Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Sourdough Starter

And speaking of pandemic baking, I finally did something that I’ve been meaning to do for ages: make a sourdough starter1!

Well, I’m attempting to make a sourdough starter, at least. I won’t know for several days if it worked out or not. I decided to go old school and create it from just flour and water and whatever wild yeast are floating around. It takes a bit longer – and I’m sure has a higher failure rate – than making it from packaged yeast, but I figure I have time to spare, so may as well go for it.

My plan is to make this sourdough starter and maintain it and pass it along to others, so that generations from now people will say “This sourdough starter was created during the great pandemic of 2020!” And maybe people will search on the Wayback Machine and find this blog posting and say “So that’s what my sourdough starter looked like on the day it was born!”


The recipe is literally to just mix together and 4 oz of flour and 4 oz of water and then let it sit on the top of your fridge for a day, and then you feed it over several days and hope the yeast start doing their yeast thing.

Here’s what it looked like when I mixed it together today:

Sourdough Starter - Day 1

The consistency at this stage is thick and sticky:

Sourdough Starter - Day 1

And here it is, sitting on top of my fridge:

Sourdough Starter - Day 1

I’ve set a reminder to feed it after 24 hours have passed. Very excited to see what happens over the next few days!

Also, like a good scientist, I decided to make a lab book to document my process:

Sourdough Starter - Day 1 - Lab Book

My friend Paul informed me that if this batch doesn’t work, I should try using pineapple juice instead of water, as it’s the right pH to favourite the good wild yeast. So I have a plan B if this batch doesn’t work.

I promised my friend Heather that she will be the first recipient of my sourdough starter once it is ready to be shared. Heather is a public health nurse on the front lines of the pandemic – translation: she’s a freaking hero! Thanks for everything you do, Heather! You are a rock star!

  1. Since sourdough starter something I’ve never made before, it counts towards my 2020 goal of making foods that I’ve never made before. And then when I bake my first loaf of sourdough bread, it will be another thing I’ve never made before and will count towards my 2020 goal of baking 20 times. And I also have “bake sourdough bread” on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, so really this is like the most efficient goal achieving act I’ve ever done! []

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Goals for 2020

2020 is such a good number, isn’t it? It’s got the repeated 20, so it’s just fun to say. There’s 20/20 vision and the TV show 20/20 and in Roman numerals it is MMXX. And it’s a leap year, so we get to enjoy an extra day of it. Twenty-twenty!

OK, so since it’s 2020, I’m going to set 20 goals! I’ll write them as if they are already completed, which allegedly will inspire me to complete them (and seems to have done a decent job since I started writing my goals this way two years ago).

Carry-overs from Last Year

  1. I’ve KonMari’ed all the bathroom stuff (including toiletries, make-up, and towels).
  2. I’ve KonMari’ed all the kitchen stuff
  3. I’ve painted the inside of both the front hall closet and the office closet.
  4. I’ve compiled a list of all my accounts and other relevant information for my executrix

Similar To Ones I Completed Last Year But Want to Do Again (And, In a Few Cases, Take Them Up A Notch)

  1. I’ve squatted 100 kg (220 lbs).
  2. I’ve made 20 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before – and blogged about each of them.
  3. I’ve read 20 books – and blogged about each of them.
  4. I’ve written in my journal at least one time per week, on average.
  5. I’ve had people over for dinner 10 times.
  6. I’ve slept an average of 8 hours per night.

Similar to Goals From Other Years

  1. I’ve learned 20 new things and blogged about them.
  2. I’ve canned/jammed 5 new food products that I’ve never made before (in addition to the 20 new food items mentioned above). I hardly did any canning in 2019 and I want to get back into it this summer.
  3. I’ve made 20 things (not counting food products). It could be sewing projects, painting, knitting – just anything creative.
  4. I’ve published 80 blog postings (that’s a bit more than 1.5 per week, but I like that it’s a multiple of 20).

Totally New Things That I’ve Not Had on a Goals List Before

  1. I have fixed my laptop situation (either by doing a factory reset or, if that doesn’t make it run well enough, by buying a new laptop).
  2. I have completed the 3 online courses that I am currently developing.
  3. I have bought and installed new blinds in my condo.
  4. I have baked 20 times this year. I barely did any baking this year and I really enjoy baking. Bonus points if I bake some sourdough bread!
  5. I have made a list of 100 things that I’m grateful for. (This is from my 101 things to do in 1001 days list – on which I haven’t completed very many items and the 1001 days ends in 2020!)
  6. I have done an average of 20 mins of mindfulness meditation per week.

