Training to Live

living and learning, one day at a time

welcome to chicago!

this morning started off very early (for a day that i didn’t have to go into work, that is) – i took a bus to the subway station, then the subway all the way downtown, then a shuttle to the ferry and then a short ferry ride to the toronto island airport to catch my flight to this windy city. i was flying a newish airline that i’d never flown before but had heard awesome things about. every single one was true! the waiting lounge was lovely (free drinks – cappucinos, lattes, tazo tea, all kinds of juice bottles/pop, etc, and lots of snacks plus free wifi and comfy chairs), the staff were all extremely pleasant and everything just went really smoothly. plus all their branding/marketing is extremely sharp, and i’m kind of a sucker for gorgeous design! i’d fly with porter again in a second, even though actually getting to the airport is a little bit more complicated that going to the main toronto airport.


we flew into midway airport in chicago, and that was a breeze as well. i found anne almost immediately and she, rebecca and i headed onto the orange line to make our way to the hotel. i found my awesome roommate hanging out in the lobby. the hotel let us check in early, which was awesome because after an hour out in the super chicago humidity, i really needed a freshen up and a shoe change! then we met sarah and meg in the lobby to head to a lunch place that several friends had recommended to me called Lula’s. it was fabulous – very healthy food blogger worthy and interesting. i got a “taneka” sandwich. i don’t even know what that is, exactly, but it was yummy!

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i love a sandwich that is packed with interesting stuff, and as you can see, this one is loaded!

then we decided to make our way back downtown to go on an architecture boat tour on the river, which also came pretty highly recommended to me by friends from around here. it was a bit cooler on the water (just a few degrees!), but mostly it was nice to just sit down and hang out somewhere after a busy morning of running around. chicago has some amazing architecture. i took a whole ton of pictures, but of course now i hardly remember anything about any of the buildings. i’m just going to leave you with a nice little selection to enjoy.


you can already see, just looking down the river, that chicago’s skyline is interesting.

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lots of lift and draw bridges!! very cool (although slightly less cool when you’re in a car, stopped because the bridge is up. apparently in chicago, only on wednesdays and saturdays in the summer do the bridges move, so i guess that’s not too bad)

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there’s a famous chicago architect who was super into triangles, so there are many buildings designed around that shape. i like triangles too!

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trains and bridges! two of my favourite things.

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i thought this wavy building in the middle was pretty wacky!

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this is navy pier. we didn’t really *go* to it, but it was on my list of things to see. i haven’t decided if this counts or not! luckily i have a lot of time on sunday and most of monday to work on exploring the city a bit more.

after we took a quick cab back to the hotel (we were far too hot, sticky and exhausted to ride the train at rush hour), we checked in and grabbed our swag bags (holy! good thing i packed extra luggage inside my luggage) and came upstairs for a rest before the opensky cocktail party.

getting to the party took us a while, as apparently we walked RIGHT PAST harrison station, but we did eventually make it. it was lots of fun to meet so many people. the food was tasty and we each got a free drink ticket (which is more than enough drinks for this one! i also had many glasses of ice water because i was soooooo thirsty!). the photobooth was cool – mary and jennifer and i squeezed in just before it closed at 9! i don’t have any pictures from the event (besides the open sky prints!) because i accidentally left my camera battery charging in the hotel room. good one!


i met andrea (also from TO), stampy lisa, krista, kristina, callie (callieflower kitchen, who goes to the same university i did my undergrad in! even in the same program i started off in too), sabrina, jennifer, morgan, emily, susan, erin and many many other people i’m forgetting. it was nice to see a few familiar faces (from last year, other meetups, etc): caitlin, nienke, allie. i loved putting together faces and names with twitter handles!

at around 10, after la salle power co turned into a club (and the music started to get a little too loud), mary and i called it a night. there was a bit of a failed froyo mission with krista and kristina (and a few other people whose names slipped through my very seive-like brain). it was raining, but not hard enough to make things miserable. we took the L back to the hotel, and pretty much hopped right into bed! lots of chatting and late night blogging happened in our room before the lights eventually went out.

