Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Garden Noob

The great thing about finally having my own place is that I can make the space completely my own. Which includes turning my sun deck into a garden oasis.

Okay, maybe oasis is a strong word. But I can have my very own little garden!

I have never been interested in having a garden. Ever. My grandmothers were both avid gardeners, but it just looked like way too much work to me. My mom likes to pretend that she likes to garden. When I was younger (and living at home) she would often enlist my help (under protest) to start a large gardening project that was never entirely finished.

When I lived in Montreal, my roommate turned out backyard into a vegetable garden. She would constantly try to get me excited about the garden, but I couldn't be swayed. I just wasn't into it.

So why am I into it now?

Well, for one thing, I'm not going balls deep (and the raunch comes out). I don't have a very big deck, so even if I were to fill it up completely, it would still be pretty small.

I want fresh herbs! The one thing that I liked about our little Montreal garden was that there was constant access to basil. Since then I have tried unsuccessfully to keep several basil plants. This is the year I am going to figure out how to make one survive.

Tomatoes! Tomatoes are my all time favourite food. If I had to choose one food to eat forever and ever, it would be tomatoes (preferably in some sort of cheese concoction, but I love them on their own too). I can't wait to have a balcony full of the glorious red vegetafruits. 

My Kids Garden Tool Kit

I found the cutest little learn to garden kit at Canadian Tire. Sure, it's for kids, but it is beyond perfect for me. The tools are a good size to work with my small little pots, and I can store my gloves and seed information in the bag so I can easily figure out what I am doing.

Day One of the Garden Deck.
Yesterday, I went shopping on my lunch break. I bought a couple of pots, soil, a couple of strawberry plants, and some seeds to grow beans. My mom and I had a bit of a psychic moment because she showed up at the office with a hanging basked and a tomato plant for me.

I am excited about the beans. They grow on vines, so I am hoping they will cover my balcony and block the view of my trashy neighbours. When I bought the place, the last resident left the planter boxes and a big pot. They aren't the prettiest, but they will eventually be covered by plants. And you can't beat the price of Free!

I had a lot of bean left over, so I put the rest of them in little individual containers. I'll probably move them around the deck so that I can the vine in different places. But really, I'm just spreading out my bet. If I have five different pots, at least one of them will sprout, right?

I'm going to Home Depot after work to pick up some herbs to plant in the planter boxes. I am way too excited about this.

Now I just have to remember to water every day.

Have you ever tried to have a garden?
Do you have any gardening tips?

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Back Again!

As expected, once I took possession of my apartment, my life became crazy. Between renovating, packing, and essentially moving twice, there wasn't much time for a healthy lifestyle. Take away took precedence over the pre planned dinners that I had grown used to. Any and all physical activity was directed at the bettering of my future living quarters.

But now all of that is done. I am finished... Okay, I am almost finished. There are still a few touch ups that I need to fix. Hopefully those will get done before I become too complacent in my living situation. I am actually hoping to have it all done before my house warming party on Saturday.

So far this week I have slowly been getting my eating back on track. However, I seem to ruin it by overeating at night. Every. Single. Day. I just keep on trucking though. At least my days are good. And they will continue to be good. And soon, my nights will match my days.

I have no idea how much I weight at this point. I don't really feel like I have gained any weight despite my poor eating habits over the past two months. I'm judging this based on how my clothing has been fitting. Most of it is good, but there are a couple of cute dresses that I need to lose about 10 pounds to be able to wear comfortably again. I threw away my scale in the move, so I really have no clue. I'd like to get a digital one, but I don't want to spend too much money on it. Any suggestions?

Happy Latte
Last night I ended up buying two books for my Kobo. Dirty Daddy by Bob Saget (because Full House was my all time favourite childhood show) and Love Life by Rob Lowe (because I have a major dad crush on him). Because I was buying this books, I took my wallet out of my purse and DIDN'T put it back. Fail! This morning, after I had pulled into the Starbucks drive through and ordered my drink, I couldn't find my wallet. 'No biggie,' I thought to myself. 'I've got the app on my phone!' So I pull up my app and everything is normal. I quietly thank technology for giving me several payment options. However, right before I pull up to the window, the app completely crashes. It has forgotten about me. No funds. No points. No nothing. I explain the situation to my favourite barista, and he gave me the drink for free (he was my favourite before he did that). I was stoked. Free Latte.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Off Track

January was one of the best months I have ever had - health wise. I was working out, eating well, and it was easy.

