Friday, December 26, 2014


Celery stuffed with cream cheese is not a common Christmas tradition but it's festive, crunchy & delicious, and ready to be your holiday bff.

With paprika!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Santa Dog

He also sees you when you're drinking from the carton and backwashing in the eggnog....

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pike place

I plowed through a Bliss workout this morning. Well okay, a “kwik and lite” version of Bliss:  4 sets of 10 push ups (modified) followed by 40 sit ups. I intend to integrate sets of sit ups and pikes until I can do 40 full-on pikes. I’d like to be strong enough to complete 40 full push ups, too. Practically an Olympic goal for me right now. Note to self: that would be a good thing to ask Santa for!

Having time in the morning before work feels luxurious; a splendid time to watch snow falling on city streets while energizing with a cup o’ joe.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Melty, mushy, crunchy, cold

Have you ever considered the ideal follow-up to a steaming bowl of savoury pho? Look no further.

// Deep-fried banana with coconut ice cream //

Monday, December 8, 2014

Warmth on a cold day

Red Thai curry with 'fu

Blueberry-apple crumble

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Back to life

Next weekend something special is going to happen: I’m going to participate in the Toronto Waterfront Half. My preparations for the event are going as planned – rather poorly – but I’m still excited about this race.

I don’t run big city races very often. There’s much to enjoy in a race like this (like the sizzling energy in the air, the feeling that the other runners could potentially be friends or at least weekly training partners, and the follow-up hearty breakfast and race discussion with runners) but races haven’t been on my radar. For the past two years I have been much too busy to allot time for running at a training level. It’s been two years of “just getting through the day,” with work and school wasting taking up most of my time. I’m not enrolled in anything this fall, except my day job of course. Can't drop that quite yet.

On Saturday I ran my 10k route. The fall colours were beautiful and my form felt good, although I did aim to keep the pace slow. At about the 40-minute mark I sped up slightly to pass a couple of fast walkers and maintained that pace until the IT band on the exterior side of my left knee started to protest. I reduced my “speed” and continued.

That IT band is a cranky ol’ lady who prefers (demands?) consistency. It’s like the class system: try to rise above your station and you’ll be punished. The terror of life under the reign of Queen IT.

Besides that single outing, I haven’t been running. I won’t attempt a long run now with the race just six days away. A 10-15k run is definitely in the picture, though. A slow one.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Be positive

The temperature this morning was only 22 degrees but the humidity was off the charts. I only found this out by actually being outside, aka the hard way. Thought it might rain but it didn't. So whatever, it's my last 20k for a while (in running mode; plenty of long walks of at least that distance remain ahead - is it too late to plead insanity and refund my flight to Lisbon?) so I slowed down and forged ahead to home and breakfast. Somewhere along the last 5k I spied a message scrawled in purple chalk on the asphalt - be positive. It was exactly what I needed to hear/read! Motivation plus puzzle. Who wrote that and why? And why in chalk? Permanent marker next time!

Pesto pasta with peppers, chilies and walnuts afterwards:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Edible rocks

Why don't all minerals taste this delicious?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Water bottle

I've been doing more running over the summer than this blog will tell you. Last week, though, I had a lot on my mind and in my calendar. Loose ends to tie up and conumdrums to puzzle over. As a result, almost no running happened. Plus, the weather was cool and the rain chased me away from my running route. It's a mental game, isn't it? Getting out the door when the weather is misbehaving and no one is waiting on you. The short runs I did get through (a 5k and a 10k) did not come close to balancing out the abundant eating and drinking (highlights include fries, cheese, wine, and cake).

I ran today. My plan is to run a lot for the next 10 days until the next leg begins, replacing short morning runs with day-long meanders on unfamiliar routes. My water bottle, however, remains a constant companion.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Piece of cake

I made a chocolate-espresso ice cream cake! It suffered internal damages after we forgot to re-freeze it at the party, but it still tried to be pretty for the camera.

I can't however take credit for making this cake:

Wonder where they got the strawberry

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Jiro dreams of nachos

It's been a while since I've written about food, but meanwhile there have been many delicious dinners. These meals tend to walk the healthy/indulgent line, and involve veggies or cheese, and sometimes both.

