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Cottage Country

Peek-a-boo!

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I’m baaaaaack!! :D

How was everyone’s weekend? Or, I suppose start to the work week now :) I’ve got lots of cottage pictures and tales to share so I’ll get right down to it. But first I have to thank Diane and Caitlin for wonderful contributions to my Blogger Interview Series as well as all the funny feedback on my Flashback Friday – Babies! So. Much. Fun.

So first things first, I had a stellar full-body weightlifting session on Saturday morning thanks to this magazine:

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I’m partial to designing my own workouts, but sometimes it’s fun to try out something someone else made up! I really recommend this special edition of Women’s Health. It’s got tons of great moves and recipes in it. Here’s the workout I stole:

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Except, instead of the bodyweight lunge, I did a power kick:

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Lovely.

Came home to the best breakfast sandwich I’ve had in a while.

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Egg, ham, real mayo, tomato, onion, lettuce on ezekiel. With watermelon and grapes in the back. Ohman. It hit the spot.

Then it was off to the cottage!!!

Victoria Day weekend, aka “May Two-Four Weekend” is known as the time when Canadians open up their cottages and drink copious amounts of beer. My family is no different.

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My family cottage is on the Northumberland Straight in Nova Scotia overlooking New Brunswick and PEI. It’s downright beautiful.

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Wait. Do you see something in the photo?? Let’s look closer…

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I do believe that is a poodle running free!!

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Pretty sure the cottage is heaven on earth for these dogs. One of the few times we let them off the leashes and run around like the animals they are. I love seeing them so happy in that element :)

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We don’t have much of a beach, but we aren’t the type of family who goes to the beach as an excuse to wear bikinis anyways. That’s what Shediac is for ;)  (sorry, local humour)

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Beautiful Sister Sara underneath the chestnut tree.

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Et moi!

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The best thing about my cottage is the giant deck that overlooks the Baie Verte.

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Also notable, is that we don’t have full walls. Not very good for keeping secrets.

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My family has been coming out here since before I was born and then some. I’ve lived in many houses in my life, but this spot has always been the one constant. I quite literally grew up in it!

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As did many other people – it was built in the 1930s.

Another great thing about the cottage is the FOOD! We always eat well there.

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Saturday night my mom roasted a chicken. We had some more of that glorious roasted corn on the cob and steamed potatoes and butternut squash.

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Come Sunday morning I knew the leftover squash and potato would make for a perfect hash.

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Fried up after a glorious 4 mile trail run through the nearby provincial park with my big sis. Trail running is super challenging. It felt like I was running so slow because of all the obstacles, but my heart rate was super high!

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We’d picked up some thick cut bacon at the nearby country corner store. Paired with scrambled eggs and it was quite possibly the best post-run recovery breakfast I’d ever had.

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I know I’m “off” the dairy for the time-being, but I put cottage cheese in the eggs. My secret to the perfect texture and cheesiness :)

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Cribbage players will appreciate this mug. I spent many rainy days at the cottage playing crib with my Grampie in his cottage next door.

Our real reason for being out there this weekend is because my sister Sara is now the owner of my grandparent’s cottage next door! We had a lot of cleaning to do to get it habitable again. My 86-year-old grandfather made the trip to show us the ropes.

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This included a lesson in basic plumbing.

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Note: this is not what a well pump should look like :\

T’was a tough morning getting everything opened up, and my mom once again saved the day by whipping up a wonderful meal.

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Salmon sandwich and fruit.

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And while I didn’t partake in any of the above beer, that’s not to say I didn’t join in on the sweets.

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I’m sure there is a rule out there that one must indulge in warm cinnamon rolls when at the cottage. Right??

Sara and I worked our tails off cleaning up our “new” cottage this weekend!

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It’s wonderful to think that the cottage we spent so much time in as children, will get to be the place where we bring our own kids someday :)

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My Grammie fed me so much chocolate pie and ice cream on that countertop!

We also found some neat old-timey things while cleaning up. Including this copy of The Financial Post from 1959!!

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Maybe it’s the newsie in me, but I found this completely fascinating. Newspapers have oddly not changed that much in the last half century.

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I also read my fair share of up-to-date newspapers this weekend. As well as the book Skinny Bitch.

