Busy As Usual!

Hello everyone! I see that I have gained some new followers, which is just lovely. I hope you enjoy my little slice of the internet 🙂

It is that busy time of year again, report card season. I must say that I am more on the ball this term than I have been in previous terms, nearly all my classes are complete as far as marks are concerned. I just have 2 classes to finish up, then comes the dreaded comments. As a result, I haven’t done any sewing over the last little bit, and won’t be until I have finished them completely. Hopefully I’ll have a new project started by this weekend. I have a few in my queue, not counting the Colette challenge I joined this month. Fortunately for me, I’ve already made the Hazel dress, the pattern that is currently being showcased.

It’s basically between sewing and working out, and for a change, I have been smart and engaging in the latter first. I’m still slogging away at my 10K training, which I feel is going rather well. I am on week 5 day 2 of the ‘Couch to 10K’ program, and have been surprisingly consistent. It probably helps that I am continuing to see my awesome trainer, who regularly kicks my ass (in a good way). I will do my run tonight (after a nap, of course 😉 and then finish my health marks. Then I’ll have only one class to go!

I realized last night that I hadn’t posted an update on my new ‘natural’ beauty routine, so I guess now is as good a time as any to do it. In the end, I switched over a few things, and these are the things I have observed. First, my facial cleansing routine.

I started using a mix of castor, jojoba, and sweet almond oil to clean my face in what is known as ‘the oil cleansing method’. I was sceptical at first, but I am now a convert. I have been doing this method for about 6 weeks, and after a few different mixes and ratios, I believe I have come up with a winning formula for my skin. Initially, I had a few painful cystic breakouts, but they have largely subsided. My face is looking smoother and more refreshed. I also seem to have fewer blackheads, which is awesome because my pores are so large. Sometimes I use the mixture above, but if my skin is feeling sort of dry, I’ll use coconut oil and castor oil instead. My skin feels surprisingly refreshed, especially after smoothing a little bit of argan oil on afterwards. I give the oil cleansing method two thumbs up!

The next things I switched over was my shampoo and conditioner. I started using Aubrey organics Island Naturals shampoo and conditioner with reasonable success.

It was a decent price, and although the lack of lather was a bit strange at first, I’ve gotten used to it. It smells nice, and leaves my hair feeling clean and looking shiny. It’s probably not the best natural shampoo out there, but for right now, it’s working just fine. Two thumbs up.

The third thing I switched over was my toothpaste. This one was a very interesting switch indeed. For the last five years or so, every month around ‘that time’, I get horrible canker sores along each side of my tongue that last around 2 weeks. They are painful and generally just awful. Sometimes, they hurt so much I can’t talk or eat. In the past I had tried SLS free toothpastes, but they didn’t seem to make much of a difference. When I switched to the ‘JASON naturals’ brand toothpaste, I really wasn’t expecting that much.

I was very pleasantly surprised. I did get one canker sore, but it went away after about 2-3 days, and it wasn’t as painful as they normally are. I am a convert. Ten thumbs up to this one!

The last thing I switched over this month was my pit stick. This one was always going to be tricky because I drip sweat at the the slightest physical exertion. Blame the genetics on that one. The sweat I can handle. The smell on the other hand is what I need to combat. Enter ‘Green Beaver’.

I really, really wanted this to work, but its performance was spotty at best. After a day at work it wasn’t too bad about 70% of the time, but it could not be counted on to hold up to a regular workout or run in the neighbourhood. I need something that will stand up to all my physical activities, and this one didn’t make the cut. It’s back to the drawing board as far as the pit stick goes.

As far as experiments go, I think this went rather well all things considered. I wasn’t expecting a lot from my switch to synthetic to natural products, but ended up having success in all areas except one. It’s encouraged me on to making my next natural switch. I’m thinking make up, and sunscreen should be next. Anyone have great natural products they love to use?

Well, I think I’ll end it here. It’s on to my nap, then off for my run. Then marking. Yay.

Whole 30 – 10 Days In

Howdy peeps! How’s it going?

I wish I had more to talk about today, but alas, there has been a considerable lack of sewing in my life over the past week or so. I did manage to start working on a little handbag, but it is not finished, nor is it going how I had originally envisioned, so it’s back to the drawing board with that one. I’m not feeling too sad about it, there have been positives with it (like the sweet zipper pocket), but if I’m being honest, I really screwed up the sizing. It looks like a lunch bag.