My bf's signature dish includes veggies *and* cheese, yet additional ingredients push the final product further toward the quadrant of snacks I call "irresistible and indulgent."

His signature dish is fully loaded nachos.

:: D's mexi-fabulous old-skool snack ::

According to D, an order of nachos should compose of layers of restaurant-style tortilla chips (he prefers blue corn), each layer topped with generous amounts of grated cheese (two kinds) and finely-diced vegetables (green and black olives, green pepper, banana peppers, and red onion).

He prepares each ingredient individually, then fits a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Watching him assemble a tray of nachos is like watching a conductor in front of an orchestra. He knows, as though by instinct, precisely where each piece should fit in relation to the whole. As though the sheet of nachos already exists in his mind and he is following the blueprint. Fine-tuning his product as he waits for the oven to heat, he looks over the bricolage with a critical eye and grates a little more cheese or cracks another jar of olives if the proportions aren't just right.

After he pulls his tray from the oven we sample our first bite. His attention to detail and generosity toward toppings has paid off: the nachos are crunchy and textured, each chip loaded with a unique combo of vegetables and melted cheese. They are heavenly, the aspiration of nachos made in pubs around the world.

If the medical gig doesn't work out, I foresee a promising second career.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Doing nothing

I have always wished for a purpose. For as long as I can remember I have believed that if I just knew what I was supposed to do, I would do it and then move on. Then, fulfilled in my purpose, I could address the less pressing decisions, like where to live and when to have a family.

The problem is that my purpose remains elusive. I may have seen its shadow but I'm not sure how to get my hands on it. Am I supposed to let it come to me, or should I give chase, like a cheetah pursuing an antelope? I'm told that if I listen to my instincts, I'll find my purpose. But how can that be true, when obediently listening to them landed me here?

I need to learn acceptance. This is how things are for me; this is where I am. On the map, my arrow indicates Point A. I don't know what Point B is, so it's pointless to search. I am ashamed to be here still, floundering, when doors just ahead that were once wide open are closing without a sound. And imagining that this existence which makes me squirm at night in my dreams *is* my purpose is just as unacceptable as the thought that we live in Sartre's version of hell in No Exit. I'm not an existentialist but an idealist; in terms of levels of difficulty the two are evenly matched. We are defined by what we do, not by what we dream of doing, and I am doing nothing as I wait, wait, wait.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Running by roses

Long run day. I took the route that follows the river because the gravel path is peaceful and beautiful in summer, a season that is not, I have found, endless. My plan is to run there along the beautiful river often before September sets in and I have to leave for my trip.

A few copse of pink rose bushes dot the path (sounds posh, doesn't it?). The roses smell intensely earlier in the morning, during the first half of my run. When I double-back and pass the roses for a second time, their scent is less pronounced, perhaps because by then the dew has completely evaporated, leaving the roses dry and less perfumey.

// Dry martini beach //

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mer bleu

We hiked in a downpour and lived to tell the tale!

I had a quick snack after work, and then we drove to an area near Innis Rd that offers a network of trails and parking areas. Standing in the parking lot beside the car, we thoroughly soaked our limbs with max strength bug spray. "Once bitten, twice shy!" winked D, referring to our fly-infested outing at Murphy's Point last week. We hit the woods, excited as kids.

The path was a gentle walk for most of the 7-8 km. One of the first sights we met when starting off was of handmade birdhouses hanging from trees.

Homemade birdhouses swinging on limbs of an old tree
The path started off in the forest and led us into beautiful open fields that smelled of honeysuckle. We saw black eyed susans, and hopping toads - and then a bolt of lightning in a darkened area of the sky. About ten minutes later the rain fell. It didn't dip in a toe, holding back shyly and pondering whether it should enter our existence, which was nice and dry, thank you very much. It just fell, and all at once, as though gravity had suddenly given way. 