WTF February? I haven't exercised at all and have been way over my caloric limit every day. I'm so annoyed with myself. But I'm not giving up.

It's only been a week of shitty behaviour, and I can curb this.

I am worried though. I have been really busy this past few week, so I haven't had a chance to be prepared. My mom and I bought each other tickets to plays this week, so we spent two nights down town. Plus I have been running all over town to finalize the payment of my apartment and look at furniture and floors.

On the plus side, I am still tracking what I eat. Every damn calorie. It's not pretty.

I am nervous about the next month. I have a few weeks where I can probably get back on track, but after that? I have no idea when I will have a kitchen again. I will probably have to stay at my parents' house for a few weeks while I renovate. For some reason I just can not eat healthy there. I'm going to do my best to avoid having to stay there. For my waistline's sake.

Despite my diet failure, life is pretty good right now... I BOUGHT AN APARTMENT!!!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Joy of Kale

For the longest time, kale chips were on my list of must try foods. I would occasionally throw some kale in my smoothies, but I found that it takes that much more fruit and sweets to make it palatable, so I stopped using it. One day my roommate's boyfriend made a batch of kale chips after a party. They were not at all what I expected. But quite delicious.

It has taken me about half a year to finally make some kale chips for myself. But I finally did it and now I can't stop. I have made about five batches in the past week and a half. Kale chips have become my late night snack (ok, I probably shouldn't be having a late night snack anyway, but it is usually within my calorie goals or close to it).

They are so easy. Especially if you have a big bowl with a lid.

Step 1: Rip the kale into smallish pieces. Discard the thicker stems.
Step 2: Add oil and shake. I use about 2 tsp of olive oil for more Kale than is pictured above. Then I put the lid on and shake shake shake. Most of the kale should be covered.
Ste 3: Add seasoning. Garlic and chilli are my go to spices. Sometimes I add seasoning salt. I would definitely recommend salt if you are new to Kale. It makes it taste so amazing and almost chip like.

Step 4: Bake! I bake a full tray for about 15 minutes at 350*F. You don't want it to turn totally brown. I realized that I have been over cooking most of my batches. It can still be crispy when it is green.

Step 5: Cool and eat! Personally, I don't even let it cool. I'm munching on the bowl as soon as it is out of the oven. I like to eat it all right away, but occasionally I will leave some for the next day. Still good!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Kundalini Yoga Review

Have you heard of Passport to Prana?

It is a great tool to use to find the right yoga studio for you. It's also a great way to try something new. Or if you are like me and and are interested in doing yoga every once in a while, but can't commit to a particular class. Or you are not very interested in yoga prices. Yoga is expensive. The Passport to Prana gives you the chance to try out one yoga class at a plethora of studios for a low low price. You can only go to each studio once in that year with the passport. It's a great way to find something you like.

I have been slacking on using my Passport to Prana. I have only used it twice this year and I only have three months left to use it. Yikes! However, those two times have already paid for my passport.

My best friend and I bought a the pass a few years ago and we had a lot of fun trying out all of the different studios in the area. I decided to get another one last spring so I could tag along with my friend Ally at her favourite studio. The drop in rate at her favourite studio is almost the same price as the entire passport.

Yesterday Ally invited me out for a night of Yoga and Sushi. I was glad to finally get the chance to use my pass again and finally try the kundalini class at Semperviva Yoga that she tells me about all the time.

Kundalini Yoga

There is something about yoga that just makes me feel connected to my city. I always feel at home when I am doing it. I am not very good at it, and I don't particularly love it, but it brings out a peace in me and a feeling of being united with my community. The kundalini class was nothing like I was expecting, but also exactly what I was expecting (I was warned, after all). I felt like this session was a particular representation of what it means to live in Vancouver.

Right off the top the lights went out and we started with chanting. I had to do a double take. Was this really happening? It's not the first class I've been to with chanting, but it's usually a soft chant towards the end of the class. This was a loud, bold, harmonic chant that matched our movements.

The chanting continued for most of the first half of the class. We did quick, repetitive movements and the chant helped to keep a rhythm. To be honest, I wasn't doing much chanting. Every once in a while I would throw in a word here or there, but I felt a bit self-conscious about it.

The music changed. We started listening to pop songs with a faster beat. That's when it happened. The yoga class turned into an all out dance party. For the next fifteen minutes, we danced our hearts out. Sometimes we were encouraged to find a partner to groove with. Fortunately, I had Ally there with me so I didn't have to completely leave my comfort zone.

