Sunday, 31 March 2013

Ocean Luv Workouts: Headstands to Handstands

I woke up early this morning to get some yoga time on the beach in Hilton Head as I'm trying to learn to do a Handstand. For now I can only get to an assisted Headstand with a triangle base.  I started trying this about a week and a half ago, and would love to be able to do a freestanding Handstand in three to six months time.  Heck, I'll even settle for holding an L-Handstand of 20 seconds or more.

Why do I want to do handstands? Well, when you do them correctly, handstands strengthen pretty much every muscle in your body.  Your shoulders and arms in particular will get much stronger and your core strength will also be greatly improved. I originally read 10 Reasons to Do a Headstand Every Day and wondered if I could even even get my body into that position, so I gave it a try and fell in love with feeling like a kid.

Here's how I started:
  1. Faced the wall with a pillow under my head and held my hands in triangle position
  2. Two days later, inched away from the wall and tried to balance without relying to much on the wall
  3. After two days of practicing, held for 3-5 seconds away from the wall
  4. Two more days later, moved completely away from the wall and now trying to hold for 6 seconds or more
After being able to hold the triangle base for more than 20 seconds, I then hope to move towards spreading my arms into an L-Base and actually getting my head off of the ground into a Handstand.  Of course after more practice, I'd love to get to doing an actual freestanding Handstand, but for now I'm loving how fun it is to just stand on my head.

Andy was sweet enough to snap a couple of picks while I went through the rest of my yoga routine.
I wish I could spend every Sunday morning doing yoga on the beach, then maybe I would actually start fixing my bad form. 

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Eating Healthy On The Road


Eating healthy on the road is really hard to do.... especially in small town America, so I find that a little bit of scoping and planning go a long way.
We rely so heavily on Yelp that I'm always surprised when people tell me they don't know what it is.
I love finding local gems through the app, whether it be restaurants, cafes, fitness classes, gyms or boutiques, and love reading real reviews that tell me whether a restaurant serves healthy food, has courteous staff or keeps you in long line ups.

With that said, I also take some reviews with a grain of salt, as most people can't seem to tell the difference between a healthy meal and an artery clogging chemically processed sh*t storm.  What I mean by this is that just because a restaurant promotes that it uses fresh local produce, doesn't mean it's healthy when it has been fried to inches of it's life and smothered in 8 layers of cheese. 

Nevertheless, our yelp search was successful this time and we came upon a restaurant called Key Ingredients For Life in West Virgina that served tasty meals made with fresh local ingredients.
I got a light beer, the tomato and garlic soup to start, and had one of their whole wheat wraps.  The side salad was a massive dinner plate of kale, broccoli, cucumber, tomato and celery. Yum. My only complaint would be that the wrap was actually pan fried to get it a little crispy, and so it was a little greasy... see what I mean by having to be careful when looking for healthy options?

I usually end up being one of those annoying people that ask the following questions:
  1. Can I have the dressing on the side?
  2. Is there cheese on that? (Of course there always is, which leads me to my next question)
  3. Do you mind holding the cheese?
  4. Can you go easy on the oil?
  5. Is there any way you could toss that in olive oil instead of butter?
  6. Can the kitchen make that as dry as possible? (sometimes I get blank stares after this question, so I explain that it means cooking with no oil/butter/lard, or if they absolutely must, just using a bit of cooking spray)
  7. Can I get that on a bed of greens instead?
  8. How do you prepare that?
  9. Can I get olive oil and vinegar instead of butter for my bread
  10. Do you have a whole wheat option
I imagine I must get a load of eye rolls (if not worse) once the server takes my order to the kitchen, but I don't care. Putting good food into your system is uber important! It fuels your cells, regulates your blood sugar levels, your hormones and promotes good skin, plus, I hate ruining all of my hard workouts by stuffing myself with crappy food.

I like to think Eat well, Train hard, Feel good, Take good photos!  :)

After lunch, I snapped a photo of 6 classic cars just hangin' out. How perfect. These next few shots are exactly the type of scenery I imagined seeing when driving down south.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Simple Button Storage: Paper Wrap a Box

I needed an easy way to store the extra buttons and thread that come with new clothes, that way I know exactly where to go when I need to find buttons to replace missing ones.