D calmly put on his rain jacket, while I, ever the city slicker, grabbed my little blue umbrella from my backpack. The rain was as thick as a grey curtain and made seeing the path signage more difficult. But we discovered the reason for the trail's name! All indications point to the massive puddles that form in the middle of the path. Blue sea, indeed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Canada Day ride

Who doesn't love a national holiday star-crossed with a heat wave and topped off with a severe weather warning? I do, I do! I heard that, short of scaling the wall like Spider-man, it's nearly impossible to gain access to my office building today. I couldn't work today even if I wanted to! It's pretty great, unless you have to don your employee costume and go to work. Which is what D did a few hours ago. He is a trooper.

I finally washed down my bike and took that long ride I'd been promising myself since the flood a month ago or more. Small steps like washing the grime from the cogs and the chain, and then dripping a light coat of lubricant seemed more daunting than they actually were. Am I really this lazy? With a clean, smooth chain on my otherwise dirt-encrusted bicycle I followed the very populated bike path over the bridge. 

Arriving at the marina, I was taken with the sky, as the entire cloud cover - most of the sky - was moving preternaturally swiftly in a single direction. The clouds were still quite pale, so I figured I had sufficient time to take the break I had been eagerly anticipating. Biking is awesome and easy, but bike shorts and seats a little less so. 

I pulled up to a picnic table and munched a few almonds and a Clif bar while watching a small sailboat stripped of all its sails dance a demonic salsa upon powerful waves the colour of mud. It bobbed so harshly that I couldn't look away. It didn't seem to be anchored to anything more substantial than the mud floor, and appeared destined for mishap. Yet it stubbornly continued to hold on

It hasn't rained yet, and I wonder if the sailboat is still bobbing on the waves, biding its time until it is set free to sail around the world! 

Monday, June 30, 2014

The last day of June

I haven’t been here that often, but I want to report that I have been running. I ran four times last week – four! – but skipped yesterday’s long haul in favour of book reading and game playing on account of low courage in the face of high humidity. I’ve been doing some shoulder and back work. I ran this morning, too. My 5k felt more like wading then running, and I could feel beads of sweat form on my scalp under my cap as soon as I walked outdoors; despite this, I felt strong and good. I think running becomes more of a mental exercise at times like this.

I haven’t blogged since May. Last time I checked the calendar (which was roughtly two minutes ago) the date was June 30th. The last day of June. Given the time and opportunity (and possibly motivation) I would be showing up here more regularly. But at the very least, I don’t want to go a full month without posting so I am preparing to meet that deadline. I’m sliding the term paper under the prof’s office door in the early morning of the due date, and using up that last bit of spinach in the fridge before it rots. I’m entering the cinema just as the room darkens and the trailers come to a close. Sliding to home and getting tagged by a baseball-clenched glove. I love this place.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Toronto in October

I registered for the half-marathon at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon!

I think that mid-October will feature cooler weather to offset the heat of the crowds. I've heard this is a very popular race weekend in a very large city. I'm dedicated, but not so good with schedules. I hope I can make that work for me over the summer.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The sun and me

I had the path mostly to myself this morning. My best guess for a reason is that the runners I'd normally see around 6:00 are wisely sticking to their training schedule and tapering before this weekend's marathon. Tapering and sleeping. Good for them! And for me, too. I like the company, and the lively competition motivates me, but time alone is precious.

Three runs/week has been the pattern for the past three weeks.
Today's fun and games:

  • 5k run
  • Stairs to the 9th floor

Monday, May 5, 2014

Le bon hier

I ran 15k yesterday in the mist of the morning. I ran slowly and enjoyed the absence of greasy sunscreen which, on hot days, mingles with drops of sweat and lands in my eyes, smearing my contacts. Also cherished a long run without much thirst. This is freedom! 

Today was a bike day. I unlocked my bike from her basement shackles at the crack of dawn so that she could help me run an errand before work; biked to work and then home afterwards; then took a spin with D after he retrieved his freshly tuned-up bike from the shop. Now I can feel my triceps murmuring. It takes very little to get a rise out of them - they're sensitive. 

