Sunday, May 31, 2015

Happy Birthday, Ken!

Today is my great friend Ken's 26th birthday! Friends gathered and we spent the weekend celebrating Ken and his birth. It was a memorable weekend and I'm so glad I got to be a part of it. And as the weekend comes to a close, I wanted to take the time to express how much it means to have a friend like him. 

Ken is one of the kindest people I know. He is extremely likable and makes friends quite easily because of it. He is genuine and I admire his ability to see the good in all. When I moved to Beijing almost 2 years ago, I knew right away that Ken and I would be great friends. He has an amazing sense of humour, he is light-hearted, and loyal. Moving to the other side of the world is a tough thing to do, but it is made easier by people like Ken. I don't know if he truly knows how much I appreciate his friendship. He made the adjustment to my new life much easier. 

It's true that all of my closest friends are women. It's easier for women to talk to other women about womenly things. I've never had a guy friend that I felt I could talk to about anything: life, problems, family, work, my past, my present, and my future. I can talk to Ken about anything! He is an amazing listener. When I just need to ramble and have someone on the receiving end of it, Ken is always there. He knows that sometimes I don't need a response. I just need to vent slash verbalize my thoughts. He is a great listener. And gives the best bear hugs afterwards. 

Lastly, and this is definitely one of my favourite things about Ken, is he knows how to brighten my day. Face is, I'm moody. And I run on extreme highs and extreme lows. It's very rare that I'm just coasting at a 5. So, when I hit those extreme lows, at the perfect moment Ken will say or do something that lightens my mood. Whether it's making a joke, a funny face, or doing some hilarious dance move, I can depend on him to cheer me up. That, folks, is a great friend! 

Now that I've pumped your ego, Ken, I truly to do hope that you had a wonderful 26th birthday! I'm glad I had the opportunity to be a part of it! Oh, and PS - thanks for putting up with me :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy Birthday to one of the most beautiful people in my life, my mother! In case anyone who is reading this has forgotten, my mother is AH-mazing! If you need reminding, you can read about her amazingness in my previous birthday posts here, here, and here

My mom just had a knee replacement surgery. She is currently at home resting and recovering. I Skyped with her and Dad last night and she's doing well. She's nailing her exercises prescribed by the physiotherapist and she is up and hobbling along with a walker. She's feeling good and excited for the future and what is to come with her new knee. I wish nothing more for her than a complete change in her quality of life! 

I think one of my favourite qualities about my mother is that she is the BEST listener. And this is great news for someone like me who loves to talk. She listens to me rant. She listens to me rave. She listens to me vent. She listens to me ramble. She listens to my problems. She listens to my successes. After she finishes listening, she always comes back with the most sound advice, whether I want to hear it or not. She comforts me with her words, and that's something I'm so grateful for living on the other side of the world. I am so thankful to know that when I need her, she's always there for me. And I hope she knows I'd do the same for her in a minute!

Mom, I hope you have a fabulous birthday and you are spoiled immensely! Enjoy your lobster dinner (especially before I get home!). I'm sending you lots of love and hugs on your day. 

See you in 49 days. Love you, always and forever! 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

#bebetter Update & Recipe Sharing.

I'm half way through my second round of the 21 Day Fix. After my first round, I took a weekend off while I was on holiday in Hong Kong. I gave myself permission to have a treat here and there and to not be too worried about what I was putting in to my body, but still being mindful. WELL...I ate a lot of cupcakes, had a beer or two or three, and ate some sauce-y dishes! However, I vowed to myself that as soon as I got back to Beijing I'd start my second round. And I stuck to my promise!

I'm feeling so many different things during this second round. I'm definitely not as sore as I was during my first round; it's probably because I'm used to the exercises. I'm building muscles in places I've never felt before: My legs, my upper back, and my arms. I still don't have "abs", but I certainly see some toning happening and my midsection is "smoothing out"...if you will. I definitely have more energy and feel lighter. 

I think my greatest success so far this time around is just getting back on track after having indulged while away. I let myself have some foods that Autumn (creator of the 21-Day Fix) would have scoffed at. But, I didn't let them sway me in to quitting. I enjoyed the treats, but was still motivated enough to get back in to my lifestyle change. I think my greatest challenge so far this round is being too impatient with seeing results. I step on the scale too frequently and get let down when the numbers have hardly changed. I expressed this discouragement to my coach, Sam, and she was so good at reminding me that the scale is just a number. That it's the inches off my body that I'll notice more. Remember: muscle weighs more than fat! I decided that I'd take some after pictures so I can really see the difference in my physical appearance from day 1, and there is definitely a difference! (PS - I'm not brave enough to show those pictures yet. Some day...)

Oh! And another accomplishment - I had to go up to a heavier set of weights this week because I was finding my lighter set too easy during the workouts. I used the 10lbs weights for the first time tonight, and WOAH! A BIG difference! I had to push much harder and I can feel it in my arms already! A good kind of pain. 

I love to cook, so I haven't been finding eating that difficult. I search out new recipes online and try to give myself as much variety as I can in my meals. I like big flavours, spices, and cheese! Thank goodness I can still have cheese! One of my favourite go-to meals right now is a rice bowl that I came up with based on one of my favourite dishes at Moka Bros - a delicious restaurant here in Beijing! The dish at Moka Bros is called "Dr. Rice" and includes a lot of brown rice, some spinach and roasted cherry tomatoes, some basil and two poached eggs. My recipe is a little bit different, includes a lot more vegetables, and chicken! I thought I'd share it on here with you, and I strongly encourage you try it. It's not hard, it's packed with protein and vegetables, and for something that's "good for you" it's quite hearty and filling. 

