Posted by: kimmeroo | March 26, 2013

It Starts With Food: Book Review

As mentioned briefly in previous posts, I’m currently feeling the need to better define the ideal ‘diet’ (in the broader, lifestyle sense) to strive for, that best matches my health and fitness goals, and my values. As part of this journey I have been reading lots and lots and lots. Books and internet. One of the books I picked up was It Starts with Food, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.

It Starts With Food: Discover The Whole30 And Change Your Life In Unexpected Ways

I had heard a lot about this book, mostly in the paleo type circles. I’d say that on the whole it got rave reviews. I would say that the review I’m giving it is a good review, but not a rave review…

It Starts with Food (ISWF) is split into a few main sections. First, it discusses ‘Good Food Standards’ – i.e., the criteria on which the Hartwigs judge the quality of a food. This includes a fascinating discussion of how food affects people mentally and physically (hormonally). It describes conditions such as insulin resistance and leptin sensitivity in an engaging and easy to understand section. The addictive qualities of modern, processed foods are also discussed. I really enjoyed this part of the book.

The second part gets into which foods are deemed ‘less healthy,’ including sugar, sweeteners, and alcohol, seed oils, grains and legumes, and dairy. I found this part of the book interesting, but not 100% convincing. To be clear, I don’t specifically disagree with anything they said, but I found that some conflicting information was ignored.

Sugar, sweeteners, and alcohol – I’m totally on board with considering these ‘less healthy.’ No complaints here.

(Image Source)

Seed oils – Yes and no. On the whole, I agree. However, I have read conflicting information about flax, hemp, and sesame oil. Most notably, in his Thrive book, Brendan Brazier explains that flax seed oil is desirable because it contains a high ratio of omega 3: omega 6, at a ratio of 5:1. He also writes that hemp oil contains the ideal ratio of omega 6: omega 3. While he cautions that you shouldn’t cook with these oils to avoid transforming the fats, they are included in salad dressings, etc. This information isn’t presented in ISWF, which instead makes the general statement that “Seed oils contain an abundance of omega-6, while providing us with virtually no omega-3s” (p. 101), and then says that “Consuming seed oils with high levels of omega-6 promotes systemic inflammation” (p. 101). While this is true of many seed oils (e.g., canola), based on what I have read there are seed oils that are high in beneficial omega 3 (e.g., flax, hemp).

(Image Source)

Grains and Legumes – okay, I have some issues with this section as well. ISWF argues against grains, pseudograins (e.g., quinoa), and legumes. It seems logical enough as you read through this section. One of the main arguments against grains and legumes is that they contain ‘phytates,’ which they also refer to as ‘anti-nutrients.’ The argument here is that phytates bind to the beneficial minerals and nutrients, rendering them unavailable to your body. Sounds convincing enough. But then I googled “benefits of phytates” and found some information that was not presented in ISWF. For example, on Dr. Andrew Weil’s site he writes:

Phytates in your everyday meals should not be an issue for you as long as you’re eating a balanced diet. Most of us consume enough minerals in common foods to more than make up for the small amounts of these micronutrients that might be tied up by phytates. The only individuals who might need to be careful are vegetarians who consume a lot of wheat bran, which is a concentrated source of these substances. Phytate-associated deficiencies of iron and zinc do occur in some third-world countries where people mostly eat grains.

You also should be aware that phytates themselves have some health benefits, including anti-inflammatory effects. In laboratory research, phytates have helped normalize cell growth and stopped the proliferation of cancer cells. They also may help prevent cardiovascular disease and lower a food’s glycemic load” (emphasis added) (source).

There is also an enzyme called phytase which frees phosphate and mineral residues from phytates, making them available for our body to use (source).

Now, it’s quite possible that the Hartwigs are well aware of the above, but still feel that the potential risks outweigh the potential benefits. Fair enough. However, the fact that the potential benefits were not even mentioned reduced the credibility a bit for me.