i am now up ridiculously early (the clock definitely said 4:xx when i woke up) and think i’m going for a little run before the morning begins. i should probably take it easy though, since it’s going to be a super super long day and i will need all the energy i can get later on! ) i really sound like a grandmother some days….:-P

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August 14, 2010 at 6:25 am Comments (14)


pretty things around the web:

new favourite website/blogs that make my days better

1) [i] Lovelife

written by artist, photographer, and ray of sunshine, kal barteski

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2) enJOY it

written by artist, crafter, designer and creator of beautiful things, elise joy (what a perfect name!) blaha

the posts on her wedding are STUNNING. also, she has an etsy shop, and i want one of everything.

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3) young house love

an absolutely beautiful home design blog, written by husband and wife team john and sherry. this makes me super excited to completely design/decorate our new home sometime in the next year or two.

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4) tea and cookies

the intersection of food and life, written by tea! i don’t need to say any more. this blog is glorious.

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i’m excited that the world cup has rolled around again. i’ve been watching (and loving) international soccer since 1986, when i was just 4 years old (cheering for argentina at the time). although i don’t have the patience (or the time or the cable) to watch entire games, i have had fun making my bracket and watching/reading highlights.

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my bracket is messy!!

today is my monthly day off from work and boy do i need it! i ran a really hard race on saturday (SO. MANY. HILLS) and we spent all of sunday doing chores inside and outside the house. i woke up early this morning to go to hot yoga and then took a nice lon g epsom bath, which have both really helped with my sore quads. i’m planning to spend the rest of the day doing a mix of more chores and fun, relaxing things

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June 14, 2010 at 9:31 am Comments (5)

living the (happy) yoga lifestyle, finally!

blast! ecto just ate the post that i spent more than 3 days writing. boooo

so. i’ve been “doing” yoga for just over a year now. i say “doing”, because it’s been somewhat half hearted, 20 minutes of yoga for runners here, a half pigeon there, etc. more practiced yoga people always say that it’s important for beginners to go to a real class to get feedback and guidance on their form, but i never took it that seriously. all the yoga studios i had vaguely checked out online were far away and pretty expensive, and when i could do yoga at home for free by myself, why go anywhere else?

i never really enjoyed yoga that much though. sure, the stretching felt good and i’m sure my muscles appreciated it, but doing audio classes on the living room floor was kind of boring. i only did it because i knew it was good for me. sometimes i couldn’t even make it through the 20 minutes!!! (i wondered how anyone could do a 90 minute class). i do love the pants though, and i have always kind of joked that i lived the yoga lifestyle, even though i didn’t really *do* yoga)

cue the happiness project. april’s theme is money, and the resolution for the the week before last was to spend some money to buy some happiness. i thought about what area of my life i could splurge a little on and i thought of 2 things. yoga was the first. i did a bit of research and found a studio that is about a 7 minute bike ride from my house! this is convenient. having to take a bus and a subway to get downtown to pay $20 for a yoga class probably wouldn’t actually happen often. this place had some good reviews online (yelp and others) and they had a good rate for new students. i bought a 2 week unlimited pass and decided to try out studio yoga to see if it would make me happier.

i have so far been to 4 different classes (a gentle hatha, 2 different restorative classes, and a reduced heat flow class) and i am in love!! the studio is beautiful and spa like. since i don’t belong to a gym and do all my exercising outdoors or in my basement (or at the community pool!), it is a lovely change to be somewhere with fancy facilities. i have one more week left on my pass, and plan to try out a real hot class (i am a little scared!! if i like it, i’ll do a couple more classes before i decide to splurge on the yogitoes), iyengar (yoga that focuses on proper form), and go back to the classes i liked best before i figure out how often i want to be going back. i think i can afford at least once or twice a week. it’s a really good compliment to the running, biking and swimming that i do and it’s good for my soul too. yoga has made me extremely happy.

