Monday, 30 December 2013

Monday Musings: Reflections on our Two Biggest Milestones

Instead of sharing links with you today I wanted to reflect a little on the past year.  I don't normally do this kind of thing, but this past year has been filled with change, so I thought this might be rather timely.

First of all, as you know, my husband and I bought our first house.  Becoming new homeowners has its own set of challenges and firsts.  This change has allowed us to begin many of our sentences with "you know you're an adult when...".  For example, "you know you're an adult when you spend Friday and Saturday night at Home Depot."  "You know you're an adult when you look forward to the flyer delivery."  

So, not only have we spent far too much time getting to know each aisle of Home Depot, but we have also learned many things, like what thermostats are for, how expensive oil heat is, how to patch drywall and we met our forever plumber named Barney.  We have also learned that a house cannot be decorated in one, six or even 12 months.  It is taking way longer than we thought to get our house pulled together!  Thank goodness for Ikea and spray paint.

And if buying a house wasn't exciting enough, we adopted our little (currently 70 lbs and counting) furbaby Hugo.  He is the light of our life, we adore him and our world revolves around him.  "You know you're an adult when you spend Sunday afternoons at puppy school."  "You know you're an adult when you have to clean up crap off your kitchen walls."

He has made us more active - we now look forward to walks in the torrential rain, because we know it will tire him out.  We have actually met our neighbours and refer to them like so: Mimi's mom, Shaggy's dad. We have explored our neighbourhood in ways we had never done before.  For once, we dread silence, it means he is eating something he shouldn't, like socks, or ant raid, or kleenex, or plastic bags, or any other paper or plastic product, or the bath mat, or my coupons, or my dayplanner.  

He has made the holidays so much more exciting.  He is thrilled with the wrapping paper, the bags, the glitter and the food.  He is convinced every package is for him.  

He got jealous when the people were hogging the cheeseball, so he stole it - briefly, but he did put it back. He did the same with the Munchie Mix - he had a small victory there.  He got halfway on the table and licked the flour off of the prepared surface ready for the pie crust.  He licked faster when he saw his Nana coming.  He pooped out her plaid sock this weekend. She was looking everywhere for that sock.  

But, most of all, Hugo has turned our house into a home.  He makes us laugh all the time, even when we are trying to be mad.  He is beyond easy going, even when the bathtub leaked onto his head below.  He is a healthy eater and will eat everything from garlic to broccoli, from bananas to coconut oil, from carob to flour, everything except celery or mint.  He loves his sleep and allows us to sleep in.  He cuddles when he is exhausted, otherwise, he just wants to follow us and be in on the action.  He loves children and adults, men and women and other dogs.  He is convinced everyone is madly in love with him.  We certainly are!  

We are looking forward to 2014 as Hugo grows into what will likely be 130 lbs of goofy, lovable fun.  

Monday, 2 December 2013

Monday Musings: December is upon us

It is hard to believe that December is finally upon us.  I guess I can no longer avoid Christmas music or decorations now that we are less than three weeks until the big day.  My husband and I checked out our first Christmas-related events this past weekend, first, I swung by the Halifax Crafters market on Saturday where I picked up a few items from Emma Fitzgerald and Jane Rovers, swoon!  I first saw Emma's work at the Timeraiser event in Halifax - I bid on one of her pieces but, unfortunately, did not win.

Last night my husband and I headed downtown to St. Paul's Anglican Church where we were treated to Wassail - hosted by the Halifax Music Co-op.  The venue was quite magical on a dark, cold December evening.  The music was beautiful and energetic and finally put me in the Christmas mood.

So, the links I have for you tonight are not at all related to Christmas and have no common theme, but I hope you still find something worth reading.

Popsugar Fitness - Stuffed from too much stuffing?  Yoga poses to ease digestion

As you are all aware I am a huge yoga fan and someone who suffers from digestive issues.  I can attest to the validity of these claims and hope that when your special Christmas pants can no longer contain your holiday indulgences that you strike a pose.

Cookin' Canuck - How to Freeze Quinoa

After accidentally making about eight cups of quinoa I had no choice but to find a way to freeze this stuff. Her methods truly work and reheat no problem, so waste not!

Momma's Gone City - Hello, World

A few weeks ago Theo and Beau captured our hearts as photos of this adorable duo spread quickly across social media.  If you have not met these two you are in for a cuteness overload!  In this post blogger, Jessica, comments on the overwhelming response to the friendship between her two babies.

Run Like a Grl - Tips for Running in the Winter

Ever since I ran the MEC 5k at Shubie Park a few months ago I have been trying to get back into running.  I have been keeping things around 3k roughly three times a week to slowly build back my leg strength.  I have also been dragging the fur baby with me on these runs.  It is clear to me that Bernese Mountain Dogs were not born to run.  Hugo's technique includes lying down in the middle of the road and refusing to move.  Or only running for treats.  And only until you give him the treat. As the weather gets colder I am adding more and more layers to my running attire and dreaming of warmer days.  Although most of these tips are pretty straight forward, I would also agree that they are pretty bang on.  Especially thumb holes - these are essential!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Loving the Fitbit

I want to talk fitness gadgets, particularly the Fitbit Flex.  I was toying with the idea of purchasing a Fitbit, Nike Fuelband or a Jawbone for the longest time, but when my physiotherapist prompted me to try it as part of my treatment I decided to take the plunge.  So, I thought I would share my thoughts with you about the device.

What is it?
Fitbit is like a really jazzed up pedometer that tracks your steps, your active minutes, sleep and calories burned.  It can also track your food intake similar to MyFitnessPal.

Depending on the model it may do a little more or a little less - for example, I have the Fitbit Flex which I can wear in the shower, but some of the older models are not waterproof.  The new Fitbit Force can track how many stories you have climbed in a day (kicking myself for not waiting two weeks!).  To find out more about how the technology works click here.

As many of my regular readers may know I seem to be cursed with constant injuries, so much so that I am now working with a different physiotherapist who specializes in fibromyalgia.  We are still unsure as to whether or not I have fibro; I only meet the criteria when my body is "flared up" (ie. I have a random, inexplicable long-term injury).