Instead, I’ll update my Whole 30 challenge so far. I haven’t died, so that’s something, right? I’m kidding, but only sort of. 10 days in and I am feeling far more of the physical side effects than I did with my first one. I am mainly just very tired. Like, utterly exhausted. It could be a few things, like the challenge, or the fact that we are trying to sleep train the baby (although, he is doing pretty well so far), or the fact that I am a bit stressed about the thought of going back to work…. I still technically have 6 months left of my leave, but I have been asked to go back early if I can and I’m having trouble making a decision. I’ll have to figure the answer to that one soon…

Anyhow, besides the fatigue, I think I am doing really well. Everything I’ve eaten has fit into the parameters of the program, and although I’m tired I haven’t had the urge to cheat yet.

Best recipes of the week:

1. Stewed Cod, a recipe from my sisters blog. It was simple, yet utterly delicious.

2. Mulligatawny Stew, something I discovered from my last Whole 30. Go make this stew, it’s soup nazi good!

Cooking fails:

Just one, thank goodness. My Whole 30 has coincided with the start of solid foods for the baby, and so I decided that he should eat what we eat most of the time. At the last minute, I decided to steam some broccoli instead of roasting it like I usually do. A culinary mistake, it was AWFUL! Bland, mushy, and really disgusting. Never again. Why steam when you can roast???

That’s it for now. Not my most verbose entry, but at least now you all know that I’m sticking to my plan!

Primal Style Berry and Rhubarb Crumble

I went grocery shopping this morning, and when I got home, I discovered that I had a bunch of berries in the fridge that I had forgotten about. How the heck does one forget about fresh berries?!? Anyway, some of them had already turned, but quite a few were still good to use, so I decided to try my hand at a primal version of crumble. After looking on line for inspiration, I naturally just went my own way, because that is what I do when I cook and bake. Who needs a recipe? Pfft

So in that spirit, please keep in mind that my measurements are only aproximations. I could have gotten some measuring tools out, but that would have meant more dishes, and I do not like dishes.

Paleo/Primal Friendly Berry and Rhubarb Crumble

This recipe is also great for anyone avoiding eggs or milk products, because it has none!

Berry mix:

1/2 to 3/4 cups of fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh strawberries
Rhubarb to taste (I used about 6 stalks in this version
2 heaping tbsp honey

Crumble:

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw pecans
2 tbsp coconut oil
2-3 tbsp honey, depending on taste preference
cinnamon to taste (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix berries, rhubarb and honey together, and place in an 8X8 glass dish. Bake mixture for around 20 minutes.

While berries and rhubarb are baking, take the nuts and grind them to a coarse meal in your food processor or blender. Don’t do this for too long, or you will end up with nut butter. Remove from food processor and stir in cinnamon. Mix the wet ingredients together and add to the nut meal. Mix well, and top berries with the nuts. Bake for another 35-40 minutes. Serves 6.

I’m sure you can get creative with this as well using different fruits. It’s not exactly like the regular wheat filled standby, however, Shane really liked it and I thought it was pretty good too. I made a plain rhubarb version of this on the weekend, and I found it actually tasted better the next day. Another bonus is that one serving is very satisfying.

Ok, before I go, I have more pictures to post of my progress. I think it is more obvious in these pictures. I am wearing the same clothes, as I was getting ready for an ass whooping from Jamie.

Can you see difference? I can, it makes me happy to no end! Ok, I promise I’ll stop posting pictures of myself unless it’s of a new outfit or a trip 😉

Hope you like my primal take on the humble crumble!

Summer, Here I Come!

First things first, SCHOOL IS DONE! A whole glorious 6 weeks before I have to be back at work, and I’m going to savour every minute of it. It’s still technically a holiday here (even though Canada Day was yesterday), so I guess my ‘official’ summer vacation starts tomorrow. What will I do with my time, you ask? Well, lots! Here’s the run down:

1. Reading. It is so nice to be able to read for myself right now as opposed to reading for school. Right now I am reading a fascinating book called ‘Wheat Belly’, which can be ordered here at amazon. It takes a look at all the health implications caused by eating wheat, and the reason things like diabetes, celiac, and other illnesses are so much more prevalent today than they were in the past. It can be repetitive at times, but it is a good read none the less. I have actually been conducting an experiment of one where I have cut out grains (although, there have been a few birthday bbq’s, and I am not one to turn down cake!), and the effects have been quite interesting. This leads me to my next summer challenge.

2. Focus on my health. I seem to do this every year during the summer break, and I am always glad of it, but this year, my focus has been a little bit different. It is no secret to anyone who reads my blog that I have tried (and failed) to cut grains out of my diet. Well, I am trying again, and this time, I am seeing some pronounced positive effects. This all started when I saw the documentary Fat Head. This is essentially the answer to the questions posed in ‘Super Size Me’, as I’m sure many people have thought, Morgan Spurlock’s numbers just don’t add up. This lead me to the blog of the primal eating guru Mark Sisson where I started reading up on primal eating. It seems to make sense to me in many ways, so I have decided to give it a try. With this, I have also joined the Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge.. Now, the protein shakes associated with the challenge have soy in them, which is a big no no in primal eating, but so far, the combination is working for me. I don’t have the greatest before and after shots, but I’ve only been taking the shakes for 4-5 weeks and been primal for 2 weeks, so hopefully my results will be more dramatic later on.

