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Susan’s Day Off

Not only has another weekend come and gone, but it seems another month is close to passing us as well! How the heck is it already October 24th?? Ahh… I try so hard to make the best of my days, which seems to make me forget that time is passing at all.

Even though I had many days off work last week, they were all jam-packed with activities with my visiting family. This past Saturday was my first day off all to myself in a while. So I made sure to make the best of it!

My weekend really started with a Friday night in bed watching Mad Men. Just what the doctor ordered. A very long slumber ensued leaving me refreshed and ready for my Saturday off!

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It began as any day off should – with French toast. Nothing fancy here folks. Dipping mix included two eggs with almond milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon and flaked coconut.

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The only bread I had on hand was a very light and thin flax bread. If only I had some challah! In my humble opinion, challah bread makes the best french toast.

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Dipped in E.D. Smith brand sugar-free syrup. Love those extra eggy bits ;)

The French toast sufficiently fuelled me for a mat pilates class at Chang’e Studio!

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Chang’e is a Leslieville studio that I bought one of those “deal of the day” coupons for. I haven’t done pilates in foreveerrr, so I thought it would be a fun new activity!

I used to love doing pilates back when I first starting getting into healthy living. For some reason my brain only remembered the easy parts of it, so I’m pleasantly surprised by how sore I am today! Pilates is great for the abs, but also works muscles in a way I don’t get when heavy lifting. My body was definitely confused as to what I was putting it through ;)

Saturday is traditionally also my “long” run day (ie, anything that takes me longer than 45 minutes). I had my heart set on running 6 miles. The Weather Network told me it was 15C so I threw on shorts and a t-shirt and hit the trail.

Whoooaaa. Did not factor in wind chill to that temperature. Rookie mistake. I’m most likely to overheat while running, and this time I was freezing! I lost feeling in my left arm. I shaved a solid three minutes off my time running back because I was trying to get home as soon as possible. Lesson learned. Even when it’s “warm” this time of year, the wind still has a harsh, cold bite to it.

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My apartment wasn’t only warm when I returned, but smelled of baked goods! My roommie whipped up a batch of chocolate chocolate chip cream cheese muffins.

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I inhaled it, melty chocolate chips and all. YUM. I love having foodies for roommies :)

I tried not to spoil my appetite though. I was off on a special date!

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A food blogger date ;)

For some reason Toronto’s Little Italy has been on my mind. I blame my sister Sara, who was raving about it last week. Then a client told me our Little Italy has the best Italian food outside of Italy!

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Italian food. I actually find it a little too plain for my tastebuds. And I like meat more than carbs (gasp!). However, I’ve been dreaming of a traditional Naples-style pizza ever since reading about it in the book Eat Pray Love.

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I’ve read of a few places in Toronto that serve Neapolitan pizza, but Pizzeria Libretto on Dundas/Ossington consistently gets the best reviews. Thus, the location of our next blogger date suddenly became obvious ;)

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Because we were two, we only had to wait 30 minutes to get a table. Larger parties had to wait at least an hour! We were immediately brought bread and oil.

Kristin and I decided to split an appetizer and pizza rather than try to conquer a whole pizza ourselves. We were feeling a little adventurous with our first pick. The appetizer featured three things:

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Octopus in an orange dressing. I’ve never had octopus before and really enjoyed it!! I get the feeling it was cooked really well, as the texture was just like that of any other seafood.

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Grilled polenta. Which I’ve also never had (we don’t each much cornmeal in Atlantic Canada, I think it’s a U.S. thing). It was divine. Mostly because of the cheese that was also baked in there.

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Finally, sardine! Topped with pickled onions + pine nuts. This was a new one for Kristin, I’m a long time lover of sardines. The pickled onions were the perfect match and the quality was much better than the canned variety I’m used to.

Now, the star of the show…

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The pizza! Based on the recommendations of the waiter, we went for the Ontario Prosciutto with tomato sauce, basil and mozzarella. Apparently, they use a 900F oven and cook the pizza for only 90 seconds. Creates a crust that is crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside.

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Loved the impossibly thin-sliced prosciutto, mozzarella and basil on the pizza. The crust was just right. However, I didn’t care for the tomato sauce. Too plain. I like a little extra kick!

