04 January 2021

It took a lot of activation energy to convince myself to do back-bending today. So glad I did because looking at the video I took makes it very clear that consistent work is starting to pay off!

Not gonna lie, I’m pretty excited to see the difference.

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2 January 2021

Biomechanic Report:

Like our family menu planning, I’m realizing that I do much better on the fitness front when I make a weekly plan rather than just doing whatever I feel like that day. Here’s what this past week looked like.

  • Monday: backbends
  • Tuesday: handstand drills
  • Wednesday: legs
  • Thursday: core
  • Friday: handstand drills
  • Saturday: flexibility (zoom class)
  • Sunday: conditioning (zoom class)

Saturday mornings are usually a good time to take inventory of how my body is feeling. I can lay in bed without the alarm and check in with what is aching. It seems to be a funny fact of aging that I’m almost always aching somewhere. Either good aching from a workout, or bad aching from not moving. This morning it was the muscles between my scapula radiating up to my neck that had the most to say. Probably the result of changing my handstand drills this week to increase their difficulty. I rollered them out yesterday, but more stretching will be needed. I’m hoping it is a sign of my shoulders and upper back opening up accessing new underused muscles. The good news is that I didn’t wake up with my low back aching which it had been earlier in the week. I added some glute extension strengthening drills on Wednesday and they seems to be doing the trick.

Saturday (today) is flexibility class with Diana Gonzalez zooming in from Italy. I’ve been taking her weekend classes since late November and really enjoy having something structured on the weekend. Her flexibility classes definitely get me to push harder in the active stretches that I normally do on my own. Happy to have stuck with all the workouts this week, but it was still a mostly holiday week so work wasn’t as demanding. Leg day workout is still the hardest, but it is becoming less difficult than it was in November and happily my knees are doing well with it. For the circus skills I’m interested in doing, my legs to just be steady state strong so there are no plans to up the intensity level. Instead I want to start adding in formal slackline drills to improve the stabilizer muscles and my overall balance. So far I’ve just been futzing around on the slackline whenever I feel like it, but not doing anything with a plan. (yep, there’s that word again)

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1 January 2021

Like most people across the world, we welcomed the New Year from home last night. It sucked to not to be with our friends in Collingwood eating, playing crokinole, bed at 10:30p (they are as wonderfully lame about this one as Simon and I am) and welcoming the New Year with a walk in their backyard apple orchard. Instead we zoomed with them and celebrated with seafood paella, sparkling wine, and an episode of Dr. Who (the kid is watching for the first time). 

My own new year has started with handstand practice and signing up for a flexibility program so that I can have a formal plan for working on backbends in a safe way. With less my 49th birthday quickly approaching and the milestone 50th right behind, I’m ramping up my personal biomechanic project. It’s an idea that has been slowly developing over the years that I’ve been circus training. I have a degree in biomechanical engineering and have worked with manufacturing equipment for my entire career so it’s not surprising that I regularly think think of my own self as a biomachine. The project itself is based on the idea of approaching my body/mind/self as one would a vintage car and documenting how I’m fixing it up and trying to keep it in running shape. My body is aging and this has and will continue to affect what it can and cannot do. This will happen regardless of whether I like it or not. So rather than fight against the tide I’m choosing to pay closer attention to the process and try to enjoy working with what I have.

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28 December 2020

Catching up with December. Christmas prep often becomes a part-time job leading up to the holiday. With no social activities allowed I wanted to make sure the kiddo still felt like it was a special time. I think we succeeded, and I’m now happily into the sloth filled interstitial time between Christmas and New Year. Been filling my days with circus workouts, cured meat, cheese, books, books and tv time. As you can clearly see, I don’t have any room in my schedule for more than a photo dump.

And here is our plan for the last week of the year! My partner’s handwriting isn’t the most legible.

