Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Yoga Headstand Fun Times

Last month Krista and I posed for this photo.

Sorry did I say posed?

What I should have said was Kevin held our feet and posed us, then ran out of the frame while the camera snapped rapid fire shots and we desperately tried to hold it for a second or two.

Thank goodness for the ability to crop Kevin out of photos.

At the time I was just getting back into yoga, practicing pretty close to daily, but I would have said proper headstands weren't anywhere in my near future. I should also point out that headstand and hand stands even have were never in my past either. I was always the kid who kicked up into a hand stand and flipped all the way down onto my back. Fun as a kid playing on the lawn, terrifying as an adult.

Fast forward a week, to a community yoga class in Vancouver with Blissology's Eoin Finn, and he says ok everyone hand stands. So naturally I sit back into child's pose. Because you know, I'm terrified.

Well that wasn't an option with Eoin, and he came right over and assisted me right up into my first handstand, and held me there waaaay longer than I wanted. But importantly, long enough for me to get a sense of what it felt like through the core, shoulders and arms to support you body weight upside down.

More importantly though, he held me up there long enough to get past the fear, and I came home determined to get inversions (well more inversions than just shoulder stand) into my practice.

If you want to learn anything in yoga, there are two ways to do it, in class and online with Kino MacGregor, so I watched her videos on headstands and practiced hard in my Ashtanga classes.

Now I am strong enough to lift up into headstands on my mat in class, unsupported by the wall! (Although when I practice at home I still like to work on them about a foot away from the wall, just in case.)

Next on the yoga bucket list will be developing the core strength to lift up straight legged into the pose. So practice, practice, practice.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Liebster again!

 Just got another nomination for a Leibster Award... you can see my first one, from way back in 2012 here.

This nomination comes to me from the very lovely Nikki at Travels with Pen and Paper, so thanks a tonne for thinking of me for this.

For those of you who are interested in playing along, I nominate you: here are the rules

The Rules:
  1. Post 11 facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the 11 questions provided by the person who nominated you and then create an 11-question set for the next group of nominees.
  3. Choose up to 11 (or more or less depends on the rules you follow) bloggers to nominate and link them in the post!
  4. Let your nominees know that they’ve been tagged- and no tag-backs!
  5. Nominate blogs under 200 followers
But since I've already done it before, I'm just going to post 11 facts about myself and answer Nikki's 11 questions for me.

Let's do this!

11 fun facts about Sara

  1. It turns out I am horribly allergic to rats...or more likely rodents in general. I now have to wear a darth vadar style mask when I handle them at in the lab.
  2. I love animals, and also do animal research as part of my graduate studies on cardiovascular disease. I don't think that the two are incompatible, in fact I think being an animal lover leads to my having greater respect for the animals we work with.
  3. I don't currently have a pet, due to the conditions in my lease, but I can't wait to get one, specifically I can't wait to get one of these guys:
  4. Kevin and I have yet to agree on the amazing-ness that is the Chinese crested dog, and he swears that if I get one he will never love it.
  5. There are a few words that I spell incorrectly every time I write/type them, and subsequently have to fix my errors. I don't mean I make typos, I mean I have a mental block on how to correctly spell the word. One most common error I make is spelling schedule shedual.
  6. Nothing makes you more proud than teaching your 18 year old cousin how to use a pipette when he comes to visit your lab before starting University, and then learning that he aced his first lab assignment by pipetting with the lowest error, less than half a percent, in his group!
  7. I can't wait to finish my experiments today, because 1: then I get to go to the early yoga class at 4:30 and 2:we will have finished the second week-long cohort of my current study.
  8. I am in fact writing this post while running pressure myography experiments on two rigs, it's the kind of science that requires close enough attention that you don't leave the room for very long, but only require that you do something every 10minutes (unless things go wrong).  Perfect for blogging.
  9. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people stop to have conversations in door ways.... having conversations on stairs is a close second and walking side by side on the side walk, when you see someone coming is a third.
  10. I always have at least 4-5 knitting/crochet/sewing/crafting projects on the go. So recently I decided to throw some of them up on can buy some of the things I make here
  11. I decided to name my Etsy shop the Pinapple Farm PhD, because I constantly threaten to quite gradschool and begin growing pineapples... I subsequently began crocheting pineapples.

OK now to answer the 11 questions from Nikki

1. What was your worst job?
Hmmmmmm, not sure if it was my worst job, but definitely my weirdest... I worked one summer for Sea Lamprey Control... which meant we traveled all around Ontario and Michigan hunting and killing lamprey. If you don't know what a sea lamprey is, think eel with suction cup mouth full of teeth that live by sucking the blood out of real fish.

2. If you could teleport, where would you choose to live?
Probably somewhere along the Amalfi Coast in Italy. But really if I could teleport, why pick only one place?