Friday, May 2, 2014


Yesterday: After stepping out of the dark, cold office building and into a bit of sunshine and warmth, I knew that a run would be just the thing to ease me into the day’s Phase Two: Being A Person Who Thinks And Feels And Not An Office Worker (my secret identity).

I thought about where best to work toward this transition. Should I follow a longer, slower route? Or grind out a 25-minute hustle? The middle ground–a loop to keep me in motion for 45 minutes or so–was the winning option. I’ve run this loop a gazillion times. It follows a path that is quick for me to access and get home from (about 30 seconds) and it’s only mildly visually appealing unless I happen to spot heron, which are famously reclusive, or a team of clowns in wigs and garish makeup and polka-dotted onesies running ahead, honking their horns out of sync with the slap slap slap slap of their long, red shoes on the pavement. Those sights don’t happen often. Once in a blue moon, really. We have a mostly-quiet city filled with mostly rule-abiding people who are not prone to running drunk, or naked, or in costume, and truly there is nothing wrong with that.

Anyway, it was windy.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Misty morning

I plodded through a 5k slowly this morning and now I feel happier. Running in the morning usually sets me up for a good mood. I'm just happy to have that shit a run over with early, haha. Before breakfast, even. Last night (after polishing off half a bag of vegetable chips) I did the P90X workout for biceps and back, and then the abs workout. The bicep exercises require heavier weights than we own, so I'm thiking about getting some hand weights to round out our "gym" (a collection of low weights messily stacked in a corner of the living room. A garage sale in a close neighborhood has been announced for the end of May, and there are always yard sales downtown on summer weekends. Should be able to find something. How popular can ten-pound weights be? While it's been about two weeks since I began doing the abs consistently, last night I found the routine felt harder. What?! Is that because I'm getting used to the exercises and improving my form just enough to perform the exercises more correctly? Or am I experiencing a Benjamin Button-like phenomenon whereby my abs muscles will de-evolve with every set of abs I perform?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Easing back

19k! That was last Sunday. I was unable to run for a week afterwards. I had been dreaming of a slow and enjoyable 15k loop that moves through several neighborhoods and lots of natural areas. I've seen deer and herons there. That loop is like an old friend I hadn't seen in a long while. But I'd forgotten how unrelenting that friend is - after 19k worth of demands - not 15! remember this, Frannie! - I landed at the apartment tired and amazed that my knees were still operating. For the week that followed, I completed 3x abs (YES!) and threw in a couple of longer walks (1.5 hours). Yoga happened, and Bessie also made an appearance on the bike path! Just a 48-minute run last night. I didn't want to commit further damage on my abused legs. Some anti-IT band exercises wrapped up the evening, and my legs feel like thmselves today.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Running and a big red

A day off! I ran for an hour. 

Every step felt strong. I chose areas of the path that have little incline, and there weren't many people out and about. Little traffic. A few cyclists and people with dogs. No troubles, with the exception of my GPS, which doesn't work properly if not fully charged. It wasn't, and it didn't. Useless, but no matter. I didn't need to time myself today.

When I got back to the apartment, I did the 15-minutes "ab ripper" - the P90X abs routine. For some reason I've decided that I need to do abs three times a week. For what? My dedication is questionable, as are the effects. I could be making other promises to myself, ones that will produce greater payoffs, like promising to write for an hour a day, or looking for a better job for an hour every day. I don't know why the abs promise has a hold on me right now but it does, so I'm going to ride it out, see how long it lasts. 

The big red flight - Ithaca
I haven't really mentioned our trip to Ithaca in early March!

On our second evening, we went to a busy tapas resto and ended up sitting on stools at the far end of the bar. Turns out the bar was a fantastic place to sit and sample dishes and wines. We ordered a flight of bold red wines and a few plates to share that sounded interesting. The dish in the centre of the photo is warm greens with walnuts, kidney beans, and blue cheese. To the right are a - school? - of fish croquettes that reminded us of deep fried Portuguese fish cakes - soooo tasty.