Hearty & Healthy Rice Bowl


  • 1 yellow container cooked brown rice 
  • 3 green containers of vegetables (today I used broccoli, cherry tomatoes, bok choy, and spinach)
  • 1 red container of cooked chicken, chopped
  • 2 eggs 
  • garlic 
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • green onions for garnish 

1. Cook the rice as directed on the packaging. While the rice is cooking, prep your vegetables. You can really use any combination of vegetables that you want. I usually use asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and spinach. Today, I didn't have any asparagus so I opted for broccoli. Let your imagination run wild! Have fun with your choices and use what you have on hand. Chop the vegetables in bite size pieces (except the spinach). Put them on a pan with 1 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil and roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the cherry tomatoes "POP."

2. While the vegetables are cooking in the oven, sauté the spinach with garlic. I didn't use any oil because there is a lot of water in spinach and it will come out as soon as the spinach touches heat. Cook until the spinach is wilted to your liking. 

3. Set the cooked spinach aside, and start working on the poached eggs. It has taken me a long time to learn how to cook poached eggs. I'll tell you now it takes practice, but hopefully my tips will help. Bring to a boil 2 cups of water and 2 tsp of white vinegar. There's something about science that makes the eggs poach better with the vinegar. I don't understand it, but it WORKS and your eggs will taste NOTHING like vinegar.

4. Once the water has come to a simmer, lower the heat. Crack one egg in a small dish. (It's important to do this and not crack the egg directly in the water. The dish allows you to put the egg in to the water gently). Before placing the egg in the water, take the end of a wooden spoon and make circles in the water to create a sort of "whirlwind" effect. Then place the egg in the water and take the back of the wooden spoon and gently push the egg whites over the yolk until the egg whites are no longer translucent. Repeat this step for the second egg.

5. Depending on how you like your eggs cooked will decide how long you should poach them. I used to like my eggs cooked hard, all the way through. But now, I kind of like a soft poached egg. The yolk creates a sauce for the dish and it's quite delicious. So, I cook my eggs until the whites are firm to the touch, but the yolk still has a bounce when you touch it. (Maybe 2 minutes...I didn't actually time it).

6. Assembly time! I put the rice in as the base, then top with the broccoli and tomatoes, then spinach, then chicken. The poached eggs are placed on top. I sprinkle with pepper and green onions to garnish. Then, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I just like enough to add some flavour, but this step is completely optional. I think a little soya sauce would taste good too!

7. Enjoy! Break in to those soft poached eggs and starting tossing together all of the layers so the yolk and balsamic vinegar coat every bite!

For anyone reading this who is on the 21-Day Fix, for me this worked out to 1 yellow, 3 green, 2 red, and a teaspoon.

Let me know if you try this recipe and if you like it. It's definitely open for interpretation. You can add, take away, and modify as you like! If you try the soya sauce, let me know what it's like. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Four Years & Breathless.

Four years.

It kind of takes my breath away to think that it's been four years since we lost Grandad to cancer. Four years since we had to say goodbye. Sometimes I can't remember what I had for lunch the day before, but I can clearly remember the sounds, sights, emotions, and feelings that I experienced in the early hours of May 9th, 2011. I can remember the sniffs and cries from myself and my family. I can still hear my Grandmom assuring my Grandad it was okay to let go. I can still feel the panic that set in to my heart when I was told it was "time." And while I'm typing this, I'm consumed with heartache and I'm experiencing a shortness of breath. And it's now that I realize I haven't experienced these feelings for quite some time. 

I think that's because when I think of my Grandad now, I don't think of his illness and demise. I remember who he was as a person. And you should all know that my Grandad was an amazing human being. Supportive, loving, and so strong! I see these same characteristics in my brother: protective and strong. I see them in my Uncle Mark: loving and supportive. And in my own father: supportive, caring, and oh so patient! 

Grandad was always so proud of his family. He was an amazing leader and support system. Today, when I look at my family and how we've grown and changed over the last four years, I only wish he could be here to see it. If I could talk to him, I would tell him so many things! But here is what I'd want him to know about his family: 

Your grandchildren have grown so much in the last four years. Brad has found a career that suits him, that he's good at, and that he loves. He is strong, protective, and has grown in to an amazing man. And our relationship as brother and sister has strengthened. We support each other and care for each other. He and dad are my rocks. They keep my panicky, over thinking mind grounded. 

Rebecca and Rachel are beautiful young ladies. They excel in so many ways: sports, academics, and just being amazing young women. I see myself in Rebecca in so many ways when I was that age. She's coming in to her own, driving a CAR, and is so mature. Rachel is a basketball superstar, has legs miles long, and is so charismatic. You would be so proud of them! 

My personal connection with Uncle David has strengthened since your passing. I've visited him twice in Vancouver, and he is making his second trip out East this summer. We send postcards, emails, and stay in touch regularly. He is an amazing human being and has taught me a lot about life, and a lot about your younger years. I'm so thankful he is a part of my life, because he reminds me so much of you. 

Mom, Dad, Uncle Mark, and Aunt Carolin are amazing parents. They are the most caring and supportive people. But above everything else, they love. The love each other, they love their children, they love their nieces and nephews, and they love Grandmom. They have taken such good care of her, looked out for her, and protected her. I think they learned from the best - YOU! 

And Grandmom. I would be lost without her! I am so proud of the strides she's made and how she has adjusted to her new lifestyle. She continues to be active, she supports our family in so many ways, and she's a pro at the computer now (It's true! Don't shake your head, Grandmom!) She is one of the strongest and most beautiful women in my life. She inspires me, and I love her with all my heart. You would be so proud of her!

You are missed every day. And everything I accomplish, every step I take and new path I explore, I think of you. I love you Grandad, always and forever. 

Love from your #1 Granddaughter. 
Your girl,