The dance party was weird in the most awesome way. It made yoga fun. I would definitely consider going back to that class in the future.

After the dance party, we moved into more traditional yoga. We did a bit of the typical yoga moves (ie. downward dog) and had a savasana. We finished our yoga adventure with a song. It was very beautiful the way everyone in the class knew all of the words and their voices melted together. It was also very strange. The whole experience was quite surreal.

I would highly recommend this class to anyone, especially if you are looking for something a little less traditional.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

To own or not own

Yesterday was a whirlwind of a day.

I got a call from a property manager. He told me that my application was approved on the place that I want to rent. I really love that place. Yes, the area is kind of shady, but it has a great walk score. It's just a few blocks away from where I live now, and I love my area. Plus it has a beautiful patio and a huge walk in closet. And it is affordable. I know I am catch of a tenant, so I wasn't nervous about my application going through, but it was nice to hear that everything was going my way.

A few hours later, my dad rolls into work, and he starts talking about an apartment that is for sale in the same area. We had already discussed this apartment, but I had put it out of my mind because it just didn't seem like a possibility. But then he said the magic words: "Monthly payments would be the same or less."


To rent a one bedroom apartment in that area is $825 per month. With a certain amount down, I could have mortgage payments as low as $400. The strata is $200. There are other fees too, but they wouldn't amount to more than $225. When I was initially looking into it, I thought my mortgage payments would be closer to $800 and then all those extras on top.

We immediately set up an appointment to view it, while I put off my lease signing. The building is right next door to the one I am supposed to rent. Both places are south facing and directly across the street from a park. While the area is a bit shady, everyone in the building with the unit for sale is on the up and up. The same can't be said about the rental building. However, the apartment that is for sale is absolutely disgusting. It needs a complete remodel.

After the appointment, I was still a little unsure. I like my little patio rental. Although, having a ground floor apartment scares the crap out of me. Especially when my house was just broken into a few days ago. My dad and I priced out what is would cost to renovate the entire thing. It wasn't as high as I was expecting. It is actually doable. And then we went to Ikea and found the perfect kitchen within my budget.

I want this place now. It was always my dream to own a place before I turn 30. I never thought it would actually be possible.

Now I just have to tell the property manager that I am not interested anymore... at least not this month.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

The Search is On!

Looking for a new place is hard! There is a fair amount available, but it is all so expensive. It's going to be quite the jump in price when I move out on my own. I'm looking at DOUBLE what I pay now. It would be nice to have a roommate. Not only would it help with the price, but it is also nice to have a bit of company. But at the same time, I am ready to live on my own again. I have had the world's best roommate for the past two and a half years. It would be hard to find someone as good.

One of my best friends wants to move out with me, but I don't think it would work. I think our friendship would be ruined. He wants to move down town, which would be great, but lonely (as all my friends and family are in the suburbs). Another friend has a spare room. I think I could live with her, but I don't want to move into someone's home. I want to feel like I am at home when I am home. 

At the moment, I have pretty much decided that I am going to live on my own. I want to live somewhere with a good walk score. There are many apartments available that are very close to where I live now. The area is nice, but a little shady. But the walk score is great. I am going to look at one of those places tomorrow afternoon. It's $800+ and probably not very pretty.

The other place I am looking at tomorrow is $890+. It's been completely renovated, so I won't have to worry about gross carpets and appliances. It's more than I wanted to spend, but I think the extra $100 might be worth it for a nicer place. Although, the walk score at this place isn't nearly as high. Bonus, there is a Starbucks only about half a kilometre away. There is a bus stop directly in front of the building though.  

In other news...

I have been doing really well with my diet so far. I had a couple of pieces of chocolate today, but I tracked it, and it wasn't very much. My water intake could be higher, but I have been getting more in than I used to.

I've been sticking to my cooking plan. I always have something made and ready to go in the fridge (eg, Cauliflower Pizza, Eggplant Pizza, Eggplant Extravaganza Casserole, or a Crock Pot Mish Mash). Whenever I cook anything, I try to get an extra meal out of it.

The frozen bananas in my freezer have finally been put to good use. I packaged eight  containers of Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice-Cream. Finally! That will be a nice little treat for a few weeks. I am slowly but surely using up all of my extra frozen food.

I also tried making Kale chips today. I think they turned out well. Although, I definitely used too much oil. Can't wait to make them again.

TTYL! I'm off to tap.