In a nutshell, her approach is to find out what my current abilities are for various types of movements (ex. endurance, lifting, range of motion) and then come up with a game plan to increase my abilities in areas that I am having trouble.  The main idea behind it is to determine what I am doing vs. what I am actually capable of.  Insert Fitbit here.  She wants to get a sense of how much I am moving (her hunch is possibly too much).

Love it or hate it?
I love love love it!  My physiotherapist may have created a monster in recommending this to me.  I am completely obsessed with this tool.  The device allows you to set a daily step count goal that you can change at any time.  I set mine at 13,000 per day, which, when achieved, works out to be the equivalent of roughly 9-10km.

Not only does it track your daily stats, but it emails you a weekly report with your averages for sleep, distance, calories burned and step count.  I have been using this device for six weeks and my average step count is 11,385 (a little bit shy of where I want to be).  My highest daily step count was 20,960 - which was on Thanksgiving weekend (Canadian) when we hiked Cape Split with Hugo.  So I am now hell bent on beating that record!

Would I recommend?  Most def!

I would love to hear from those of you who currently use the Fitbit or another similar device.  Do you find it helps you reach your goals?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Monday Musings: Some DIY Finds

Check out my musings for the week, which all seem to be DIY-inspired.  Hope you enjoy!

Simplified Bee - Organizing With Labels
I loved looking at the organizational eye-candy in this post.  I also promptly printed off the Staples coupon and made my way to label heaven.  I picked up a few labels for Christmas basket items and the hair ties (just ordered some new colours! let me know if you want to order some).

Brit + Co - 17 Ways to Bring Your Instagrams to Life
Like many of you, I also heart Instagram.  In fact, you can normally find me showcasing my beautiful beast Hugo as he provides me with daily entertainment. In terms of this list, I can personally vouch for Casetagram, I used this for a puppy-related anniversary gift for my husband.   We were both thrilled with the result.  The service was quick and the product was beautiful!  I really want to try BumbleJaxCanvasPop and Coastermatic.

Clean My Space - DIY Natural Home Deodorizers and Air Fresheners
As a result of a puppy-related incident this past weekend, I had an urgent need to find a natural deodorizer. This post came to my rescue!  We tried out the gingerbread concoction and it was a raging success!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Tea Time

IBS and tea is a topic I have yet to cover on this blog.  It isn't a treatment many doctors will discuss with you, so I happened upon tea quite by accident.  To read more you may want to check out some other bloggers, most notably Dr. Barbara Bolen of

Let me start off by saying that I'm not a tea or coffee drinker in any normal sense of the word. Most gastroenterologists advise against caffeine and I stick to this by sheer accident because I hate the taste and it gets me so revved up I can't function.  I'm a water girl 99.99 % of the time.  In recent years I have taken to experimenting with herbal teas as a digestive aid and have had mild success.

What do I use herbal teas for?  If I feel bloated, gassy or like I need to use the washroom I may look to drink a tea. Sometimes a glass of hot water will help, but I tend to have more success with tea.  My faves are as follows:

1. Mint:  This can be a little controversial, especially for those of you who have GERD (I do!).  If you have GERD then it can exacerbate your symptoms, but I have learned how much I can handle without causing problems.  I tend to buy organic mint or spearmint tea - it has no added caffeine or green tea.  My preference is David's Tea, but I also like the Refresh Tea at Starbucks - but not at home as it is far too expensive!  I tend to buy 100g from David's Tea and it will last me several months.

2.  Detox tea: I have only just begun to explore this tea, also from David's, so am still getting used to it.  The flavour is a little overwhelming, but it does appear to help with digestion.

3.  Pu'erh tea: These teas have a long history in China of helping with weight and digestion.  I'm still acquiring a taste for this; I'm having trouble getting on-board with the flavour; however, know that it works really well.  My favourite way to drink it is with some mint tea thrown in their to mask the flavour.

You can also make your own tea using freshly grated ginger, to find out more take a look at this article on IBS from Best Health.  For other home remedies that may help your IBS, take a look at this article on Discovery.

Do you use any herbal remedies to help manage your IBS or to aid in digestion?

Monday, 11 November 2013

Monday Musings: From Eminem to Coady

Well hello November!  Are we really in November?  It would appear that it is essentially Christmas as it dawned on me while in Michael's that Christmas carols were being played over the stereo system.  Sigh. Which leads me into my links, only one of which has a Christmas reference - I promise!

It's Overflowing - Home Organization Ideas - November

With Christmas around the corner and our holiday party to plan for, it is very clear that we need to get our butts moving and get organizing.  I love how she organized her kitchen and know that I need to spend time reading about how to de-clutter.

From Fries to Fit - Homemade Protein Bars

Given my lack of carnivorous desire, I am constantly looking for ways to increase the amount of protein in my diet.  I can't say I'm a fan of store-bought protein bars except the Honey Stinger Protein Bars, which aren't too bad, but I always try to find ways to make things at home.  With that, my brother, and fellow blogger over at the Daly Dose On Sports came over to test out this protein bar recipe.  We also tried these from Oh She Glows - I have yet to find a dud recipe on her blog!  Both recipes were good; however, I found the pumpkin bars a little bland - but I think they could be jazzed up by adding raisins or some nuts.  As for the Oh She Glows squares?  They are a-maz-ing!  This is a must try recipe!

I wanted to give a shout out to the new Eminem album out this week; I have been listening and loving it. (Never had any doubt that I would adore it!).  Rolling Stone pens an article about the success of the album thus far.

Another shout out goes to Lynn Coady who won the Giller Prize for her collection of short stories Hellgoing. I have yet to read the collection but will definitely pick it up to see for the words that won it for my fellow Nova Scotian.  Maclean's points out the timing of the win, one month after Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize - where fiction is traditionally dominated by the novel. The Toronto Star also examines this feat and wonders about an increase in popularity for the short story.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Monday Musings: Week 11

Welcome back to Monday Musings.  I took a bit of a break as October got a little busy with Thanksgiving and then a road trip to Cape Breton for a friend's wedding at beautiful Cabot Links. We loved our time at the Links and hope that we can get back there next summer.  The rooms were lovely and clean and the food was outstanding.

