Knitting Pile-Up: Stash Busting

Pretty much the most ridiculous can cozy ever. This one was loosely adapted from a beer bottle/wine cozy.
Pretty much the most ridiculous can cozy ever. This one was loosely adapted from a beer bottle/wine cozy.

It has come to my attention that I have not completed a knitting project since 2013. Not since after my knee surgery… Or maybe it was that hat I knitted for my man. I forget. It was two years ago, regardless.

I went searching through my Ravelry account (if you don’t have one, get one! It’s free and is such a great community… So many patterns. So many.) And found that I have 86 items in my queue. My goal for the next 12 months is to get that down to almost nothing. With the exception of the paid patterns, I plan to dwindle my stash to nothing by hunkering down and attacking all of those projects. Even the questionable ones.

The first one I’m focusing on is the infinity scarf, which is essentially just slapping together a bit of all of your favourite things and composing it all into one fabulous scarf. Check out the original pattern.

Supermoon Eclipse & The Vernal Equinox

This morning, across some North Atlantic regions, the super moon crossed paths with the sun, blocking it out for a little under a minute. Due to the clouds in the sky, not many people were able to witness it. This happened to coincide with the vernal equinox, marking the start of spring in 2015.

Spring has already start on the Island… That means it’s raining like crazy. We do live in a rain forest, so it’s par for the course.

With how the moon has been lately, I saw a beautiful moon rise around 6:40 am on my way to work the other day. The sliver of a crescent moon was bright pink as it came off from the horizon, behind the mountains. It slowly rose up and turned orange, then grew in size over ten minutes and faded to a faint blue as it usually is in the daytime… When it’s present in the daytime.

It was a beautiful reminder of how little life’s problems can be. We are in a universe filled with planets, stars, and a lot of unknowns. So running around for 15 minutes trying to find my boyfriend’s truck keys so I could move his truck to get my car out of the driveway was seemingly insignificant and I’m sure the nurse in charge won’t give me heck for being 5 minutes late, right? Right?? (I’ve been late twice in the past two years).

Fabletics: Who’s Tried It?

Fabletics is a company co-founded by Kate Hudson, which offers unique combinations or single clothing items designed for life with sports. Yoga, running, and sports attire including sweaters, wraps, tank tops, sports bras, yoga pants, tights, shorts, and crops.

I’ve placed my first pick with 50% off and am anxiously awaiting its arrival in the mail. I have heard from a few friends so far who say that their tights and pants are made of thick fabric, akin to the older Lululemon pants. Lululemon yoga pants used to be the best you could get, but their quality has gone way downhill since they’ve outsourced their production.

Once upon a time, Lululemons were the yoga pant to buy, but now their fabric is made of a thinner material that no longer offers the “butt lift” they once provided. The fabric apparently pills very easily now and their length, according to hundreds of reviews, varies widely, even within the same cut and style.

That all said, I look forward to trying out the Fabletics clothing!

Calling All Vancouver Island Youth Aged 13-18

If you or someone you know is a 13-18-year-old living on Vancouver Island, get your brains together and create a short video on what being smoke and vape-free is and how it benefits you! The deadline for this video is April 7th, 2015.

One entry per person, multiple winners based on age and location on the Island; and multiple prizes.

Take a look at the Island Health Authority website contest page for more information (click here).

Personal: Gym Update

I’m just posting this here because I need to get it out there somewhere for a feeling of personal accountability. I don’t take missing a visit to the gym mildly. Between my chronic knee pain (which I’ve had for 16 years or more), borderline depression (took me a long time to climb out and if I trip at all, it will be a long fall), getting older, and just not wanting to settle into a comfortable spot so-to-speak, being active and getting to the gym at least a few days a week is incredibly important to my mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Tangent complete. I’m benching 75 lbs, squatting 95 lbs now. I haven’t been too active with the deadlifts while I work on fixing my right-sided pelvic tilt. So my benches are up 20 lbs and my squats are up 55 lbs since I started back at the gym in January. Mind you, between then and now I’ve only seriously started going this past month – a cold kept me away through most of February and in January, I was working such a wonky schedule that the gym was closed when I was awake and had child minding. Boo!

