Monday, 21 April 2014

Runners Tell All: Bad Race or Training Experience and Lesson Learned

It's time again for the monthly link up from Amanda at The Lady Okie and Becka at Sunshine to the Square Inch. This month the topic is A Bad Race or Training Experience and the Lesson I Learned.

This post is a hard one for me to write. Reflecting on my experience I can't really think of a race or run that stands out as exceptionally bad at the time. Instead, it's more that reflecting on a run has made me realize how bad things were…

Allow me to explain.

J and I before the run.

Several years ago J and I were participating in a local walk/run that we do every year. A couple days before the run my ankle started swelling up. It was annoying and uncomfortable but I did my best to ignore it. I walked a slow, painful 5k, came home, and immediately went back to my normal life.

I look back at that run and wonder what I was thinking. How did I let myself get to that point? I was unhealthy. I was unhappy. I was completely in denial. The sad thing is, it took things getting worse before I decided that I needed to make some changes.

My swollen ankle and dirty socks after the walk.
It may not look bad in the picture but I could only fit into sneakers and flip flops.

Since then a lot has happened. I'm eating better. I'm losing weight (the healthy way). I'm running and doing other exercise. I'm looking after myself emotionally and mentally. All things taken together, I'm learning to take care of myself and live a healthy lifestyle. I feel great now and that to me makes the bad experience totally worth it.

In case you're wondering (because I would be), my ankle is permanently slightly swollen, and it does get larger every now and then when I'm not careful. I know why and unfortunately it's just something I have to live with. As annoying as it can be at times, it's strong and sturdy and carries me well so I've learned to embrace it. I call it my perma-cankle.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Oh hello there. Remember me? I know, it has been quite a while. Honestly I’ve been completely worn out for the last little while and haven’t had it in me to create, let alone blog. I also haven’t had it in me to do any extra cleaning in my house which means it is a disaster and which brings me to my project – my spring cleaning checklist.

 Every spring I like to clean my entire house from top to bottom. Please keep in mind that I don’t have kids in my house who need my time and attention so I can allow myself to be a little (or a lot) neurotic about cleaning. I have the next week off for Easter break so, after spending the last couple days relaxing with J and the dog, my plan is to complete all my cleaning so I can enjoy a clean house and the harmony that comes with it.

Because I like to cross things off and feel a sense of accomplishment I’ve created detailed room by room lists that I can use throughout my process. I made them in Microsoft Word and, while they’re nothing fancy, I think they’ll help me feel a sense of accomplishment. 

And just in case you're not looking forward to spring cleaning…

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Chicken and Rice Soup (Gluten and Dairy-Free)

One thing I have struggled with since going gluten-free and dairy-free is school lunches. I don’t always have leftovers and, other than one specific type of vegetarian burrito, I can’t find microwave meals that don’t make me sick. To solve this problem I’ve decided to make a batch of soup once or twice a month and freeze it into individual portions.

To start I made this delicious chicken and rice soup, which is a variation of this recipe for chicken soup with rice from KokoCooks.


2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
4 carrots, peeled and diced
4 celery ribs, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, chopped
8 cups chicken stock
1 rotisserie chicken (minus wings and drumsticks), chopped
4 cups cooked rice
Salt and pepper


Step 0: Make chicken stock. I call this step 0 because it’s not something I would normally do. Unfortunately grocery store chicken stock all has gluten and the only place in town that sells gluten free bullion cubes was closed when I went to get my ingredients.

While making my chicken stock, I also cooked my rice.

Step 1: In a large pot, head olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion, and cook until softened.

Step 2: Add chicken stock to vegetables and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.

Step 3: Add chopped chicken and rice, and simmer for an additional ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

After eating a bowl while it was still hot from the stove, I still had nine meals to freeze. I’ve eaten several of them for lunches and the soup is just a good reheated as when it was fresh.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Red and Silver Glasses Chain

A while ago I made a couple glasses chains for my dear friend Sheena. You may have seen them when I posted about them here. As it turns out, her mom liked them and wanted a red and silver one of her own.

I’m sorry but I didn’t take any pictures of the process. I was too distracted by working on the piece to pick up my camera. To make it I put one or three beads per headpin and attached it between short pieces of chain by making a loop at each end. Once the piece was the desired length I added the glasses holders.

It took me way longer to make this than it should have but it’s finally finished and I’m pleased with how it turned out. So pleased, in fact, that I plan on making a few more and putting them in my (now wonderfully restocked) Etsy shop.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Banned Books Bulletin Board

Before we even get into this post, let me clearly state my opinion: I do not support banning books. I support allowing people the freedom to choose and form their own educated opinions. I didn't put this up to tell students not to read books. I put it up to spark discussion and hopefully get them interested in reading some of the books on the list. Now that that's out of the way...

