And So it Begins

Grady starts kindergarten next week which means this is my first "back to school" season as a parent instead of a student.  

Can I just take a minute here to worship my mama? I'm one of four kids, two of which (two of whom? Grammar police, what say you?) have birthdays in the first week of September (the same week we start school here in BC). My mom did back-to-school shopping and birthday prepping and rocked it all...before online shopping was even a thing. I am in awe is what I'm saying. 

Anyway. Back to my circus and my monkeys. We were given a list of school supplies Grady needs and months to collect them all. The newborn stage made those months disappear (the worst kind of magic) so here we are, less than a week away from the first day of school, and we're just starting our shopping. To make things even more fun, Poppy has decided that sleep is for the weak and has been waking up every hour like she's a newborn. We're holding on by a thread. 

Are you scrambling to get organized this week? Or do you have your school supplies purchased and labelled weeks in advance?  

 

Black Bean Brownies

I know. You guys. I know. Black bean brownies. Why even bother, right? I'd heard about black bean brownies for years but never bothered to try them (because why?) and then my office hosted a healthy baking day so I relented. They're fine. I mean, they're not exactly "healthy" because they're full of sugar but the lack of flour (plus the goodness of black beans) makes them healthier than traditional brownies. Plus I think they're gluten-free? Don't quote me on that. Do beans have gluten? Whatever. They don't taste beany. That was my major concern.

I started with this recipe and made some tweaks. This is what I ended up with:

Ingredients

1 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed very well
3 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brewed espresso or strong coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9"x9" square baking pan.

In food processor or blender, buzz all ingredients except chocolate chips and walnuts together until very smooth. Batter should look just like brownie batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth. Sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts evenly over the top.

Bake for 28 - 33 minutes until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Store in the fridge for a dense, fudgy brownie.

Listen, if you know me at all you probably got all wide-eyed and "whaaaaat?" when you read the bit about the walnuts. I strongly believe nuts do not have a place in baked goods. Especially brownies. But I was concerned about the brownies tasting beany so I decided I embrace the healthy aspect of black bean friggin' brownies and add the nuts. If you hate nuts in baked goods as much as I do, skip them and up the chocolate chips to 1/2 cup.
 

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This Just Made Me Realize How Ridiculous I Really Am

I was tagged by my friend Sarah so here goes it:

1: What is my current health-related goal?

So I'm doing this 21-day health challenge thing, yeah? And every day that I work out I get to put a big red X on that day on my calendar. I want to finish 2015 with 100 big red Xes (Xs? X's? Grammar police?) on my calendar. Working out 100 times in 365 days is not a lot for many people, I know, but it's kind of huge for me.

And give up sugar. Eat more fibre. Blah blah blah cinnamon buns the end.

2: What is my biggest irrational fear?

Shark attack. I did not even have to think about this one. Shark attack is on the tip of my tongue because it's... on the tip of my brain? It doesn't make any sense. I have never been in shark-infested waters. There is no danger of me running into a shark in my day-to-day existence. Doesn't matter. I won't even swim in a swimming pool if it's dark (because shaaarrrrrks!)

3: Do I enjoy wrapping presents?

I do and I don't. I like the actual wrapping in the paper part but I dislike the bows and ribbons and fancy-shmancy Pinterest stuff.

4: What is my favourite cross-training activity?

Eh. I don't really have a favourite. I kind of like doing squats but mainly because it doesn't involve me trying to do a pushup.

5: If you came to visit me, what would we do?

You would come visit me in May or September so we wouldn't be hampered by the Vancouver rain or the summer tourists. We'd go to Stanley Park to walk the seawall and then I'd take you to Steamworks Brewpub for lunch. We'd hit up La Casa Gelato at some point because they have over 200 flavours of gelato on site and that shit needs to be celebrated. If you were visiting me for longer than a day I would have to foist you off on my young, child-free friends for your evening entertainment because I'm in bed with Netflix and peppermint tea by 9pm (#baller) but I would make you the very best buttermilk pancakes the next morning so hopefully we can still be friends.

6: I have two weeks off work and two round trip plane tickets to anywhere. Where would I go and who would I take?

Shawn and I would go to England. I haven't been back since 2007 and I miss my friends and my second home like crazy.

7: What's the most embarrassing thing to happen to me during a run or a race?

Crying. I get weirdly emotional when I run.

8: Three best days of my life? Or at least the top three that come to mind.