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I’m sure many of you have heard of this book, written by two former models who say eating a vegan diet can make you thin. I didn’t really care for it. Having already spent a near decade of my life as a vegetarian or vegan, I now feel like I’ve heard it all before. It was also very short, so it didn’t elaborate on anything. I found myself wanting to know exactly why these things are bad for me, instead of just being told I’m a fat moron because I eat them.

I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I eat animal carcasses. My body likes it, and the descriptions in the book didn’t phase me in the least.

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Case and point: meat pie.

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A blend of animal meats stuffed into a pastry crust. The meat filling was frozen from Christmas!

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Meat pie = love. I know some people can appreciate a savoury pie with me ;)

Mommy dearest also made a parsley and lentil salad to go with.

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There is no recipe for this as she made it up as she went along. It was delicious though – think of it as tabbouli but with lentils and sunflower seeds instead of couscous.

After a trail run and a day of hard labour on Sunday, I woke up positively wiped this morning.

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My mom, sister and I had some hope of doing an outdoor bootcamp this morning. But we all immediately agreed that our bodies were already in rough enough shape! My feet are completely wrecked. So, I put them up, read, and ate a bowl of apple cinnamon peanut butter oatmeal instead. So worth it.

However, today was another hard day of cleaning, scrubbing and moving things around. The highlights of my day today were definitely eating up the yummy leftovers.

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Leftover falafel from a long time ago, with the last of the parsley and lentil salad on top of a much larger salad.

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I added a little extra dressing made up of mustard, canola oil and white wine. Mygosh it was good. White wine is almost better than vinegar!

Other leftovers included a verrry yummy soup my mom made with the leftover roast chicken.

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She taught me how to save the juices on the bottom of the roasting pan, scrape the fat off, then make soup with it. I am so doing this next time.

Well, that pretty much brings us up to speed! Believe it or not, I have another busy week of unemployment ahead of me. How does that happen?? I’ve made some new travel/moving plans which I’ll mention tomorrow. Right now, I’m ready to go pass out on the couch with the dogs. See ya tomorrow!! xo

 

Question of the Day: Do you have a cottage? What’s it like? If not, what sort of cottage would you like? Our cottages our out in the middle of nowhere away from any form of civilization. There aren’t many people there. It’s quiet and positively beautiful. I think it’s the real reason why I’m a country girl at heart!

The Perfect Push Up

Lookie what I got!!!

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SO excited!! For those of you who may not know, the Healthy Living Summit is a conference for “healthy living” bloggers and readers. For two days, I’ll be joining 200 like-minded folk to listen to presentations and talk about all things food and fitness related. Tickets sold out quickly last night and I’m elated to be able to take part this year!!

I was up later than I should have been last night, then up way earlier than I should be this morning.

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My nose and head were all stuffed up while my belly was completely empty. Breakfast needed to be quick and comforting. It was a no-brainer.

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And then I ate a cookie.

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I dunno, for some reason, an oatmeal-chocolate chip-coconut-maple-raisin cookie seems to make the cut as an acceptable breakfast cookie.

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I am majorly impressed by these Super-Charge Me Cookies. I took these photos this morning and there are only two left. The 6 people in this house have successfully demolished them in one day.

After breakfast and breakfast dessert, I immediately preceded to go back to bed. I woke up an hour later feeling much better, although my mom still looked at me and said “Susie, you’re looking a little rough this morning.” Harumph.

A giant mug of strong brewed coffee helped out my situation a lot though.

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As well as snacking on multiple Mr. Freezes and a giant medjool date stuffed with almond butter.

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These pictures don’t do it justice. I honestly don’t think I will spend the money on medjool dates again because they are just too much for me. One of these bad boys has 16g of sugar crammed into two bites. I think I will stick to my baby dates :)

Lunch was nothing special, a ginormous salad with tuna, hummus, feta and pickled onions.

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I seem to be cleaning out my mom’s vegetable crisper every two days. Her boyfriend, Mark, makes a salad every day for lunch. Between the two of us, no fresh veggies stand a chance in this house.

Clearly, today was a rest day from exercise. Sometimes I get really lazy on rest days and do nothing but lay around. Other days I get antsy and feel like I need to be productive. I did get a few things done today – my main project being grooming the poodle.

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No fancy poodle cuts here. Archie is incredibly well-behaved, so we just cut him ourselves with a pair of scissors. He politely stood still while I hacked away at his fur.

