about the commute to and from my computer. I’m thinking I might make the Chex mix on Sunday, but I’ll see how it goes. I hope you have a great weekend and I’ll see you back here on Monday.

What’s something you make (sweet or not) at Christmas? Are you crafty?

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At Home Workout for Beginners

Today I’m sharing an at home workout that’s perfect for beginners.

We’re already half way through the week! So far this week is flying by – probably because it’s been a busy week for me so far. I’ve had appointments both Monday and yesterday. They always seem to take longer than expected, so I’m looking forward to a few days with no appointments on my calendar.

This workout is designed to get you working for 30 seconds followed by a 60 second rest. That should give you enough time to recover and then transition to the next exercise on the list. Set a timer on your phone or even use an app – there are a bunch of them specifically for timing intervals. If your just starting your fitness journey, doing the 10 exercises on the list might be enough of a workout for you. If you’re a pro, do through the exercises 2 or 3 times. Below the workout graphic I’ve listed descriptions of all of the moves I’ve included in this workout. If you’re not feeling this workout, be sure to check out my workout page. I have all the workouts I’ve shared on the blog over the years categorized so that it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.

You’ll need a minimal amount of equipment for this at home workout for beginners – a pair or two of dumbbells and a yoga mat for the exercises on the floor. I like these dumbbells (affiliate link) from Amazon. If you have more than one set of dumbbells, use a lighter pair for the upper body exercises and a heavier pair for the lower body exercises. I love my Manduka Pro yoga mat (affiliate link). It’s been with me through a few years of yoga including yoga teacher training and it still looks great. Check out my review of it here.

Overhead press

Stand with your feet hip width apart with a dumbbell in each hand. With your upper arms in a 90 degree angle to your torso and your hands directly above your elbows, lift your hands straight up so that your arms are straight above your head. Slowly lower your hands back down to the starting position. 

Alternating lunges

Stand with feet hip width apart. Step forward with one foot so that the front 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. Continue alternating legs for the entire 30 seconds.

Knee push ups

Starting on your knees and hands, make sure your body is a straight line from your knees, hips, shoulders, and neck. Your hands should be a bit wider than your shoulders. Slowly bend at the elbows, lowering yourself to the ground. Try to get at low as possible, and then push yourself back up, all the while maintaining that straight line.

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.

Crunches

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feel flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head. Slowly lift your shoulder blades off the floor. Make sure your neck stays in a neutral position. The upper back should be moving, not the neck. Slowly lay back down on the floor.

Tricep extensions

Laying on your back on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, move your arms so that they are straight up above your shoulders. Bending at the elbow, bring the dumbbells towards each side of your head and then return to the starting position.

Bodyweight squats

With feet hip width apart and hands in front of you to help with balance, 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, using your glutes to propel yourself.

Bicep curls

Start with the feet hip width apart, and back in a neutral position. With a dumbbell in each hand, keep your elbows in close to your side and raise the dumbbell upwards. Movement should be at the elbow, not the wrist. Lower the dumbbell with a controlled movement, not allowing gravity to take over.

Side shuffles

Stand with feet hip width apart and knees bent so you’re slightly squatting. Leading with your left foot, shuffle sideways. Then shuffle to the right with your right food leading. Move as quickly as possible.

Plank

The plank is very similar to the starting position of a pushup. Your hands are slightly wider than shoulder width, and your body is a straight line from your head, through your shoulders, hips, and knees, to your heels. Just like with the pushup, if you need an easier modification, use your knees instead of your toes.

What’s your favorite exercise to do at home?

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

Friday Favorites: Toques + RX Bars

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite things from the past week.

I hope that all of my American readers were able to enjoy Thanksgiving yesterday. I know that it looked very different from last year, and even if you weren’t able to be with friends and family, you were still able to connect other ways. I also hope that there was a lot of delicious food as well. Although I live in Canada and Thanksgiving is in October here, my mom was American so we always celebrated the American one in November as well. We kept that tradition going this year. There were a few places in Calgary that were offering Thanksgiving dinners yesterday, so I ordered Thanksgiving meals from Prairie Dog Brewing for my dad, brother, and I. The food was delicious and I’m so glad that we decided to go with them.

As usual for Fridays over here, I’m sharing a few of my favorite things from the last week.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve gotten back into knitting lately. My therapist suggested it to deal with anxiety in the moment. It keeps my hands and mind busy and it’s something I enjoy. I finished up this hat and I really like how it turned out. It was a new to me pattern, so I’m never quite sure how they’ll turn out. Some I end up loving and others I’m not so thrilled with. However, I love that the big cables really pop on this hat. I think it’s a great combination of yarn choice and pattern. The yarn is super soft and really cozy – perfect for a toque!

I’ve been trying different flavors of RX Bars (affiliate link) over the past few months. I’ve really liked all of them that I’ve tried so far. I thought I would commit and get a box of one flavor. I decided to go with peanut butter even though I hadn’t tried that flavor before. Risky, I know. I could have hated them, but thankfully they’re my favorite flavor so far. They’re so good – perfectly chewy and sweet thanks to the dates. If you’re looking for an easy to take with you snack, I highly recommend RX Bars.

What’s a favorite of yours from the past week? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dinner food?

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Life Lately: November 2020

In today’s post I’m sharing an update in what’s been going on in my world over the past month.