Image Credit: Jamie Street on Unsplash

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How Did I Do On My 2019 Goals?

Since 2019 is officially over, it’s time to tally up how I did on my 2019 goals!

Crushed It!

  1. I’ve built a closet organizer in the front hall closet. Done!
  2. I’ve installed a lazy Susan in each of the two corner cabinets in the kitchen.   Done!
  3. I’ve built a closet organizer in the pantry closet. Done!
  4. I’ve cleaned up the pile of bins in the office that are driving Scott crazy. I also did this one on Dec 17, though I didn’t blog about it. It was just a pile of bins full of random things that needed to either be taken to the recycling depot, donated, or have a place found for it in the condo. And I have to admit, it’s nice to not have that sitting in the middle of the room anymore.
  5. I’ve done a single unassisted pull up. Pull ups (when your palms are facing forward) are harder than chin ups (with palms facing towards you). Accomplished on Nov 21! And then I’ve done a few more since then too!
  6. I’ve deadlifted 90 kg (198 lbs). Smashed this goal with my award winning 100 kg lift!
  7. I’ve made 19 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before – and blogged about each of them. Exceeded this goal by making 26 new things!
  8. I’ve read 20 books – and blogged about each of them. Got this one done, but just barely.
  9. I’ve had people over for dinner 5 times. Finished this one in the nick of time, as Kalev came over for dinner last night and prior to that I’d only had people over for dinner 4 times.

Not Quite

  1. KonMari’ed all the kitchen stuff. I have a *lot* of kitchen stuff. I got through all the dishes/pots/pans/cutlery/etc. when I got the pantry closet organizer and lazy Susans installed, but haven’t been through all the foods. I think I have some canned goods and other foods in the cupboards that are way beyond their best before date, so I really should Konmari those.
  2. compiled a list of all my accounts and other relevant information for my executrix. I started this list while I was at my sister’s place over the holidays and there were a few things I needed to look up at home. And then totally forgot to look them up when I got home. So close, but yet so far!
  3. 10 unassisted chin ups in a row. I didn’t get 10 in a row, but on Oct 2, I did 5 sets of 2 each, so I got 10 in one workout. I
  4. squatted 90 kg (198 lbs). While I didn’t backsquat 90 kg, I did 2 reps of 85 kg on Nov 8 and I continued to train backsquat with higher reps on my subsequent program, but I didn’t do a 1 rep max test at the end of the year to see how much I could do. I bet I’m close to being able to squat 90 kg now though.
  5. written in my journal at least one time per week, on average. I only managed to do this 42 times. But I feel like I’m back in the habit of journalling again, so that makes me happy.
  6. slept an average of 7 hours per night. Since I bought myself a Fitbit on Boxing Day last year, I now have sleep data to play with. I had to download all my data and do a bit of playing around with the file to get the daily average, and it turns out to be 6.93 hours per day! So, so close!
  7. published 78 blog postings. I did 52 on this blog, but I also did 21 on my professional blog, for a total of 73.

Epic Fails

  1. KonMari’ed all the bathroom stuff (including toiletries, make-up, and towels). I was totally planning to do this yesterday, but I ran out of time. I’m now planning to do this by the end of the week, so it will go on my 2020 goals list.
  2. painted the inside of both the front hall closet and the office closet. Also something I was planning to do over my Christmas holidays, but ran out of time. It will also go on my 2020 goal list – I did a bit of reading on painting closets and I think I can do it was a weekend project.
  3. sewn 5 items. I sewed nothing this year. So this is my most epic of my epic fails.

So that’s 9 out of 19 complete, with another 7 partially complete, and only 3 that I totally failed on. Not quite as good as last year’s 50% completion rate, but much better than the previous year!

Now to compile my 2020 goals!

Image credit:

Wood image created by Freepik; available on this page.

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The Rest of the Books I Read in 2019

My reading goal for 2019 was to read 20 books. I read 20 books in 2018, so figured that was doable. But then the new Harry Potter Wizard Unite mobile game came out in June and I subsequently spent most of my commuting time for the rest of the year doing that rather than reading. It may also have been due to the fact that I was reading two textbooks at the time, and textbooks aren’t ideal to read on transit, because (a) they aren’t quite as compelling to read as other books, and (b) I always want to take notes of things as I’m reading in a textbook, which is challenging to do on transit, especially if you don’t have a seat.