Everything was delicious. Ithaca is a great place to visit if you're hungry.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Then and there

My body clock still hasn't readjusted to this time zone. Yawns creep in after dinner and by 8:30 pm my eyelids are falling down and I must away to bed. I often find myself awake around 2:30 am, and usually get out of bed even though I'm still tired. I do that because willing oneself to sleep is a frustrating and sometimes depressing activity that often ends in futility. This probably gives me a taste of what D lives with every day. His shifts begin at inconsistent hours and his life schedule constantly requires tailoring. If I keep a low profile until I recover, however, it's really problematic for the world at large. As long as the cat gets fed, I suppose.

I've been letting a little bit of exercise into my day. Yoga at home on Sunday, then a run on Monday morning after a fitful sleep. It was a very pleasant experience, that morning run. The air was warm, and I was excited to be on the path for the first time this season. In shorts!

Last night I did the P90X legs workout, followed by a 15-minute ab routine that I couldn't complete entirely! For one thing, it's been a while since my last attempt. The only work I've been doing with my abs lately has focused solely on expansion, haha! Another reason is that it is really hard! I might follow the lead of the Gaz, and attempt an abs workout three times per week. I always find that legs + abs routine challenging and fulfilling. And it basically puts me to bed from exhaustion. I really need that right now in my off-the-clock life.

~ and now for something completely different ~

I had time today to listen to the new Beck record - I enjoy its gentle moodiness - and read some excerpts online from a book called, What Should I Do With My Life?. It's a collection of stories crafted from interviews with people who made career decisions. It's really that simple. The people don't sound all that unusual and their jobs don't really stand out. I didn't read about anyone who hopped from a job as sandwich artist to that of a scientist, and then three years later discovered a cure. No, nothing that unorthodox. Quitting a job as a bank exec to become a social worker - that was a story, and it's not unheard of. I think it actually happens a lot.

The decisions and paths followed made the stories come alive. The stories followed different routes but echoed some common themes, like following your heart, or finally understanding what you really want to do and then pursuing it, even when the result will be making less money, going against parental wishes, or battling your own core beliefs about what work means and what it should do for you (pay your bills, provide for others, allow you to afford luxuries, and so on). 

Clearly, many people feel stuck. Although that's a sad thread, the author's final message is positive. The world is a rich and intriguing place flowing with opportunities; if you are curious and reach out, with practice you will not be stuck forever.

A colleague told me that she had decided to attend art school in her youth "because there was nothing else to do." Art school was on her radar. It's not on everyone's. It wasn't on mine, yet now we're in the same place, working together. The story of how we arrived is more interesting than the act of being there.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The banana bread baked by jet lag

The Marbled Banana Bread from Post Punk Kitchen.

Vegan! And marbled with the goodness of cocoa.

Inside view:

Fun facts about jet lag

I went to bed at 11:00 this morning. Breakfasted at the crack of 18:00 on spaghetti with mushroom sauce and wine (grazie mille, D!).

Jet lag:
  • provides yet another reason to avoid doing anything
  • elevates Facebook to the world's most entertaining web site ever
  • encourages nonlinear thinking patterns - can be fun/exhausting
  • limits ability to verbally express yourself - frustrating
  • slides your circadian rhythm over to the other side 
  • discourages interest in food
  • makes me f'n tired!
I maintain hope that I'll feel up to a run tomorrow. Maybe I'll see geese! I watched two fly by the window today. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hot cans in a small world

I woke up in Hiroshima to the sound of my alarm set for an early rise. The plan was to meet in the lobby but my brother is missing. This, my SIL says, is because the two of them heard the train last night. Heard it frequently. So, when a nice hotel is really cheap, there is usually a good reason behind the reduced rates. I got my coffee from a vending machine on the way to the lobby. I accidentally pressed the button for the cold can instead of the hot, so I shoved the cold one in my backpack for later, and bought two hot ones. And they are really hot. They think of everything for cold days - heated toilet seats and hot cans of coffee from vending machines. No central heating but the thick comforters do a good job of nesting me to sleep every night, when sleep in available and not hijacked by jet lag and loud trains. The vending machine beside me right now is the one you use to pay for the hotel room you registered for at the front desk. A few minutes ago, having no credit cards to process, it burst into an acoustic version of It,s a Small World After All.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Japanese breakfasts