Easy Chicken Recipe: Healthy, Nutritious, and Delicious

If you are looking to gain muscle, lose weight, cut body fat, or trying to get healthy, chicken is a beautiful thing. Any poultry is a beautiful thing! It has a macro-nutrients aligned with most weight-lifting diets: Almost no fat and no carbohydrates, leaving you with almost pure protein. Slap that beauty on your plat with veggies galore and you are well on your way to weight loss and/or building up your muscle! Skinless chicken, of course.

The easiest way to prepare chicken is to marinade it and bake it in the oven while making enough to last you for a few lunches throughout your week. Sometimes, you just want something more, though.

Chicken With Fresh Salsa

Ingredients used: chicken breasts, salt & pepper, oregano, rosemary, thyme, garlic, basil, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, jalapeno (optional) or cilantro (optional).

Easy instructions: Start off by dicing your onions, mince your garlic, and dice your tomatoes. If you are using fresh Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, and Oregano, go head and chop those up now as well.

Add olive oil, salt and pepper, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and garlic to a bag or a bowl. Mix them up well, then add the chicken breasts to the mixture, stir (or shake) to coat the chicken breast and allow to sit while you prepare the salsa.

In a new bowl, combine tomatoes, onions, jalapeno or cilantro (or neither), garlic and oregano. Stir gently, then add salt and pepper to taste. Finish by drizzling olive oil over the salsa.

Take your chicken (hopefully you have managed to waste 30 minutes by this point, if not… Go clean up your prep dishes! Clean as you go!) Cook the chicken stove-top on a pan: You likely won’t need any olive oil or butter in your pan as the chicken has been marinating in olive oil from your marinade. Cook the chicken until all you can see is white on the outside, then pour any remaining marinade over the chicken into the pan, turn heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 or so minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.

Slap those babies on your serving plate/bowl/table top (I won’t judge), and spoon on some delicious fresh salsa directly onto the chicken breasts.

Serve alone for a snack or lunch, or serve with a quinoa salad side, rice, salad… It’s chicken. Chicken goes with everything.

Gym Time: Bubble Butts Don’t Need Be Genetic

Ahhh. I turned 30 in August. My ass turned 30 in January. Oh the horror! Actually, it’s likely to do with my sloth-like behavior in the winter and the few days a week of palm bay drinks on the deck with my man. Skinny fat. I’m skinny fat. I digress as this post is about butts and improving them.

Best Exercises to Shape Your Ass/Butt/Heiny/Backside

  1. Hip Thrusts!
  2. Deadlifts (emphasis on the stiff-legged/Romanian deadlifts)
  3. Squats, squats, squats, squats, squats
  4. Maybe… Bulgarian Split Squats

Hip Thrusts

 Nothing says awkward like placing a barbell across your pelvis and doing a humping motion in the air at the gym. Always, always make eye contact while performing hip thrusts. Don’t be like duckman, you can’t put your palms down and thrust your pelvis, hwaahhh. These are performed with your legs on the ground in front of you with your shoulders on a bench behind you. Lift up and squeeze those butt muscles! 

Deadlifts

Oh heck yes. Study the living heck out of the proper form before attempting. Master your form before increasing your weights. This is a great exercise for your glutes, hamstrings, lower back muscles, and so forth. So long as you do it right.

Here is one of the best videos to take a look at a deadlift. Alan Thrall is a king among peasants (god among kings?) with his lifting videos. Subscribe!

Squats

Never underestimate the awesomeness of the squat. I prefer the lowbar back squats. My favourite. Not only do you feel like a hardcore boss while nailing them; it looks kinda cool, and it works out your core, your butt, your quads, your everything below the neck, essentially. If I had to pick one exercise to keep me in shape for the rest of my life, it would be the squat.

Again, I point you to an Alan Thrall video on how to squat.

Split Leg Bulgarian Squats

In general, I don’t like recommending exercises that would put any force on the knee that could lead to supportive ligament tears. But here ya go. I don’t do this, but they certainly target your butt muscles like mad.