the second thing that i’ve been wanting for a while now but haven’t gotten around to picking up (maybe partially because i couldn’t justify spending the money…) is a bondiband. caitlin posted a coupon code (FIVE, five bands, $25), so i ordered a bunch. LOVE THEM!! i’ve worn them running, under my helmet, to yoga class, and just around (they are cute). they seem to stay put (especially the wicking ones) and they keep my hair out of my face, which is awesome. two days after my order arrived, i ordered a few more wicking bands! (jon wanted to know how many headbands a person needs. the answer to that is MANY)

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so if you thought that money can’t buy happiness, you might be wrong.

i’ve switched my hours at work, so i have the day off tomorrow. i’m extremely excited about this as i haven’t really had a day off to myself in ages! all of our weekends are booked up with activities and the last two holidays (easter and christmas) have been somewhat hectic with lots of driving around and seeing people, etc. i’m planning to hit two morning yoga classes, do some fun grocery shopping, bake cookies, make ice cream, possibly try out some of ashley’s granola, go for a run in my vibrams (if my legs aren’t too sore from yoga) and watch an excess of tv! luxury to the extreme. i will also try and blog the rest of the post that got eaten up. i have a pot of steel cut oats on the stove now, and it needs my attention.

happy sunday night!

p.s. heather, i am on board with your invite to be a happy living blogger!

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April 18, 2010 at 4:44 pm Comments (6)

not AWOL anymore

i am recommitting to this blogging thing. again. promise.

here’s what happened in february:

-i went to an awesome book event for one of my newest favourite books, that i have talked about here already: the happiness project. a conversation with the author, the amazing gretchen rubin, and heather from indigo.

i had just gotten to almost the end of my library copy by the time the book event happened, and i knew i wanted to buy my own copy. luckily this was the perfect time because i could have a chat with gretchen and get my copy signed! excuse the terrible pictures! it wasn’t me.

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i am taking part in the 2010 happiness challenge, which comes with a monthly theme and weekly things to do (described in 2 minute videos by gretchen, every monday). so far we’ve done things like tackle nagging tasks, fight right, stop expecting praise and appreciation (the hardest), hug more, kiss more, touch more (my favourite). i can feel myself becoming a more pleasant person.

-i started seriously training for around the bay (which is in 21 days!!!) 30k race i am doing at the end of this month.

i’ve gone on 2+ hour training runs, i have done strength training a couple times each week, i’ve started interval training (yasso 800s!) and i have gone swimming once a week, every week since i last posted that i was going to try and get back into swimming.

our winter has been mild – perfect for outdoor runs but not so perfect for snowshoeing. we only have gotten out once so far (i fear this will be our only snowshoe adventure of 2010), but it was epic. 2.5 hours on the mountain biking trails of waterloo. my muscles ached the following two days!

today i’m up to a 21-25k run. i’ve got one more distance week left, and then i cut back in preparation of my taper before the race. edited to add- i ended up being out for 3 hours this morning. brutal. my knees hurt. happily i probably won’t have to do any more ridiculously long runs this year because this 30k race is the longest i am signing up for. everything else is half marathon and below.

soon i will start spending a bit more time on my bike, as the following race is the cyclocross st george to ancaster, where i will ride 35k through mud, rail trails, roads, single track and farm land.

-i went to a wake for a 16 year old who lost a battle with cancer. :( it was decidedly one of the most sad things i have done. my heart broke for his parents; no one should ever have to go through that.

-i got to interview and help select our summer intern for work. this was particularly exciting, as we went back to my alma mater for the interviews AND i was that summer intern myself, not too many years ago. we didn’t get our first pick, but i am pretty happy with the person who will be showing up in may. it definitely was an experience that made me feel old though!

