Sunday, August 26, 2007


Have you ever had insomnia? I sometimes get it for a few nights in a row and spend many sleepless hours tossing around in bed, looking at the clock and listening to all the night sounds that go on in my neighbourhood. The next day I drag my tired self through the workday and walk around like a zombie drinking buckets of coffee. Loading up on water sometimes perks up the body but only for a short while. Then all of a sudden one night you reach your limit and fall asleep on the couch. After a few hours you drag yourself to bed and sleep without moving until the alarm clock goes off in the morning. Then you hit the snooze button and get nine minutes of the deepest sleep you've ever had. I love the nine minute snooze sleep. Insomnia over - back to your normal routine. Life is great when you are well rested.

Life is even better when the weekend comes and you can take siestas in the afternoon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Midnight Cappuccino

1 1/2 tbsp. chocolate syrup (or creme de cacao liqueur)
1 1/2 tbsp. sambuca
2 oz. hot fresh Espresso (or strong coffee)
soft whipped cream

POUR the syrup (or liqueur) and the sambuca into a mug.
ADD the espresso
TOP with a dollop of the whipped cream
SERVE immediately.


Push Ups for Fun and Profit

While very few people, least of all yours truly, have the desire to wake up every morning of the year to practice pushups, they are an excellent exercise to add to your fitness routine. They are a great total body workout that build strength and muscle tone. Although I don't do as many pushups throughout the year as I should, I do include them regularly in my home workouts. Since my annual PT (physical training) test is approaching in October it is now time to spend a couple of months concentrating on getting into top shape. With that in mind, I am going to share some pushup secrets that have worked for me in the past so that you can use them in your own exercise routine.
First, lets remind ourselves of the benefits derived from doing pushups:
Primary muscles used: pectorals, anterior deltoid, triceps
Secondary muscles used (stabilizers): abdominals, quadriceps
Movements similar to pushups: chest press, bench press, reverse punch, overhead serve
Three planes: regular, incline, decline
Remember to use perfect form and only perfect reps count.
To check your form you can do your pushups in front of a wall mirror or have a friend watch and give you gentle reminders when you falter. You can place a broom handle or hockey stick on your back and use it as a guide to keep your head, shoulders, and butt in line. Always remember to keep your abs pulled in tight and avoid having a saggy mid section while you are exercising. Also try to avoid having a left-right imbalance. If you notice one arm doing more work than the other you can try some extra strength training on your weak side using dumbbells or exercise machines at your local gym.
Training techniques: The best training results come from Periodization and Volume training. The way it works is that you chose a number of reps that are a small percentage of your maximum and then do lots of sets throughout the day. When you look at your daily total you will find that your daily total (number of pushups X number of sets) is much higher than if you had simply trained to failure during one workout. Here are some techniques:
Technique #1:
1. Choose a number that is approximately half of your max. If you can do 50 reps before failing, start at 20-25 reps.
2. Do one set every hour from the time you wake up until an hour before bed.
3. Add 5 - 10 reps to your set every week, depending on how you feel.
Technique #2: (ladders)
1. Do one rep.
2. Come to your knees for the time it would take a partner to do the same exercise.
3. Do 2 reps and rest.
4. Continue like this (3, rest, 4, rest, and so one) until you are within 2-3 reps of failure. Take 1-3 minutes rest and start at 1 rep again.
5.Every time you start over counts as one set. Do as many sets as you can.
Technique #3: (push and recede)
1. Do some rep staggering: 25, 15, 25, 20, 25, 30, 15, 25.....
2. Stagger the days: Day 1, 25 reps per set; Day 2, 15 reps per set; etc
3. Stagger the exercises: Day 1, regular pushups; Day 2, incline pushups; Day 3, decline pushups
Technique #4: (quick sets)
1. Choose 6 exercises and do them one right after the other - this will make one set. I like to do diamond pushups, situps, regular pushups, leg lifts, wide pushups, crunches.
2. Choose a number of reps that is about a quarter of your max. Perhaps 6 to 10 of each exercise is plenty.
3. Do 10 sets of all six exercises. Take a 60 second rest break in between each set.
Remember that the body adapts over time so you will see gains for a month or two and then you will hit a plateau while the body rests. To push through the plateau you can try changing up your exercise routine and challenging the body in new ways. Here are some great (and painful) pushup ideas to add to your routine for fun and profit.
one leg up, alternate legs
speed, 10 reps -10 sets
block decline
block incline
block one leg up, alternate
60 second max rep
hop-ups, in place, moving forward, moving backward, moving left and right
unstable with one hand on block and one hand on floor
unstable with one hand on medicine ball and one hand on floor
isometric hold in upward position, 3 inches lower and 1 inch off floor
plyometric explosive clapping
plyometric explosive using block up and down
plyometric explosive moving left and right
plyometric explosive moving left and right cross country
head to head team
marine style 1-10 cumulative with salutes in between
declining counting from 20 - 1 cumulative
standing wall
slap high-five alternating with partner head to head
the "Z" while crossing left hand to right shoulder and right hand to left shoulder
resistive - 30second hold, 30 second partner pushes on back
circle of death - 7 pushups counting by one holding and waiting for your turn
stability ball pushups
stability ball pushups with jackknife

