Monday, March 21, 2011

Writing gigs and yes, more lighting...

Just a quick midday entry once again, mostly to add a few photos I've spotted of great lights. Went running with an ipod this morning while the kids were in childminding - I have decided the only way to kick this flu's butt is going to be running right through it. Huge, spastic coughing fit followed (lasted 1/2 hour), which wasn't fun, but not life threatening either. I think running will help and it is SO great to run with tunes again! A little CCR, anyone?

In other news, Urban Mommies has agreed to publish a monthly article by yours truly in the coming year. My latest one can be found at
http://www.urbanmommies.com/featured-1/teaching-kids-to-dress-themselves/
Hope you like it! I have also agreed to do a book review for an editor friend which I believe will be featured in Island Parent, but it remains to be seen which book it will be on. I will add the link or information when the time comes.

But back to the really fun stuff: LIGHTS. I love this blown glass light suspended in a cage...and was informed by the company advertising it that it's not currently available when I inquired about the price. Figures. Will find something that works. The question is whether it will cost less than my soul. The hanging bulb with the beaded cover is so swanky & I think would look good in multiples, hung under the soffits that lead out to our patio & pool. The chandelier is just so lovely. Don't know where I would put it quite yet but finding a spot won't be hard.So yeah. Gotta tend to my lunch-munching kids, who otherwise will be flinging veggie dogs at the ceiling momentarily. I will add the source sites for the lights after they go down for naps.

 Cheerio, then. Have a lovely Monday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Roasted Tomatoes and Afternoon Ideas

I am multitasking today...roasting tomatoes (as per the Delia Smith recipe my Gramma gave me - I am addicted) and coming up with ideas to simplify and organize this chaotic life of mine...I am compelled to write them down before they disappear from my crowded brain, I will throw a quick blurb your way (as I wolf down a tomato half; will serve them with dinner later).

Today's notions are on a few different tangent. Here you go:

1) After spending more than I would like at Costco I am determined to cut spending and increase incidental household income. With a big move coming up it will make sense to have a big garage sale. I find this process exhausting to even think about because of all the sorting and pricing...but then I had a brain wave. My kids are always using coloured sidewalk chalk. I will divide the driveway into segments and make each segment it's own price range: 1) $1/$2/$5 etc. 2) $10-$25 3) $25-50 4) Make an offer. You get the idea, and each quadrant could be divided as needed, individual big-ticket items could stand alone, etc...but I think it will simplify the process! I will have to take pictures when I get around to this project. It remains to be seen whether I will have two sales, or wait until we've sold the house to do it all in one go (hard to sell a house with no stuff in it).

2) My husband and I have always liked the idea of doing the boys' room (we've put in one for each of them, but they will share while they're little) with an explorer theme - one wall will probably be a giant map in some great old school colours, and we'll decorate to offset it. My oldest has become quite infatuated with collecting little things - rocks or pinecones, or little treasures found on walks - and I remember how I loved to do the same when I was a kid. So I want to put in a whole wall section with lipped, open shelving and big glass jars for them to keep their collections in. I think it will look great and they'll enjoy it!

3) I want to learn how to sew again. Properly, this time. I always end up winging it (after taking three days to figure out how to use my machine again, since I haven't a project room in which to keep it set up)...and making decidedly wobbly things. Once in the new home I will have a large laundry and project room, and I have an old friend who is an amazing seamstress. I think I will gather a few of my favourite peer houesehold executives (moms) and see if she'll give us a workshop. We'll hire a sitter and have cocktails and...hmm, maybe we won't drink while sewing...so yeah. Sparkling water and appies should do it. But it will be all fun and girly and I'll be able to forge ahead (ha ha) with making and repairing cushion covers and quilts and other homey things. My vintage bed linens may come in handy on that front.