I thought he might hate me after, but he still jumped up and helped me read blogs ;)

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And then I plotted how I could get away with smuggling him to Toronto with me ;)

Dinner featured one of my favourite foods from my vegetarian days – falafel!

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I do believe these are Veggie Patch Falafels that my mom bought at Costco.

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I ate them on top of a bunch of frozen veggies tossed in garam masala spice. I think I overdid it on the veg. My tummy was ready to bust with brussels sprouts after. I had to roll back to the living room. My family keeps teasing me for the size of my veggie bowls  – and in this case they may have been right :P

 

The Perfect Push-Up

I got an e-mail from Hallie the other day about proper push-up technique. For being one of the best exercise moves out there, it’s damn tricky!

 
Having good form is imperative to doing the exercise properly. I know I always nag about having good form, but it’s how you ensure you hit the intended muscles. Bad form means no results. Or worse, pain and injury. This is me pointing my finger at you and giving a stern face.

So what is good push-up form?

  • Your body should make an imaginary straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Make sure your butt isn’t up in the air by tucking your pelvis in and shifting some extra weight back into your toes.
  • Hands are under your shoulders. They should not be up by your face when you come down.
  • Keep you chin tucked in and don’t strain your neck. Remember that straight line!
  • For a regular push up, space your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your elbows around 45 degrees. The main movers here are your pecs. Sticking your hands and elbows out too far to the side will hit your back too much, and tucking them in will engage your triceps more (unless that’s what you want to do)
  • Bring your chest far enough down so that it almost grazes the ground.
  • Practice doing them in a mirror, so you know what that straight line feels like!

The above picture is a tricep push up. You’ll notice her narrow hand grip and how her elbows are tucked in.

Now I know many people (not just women!!!) can’t do the standard push up on their toes. Many of you know the traditional knee push up.

However, I would suggest putting your feet on the floor to support your back and posture more.

Personally, I’m more of a fan of progression into toe push ups by starting on an incline. If you’re a beginner, the wall is a great place to start.

   
As you get stronger, decrease the incline. I often still do toe push ups off a bench.

When the bench gets too easy, grab a step to push off of.

 
And before you know it you’ll be cranking out 20 on the floor! ;)

I know some of you are way past the stage of incline push-ups, and there are tons of ways to make them harder. My two favourite ways are putting your feet up on a bench or a stability ball.

And the T push up!

The above pictures are all hyperlinked to their original sources if you want to check them out as well :)

 

Question of the Day: Push ups – love? Hate? Favourite way to do them? I only just got to the point where I can squeeze out a few on the floor off my toes. I’ve always struggled at supporting my bodyweight with my upper-body, and push ups are torturous for me!!

Be sure to come back tomorrow for what may be the cutest/funniest/most embarrassing Flashback Friday ever. I’ve been holding on to these photos since my mom pulled them out last Sunday, at which point we both starting crying with laughter :P

Checking In On Those Goals…

Happy Monday!! Well, it was happy for me anyways. They call it “funemployment” for a reason ;)

I must say, I’ve been living back at my mom’s for a week now and I love it. I do not miss Fredericton at all. I don’t  miss living alone. For the past 10 days I’ve woken up happy. This has not always been the case over the past year. Life is what you make of it my friends, and I am so grateful I’ve been able to turn mine around :)

So what is a happy girl to do but make a pot of oats first thing?

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For the second time, I could just not get oatmeal to absorb all the liquid on my mother’s stove. It doesn’t make sense to me, and I feel like I messed up the measuring cups. Or am losing my mind. So I added a 1/2 tsp each of guar gum and xanthan gum to thicken it up. Worked like a charm!! Would highly recommend for thick n’ gooey oats :)

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I am very jealous of my mother’s oatmeal spoon/spatula. It is perfectly shaped to scrape down the sides of a pot. Must get one of these for new place.

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Topped the egg-white custard oats with maple pecan peanut butter, coconut and maple syrup.

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Check out that thick texture. Ooohhhyeah.

Hot bowl of oats + hot coffee = sweaty Susan. Definitely woke me up, but not this pup.

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And my heart just turned to oatmeal mush.

Tried out one of the new-to-mew bars I got in Halifax for my morning snack.

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The Elevate Me! bar is made out of whey protein, nuts and dried fruit – that’s it!