While in Inverness we enjoyed the Dancing Goat Café for a gorgeous breakfast and take-away treats.  We also dined in the Cabot Bar and at Panorama (both at Cabot Links) for the wedding feast.  My husband's mind was blown by their Duck Poutine and I finally landed in heaven via this delectable chocolate cake!
Contrary to what you may assume from reading the above, we did take a few breaks from eating. As it is pretty much a crime not to hike the Cabot Trail if you are in Cape Breton in the fall, we made sure to fit two trails into our schedule.  Below are a few snapshots from the two trails we did - Franey and Skyline.

Below are my musings from the week, happy reading!

ViralNova - 18 Paintings You Won't Believe Aren't Photographs

I am truly amazed by anyone with artistic talent.  These are all beautiful, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Stonemuse - Make Your Own Calendar

I do not speak Danish, but I can figure out how to follow a link if it leads me to beautiful paper products, especially ones that can be customized and are organizational tools!  I wasted so much time and had so much fun on this website.  So tempted to order one, will have to see if they ship to Canada!

Jamie Magazine - Quiche Leekraine

My husband is starting a new job soon, which means we will finally be on a similar schedule! Hello sleep and normal meals!  We have begun planning out our meals and are trying to add in a few choices we wouldn't normally eat, so we are giving quiche a whirl tonight.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Monday Musings: Thanksgiving Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians and Columbus Day to my American readers.  My husband and I celebrated with my family last week, which allowed us to spend quality with our fur baby this weekend. We spent most of our time doing yard work and hiking Cape Split with our little mountain dog.
Hugo absolutely loved the trail despite his exhaustion by the end.  He saw tons of squirrels, dogs, people and two horses and left completely content and muddy.

This has been the perfect holiday weekend in Nova Scotia; the weather was ideal for spending the days outside.

Here are my links for you this week ...

Girl Versus Dough - Pumpkin Coconut Yogurt Waffles

I made these for breakfast today with some leftover pumpkin from last weekend.  I did change up the recipe a little bit (substituting some protein powder instead of flour, peach yogurt instead of coconut yogurt), but these turned out absolutely amazing.  My husband ate six.  Love, love, love - would highly recommend that you try these!

PopSugar - Post Work Yoga Sequence Designed for Desk Dwellers

I bookmarked this one straight away given that I spend far too much time chained to a desk.  This will be extremely useful to me and likely to most of you.

Sarah Fit - Healthy Halloween Candy You Can Buy

I have yet to investigate the availability of some of these in Canada, but I am hoping that some have made their way up here so I can eat candy and feel a tiny bit less guilty!

Happy reading!


Monday, 30 September 2013

Monday Musings: Week 9

Over the weekend I ran my first 5k - the Run or Dye event in Halifax, Nova Scotia at Ski Martock. It was a great first race as the focus was fun and no one was worrying about time.  I ran the whole thing, stopped a few times to stretch out my shin splints thanks to some of those hills, but aside from that I did great.  Of course, being me, I managed to twist my ankle within 30 seconds of our heat because of a pothole, but kept on running.
Pre-race dye-fun (I cannot take credit for this photo - thanks to my running buddy!)
The highlight was the little boy dressed up as Spider Man just cruising past everyone. He couldn't have been more than six years old, but was clearly loving life and bringing a smile to everyone he passed on the trail! The other highlight was a successful run free of IBS intervention - which was enough for a celebratory happy dance for me!

Hope you had a great weekend, here are this week's links ...

The Unworldly Travelers - 5 Reasons I Will Make Travel a Priority for My Kids

I absolutely love this post and agree with her wholeheartedly.  Thanks to my parents, I have been lucky enough to travel in Canada and the United States throughout my childhood.  In addition to our family trips, my parents also encouraged me to learn a second language - being Canadian I obviously learned French.   Because of this recommendation I completed two degrees in French and had the opportunity to study abroad in France where I met my American husband.  The decision to learn another language has impacted my life in so many positive ways and has instilled in me a desire to travel, to understand other cultures and to learn about culture through another language.  For this reason, I think number three on her list is my favourite and I know that these will be words to live by as I continue through life.

Everything A La Mode - Chocolate Covered Almonds

So, if I were to have an addiction, it would be chocolate (this may already be the case).  One of my favourite spots in Halifax is the Choco-Café - they carry a ton of beautiful chocolates in addition to their café menu. My favourites are the Almondos and the Rasberry Cheesecake - but honestly, I love them all.  They also have a discount for those who work in the area - score!  My most recent discovery there is their chocolate covered almonds - with cocoa dusting!  Absolutely delicious.  My only problem is that I go there far too often, so, the link I have for you today is something that you can do at home that may compare (minimally) to the wonders of the Choco-Café (if you are ever in Halifax - you must go).

A Well Traveled Woman - If Tomorrow Women Woke Up...

This is not necessarily a post, but rather, a nugget of wisdom.  I hope you enjoy.

Happy reading!


Monday, 23 September 2013

Monday Musings: Week 8

I have officially succumbed to the temptation.  I have had a gluten-filled weekend.  Honestly, I couldn't take it any more; I was dreaming of it, I was skipping meals because there was nothing I felt like eating unless it was filled with gluten.  I have had pizza, garlic fingers and baguette.  And they were all flipping-amazing.  How do I feel?  Honestly, my guts revolted on the weekend; however, I don't believe gluten is to blame.  This has been a weekend of indulgence that started with a Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire Friday night catch-up session, a great night turned fabulous thanks to our favourite pizza joint.  I broke at the thought of consuming a gluten-free pizza, I couldn't bring myself to do it.  So, I wildly ate cheesy dough with garlic and pineapple and tomato sauce  - and I loved it.  The weekend continued with Garlic Fest, drinks with friends and more melted cheese.

Oddly enough, today has been the calmest IBS day in recent memory.  The jury is still out as to whether or not gluten is to blame for some of my other symptoms (chronic pain, inflammation, etc.), but my suspicions suggest no.

So, away from my gluten tangent and back on topic - today's musings ...

Successful Blog - 5 (more) Apps That Make My Business Life Easier

I have been following Liz Strauss since I joined Twitter, I often find great posts on her blog and valuable content through her Twitter feed.  This particular post features useful apps for your professional life. Since reading this post I have been trying out Sunrise Calendar and 30/30.  I find myself putting more into the calendar just to see if those cute little icons pop up!