Oh, and in addition to that I am back on the fitness train. Did a hard 30 minutes of interval running yesterday (treadmill) and was surprised it was all I could muster. This viral bronchitis I've had really did take it out of me (honestly, I felt like I was making excuses but I could not have worked out last week. I could hardly breathe!)...At any rate, I felt better for having done it. I'm simply going to try to manage a workout daily for now and hopefully my stamina will return quickly! 

That is all. Just sharing my brainclouds for today...Have a lovely Wednesday, dear readers, and remember: suffering is optional.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Hunt for The Perfect Pendants

I tried to go back and source this - no luck.
Good evening...

It seems lately I have time only to focus on one topic at a time, or a few wee ones, so I wanted to update my quest for pendant lights for our kitchen. My husband is a little resistant to my obsession with the colour green (he's just terrified I will make our whole house glow like a child's painting) and to the marine connotation of my bouy dreams...But I think I have come up with a decent solution.

www.womansday.com or CiscoCatalogue.com
I'm not sure how easy the glass bouys are to find, or how many one is likely to score at once, which means I may end up dealing with irregular shapes and sizes. Maybe I'll get lucky and find someone to be selling a batch all at once, from the same original source and all at a similar size. Even then, though, I have to think about practical use. The purpose of these lights will be to actually illuminate my work surface, which will consist of an L-shaped peninsula and a large island/butcher block/farm table. My plan is to have five largish pendants over the peninsula, and one larger fixture (which ought to relate to them, but doesn't have to match them) over the island. Because glass bouys don't have a significant opening, if any, they would act as a diffuser for the light unless I had them cut into. Musing this, I began to enter various google image searches into my computer and found that "blown glass pendant lights" gave me the closest selection to what I'm looking for.

www.nichemodern.com
www.homedecorations.com
www.modern50.com
www.nichemodern.com 
Now, blowing glass is an expensive endeavour, and those doing it charge accordingly. I am hoping to stick to a budget of around $100 or less per pendant, so a custom-build isn't necessarily going to work for me. However, when I think about how I would suspend these bouys or glass spheres if I were to make the pieces myself (which I won't, because they need to be safety certified), I end up dreaming of copper, bronze or distressed nickel industrial contraptions (I even mentioned the concept of a large fixture on a vintage factory pulley for our dining room to our designer recently). SO, I think this is what we will do. Take a basic industrial pendant light like this one and notice it has a bit of a lip around the bottom edge of it's canopy. These can be found for under $100 or over $1000 depending where you look. Install said lights and call the place done...until after the big priority costs have been spent and I am ready to spend a little more finding the beautiful, bouy-inspired (or bouys with holes cut out) glass spheres I want. THEN, I will, with great satisfaction - assuming I have found an industrial pendant with a canopy that can be taken off and replaced - place said spheres on the pendant canopies, with holes in the appropriate places, and halleluja, have a gorgeously illuminated kitchen with the exact feeling I am going for. Hopefully the pictures I have pilfered from the internet will give you a clear idea of what I am going for. I am all excited and pleased with myself, for the time being. We will see how the execution of my plan plays out. Soon I will do up a sketch of my kitchen floor plan so you can see what I am doing.

It's Sunday night, and the time change has thrown us all...my husband had planned to leave to flag a race course for his dirtbiking community at 8:30 this morning before he remembered the switch...and as such had us all up at about 6:00. It's 10:05 post change now, and he's been asleep in his chair since quarter to... I know he's beat, but I find this unreasonable since his body thinks it's just after nine.

Sigh. But I digress. I AM exhausted after a long day with an unhappy almost two-year old, and will now sign off. Hope you like my ideas!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Oh My God, Oh My God You Guys...

My post title today is borrowed from one of "Legally Blonde's" (the musical) numbers with the same name...I can't get it out of my head for some reason. I might even be able to find footage of a version my sister was in...will get back to you on that...