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Brain power

I have a Wii. It was not easy to find because both Future Shop and Best Buy were sold out of the consoles. Finally I went to Zellers and they came through with a game system that was tucked away on the bottom shelf of a cabinet in the back of the electronics department.

Last night I played Big Brain Academy and have discovered the awful truth that my brain is not very big. I also discovered that I am hooked. My intention to play for an hour or two stretched into a marathon session. What's a girl to do? There's only one thing that I can do - stock up the cupboards with snacks and drinks so that I don't have to leave the house to get food. That way I can play longer without stopping.

So Chris... what games do you recommend? I thought that the Scarface one looked interesting but wanted to ask you first. Cheers.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Name that vegetable part II

The summer veggie harvest is yielding some tasty treats. The raised garden bed that I planted was quite a lot of work to put in, but is well worth it. Last night I had an amazing baby *name that vegetable* feast. This morning I am putting purple in the "bowl", so to speak. All the *name that vegetable* lovers out there will know what I mean. Nothing says summer like garden veg.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Riches of a water thief

Thank you for your nonjudgmental comments about my water thievery. Frankly, I was worried that someone would attempt to "educate" me on the merits of being a good citizen. Since I was never one who took well to learnin', it is a relief that you did not try to edumacate me.
In an effort to share the spoils of my crime, I am publishing some of the "best of class" photos from my recent gardening foray. Hope this inspires you to go out and buy a lovely bunch of flowers to brighten your home. If not, then maybe you too can be a "thief" and pick some from the local park. I'm sure they won't mind. Honest.
Don't call me from jail. I won't bail you out.

Name that vegetable

Newsflash: A bit of culinary magic took place in the home a local Kingston resident.
A nondescript vegetable was recently turned into a magical feast. Friends and neigbours marveled at the tasty combination of dried fruit, nuts and vegetables all harmoniously blended with a mouth-watering secret formula of sugar and spice.
Butter lovers rejoice! Yet another tasty treat to top with luscious fresh creamery butter. A perfect excuse to gorge in gluttonous glee. This recipe is a winner and with a bumper vegetable crop it is likely that this Kingston neighbourhood will see more of this tasty "yoaf" in the near future.

25 Money Confessions

You must have a look at this writer's photo essay called "25 Money Confessions". It is hilarious.
The picture on the right is a sample of one of the illustrations subtitled “I steal things even though I have the money to pay for them.”

Balcony Babe wonders if a similar post titled "25 chocolate lover confessions" would elicit some funny and zany stories from her network of family and friends. ..... Just thinking out loud. Since my personal totem is the Easter Bunny, I may share a few of my own stories in upcoming blogs.
Follow the link below to read all 25 money confessions.

Photo credit goes to

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Water thief

The long hot spell has forced me to become a desperate, rule breaking water thief. Today I am watering my shrubs and trees outside of the city's allowable watering times. Under the bylaws, I am eligible to water from 5 AM to 10 AM on the odd numbered days. Since I leave for work each day by 6:45AM, there is simply not enough time to do a 15 minute slow-trickle deep root water on each shrub. Today is Saturday, an even numbered day, and another hot and sunny day. The shrubs are getting watered. Each one of them. 15 minutes at a time. I'm such a rebel!