Dairy – I’m pretty much on board with this one. The recommendation of giving up dairy seems pretty common across a wide range of approaches to nutrition.

(Image Source)

After reviewing the ‘less healthy’ foods, the third chunk of the book gets into the recommended foods, i.e., meat, seafood, and eggs, vegetables and fruit, and healthy fats. As with the last section, I learned a lot in this section, but also feel that some things were left out or glossed over.

First, they write that “All animal protein sources are complete, while most plant-based protein sources are incomplete” (p. 143). This is true. However, there is a lack of consensus that this actually matters. The vegetarian perspective would argue that as long as you eat a variety of foods to obtain all the essential amino acids, it doesn’t matter whether you consume them all together in a ‘complete protein.’ This isn’t discussed at all in ISWF, so I’m not particularly convinced that eating ‘complete’ protein sources is necessary.

The second issue I have with this section is the discussion of conventionally raised (i.e., factory farmed) meat. To their credit, the Hartwigs strongly recommend pasture-raised animals. However, if you are forced to buy conventional meat, they recommend buying the leanest cuts and removing any visible fat, because that is where the toxins get concentrated. Cool, I didn’t realize that. However, what I think is lacking here is a discussion of the omega 3: omega 6 ratio. In the seed oils section, for example, seed oils are villain-ized for being high in omega 6, and thus promoting systemic inflammation. A key theme throughout the book is the risks associated with systemic inflammation (I agree). So, I would have thought that the high levels of omega 6 in conventional meat (versus pasture raised meat) would have merited more discussion.

For instance, after a quick internet search I found the following (source):

Range fed eggs have an omega 6:3 ratio of 1.5 to one whereas the “supermarket egg“has a ratio of 20 to one.
The grass-fed bison had omega 6 to omega 3 ratios of 4.0 to one, and the grain-fed bison had ratios of 21 to one.
For instance, after 200 days in the feedlot grain-fed cattle have omega 6 to omega 3 ratios that exceed 20 to one. Many cattle are fed 200 days or more in the United States.

Sooo given the inflammatory effects of omega 6, I would have expected a discussion of omega 6 in conventional meat. Seems like a diet that’s high in conventional meats could be a very inflammatory diet.

Recommended meat?

(Image Source)

After reviewing the recommended foods, the Hartwigs outline their 30 day program. I like the way they approach this. It’s basically a strict 30 days eating only the recommended foods, after which you reintroduce the ‘less healthy’ foods one at a time, so you can assess the impacts each has on your body. Then you can judge for yourself which foods to include/exclude. I really like this – it recognizes that everyone is different, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

The book concludes with a bunch of resources – recipes, charts showing different ways to cook veggies, etc. I think I’ll be referring to this section a lot!

Scrolling back through this post I realize that it sounds quite negative. That’s really not the case. I enjoyed the book, and I learned a lot. I don’t think it was perfect, and I won’t be adopting this approach 100%, but that’s true of pretty much any nutrition book. I would absolutely recommend ISWF but, as with any book, make sure you read it with a critical eye and draw your own conclusions. It’s a great addition to any health and fitness library, but I don’t think it’s the be-all-end-all.

Have you read ISWF? What did you think? And if you disagree with anything I said, let me know! I’m still learning about all this stuff, and would value any input.

Posted by: kimmeroo | March 23, 2013

30 Before 30: Status Update

As I mentioned in my last post, some of the items on my ’30 Before 30′ list are already complete or in progress, so I thought I’d give a quick update as to where things stand.

Run a half marathon
I’ve been trying to slowly increase my mileage, but am getting thwarted by this darn IT band. It’s not mega painful like it was in November, but definitely feeling a bit of a twinge. Still hopeful I can get it under control.