It’s hard to believe that we’re closing in on the end of 2020 and it’s November already. On one hand it feels like 2020 has been crawling by at a glacial speed. On the other hand some weeks feel like they’re flying by. Time feels very different these days. This month has been an eventful one for me. Read on to find out what’s been going on in my world in November.

Celebrating my birthday

This month I turned 38. While this year’s birthday was definitely different than last year’s, I was still able to celebrate with my dad and brother. We ordered in food from our favorite neighborhood pub. I ate a delicious hamburger that was honestly the best burger I’ve had in a long time. Since new restrictions were put in place by the provincial government the day before I had plans to get together with my boyfriend for my birthday, that meant that we had to go for a walk with his dog instead of watching a movie together on Netflix. At least I was able to see both my boyfriend and Winston.

New medication dosage

I’ve been working with my doctors to find a new medication dosage. Unfortunately it’s been complicated by side effects. Whenever my daily dose is increased I end up experiencing some unpleasant GI side effects for 4 or 5 days. It’s pretty miserable, but I know that it’s something that (so far – I’m keeping my fingers crossed) goes away once my body gets used to the increased dose. I increase the dosage one more time this weekend and I’m really hoping that that’s the last time it has to be changed.

I’m also experiencing very vivid and disturbing dreams as another side effect. Some nights will be fine, but other times I’ll wake up from nightmares in the middle of the night. Most of the time they involve people I love dying or me trying to save them from something. It’s pretty frustrating because I’ve worked really hard to improve my sleep over the past year and a half. Despite all of the changes I’ve made I’m finding it hard to fall asleep again because I don’t want to deal with anymore bad dreams.

I’m very grateful that I’m working with two doctors who really seem to get that the side effects make things pretty miserable sometimes. They’re willing to listen and don’t try to tell me that it’s “all in my head” like I’ve experienced with other doctors.

New Fitbit Versa 3

Speaking of my birthday, I used some birthday money to buy a new Fitbit. My Charge 2 died right before Halloween. I had it for nearly 4 years, so at least I got my money’s worth out of it. After checking out the Fitbit website I decided to upgrade to the Versa 3 (affiliate link). I decided on the black one rather than the blue or pink ones. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and I’m so glad that I got it. The Versa 3 is a big upgrade from the Charge 3. I have a color watch, I can see a lot more stats on it, and I can even track a bigger variety of workouts with it. The best part is that it’s water resistant so I don’t have to be as careful with it like I did with my Charge 2.

I’m planning on writing a review of my Versa 3 in the next few weeks. If you have anything you’d like to know about it or questions you’d like answered make sure to let me know in the comments below. I’ll be sure to cover those topics in my review.

Getting answers

Back in August I was referred to a program to get access to specialists for something that I’m dealing with. Unfortunately it’s a very busy clinic which means that there’s a wait list to access services from them. You also have to if you qualify to access the program. Since August I’ve been doing assessments with a bunch of different healthcare providers from the clinic. It feels like I’ve had appointments with a ton of people, but no one has been able to tell me yet if I qualify for the program or not.

I finally have an appointment on Monday afternoon to with someone from the clinic to find out if I can access their services or not. I’m feeling pretty nervous about it. It feels like it’s taken a long time to get to this point. I don’t want all of the waiting I’ve done to be for nothing. It would make life so much easier to be able to work with specialists and have a bunch of the healthcare providers I work with to be all in one place and be able to communicate with each other. Having things be as coordinated as possible would take a lot of the pressure off of me.

What’s been a highlight of November for you? Let me know about it in the comments.

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Holiday Nail Colors

In today’s post I’m sharing some pretty holiday nail colors.

Since I’ve been doing my nail regularly I’ve been looking forward to the holidays. I’m not a girly girl, but I do enjoy getting dressed up every once in awhile. While this year’s Christmas and New Year’s celebrations will be looking very different, I know that it’ll still be fun to look the part even if it’s just my dad and brother who see me. It’s one of those little things that I can do for myself that helps this time feel a bit more “normal”.

If you’re looking for all of my beauty posts, you can find them here. If you’re interesting in the nail polish, I usually share when I put on my nails on my Instagram account. Make sure to give me a follow on there. In addition to the colors I’ve share below, I highly recommend you use a base and top coat as well as cuticle oil to get the most out of your at home mani or pedi. I like this base coat (affiliate link), top coat (affiliate link), and cuticle oil (affiliate link). I figure if I’m going to put in the time and effort to do my nails, I might as well make them look good for as long as possible.

If you’re going for a classic look then red is the color for you. This shade (affiliate link) is so pretty. It’s from Essie and called Not Red-y For Bed.

Similar to red, I think pinks are a go to color for nails. I like this dark pink (affiliate link) and this more neutral lighter pink (affiliate link).

I could see myself wearing this silver glitter nail polish (affiliate link) for an online Zoom Christmas get together with family or friends. It’s hard to go with anything that’s sparkly. You could even layer it on top of a solid color for a cute look. Metallics are everywhere for the holidays from clothes to jewelry, so I thought I’d include this silver nail polish (affiliate link).

I think that this dark gray color (affiliate link) is a perfect holiday nail color. I tend to gravitate towards darker colors during the winter, so it’s a great neutral to go with lots of outfits. Last but not least, I think white nail polish (affiliate link) is really pretty during the winter too.

Click below to be taken to the retailer’s websites to buy the nail polish I’ve featured in this post. They’re all affiliate links.

What’s your go to holiday nail polish colors? Share it in the comments below.

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