We don't have a library at our school so every couple weeks we take our students to the public library to check out or renew books. A few weeks ago they had a display of banned and challenged books, which totally captivated the students. 

When I took down our Valentine's Day bulletin board (which was too ugly to share) I decided to take a break from seasonal boards and make my own banned book board. The name is kind of misleading because these books haven't all been banned. Some have only been challenged.

I was also selective in what books I put up. The only ones on the board are books that myself or other staff members have read and could justify having on display in school. I also have pamphlets about these books around our common area that the library kindly gave me.

I think this is the most talked about bulletin board I've ever done. The students wanted to know all about certain books - what they're about, where they're banned, why they're banned, etc. What better way to get kids interested in reading something than to tell them they can't read it, right?

Shared at: Kathe With An E, Ginger Snap Crafts, Fluster Buster, A Creative Princess, A Conquered Mess, Life on Lakeshore Drive

Friday, 21 March 2014

Runners Tell All: My Favourite Gear

I know I don't normally post twice in one day but I had prescheduled the post for this morning and forgot to postpone it. That means you get two in one day. Lucky you.

It’s time again for the monthly running link up from Amanda at The Lady Okie and Becka at Sunshine to the Square Inch. This month the topic is My Favourite Running Gear.  

I have a (not so) secret to tell you – when you picture a runner, you don’t picture someone like me. I’m not athletic looking or even average. I’m larger than that and when I’m running, I wear my size like a badge. Yes, I’m overweight and yes, I can and do run.

The reason I’m telling you this is because it’s hard to find plus-size running clothes that don't cost a fortune. The majority of my clothes comes from Old Navy and I’m very limited in colours and styles. Perhaps this lack of options is why my favourite running gear isn’t actually cute clothing, but accessories.

The first thing I must have are my double-layer socks from Running Room. I used to get crazy blisters and these are amazing. I haven’t had a single blister since I’ve been wearing these.

My next must have is my anti-blister stick. I opt for the drugstore brand because I’m cheap and I can buy it locally. As I’ve stated, I’m a big girl. Chafing isn’t pretty but it happens. Thankfully this stuff helps a lot. 

Last but not least is my Buff. I really hate the pattern but that’s not important. I love this thing and mainly use it as a headband/ear warmer. It doesn’t matter how warm it is, I can’t stand wind blowing in my ears. When it’s really cold and I need a toque I wear it over my neck and mouth.

Now that I've told you my must haves, it's time for a shameless plug. Have you seen my diy workout shirt? It's still a favourite of mine when I'm working out at home.

Want to my other post from the series?

52 Week Organizing Challenge: Week 5 - Recipes

As I shared with you before, in an attempt to get back on track and to continue working on my resolution of “focus less on the stuff”, I decided to try the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home by Home Storage Solutions 101.

I asked my dear friend Jen from Black Dog Blog if she’d be onboard and she emphatically said yes. Together, we’re tackling our houses. 

These posts will be very photo-heavy and I apologize in advance for the poor photos. I didn't worry about lighting when taking the pictures for these posts.

Week 5: Recipes

It took me a while to figure out what to do with my recipes so I'm a little late posting this but I'm loving my new system for recipes and cook books.

I started by taking everything out of my cupboard and bringing it to the couch. I seem to work best when watching tv.

I then sorted all my recipes into five piles: recipes I've used, gluten-free and dairy-free information,recipes to try, magazines to go through, and garbage.

My recipes I've used were the easiest to deal with so I tackled those first. They go in an awesome recipe binder my mom bought me at Costco many years ago. I took the time to write recipes I plan to make again in the proper sections, which meant I could get rid of a lot of pieces of paper.

Next I compiled all my gluten-free and dairy-free information into a folder. Since giving up these items, I've accumulated a lot of information that needed a home.

On one side I've stored by foods to avoid sheets, substitution information, and baking tips. On the other side is the allergy information from restaurants where I've eaten. I either pick it up at the store or print it off and that way it's easy to check what I can and can't have when going out to eat.

Next I decided to take care of my stack of magazines, which are 96% the free magazines that Kraft mails out. Rather than trying to go through everything while I was working on organizing, I threw away a few I'd already gone through and put the rest in a pile on my kitchen table. The goal is to go through one a day, pulling out any recipes I want to try, and throwing away the rest.

That left me with just a giant pile of recipes I want to try to deal with. I have to give total credit for this system to the Organized Recipes To Try post from Samantha at Simply Organized.

First I sorted my recipes into categories. Then I made a folder for each category, which I labeled with washi tape and a marker.

Once my recipes were sorted and labeled, I put all the folders into a magazine holder and voila, an easy organizing system for recipes I plan on trying.

Once everything was sorted I put it back in the cupboard. I decided to use the weird space above the oven because it's not really good for much else.

Want to see my previous 52 Wee posts?