Stretch
This is relative to the IT band issue mentioned above. I’m trying to stretch regularly. Periodically I try to convince myself that I should practice yoga… and then reality hits and I remember that I really don’t like yoga. Plus, I don’t think I need to be able to contort myself in all those impressive yogi-ways to get the benefits I’m really interested in – remaining strong and injury free for the sports and activities I like to do. A regular stretching routine should be adequate for that. I’m definitely incorporating more stretching into my routine, but this can still be improved.

Donate blood – Done! I gave blood about a week and a half ago. It went…sort of well…

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Taking pictures of my feet in the donor’s chair before it all started to go downhill

I thought it would be no problem. Easy peasy. After all, needles don’t bother me, and when I gave blood in high school (okay, so a long time ago…) I didn’t have any issues. First thing they do is test your iron to make sure it’s high enough – mine was 152, passed with flying colours. Then they ask a million and ten questions to make sure you’re eligible – yep, no problems there. Then they take your blood pressure. Apparently mine is on ‘the low end of normal’ (which of course is on the whole a good thing, it’s high blood pressure that’s the issue). But, I don’t have any issues with dizziness or anything, so no problem, off to the donor’s chair.

Shortly after I was rigged up and ready to go was the first sign that things wouldn’t go entirely smoothly. I guess my blood wasn’t pumping itself out my body fast enough, so the nurse gave me a stress ball and said to give it a squeeze to get things going. Fine, easy enough. Did that then went back to playing games on my phone. No big deal. Buuuuut then there was some beeping in the background, and the nurse came back “Uhhhh I think you’re going to have to just keep squeezing that stress ball…” So for the next 5 or 6 minutes I had to keep squeezing the stress ball, and not slowly either – it was practically a workout! The bag of blood was supposed to be rocking back and forth, and if I let up for just a split second it would immediately start to slow… and the last thing I wanted was to ‘fail’ at donating blood this far in the process!

I managed to keep it up, and finally I was done. Phew! The nurse came and took the needle out, and still I was fine. But all of a sudden, sitting there while the nurse did her thing with the donation, came the first wave of dizziness… tried to convince myself I was fine, but when I was feeling a strong urge to close my eyes figured I better say something. Immediately I was surrounding by the nursing SWAT team, who flipped the chair back and got cold cloths. I felt better pretty quickly, but they brought me some juice to drink in the chair before I headed over to the post-donation feeding station of cookies and juice. I guess my blood pressure dropped a bit too much after losing that much blood!

Ah well, all’s well that ends well. I successfully donated and didn’t pass out – we’ll call it a win.

Clean up my diet – This is a work in progress, involving lots of reading and soul searching, but I feel like I’m getting closer to defining my ideal path, aligned with my goals and my values. This will be worthy of a post unto itself, but for now, the things I’ve been reading include:

The Thrive Diet: The Whole Food Way To Losing Weight, Reducing Stress, And Staying Healthy For LifeWhole Foods To Thrive: Nutrient-dense, Plant-based Recipes For Peak Health It Starts With Food: Discover The Whole30 And Change Your Life In Unexpected Ways

I’ve also been hitting the internet hard – I’ll share some of those sites later.

Garden  – There is still tons of snow on the ground right now, but I was working at our local Seedy Saturday event a couple of weeks ago, and was chatting with one of the girls who helps run the community garden at the university where I work. Sounds like there will be a good opportunity to help out there sometimes over lunch, which would be a good way to learn more about gardening and get some organic veggies without starting from scratch at home (although I might do a bit of container gardening at home too).

Volunteer – Completed, but ongoing. I’m on the committee for the local Relay for Life, a Canadian Cancer Society Fundraiser, and am also on the board for a local environmental organization.

See Niagara Falls – going there for work in April!

Cook and try new recipes regularly – this will be an ongoing goal, but it’s going well so far. One of the recent successes was the raw almond and flax burger from Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Diet book. I dunno about the legalities of sharing recipe details, but here’s a link to someone who had permission to share it!

almond burger photo 300x225

Image Source: NoMeatAthlete

Strength train – still loving crossfit!