But OH MY GOD I just got ID'd at the wine store! "Have a nice evening," said the cashier as I left, and I said "Honey, you just made my whole weekend!"She looked like she was twelve. I go around all the time feeling crappy and exhausted lately, with the bronchial plague firmly and steadily attacking my system (I'm almost two weeks out and still suffering considerably - even have a temporary puffer from the doctor in spite of no history of anything asthma-like). My eye bags have become eye luggage. So yes, I am going to TAKE that compliment, thank you, and raise it a paragraph of bragging on my blog to convince myself that I do, indeed, retain some of the youthful face I once had...Ok, I did spruce up my makeup a little before I left the house (but seriously, my max routine is five minutes). I wasn't even sure I wanted to venture out but I'm making a nice meal tonight (shockingly, I went with the exact meal my Gramma made for me last week - see previous post - because it's easy and so good)...so I picked up a bottle of "The Lineup" and got a nice compliment to brighten my weekend. A lot.

Alright, I'll leave you alone now. At least about that. Still frustrated that my fitness attack got sidelined but I WILL be starting again on Monday. There. Committed. I am not going to carry this extra chub around anymore. It's driving me nuts! I may have mentioned that I will be interspersing the P90X workouts with two or three straight cardios every week - like intervals on the treadmill or trail runs. Minimum of 40 minutes, but up to an hour if I can swing it. The reason it will be easier to do the runs some days is because I can actually leave the kids in childminding at the rec centre and work out there, rather than risking an hour workout while they nap in the afternoon, when no one is there to deal with them if they wake up when I'm 25 minutes in.

In other news, we went to choose our bathroom & kitchen fixtures today. Tubs, sinks, toilets, faucets, etc...I have to say, I've never been toilet shopping before. There are so many to choose from, and they all look so much alike...But amazingly, we didn't really argue about anything and we stayed under budget. I am kind of shocked by this, because so far everything has seemed to cost more than we'd like...but clearly we are able to spend more thriftily when it makes sense. This is encouraging.

I don't know if I've announced this before now but I did come up with a name for our new place. It's Sparrow Hill. It fits, we love it, so it be. I will have more on what Sparrow Hill will represent in coming months...but for now, it's becoming our home, and we're in love with it.

I must leave now to feed my hungry children before they gnaw off my arms, but I will attempt a return tomorrow or the next day. Other attentions this week will have to be put into some actual writing. I have two actual deadlines approaching for an article and a book review. Whee...

Have a wonderful Sattiday, dear people.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Two days with no boys? Yes I di-id.

Well, I'm home now with a gross cough and shortness of breath, and have been prescribed a temporary puffer. Needless to say my workout regime has been foiled for a few days. I don't even want to talk about how frustrated I am on that issue, but I will. First I will recount my lovely weekend away, though - which I probably took at the expense of my health, but which I enjoyed immensely.

I have never left my boys for more than one night, and the first time I did that was last summer, to camp with my Mum & sister for one night. This time I went to Vancouver for the weekend. On Friday I drove up to Nanaimo and took the ferry to Horseshoe Bay, so I could have a long-overdue visit with my Gramma. She is amazing! In her eighties and still pulling off gourmet meals. It was so much fun (we are really quite good friends). Knowing I've been trying to eat lightly, she planned our menu to accommodate me. We had pan-fried trout, endive casserole and these sweet, amazing roasted roma tomatoes for dinner, and pears poached in port for dessert. Not completely without butter or sugar, obviously, but it was a gracious and delicious gesture, to say the least. The tomatoes are a Delia Smith recipe, which I will post on my food page, and I will try to get the endive recipe up for you as well. We had wine and talked about all sorts of things, and she gave me a quote I love, which is "Suffering is optional." Maybe that doesn't apply to this stupid virus I've got but otherwise, I do try to remind myself to focus on gratitude!

