Thursday, 28 April 2011


 I bought a bunch of tulips a few days ago. They're still looking great! Thanks to my mom for the great 'tulip' vase that she brought back for me after one of her many trips...

Monday, 25 April 2011

Leslie Beck reveals the top five diet blunders that could be keeping you from losing weight.

Last week on Canada AM Leslie Beck talked about eating mistakes we can make when we are dieting.

Here is her column from the show.

Leslie Beck, Canada AM nutrition expert
Date: Wednesday Apr. 20, 2011 8:21 AM ET

It's a common scenario: you're eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly but the bathroom scale won't budge. Here's the good news: the problem usually isn't a slow metabolism, genetics or your thyroid. Instead, these five common diet mistakes may be keeping the pounds on.

Blunder 1: Eating "healthy" portions of healthy foods
Sure, grilled salmon is better for you than a juicy, marbled steak. But that doesn't mean you should eat a 10 ounce portion of it. Even though it's packed with heart healthy omega-3 fats, 10 ounces of salmon has 583 calories (the same number of calories found in 10 ounces of sirloin steak). Keep your portion size of cooked meat, poultry and fish to three to six ounces at meals.

And yes, skim milk is a nutritious, fat free beverage but it still has calories. Instead of drinking two 12 ounce glasses with dinner, limit yourself to an 8 ounce serving. Drink water if you're still thirsty. Doing so will save you 165 calories.

Blunder 2: Thinking fruit and vegetables are "free" foods
Produce is one of the best sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. That's why we're told to get seven to 10 servings, combined, each day. Even so, if you want to lose weight you can't eat all the fruit and vegetables you want.

Consider that peas (1/2 cup = 62 calories) and potatoes (1/2 cup = 68 calories) are higher in calories than vegetables that have a higher water content like broccoli (22 calories) and green beans (27 calories). And a medium sized fruit has anywhere from 70 to 100 calories because it's contains natural sugar.

Fill up on low calorie, water-rich vegetables such as leafy greens, zucchini, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower. Aim for four to five servings per day. Keep your fruit intake to three servings per day.

Blunder 2: Going crazy with condiments
That seemingly innocent squirt (or two) of ketchup, brush of barbecue sauce, or slather of peanut butter may not be as harmless as you think -- especially if you use condiments to flavour most of your meals. These add up at often 50 to 100 calories per tablespoon.

Lower calorie alternatives include salsa, hot sauce, mustard, hummus and fat-reduced mayonnaise. When you do use higher calorie condiments, use them wisely. Read nutrition labels to learn calories per serving.
Sugars can sneak in too. Maple syrup on oatmeal, sugar in coffee and honey in tea can add up over the course of a day. Per tablespoon you'll find 52 calories in maple syrup, 64 calories in honey, and 50 calories in sugar. If you can't give up added sugars, cut back. Use only one teaspoon of sweetener on your cereal and in coffee and tea.

Blunder 4: Sprucing up the salad
What starts out low in calories -- lettuce, tomato, cucumber, mushrooms -- can turn into more than a meal if you're not careful. Add-ins like cheese, nuts, avocado, and dried cranberries add flavour but at a cost: plenty of calories. Once you account for the dressing, a small side of greens can pack in as many as 600 calories.
Keep salads simple: stick with leafy greens and vegetables. For main course salads, top with chicken breast, tuna, salmon or beans (e.g. chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils).

Vinaigrette dressings often have fewer calories than creamy ones, but they're still oil-based. And at 120 calories per tablespoon of oil, it's wise to use a measuring spoon to dress your salad.

Blunder 5: Eating like an athlete
It's easy to justify eating a larger portion or an extra dessert because you're working out four days a week. Surely you're burning those calories off. But if you eat more food your weight will hold steady instead of drop.

Another common mistake: overeating protein because your strength training. It is true that exercise increases protein requirements. But most people, athletes included, can get what they need from diet alone. If you're already getting the calories you need -- and I suspect you are if you're not losing weight -- excess protein from a steady intake of protein shakes and protein bars will be tucked away as fat

Leslie Beck: Canada AM

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Step Update

Click on the picture to find the picture source
Did you know that 5,000 steps = 1 mile?