The Sartorialist - On the Street - Astor Place, New York

I joined Bloglovin' a few months back and have found tons of new-to-me blogs, this being one of them.  The clotheshorse in me is drawn to Scott Schuman's images.  This one I really loved, both for the outfit and for the story behind the woman.  This image left me wondering who she was talking to and whether or not she had any idea she was being photographed.

theKitchn (Apartment Therapy) - 5 Very Real, Very Sad Lunches from Sad Desk Lunch

This post is just plain hilarious - I could not believe some of these - mainly the fries and bourbon - lunch of champions!  This was my laugh of the day and hopefully yours!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Monday Musings: Week 7

This week's post got sidelined for a little bit thanks to the Houdini move my lovely fur baby pulled when I let him out to pee earlier this evening.  It ended with a chase scene (and an unindentified brown object flopping out of his mouth) through the woods, accompanied by expletives that I can only hope the neighbourhood children did not hear.  This was followed by an early departure on my part for my tea date and his early entry into his crate - no treat for him.  As I write this he is trying to eat the zipper on my jacket and all I can think about are the germs floating around his mouth from that unidentified brown object.
He's lucky he's cute!
So, to re-focus this post, I thought I would share a few successes and failures from my recent musings.  I tried two recipes from last week's Monday Musings - the Almond Snack Bars and the Brown Rice Cranberry Chews from The Brunette Bit.  The verdict?  I will definitely be making these again!  Of course, I had to alter them a little bit because I have a condition and cannot help but change perfectly good recipes.  I did give the Chocolate Avocado Pudding a whirl from week 2, but did not love it; however, not wanting to waste it I added it to my morning protein smoothie and it was a raging success!  

I also spray painted my Ikea Marius Stool a beautiful aqua colour - I wanted to use the hack I linked to on week 3 of this series, but could not find a round swing plate, so I just went colour crazy and am glad I did!

Gluten Free On A Shoestring - Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread

This link stems from my gluten-free experience thus far.  It centers around my desire to find a suitable bread substitute.  I have tried many, but they all end in stronger longings for a baguette.  I am completely weirded out by the flour substitutions in gluten-free bread and baking recipes - I have no interest in buying several different kinds of flour and combining them into some sort of mess that somewhat resembles bread - but really doesn't.  So, any baking I have done focuses on almond meal or something completely flour-free.  In the end, I just want to be able to find a way to eat a proper piece of garlic bread.  I really need garlic bread. Not quite sure how much longer I will stay on this, I have not noticed a difference in my IBS or my possible fibromyalgia.  For this reason, if I introduce it back in and there is no terrible reaction then I will be gluten all the way - bring on lovely, fluffy white bread.  Can you tell I have a slight fixation?

Manger - Market Days

Mimi pens a beautiful blog with stunning photographs that tell the tale of her life in Médoc, France. Not only does she have delicious-looking recipes, her posts about life in Médoc transport you into her world.  Personally, this made me long for Angers, France where I studied for a year and met my husband.  We have only been back once since, but dream of owning a home there and living the life eating fresh produce, drinking wine and generally basking in the French language and French culture.  Mimi was able to bring me there, if only for a few minutes.

Lifescoop - 5 Awesome Apps to Help Revamp Your Home Decor

We are currently obsessed with trying to pull the house together - fixing things and placing furniture, trying to figure out how to make it our own without spending a small fortune.  This article definitely caught my eye; it looks like there are a few in there that even my husband will use!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Monday Musings: Week 6

I am really exciting about the links this week.  There should be something for everyone, from education to fitness and of course, for the foodie.

The Brunette Bit - 5 Healthy Snack Recipes for Any Girl

I have been searching high and low for a recipe I used back in March.  It was a healthier version of rice crispie squares - they were so good that you really didn't miss the marshmallows!  So, after copious amounts of Google searching, I happened upon this post and think that her brown rice and cranberry chews are as close as I will find to that elusive recipe.  I cannot wait to test it out to see if it is similar.  I am also dreaming about those almond snack bars and the nut mix.  The good thing is - most of these are gluten-free!

Common Cents Mom - Get a Free Education at Some of the World's Best Schools

I absolutely love this blog and always find her posts quite useful.  I have always loved school, so much so that I haven't stopped taking classes, even after completing two degrees!  I am currently pursuing a diploma in public relations through Ryerson University.  So, the idea of taking classes from Harvard without the shock to my wallet - well, it got me really excited!

Bikini Body Mommy - Stretching, the Foam Roller, and Performing SMR

I am not overly familiar with this blog, but the author has been able to complete an incredible weight-loss transformation.  This blog is filled with daily workouts, recipes and personal accounts. The post I am sharing with you today is about foam rolling - I am sure many of you have a love-hate relationship with the foam roller (I certainly do!); however, it can be extremely beneficial.  For those of you who have not yet tried this, it can be really helpful.  This post shows a few good moves to target some of the more painful areas (IT bands! ouch!).

Monday, 2 September 2013

Monday Musings: Week 5

I have made a few changes over the past week that have affected some of my link selections below.  The first change is that I am giving a gluten-free diet a whirl.  I would love to see a day when I don't have to buy Costco-sized toilet paper, or a time when I don't have to see my massage therapist every two weeks without fail.  On Tuesday I will be one week gluten-free and I have to say - I am jonesing for some wheat like I have never jonesed before.  I am dreaming of a huge slab of white bread from Smith's Bakery with tons of melted butter and homemade jam and peanut butter. However, I have not yet broken, so will keep at this for a month to see if I notice any difference.

In addition, I am giving running another chance.  I have rebuilt the muscles in my legs with spin class three times a week over the past eight months or so and am aiming to do the Run or Dye 5k challenge at the end of September.  This will be the third race I have registered for, but I am hoping to not be injured for this one so that I can actually run.  I have done two runs this week, one of which was a treadmill run at slightly under 4k and another 5.5k pavement run.  I took precautionary measures and iced my knees after each run and have had luck so far.  Fingers crossed this will continue!

Popsugar - 400 Calorie Tush-Toning Interval Workout

In honour of the re-introduction of running into my life, I am aiming to tackle this workout later this week.

Centsational Girl - DIY Personalized Notecards

I have a great love for stationery.  I obsess over letterpress, lined envelopes, 100% cotton notecards, envelope seals, monograms and more.  I love the idea of being able to create a notecard to my own specifications.  For times when I feel the need to indulge, my go-to source is Erika Firm at Delphine - she is brilliant and her work is top-notch - particularly the letterpress.