The above picture is me slacklining with my family on mothers day. It’s also the day that I really found myself becoming uncomfortably chubby.

These pictures were taken last Friday. Now, I’m not sure if you can see that much of a change here, but the numbers don’t lie. I’ve lost 22 inches total off my body, 5 of those inches coming from my (now much smaller) badonkadonk. That’s hips and butt for the peeps who aren’t down with the lingo 😉

I think probably the nicest thing about the shakes is that they are really helping my IBS. When I had gone grain free in the past, my IBS symptoms seemed largely unaffected, so I am going to make the assumption that the shake is doing its job that way. It’s really nice not having to deal with stomach cramps and dull pain!

Honestly? I am feeling really great right now. I am sleeping really well (and this was before school got out!), to the point where I don’t even need to take naps any more. I am the napping queen, so this is quite the breakthrough for me! The only time I need a nap now is if I have consumed a little bit of wheat. Interesting indeed… 🙂

3. Running. On this front, I have been slacking, so I am bound and determined to get right back with my 10K training. I am going to repeat week 5 of the C210K this week, and with any luck (and lots of sweat), I’ll be back on track.

4. Sewing. I feel like I have not done this in ages, so it has been nice to be back on the machine. Funnily enough, I haven’t been using my machine all that much because I have been making a dress couture style, which requires a lot of hand sewing, and an infinite amount of patience. Here is the progression of my project so far.

The above is where I started machine sewing the pieces together after hand basting the entire dress together. Naturally, once fabric is laid out nice and neat, Ponti will do his best to make his presence known.

Inside and outside of the dress before joining the shoulders. I used silk organza as an underlining, and it was a pain in the ass to work with. It’s also itchy as hell. Luckily for me, things seem to be coming together.

Trying on the dress after (carefully) pinning the zipper in. It fits! Woo Hoo! Maybe not the best fit by couture standards, but I’ll take it for now, seeing as it is my first attempt.

Part of the couture style is to hand sew all the seam allowances down. Seem like it would be easy, but I had to do it over 2 nights because it was so tedious and slightly frustrating.

The neckline inside and out. I didn’t want to have any top stitching on the neck binding, but I had had enough hand sewing for one day, so I did a stitch in the ditch. I think it’s decently invisible 🙂

This is where I am as of now. I installed the zipper with a prick stitch (read, by hand), but I am not happy with it. The bottom looks ok to me, but the top is all wonky, and I’d like my first couture dress to look, you know, couture. I’ll probably fix it sometime this week.

Anyhow, this is what is up with me right now, and my plans for the summer. Until next blog entry!

My Whole 30

“So, I gained 7 lbs last week.” I said to my sister on the phone the other day.

“What?!?!?! How is that even possible?”

“Yep, 7 whole pounds. One for each day of hedonism in Mexico.” I am unashamed in my declaration.

Hysterical laughing is what followed my brutally honest statement.

Fortunately for me, it was water weight and seemed to go away after a few days. I think at least half of it came from my ankles and feet, my God, were they ever swollen! Despite this, I know that I overdid it in Mexico. I ate all the food. And drank all the gin. It was glorious.

Then, reality sets in and I remember that, although glorious, I also felt like shit. And, if I am being really honest, I have been feeling kind of shitty for the last 2 months. The time has come for me to do something about it. I’m going to do the Whole 30 challenge.

I have done this before, as a matter of fact, I did a Whole 30 in January of this year. I felt absolutely fantastic when it was done, I was free of IBS symptoms, sleeping well, had loads of energy throughout the day, and I lost 7 lbs and around 12 inches. As great as I felt, sugar and its sweet siren call lead me back gradually to eating a standard American diet (SAD), something that I have known for a while doesn’t agree with me.

For those of you who are unaware of the Whole 30 challenge, here is the gist: For 30 days, you eat unprocessed food like meat, eggs, nuts, vegetables and fruits, and unprocessed oils; forgoing things like grains, sugar of all kinds, dairy, beans and pulses. At first glance it seems incredibly restrictive, but I’ve got to say that I really, really loved it. There was no guess work, the rules are simple, and I love to cook, so I had more food options than I could count. It was very freeing NOT to be counting calories or measuring my food. Definitely a plan I can get behind. So why didn’t I stick with it then? Well, I like chocolate. And red wine. And cheese. Unfortunately for me, I’m realizing that these foods just do not agree with me at all, and so it’s time to say goodbye to them. I guess the last few months have sort of been like the long farewell. No time like the present to get started! My motivations are slightly different this time around, it’s not just about me any more, but my little boy too.

