Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Reads: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

For several months, I have been hearing murmurs about this book.  I have also been struggling with the amount of "stuff" in our home.  It was time to pull the trigger and start to bring it under control...and to see what all the fuss was about with this book.

It is a really short book with a couple of really easy premises

1) really look at each item you own and ask yourself "does it spark joy?" and if it doesn't, you get rid of it.


2) Once you are down to only the things that fill your life with joy, it becomes easier to to stay tidy because everything has a home and you merely need to return items to that home.

Easy peasy, right?

and that's really all there is to the book. By the time I had finished the chapter on clothing, I was ready to start putting it into practice.  This is where the beauty and simplicity of the "KonMari Method" shines.

I took everything from my closet and dresser and ruthlessly analyzed each piece by her guidelines...and took EIGHT big black garbage bags of clothing out of my room.  I wouldn't have thought that I had that many clothes total!  I also hauled 3 bags of garbage out - clothing I couldn't donate and accessories that were too broken or worn.   And my wardrobe was far from bare.  It made me quite happy to look at it.  Every single piece in there now makes me happy and it gave me some guidance on what kinds of things I should add because I can clearly see the prints and colours that matter to me.  It will be easy to keep my wardrobe to just the things that make me happy...because if something stops doing so - it will leave my life.

Next, I put everything back into my dresser - folded the way Marie Kondo recommends and I freed up an entire dresser drawer.  Previously - those drawers barely closed!   Now I can see everything at a glance and grab exactly what I want.  It is awesome!

So, now I am slowly moving through the rest of our house.  I've already tackled the storage room and hauled another 10 bags to donate..and am not done yet.   Hubby is even on board with this and is ready to cull his stuff too.  We are just a family of crazy cullers!

I am a KonMari convert and am very excited about this method.  I can hardly wait to see the other ways this changes our life.

Though, I do admit, I am a bit scared to start on my studio...good thing washi tape brings me a great deal of joy...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Let the Training Plan Begin!

In our last episode, Cori had just kicked her own ass and registered for a half marathon in 12 weeks time.  Goal?  To find the runlove again.  She knew she'd be slow but she knew she had to do something to get moving kickstart the weight loss to combat the stress fracture weight gain.  But could she actually do it?  Well - the training plan kicked off this week...let's watch and see.

Ok..enough of a trailer.  I am officially training again.I'm keeping my training plan simple.  I am not pushing anything except my brain at this point.  I just need to plod one foot in front of the other and build up my base again.  That's it.  I am also working on cleaning up my crappy diet so I can start to beat my weight down..because lets face it - a year and a half of sedentary life leads to a widening arse and a bit more belly weight that I am proud to sport.  But enough about how fat I've gotten.  Let's talk about my first run of the training cycle.

My goal is to run before hubby leaves for work so that means hitting the road by 6:30 AT THE that means running in Langdon for my short runs.  No problemo  I have 4, 5 and 6k routes that I can do without being attacked by birds.  The main problem of this first run was that on sunday, LANGDON FLOODED!!!  Honest to goodness, disaster quality flooding.  You see - drainage here sucks.  The older east side of town has ditches for drainage.  Our side of town has drainage channels that take rainwater to a drainage pond.   There are no sophisticated underground sewers for drainage.  It is all over land.   

We had been camping in Carseland, only 20 mins away, when we heard thunder and headed for home on Sunday to avoid packing up a wet tent.   When we got to Langdon - it was quite apparent it had been raining for some time.  Langdon Park was under water.  Power was out all over the place. Langdon School was under water.   It looked like we were a lake town.  We aren't.  Our sump pump came on twice...for the first time in the 8 years we've lived here!

So, with that in mind - almost every one of my running routes was affected by flood water.  As I left the house on Monday morning, I half expected I'd be turning back to finish the run on my treadmill.

Luckily, thanks to the emergency crews - most of the water had drained off or absorbed into the ground.  People had piles of ruined items from their flooded basements on their lawns 

The ditch around the school field looked like a watery running track.

The park was still quite marshy.

Some power lines were still down.

But the rain had thoughtfully turned our skating rink into a pool for us.

Luckily, I only encountered one section of path that was I dashed through it to get back to the road.

With 1k to go, I decided I should probably take a selfie to shame myself into losing weight get myself used to showing my face around here.

I look tired and humidity is NOT my best friend.

All in all - I got my 4k done.  I'm slow but I'm moving and that is all that matters.  I expect that I will have a 3hr finish at Harvest Half, but I really just want to get back to training consistently so I can enjoy running again.

Product Review: Lily Trotters Compression Socks

A few months ago, I was contacted by Lily Trotters and invited to be involved in promoting their upcoming Kickstarter campaign.  Their mission? To bring the fashion into compression.   After looking into their product - I happily agreed and they sent me a pair to try out in exchange for my honest review.  Here it is.

As I have been trying to get myself running again - I have had aches and pains I don't remember having 5 years ago when I did the whole "start running" thing. Determined to train and recover better - I figured these socks could be just the hug my legs needed after my runs.  I was right.

The thought behind the company is to create a sock that is tough enough to outlast your marathon while being thin and fashionable enough to wear all day to the office with your favourite shoes.

Here's some specs:
  • Proprietary easy-to-get-on 100% micro nylon weave
  • 15-20 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) – just the right squeeze! 
  • USA tested & approved high performance gradient compression
  • Cushioned heels & reinforced toes
  • Moisture wicking, antimicrobial – yay, no stinky feet!
  • Built to last a few years, not a few months like traditional knee socks
The pair I was sent were black with lime and fuschia polka dots (one of my favourite patterns even if it was a bit too pink for my liking - we all know my pink liking is pretty low)

They were super cute. I love patterned knee socks and usually live in them all winter so even if I hated them as recovery compression socks, I would be able to still get some wear out of them this winter as long as they fit my ski like size 11 feet.