Oh She Glows - Quick 'n Easy No-Bake Protein Bars

My cravings for wheat have me dreaming of not only bread, but pretty much any type of pastry or baked good.  This looks like a viable option that contains two of my non-wheat favourite things in life - peanut butter and chocolate!

Sprinkle of Glitter - Baby Glitter at 2 Years

This is just too cute for words, I had to add it in!  I love the "loves" section, it made me smile!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Monday Musings: Week 4

Shockingly, no chocolate reference or recipes this week.  Here are three must-see links for your reading pleasure...

Pancakes & French Fries - On Netflix

I love period dramas, so when I came across this post I was super excited.  I have been an avid Downton Abbey fan and studied historical fiction throughout my undergraduate and graduate degrees and have read my fair share of both good and bad historical fiction (for any francophiles out there, I highly recommend the Josephine B. Trilogy by Sandra Gulland).  I am particularly intrigued by Arn: The Knight Templar - the leading character looks an awful lot like Jax from Sons of Anarachy!  That is reason enough for me!

My Life With IBS - Embarrassed by IBS

This post was wonderful in its honesty and really reminded me of some of the main reasons I wanted to start this blog.  Recently Running from the Runs has consisted of a mixture of both IBS and non-IBS topics, but the intent remains the same, to get people talking about this condition and to provide a place for sufferers and non-sufferers to create a dialogue about something that impacts far more people than we all realize.  I love how she shares how her blog came to be:  "What if I just blogged about what's happening to me? What if I wrote everything I know about IBS in one spot so someone newly diagnosed with IBS has somewhere to start, someone who's on their side, and someone who knows what it feels like to have a broken body?" Reading her post was almost like reading my own thoughts - everything she said about having IBS - from being embarrassed, to that point where you no longer have the energy to hide it, from her desire to eat pizza, to her frustration with the condition and finally her desire to help people and make it easier for the next person who needs resources and who needs to feel that they are not alone.  

Popsugar Fitness - Whittle Your Waist and Tone Your Abs with Hoopnotica

For those of you who know me - you will probably laugh a little at this link.  I have a hula-hoop.  In my basement.  It is fuschia and blue.  Sometimes I hula-hoop when I watch TV - I really like multi-tasking.  I took a class once and loved it.  I have knocked many things over with my hula-hoop. My brother used the hula-hoop before that as a funnel.  I was really angry at the time; I arrived just as he cut it in half.  Luckily it was only the dollar store variety and not my current heavy-duty variety.  If you have not explored the wonders of this round piece of joy, you are missing out. It is hard work, but well worth it and far more interesting than crunches, weight training or the elliptical.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Travelling IBS Style

If you have any sort of digestive disorder, whether it is Crohn's, Colitis or IBS, you likely feel some degree of stress at the thought of travelling.  We have all encountered "close calls"; one of my most memorable close calls was while on my honeymooon in Antibes.  My husband and I had a lovely dinner, went for a walk along the boardwalk and then WHAM!  It hit me... that realization that I must find a washroom at all costs - before what I have always dreaded finally happened.

For anyone who has spent time in France or Europe, you realize that you cannot always walk into an establishment to use the washroom, you will likely have to buy something.  There are no Tim Hortons that you can slip into unnoticed.  There are no gas stations that you can discreetly duck into.  Europe has these public washrooms that are brilliant in their ability to self-clean - for those who are willing to pay, but, nevertheless, washrooms are not as widely available as they are in North America.  After extensive, frantic searching, I found such a washroom, during what is likely my closest encounter to date.  Thank goodness my husband is well-versed in my heightened level of panic and extreme erraticism when the runs come running.  Of course, upon discovering this washroom there was no toilet paper and no soap or sanitizer of any kind.  To add to this, you only have a certain amount of time to get in and out before it goes into clean mode.  This leads to complete and utter panic.

So, what did I do in this situation?  Being a veteran IBSer I carry the equivalent to the contents of a diaper bag with me at all times, especially when in a foreign country. In this vein, and in honour of my recent road trip to Cape Breton, I would like to share the contents of my emergency IBS kit.

First and foremost, the drug store is your best friend, especially the travel section.  Here you can find just the right size items for your carry-on or to fit in an overnight bag, or even your purse if you are out for a walk.

1.  Mini toilet paper roll:  I am in awe of the usefulness of this item.  I always pack one when travelling, or alternatively tissues if going on a short jaunt (think evening stroll or run).  This became essential last weekend when I had one of those emergencies and stumbled upon a washroom with no sign of toilet paper.  Not to worry, I had my handy-dandy mini roll in my purse, problem solved.

2.  Hand sanitizer:  if you have bowel issues you have definitely used some questionable toilets.  You reach a point where, in the right frame of mind, you will use absolutely any washroom available - be it the dirtiest gas station washroom, port-o-pottie, outhouse or the great outdoors.  I can personally attest to each and every one of these.  In these moments hand sanitizer is an absolute necessity.

3.  Vaseline/baby butt cream:  without going into too much detail - sometimes it hurts and these salves can help ease your pain.

4.  Baby powder or cornstarch:  similar to the products listed above, this can be helpful with pain management.

5.  Extra undies and panty liners:  in case that awful moment actually occurs, I always have stuff so I can quickly get cleaned up.  My theory is that if I prepare for the worst, I can hopefully avoid the worst.

6.  Baby wipes:  these can often be helpful and soothing and have a variety of uses.

7.  Purse hanger:  a friend gave one of these to me for my birthday a few years back.  I really had no idea how much I would use it, but I always carry this when I travel, for those bathrooms that you never wanted to step into and that you certainly do not want to bring with you (ie. germies).

Monday, 19 August 2013

Monday Musings: Week 3

After a glorious trip to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, I have finally caught up on my internet reading enough to share some links with you.

Winding our way through the Cape Breton Highlands
Travelzoo - 5 Outdoor Activities in Las Vegas

Unfortunately, I turn the big 3-0 in 2014, along with most of my friends and my lovely husband.  To forget about this milestone a few of us are planning to head for the Strip to take in some shows and maybe channel our inner Elvis and Priscilla to renew our wedding vows.  I found some great outdoor suggestions on this Travelzoo post, enough to balance out our other trip indulgences!