On Saturday I picked up $54 worth of gorgeous, delectable crab meat at the Waggot's market in Park Royal (hooked up with Norma by my Gramma, of course) and headed over to my sister Monica's new place off of South Granville. It's in a totally retro little building and she has done great things with it. We went shopping for a while and then returned home to meet our Mom for her 60th birthday celebration. My other sister Malissa joined us shortly after and we got out the champagne for some appetizers and gift opening. Monica had, ironically, decided to make the roasted tomatoes a la Delia as an appetizer, along with some parmesan & chive straws she made herself. So nice. After our snack (we were all pretty hungry) she opened some lovely little gifts and the big one - we'd pooled our resources to give her a return trip to Nova Scotia, where we grew up - which got the party going and the vino flowing! She is so excited. Then, a GLORIOUS dinner of crab, garlic butter (yeah, uh, not following any program on that night), crispy herbed goat cheese with pecans and this insane dessert Monica made with thrice-cooked meringues (funny story - she thought they'd failed and left them in the over over night, and so on...then went to throw them out and they were perfect), berries in kirsch and yogurt cream.

As if that wasn't enough, we had tickets to "Legally Blonde" the musical at the Queen E theatre, so off we went in a cab. When the driver heard Mum was turning 60, he proudly announced that he was 58. He mentioned that Heart had played at the same theatre last week and we got into a conversation about Ann & Nancy Wilson (who are great live)...next thing we knew, he'd cranked up "Magic Man" and we were arriving at the theatre, only to realize he'd never turned on the metre...so he gave us a deal and we gave him a tip and off we went.

Let me state for the record that musicals are not really my thing...but my Mum & Monica love them and have both acted on stage and in film, so when Mum requested this for her birthday we were glad to oblige. I thought the show was pretty good. I don't have much to compare it to, and it helped that I knew the story line from the movie. It seemed well rehearsed and choreographed, and I would say the second half was better than the first. But that's just me.

After that we were off to Q4 (the Quattro location) for a sip and a nibble, which my sister loved because she designed the place with her team at work. Then we went home, laughed a lot and tried to go to sleep.

The only damper on the evening was that my cough got pretty nasty when we arrived at the theatre and I wasn't feeling my best. It kept me up until about 2 am and woke me again at seven. All fine...we got up eventually and headed over to Granville to poke around & have coffee and breakfast and then I headed to the ferry.

My children only hated me for a few minutes when I got home and quickly forgave me when they saw I'd come with gifts from their great-grandmother and myself (books). My hubby survived the weekend with only moderate sleep-deprivation to add to his already brimming bank of it! I am dying for some quality time with him but by the time the kids were in bed we were beat. Then my cough kept us both up all night. I ended up sleeping in the recliner, which I might as well plan to do tonight so at least one of us can rest! One day we will see each other again...Will have to book a sitter for when I feel better.

Now, to address the fitness issue. Basically, I am at an impasse. I have all the tools with which to achieve what I want, but not nearly as much time as I would like. I actually do enjoy the P90X workouts and look forward to them, but I am going to have to commit to doing many of them in the evening just to avoid interruption (my husband is home then to deal with children if they wake after bedtime). I think I may have to just plan two or three hard runs every week when I have the option of putting the kids into child minding at our rec centre because I know I won't get a workout in during nap time every time I want to. So yes, I still want to do P90X, but I am going to have to stretch it out a bit and insert some hard & fast cardio workouts every few days to keep my momentum going.

As for the food, it's been tough the last couple of weeks. I love the concept but I AM addicted to sugar, and I will go several days without feeling like I am craving and then think I can justify a little, but then I slide a little more and well, it's just a really delicate balance to strike. Hard to do when sick and/or out of town. But I will figure it out. I lost about three pounds the first week, and am up a pound or so now. I WILL hit the programs hard again after a couple of days of plague recovery, and I will keep you posted. This is not something I will give up on. But I am at a plateau & have been here for a long while, so I will have to really shock my fat butt into submission to get the pounds to start falling off. I'm thinking about keeping a food journal here - on one of my pages so it's not right in your face if you don't want to read it - but it would keep me accountable and motivated to succeed on that end. Portion control is everything! It sucks but it's true.