Anyway, when I looked at my GoodReads account to see how dismally I was doing on this year’s goal, I saw that I needed to read 10 books in 5 days to get it accomplished. And then I tweeted this:

Untitled

But then Cath made this excellent point:

Untitled

Which is how I ended up reading this pile of books last night:

Untitled

That brought me up to 19, and I was almost done reading a novel, which I ended up finishing this morning, so now I’ve officially completed my goal!

However, I noticed that my goal was actually more than just to read the books. It also specified that I need to have “blogged about each of them.” So here goes!

Here there be spoilers

Read no further if you’ve not yet read these books and don’t want things in them to be spoiled!

I finished off two more seasons of the My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast, which means that I listened to two more books in the Belinda Blinked series. Written by the father of one of the podcasters under the pen name “Rocky Flintstone”, these books are hysterical and made even more so by the hilarious reading and commentary done by Jamie, Alice, and James.

Belinda Blinked 4;: An erotic story of sexual prowess, sexy characters and even bigger business deals whilst the darkness increases; was the last of the books that Rocky Flintstone had written before the podcast started and thus is the last book where Flintstone was not potentially influenced by trying to write ridiculous things for the podcast audience. As you may recall, there was a bombshell dropped at the end of book 3 in that a plot point happened. Book 4 had some chapters where it seemed like they might not have remembered the plot, but then other chapters do and the final chapter actually has a big reveal from the cliffhanger ending of book 3. I can’t believe I’m writing about the “plot” in this series.

Belinda Blinked 5: Belinda Blumenthal, worldwide Sales Director of Steeles Pots and Pans is in big trouble. Can the sexiest girl in sales continue to remove her brassiere whilst the evil grows…. might be the most ridiculous title for a book ever. And while this book was started after the podcast started, and thus Rocky could have been influenced by the podcast’s success to write things that are even more ridiculous, I am choosing to believe that the ridiculous is completely naturally. There continues to be some plot, death (RIP Spoons), and this book ends with another big cliffhanger! I can’t wait until Season 6 comes out!

I decided to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale because I wanted to read the sequel that just came out (The Testaments), but it’s been many years since I last read the Handmaid’s Tale and I wanted to have it fresh in my mind1. This book was just as good as I remembered it – and it’s one of my favourite books. It’s actually quite chilling to read it now, given what’s going on in world – all the xenophobia, misogyny, and homophobia that is erupting these days makes Gilead seems far more plausible that I thought it was when I read this as a teenager in the 90s.

Now we’ll begin the children’s book that I read last night to make sure that I would reach my goal.

My aunt got The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook: A complete reference guide to every spell in the wizarding world for my nephew, Thomas, for Christmas. It literally just lists all the spells that are mentioned in the books, the movies, and/or various Harry Potter games, including their pronunciation (when known), etymology, wand stroke (if known), and other fun facts. Thomas and I read through the book and he cast various spells at me with his Harry Potter wand, that he also received from my aunt for Christmas.

Junie B. Jones 4: Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying. I did not like this book at all. The book is written from the point of view of the main character, who is in kindergarten. But the author writes it so that she constantly makes that the grammatical error that kids make where they instead of saying “ran” they “runned.” But in like every sentence. It’s really annoying.

Mortimer is a Robert Munsch book about a kid who likes to make a lot of noise and everyone yells at him to be quiet and they even call the police on him. And then they all fight and forget to tell him to shut up and he falls asleep. Seriously, that is the entire plot of this book.

Zoom! was a more entertaining book than Mortimer. It’s about a girl who goes to get a new wheelchair and she wants a really fast one. And then she gets to test the fastest one and then she needs it to get her brother to the hospital and hooray for the fast wheelchair.

Now we are getting to some real easy books.

LEGO® City: Detective Chase McCain: Save That Cargo! Quite honestly, this book wasn’t very good. The detective prevented one bad guy from doing crime and then he prevented another bad guy from stealing a top secret package, which turned out to just be an apple pie. Not much character development.

Batman Classic: Reptile Rampage is a story of Batman and Robin chasing Killer Croc who has kidnapped a doctor who made an antidote that would cure him. I feel like Killer Croc got a raw deal in this story. He just wants a cure!