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Kristin actually lived in Italy and has eaten pizza in Naples!

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I on the other hand grew up eating the corner pieces of Greco party pizzas dipped in donair sauce. Maritimers, you know what I’m sayin.

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It may be a while before I get the opportunity to eat the real thing in the real place. But I think I can say it has sufficiently curbed the craving until I get there ;)

I ended my Saturday off honing my bass skills on Rock Band and being reminded why I quit drinking vodka coolers when I was 17. In all, a Saturday off spent in the best ways possible.

 

Question of the Day: Favourite pizza? Go! Mine is the Greek pizza from Pizza Delight. Regular crust, creamy feta cheese with chunky vegetables and spinach. Ohmy.

Fitness Friday – All About The Shoes Part II

Happy Fitness Friday friends!

This week is a continuation of our running shoe talk from last week. Click here if you missed Part I.

Today we are delving into how a running shoe is constructed + differences between popular brands.

I could ramble on all day about the little differences in fabrics, cushioning, and construction. But for brevity’s sake, I will stick to the basics. Things that stick out between brands and make a difference in how they fit your feet. In case you are wondering how I know all of this, I work in a specialty running store where I analyze gaits and fit people for proper running footwear. It’s quite interesting once you get into it!

We will start with my ole’ faithful…

 

Saucony

I’m really starting with this one because I found this wonderful picture of the shoe construction. The upper is where the most fabric is. Usually some sort of mesh. The sockliner is removable in case you want to insert an orthotic. Everything between the top and outsole is called the midsole. This is where each brand uses their own “technology” for cushioning and support.

 
Most shoes will include the name of their technology in the model name. For example, every Saucony shoe is called a Progrid because they use a solid tennis racket-like plate for cushioning (and springy-ness). A lot of people will come in to my store asking for Progrids, but they are technically all Progrids. What differentiates the models is the level of cushioning and support they provide for a neutral runner, pronator or supinator. The above model is the Omni 8 and among the most popular Saucony in the stability category.

Also worth mentioning is that companies bring out new models every year. Sometimes they upgrade the shoes, other times they just change the colour. The older model of the above shoe would have been the Omni 7. That’s the purpose of the numbers!

Additional notes on Saucony

  • They are often made with a wider toe box.
  • People will often comment that they feel “flatter” on the bottom, or “more stable”

 

Asics

 

  • Asics uses gel as their main cushioning technology. Every Asics shoe is called “Gel + Model Name.”
  • Asics uses asymmetrical lacing with the idea that it laces up along the main bone on the top of your foot (you can really see this on the Kayano pictured above)
  • Asics are comparable to Sauconys in that people who like one usually like the other. Most common comments are that the Asics mesh is a little more breathable and they feel more “cushiony.”

The above Asics Gel 1250 are the best selling running shoe in North America. They’re a stability shoe for a mild to moderate pronator, which means just a bit of arch support. A little more cushioning than the cheaper 1150 model. They use the same numbering system – the previous model being the 1240 and so on.

 

Nike

 

  • My current running shoe!
  • Nike uses a plate technology for cushioning, which is just a simple plate in the midsole.
  • Nike Air models use gas-filled plastic membranes inserted in the sole for cushioning.

 

  • The new Lunarglides offer what they call “dynamic support,” claiming the level of support changes with each foot strike as you need it.
  • Notorious for running small and being narrow. People usually have to go a half size up in Nikes.

 

  • Other Nike running technology includes the Waffle series which uses a waffle cushioning and grip on the outsole. Said to be based on an old track coach who used his wife’s waffle iron to create cushioning in his runner’s shoes.

 

Mizuno

 

  • Uses the Wave technology for support.
  • Claim that “the wave” better absorbs the impact of running, whereas a flat cushioning disperses the impact evenly along the midsole. The wave also better keeps the midsole from collapsing.
  • Known for being a little narrow, very light, and a little extra cushioning in the forefoot.

 

Brooks

  • Brooks has started using what they call DNA cushioning. They use individual molecules connected by strands to create chains.
  • Noticeable tip up at the toe to propel you forward when running. Because of this, they do not make for a good walking shoe.