The top of the socks has a little ruffle.

and the ball of the foot features the Lily Trotters logo

But these are all the cover - we want to know what's in the book, right?

So, the first time I grabbed them post run, I admit, I didn't have high hopes.  Me and socks have a difficult relationship.  And with compression socks - I have a drawerful of expensive socks that HURT me now that I have gained some weight during my running sabbatical to heal my fracture.  One size fit all options usually aren't long enough to cover my calves (the joy of being tall).  So I went into this with a fair bit of skepticism.

But they were true to their word - they go on easy.  They fit my size 11s like they were made for them...and stretched easily up to just below my knee without looking like they were stretched to the limit (I'm looking at you, Sugoi rainbow socks and Running Skirts turquoise heart socks).  These just looked like socks!  I was amazed.

Cute, right?

But how do they feel?

Amazing!   These are not your average pair of compression socks.  They aren't going to beat you up and wring your legs out like a pair of CEPs will...but they feel like a nice firm hug for my legs...and I have a lot of leg on this 5 foot 9 body.

I've been wearing them for a while now after my 1-2 times a week...but now that I am officially in half marathon training I expect I'll be reaching for them much more often.  My legs feel less tired and I am able to keep going about my day.  Important, since as a stay at home mom of twins, my legs don't have time to lay down on the job.

I doubt I will ever wear them for running in.  I just don't tend to wear compression socks for running.  But for recovery - these will be on my feet as my first choice.  But if you want to hear from people who have run in them and loved them - there are several other bloggers who have reviewed them and Lily Trotters also has this testimonial video for you.

So how do you get yourself a pair?  As luck would have it, the Lily Trotters Kickstarter launches today and they promise awesome earlybird pricing for supporters.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Half #14

So I've been away for a few days, but before I went to Banff - I made a pretty momentous decision. This won't be a shock to anyone who follows me on Instagram, but...

Yep - Harvest Half on Oct 3 - here I come.  Time to set a date and get back on the wagon for good.   I'm officially in training mode.  Time to get my training plan in motion and see where it takes me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Let's Sketch It - July 2015 Sketchbook Challenge

The June sketchbook challenge was such a success that I have decided to keep it going as long as anyone wants to keep sketching with me :).  Alternately, you could also use the prompts as writing or journaling exercises.

So, since a new month is upon us - here are the prompts for July in case anyone wants to print them!! Happy sketching!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Friday Reads: Nothing Like Looking by Chris Van Hakes

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author herself.  Because we both like cheese - not because she was bribing me for a good review.  All thoughts in this good review are my own.

Some of you may recall when I reviewed Chris Van Hakes debut novel, Lost and Found...and I loved it. So, when she told me she wanted to send me a paper copy of her new book I was so excited!  You see, I've stalked her on social media for long enough to know when someone is pouring their whole soul into their work and that was exactly what she was doing.  She lit up in every word she wrote about her new novel.  It was impossible to resist wanting to read it.

Now, on with my recap and review

Nothing like Looking is a YA novel about a teenage girl named Reed Larsen.  She was recently expelled from her very christian high school after someone told the principal she was gay...a fact lacking in any truth at all.  Now Reed must go to the "snob school" where she feels she doesn't fit in and on day one she meets the most beautiful boy in the world, Mason.  Mason has a girlfriend (the beautiful and perfect Caroline of the pretty people tribe), but he takes an interest in being Reed's friend when he sees her reading The Hobbit.

Then the horrible secret of her old school comes back to haunt her when the over bearing, political type girl, Jett, tells Reed she knows she is gay and that she was expelled for it...and Reed, being too insecure to deny it, ends up admitting and lying that it is true.

Now that she is "out" at her new school, instead of being a social pariah, Reed is an instant celebrity and gains a certain respect from her peers.   Even worse, Mason feels "safe" with her and starts to form a close friendship with her - something only made more difficult by the growing romantic feelings she has for him.

Okay, I think I have kept the spoilers to a minimum there.  I'm just going to come right out and say it.  I LOVED this book.  I am a big fan of Rainbow Rowell and I can feel a great deal of inspiration come from that direction but this work is all Chris.  The way she has captured the tension of high school friendships and the uncertainty of teenagers figuring themselves out was exquisite.   So much love and attention went into the development of each of the characters that they just shone on the pages.

There were moments when I found myself thinking "Geez - just tell them already!" but I had to stop myself.  Because the character was a teenager and she was merely acting the way a real, insecure teenager would.

I loved how the story tied itself together through the character relationships.  They FELT real.  They had quirks and insecurities, but they worked through them or outgrew the friendships.

Now that I am finished reading it, I plan to pass my copy along to a teen in my life who I think will really love it.  I think the messages of individualism and growth are good for her to read.

And you?  Well, you need to go buy this one now.  Just do it.  It'll be the best $4 you can spend this month.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Let's Sketch It - June 2015 Sketchbook Challenge

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen the little sketchbook challenge I am hosting.  I figured maybe I should post more info and a printable prompts list here so people can easily tuck a copy inside their sketch books!

How to play along:

Each day in June, simply sketch something to go with the prompt.  Have fun with it.  Then snap a photo and post it on your favourite Social Media outlet using the hashtag #letssketchit   I think most people will be playing on Instagram and that is where I, personally, will be posting and checking everything out from.  Any medium.  Any size.  No rules...Just sketch.  At the end of the month, not only will you probably have a full little sketchbook, but you might just have a new drawing habit to go along with it!

Hope to see you there!