Spidey Strikes (The Amazing Spider-Man Board Book). This is is a board book, so it was like 10 pages long and pretty much nothing happened. For the record, I only read the one on the right in this photo, as I didn’t see the other one on the bookshelf (and I was too lazy to take a photo of the book, so I found that image on the Internet).

Justice League Classic: I Am Aquaman was the thrilling tale of Green Lantern, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all visit Aquaman under the water and then some shark bad guy comes and they all fight to defend Aquaman’s home and then they win. The End.

This last one of the kids books is really was phoning it in. The Twelve Days of Christmas (Little Golden Book) was a book that just had the lyrics to the twelve days of Christmas written in it, along with illustrations. But it was in book form and I read it, so it totally counts.

And finally we have The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s long awaited sequel to the Handmaid’s Tale. I have to say that while I found it compelling enough that I didn’t want to put it down, the plot was just way too convenient. I mean, what are the odds that a manuscript of a handmaid is discovered and then a couple of years later, manuscripts from two of the people who brought down Gilead are also discovered who just happen to be the two daughters that the aforementioned handmaid was separated from. Also, Gilead is brought down by a teenager who spent a solid weekend of training and a woman who was raised in Gilead and basically just didn’t like her stepmom. I liked the origin story of Aunt Lydia – it started off with the same situation that Offred faced in the Handmaid’s tale – all the women’s accounts were shut off and they were fired, as it was made illegal for women to own anything or have jobs. But since Aunt Lydia was a judge and she was too old to bear children, she was subjected to some torture and then tested to see if she’d be willing to kill other women to save her own life. It was a believable origin for her character and makes you think about what you would do to save your own life, if put in such an extreme situation.

But it seemed a bit of a stretch that she decided to bring down Gilead and collected documents that showed the crimes of all the leaders (and that people just believed the documents when they were released) and that she served as a source for May Day. And then her manuscript also just happened to have been found and aligned perfectly with the other manuscripts.

And then one more thing that bugged me – and this is so minor really – but in the academic conference proceedings at the end of the book, the conference chair does a land acknowledgement, whereas in the academic conferences proceedings at the end of the Handmaid’s Tale, she does not. Now, I know what in the thirty years between when these two novels were written, land acknowledgements have become common at the start of conferences, but in this books, there’s only two years between them and they are set nearly 200 years from now. And it seems odd to me that in 2019, traditional land acknowledgements are typically done at conferences, but in 2195 they aren’t, and then somehow in 2197 they remember them again? And it’s the same character at both conferences, so it’s not like it just one person does them and another doesn’t. Like I said, it’s a minor thing, but it bugged me.

So there you have it! I read – and blogged about – 20 books in 2019! GoodReads was so kind as to have provided me with this nice image of all the books I read:

2019 books - part 1
2019 books part 2

And also showed me that the longest book I read was also the most popular book I read, and the shortest book I read was the least popular.

2019 books - length
2019 books - popularity
  1. I have watched season 1 of the TV series, but there are some differences between that and the book, so I wanted to make sure that I knew what was specifically from the book. []

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The Rest of the New Foods I Made in 2019

I last blogged about the new foods and beverages that I made this year in July. At that time, I’d made 10 out of the 19 items that I set as my goal for this year. Well, I’m pleased to report that it was merely my insufficient blogging this year, and not my lack of cooking new things that I’d never cooked before, that made it looked like I was failing on this goal. I completed the goal of 19 items on August 11 and ended up crushing my goal with a total of 26 new items made this year. Here are the ones that I did after my first two blog postings on this topic:

Pasta with herbs and parm
Lemon, herb, and parm pasta
  • I made some mint tea with fresh mint leaves from High Garden (also on July 16, 2019). At the end of the growing season, I dried1 all the remaining leaves and now can use them to make mint tea
Mint tea made with fresh mint from my herb garden
Mint tea from fresh mint leaves
  • My friend Kim, her boyfriend Tad, and I made teriyaki salmon at their place. I made the teriyaki sauce and carried stuff between the kitchen and the patio (where the BBQ was) as both Kim and Tad were too injured (ankle and knee, respectively) to do much walking (July 26, 2019)
Dinner at Kim & Tad's place
Teriyaki salmon, potatoes, grilled vegetables, and watermelon salad
sesame chicken, ginger beer glazed carrots, and steamed asparagus
Sesame chicken, ginger beer glazed carrots, steamed asparagus
  • I made my first gluten-free baked good: gluten-free zucchini muffins, because someone at my office doesn’t eat gluten and I wanted to make some regular zucchini muffins (one of my go-to muffin recipes), but I didn’t want her to be left out. (July 28, 2019)
Two types of zucchini muffins (gluten-free and gluten-ful)
Two types of zucchini muffins
  • After a trip to the Okanagan, I made a bunch of stuff with produce we bought there: peach crisp (Aug 9, 2019), roasted pattypan squash with red onion and zucchini (Aug 10, 2019), spicy plum sauce (Aug 11, 2019) and peach-jalapeño preserves (Aug 11, 2019) and chimichurri sauce (Aug 11, 2019), which we had with Linda and Casey would brought over some super delicious steaks!
Patty pan squash
A patty pan squash
Roasted patty pan squash
Roasted patty pan squash, along with some chicken
Making plum sauce
Making spicy plum sauce
Steak with chimichurri sauce
Steak with chimichurri sauce