-i went to a custom bike shop with jon to get his new bike spec-ed out, measured and designed. it was sooo cool! i wanted to share some pictures, but when we arrived, i discovered that my battery was completely out of juice :( maybe i’ll go back when we pick up the finished product and get some good shots. custom bikes are sweet, but i am definitely not enough of a for real biker to justify getting one, nor would i fully appreciate all the features. i would love a custom paint job though!

-last night, for the first time ever, i drove jon’s standard car home (about 12km) all by myself with no supervision – my maiden voyage. it was a little harrowing at times, since i’m a pretty new driver to begin with, and i’m still learning how to operate the standard vehicle. i stalled only once, drove in the wrong gear once or twice, but, all in all, it wasn’t too bad and i did not crash or die! someday soon i will get more comfortable doing this.

-i proofread jon’s mechanical engineering master’s thesis on deep drawing of warm formed aluminum. “what?” you say. yeah, that’s what i said too. after going through the 100+ pages a few times, combing carefully for missing commas and misplaced subordinating conjunctions, i still don’t really know what deep drawing is all about. that’s ok with me.

-i’m working on my mighty life list, inspired by maggie and karen. i’ll post it when i’m done. so far everything on the list (i’m up to #28 so far) is kind of epic. i think i need a few things that i can get started on right now. ideas?

-i pulled the ice cream maker out of hibernation for a batch of homemade cookies and cream (david lebovitz’s philidelphia vanilla with crushed oreos swirled in at the end). let me tell you, i have missssed ice cream. since we stopped buying it at the store, when i removed the freezer bowl from our freezer, our connection to the creamy cold treat was severed. i’m happy to have it back in my life.

-tomorrow i’m going to my first ever blog meetup (aside from the healthy living summit, which i guess was sort of blog meetup like) that angela is organizing in kensington market, a super cute area of toronto. i’m excited to meet new people, make some new friends (hopefully) and spend some time exploring the city. the weather is supposed to be gorge!

whew. that was long.

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March 6, 2010 at 5:43 pm Comments (13)

it’s the end of the world as we know it

november is finally over! do i feel fine? i don’t know. maybe. maybe not. i am not sure how i would classify my nablopomo participation. i posted every single day, except for two: one of which i had a pretty good excuse and the second of which was directly related to the first, but the rest of my posts were not 100% awesome. i did have a few sorry excuse for a post days. i did not finish writing about all the things on my list either.

i’d probably give myself a 7.5/10. the effort was mostly there, i showed some promise, but in the end, i don’t think i quite reached the bar. it was a good exercise though. the only way to write better is to write lots. i will probably do nablopomo again, though not in december. i need a break, and i also know that i will not have access to the internet every single day, which would make it stressful/hard. we’ll see about february! it is the shortest month ;-) i can handle 28 days! i did it this month.

i’m super excited that tomorrow is december. december is my favourite: christmas, my birthday, snow, presents, family, vacation, tasty food – everything i love. i forgot to add gingerbread to my list of things to make! can’t forget that. i also signed up to make a dessert for my branch christmas potluck next friday. i haven’t figured out what i’ll take yet, but i’m sure i’ll get to that on thursday night. my coworker asked if i’d be making packages again this year (last year select friends/coworkers each got a box with a jar of jam or preserve and a selection of holiday cookies and treats). apparently he quite enjoyed them! this december will be extra busy, as we have a move scheduled (jon is vacating his apartment and coming here!) and a road trip to plan and take. i am going to have to remember to breathe.

the resolution project went well. i did not reach my goal of 150 points, but i got 138, which is 92% of that and a decent first effort. i will restructure my december goals to further my happiness through the season of light and cocoa (and stress!).

i got two jars of free nuttzo in the mail today, courtesy of opensky. that is not too shabby! there are still a few other cool things i found in various stores, so i am holding out for more december sales!

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can anyone identify this car?