I've recently managed to walk for about 45 minutes every morning. I walk fast enough to get my heart rate up and it's been a great start to my day.

I've also put a tracker on this site....If I put in 2,500,000 steps, I'll have walked 500 miles. It's a good goal and I'm having fun.

Where are you walking today?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Invisible Children

Have you heard about the three young men in college who decided to travel to Uganda to have an adventure? They arrived to discover need and war and a purpose that has become their lives.

Their trip resulted in the organization of Invisible Children. They call it Invisible children in honour of those children who are often referred to as Night Walkers. They walk at night and hide to sleep so that they will not be kidnapped.
Since 2003, Invisible Children has worked to end Africa's longest running war and help rebuild what has been lost. Your donation today will help us build the region's first rehabilitation center, implement an early warning security network and support our international campaign to arrest Joseph Kony, rescue his child soldiers and bring peace after 25 years of war.
Take a look at this video:

Invisible Children: WHO WE ARE from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.
These young men have raised money to rebuild schools, provide mentors to children who had been kidnapped by rebel forces and forced to fight in a war they never chose.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Top Chef Canada

I've mentioned before that I like food shows. This past week Top Chef Canada debuted. It was fun to watch the chefs meat their first challenges of fileting fish and peeling artichokes!

I've never watched the series, so I don't know how it will all play out, but I enjoyed the first show with its large number of chefs means that there are a number of quick fire challenges to see their talent and weed out the weaker ones. They have tasks to complete in unbelievable time frames, and they come up with such creative dishes.

It's not a health food show, so it's unlikely I'll learn about any dishes I'd like to recreate, but it is a really it is a really interesting art to observe.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Exploding Houses and Fires...and perspective.

This weekend, not far from my house, there was a house fire that started in the furnace room. 24 hours later the house next door exploded...from a gas leak. The explosion took the roof off of the house, sending its two occupants to hospital, and starting two other houses on fire. A few hours later, a couple of blocks away another house started on fire.

We were woken by the fire truck and police sirens, and when I went for my morning walk the streets were blocked off and there was a whole fleet of ambulances, fire trucks and police cars lining the street.

A few years ago our neighbours' house burned down. It was this time of year and the middle of the night. The neighbours had to have their house gutted and rebuilt before they could move back in. It took almost 6 months.

Today's events meant that 36 homes were evacuated for more than 12 hours. In spite of that, I am sure they are relieved that this was the extent of their inconvenience. The families whose houses were affected by the explosion and fires will feel the repercussions of the last 24 hours for months to come.
Leader Post
REGINA — When Eunice Polasek was first awakened early Monday morning, it was to what she initially thought was the sound of thunder.

She went back to sleep, but was startled awake minutes later by her frantically ringing doorbell. When she and her houseguest went to answer the door, her female neighbour from across the street literally fell into her arms.
Across the road, John and Helen Neiles' house was engulfed in flames following an explosion. Later that morning, nothing was left of the home but a pile of debris.
"She was obviously distraught and she was injured," Polasek said about her first observations of Helen, her neighbour of about 40 years. "There were signs of burns on her clothes and that sort of thing, but we got her into the house and went to get help . . .
"She was able to say that there was an explosion, that she had ended up in the backyard. I asked her about her husband and then she said he was OK . . . (She said) she was blown out. They were in bed and that's where she ended up was out the back of the house."
Regina Fire Department spokeswoman Angela Prawzick said emergency crews responded at 4:31 a.m. Monday to 9-1-1 calls reporting an explosion and a fire at 1004 Shannon Rd.
"By the time our crews arrived on scene — and they were on scene within about three minutes — they encountered very heavy fire conditions in the home," she said. "Basically the home was what we call fully involved. It was full of fire."

The couple was treated at the scene by EMS and then taken to hospital. It's believed the injuries to John — a retired educator from Balfour Collegiate after whom the school's gym is named — were minor, while Helen was taken to hospital in serious condition.