We are in love with Ikea.  Last year we roadtripped to Maine and Massachussetts to do what every Canadian loves - outlet shopping state-side.  My heart skips a beat whenever I think about how much cheaper it is to shop America style.  We hit up the outlets in Wrentham Village and heard about an Ikea somewhat close by and booked it straight there.  It was my first ever trip to Ikea and I was so overwhelmed we had to leave for a bite to eat so I could study the catalogue before going back for our big purchases.  Not too long ago we finally ordered a few more items - including four of the Marius stool.  I like the stool quite a lot, but feel the need to jazz it up a bit.  With this in mind I happened upon this hack and have found the inspiration for our impending DIY project- hopefully by the end of this weekend!  

I love smoothies.  The thing I love most about smoothies is how efficient they are - you can pack so many servings of fruit and vegetables in one receptacle!  I also love how you can cover so many food groups in a blender and how portable breakfast or a snack can become when you just pulverize everything!  When I saw this post I was doubtful about whether or not it would actually be healthy - I would probably leave out the added sweetener, but aside from that they look like a viable breakfast option - can't wait to try with the fresh local strawberries we have on-hand.  

Monday, 12 August 2013

Monday Musings: Week 2

I found it hard to pick my fave posts this week - there seems to be a recurring chocolate theme.  It was difficult to do, but I managed to narrow it down to only one chocolate item!

Eat Yourself Skinny - Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Many people tout the virtues of avocado and the versatility of this fruit, but, until I saw this post I didn't really consider cooking or baking with it.  I am now completely sold and anxious to give this recipe a whirl!

Tatertots & Jello - How to Upholster a Chair

My husband and I are trying to make our new house feel more like a home and constantly looking for ways to spruce it up.  I have been perusing thrift stores to find items like chairs, lamps and end tables to add finishing touches to our rooms.  Here's hoping we have some luck so that we can get our DIY on!

Brit + Co - 20 Beautiful Organizational Tools

Wherever I go I leave clutter in my wake, but, in my heart of hearts, I am an organizer.  Can you say - Martha Stewart's Staples collection?  In terms of this post, I can personally vouch for the Behance line, their products are wonderful, even my husband uses some of their smaller notebooks!  I am especially intrigued by some of the apps - I haven't been impressed with some of the other "list" apps out there and am hoping to find a winner with one of these.

Happy reading and don't forget to check me out on bloglovin' - seriously loving this site!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Monday Musings: Week 1

Like any blogger, there are a ton of blogs that I follow and many of these blogs have weekly reading recommendations that I look forward to above any other type of post.  These recommendations are where I hear about other fab blogs or where I find inspiration to try something new in the kitchen, take on a DIY project or try out that new exercise at the gym.

Now it is my turn to share my faves with you!  Stay tuned for a weekly list of awesome blogs and blog posts - posts will go up on Monday and capture the highlights of the previous week. I hope you will enjoy these as much as I do and that you will find inspiration in them as well.  In addition, please share any others with me in the comments section below.

Bite Size Wellness - Fave Things Friday: After Sun Care Products

This is an extremely timely post given that we are mid-summer and Halifax has been abnormally hot all season long.  This morning I had a meeting at a coffee shop, and, without thinking, I left the house without putting any sunscreen on.  Gasp!  I realize this may seem like no big deal, but, as a redhead, I have learned time and again how important it is to use this on a daily basis.  We sat outside because it was such a lovely, sunny morning; however, I stressed the whole time about how burnt I was likely becoming with each passing moment.  As soon as I came home I grabbed my Burt's Bees after sun with a sigh of relief.  Check out the link above for additional after sun recommendations.

Domestic Adventure - DIY Cornices

My husband and I have been picking away at decorating our new home.  We are not natural DIYers and are slowly figuring out how to do homeowner things - like patching holes in walls and installing light fixtures.  The post above is a couple of years old; however, my husband and I only recently had the opportunity to complete this project.  We did three valances and have a fourth one to complete.  It is shocking how something so simple can really spruce up a room.

Ambitious Kitchen - Flourless Chocolate Chip Zucchini Oat Brownies

Take one look at the photos of these brownies and you will immediately start to drool.  This is on my "must try" recipe list.  I am a chocoholic who is on a constant hunt to find a healthier way to consume it - I think this might do the trick!

Happy reading and don't forget to check me out on bloglovin'!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Should You Really Eat What You Want?

Anyone who has a digestive disorder likely spends an obscene amount of time fixating on food.  You either spend your time trying to determine your triggers or finding a way to avoid these triggers.  Sometimes you just want to throw caution to the wind and eat corn on the cob on a work night! I heard from one blogger recently who loves theatre popcorn, but pays for it each time she eats it.  Like many of us, she still goes back for more, but laments her decision soon after the movie!

For me the issue is pizza.  I cut out frozen pizza about three years ago and have never missed it. However, I have been reluctant to put take-out pizza on my do not eat list.  Recently, I realized that I have no choice. After a horrible reaction that ended with magic bags, heating pads, digestive enzymes, ginger ale, Advil and the fetal position, I realized I never wanted to experience that again. For this reason, I was compelled to take drastic measures to keep my pizza longings at bay:
This beauty has been attached to the fridge for several weeks now and every time I look at it I pause.  It helps to remind me of my last reaction and boosts my self-control just a little.  I have learned the hard way that it really isn't worth the inevitable reaction.  This is not to say that I never deviate, because I most certainly do, but, some reactions are worse than others and often not worth testing the waters.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Beat the Heat with these Healthy Summer Recipes

July has arrived in full force with 30 degree (celsius) weather for days on end, which is normally unheard of in Nova Scotia this early in the summer.  The fur baby and I have been close to melting for the last several days and have not strayed far from the fans.
Hugo and his cousin Winnie staying cool in the basement
As a result, I have not had the heart to use the oven - so, hello barbecue and summer salads! With this in mind, today's post is an homage to summer fare and all things fresh and cool.

First and foremost, my husband and I love to cook and to eat, to this end we have planted one heck of an herb garden including: sage, mint, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, dill, lavender, basil and parsley.

I have a not-so-small obsession with basil and parsley and tend to incorporate these two herbs into almost everything I cook.  I have been trying to ensure that none of it goes to waste, so my first "recipe" for you is really more of an idea of what you can do with the extra herbs left over from your garden or from seasoning your dinner.