3. What fictional world do you most want to be a part of?
Hmmm maybe an embarrassing answer but definitely in Mercedes Lackey's Velgarth, I mean who doesn't want to be a Herald?
4. What was your favorite childhood toy? 
Most definitely Clifford, my big red stuffed dog, who still lives in my bedroom, btw.

5. What's your favorite vegetable?
This is a tough one... maybe broccoli tho to be honest.
6. Would you rather have a live in chef or live in maid?
A maid for sure, I love to cook, and hate to clean, bonus if the maid will clean up after me in the kitchen.
7. If you could have any animal as a pet, what would you want? 
Any animal? maybe if someone could figure out how to make polar bears stay tiny....that is what I would want.
8. Townhouse, farm, or cabin in the woods?
Farm! With sheep, for wool. And chickens and ducks... like a hobby farm really.
9. If you had a time turner, what moment would you change or relive? 
I don't know if I would change much... but maybe I'd win myself a big lottery with it.
10. What was your dream job as a kid?
I for sure wanted to be a veterinarian, until I figured out they had to put animals down too.

11. What's your favorite blogpost?
Hmmm this required looking back through my blog and picking the first awesome one that came to mind. I went with this one from this summer, because I was super proud of the results.

So that's all for now, thanks again to Nikki for the nomination!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A little video from the Calgary Zoo

I visited the Calgary Zoo this summer with Kevin and his family when his parents were in town for the August long weekend. I captured some little bits of video and strung them together for you all to see.

If you would like to see some of my favourite photos from the day, you can find them over on my photo blog @Turner_SRPhotography .

But seriously, don't you love those penguins? they actually marched in a line!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lululemon SeaWheeze 2014

On August 23rd I ran my second half marathon, once again the Lululemon Seawheeze, and I finished it over a full minute faster than my first one.

Today I'll share some pictures from the race, and all of the great times I had along the way and tomorrow I'll share my reasons for not signing up for round three (and none of those reasons include the fact that it sold out in something like 18 minutes).

I ran this year with my older cousin Krista, and we put some serious effort into our matching Bruce themed race outfits. Apparently you can apply iron on letters to Lulu's 105 singlet no problem. We flew into Vancouver the afternoon before the race and hit up registration and the SeaWheeze store with no line ups at all at 2pm.... mainly because hordes of people had already reduced the store to a measly handful of racks and almost nothing in a size 6.

Then we waited in line for about an hour to get our hair braided for free, and although we missed out on the yoga class in front of Lulu's new Robson Street flagship store, we did swing by there to do some shopping.

Lining up for the start, this year the colours people were wearing were a bit less homogenous (I guess the black and white race shorts match with more things than the bright ones last year) but we still pretty much looked like a Lululemon army, 10,014 strong.

Our moms and Krista's husband and one year old came along to be our cheer section, moving to a couple of spots along the race route, so I actually have pictures of me running this year. And running this year was rough. I didn't do nearly enough training, race day was a lot hotter than the year before, and my right hip felt all kinds of painful through the last 4km. So I was shocked to finish ever so slightly faster than last year, coming in at 2:23:07 (last year 2:24:23). So shocked (or dehydrated) that I had a touch of heat stroke after the race.

With our medals after finishing, you can't tell in the picture but I feel like I'm about to be sick. Good thing Lulu gave out awesome hats at the finish line to get the sun off my head.

Krista's husband Brian made us this sweet sign, with really creepy giant heads, and I felt terrible because I don't think I even noticed it while running. My mom brought signs and balloons too!

After the race we got all dolled up (relative term I guess) to head to yoga and the sunset festival, the tattoos are by Balsam and Vine, Boho Marks, based out of Vancouver, and are a tonne of fun! I'll share some pictures from Yoga in Stanley Park later, but since they managed to get the whole park turned into one giant beer garden this year, needless to say the yoga, led by Blissology's Eoin Finn, was a pretty good time.

Overall the run was great, and I'm glad that I did it. Even having not prepared for it, it's good to know that my baseline these days (well maybe not this week) is healthy enough to let me keep a 6:47min/km pace for nearly 2 and a half kilometers and not die. Part of me is sad I won't be going back next year, but mostly I'm ready for some new challenges and adventures.

You can read all about my road to my first SeaWheeze here.

And the debacle that was registering for the race this year here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Banff in a September Snow Storm

They're calling for 22'C and Sunny this afternoon in Calgary, much improved over the early September Blizzard we suffered through last Monday. So improved that my social media feeds have been flooded with images like this one:

I didn't get a chance to take before and after pictures myself, because I spent the during out in the mountains at a Scientific Meeting (The International Symposium on Resistance Arteries), where vascular scientists from all around the world had flown in to enjoy the tail end of Summer in the Rockies which sharing their most recent advances in the field of the resistance vasculature. While some of them came expecting Canada to be chillier than their home countries, I don't think any of us were expecting this:

Yep that's what I woke up to on Tuesday morning in Canmore before having to drive 25minutes to the Banff Center. Needless to say I was late for the 8am session. Good thing I keep my snow brush in my car all year round.

