Saturday, December 20, 2014

Namasaturday 03: #JustBePresent

In these last crazy days before Christmas, it's easy to loose track of the present in our focus on preparing for the big day. Last minute gifts to buy, gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, houses to clean, people to visit all leave us rushing around from place to place without stopping to focus on the path and the moment.

That's why the hastag #JustBePresent has been all over the yogis of instagram this month. And yoga is certainly great for putting you mind in the moment when your in a class or on your matt.

But what about the rest of the time. I mean I certainly won't fold myself over into downward dog in the middle of my work Christmas party. But you can take some lessons from the matt anywhere you go over the holidays.

How to Just Be Present this Christmas.

1) Root firmly through all of your toes. Take a minute to practice Samasthiti or Equal Standing Posture by standing tall, weight balanced evenly between both legs. Root down into the floor by thinking about the way each of your toes, the ball and heels of your feet are in contact with the ground. This even works in those painful red heels that looked so perfect with your party dress. Doing this reminds us to stay grounded, and gives a momentary break from the rush and the moving to appreciate the moment.

2) Focus on your breath. Practice Pranayama or Yoga breathing. Maybe you won't make the darth vadar sounds in the back of your throat, but when your running around your house like a chicken before guests arrive, taking a step back to focus on your breathing can really slow things down and put them into perspective. Maybe it's ok that you didn't dust behind the down stairs sink, and that your bedroom is a mess (close the door). Take a second to breath and remember that the holidays are about spending time with the people you love, and who will love you back regardless of whether the table settings are perfectly aligned.

3) Look at things from a different perspective. We all love yoga inversions. So while you could do a head stand in front of your tree and enjoy it from the bottom up. You can also try to change the way you look at the holidays. Put yourself in your child's point of view and remember the things that made Christmas so special to you when you were growing up. Maybe it was stringing popcorn and cranberry garlands with your cousins? Bring back an old tradition. Surrounded by all the opulence of the holidays, try to look at Christmas through the eyes of the less fortunate, and donate some of the toys your kids have grown out of, or volunteer your time serving dinner at a shelter. There are so many ways to look at the holidays, take a moment to invert your perspective.

If you celebrate Christmas, then have a very Merry One. If you don't then best of wishes over the holiday season, and I'll see you all in the new year.

Namaste


 
Inverting my own perspective at Lake Louise on December 14th.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Four

Saw this quiz/survey thingy on Bex's blog, and had to fill it out myself. Also it reminded me of the Barenaked Ladies song Four Seconds, so here's the youtube video for that.


1. Four names that people call me, other than my real name:
  • Turner
  • Turnz
  • SARS (yes like the disease -shakes head)
  • Squirrel (Kevin only)
2. Four jobs I have had:
  • Shoppers Drugmart  employee
  • Sea Lamprey Control
  • Environment Canada Freshwater Mussel Immunotoxicologist
  • Grad Student, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cardiovascular Research
3. Four movies I have watched more than once:
Clearly there are way more than four here, so I went with the Christmas Movies I watch every year.
  • Elf
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • A Christmas Story
  • Love Actually
4. Four Books I recommend:
  • Yes Please (Amy Poehler)
  • Bossy Pants (Tina Fey)
  • Let's Pretend this Never Happened (Jenny Lawson)
  • Grace's Guide (Grace Helbig)
5. Four places I have lived:
  • Orangeville, Ontario (Birth through first year of life)
  • Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario (age 1-18)
  • Hamilton, Ontario (18-23)
  • Calgary, Alberta (All of 2010, Sept 2011-present)
6. Four Places I have been:
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Hawaii
  • London (UK)
7. Four places I would rather be right now:
  • On a beach
  • Hiking somewhere lush
  • Curled up in front of a fireplace
  • Curled up in my own bed
8. Four things I don’t eat:
  • Spicy food
  • Moderately Spicy food
  • Foods other people consider mild but have a tiny kick
  • Large pieces on mushrooms in things
9. Four of my favourite foods:
  • Garlic
  • Cheese
  • Perogies
  • Deep Fried Ravioli's
10. Four TV Shows I watch:
OK, it's an embarrassing list, but these are the only four show's I'm keeping current on this year, everything else I binge watch on Netflix later.
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The Biggest Loser
  • America's Next Top Model
11. Four things I am looking forward to next year:
  • Mud Hero blog meet up (I stole this one off Bex's list, but I can't wait too!)
  • Wanderlust in Hawaii
  • Kevin finishing Med School and finding out what city we'll live in next
  • World Microcirculation Congress in Japan in the fall.