As I’m sure you can tell, I like making new things that I’ve never made before, so I’m sure this goal will appear again in my list of 2020 goals!

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(no title)

A bunch of my goals for 2019 were related to getting my condo more organized. I had very high hopes that I’d be all handy and DIY-y this year and I would:

  • build a closet organizer in the front hall closet
  • build a closet organizer in the pantry closet
  • install a lazy Susan in each of the two corner cabinets in the kitchen
  • paint the inside of both the front hall closet and the office closet

I eventually came to accept that I just do not have the time to do these things and that my life would be much improved by being able to actually reach all the things that are in my kitchen cabinets and not have all my coats falling off the broken front hall closet coat rack. So I bit the bullet and called the guy who installed my closet door and closet organizer in my spare room last year and he knocked the first three of those things off of my “to do” list for me. I decided that I want to do the painting of the inside of the closets myself (with the leftover paint from last year’s painting project) and I figure can do that when I have some time off in December.

Here’s what my front hall closet looked like before:

Front hall closet - before
Front hall closet - before

Notice the wire rack that the coats are hanging on is broken on the right side, that the internet-related devices and all of their various cords and tangled mess on top of that wire shelf, and that shoes and other crap are all piled in a heap at the bottom of the closet.

Here’s what the closet looked like after:

Closet - after
Closet - after

Notice how there’s a proper rod to hang coats on and also a reasonably sized pile of crap on the bottom. In fairness, we did take the opportunity to go through all the stuff that was in the closet and divert some of it to donations (for the things that were still usable) or to the garbage (for things that were unsalvageable). But part of it was having a proper shelf to put stuff on (you can’t really see it well in the photo, but under the coats there is a shelf that that we could put things on). Also, all the various internet devices are now attached to the wall, so they don’t take up valuable shelf space:

Front hall closet -  after

Next up was the pantry cupboard. This cupboard, where we mostly store Tupperware and various other food containers, was rather infuriating .

Pantry - before

And here’s what it looked like after:

Pantry - after

You can’t tell from the photos, but those old wire shelves were about 4 inches less deep than the new shelves, so we’ve got quite a bit more shelf space now1. We also sorted through all the stuff in the various locations and took some of the stuff that was in here that we don’t use very often and have stored it elsewhere.

And lastly we have the kitchen cabinets. I have two corner cabinets in my kitchen that are quite deep and trying to get anything out of them was a complete nightmare. I’m pretty sure these cabinets defy the laws of physics, as no matter what item you want, it is always, somehow, buried underneath all the other objects and way at the back of the cabinet. Which resulted in the cabinet with all the pots and pans and various other cookware looking like this:

Kitchen cupboard - before

The second of these cabinets was used mostly for food (but also for baking sheets and cooling racks) and while it didn’t end up with everything all upside and turned around like the other cabinet, it was still a nightmare to try to get stuff out of – or even to see what stuff I had, which may or may not have resulted in me having 3 different bottles of apple cider vinegar and several opened boxes of lasagna noodles.

Kitchen cupboard - before

The sensible way of designing these cabinets, of course, is to have a lazy Susan in them, so that you can spin the shelf to find what you want rather than trying to reach all the way to the back. So we got a lazy Susan installed in each and now here’s what they looked like :

Kitchen cupboard with pots and pans - after
Kitchen cupboard with food - after

The picture doesn’t totally do justice to how much of an improvement this is to my life.