  • Sunday: leftover takeout
  • Monday: chorizo, carrot slaw and cheese grits
  • Tuesday: sweet and sour chicken, noodles and greens
  • Wednesday: skirt steak and salad
  • New Years Eve: seafood paella
  • Friday: leftover paella
  • Saturday: fondue
  • Sunday: takeout
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22 November 2020

I can’t put my finger on any single reason why, but last week was tough. Crossed wires, misunderstandings, general grumpiness and self-flagellation felt like the running theme. I’m trying to find a positive attitude, but the onset of winter combined with rising covid rates in Ontario and around the world make that a challenge some days.

Happily the weekend has helped reset the personal mental processing unit. Simon and I spent Saturday fixing a much procrastinated hallway lighting issue at the house that has very literally brightened things up. Add in a few hours cleaning along with a potential longer term project opportunity to get me thinking about the future and winter things aren’t feeling as bleak.

With the exception of swapping Tuesday and Thursday meals because I didn’t get gnocchi until later, last week went almost completely to plan. Wednesdays chicken/squash/grits combo made enough to have it again Friday so the kohlrabi and carrot slaw has now moved into tonight’s Sunday taco plan.

Here’s the plan for upcoming week.

  • Sunday: tacos! steak, kohlrabi/carrot/cilantro slaw, with tortillas
  • Monday: porchetta, kale and roast potatoes
  • Tuesday: porchetta part 2, mac&cheese and kale
  • Wednesday: coconut miso salmon arugula curry over rice
  • Thursday/Friday: daikon fries, bok choy and fire chicken
  • Saturday: ramen takeout?
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15 November 2020

Mid-november means winter is clearly coming so we spent yesterday raking leaves and attempting to plug some of the drafts in our 100+ year old house. Despite it being a beautiful sunny day, we took the dogs for a walk right after dinner and there were already stars out – a clear sign that fixing the dead front hall light fixture can’t wait much longer. I’m trying not to panic about Christmas, getting the tires changed on the car, end of year work stuff and all the other things that always start looming in the back of my head around this time whether I like it our not. Blargh is all I have in answer to that.

Let’s look at how the meal plan worked out: Monday moved to Wednesday. Tuesday moved to Monday. Wednesday became Tuesday. The roast moose actually turned into a stew so combined with the clam chowder there was a lot of soup happening overall which is reasonable for autumn. This week’s eggplant turned out to be teeny tiny, plus I forgot to buy tofu, and then I spotted a package of butter chicken sauce in the pantry so Friday merged with Saturday to become butter chicken curry with eggplant and kale. Friday actually became takeout burgers (Tuckshop Food Kitchen) paired with oven fries which was generally hailed by the family as the best idea ever. 

Yep. That’s exactly why we write the plan in chalk. 

I made the cornbread in a cast iron skillet and it turned out thin with extra crispy edges. I will never make cornbread any other way again! This is the recipe I used but left the adobo sauce since the kid can’t handle that kind of spice. I also learned that cornbread works with either cornmeal or masa harina. Useful information since I was on the verge of running out of cornmeal.

This week’s vegetable delivery is typical of what we will likely be heading into winter. Finding creative uses for root vegetables and members of the cabbage family is critical if we want to eat local through Canadian winter.

  • Sunday/Monday: cod au gratin with green beans and roast beets
  • Tuesday: gnocchi with brussels sprouts and bacon
  • Wednesday: flat chicken with squash and cheesy grits
  • Thursday: kale, sausage pasta
  • Friday: chicken part 2 with kohlrabi and carrot slaw
  • Saturday: date night – take out – maybe try oysters again now that we have two shucking knives AND a fancy support board thanks to Oyster Boy!
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8 November 2020

With the exception of changing out Friday’s red curry to green (I didn’t check to see if we actually had any red curry paste when I put it on the list) our work week meals went exactly to plan. The surprise side grain ended up being Alton Brown’s cheese grits. We’ve been making it with polenta style ground corn for years and had wondered about the extensive cooking time in the recipe. I recently finally located the coarser ground type and they definitely take longer to cook, but were well worth it. Both versions are excellent in my book. Today’s roast moose plans are being swapped out (probably pizza) due to the fact that we didn’t start the defrosting until Saturday afternoon and it is still rock hard. Whoops.