12. Four things I am always saying:
  • In answer to the question how are things 'Busy'
  • In answer to the question how is grad school 'Busy'
  • In answer to the question how if life 'Busy'
  • BLORFT (see Tina Fey quote below)
 
But seriously, despite the busyness, and the stress, and the blorft, things are great, and I can't wait for the holidays. I'm not a fan of tagging specific people, so whoever wants to borrow this post idea go right ahead.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Black Friday Shopping Spectacular

Well really it wasn't that spectacular, but I did get a couple good deals (and paid full price for something too).

First off, can we take a second to reflect on how ridiculous Black Friday has become here in Canada. I mean we all know its bat sh!t crazy in the States, and pretty much has been since the dawn of time right? I mean isn't the tradition that the Native Americans brought corn to the hungry pilgrims and then everyone camped out in front of Walmart with their pepper spray, and little Billy got trampled in the rush for a play station the next day. And that boys and girls is the history of thanksgiving.

But in Canada we celebrated our turkey day ages and ages ago! We don't have a last Thursday in November holiday. But we do apparently have Black Friday now.

And it didn't always used to be this way.

I grew up in a boarder town (shout out to the Soo), and ever since I was a little kid, Canadians by the bus load (literally, they arrange buses for these shopping trips) would cross the boarder on Black Friday morning, and go shop the sales at the outlets in Birch Run and West Branch (oooh Michigan). My mom and her friends go down every year, although often a week before or after, when there are still good sales to be had, but significantly less risk of bodily harm.

But in the last 3 years I watched Black Friday in Canada go from "Yeah some stores are going to have sales, especially places the sell electronics." to "malls are all opening early, even the teashop has a sale going on, and hold on to Billy's hand because things are about to get crazy."

Maybe I'm exaggerating, but I mean this year we had a pretty gross bit of snow storm and rough road conditions and the mall was at least twice as packed as it was last year.

But there you have it, I was definitely at the mall (despite my should have known better instincts) and made some purchases and observations.

Shopping list this year included:

-New Laptop
-New winter boots
-New winter coat
-Lululemon .....well just because

The new laptop.

My hunking 3 year old Toshiba, originally purchased regular price $300, so you know it was a quality computer, crapped out this summer. We tried to revive it, and got it working again, but it's been running in a 'I might just die completely at any second' way since. So I decided I'd go out on the Monday before Black Friday to shop around, so if there seemed like there was going to be an awesome deal, I'd be ready.

And that's how I found out about VIP at Future Shop. The sales rep in the computer department took down a list of the computer's I was interested in, along with my price range and phone number. He told me that if any of them went on sale for Friday, he'd call me when he saw the flyer on Wednesday, and we could make a VIP appointment on Thursday so I could buy it without the crush of the crowds or waits in line.

Long story short, I got the Lenovo Yoga I'd been coveting for the last year, for a $180 off, and I love it already. (It's still on sale through December 4th online).


Isn't it fun? it runs Windows 8.1, has a touch screen, and hinges all the way around. Plus it fits in my bag, and doesn't weigh a tonne.


New Winter Boots and Coat

My old boots and coat combo were a Christmas gift from my mom in 2009, right before moving to Calgary for the first time in January 2010. The Sorrel boots and Roots jacket have gotten me through some pretty cold winter days since then, but it was finally time for replacements.

 
 
For the boots of course I went back with Sorrels, the beautiful Joan of the Artic's in slate grey.
 
For the coat, well this was a tough one, you see I have a theory about winter coats. I think that because people have gone nuts and started spending 600-700 bucks on Canada Goose Jackets on mass last winter, this year all good winter coats are suddenly crazy expensive. I picked up four or five that I liked that were at least $400. Yeesh.
 
Finally I settled on this one by Columbia, which was marked down $100 bucks off to a comfortable $200 price range.
 
 
 
I even tested it this weekend (with the boots) when I walked to Tim's for breakfast in the feel's like -30 weather. Nice and toasty warm without sweating under your layers.
 
Lululemon.....Just Because
 
Lulu does a respectable amount of marking down on Black Friday (in store only I think?) It's like the hoard a months worth of regular mark downs and then put them all out on one day. This year however, it was pretty clear they produced merchandise specifically to be marked down on Black Friday. And most of it looked a little sad, like it was not quite up to Lulu standards. This included a pair of all black (waste band included) astro pants marked down to $49. Half of what they usually cost. So even tho I didn't need them I tried on a pair. But I'm going to be honest, the fabric didn't feel quite right. It was heavier than usual, and felt stiff. Maybe this is just status quo since all those issues with see through black pants, but I suspect this was just an example of lower quality merch produced to be put on sale. There were also some ugly sweater jacket things, and these flimsy wrap shirts that I had no desire to try on.
 
But do not doubt the might of the Lululemon marketing machine, because the night before Black Friday, this went up on their instagram
 
 

And I was all like, Lululemon and sparkles!!!!! Yep, I want that. And so I bought something at full price, on Black Friday, and that's what I have to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Still alive and kicking

Tis the season of the pre-Christmas rush. When deadlines pile up, tho not nearly as fast as assorted gift swaps and secret santas. When days keep getting shorter and to-do lists keep getting longer. When you have a dozen or so holiday parties to attend in the 20 days before you fly back to Ontario. When you might strangle yourself in the pile of yarn waiting to be knit up into gifts.