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The nutritionals are pretty decent. A little high on the sugar and carb side, but it comes from all dried fruit and no additional sweeteners.

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I really liked how this bar was divided into three sections. Each square is 80 calories, which would make for good fuel during activity as well.

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Soooo, how did it taste??

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Honestly, I did not like my first bite. I’ve never been a chocolate and fruit person, so I should have known better when getting something made of dried fruits and cocoa powder. BUT, I did enjoy it more with each bite. My favourite part of this bar was the texture. It was dense and crumbly, which is by far my favourite way to have a bar. At $2.50 a pop, I would not buy this again, but I’d probably try the other flavours out if I caught them on sale.

Shortly after this I hit up the gym with my mom. I still had to run last week’s 3-miler, so I figured I could do that then goof around on some of the other cardio machines.

Except, it was hard. Like, way harder than usual. I should have known better than jumping into a tough cardio session on a Monday after a weekend of hammering my body with booze, junk food, and no sleep. Alas, sometimes I must learn these lessons the hard way.

I also have to add that my left foot is killing me again. I’m scared it’s plantar fasciitis. I started getting symptoms about three weeks ago after walking 5 hours in one weekend. I stayed off it for a week and the pain went away, so I thought I was in the clear. Apparently not. It still hurts. WAIN.

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Coming out of a workout in a worse mood than how I went in is never a good thing. But the tasty lunch after helped.

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Scrambled some eggs with collard greens, put it on toast, then topped with a mix of hummus, nutritional yeast, mustard and water. Broiled to harden up a bit. Odd combo, but good.

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Paired with belly-busting watermelon (ie, it felt like I was going to birth one after. SO filling)

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And a reminder that things are never as they seem – I topped everything with hot sauce after. This has been happening a lot lately.

Spent the afternoon reading blogs and helping my mom with housework. Breaked for the world’s best muffin.

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Deep chocolate Vitatop topped with peanut butter.

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See the crystals? I like ‘em frozen. The texture is much fudgier that way. Honestly, I think I’d take this over a real brownie!

While I snacked and relaxed, my mom was in the kitchen cooking up a storm.

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She basted the turkey in the leftover hummus/mustard/nutritional yeast/water mix. Ohmy. It was delicious.

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Paired along with baked corn. THE best way to cook corn in my opinion, is to keep it in the husk and pop it in the oven for 30 or so minutes. The husk comes off much easier, and it gets all steamy on the inside. Seriously, if you haven’t done this yet, do it. My mom was sceptical, but she is now a believer.

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And some lovely sweet potato pillows in the back there. Tough on the outside, mushy on the inside. Perfection.

 

Monthly Goal Check-In:

Fitness
Strength train three times a week, with a focus in muscular power.
Only got in two full-body workouts. But those two yoga sessions this past weekend made me a whole new kind of sore. So that counts for something!
Run twice a week, increasing my mileage by 10% each week. Only got one 5 miler in. This goal may be put on hold until I get my foot thing sorted out. Honestly, I don’t care enough about running to be that upset about it – I just want to be able to walk without pain!

Food
Stop buying dairy, eating it only when out or when it’s “a must.” I did really well on this, sticking with only 20g of cheese a day MAX (if any). But then I greatly failed over the weekend with a giant piece of coconut cream topped with two inches of whipped cream. Whoops.
Stay away from refined sugars, again eating only for special occasions. I give myself a big ole’ fail on this one. I’m trying, but not hard enough. I just really like sugar. A lot. Which is why I’m trying to cut back! :P

Blog
Add and organize content, new recipes, workouts, and revised pages and categories.
Didn’t do much of this, but I did get 20+ guest posts together, so that’s something!

Life
Improve my organization. Make lists, finish them, know what needs to be done, when.
I need to get back on this. Not only do I need to plan for a big move, but I’m also going on a big trip to Banff in three weeks.
Spend time with my family. It’s all I’ve been doing :) 
Enjoy and soak up every single minute. I know this isn’t a very measurable goal, but I feel like I’m doing really good at this one. Sometimes I just stop and breathe in whatever it is I’m doing in that moment. It is making this brief time at home much more enjoyable, and I feel very thankful for it :)

 

Your turn! How is everyone doing with their monthly goals? Any new ones?

Off to work on a post for tomorrow on Easy Tone shoes. Oh yes.

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