Saturday’s date night oysters got challenging when the delivery arrived without the shucking knife needed to get them open. Thanks to some you-tube videos I improvised with a paring knife and short phillips flat-head screwdriver and successfully shucked 24 oysters (my first time!) without any associated medical emergencies. Fresh oysters are literally half the price if you buy them unshucked so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do in the future with the correct tools for the job! We went for a full theme with 3 types of Prince Edward Island oysters (Malpeques weren’t available, but PEI clearly has lots of excellent oyster beds), potato oven fries (made in the factory I was working at), chipotle mayo and sparkling wine from Prince Edward County (close as we could get to theme since Prince Edward Island doesn’t make wine as far as I know).

Safety notes:

  1. Shuck at your own risk! Oysters are tough little things to open. Simon didn’t trust himself to even try opening them this way.
  2. Definitely enjoy any alcoholic beverages AFTER completing all activities involving knives, screwdrivers and damp slippery bivalves.

Hardest part of returning to the ‘real world’ after any vacation or big work trip for me is getting back into my exercise routine. Overall participation in the pandemic zoom workout group I’ve belonged to since March has been eroding over the last 3 months and for the last while it has mostly just been me and one other woman. Between work getting more demanding, Covid fatigue and my 2 weeks away it seems that the final nail in that coffin has been sunk. It was a great thing while it lasted, but everything ends eventually.

This week has been about trying out new options. After taking 2 zoom classes with an ex-Cirque du Soleil artist I think paying to have someone else lead is exactly what I need for a while. It also felt good to be paying a professional circus artist when so many have been out of work since this pandemic began and Cirque du Soleil is literally now out of business. I also managed to find the activation energy through 2 self-led workout lists. The Thursday leg day one still has my butt sore 2 days later so I’ll be keeping that. So 2 zoom classes, plus 2 self classes equals 4 workouts this week which is good, but not great. Plan is to add more stretching and skills (handstands and slackline) into this week coming up.

And here is what’s on the chalkboard for this week:

  • Sunday: pizza (formerly roast moose with veg)
  • Monday: roast moose with turnips and carrots (should be defrosted by now)
  • Tuesday: pasta with butter, lemon, dandelion greens and sausage
  • Wednesday/Thursday: clam chowder with leeks, potatoes, carrots served and cornbread
  • Friday: grilled eggplant with chicken thighs and cheese grits
  • Saturday: red curry tofu with kale (going to try again for red)
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1 November 2020

After almost 2 weeks on the road Halloween was my first real day home. Toronto went trick-or-treatless thanks to rising covid spread in Ontario. The Haunted Walk* hosted a great virtual campfire series that we all attended virtually while I was on the road so our holiday had more of a slow burn than just trick-or-treating would have been. For actual Halloween day I had the kid give me an awesome special effect for my trip to the grocery store and she did a creepy clown effect on herself for an afternoon backyard visit with the in-laws. Watched Sleepy Hollow, ate the candy we would have given out and called it a night. We still have a “Haunting at Home” paranormal experience to do together, but ran out of time to do it on Oct 31 so we will be carrying our halloween into November.

*I worked as a haunted tour guide for them during graduate school. Remind me to tell you about it sometime.

Today/Sunday is the official get back into the swing of homelife. Laundry, cleaning, and helping with homework. Plus of course the meal plan for this week!

  • Sunday: sushi (for someone who has been literally living next to the ocean, quarantine restrictions and rental house limitations meant my trip involved precious little seafood – definitely plan on making up for that tonight and next weekend)
  • Monday: cod, beets with goat cheese and a side grain to be named later
  • Tuesday: sweet and sour chicken with noodles and broccoleaf
  • Wednesday: skirt steak and green salad
  • Thursday: margarita shrimp tacos with cabbage slaw
  • Friday: red curry with tofu and kale
  • Saturday: Date night – not sure exactly what yet, but it will definitely include oysters from Malpeque!! (that’s where I was living in PEI)
  • Sunday: Roast beast with turnips and potatos
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27 October 2020

Apologies for falling off the posting wagon. In my defence the last 2 weeks have been highly irregular. Am currently writing from deep inside the “Atlantic Bubble” which is an odd place for this Toronto based girl to be in 2020. 