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November 30, 2009 at 9:41 pm Comments (7)


so. i fail. i spent all of thursday away from computers and the interwebs. i didn’t come home on thursday night (dance party! stayed at the fancy pants hotel downtown), so i couldn’t blog. then on friday morning, after only 4 hours of sleep and a shower, i went to work.

fun fun!

i came home in the evening and collapsed in bed. after a few eps of the new adventures of old christine, i fell asleep. jon woke me up when he arrived around 10 and then we turned the lights off shortly after. bad blogger!

i have fun pictures to share, hopefully tomorrow. today was pretty tiring. feels like i was standing in the kitchen all day long – wish i had a cork floor or something else nice and soft. my feet are protesting.

i made:

a big fruit salad with pineapple, clementine, honey crisp, banana and pomegrate and a dressing of agave, lemon and ginger. we had it with a dollop of greek yogurt + granola.

grilled cheese sandwiches

kath’s crantastic crockpot chicken (the breasts were wonderfully done after 4-5 hours on high. perfect texture)

roasted brussels sprouts with bacon, balsamic and cranberries

pureed squash (still unsure of what variety it was, as i bought it from the farmer’s market a month ago and i don’t remember what they told me. it looks kind of like a buttercup, but it was orange. i don’t love buttercup squash and i didn’t love this one, but the texture was lovely. the taste was odd. jon liked it)

a pumpkin pie (though i always make it with a crust, half of this recipe)

now i’m resting on the couch, playing some online games and waiting for my pie to be finished. i still have very little energy and my right calf is quite sore. 4 hours of crazy dancing will do this to me, apparently. my impromptu living room dance parties are insufficient training. i promise to try and be a better blogger tomorrow! we won’t talk about the lost 2 days, nablo. i’ll make it up somehow. promise.

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November 28, 2009 at 9:30 pm Comments (83)

good eats

i did lots of cooking this weekend (and lots of eating!) and not lots of picture taking. oops. everything was food-blog-sourced and quite delicious.

1) hangry pants’ twice baked acorn squash

i used fresh spinach instead of frozen, added chickpeas for protein, extra cheese (a mix of mozz and cheddar). it was good. a for sure make again.

2) kath’s nutty vanilla kale sweet potato soup

i used fresh spinach instead of kale and skipped the shredded coconut garnish. we love this soup and i had some leftover giant sweet potatoes from the apple farm a few weeks ago to use up. 1 potato was 2 pounds and made at least 4 servings of soup. whoa! perfect for the dreary day we had here.

served them with some of alton brown’s buttermilk biscuits, that i had whipped up for breakfast.

3) make it fast, cook it slow – 365 days of crockpotting slow cooker beef bourguignon (adapted from julia childs)

i had a blade roast in the freezer that we got from jon’s uncle’s farm (grass fed, free range yumminess! happy cows are the best). blade roast isn’t a super tender piece of meat so we decided that a long, slow cook in the crock pot would be just right. we left it whole, but i think cubing it up would have been better. the meat was still a little tough at the end. it was tasty though! i thickened the sauce on the stove and cubed up the leftovers for a hearty stew for tomorrow, over my leftover garlic mashed potatoes. i made my own herbs de provence mix, which i have decided i need to make more of! we still have many cuts of beef to eat through.

i also made some of kath’s maple roasted brussels sprouts to which i added some bacon (for extra porky magic) for vitamins.

for dessert, to use up the last of my last half bushel of apples (i got a new bag on friday. HONEYCRIPS!!! jon is awesome. have i mentioned?) i decided to make a big apple crisp. i remembered that we had tried this one last year and it was great (though, everything i get from URB is great!): apple cranberry crisp.

i had cranberries in the freezer. popped it in the oven just as we started supper and it was ready when we were done. we didn’t have any tonight though because jon’s friend sent home these two fancy pastry/cake things home for us from a bakery. i failed to take any pictures, but they were beautiful! bits of gold leaf writing on chocolate, thin slices of crushed-nut brittle, etc. i sent jon home with half the crisp, but i have some for me to enjoy tomorrow!

food blogs rock!

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November 15, 2009 at 10:33 pm Comment (1)