See a show in Toronto with my Mom and sister-in-law – Weekend is planned for May, and tickets are booked! We’re going to see “I love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”

Track monthly spending – need to catch up with some receipts, but on the whole keeping this up.

Join a CSA – In progress! I have paid the first installment for a veggie CSA that will start in the spring. It’s through Valleyfield Farm – you can check them out on their website, and they also have a good video about the farm on their website or on Vimeo.

Well, that’s it for the updates for now. Still lots of time to keep crossing things off the list 🙂

Posted by: kimmeroo | March 15, 2013

30 Before 30

I got the idea of making list of short term goals from a number of different blogs, so I can’t possibly name them all. The one that really got me going on it though was Natalie at Free Range Human, with her 30 Before 30 list. I turn 30 in January 2014, so thought this would be a fun little project to do. I tried to have a mix of serious and not-so-serious goals – 30 is a lot of things, some of them just gotta be fun! After all, the last thing this should be is stressful.

With that said, here is what I have come up with:

1. Run a half marathon
2. Make a chai latte at home
3. Maintain and improve the blog
4. Stretch
5. Donate blood
6. Clean up my diet (reading a few books right now and starting to define where I want to go with this)
7. Garden (either at home or at the community garden at the university where I work)
8. Clean and organize the basement
9. Volunteer
10. See Niagara Falls
11. Have a girls’ weekend at the cottage (Ladypalooza 2013!)
12. Hike the Towab Trail
13. Shop at an outdoor Farmers Market
14. Eat an ice cream treat at Scoops
15. Swim in Lake Superior
16. Cook and try new recipes regularly
17. Strength train
18. Clean my car, inside and out –> it’s a disaster
19. Become an organ donor
20. See a show in Toronto with my Mom and sister-in-law
21. Make homemade almond milk
22. Track monthly spending
23. Go on a girls’ backpacking trip
24. Hike the Awausee trail
25. Go berry picking
26. Learn how to change a rear bike tire (again… maybe I should say learn and remember how)
27. Purge and organize the house
28. Go to a concert
29. 1% for the planet (donate 1% of my annual income)
30. Join a CSA

Some of these are actually already done or underway (hey, I’ve been 29 for over a month now!), so I’ll do another post soon with an update on where things actually stand.

Posted by: kimmeroo | March 10, 2013

Cold Camping

Given the probationary status of our hot camping tent (update: we have concluded that our tobaggan is less-than-ideal, so there is still hope for that system), we decided that our second trip of the year should be a cold-camping trip. I.e., a regular tent, no woodstove, gear carried in backpacks, etc. Our destination was Lake Superior Provincial Park, and our friend Craig joined us for this trip.

We met for breakfast on a Saturday morning in February, and then headed up to the park. We made it into Old Woman Lake that day, and decided to set up camp in what used to be an executive lodge.

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Not that I say it used to be an executive lodge. As you can see from the above photo, it is looking a little worse for the wear these days. We still can’t decide if it was the right move or the wrong move to stay in there. Se, it is a big,cavernous building, which oddly enough was built in a location where it gets basically zero sun.

The benefit of staying in there was the big fireplace. Just to be clear, the fireplace does nothing to heat up the room – however, it got quite cozy huddled right up next to it.

 

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Photo credit: Conor

(It also got a bit freaky when small chunks of rock fell on our heads. Freeze-thaw cycle anyone? But not quite freaky enough to move away from the heat).

So that was nice. And we’ll call the nighttime hours 6 of one, half a dozen of another. It was freeeeeezing (we’re talking -30C), and it was no warmer inside than outside, but no colder either. As an aside, we did set up the tents inside the building. In the morning, however, the sun came out and it warmed up outside a lot more quickly, so it was actually less pleasant cooking breakfast and getting ready indoors.

See? It’s a toss up.

We did decide to stay there Saturday night as well, as it meant not having to pack up all our stuff and set up camp elsewhere. Saturday we did a nice ski tour around the area, which apparently I didn’t take any pictures of. Oops. That night we shared the lodge with two ice fishermen who had snowshoed in.