 

New Balance

  • Use foam and N-ergy materials which have no empty air spaces for additional shock absorption.
  • A notoriously wider shoe.
  • Funky ribbed shoelaces that are supposed to keep from getting loose on long runs.

 

Have your eyes glazed over yet? :P

Really, the most important part of picking a running shoe is determining what kind of running gait you have. From there, it’s all about what brand of shoes fit your feet best and how much cushioning you prefer. Personally, I’m starting to prefer lighter shoes. That’s why I made the switch from wide and cushy Sauconys to more foot-hugging, flexible Nikes.

It’s also worth mentioning that you want to go up at least half a shoe size for running sneakers. You need the extra space at your toes for the forward motion of running, plus your feet are likely to swell more than in your every day shoe.

 

Got any running shoe questions? Send them my way! There are a few from Part I that I’ll be answering in a post soon :)

Reliving the Weekend

Remember when it was the weekend??

Le sigh.

While Toronto may be a go-go-go city throughout the week, I love the pace it takes on over the weekend. Families emerge in their neighbourhoods with a more friendly and relaxed manner.

Let us bask in the weekend once more with a Sunday recap, shall we?

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Breaking News:

Sister Sara and I are doing a half marathon together!! Completing a half marathon was actually one of my 2010 goals. But it got sidelined once I decided to move halfway across the country. Now it will be accomplished in May 2011 with my big sis at my side! I think it’s the perfect goal for both of us to have right now and will be a fun bonding experience :)

We spent 4-ish miles chatting about our future half marathon and other things while running along my favourite lakefront trail Sunday morning. We’re lucky enough to pace similarly and are currently maintaining the same mileage base. Should be a fun adventure!

After working up an appetite running, Sara, my mom, roommie and I all hit up a local joint for Sunday brunch.

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Pulp Kitchen has been on my “to-visit list” forrrever! They’re a vegan/vegetarian restaurant with a juice bar.

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That waitress totally called us out for being East Coasters for talking about Joel Plaskett and Jill Barber. Ha!
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I treated myself to a Chunky Monkey shake made with chocolate soymilk, banana and espresso.

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Roommie Megan got the Cocoa Berry shake with chocolate soymilk, strawberries, banana and ginko biloba.

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Megan’s was awesome, but I enjoyed the caffeine boost in mine!

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Megan got the scrambled tofu wrap which looked really good.

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Mom got the PK sandwich with crispy tofu, avocado and cilantro dijon mayo. She said she enjoyed the bread and crispy mayo.

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Sara got the blueberry waffles. I tried a bit, but we all agreed mine are better ;)

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Finally, I got the stewed beans and bangers with homemade vegan baked beans and veggie sausage. This was so filling! I appreciated that the beans were made in house and not canned, but now I totally want to try making this at home. 

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After brunch we wandered around the ‘hood poking our heads into all the antique and vintage clothing stores. I also brought Sara to get the best cinnamon buns in Toronto. I’m not joking here folks. And I’m something of a “connoisseur” on the subject.

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These come from Sweet Bliss Baking Company on Queen St East. I first tried one in August and it was love at first bite. I held off on this day though. Instead I had a few bites of the blueberry scone which was also nothing short of amazing.

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The other great thing about weekends is that people bring their dogs out!! You do not want to be around me when a dog is in the vicinity. I start to get weepy and ask if I can take photos of them.IMG_2991

I want one so bad! Someday… When I’m no longer a vagabond…

Sunday finished off with a wonderful dinner at my aunt Heather’s place. She made a chicken chili (breast, not ground, yum!) topped with sour cream and an amazing olive bread. I had way more bread than pictured. Holymoly.

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Cousins!

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My mom’s mom, aka my Nana, had several siblings. Thus, my mother has even more cousins. All of which she is very close with. I’m not sure if her cousins are technically “aunts” and “uncles” by definition. But they’re as good as that to me!

 

Ahh… the weekend seems so far away now. But even after working 15 hours today (yes, I did) I was still able to find just as many joys. Here’s to a fabulous work week!

 

Question of the Day: What is your favourite weekend activity? I love exercising on the weekends then treating myself to a big meal (or beer!) after. And of course, exploring new spots in this city of mine :)

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