Garden Herb Cubes
- Any amount of leftover herbs
- Olive oil
- Garlic
* Other ingredients could include: green onion, cilantro and Parmesan - to name but a few.

Take all of the ingredients listed above and pulse in a food processor.  I would recommend eye-balling the olive oil so that you can determine your desired consistency.  Transfer the mixture into ice cube trays, freeze and you are done.  So simple!  

These cubes will be ready to use for a variety of dishes.  We used ours for grilled zucchini and shrimp, salad croutons and a chicken marinade.

This second recipe was inspired by a post on the Kitchn (if you have never checked out Apartment Therapy then you are missing out!) that I have been thinking about for quite awhile.  It also arose out of necessity given the weather and the copious amounts of frozen treats my husband and I were ingesting (including the ice cream bar milkshake incident - spiked with Godiva) - none of which are recommended for someone who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome.  I felt compelled to find a healthier alternative to my ice cream stupour!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana "Ice Cream"
- 2 bananas (sliced and frozen)
- 3 tbs of natural peanut butter
- Chocolate chips

Take the bananas and pulse in the food processor until it reaches a soft serve-like consistency. Add the peanut butter and mix, followed by the chocolate chips.  Place the "ice cream" in a container in the freezer until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

I hope these quick and easy recipes inspire you to create fabulous summer meals.  Be sure to share your faves in the comments section below!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

4 Resources to Help Manage Your IBS

Last month I had the opportunity to work with the creator of IBS Impact – a blog and website run by and for those with IBS.  I wrote an article for their blog about Canadian IBS resources and certainly hope to contribute to the site again.  In an effort to ensure that my readers don’t miss out on some of this information, I wanted to share some of the highlights with you.  If you are not Canadian – don’t fret!  You will likely still find a gem or two in here that will help you in your IBS journey.

Did you know that approximately five million Canadians now suffer from IBS?  If you are reading this blog, you are likely one of them.  Are you constantly looking for credible resources that can help you cope with the reality of unruly bowels?  Check out the sources below for a few that I would recommend:

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation (CDHF): The CDHF has created a free app compatible on both iPhone and Android called GI BodyGuard.  This app will track your bowel patterns, your pain level, food, medication and other symptoms.  If you suspect you may have a bowel condition, you may want to consider using this app before you see a physician so that you can show your GP exactly what you are experiencing.  I certainly wish this had been available when my symptoms first started! 

Canadian Society of Intestinal Research:  I am not a pamphlet-lover and find that the information available in them is often obvious; however, I would recommend taking advantage of the free pamphlet-mailing service available for a multitude of digestive conditions.  The information available in these was actually pretty great and would be an excellent starting point for someone newly-diagnosed or perhaps for someone trying to determine if they have a certain digestive condition. 

Capital District Health Authority (Nova Scotia):  Through the Nutrition Education Clinic in Halifax and Dartmouth, the CDHA offers an Irritable Bowel Syndrome Program.   After a referral from your GP, patients can take part in one of the regularly scheduled classes where you interact with other sufferers and a nutritionist to learn how to manage your symptoms through nutrition. If you have any questions I would recommend calling the number available on their website – I called to inquire about the program when researching my article for IBS Impact and they were extremely helpful. 

Can’t Wait:  In this technology-crazed world, I cannot help but include another app recommendation!  The Can’t Wait app (developed by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada) is your key to finding the closest washroom when you feel as if… well – as if you can’t wait!  Using your phone’s GPS, this app will generate a list of the closest public washrooms so that you can stop panicking and get on with your day.  The only drawback is that it is not 100% accurate – I did test it from my home and it did not identify the washroom that was actually the closest; however, if you were in a downtown core I believe it would be more accurate than in a rural setting.    

Now, I know there are likely many resources that are not covered above, so my question to you is – what is the most useful resource you have stumbled across to manage your digestive disorder?  I would love to compile a list and I am certain your fellow readers would be appreciative if you would share your go-to source for support, information or for symptom management.   

Monday, 10 June 2013

Exploring Pup-Friendly Places

Since getting our fur baby, Hugo, my husband and I have not only been initiated into the sub-culture of dog-ownership, but our lives are slowly beginning to center around "cool places" for Hugo to go for a walk and/or play.  Most of my evenings are spent shoveling down some food followed by a jaunt with the baby that will hopefully tire him out long enough for me to work on the blog (as you can see, that is going really well!), homework, writing about IBS or housework.  I have stopped thinking about what I want to do and imagine what is going on in his little brain and think - would Hugo like this?  And how could I not - he is just so damn cute!

In this vein, I have found a few of those "cool places".  These discoveries occurred out of necessity as I quickly realized that Hugo is too stubborn and too nosy to walk up and down our street.  He wants to stop and watch everything - that leaf blowing by, that car pulling out of the driveway, that bird flying in the air, those people shutting their curtains - Hugo is now the neighbourhood watch.

As endearing as this can sometimes be, it drives me nuts.  I am not one for standing around, I like to move and at a good clip.  Hugo has not yet adopted this habit of mine.  So, I was forced to be creative - I took him over to Hail Pond, a little trail around a pond that I never want him to swim in.  He doesn't do too badly there, you have to drag him the first half of the way, armed with treats and a black heart that will allow you to ignore his fake choking dramatics.  But, once he reaches that invisible halfway point he books it.

Now that he has been doing Hail Pond for awhile, we have added another spot into our routine - Hemlock Ravine Park.  This park is all charm, especially given the story behind the heart-shaped pond.

Hugo loves it here - this is where he met his friend Axel, the Bernese therapy dog.  They became fast friends and I had a glimpse of Hugo's future size - he will likely outweigh Axel!

I let him off leash here and we are working to ensure he sticks close to me.  He does pretty well; he likes to do short bursts of galloping - perhaps he is imagining himself frolicking in the Swiss Alps, the land of his ancestors!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Who Am I?

Welcome to Running From the Runs.  If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or have ever experienced a bout of food poisoning or the flu, you can likely relate to this blog and find humour in the awkward and uncomfortable world of digestive problems.

Who am I?  