Sunday we did pack up, and skied to Mash Lake, roughly midway between Old Woman Lake and the highway. We set up camp before heading out for an afternoon tour. The first step in setting up a winter campsite is stomping down an area for your tent.

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We used our 3 person Marmot tent, which has plenty of room for both of us + the dog.

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Having having lunch and setting up camp, we headed out for an afternoon tour. There were some cool icicles along the way (pardon the thumb. Apparently getting a good shot wasn’t worth taking my mitts off).

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And then back to camp for supper. We cook with the stove on a metal shovel so it doesn’t sink into the snow.

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After dinner we were planning to have a ripping fire, but it started to snow a wet, heavy snow that was soaking our down jackets and killing the fire attempts. So instead it was an early night in the tent. Read for a little while, then settled in for a long night’s sleep.

It snowed a lot overnight. Check out our igloo-tent:

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Photo credit: Conor

We ate breakfast in the tent (oatmeal, yum), then packed up and skied out in the snow.

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Photo credit: Conor

We got back to the trucks in a couple of hours, and headed back to town, with a stop at The Voyageur Restaurant en route for lunch. Chili for me, burger special for Conor and Craig. Hit the spot!

Gotta say, we enjoyed this trip. Definitely missed the hot tent in the evening, but this was counterbalanced by the ability to cover a lot of ground. I think that if we can get the toboggan sorted out a bit better we’ll be keeping our hot camping set-up, but mixing it up with cold camping trips as well.

Posted by: kimmeroo | March 6, 2013

March Goals

Well, we are getting well into March (this winter is flying!), and I have a couple of goals in my head but haven’t yet put anything down on paper. So, here goes!

1. Run 3x a week

I stopped running in early November with a mega sore IT band. I started again last month, twice a week, and worked up to two 5.5k runs last week. Not breaking any distance records, that’s for sure, but no pain! I would like to ramp that up to 3x a week this month, but with the caveat that with any sign of pain I’ll be backing right off.

Spanish River Half Marathon July 15
Running again, but won’t be shorts weather for awhile yet! More like layers and layers and spikes on my shoes.

2. Stretch! And foam roll!

Related to number 1… to avoid said pain returning, I am committed to stretching, ideally every day, for at least a few minutes. I actually visited a physio as I was starting to run again who gave me a bunch of stretches. I have also been reading about the benefits of foam rolling, and am trying to track one down. Neither Sportcheck nor Winners had one, so I’ll try Walmart next…

3. Eat wheat free

This is a bit of an experiment based on some reading I’ve been doing. I won’t be sticking to it 100% (failed already), but I’ll stick with it as best I can. The more I read the more I’m interested in striving for a more paleo-type diet, so this is  start anyways.

4. No more than two desserts a week

This is a bit of a challenge I have set with my Mom. We each set our own personal goals to strive for until we see each other again in April. I focused on dessert because I was starting to reach for the sweets a tad too often! Fortunately the winter rush of office birthdays (including mine!) is over now. Aaaand desserts while winter camping don’t count – need those calories to stay warm through the night! For real!

OWL_05_sm
Our tent  – buried in the back (photo credit: Conor)

5. Strength train

This one will be easy – I just started crossfit again and I love it so I’m pretty sure I can keep this up no problem!

That’s it that’s all! Short and sweet.

Posted by: kimmeroo | March 3, 2013

Hot Camping

Early in February we headed out on our first winter camping trip of the year. The destination was a spot near Batchewana Mountain north of town. We have camped there before, and had a particular spot in mind. Nice and sheltered, and near a little creek so we could get water without having to rely on melting snow for water (which is a major pain the butt).

This was a hot camping trip – i.e., we brought our canvas tent with woodstove. I believe I have previously asserted on this blog that the hot tent is a wonderous thing and that I am so over cold winter camping.