Also, while all of this was being done, we had to take everything that was in the front hall closet, the pantry closet, and the two kitchen cabinets out of those locations and store them in living room. And I just have to say that I was astonished by how much storage room my condo actually has, as just the stuff from these 4 places2 pretty much filled up my entire living room:

We had to empty out all the closets and cupboards that were being worked on
We had to empty out all the closets and cupboards that were being worked on

and my dining area:

We had to empty out all the closets and cupboards that were being worked on

So that’s definitely a selling feature I’m going to have to remember if I ever decide to sell this place.

Anyway that knocks three items off my 2019 goals list, which is nice because it’s already freaking November so the year is almost up!

And it makes my day-to-day life just that much more pleasant, which is pretty great too!

  1. You can also see that the white bins we use for recylcing at the bottom of the closet got considerably more filled up between the “before” and “after” photos. []
  2. My condo also has a walk through closet in the main bedroom, a closet in the spare room, and a storage locker in the parkade! []

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Powerlifting!

Weights

Remember that time I joined Strong Side, the best gym ever and became obsessed with lifting heavy weights and then putting them back down? Well, in addition to all the other things I love about this gym (like the super knowledgeable trainers that help me get super strong in a safe way and the wonderfully supportive and fun nature of my fellow Strong Siders), I love that the gym embraces the community and finds ways to give back. They sponsor local community events, they do fundraisers in partnership with other local small business, and they even provide some classes for people in need with a local non-profit.

For the past few years, they’ve done a fundraiser for Purpose Service Society where the trainers have to lift 1 kg for every dollar that Strong Siders donate. Well, this year they decided to take their fundraiser up a notch by hosting their first ever powerlifting competition to raise funds for Purpose! Those who want to compete pay an entry fee and those who want to spectate pay for a ticket, with the proceeds going to Purpose. There will probably also be some donation opportunities on the day of. And I’m sure that my astute readers have figured out where I’m going with this….

Weights

So I’m competing in a powerlifting competition in November. For quite some time I’ve been intrigued by the idea of this type of competition, but I’ve not been in a place where I feel I can dedicate the time to entering a “real” competition. Some of the people at my gym do these – two people just competed at provincials – and I see the amount of time and dedication they put into it, and I know that I am just not in the position to do that right now. But when I heard about this fundraiser competition, I immediately wanted to take part. To me, it’s a low barrier way to try out a competition to see what it’s like. I can do my usual 3 days-a-week at the gym, learn about how competitions work, and compete in the supportive environment of my own gym surrounded by cheering friends! I’m super stoked about the whole thing.

My trainer, Dee, wrote me my first powerlifting training plan. And while the competition will just involve deadlifting, I am going to train all three of the big lifts that are usually done in competition (deadlift, back squat, and bench press) just for fun. My first week of the program involved finding my current 3 rep max (i.e., what’s the most I can lift three times in a row). My 3 rep maxes turned out to be:

  • deadlift: 80 kg (176 lbs)
  • bench press: 45.5 kg (100 lbs)
  • squats: 75 kg (165 lbs)

And now I work through my program for 4 weeks where I lift a given percentage of my max for a bunch of reps, lifting progressively heavier weights for fewer reps each week to make some sweet, sweet gains and see just have far I can get. Or, as my new t-shirt says:

My new tshirt

Given that I’d just starting getting back into the heavy lifts after rehabbing my knee injury, the competition is coming at a perfect time for me. Plus, two of my 2019 goals are to deadlift and squat 90 kg, so this competition will be the perfect opportunity to work towards those goals!

Anyway, long story short, if you see me between now and Nov 30, I’ll probably bore you to tears with talk of powerlifting. And I may also hit you up for a donation, once I figure out what the donation system is going to be (maybe donate $1 for every kg I lift? I’m open to suggestions!)

Bicep

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A bunch of stuff I cooked

Ever since I posted about my progress on my goals for 2019 (or lack thereof), I’ve been on the look out for new foods to make. Last weekend I made:

German red cabbage:

German cabbage

Roasted cabbage wedges:

Roasted cabbage

And this weekend I decided that I should make something to use up the some of the fresh herbs that are growing my balcony because they are growing like crazy:

High Garden 2019
High Garden 2019 is doing quite well
High Garden 2019
More of High Garden 2019

So I posted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, asking my tweeps, FB friends and, (um, what’s the demonym for people on Instagram?) for recipe suggestions. And they did not disappoint!

My friend Karen suggested this recipe: Smashed potatoes with herb vinaigrette. Smashed potatoes are one of my go-to recipes, but I usually put apple cider vinegar with salt and pepper on them. So I was intrigued by this recipe, where you make a vinaigrette with a tonne of fresh, along with olive oil, lemon juice, chili peppers, and Dijon mustard.

