An ode to Spring

I love spring!

(I tried to write a better introduction to this post than that, but really, that’s what the whole point of this post is about — to tell you that spring is my favourite season!)

I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate winter. It’s cold, for one thing. That’s unpleasant. Then it snows, virtually locking you in with endless frigid temperatures until a Chinook arrives. The air becomes even more dry because, hello landlocked prairies, so the lotion companies make their moolah while you’re endlessly applying to your cracked, stinging skin.

Everyone loves summer except me (probably not the case, but that’s what it feels like). I hate the heat and the blazing sun. My skin is very fair, so I burn easily and need to apply SPF 100+ anytime I’m going to be out in the sun for a long time (even more money for the lotion companies). I’m constantly paranoid about getting either sunburns or mosquito bites, so its difficult to focus on having a good time. I also have an incredibly hard time breathing when the mercury is around 30 celsius. This all cumulates into absolutely no fun for me. How can I focus on having fun when I am so uncomfortable?

Autumn/Fall is depressing because everything is dying and the cold weather starts to rear its ugly head again. Everything that was green and alive turns brown, orange, and yellow and you carry around this dread in your heart that winter is looming at the end of it all.

But spring? Oh… my lovely, lovely season. I love thee so much! Really, just look at how joyous and colourful you are!

(Okay, yes, that’s just a photo of the Easter chocolate at Shopper’s Drug Mart… but still! Look at all the colours!)

(Also, this post was not sponsored by Lindt, I assure you.)

Why do I love spring? Um, because it’s not winter anymore! DUH! Hahaha… but I like that we don’t have to deal with the snow and cold anymore. I do love me a good downpour of rain and even a great thunderstorm, and spring has plenty of that.

Growing up, I loved seeing the sparkle of fresh morning dew on the blades of grass in our backyard and millions of tiny, white blossoms on our apple tree as I walked past on my way to catch the school bus. Or when I would be heading through our front yard gate at the start of a bike ride around our neighbourhood and I’d catch a whiff of our fragrant lilac bush that stood next to the gate. I don’t usually like being outdoors, but for spring I make an exception because of this.

And you can’t beat the Easter candy at this time of year! Cream eggs, mini eggs, marshmallow eggs, caramel eggs, Reese eggs, Twix eggs… virtually everything yummy and sugary gets molded into egg form and devoured!

Omnomnom! XD

Thirty-four and more

I’m not one of those women that hates telling people how old she is. It sometimes takes me a moment to remember the number, but when I do I have no qualms saying it out loud. So I have no problem telling you that, this past Saturday, I turned 34.

Am I where I thought I would be when I turned 34? Hell, I don’t know! When I was younger, I don’t think I thought much about what would happen to me past 30, so I am not worried one bit that young Jenn would be embarrassed or shocked about how my life is today.

So who is Jenn today?

I find that I can best express my thoughts in point-form:

  • I am married to my loving, supportive husband of almost 10 years.
  • I have a caring, precocious three-year-old daughter.
  • I am happily employed as an administrative assistant in an industry I am interested in and an organization I am proud to be a part of.
  • We live a comfortable lifestyle and thankfully carry no debt.
  • A minimalist lifestyle appeals to me and I am working on removing unnecessary material possessions from our home. (Too much “stuff” makes me anxious.)
  • I’ve lived the life of a dancer for the past four years and am now trying to figure out what my next hobby/activity/passion will be.
  • I’m working on becoming a healthier person by steering my eating habits in a more positive direction and exercising more than I used to.
  • I love rock music and hope to see plenty more live concerts in the future.
  • I love London, England, and am over the moon excited to travel there for a third time in May/June of this year.
  • I am passionate about what I think are out of the ordinary things like Kill Bill, Linkin Park, and Anne Frank. (Sometimes I fear these passions make me too one-dimensional.)
  • I require a lot of down time to recharge my batteries, so I’m often found at home rather than out on the town.

For the most part, I am happy with the person I am today. It has taken me a long time to be able to say that.

Thirty-four years, even.

Breaking the habit

If you asked me to choose between a sweet treat and a salty snack, I would choose the sweet treat every single time. I’m not sure I would go as far as to say I’m a sugar addict — and I actually contemplated whether I should call myself one for this post — but I do have a hard time saying no to it. Coca-Cola, juice, chocolate, candy, baked goods, Nutella, jam, and most desserts are all things that I’ve scarfed down without a second thought of what it was doing to my body.

We all know that sugar is bad for you, mostly because too much contributes to weight gain and acne. But it wasn’t until recently when a friend of mine recommended I watch a couple documentaries on Netflix that I opened my eyes (and mind) to the real damage my excessive sugar consumption was doing to my body.

After watching Fed Up and Sugar Coated, my world fell down around me (not literally, obviously) and one word summed up how crappy I felt: “Shit.” (Yay puns!)