Um, so about that… the hot tent IS a glorious thing, once we’ve arrived in camp. There’s nothing better then chilling out and reading in a nice warm tent in the evenings. Setting it up and getting firewood is definitely more laborious than a regular tent, but nothing crazy.

What is starting to seem a bit crazy is getting the tent from point A to point B. We carry the tent, stove and much of our gear on this beast right here:

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It’s a pretty typical rig for winter traveling. A long skinny toboggan with a long skinny duffle bag on top. Load. Pull. Simple. Sounds easy, yes? Well au contraire my friends, according to Conor it is roughly akin to dragging a corpse. In fact, if you ever want to catch Conor in a bad mood, come find him when he’s been pulling this baby for a few kilometres.

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There is the odd time it pulls (relatively) well. On packed snowmachine trails it can be okay. On hard packed lakes it will slide well. But any hills or any fresh snow and it becomes almost impossible to move it. Conor is a pretty darn fit guy, and he describes it as the hardest physical labour he has ever done. He’ll have to lean into the harness with all his weight to get the darn thing moving.

The problem is, when we camp we like to travel. If we’re too limited in how far we go we’ll tire of it pretty quickly. So while we haven’t given up on this type of camping, let’s say that it’s on probation. In the meantime, we’re trying to figure out if there’s anything we can do to improve this method. We’d like to try some other toboggans to get a feel for whether ours is actually just a lot harder to pull than others (Conor is actually winter camping with others this weekend so hopefully he’ll get a feel for some other ones). However, another possibility is that this type of travel is just not suited to our area. It’s idea for extensive lake travel, but that’s not what we’re dealing with around here, for the most part. We’re dealing with hills, and lots of them. Even when we’re going lake to lake, they’re smaller lakes with challenging portages in between.

Sooo we’ll see what the ultimate verdict is… in the meantime, let’s not forget the rest of the trip! The plan for this one was to basecamp for two nights and tour during the days, so toboggan-pulling aside it was still a great trip.

I skipped out of work early on Friday and we headed in that afternoon. For the record, although Conor pulled the toboggan both Jack and I each had our own backpacks.

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We set up camp at the end of this lake (I took this pic from near our campsite).

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Here is our humble abode for the weekend.

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Like I said, it’s awfully cozy in there in evenings!

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There was actually a near disaster as we were setting up camp. The elbow on the stove pipe broke, and we briefly thought that we would be packing up and skiing back out in the dark. Wonderful. Fortunately Conor managed to jerry rig it and make it useable for the weekend, but we were more cautious and didn’t stuff the stove with wood before going to bed.

The next day we did a big tour. We knew that another gang of skiers was coming in to camp on a nearby lake, so we planned the route to intersect with their camp on the way back to camp.

Navigating:

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Jack was his usual snow lovin’ self.

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Sunday morning we had a yummy breakfast of bacon and eggs.

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And then we skied to the peak of Batch Mountain.

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And then I stopped taking pictures. But we skied most of the day, got back to camp in the mid-afternoon, packed up, headed out, and got home Sunday evening. First winter trip of 2013 in the bag!

Posted by: kimmeroo | February 22, 2013

Recipe Successes from the Internet

I have a bunch of posts I want to write (recent camping trips, food and fitness plans, etc.), but thought I’d do a quick post today to share some great recipes that I’ve tried lately. I love reading food blogs because of all the great ideas, so why not share the love and point out a few recent successes?

First off, I made HealthyAshley’s Sweet Carrot Soup. The only change I made was using soy milk instead of almond milk. An easy recipe (my favourite kind), but it would have been even faster if I had used a food processor to chop the carrots instead of doing it by hand.

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(Photo Credit: HealthyAshley)

Second, last night I made Running4Cupcakes Crockpot Salsa Chicken. This was a SUPER easy one, but totally delicious. The only inconvenient thing about it is that it only needs to cook for 4 hours, so I can’t turn on the crockpot before leaving for work, but since Conor often works from home it’s no big deal. I had it ready in the fridge, so he just had to pull it out in the afternoon and plug it in. I shredded the chicken and served it over rice. Yum!