In 2005, I went to Genoa, Italy by myself armed with just a little French and a guidebook. I stayed in this dingy hotel in a sketchy part of town, got seriously lost and just kept walking up a mountain without seeing another soul, and still somehow managed to figure it out and get myself sorted (without getting robbed or murdered.)

July 26, 2011 - the day Grady was born.

Last year Shawn, Grady, and I went on a road trip down the coast to Astoria, Oregon. Grady was acting squirrelly and it wasn't time to check into our hotel yet, so we just kept driving and randomly ended up on the most beautiful beach in Seaside at sunset. We walked along the sand and watched the sun dip below some seriously turbulent waves and it felt like that was when I finally let go of the shitty shitty 2013 I had.

9: Okay, so I HAVE to eat a fast food meal. Which restaurant would I choose and what do I order?

Five Guys Burgers & Fries. I get a cheeseburger with green peppers, pickles, ketchup, lettuce, and mayo. And fries and a rootbeer. You should know that I just made groany sex noises while typing that. I miss cheeseburgers.

10: Have I ever met a celebrity?

Last May my awesome friend who works for a record label and supports my bizarre love of unusual individuals got me free tickets to see Hugh Laurie and arranged a meet-and-greet for us after the show. I was so tongue-tied I barely said a word but he signed my record for me and posed for a picture with me and my dad. It was such a fun night even if I am an awkward dork.

I've met a couple hockey players - do they count as celebrities? Canadian celebrities I guess.

My cousin is celebrity-adjacent and I've met him a bunch of times ;)

11: Share a pic of myself in non-workout clothes.

12: If I could choose to have a "do over" and switch careers, what would I choose and why?

I would go to culinary school. I love to cook but I feel like I'm limited by my lack of knowledge. I mean, I do alright. But I'd love to be a cooking expert.

13: If I won an Olympic Gold Medal, how do I think I would react?

Tears. Big gulpy tears.

14: What do I want for Christmas?

Plane tickets to England (which didn't happen but we're watching for seat sales!)

15: What skill do I lack?

So many. Mostly in the dealing-with-emotions-appropriately department.

And now I tag Angella, Tamara, and Jennie.


Let's Get Physical

I've been feeling heavy and sluggish and unhappy overall with my general health and body image. I've been cutting myself a little too much slack because of my health struggles. Yes, synthetic thyroid hormone replacement therapy is difficult and messes with my body. No, I refuse to let this hold me back any longer.

I needed to do something drastic to motivate myself to make a change. Too often I get sucked into the shame spiral of "I hate how I feel, I hate how I look, oh look cinnamon buns!" It's a vicious cycle.

A friend of mine is in school to be a personal trainer. She is also the most fit person I know, with unending energy and zest for helping people reach their goals. I signed up for a 21-day challenge she is starting on January 5th and I am terrified.

You guys, I love sugar. LOVE love it. I cannot go a day without a sweet treat. Multiple sweet treats. When I am tired or sad or stressed or anxious or bored, I reach for sugar. Sugar doesn't ask stupid questions. Sugar understands.

The 21-day challenge I'm starting on Monday combines daily workouts (30 minutes in the comfort of my own home) and portion and ratio control. I will be measuring out my proteins and my carbs, etc.,  and I will be abstaining from sugar.

The fact that I'm so anxious about giving up sugar is probably a really good indication that my sugar consumption is something I need to address. I know this logically. But I'm still panicking.

I'm going to write about my 21-day challenge here. Not for compensation or affiliate links (if you want more info on the program I'm doing specifically, feel free to reach out on my contact page) but for accountability. I've never done a diet program before; in the past I've always just cut back on cheese and baked goods when my pants felt a little tight and it seemed to work well enough for me.

But I've also never felt this weak before. Growing up, I was an athlete. As an adult, I wouldn't say that I lead a particularly active life but I'm not sedentary either. But before I got sick, before surgery and drugs and convalescence wreaked havoc on my body, I felt strong. Not, like, "I pump you up" strong but I could run a couple miles without falling over. I could participate in beer league softball and have fun and not die. I don't have that anymore. My muscles feel like mush. I got winded putting the cover on our duvet yesterday. I feel like I'm slowly crumbling inward and it's spooked me enough to commit to this 21-day challenge.

I'm not perfect. Part of my motivation for doing this challenge to is to feel good about how I look. But it's more than just my appearance. I want to feel strong again. I want to build up my strength and endurance so my Ride to Conquer Cancer in August isn't a disaster. I want to get my body in tip top shape because I want to have another baby one day and being healthy seems like a good place to start.

So! My 21 days starts on Monday. Wish me luck (I'll need it!)