Meanwhile, the fire had also spread to the two houses flanking 1004 Shannon Rd. Prawzick said the home at 1008 Shannon Rd. sustained fire damage in the attic area, though fire crews were able to keep it from spreading to the rest of the house. The other house, 1000 Shannon Rd., didn't experience as much damage — which was just as well, because it was the scene of a house fire almost exactly one day prior at 5:19 a.m. Sunday.

"It was a basement fire . . . ," Prawzick said of the Sunday incident. "There were four people in this home at the time of this fire. All four escaped from the home. One person, an adult male, did sustain burn injuries to his hands. This family was helped by the family that, 24 hours later, experienced an explosion in their home."

Yet another house fire was reported in the immediate area at about 5:45 a.m. Monday — this one at 27 Norris Rd., just a short walk away. There was one person home, but he was able to escape safely, Prawzick said. The fire in that house was in the basement area, where extensive fire damage was reported. The rest of the home sustained smoke damage.

Homes on Woodlawn Place, Norris Road and parts of Shannon Road were initially evacuated, leaving about 60 people temporarily on the street or on buses that were provided for shelter. Later in the morning, residents on other parts of Shannon Road — some directly across the street from the exploded house — were also asked to leave. In all, at least 62 homes were evacuated.

SaskEnergy took readings throughout the day inside and outside every house in the area, as well as in the sewer lines and catch basins. When the situation was deemed safe and readings showed no presence of natural gas anywhere in the area, power and gas was restored. Residents were allowed to return to their homes at about 3 p.m.

The fires in the Whitmore Park area are now being investigated. Prawzick said fire investigators will look into whether there's a connection between the fires as well as what caused them.

During the day, the entire area was crawling with firefighters, fire investigators, city police and employees from SaskEnergy and SaskPower. Also on hand was a crew from The Salvation Army's Community Response Unit.

Capt. Terri Wallace said she and her colleagues arrived at about 7 a.m. to serve drinks and snacks to area residents and emergency workers, as well as to provide a supportive ear for affected residents.

"One of the things we are doing is just listening to people share their stories," she said. "It could be anything. It's just people need to talk."

Some area residents said they were literally shaken awake by the blast.

"We thought it was a propane tank that blew up because that was just so loud," said Krystle Ruzicka who lives on the other side of Shannon Road. "And the house kind of shook . . . I thought half the city blew up. It was loud."

Meanwhile Talia Wainwright, visiting her mother on Shannon Road, was also startled awake by the sound of the explosion.
"I thought something actually came through the window," she said. "I jumped up right away, my cats took off and I turned and looked outside and all you could see was flames shooting out everywhere. But I thought our house exploded, that's how bad you could feel it."

Some area residents said they were nervous about the idea of returning home with several fires having occurred in the area within such a small space of time.

"It's kind of scary because we don't know really what's causing it all," said Sharon Wainwright, Talia's mother.

Others were pleased to receive the go-ahead to return home.

"I'm absolutely fine with (going back into my house)," said Woodlawn Place resident John Moran. "I have no problem whatsoever because I know that they would have taken care of any liability issue."

As Wayne Billingsley was going back into his house, he wasn't afraid of any potential problems.

"Not with them doing a check and lighting the furnace and fireplaces," said Billingsley. "They've checked the lines ... We're glad to get back to the house."

Meanwhile, thoughts are going out to the Neileses.
"They are beautiful people," Moran said of his neighbours. "I just hope no harm has come to them. To rebuild what they had — I would help however way I could."
Balfour athletic director Glen Fekula described John as "an outstanding individual and an outstanding leader."
"He and his wife, Helen, often return to the gym and continue to support Balfour," he said. "They're a very nice couple and they've offered continued support for Balfour in every way. I wish them well and hope they're all right."
Polasek said the couple have family in Regina and a good support system.
"Hopefully, she'll be fine," she said. "Amazing, absolutely amazing that it wasn't a bigger tragedy than what it was.
Some area residents said they'd smelled what they thought was natural gas in the days leading up to the explosion while others said they hadn't. SaskEnergy is reminding people that if they believe they smell natural gas — similar to the smell of rotten eggs — that they report it immediately by calling SaskEnergy at 1-888-7000-GAS.
-with files from Barb Pacholik, Taylor Shire, Karin Yeske and Rob Vanstone
Read more:

Glad to be ok.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Undercover Boss

I really enjoy watching the show, Undercover Boss. I haven't caught every episode, but the stories and the experiences of the employees are often eye opening.