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(Photo credit: Running4Cupcakes)

That’s it for now! A quick and simple post before diving into the more in-depth ones I have planned :).

Posted by: kimmeroo | February 11, 2013

Sunday at the Ski Hill

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Hi Cameron! Hi Conor!

Steeper than it looks:

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Conor showing off his mad tele skillz. Until he’s taken out by a sneaky hole under the snow:

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Wipe-out!

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Posted by: kimmeroo | February 7, 2013

Book Review: The Garneau Block

I just finished reading The Garneau Block by Todd Babiak and really enjoyed it so thought I’d do a quick review.

The Garneau Block

The official description of the book is:

“The Garneau Block follows the knowable citizens of the adored and hated city of Edmonton, capturing what we connect to in local stories and what is universal about modern life. Here, in what can only be described as a storytelling tour-de-force, we meet the warm, endearing, and delightfully flawed residents of a fictional cul-de-sac in the city’s Garneau neighbourhood just after the scandalous death of a neighbour and the sudden news that their land is about to be repossessed by the university.

When mysterious signs begin to appear duct-taped to trees saying only LET’S FIX IT, the block – including a sacked university professor, a once-ambitious, knocked-up haiku expert living in her parents’ basement, an aging actor whose dreams are slipping away, and a quiet but polite stranger – is galvanized to band together in a wild attempt to save their homes. And when regular people put their dreams in motion, anything can happen – namely, political machinations, personal revelations, a public uproar, and unforeseen love.”

And here are my thoughts:

It was a quick and easy read, but not a frivolous, mindless book at all (not that there’s anything wrong with those!). The character developmeont was great, which really draws me into a book. The book was pretty humourous, but at the same time made you think about modern society – our values, the way we live, the way we relate to each other, etc. So easy to read, humorous, yet thought provoking! Win-win-win.

All told, I would most definitely recommend the book.

Have you read The Garneau Block? What did you think?

Posted by: kimmeroo | February 5, 2013

Birthday Scenes

Last Thursday was my 29th birthday. Last year of my twenties – better live it up! This post is coming a few days after the big day because we went camping this weekend, but that’s a story for another post. For now, here are a few pics from the birthday-day itself.

Got up early to take Jack for his morning jaunt. Too bad he’s not a fan of looking at the camera. This is still better than the picture I got mid-face lick.

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It was snowy out, but not to worry – I was protected by my super spikes! Ice had nothin’ on me.

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Enough with the pictures Human, let’s walk already.

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Got back and pulled together the ingredients for a delicious breakfast smoothie.

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After breakfast and a birthday book from Conor (Coppermine – looks good!) it was off to work for the day. I thought it would be an uneventful workday (haven’t been working at this particular job for too long), but my sneaky coworkers had creeped me on Facebook and baked a cake. We had to get creative with a candle.

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It was a very yummy apple cake. Thank you!

After work I picked up Conor and Jack and we went for a ski. The general approach on this trail is to ski to the turn-around while letting Jack run wild and free, and then I get hooked up to Jack for some skijoring on the way back.

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Who needs horse power when you’ve got dog power?

The day ended with supper at Casey’s with Conor and my mother- and sister-in-law. Stacked sandwich and sweet potato fries, yum.

As a final note, I think I may have gotten my Most Unique Gift ever this birthday. Yes, ever. 500 worms. 500 live, wriggling worms. Not just any worms though – specialized composting worms! I actually think this is very cool. They are now living in a tupperware container in a drawer in my kitchen (they like the dark), eating fruit and veggie scraps. Awesome (really, that’s not sarcasm).

I also got a good quality food processor, a snuggly house coat, books galore, and enough chocolate to last for the rest of the ski season! A girl can’t ask for more 🙂

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