Here’s the smashed potatoes, prior to the vinaigrette (basically, boil little potatoes until you can stick a fork in them, put them on a cookie sheet, smash, drizzle with oil, and bake):

Smashed Potatoes

And I found this recipe by the power of Googling: Fresh Herbs With Corn, Asparagus, and Chickpeas Recipe. Though this recipe called for a slightly different mix of herbs than the other recipe, I’m lazy, so I just chopped up a big bowl of thyme, parsley, mint, and oregano1, mix it with olive oil and lemon juice, and then split it in half and used it with both recipes (with the addition of the Dijon and chili peppers for the potatoes).

Bunch of herbs
Big bowl o’herbs

Smashed potatoes with herb vinaigrette:

Smashed Potato Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

Fresh Herbs With Corn, Asparagus, and Chickpeas Recipe:

Fresh Herbs With Corn, Asparagus, and Chickpeas Recipe

And those two dishes comprised my dinner tonight. Super delicious.

Also, while uploading these photos, I discovered a photo of avocado toast that I made on June 25. I’d never made avocado toast before, so that totally counts as a new thing!

Avocado toast:

Avocado toast

So that brings me to a total of 10 new things that I’ve made this year (out of a goal of 19 new things), and since it’s July, that’s about right on track. I’ve also tentatively invited a couple of people over for dinners (for my goal of having people over for dinner 5 times – pending me sorting out my calendar to figure out when such dinners could occur), so that will be an opportunity to make new things too.

Also, I’m going to put the other suggestions I got from people about things I can make with my herbs here, because right now they are scattered between Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram replies and I’m totally going to forget what they all are and they’ll get lost down the memory hole that is social media if I don’t post them here.

From my friend, Linda:

  • a zucchini, lemon and herb pasta to use up random herbs – saute some zucchini with thinly sliced garlic (use olive oil, salt and peper), add in cooked pasta (penne/rotini etc, not long noodles), zest of one lemon, a bunch of random chopped herbs and some parmesan cheese. Dill, chives, parsley and mint would be good choices from your garden. Add lemon juice plus salt and pepper to taste.
  •  freeze your rosemary whole and use it to roast stuff in the future.
  • Make herb butter and freeze it for future use – dill butter is delicious on fish, rosemary and chive would be yummy on potatoes, etc. [This sounds amazing and I’m totally going to do this]
  • salad with parsley and mint (and chickpeas, cucumber, onion, maybe some chives, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and zatar).
  • Make Greek salad with your oregano and thyme. [we do this all the time because I’m slightly obsessed with Greek salads]
  • heat up some sage until it is crispy and top what ever you want, it’s yummy!
  • Make taboouli with your parsley and mint (I usually do it with couscous – much quicker and easier than using bulgar).

From my high school drama teacher (because Facebook):

  • Make herb packets, dry them, grind some bigger leaves and put in small cheesecloth packets. Drop in soups, stews etc and when ready scoop out packets and toss.

From my friend Paul:

  • Makes for great flavour with new potatoes bbqed with butter in tin foil packets. Make sure to boil or steam them first. Cuts down cooking time on the bbq. Me being the neanderthal man that I am I went straight for the fire and had to wait a long time.

From my friend Stephanie:

  • Mix chives, oregano, thyme, parsley with feta or other cheese and use to stuff mini-peppers (cut in half lengthwise). Bake at 375 for 25 minutes until peppers are roasted and cheese melted. This is summer potluck go-to recipe for 2019.

From my friend Cath:

  • I’ve been making tea from my mint, with a little thyme and rosemary thrown in. Excellent hot or cold

From my friend Nancy:

  • I literally just cut mine , put in baggies & freeze them.

So I’ll think I’ll be just fine for using up those herbs!

  1. My savory had weird white spots on it, so I didn’t use it. []

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Half Way Goals Check-In

So, the year is half over. I know that every year I, like most people, marvel at how fast the year is going by, this year it’s way worse than previous years. Like, the year is half over and I haven’t really done anything… and I haven’t even planned stuff.

Anyhoo, I thought that maybe I’d do a check in on how my goals for 2019 are going since the year is half freaking over, but honestly doing this just made me feel like I really have done nothing with the first half of the year! Correction: this has motivated me to get going on my goals!