Well, first and foremost, I am a redhead and readily acknowledge that this is an integral part of my identity.  As a redhead I have endured many a joke – both of the unsavoury and predictable variety, but have come to love this feature in spite of what others may say.  As a redhead I am fierce, fiery, passionate and sensitive in all the ways this can be interpreted.  In addition to the hair, I am a proud Nova Scotian currently living in Halifax with my American husband (who I met in France).  I have a great love for French language and French culture and adore travelling in Europe – however, not often enough! 

What can you learn by reading my blog?  Well, you can learn about functioning normally while managing your IBS.  You will often leave smiling, or even better, laughing at some of the situations I have encountered as a result of IBS. 

Is this blog only about IBS?  No – definitely not!  A key component of this blog is to create a space where IBS-sufferers can learn something and find a safe haven in the knowledge that there are other people out there experiencing similar issues.  However, not everyone wants to talk about butts all day long, including me; therefore, this blog is also a health and wellness blog where I will focus on other aspects of health including: making healthy choices in the kitchen, various forms of exercise, stress management and also my fur baby Hugo

What else?  As some of you who have been reading for awhile will likely know, I am extremely injury-prone.  This blog started off as a challenge to try to manage my IBS while learning how to run … until I did a number on the vast majority of my lower body; I have been icing, x-raying, massaging, foam rolling and generally making the rounds of any medical practitioner that will see me.  I had moved on from running to spinning, until I managed to injure myself doing that, too!  For now I am sticking to tame exercise including yoga, recumbent bike, elliptical, walking and swimming. 

In other news, I love reading and you will often note references to Miss Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With the Wind fame.  My iPod is packed with Bon Jovi, Ben Harper, Eminem, Mumford and Sons and Roxette.  My day job includes working as a public servant and part-time as a Justice of the Peace marrying people.  In between that I freelance write and guest blog whenever I have the opportunity.  Not too long ago I decided that my BA and MA in French were not enough and am now pursuing studies in public relations.  I can safely say I am never bored!   

I hope you enjoy reading my blog – please feel free to comment and to question.  I take great pleasure in hearing your feedback and hope that for those with IBS, that this helps you in some way.  It is high time we stopped hiding behind the bathroom stall and talked to each other. 

Please contact me here about any questions relating to freelance writing or guest blogging.

Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram

Happy reading!


Saturday, 4 May 2013

Bringing Home the Baby ...

Last week my husband and I had the great pleasure of adopting our first puppy - an eight-week-old Bernese Mountain Dog named Hugo.
Hugo's arrival home
Needless to say, our life changed pretty quickly.  This became crystal clear when in the middle of the night, my husband sat up in bed, looked at me and said ... "go get the ball" ... and rolled over and went back to sleep.

My conversations this week have sounded like this "have a pee", "have a pee on the grass", "no peeing in the house", "no biting", "be gentle", "have a poop", "no! don't poop there!", "come out from under the deck" and "good boy, Hugo, Mommy loves you!".  If I were my neighbour I would lose my mind if I heard any more about peeing in the grass.

Our little goof, into everything! 

Loving the "wilderness" in our backyard
It has been really fun watching him learn so much in only one week.  He has learned to come and to sit - we are still working on lie down.  He has learned to climb stairs, to ride in the car, to wrestle with his new friend Leo the poodle, to sleep in his crate, to work the room at a party, to be "gentle" (lick instead of bite) and he is slowly learning to go for a walk.
Hugo's first solo car ride
My husband and I are having great fun raising our little pup and have spent the vast majority of the week in our backyard or at the soccer field across the street.  I have not been up this early consistently since my days of lifeguardiing - 5:30 am on Friday morning running around the field with him, and I enjoyed it!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Take. These. Drugs.

A friend of mine has a family member who was recently diagnosed with IBS.  Upon hearing this story, I felt slightly shocked, disappointed and outraged about the treatment this person received. Is it not common practice to talk about treatment and coping options before writing a prescription? Apparently not, and even worse, this was the first and only option offered to this patient.  No referral to a dietitian, no suggestion to food journal, no reference to common trigger foods and no recommended literature.  Just: Take. These. Drugs.


Is this really the first course of treatment for a digestive disorder that is closely linked to what, when and how we eat?  What about a referral to the Nutrition Education Clinic's IBS program offered by two hospitals within the Capital District Health Authority?  What about emphasizing the importance of stress management and the role it plays in our lives?  What about telling the patient that they can regain some control, and indeed should take control, by determining trigger foods, by finding an outlet, by exercising and by getting enough sleep.  Patients will still experience episodes and have times where they feel helpless, but the first option should not be medication. Can this really be considered a long-term solution if other avenues have not been explored?  If so, what does this say about the Canadian health care system?  Why don't we mask the symptoms without trying to find out what is exacerbating the problem?

Thursday, 4 April 2013

IBS Awareness Month

Last week I participated in the Forum for Young Canadians for a second year in a row.  As I learned last year, it is an awesome program where Canada's brightest students gather to learn about politics and government.  One could say that I learned a lot about these topics throughout my week, but some of my personal lessons-learned were from one-on-one interaction with my students.

There is one moment that stands out for me both as an IBS sufferer, advocate and blogger and I feel compelled to share it with you.  A student came up to me one morning just prior to the start of our jam-packed day.  She was very upset and visibly stressed - the reason?  She has IBS and was worried that walking to the day's activities would trigger an unwelcome washroom visit.  We were able to find a solution for her through a taxi, which allowed her to attend the sessions but not have the additional worry about whether or not she could make it without visiting the loo.  The problem was, I automatically asked the following question: "would you like me to tell the group that you are running behind and will meet us there"?  Her response was to let the group know what was happening.

Shame on me.  As soon as she responded I felt both ashamed of myself and overwhelmingly proud of her.  For all my talk about being honest and not hiding my illness, my automatic response was to create a lie so that everyone would think she was tardy instead.  At almost half my age, my student did not feel the need to hide behind excuses, she recognizes that this is her reality and she faces it head-on.  I found her to be extremely inspiring.  She has achieved at a very young age what I can only hope to accomplish through working diligently via this blog and through my social interactions, the difference being that the truth came naturally to her and I have learned over the years that this condition is something to hide.

Given that this is IBS Awareness Month, for those of you who suffer with IBS, learn from her example by exuding confidence and not apologizing or making excuses for something you cannot control.