 

Eat well. Exercise regularly. Remember that you cannot spot train to reduce fat… But you sure can spot train to produce muscle. Protein, protein, protein.

Getting Stronger for the Summer

My gym plan went down the drain fairly quickly. I’m still going as much as I can, but I found my schedule conflicting with being a parent and working (evenings and night shifts mainly). Add to that a cold that just won’t go away and I missed quite a few days.

It’s weird starting at the bottom with the weights. Once upon a time, I was up to 145 lbs squats while I weighed 130 lbs. I had previously started at body weight (meaning 0 lbs, not 145 lbs thrown over my shoulders as I was referencing in the last sentence) due to bad knees. So, after too long out of the gym, I started with just the bar. 45 lbs. OH YEAH! Felt so hard core. After a break for the cold I suffered, I was able to do 85 lbs, which isn’t too bad. It’s an improvement at the very least.

Current 5 rep maxes:

  • Squats: 85 lbs
  • Bench press: 65 lbs (lol!)
  • Bent-over Rows: 70 lbs
  • Arnold Press: 50 lbs
  • Deadlifts: 95lbs
  • Pull-ups: 3
Well. Yes, I’m weak. I’m working on it, at least :)  The deadlifts should certainly be higher, but I can’t put too much strain on my back at that angle with my hips misaligned as they are currently (I have an anterior tilt on the right side and either a posterior or neutral tilt on the left side of my pelvis. Old SI injury from my last pregnancy).
I love the gym. Not only does it feel great when the workout is over, I have more energy for the remainder of the day, I feel more motivated, it’s time I specifically spend on myself, and it is making me stronger. It’s only a side-effect that I might end up looking better. Looks are the least of my motivational factors, which I think really helps with the motivation: Motivate yourself with lifestyle goals (energy, strength, health, etc.) rather than looks. You can feel the improvements before you can see them!  

New Year’s Resolutions :: Or not. GYM TIME!

What is yours? It’s a little bit later in the month and by now, you’ve probably either started on your resolution or already given up.

There are a few common ones, most of which are related to self-improvement: Exercising regularly, eating healthier, maintaining a better sleep schedule, improving your relationship, being more confident, being more social…

All of these things are pretty hard to do if you’re not sure where to start. It’s not a resolution, but I recently started going to the gym again, three times per week. This is something I tend to do in the winter when the sun stops shining as much, the social activities are finished, and I’m just generally grumpy. Exercise helps my mental, emotional, and physical state.

So what do I do at the gym? An adapted starting strength workout routine. Free weights! I love them. I’m going to cover bits and pieces of the routine on this website in order to help other people gain a good understanding of the workouts… Mind you, I’m not a personal trainer. I didn’t do my practicum hours for it because I got into nursing, but I do have all the theory and knowledge of a PT ;)

This morning, I’m off to do squats, squats, squats, squats, squats (channeling the “Shots, shots, shots” song), deadlifts–assuming my gym allows them when it’s busy… January–, arnold presses, and body weight dips. My triceps have always been my downfall. I’m thinking Friday I will have to swap the dips for pull-ups to align the muscle group workouts better.

North Island College Bridge-In: LPN to BSN/RN

Winter 2015 marks the first semester of the new program for LPN bridge-in students hoping to earn their bachelor of science degree in nursing. This particular program allows qualified LPNs to enter into the fourth semester of the BSN program. Assuming a seat opens up. I’m at the top of the waiting list so either I will get in this year or it will be put off for another year until semester 4 rolls around again.

The down side to this program is the bridge-in courses that are offered. I’m not sure why they made these courses a pre-requisite. The courses were copies of what I have already taken in my LPN course with no real new information afforded. Maybe other schools or teachers didn’t focus on the same ideas and lesson plans that mine did in 2009.

The other prerequisites were a few English courses–essentially, two courses of university/college-level English. And Biology 260 so that we are caught up to where the second year BSN students are at.

I don’t recommend working full time with a full course load, for whatever it’s worth. Especially with kids and moving, and a flooded basement, and… And… :P