As for the driving, this was about as nice as it got heading out to the mountains Monday afternoon.

Regardless of the weather, or maybe even because of it, Banff was beautiful as always.

And with fewer deciduous trees still leaf bearing in the mountains, we didn't see nearly as many downed branches as in Calgary (where there is no considerable debate over what to do with all the downed 'firewood' on City Property being carted off to city landfills). In fact the trees in Banff looked quite beautiful.

Although all of that snow may have made easily accessible food scarce, sending this fellow to look for something green amid the hedges around the Max Bell Building.

Overall I was left feeling both annoyed and amazed by our brief September Winter, and was glad to see things warm back up over the weekend. Although the nights are still pretty chilly and smell of Autumn in the air tells me to enjoy these last days of summer while I can... because Winter is Coming.

Oooh Game of Thrones, will there ever be another book?

How did #snowtember treat you? Are you ready for, or sickened by the thought of Winter around the corner?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Messing around in Drumheller

A few weeks back, while my cousins were visiting, we drove out to Drumheller, Alberta. My first (and persisting) impression of the town? It's a a town in a hole in the ground. Driving across the prairie towards Drumheller you keep waiting to see it on the horizon. I mean out here you can see a shed from a couple kilometres off, so you'd expect you'd be able to see a town of some 8,000 people at least from the vantage of the 10km to Drumheller sign. But nope, nothing at all, until you're about 500m away and the highway takes a sudden turn, and drops down a steep hill into a hole in the prairie.

OK technically it's not a hole, it's the Red Deer River Valley, but that's the impression it left.

The town of Drumheller, as viewed from the mouth of the world's largest dinosaur. Notice the side wall of the hole in which the town is located.

That's right I said 'from the mouth of the world's largest dinosaur', note the teeth!

Later we took awesome pictures of my cousin Justin running for his life.

But don't worry, he actually has some serious dinosaur defense skills.

OK, so maybe it was already like that when we got there.

Overall the town of Drumheller, apart from being located in a hole, absolutely must have the record for most statues of dinosaurs. You could enjoy a pretty awesome day riding your bike around town trying to find them all. In fact the locals affectionately (maybe?) call the cementosaurs and you can find a walking tour of them all (plus a tonne of random facts) here.

Next up we headed to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, home to Alberta's Dinosaur collection (real fossils and not just cartoonish statues people!) This was my second visit, and I loved it just as much as my first. You can find my best shots from this visit over on my photography blog, by clicking this link.

But we also goofed around at the museum a little bit too...particularly in the gift shop. But I'll spare Justin the embarrassment of posting those photos... especially because he just started university. Instead I'll save them for his graduation or something!

We also met some Alberta wildlife in front of the museum... This adorable chubby, tourist fed Prairie Dog.

Finally, in keeping with the them/trend of the visit... Here's me doing yoga somewhere cool!

Aaaaahhhhh Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B.... so much easier with the right leg than the left!

That's all I have to say from Drumheller for now, but I'll have to go back to visit again some time soon, and explore the nearby Horseshoe Canyon and Dinosaur Provincial Park. What exciting places did you visit this summer?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lunch, Italian Style, and a recipe for Panino

When ever I find myself missing home, and family, the best way to feel better is to eat something that reminds me of home. In this case, fresh baked Italian Panino (bread rolls) some hard salami, cheese (of any variety) and wine. Depending on the mood, I'll eat the bread with Balsamic Vinegar, or just like my Nana used to provide for me when ever I was hungry for a snack, I'll microwave the bread and throw a little margarine on it! Yum!

I've been working towards making bread the way my nana does, which is no easy task when I'm half way across the country, and I'm pretty sure there is no recipe, just he innate knowledge of how much flour to use for just about anything. Also the batches she makes are way to large for my tiny oven. Here's my best attempt yet, which made 8 rolls.

Into my bread maker, I add, in the following order: 

2 cups warm water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast

Then throw on the dough cycle, which takes about an hour and a half to run. I always help it out with a spatula for the first minute, to make sure there is the right balance between dry and wet (adding more water or flour as needed). Here in Calgary, I find I always need to add more water, so if you have the pleasure of living somewhere less dry, 2 cups might be too much for you.

Once it's done, turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and beat some of the air out of it. Then cut it into eight equal parts, and shape them into rolls. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for another 30 or so minutes (or until they've doubled in size). Then slice the tops with a knife if you want... I'm not sure that this step was necessary, might not do it next time. Now at this point you could egg wash the rolls... but I'm pretty sure Nana doesn't do that, so right into the oven (pre-heated to 375') they go.

Bake for 30 minutes and then pull them out and slide them off your baking try so they can cool. Resist the temptation to eat them right away...I promise you you'll burn your mouth on hot bread. Instead pour a glass of wine and enjoy the fact that your whole apartment smells like wonderful bread baking.