Any ways, my day planner has filled up, and so my blog has been collecting some dust. Throw into all of that binge watching my way through Gilmore Girls on Netflix in every one of my spare minutes, while developing early arthritis in my hands from the frantic knitting, and you have a justifiable reason for my lack of posts over the last couple weeks.

Never fear tho, this weekend I am taking some real down time, just for me, and promise to have some exciting posts just for you too!

Happy American Turkey Day, and don't forget to take some down time for yourself on this rush towards Christmas.

~Sara

Friday, November 7, 2014

Super Easy Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies

I whipped up these cookies the other day for three reasons.

1. I picked up a new silicon baking sheet and wanted to try it.
2. Kevin gave me a jar of chunky peanut butter (I always buy smooth) and he insisted it was better.
3. I was having a kind of blue day, and well coookies make everything better.

So here they are:

Super Easy Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies



Prep Time 5-10 min
Baking Time 13 min
Makes 35 small cookies.

In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter.


Add in 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar, mix.


Add in one large egg and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix.


Add 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. At this point you can continue to mix with you mixer, or as I inevitably need to do with cookie dough, flour up your clean hands and get right in there.


The dough should be able to come together in a ball, then you're ready to portion it out. I shaped my cookies into about toonie sized circles, and spaced them evenly on my baking tray. They will spread a little when they bake, but not too much.


And into the oven (preheated to 350') they go, for 13 minutes. When you take them out you can just slide the silicone sheet with the cookies off the baking tray and onto the table to cool.

Throw the cooled cookies into a tin, and deliver them to your boyfriend who is stressing over CaRMS applications, and enjoy!

Verdict on the silicone baking sheet, nice alternative to parchment paper, prevented burning of the bottoms of the cookies, pain in the arse to clean in the sink. (Nothing sticks but the buttery cookies left little oily circles behind).

Verdict on the chunky peanut butter? If it's all you have, go ahead and use it. The effect is similar to adding chopped peanuts to a regular recipe. I'm not a fan tho, and will stick to smooth in the future!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Spontaneously Registered for Mud Hero 2015, Red Deer!

I was just reading through some blogs by fellow Albertans and noticed there were a stream of posts the other day about Mud Hero 2015, in Red Deer. Looks like Becky over at the Bex Factor had the great idea to get a bunch of us bloggers out for a run come August. Since I ran with her once here in Calgary ages ago, and had a great time! I thought of course I'll sign up for this.

Colour me Rad, Calgary, 2013...they rescheduled it due to the flood, and my whole team 
dropped out, lucky Becky was happy to invite me out with hers!

So you can check out the details over at The Bex Factor, we're running Saturday August 8th at 10AM, and if you don't register soon (before the 14th, the price will go up). 

Can't wait to see you all there (August is soooo far away tho!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

3rd annual pumpkin carve off

Every year we gather friends, pumpkins, beers and shots and partake in a carve off, complete with shot gunning beers, and half time mystery shots.

The first year in, I went simple, with an elongated pumpkin.


That first year there were only six of us, we carved on the back deck at Kevin's and the weather was even kind of nice.

In 2013, we stepped up the game, and went from 6 to 12 carvers. We all planned in advance, scouring the internet for inspiration pumpkins. I even experimented with shaping and two toned carving.


Producing this masterpiece! The rest of the feild looked pretty awesome too. I've opted to sensor some of the pumpkins, alcohol and boys in their 20s often leads to NSFW pumpkins.


This year we faced a potential set back, as Kevin and I drove from store to store on Halloween looking for pumpkins that were nowhere to be found in the all of Calgary. Lucky for us a friend new of a farm that was getting rid of pumpkins cheep on November 1st, and they picked up 15 for the carve off.

I decided to go art pumpkin, and freehand carved a pumpkin version of Vincent van Gogh`s The Starry Night.


Which looks O.K. unlit, but with three candles inside and in the dark, it really shines!


And the rest of the pumpkin feild looked great too! Complete with a couple minions, tinker bell and grumpy cat!


After all that pumpkin carving, we thru our Halloween costumes on and celebrated. You can find some of my past costumes here and here. This year, on short notice, I decided to celebrate the Turtle BackPack that Kevin got me for Christmas last year, and went as Raphael!


You can find an amazing how-to video on making your own Ninja Turtle costume on the Thread Banger youtube channel... not that I followed it, but it did inspire me!

And what did Kevin go as? A Taco! Not really a couple costume, but oddly enough the colours matched!


Hope you all had happy halloweens! What did you dress up as?