Now, I’m not going to go into too much of what those documentaries talked about because I feel that it is important for others to watch them and come to their own conclusions. Yes, I write a blog, but I feel out of place when I am expected to influence people’s decisions and beliefs (blogger fail!). But I will let you know what watching them did for me (expletives aside).

I had to stop drinking so much Coca-Cola immediately, and that is tough for me because I think I’ve drank it since I was about five or so. But when you see a pile of sugar sitting next to a can of Coke, and you understand the damage that it is doing to your teeth and bones, well, it was a pretty easy decision to make.

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Now, understand that I said “stop drinking so much” instead of “stop drinking full stop”. Realistically, I don’t think I will ever be able to go without sugar entirely, but considering what my intake was a week ago compared to now, I have made huge strides in improving my health (and hopefully that of my daughter’s by example).

I stopped having my nightly dessert of whatever sweets we have laying around, whether it be leftover Christmas goodies (yes, we still have some), cookies, or chocolate. I allow myself only one “tall” size Starbucks drink during the week (my grocery shopping trip treat) instead of taking advantage of double-star days and my “I’ve made it through the work week” celebratory frappuccino Friday afternoons. I’ve also stopped heading into my co-worker’s office to take a piece of chocolate out of her candy dish (and that’s really hard because she has peanut butter chocolate hearts in there right now!)

Coincidentally, around the same time I started, a friend of mine was also cutting back on the amount of sugar she was eating. We’ve agreed to send each other photos of disapproving looks when we get off track. She sent me this just as an example, but I can never feel bad when I see a picture of Pusheen.

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I’ve only been doing this for six days, but I’ve definitely felt a difference. I have better focus at work and I don’t feel so tired mid-way through my mornings. My skin is clearing up and I sleep more soundly. I’ve lost roughly four pounds (probably water weight, but a loss is a loss) and I feel more energetic when I’m on my treadmill. Saying no to sugar gets easier too because I know what my goal is and why I am doing this in the first place. Also, documentary flashbacks are a scary thing. *shudder*

So we’ll see how this goes. I’m pretty sure I am on the right track, and making better choices and eating this way will become second nature to me. I’ll update you on my progress in a future blog post.

SHAMELESS PROMOTION TIME!

This past Wednesday, tickets went on sale for our final dance show! (See fancy poster.)

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Saturday night’s show is selling out quick, but there are still plenty of great seats available for Friday night’s performance. We had a mock dress rehearsal this past Saturday and I was so happy to see how all the dances have come together. It’s going to be a great show and you might regret it if you are not there, so get your tickets while you still can!

/end SHAMELESS PROMOTION TIME!

Your turn!

Have you watched either Fed Up or Sugar Coated on Netflix? What are your thoughts?

Have you recently cut your sugar intake?  Do you have any advice/tips for me?

Are you coming to our dance show? The correct answer is “yes”. ;)

Dinner by HelloFresh

I have been batting zero lately when it comes to making supper. The last few times I’ve made something it has come out either looking, smelling, or tasting horrible. I swear, I am not a bad cook! While growing up, my mom was basically my at-home Home Economics teacher (thanks, Mom!), so I can cook, bake, and broil like a champ. I think that I’ve just experienced a streak of horrible recipe choices (yes… that’ll stick).

I finally had to throw my hands up in defeat and foisted the supper-making responsibility onto my husband while I stood in the corner with my dunce cap.

A couple weeks ago, I was watching a DeFranco Fam vlog where Lindsay was preparing a meal from a food subscription service called HelloFresh. I’ve seen her make a few of these meals before and she, Phil, and Trey all seem to like them. As I’ve said in previous posts, life feels so hectic right now. I have work, home life, dance practices, and my daughter’s swimming lessons occupying my time, so suppers have been the last thing on my mind. Having the thinking, shopping, and measuring already done for me was  incentive enough, so I went on a search for a discount code valid in Canada (the one Lindsay provides only works in the U.S.) and ordered a box to try it out.

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HelloFresh is delivered to you once a week by courier in an insulated box. The box includes ingredients for three different meals, recipes for those meals, and ice packs which are located in the lower compartment of the box where the proteins for each meal are kept. I must confess, though. As soon as I opened the box, I had to touch the box’s contents to ensure they were still cold, and to my surprise (and relief) they were and the ice packs were still frozen. Colour me impressed!

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Our proteins laying on top of ice packs

Our proteins laying on top of ice packs

We decided to try the pulled chicken sliders with tangy cabbage slaw first. The ingredients for each meal are separated into their own clearly-marked box. The following photo was not staged, I assure you.

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Okay, maybe it was staged a little bit

Everything is pre-measured, so unless a recipe calls for a certain amount of an ingredient (usually shown in bold, purple text on the recipe card), you dump the whole  packet/bag/bottle in. We learned our lesson with this when we dumped all three bottles of white wine vinegar in the sauce for the chicken only to find out later in the recipe we needed 1 tablespoon for the coleslaw. Whoops! Thankfully we had some white vinegar laying around, albeit not white wine vinegar. The coleslaw still tasted fine. Another great thing about receiving only the ingredients you need for each meal is that it helps cut down on food waste.