I'm off to find a few photos to post for your enjoyment here. Please leave comments and let me know if you have suggestions or ideas...do you want to read my food diary or does the thought make you want to read other, more boring blogs? Feedback please & thank you...have a great day.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tweaky time

Behaving myself this morning with black coffee.
So yesterday was a bad day for cravings. I wanted sugar, I wanted fat...I did have a couple of glasses of wine on Sunday night which I think can cause such cravings to a degree. I had two coffees with cream (half & half) and sugar - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I nibbled at the chocolate chips I used to bribe my kids through their dinner (bad, bad mommy). I felt discouraged and frustrated when I tried to start my workout at five AM and was foiled yet again when my youngest woke up wailing, and upon being picked up for a calming snuggle, promptly barfed all over me. Not the best start to a day with no sleep, but I managed to get through the workout in the afternoon(and yes, I managed a shower after the pukecident). After the first half hour - and with 45 minutes to go - Noah woke up, uncomfortable again, and I had to keep trying to resettle him. I'm not sure what this bug is for him but I have the sore throat and cough, runny nose and annoyance that go with it. Bugger. He at least woke up chipper and well-rested this morning after sleeping through the night.

At bedtime last night I toted my recently purchased Tosca Reno book, "Your Best Body Now," which is funny because my body is decidedly not at it's best now...but I am trying to brainwash myself into thinking differently. Her books do have some great tips for these motivational (and logistic) setbacks so many of us experience, from how to stock your kitchen for easy, fast meals and snacks when you don't want to cook up a storm or have to be on the go to stopping to remind yourself about short-term goals before entering a danger zone like a restaurant or social gathering. You know, like if you've decided to lose five pounds by the end of the month, then you go into the situation knowing what you will eat and what you will not. These are situations that do crop up so I find reading her motivational stuff helpful.

Today after Griffin's swimming lesson, in spite of the fact that I have to do the P90X Kenpo X workout at some point today, I'm going to put the kids in childminding at our rec centre and go do a cardio workout in the gym. I've been missing the running since I began this program and I need to up my results over the next few days. On Friday I head to Vancouver for a couple of nights to celebrate my mom's 60th, which will, no doubt, be fattening and fun.I would at least like to head off any damage by getting some good results. If weather cooperates I might convince my sister to go for a run with me on Sunday morning too.

What's fun is that I just found out my friend Cheryl is starting the P90X program in Guelph, so I will have someone to compare notes with (other than my husband, who's weight sizes etcetera are decidedly larger than mine). She has also successfully lost a good amount of weight, post-babies, and kept it off for several years now, so Cheryl, feel free to leave tips and comments here!

You may all be wondering why I'm not posting before pictures here to show you where I'm at in this journey. Well, would YOU want pictures of yourself at 30 lbs overweight posted all over the internet? Neither do I. Maybe after I've achieved some results I will show you a shot or two of me at my starting point. For now I need to visualize my goals. Maybe I will get my scanner working and post some good pictures from when I was slender, back in the day...

In the meantime, I forgot to tell you I bought a yogurt maker and am making my own yogurt now. The first batch seems a little bitter & watery but that's just about trouble shooting and length of time in the machine. I found a brand-new, unused Donvier at Superchance for $24 and had to scoop it. I may have to go up to 1% milk because the skim just doesn't taste that great, even though I used a full-fat greek yogurt starter. But I digress. The stuff I've got for now will be fine in smoothies.

Please leave comments or start discussions! I am going to be editing the layout and look of the blog a bit in the coming weeks. Any suggestions? I would like a more interactive blog and have a lot to learn about setting adjustments & accessibility options...so if you know something I obviously don't please share ~

Enjoy your Tuesday and wish me luck at the rec centre. My legs are pretty wobbly after the leg & back workout yesterday.