The new tea cups/glasses box that I bought came with the perfect pink colour on the inside and even had dividers.  The only thing it needed was to cover it in pretty wrapping paper.  You could just as easily use a shoebox and create dividers with some heavy card stock.

I think that the photos are self explanatory enough, so I won't bore you with the details. I think the final product looks clean and went really well with my office decor.

I used a spray adhesive to glue the wrapping paper to the box.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

My Latest Fitness Obsession

I've found a new youtube channel that I think is going to change your life. It's definitely helped me keep on track with my daily minimum of one hour of hard core sweating when I'm not at the gym or dancing.

The videos are really simple, they don't come with music, the girl does the whole routine with you and the guy's tone and explanations makes the time go by so much faster.

I started with the 100 burpees video for a warm-up (It's only about 11 minutes long):

 Then did the 44 minute lower body Cardio and Tabata routine:

Finally finished off with the 26 minute Pilates Abs and Obliques workout:

I was sweating and grunting within the first 5 minutes (Andy swears that I love self torture) but this year I have decided that I am going to be the fittest I have ever been. What are your fitness goals? Let me know if you've tried other fitness videos.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Party Planning 101

I was hosting a large party this weekend to celebrate the start of spring and to ring in the new Persian year. The day consisted mostly of sweets, tea and more sweets. When planning to have such a large group of people over, I find that I have to approach it as if I'm preparing for an exam, complete with a preparation checklist. 

This is my usual party preparation checklist:

Guest list:
  • Make a list of all my guests (I think about the occasion, our space, family and the different groups of friends and try to invite accordingly)
  • Send out an evite or text message to guest list, depending on if I have emails. I do this 1 to 2 weeks before. 
 Shopping list:
  • Buy veggies for a veggie platter (I like baby carrots, celery and peppers)   
  • Buy sweets, samosas, finger foods, yogurt, fruit (I like grapes, strawberries and pineapple), chips and salsa, dessert and whatever else I'm in the mood for.
  • Buy fresh flowers, they always make the buffet table look fancier
At home:
  • Clean the house the day before the party (put away clutter, vaccuum and dust all the rooms)
  • Set up a drinks area (I boil water in a massive thermos and put aside for quick tea making)
  • Rinse and dry all tea cups and set out in perfect orthogonal lines, all ready to go
  • Make sure the beer fridge is well stocked (if not, send Andy out to restock)
  • Prepare plastic cups and beer glasses and place near beer fridge/tap
  • Set up a buffet area for food (usually the kitchen island, everyone eventually gathers in the kitchen anyway)
  • Prepare a healthy dip option (I love mixing yogurt with onion soup mix)
  • Wash and arrange the fruit platter
  • Place all the food in different plates and dishes
  • Put out small plates or paper plates, depending on how lazy fancy I'm feeling
  • Put out napkins and cutlery, plastic or real is again up to my mood
  • Fill a pitcher with lemon slices, ice and fresh water
  • Cut and arrange the flowers in my favourite green vase
  • Pull out some extra platters or vases in case others bring flowers and/or food
  • 20 minutes before everyone arrives, turn on 2 to 3 scented candles around the house
  • Get ready and put on nice clothes, shoes and makeup
  • Supply the bathroom with a couple of rolls of toilet paper (turn a candle on in there too)
  • Turn on the ipod and switch to party playlist
  • Pour yourself a drink
  • Open the door and enjoy the party!

Here are some photos of Sunday, notice the amazing pink and chocolate paisley cupcakes made by Andy's aunt Anna. She is so thoughtful, and took measure to use a key Persian ingredient, pistachios, and even personally melted the chocolate into a paisley shape (a classic motif of Persian origin). The cupcakes were absolutely delicious and not a single one left by the end of the day.