Breakfasts in other countries tell the truth. Dinners and Lunches can be dressed up and made to seem like meals one enjoys at home, and in fact it can be really eay to get some dishes around the home, comforting dishes like spaghetti and pizza. But at breakfast there is not always a lot of room for hominess, and one is left to find deliciousness in whatever the locals eat unless an expensive hotel chain can provide cherished foods from back home. We had miso noodle soup for breakfast today, followed by bowls of juicy strawberries lightly dressed with condensed milk. Oatmeal would not improve this meal. It was totally delicious on its own. I went for a run outside yesterday in Okayama. Along a course that hugged a winding river, and occasionally under a canopy of light pink cherry blossoms. It was early morning. The rain had just stopped and there was a freshness in the air. I ran on concrete and gravel and saw people on bicycles, maybe heading to work. No stray animals! Small houses with gates, tight against the concrete of the road.

Monday, March 17, 2014


I'm forever impressed by warriors. And most attracted to his variety of activities. I like his words of advice about maintaining the weekly long run, and keeping up with daily 30-minute works. It sounds so positive and achievable, doesn't it?


I ran hard on the TM for 30 minutes after work. Later, after a sandwich at home, I did 20 x 4 "kettlebell" swings with a 25-lb weight. I'm not sure I did them properly because a weight is harder to hold between the legs than a k-bell which has that handy, er, handle at the top. I concentrated on keeping a straight back and my shoulders above my knees. I'm not sure how successful I was on that last point. Next time I'll try it in front of a mirror.

The run was no biggie but the swings left me breathless. I had to rest at least a minute between sets. I'm encouraged to find one or two kettle bells and some new exercises.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


My workouts have really fallen off the rails for the last two weeks. One massive contributing factor is my birthday. I like to spread the celebration of the anniversary of my birth about as thinly as Vegemite: a cracker here and there until the knife is scraping the sides of an empty jar.

There was a delightful weekend away with my paramour during which we sampled cheesy lasagna, eggy breakfasts, tapas and red wines. We sampled these delights in establishments within a two-block radius which completely eliminated the need for walking. There were brownies enjoyed with a colleague one boring afternoon at the office. Then there was a pub dinner with friends where we ordered meals assembled from diverse but ultimately calorific ingredients, like the white bean dip that was decorated with turnip dices and sour cream, and served with a bowl of fried homemade tortillas. We consume more calories with friends because of subtle peer pressure or encouragement, depending on how you see it, plus we're happy to be with people we don't see often enough. Either way, we want to keep the party going with "meal stretchers" like appetizers and desserts, which keep us bound at the table for more togetherness. This applies to dinner parties or restaurant meals.

So, it looks like my birthday is not just the deciding factor, but the only one in my workout schedule being so empty over the last 10 days or so! I go through this string of celebrations every year, but only once, and I derive so much contentedness from it that I can't imagine striking it from my life. It's an excuse to socialize, see my dear friends, and enjoy romantic time-outs with my sweetie. Healthy practices all.

I need to just go with it. :-)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Routine needs a poutine

Another fierce morning. Minus 18. From my window the sky is pale blue. Light streaks of cloud and the fading white trail of a plane add dimension. If you could see only the sky above the city you might conclude that you were witnessing a beautiful summer day taking shape. "Morning is Broken" would be playing in the background (unless you treasure irony).

This winter is outlasting my love for it. I like the cold and adore snow but I'm ready for something different. A change of events. I feel unenthusiastic about my usual gym routines. Even the awesome Thursday evening spinning class feels boring and repetitive. And I know it isn't really that way. Challenging and energetic, that class has revived my outlook on life after many soul-crushing days of clients and bosses. 

Going skating now!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


My nerves are a bit jumpy. It's still as cold as Dante's inner circle of hell. Work was more intense than usual, with lots of tasks and no time to drag my tiring eyes from the screen for a soothing cup of tea. We were "snow kissed" again today. Hey DJ, I've heard this tune a million time already! Given a choice I would rather suffer multiple peeling sunburns than trudge home in more snow, pretty as drifting snowflakes can be.