For those not familiar with the term, the Atlantic Bubble is the collection of Canadian Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) that have bubbled themselves off from the rest of the country. As a Covid prevention strategy it certainly seems to be working as the island Province of Prince Edward Island has exactly 1 covid case at the moment and zero community spread. Doesn’t hurt that it has a population of ~140,000 people and only 2 public entry points (Confederation bridge, or Charlottetown airport). There is no way I would be allowed onto the island for fun, but as a safety consultant the work I do qualifies as ‘essential’. 

In this year of highly restricted travel it was both exciting and nerve wracking figuring out how to make this work trip happen. Prior to arrival I had to submit a written work/isolation plan that was approved by the Department of Justice and Public Safety. They issued a formal letter allowing me to enter the province and checked that I had approval when my plane landed. I also got a covid test prior to leaving – it wasn’t required, but I didn’t want to risk arriving there and not being able to do the work I have come here to do.

From the airport I was expected to immediately go into full isolation/quarantine until I had a negative covid test. I arrived Sunday evening, went for the test Monday morning and had my first negative result by 9:30am Tuesday. After that first negative I’ve been in quasi-quarantine where I’m required to isolate at all times except to go to work.

While at work I follow covid hygiene measures (mask, social distance, separate washroom), eat in a closed office rather than the cafeteria and only interact with the people directly related to the work I’m doing. The people working with me have also worn masks, but most others at the factory are not.

When not at work, I’m obligated to remain on the isolation property and stay away from others. Someone calls me every day (at different times) to check on my health status and confirm that I am following the terms of my isolation plan. 

The upside to all of this is that instead of a hotel I rented a cottage. My isolation property is a 100 year old farmhouse with a 1km ‘backyard’ that extends to the Atlantic ocean. Were it not for the psychological fact of being legally confined here, it would feel like a retreat. PEI is a gorgeous place especially right now with the autumn leaves bright with colour. I’m definitely not suffering. 

Instead of restaurant take out 3 times a day, I’m able to cook my own meals (online ordered with contactless pick up at the grocery store). The meals involve a lot more processed food than I usually eat, but still healthier than whatever deep fried* yumminess I probably would have picked up at the takeaway. I’ve been relatively happy with what I’m managing to make with a selection that is limited to peanut butter (kid is allergic – this is a rare chance to eat it), gluten free bread (packed it in a shoebox and brought from home), butter, mayonnaise, milk, cereal, yogurt, cheese, onion, spinach, broccolli, snap peas, bananas, pears, cucumber, gnocchi, sausage, deli meat, fish, shrimp and a frozen pizza.

*Don’t worry, the factory cafeteria is ensuring I can still access something from the deep fry food group.

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12 October 2020

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

2020 has been a challenging year, but our family has much to be thankful for. Today we are healthy and with each other and that is a lot right there. With the exception of his birthday, my partner Simon takes responsibility for all holiday feast cooking. As a biochemist, he runs the kitchen like a chemistry lab. My own ADD fuelled kitchen style clashes spectacularly with this approach so it’s in everybody’s best interests that I stay on the opposite side of the kitchen island taking pictures and providing commentary.

8am To-Do list

After lunch the kid and I picked yet another round of green beans from my late start backyard garden. The garden bed box I ordered in late march took a major side trip on its way to our house and as a result I couldn’t plant anything until the end of June. Combined with my complete lack of gardening experience makes the prolific pole bean output we’ve seen a very happy surprise.

The meal was delicious, but this year the day long making of the meal was almost just as fun as the eating. Kid is at the age where she was interested in helping every step of the way.

Afterward we geared up for the rest of the week. 3 days of turkey and there is still a large serving in the freezer.

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