I sometimes forget that I started this blog with the intention of documenting my forays into health and wellness, it’s morphed into quite a different beast over the past few years. I don’t regret that in the slightest, but now seems like as good a time as any to revisit a subject that was once SUPER important to me, and well, still is. Circumstances surrounding my health and wellness are different now than they were, just by virtue of having a baby.

I know that sounds corny as hell, and it’s not really what you think, I promise. Before I was able to do almost any activity imaginable, as well as any diet. I was only limited by my imagination, and sometimes the arthritis in my knees and left ankle. Now, not only to I have the obvious time constraints of having a baby to take care of, I have the lingering effects of the pregnancy on my body.

Ahh, the lingering reminders that I carried a baby full term… They aren’t what you think, I guarantee it. I was lucky enough to not get a single stretch mark! What I got instead was much much worse – a fourth degree tear and diastasis. I won’t bother explaining the first one, other than to say that it is pretty horrible and I may as well have had a caesarean section. The second, diastasis, it pretty easy to explain. I’ve been left with a gap in my abdominal wall due to pregnancy. I’m not going to lie, I am pretty bummed that this happened. I really thought that I’d avoided anything like this due to my relatively high fitness level before and during pregnancy, and the fact that I just didn’t get that big (lucky me!) Because of the diastasis, I have a little bit of a mummy tummy that I’d like to get rid of. When eating well (like during my January Whole 30), it’s pretty much non existent. When eating like crap, I still look like I’m 4 months pregnant. My physiotherapist has let me know that this might not go away until I’m finished breast feeding, so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed. This means that my exercise is also limited to lighter weight lifting, special abdominal exercises, and absolutely no running or jumping for the time being. It’s something that I can’t really control right now, but I am in control of my diet, so I’ll do my best to fix things that way.

There is also my baby boy to think of. He is very close to starting to eat actual food, and I would like him to eat a healthy diet. I know I’m not alone in this as a new parent, but I feel like I need to model proper eating. I can’t expect him to eat avocado’s and sweet potato’s when he sees his Mom eat nothing but chocolate and cheese all the time.

Here are the parameters of the challenge I’m setting for myself:

-Whole 30 compliant foods only for the next 30 days.

-No weighing or measuring myself for the next 30 days (Which means no sewing new outfits for the next 30 days)

-Exercise 3 times per week. I used to be able to do way more, but I’ve got to start slowly. I’m playing the long game here exercise wise.

The sewing thing is a bit of a bummer, but I’ve actually been wanting to try my hand a sewing handbags and such, so you will see some new projects in the near future. Perhaps some as of yet unblogged garments as well. If I come up with a new recipe or tweak an existing one, I’ll be sure to share it if it’s blog worthy.

What you likely wont see are daily updates, food diaries, and (hopefully) generic platitudes about dieting. I assure you, this is not a woo type thing, a la Food Babe (a known charlatan). I just want to feel better, and it my previous experiments of one, this is what did it. I will share my before and after results, which I hope will be as dramatic as they were in my January Whole 30.

Wish me luck! Anyone want to join me?

My Nae Scarf

Yowza, my sew-jo is seriously lacking lately. I’d love to have a new outfit to show you guys, but I just can’t seem to get down to my sewing room. Worse, when I actually have the time I don’t really have the inclination. What I have had more time for lately is knitting, which is strange because it is NOT knitting weather. For whatever reason, knitting instructions are finally making sense, so I guess that’s something, right?

So here she is in all her glory, the Nae:

As I mentioned in a previous post, this was made with Madelinetosh tosh merino light, a lovely fingering weight single ply yarn in a greeny blue colour way called fjord. I bought this yarn a few years ago in New York and I was initially going to make my first pair of socks with it, but my sister (an amazing knitter), cautioned against that as it is made of superwash merino. Apparently it’s not the sturdiest yarn for socks. I’m totally cool with this, I’m still pretty intimidated by knitting and socks are still way out of my league.

I was really hoping to get a shawl out of it, but I didn’t have enough yarn. I ended up being able to finish the pattern with a few modifications, making it both shorter and narrower with inches of yarn to spare. It’s not the shawl that I was aiming for (I’ve been wanting a granny shawl for a while now), but I’ve got to say, I’m really happy with the final result! I think the colour is really beautiful and I think this will get lots of wear when the weather cools down again (I’m not wishing for cool weather though, honest!).

I’ve been knitting another small project, a cowl, but it’s not going as well as I’d hoped. I keep messing it up and having to rip it back, so I think I’m going to leave it for a bit and move on to a new project. The next thing I am going to knit is a sweater for baby boy. The pattern doesn’t look terribly complicated, so hopefully it’ll go smoothly and quickly.

Until next time!