And I'm frozen in the pre-holiday vortex. You know what I mean - the days leading up to a trip always refuse to pass by quickly, with dignity. Those days drag pitifully, and then out of nowhere pull a 180 and get all playful. So that late at night before your 6:00 am flight you discover you have no clean undies or valid passport. On Friday we'll be leaving for a weekend jaunt across the border. Although the weekdays are shuffling by, Friday doesn't feel any closer - and I want a bite.

// The bliss of way too much icing - in Miami // 
After dinner I shuffled down to the canal (my polyester snowpants make a shuffle-y sound). There weren't many people on the ice, just some boys with hockey pucks and what looked like a grandfather/grandchild bonding experience. Really cute. 

Snow had fallen today for hours, and the canal was white with fluff. I laced up my skates and set out. I couldn't see ice, even in spots where skaters' blades before me had spread the snow thinly. Wary of cracks hidden beneath, my first few glides were short, hesitant. I kept going. The ice felt smooth and strong. After a while I forgot to worry about my vulnerability and retreated into my mind to enjoy the bliss of being alone.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cold spell's still winter. It would be great to stay outside in the clear sunshine (even at 4:30!) but it's just too cold. I think we'll only have to hang in for a couple more weeks and then spring will arrive and make it better with flowers and puppies and happiness.

I joined D for a round of P90X chest exercises when I got home. I missed it last week and I swear I could feel the absence. I felt weaker. Ha! Impossible. 

Anyway, this one is a satisfying mix of push ups and chin ups (which we simulate with bands). Some of the push ups are super uncomfortable, like diamond push ups where the thumbs and index fingers touch. I spread my hands apart to ease off a bit but it's still difficult. Oh, they're all difficult. 

I'm really glad D is riding the P90X train. I get pulled into doing the exercises with him occasionally and it helps me address my weaker areas. Upper body exercises are challenging. I don't lack in motivation for doing activities I love, but to carry out upper body exercises when I can barely manage one full push up requires a routine, a partner, and the promise of a delicious dinner afterwards. (Note: tonight it was leftovers.)

The 15-minute ab routine afterwards was so hard...ugh. It's over!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Listen to this

It's too cold for outdoor running, at least for me, so I've been finding solace in the treadmills at the gym. A handful of the treadmills have 60-minute settings (others have a 35-minute max), and all have 3-speed fans and TVs. Runners almost never have to wait for a machine because the gym is well stocked. We are well taken care of here.

I'm back to doing long Sunday runs again, a decision I've been aligned with since early January. Long runs on treadmills are interesting because, conversely, the potential for boredom is so high. I don't know if it's an indication of age, but my taste for audio pairings on the Sunday run has veered from music to podcasts. Music is fine for outdoors where visual variety abounds - because one actually moves. Podcasts are suitable for indoor running because they engage my mind and curiosity. I can concentrate for up to several minutes without checking machine stats for my speed, distance remaining, etc.

So far, I'm loving This American Life. Which I follow up with a round or two of this.


Monday, February 10, 2014

But seriously

I wanna get crazy on mugs of beet-apple-ginger juice and go for a long run or dance all night. I don't know if it's the feverish Olympics vibe or the February deep freeze that's to blame. All I know is that lingering over facebook pics of fun parties I've thrown in the past makes me restless and I want to break out, pack up and go. I was just in a fun, warm environment but the vacation clearly did not last long enough.

Avo salad n' fish croquettes at Boater's Grill, Biscayne Bay

A tattoo? Snowboarding lessons? Bird flu? Finishing a story? Whatever's coming, I've got energy and I'm ready for it. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Miami meals, and today

Miami was a blast! 

After standing in a queue of colourful patrons for a while, I was able to order an avocado sandwich through the take-out window at La Sandwicherie, about a block away from our hotel. Inside, just about every surface had been painted:

The sandwich arrived, the size of a small beagle. The avocado and other toppings were jammed into the midsection of an entire loaf of French bread, paired with a small container of dipping sauce with flavours of lemon and dijon. It was enough to fill us both after a morning of watching sky messages (happy birthday, Shaunique!) on the beach.