The finished product

The finished product

Here’s what we thought of each meal:

Pulled Chicken Sliders (with Tangy Cabbage Slaw)
Pros:  We loved the barbecue sauce and the buns were reminiscent of ones we used to get from KFC.
Cons:  While my husband was shredding the chicken he had to pull out pieces of connective tissue (this slowed things down a bit), the coleslaw was not “vinegary” enough for me (but that could be because of our error), and the addition of the spring mix was a little weird, but it did add nutritional value to the sliders (greens!).

Sweet ‘n Sour Meatballs (with Pineapple and Green Peppers)
Pros:  YUM!
Cons:  Can we get back to you?

Soy-Glazed Steak (with Sour Cream and Onion Mashed Potatoes and Sesame Spinach)
Pros:  I found out that I like wilted baby spinach (so simple, so good!). The mashed potatoes were also simple and tasty.
Cons:  I don’t normally like soy sauce (saaaaaalty), but I hoped that adding the 2 tablespoons of sugar the recipe called for would help. The answer is no, I was not a big fan of the glaze. The steak was also cut really weird. It was almost three inches thick on one end and barely over one inch thick on the other end so it needed to be cooked a lot longer than what the recipe called for (otherwise we would have had rare steak and well done steak all in the same slab of meat), so that slowed things down a bit.

Overall, it is a fantastic service that has excellent quality, but it is not a grocery-replacement service. If you have the money, I would recommend trying it, but you could have all of these ingredients for less than the cost of the weekly subscription. We’ve decided to try another HelloFresh box to see if the quality is consistent. I’ll let you know how that goes in a couple weeks!

(Disclaimer:  I was not contacted by HelloFresh to do this review. I paid for the box myself and the opinions are my husband’s and mine.)

Your turn!

Have you tried HelloFresh before? If so, what are your thoughts?

Do you subscribe to any other subscription boxes? This was my first one!

Life Lately #1

I’m going to try something a little different on the blog called Life Lately.

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Really, its just a quick and easy way for me to let you know what I’ve been up to lately. Feel free to do this on your own blog if you like the idea.

1. As my dance instructor announced this week, we have only SIX MORE WEEKS until our final show. Gosh, even typing that made my heart beat faster. We’ve finished learning choreography for the two numbers that I am in, so we will be using the remaining weeks to polish things and practice the difficult parts over, and over, and over again. It is tedious, we get yelled at, and your buttons get pushed, but it is worth it to make the show run smoothly and the dances seem effortless.

 

2. I’ve felt burnt out from almost everything these days. How about you? I don’t feel refreshed with the start of the new year but more like I’m constantly running to catch up. This leaves me exhausted at the end of the day and not wanting to do much but be a blob on the couch and watch my YouTube subscriptions. I’m also pretty sure my Instagram followers are wondering why the hell I have an account in the first place. Believe me, I do too. I’m not a photophile by any means. I’m more in the moment when things are happening, and grabbing my phone to take a photo is one of the last things I think of. Maybe I should start creating to-do lists so I can feel like I actually accomplished something when I’m that exhausted blob at the end of the day.

3. I may not be a photophile, but I am definitely a musicphile! I have quite an eclectic taste in music, and when I find something I love I am quick to share it with others.

These are some songs I have recently saved on Spotify:

  • Saint Cecilia by Foo Fighters
  • How Did You Love by Shinedown
  • Good Thing by Fine Young Cannibals
  • Plus five songs by Kenny Rogers (I told you I had an eclectic taste in music)

4. Who else has been watching the current season of Sherlock? My husband and I have been watching it Sunday nights during Masterpiece on PBS. O.M.G. How good was The Lying Detective episode? It now ranks as one of my top favourite episodes! Last week, while planning where we will stay during our trip to London, I found a nice hotel only a few blocks west of where they film the exterior of 221B Baker Street (which is actually 187 North Gower Street). This has ramped up my excitement about our trip quite a bit, so I hope we can book it and maybe eat a few times at Speedy’s (which is an actual sandwich shop). Eeeeeeeeeeeee!

5. Along with dance, I’ve started Couch to 5k again. If you followed me this past summer on Instagram (when I was posting every day, har har), you may remember seeing a few photos where I shared my progress. Well, I got to Day 3 of Week 5 and kinda just stuck there. Yesterday, I finished Day 3 of Week 2 and I don’t feel challenged yet. YAY! I’m one of those oddballs that actually loves running on the treadmill as opposed to going outside and pounding the pavement. What helps get me through my runs is a good playlist. I will share my running playlist with you in a future post.

Your turn!

What have you been listening to lately? I’m always interested in others’ taste in music.

Have you ever been to London? If so, what did you enjoy the most? I’ve been on the London Eye during the day, but now I want to see what it is like at night.