Often our decisions are about making our own lives easier. At work, our decisions often follow that same pattern....the path of least resistance, or making our own lives easier. What we don't realize is that our decisions also have an impact on others....impacts we are not often aware of.

In this show, bosses of big corporations literally go under disguise to work within their own companies as front-line employees. Often as these bosses work in the various areas they discover problems within the workplace. Some problems are a result of decisions they have actually made in their boardrooms, other problems are ones that they've never been aware of.

I think that even if bosses aren't running multi-million dollar companies and even if their front-line employees would recognize them, so they can't go undercover, there are decisions that they make that really do affect their employees, decisions that seem simple, but have frustrating and sometimes difficult consequences for employees.
Undercover Boss is a television franchise series that has been released in multiple countries, originating in 2009 on the British Channel 4 as a series of the same name. The show’s format is based on a senior executive of a company working undercover in their own firm to inv.estigate how the company really works and identify how it can be improved, as well as rewarding the hard working staff. Wikipedia

Friday, 8 April 2011

Tulips, Daffodils, Crocuses

What's your favourite?

In many parts of the country the tulips are already in bloom. We won't see any for awhile, but I can hardly wait.

Spring and summer, the seasons of so many flowers.
The tulips, daffodils and crocuses will last for only a short time, but I'm getting ready to enjoy them!

Come on Spring!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Let's talk about weather

We've had a very long winter, more snow and, therefore clouds, than usual. Winter in Saskatchewan has never been off putting for me. Certainly I welcome the spring thaw and tulips like anyone else, but during the winter months, I generally find my days more than tolerable. I love walking in the crisp winter snow, breathing in the cool clean air. I enjoy the sun on my face, even when it isn't doingn much warming. 

Most winters we have less snow and far more sun throughout most of the winter months. This is the first winter I can honestly say I've felt those winter blues people talk about. We've had more sun the last few days than we've had for awhile. I can't believe how much more energy I have, how much more positive I am, and how my spirits are generally uplifted.

I  don't believe I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I have had a bit of a taste of what it must be like.
When I was doing some research on this I found that the statistics suggested about 2% of the North American population were thought to have SAD in 2000, and this percentage has increased to the over 10% now cited in more recent studies.

Why am I interested in this? Because, as I write this (a few days before I post this) we have more snow....again as we sit at about 10 degrees below normal, with snow falling, and the never ending snow banks still waiting to thaw. That winter I have written about and enjoyed needs to go into its own hibernation for the summer.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Although there is no specific diagnostic test for the illness, it is understood that symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include tiredness, fatigue, depression, crying spells, irritability, trouble concentrating, body aches, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, decreased activity level, and overeating, especially of carbohydrates, with associated weight gain. When the condition presents in the summer, the symptoms are more commonly insomnia, poor appetite, and weight loss, in addition to irritability, difficulty concentrating, and crying spells. In severe instances, seasonal affective disorder can be associated with thoughts of suicide. 

What causes seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder seems to develop from inadequate bright light during the winter months. Researchers have found that bright light changes the chemicals in the brain. Exactly how this occurs and the details of its effects are being studied. While those specific mechanisms remain undetermined, factors like low vitamin D levels in the blood are found to be associated with a higher occurrence of seasonal affective disorder and some other depressive

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Book Covers

Homemade book with flap bindings
Last weekend I spent some time with a friend learning more about book binding. The results of my weekend included three new books on which I experimented with new bindings.

One book uses a type of tab to connect the sewn signatures to the cover. This book also has a wrap around cover, which I always love. I made two books using the same cover materials. They are pictured here.

The spine of the book

Another tab book using the same materials

Another book I am experimenting with is one that has the signatures sewn right into the cover. It took awhile to figure out the wasn't difficult to sew, I just hadn't made one before. I do like the bead details on the spine. This book also makes use of some deer hide. It was a bit tough to sew through, but my trusty awl helped me out! Mo

This book still needs some work, but it's been great fun creating it!.
More books to come!