Another day we wandered around neighborhoods off Biscayne Boulevard, and as the rain started to drop, we found little Andiamo in a palm-treed interstice between Little Haiti and the design district.

We slid into a picnic table in an outdoor but covered seating area and ordered drinks, then went halfsies on a pizza: half pancetta and rosemary potato, and half clam with capers. Salty and satisfying.

My half! Delicious and mostly disappeared.

Today, back on the ranch

I ran about 11k on the treadmill this morning, which felt great. It was less cold this morning and I probably could have run on the canal. Perhaps I'll try that next weekend. Yesterday I skated, and was tickled by a hand-coloured sign hung along the pedestrian bridge: "Marry me, Tia!"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cheesy rice

:: Cheesy-rice topography speckled with black bean boulders ::
Yesterday I spit out another ~ 9.5k or so on the treadmill - cool breeze through my hair - so I declined a workout tonite in favour of baking a casserole. What?!, you might shriek. Isn't that a hippie health nut craze from the 70s? My reply would be: No, I just made this tonight.

As D knows, I am rather fond of mining fridge, freezer and cupboards for scraps to add a little somethin' to a mix like this. A hot pepper or some frozen corn can raise the status of brown rice and beans to great heights, or at least to the point where it can be considered a meal. In this case, I added a cup of raw shredded carrot, minced garlic and some cheese, bound it all up in a can's worth of diced tomatoes and tablespoons of chili powder and cayenne, and baked it for a half hour. The cheese bubbles on top and it smells GOOD.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


I jumped out of bed expecting to run outside today on the frozen surface of the canal. Then I checked the temperatures and wimped out, defaulting to Plan B - treadmill at the gym. It's funny that a moderately low temperature can scare me away from running outside for an hour, while the superduper Gaz headed bravely into an ultra marathon today! But it's windy, I whispered to myself...

The treadmills at the gym are your standard hamster running machines, with buttons for speed, incline, TV channels, and so on. Today I noticed a button I hadn't before - a fan with three speeds! Cool air is expelled at the top of the screen, which is at about throat height for me, so after a few minutes I tried the lowest fan speed, and after 30 I boosted it to medium speed. It felt great! What a nifty option. 

I only ran 9.5 km in the hour I spent running. I was expecting another km on top of that, but I probably spent too much time jogging on low speeds to warm up.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Soup and muffins

Making soup and baking stuff satisfies my need to create, at least during winter. Long ago, I got my fix by playing music and making crafts and writing poems, and now I lock myself in the kitchen, one hand clutching a whisk and the other a stack of stained recipes, a paranoid look on my face. It's a weird, nest-y phase but I'm going with it.

This morning I threw ingredients into the crock pot, and then started on a batch of Oatmeal Muffins with Dates, Raisins and Almonds.

- You can't see the chia seeds but they're there. -

The soup - actually it's a chowder - is in its infancy after just two hours of cooking (out of an expected eight). The potatoes are just starting to look tender instead of crisp and attitudinal.


Monday, January 6, 2014

No more scratching

He's been hitting the exercise mats regularly to work out with the P90x DVDs, and occasionally I jump in too. I'm selective, though: I pass on the cardio and wait for days that target back, tris, and abs - areas I'd like to improve in. Running is fantastic for lots of things but it can't strengthen my shoulders or obliques. We pumped things up yesterday when we met the training expectations for the day, then threw in a tad more, and today I'm experiencing twinges in the back of the shoulder when I raise my hand to scratch my head - not necessarily a bad thing but indicating what I'll lightly call progress. I'd been meaning to do exercises for these areas for years! but had no trouble finding loads of excuses to avoid them until, as luck would have it, the very exercises I need presented themselves in my living room, accompanied by my very own training partner who I know pretty well and am fairly comfortable with them knowing that one-arm pushups are not my thing. So for now, I'm keeping my hands down and trying to heal enough to partake in the next dose of pre-packaged pain.