My Persian New Year Spread (Haft Seen)
My Persian New Year Spread (Haft Seen)

Friday, 22 March 2013

In Mint Condition

I just bought a pair of mint jeans and boy, am I ever excited to be adding some new colour to my wardrobe.  Of course I'm doing all this shopping in anticipation of spring, which has already come upon us without even a hint of warmer temperatures... but you can bet I'll be freakin' ready when it's here.

For now, my warm weather clothes sit in the closet in brand new condition, just asking to be worn, so I'm going to pack them for our little trip to the south this coming long weekend. Is it weird that I'm just looking forward to sitting at a Starbuckers (as Andy and I lovingly call our dealer of all things coffee) and sipping on a soy latte?

Fine, I'm also really looking forward to the antiques I can find in the US and also hitting up Target.  I know that Target finally opened on this side of the border, but the prices aren't the same (way higher in T.O.) and even the selection varies.

Aside from planting my butt at a Starbucks, the two other activities will require long hours on my feet, so flats are the only way to go. Which remind me, my shoe closet needs some organizing as does my whole wardrobe. Does anyone know of a good clothes swap club?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

DIY: Planter Presents

Gardening has been on my to do list lately, but with the permafrost out there, I figured I could get started indoors. I have a few house visits to make for the start of spring, so I thought making little plant presents would be the perfect gift, these will also be perfect for Easter or Mother's Day presents to make sure you don't show up empty handed.

Start with your favourite greenery. I chose two different types of Ivy, some Spanish Fern and some Confetti Rose. 

I picked out 3 acacia wood bowls made in the Philippines to use as the planters. I just love the colour and the smoothness of the wood. You can get the bowls at Crate&Barrel.

I filled the bowl with some enriched potting soil.

Squeeze your first plant our of its plastic container and separate it from the roots. One container of this small Confetti Rose was enough for all three planters because I made sure to carefully separate three stems directly from the roots.



Add the rest of your plants in the same way, stepping back to look at the composition of your planter. You want to group the plants in a way that has symmetry and balance, but still looks a little wild. Be sure to water your plants once you've placed them in the soil.

 For a touch of spring, I  bought a package of decorative eggs from the dollar store to use as an accent. Cut the wire stem to a shorter length.


At this point you can add Rocks, or little clay frogs even. 

I like them so much, I think it's going to be hard to give away!

Happy Spring!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

I don't have a sweet tooth so I'm really not big on baking (I will on occasion make banana bread using clean ingredients like olive oil, coconut flour and agave nectar) and even though I'll be eating a bit of this store-made cake I bought, I'm more looking forward to spending the day with friends at our local Irish pub.  Green (light) beer calories are so much more worth it than the calorie packed sweet stuff.
Either way you like to enjoy the goodies, Happy St. Patrick's Day to you and yours!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Take better photos: Stow-Away Light Box DIY

I had mentioned in an earlier blog that I wanted to take better photos and looking to make a light box. Not long after, my good friend Shima sent me a link to a light box DIY by flax&twine... What a great tutorial and now I'm in love with flax&twine.

Using materials I had lying around, I decided to take a stab at making a light box.

Here's what I had on hand:

Large carboard box
White plastic shower curtain liner (no mildew preferably)
Masking tape

I didn't follow the instructions to a tee, as I have ADHD and my mind started working overtime. I kept thinking how much it sucked to lose storage space to this thing, and if only there was a way I could make it fold-able... so here you have it, I essentially made a cardboard table top and draped a shower liner on it.

Not crazy pretty, but it does the job and I can fold it up and put it under the bed.

Step 1: Start with a large cardboard box.

Step 2: Cut our into the box. Leave a structural frame. An Exacto knife would have worked better, but I couldn't find one in our house.  Scissors worked fine, but it hurt my hand and took a while.

Step 3: Tape up the legs to strengthen your frame.

Step 4: Drape the shower curtain line over. I'm going to play with this once I buy some Bristol board to use as a large curved backdrop. For now this piece of paper worked.

It can fit right under the bed or couch.  

Poor thing looks like a purebred horse with legs all taped up for a race. Just not as expensive or graceful, ha!

I've been playing around with different ways of draping the liner and backdrop. I'm sure I'll get better at it. I already love the way this photo turned out:

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