Anyhoo again, of my 19 goals, I’ve completed a grand total of 1. So yeah, I’m a wee bit behind. But the one that I did complete was monumental:

I TRAPBAR DEADLIFTED 100 KG!

The goal was actually just to deadlift 90 kg, and I did for 2 reps of a 90 kg trapbar deadlift on Jan 13, and then again for 2 reps on Jan 20, and then I did a single rep of 100 kg. For those of you who prefer to think of weight in pounds, that’s 220.5 lbs. Trapbar deadlift is easier than regular deadlift, but it’s still technically a deadlift!

I came close to one of my other weightlifting goals: I back squatted 85 kg on Jan 24, just 5 kg shy of my goal of 90 kg (i.e., 198 lbs).

I have made some progress on a few other goals. For the goal of making 19 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before, I’ve made 5:

So I’m 26% done that goal – behind schedule, but I can definitely catch up.

For the goal of read 20 books, I’ve read 7 (5 of which I’ve already blogged about), and I’m in the process of reading 5 other books right now. So I feel like I’m on my way with this goal, although I wonder if I should focus my reading to get some of these books done, rather than sporadically reading from all 5 of them, just to make myself feel like I’m accomplishing something! I should also try to pick a few shorter books – most of the books I’m currently reading are quite long, which doesn’t help in the feeling-like-I’ve-accomplished-something department.

A number of my things on my list are home improvement-y/organization-y, so I probably should just make a plan to get some of those done, as some are the type of thing I can get done in a weekend here or there.

I haven’t sewn anything and I have a goal to sew 5 things, so I really should decide what I want to sew and get cracking on it. I have a goal of sleeping an average of 7 hours per night and though my Fitbit tracks my sleep for me, I can figure out how to find out what my average since Jan 1 has been. Looking at the graphs by month, I can see that I haven’t hit the 7 hour mark for any single month, so I know I’m not meeting the goal, but I guess I’ll have to download the data to calculate the yearly average myself. I have a goal to write in my journal once a week and I have written 23 entries, so I’m 44% done that goal. And I have a goal to have people over for dinner 5 times, and I’ve only hosted one dinner, so I should do some planning for that (anyone interested in coming over for dinner? Hit me up!)

As for my blogging goal, which was a *very* modest 78 blog postings, as soon as I hit “publish” on this one, I’ll have published 23 for the year (or 29.5%). Perhaps another thing I can spend a bit of time on!

 

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Summertime!

OK, so it’s not technically summer until Friday, but you’d never know it from the weather we’ve been having. It’s sunny and warm and the sun is up until nearly 9:30 pm.

Things I’m excited about for the summer, in no particular order:

  • The New West Grand Prix – watching professional cyclists ride around and around and around and around my home is actually a lot more exciting than one might expect. Plus my gym will have beer and snacks
  • playing tennis – Scott and I bought some tennis rackets that were on super duper sale at a sports store that was closing down, right before I sprained my MCL. And while the MCL healing has been going slower than I would like, it’s definitely getting better. So much so that I’ve been able to play hockey with a knee brace – so I think I’ll give tennis with a knee brace a try too!
  • the New West Farmers market – while the Farmers Market in New West runs all year, the winter market is uptown on Saturdays and somehow I never manage to get all the way uptown! But the summer market is at City Hall, which is just a short walk (up a very steep hill) from me on Thursday afternoons/evenings. I haven’t gotten out there for the first few weeks, but I’m planning to go soon.
  • canning/jamming more stuff – my friend Patricia has some pear trees near here that have those most amazing tasting pears EVER. I can’t wait until they are ready because I’m going to pick some and can them!
  • tackling stuff from my 2019 goals list – I am VERY behind on my goals for this year (I blame teaching too much in the January semester), but now that that is behind me (along with all my work travel for May), I can actually do some of that stuff
  • Fridays on Front Street and the New West StrEAT Food Truck festival – two New West traditions. I have a couple of friends who are moving/have moved to New West this year, so I’m excited to indoctrinate them into our New West ways
  • hiking – every summer I say I’m going to do more hiking. Hope springs eternal!

I also have a bunch of vacay that I need to book, but I don’t really want to go away when it’s so nice out and there’s so many fun things going on. Perhaps I’ll take some days off to do stuff around here (especially if a certain friend of mine comes to visit and wants to jump out of a plane with me, as we may or may not have previously discussed).

And maybe I’ll look at the fall for a trip somewhere…