February Wrap-Up

Heart on Window

Well, here I am, sitting in the dark and watching last night’s The Walking Dead on PVR. And making myself way too afraid to get up and go to the washroom. (I do not have the lights off as a means to terrify myself, by the by. I’ve been trying to limit my energy use over the past month and have developed a real creepy habit of sitting in the dark and watching tv. It’s a good thing there is no one around to see this…) I thought this was the best possible time to write a wrap-up post – also because it is the last day of the month. All signs point towards writing this awesome post.

Now that the blog is just over a month old, I’ve been thinking about what I want for it in terms of tone and feeling. I realized that I’ve always loved chatty blogs that make me feel like I’m a part of the blogger’s life. As much as I would love to be crazy professional and write about the fun things I do in Calgary as if I were writing for Avenue or another well-established and very grownup publication… I just can’t resist bringing my personal and my casual into it. My very favourite blog, Happy or Hungry, has inspired me to craft a few healthy lunches… but mostly, I just sort of feel like I’m a part of her close-knit and incredibly fun group of friends. I love reading her recounts of all her adventures and watching her life grow and change.

So, all that rambling to say, I’m going to start being a little bit more personal, sharing bits of myself, and these monthly recap posts are where it is all going to start.

Lonely Work Chair

Overall Month Rating
B-. February turned out to be a far busier month than I had ever expected it to be – though I maybe should have expected it, as I run a course at work for the first two weeks of every February that keeps me at work for 11 hours days. (Please note the picture of the lonely work chair above, which sums up my life this month.) During February, I had a few extended family situations crop up while I also lost my lovely roommate of 3.5 years to the allure of a private basement suite and I haven’t yet found someone new to fill her place so that has me feeling a little uneasy going into March… I did have a ton of fun adventures with my brothers, of all people, this month though and my house has never looked more organized (post to come on that!) so those points saved February from dropping down into the C range.

Highlight of the Month
Definitely accompanying Bryan to a LARP event mid-month! I was super-anxious about it going in (there are so many rules to learn!), I was very tired afterwards (it ran from 6pm-2am), I had no idea what to expect… but it was so wonderful to be around so many people that were just so passionate and excited about something they were doing. I haven’t acted in a show since last June and being at LARP very much reminded me of the comradery and connection that develops when you do theatre. (And thus I have a bunch of auditions lined up for March…)

Lowlight of the Month
Definitely today, when I went outside to leave for work and there was so much ice built up on my front windshield that I couldn’t even scrape it. I just had to wait for the defroster to do its thing. I’ve been making a real effort to leave for work early enough that I can arrive 5-10 minutes before the official start time and not have to feel like I’m rushed the entire way there so it was such a bummer. (I do realize that I have alluded to quite a few other things above that maybe should be in this category, but I am trying to look at those as experiences to grow from. The ice windshield just sucked.)

Number of Workouts Completed
Not nearly enough. During the first two weeks of the month, I basically taught my barre class and maybe took one extra class (though I did prance around like Britney Spears for Med Show an awful lot)…

I’ve put my yoga membership on hold to save money, though, set up my treadmill/workout area in my basement and barre classes are slightly less busy this upcoming week, so I’m back on it! 3 workouts over the past 4 days… pretty promising!

Number of Plays Watched
Four plays this month, from a whole range of different theatre companies. Pretty wonderful!

Number of Movies Watched
In theatres – 0.

At home – 4. I’m trying to work my way through the Marvel Universe movies that I haven’t seen before Civil War comes out. And, also, I forced all my friends into coming over and watching Grease: Live more than once.

Number of Dates I Took Myself On
I love self-dates. On my vacation day, I took myself over to Double Zero at Chinook and enjoyed some wine, pizza and re-reading A Storm of Swords. Unfortunately, I am not a cheap date for myself, so I may need to find some more economical ways to express some self-love. (That sentence sounds creepy. I stand by it, though.)

Best New Discovery
Still Buffering. Technically, it launched in January but I am always behind on my podcast listening and picked it up in February. Still Buffering is a hilarious and heart-warming podcast hosted by two sisters, aged 32 and 15, discussing the differences between being a teenager then and now. It gives me such nostalgia and such laughter.

Best Book Read
I mentioned earlier this month that I love memoirs when I’m on the go because the chapters are generally little bite-sized chunks that allow you to read just one at a time. Amy Poehler’s Yes Please has just been making me so happy over the past couple weeks – she is just as positive and inspiring as I expected her to be.

And now, The Walking Dead is over and The Bachelor is on, so please excuse me while I go pour a weekday glass of wine and allow my mind to atrophy a little.

And if you are in Calgary and you are someone I know (which I assume is 98% of my readership), please please live in my house…
riverbend2

Everything I Love – Chocolate, Bacon & Booze at Willow Park Wine and Spirits

Willow Park Wine and Spirits is so much more than just a beautiful liquor store with an exceptional selection (though it is certainly that). Willow Park is an institution. They have an incredible team of expert connoisseurs to help you pick out exactly the right liquor, beer or wine for any occasion, they have speciality products that no other store has… they have an onsite kitchen and put on incredible festivals, galas, information sessions and tasting events. I’ve gone to festivals with vendors and wineries from all over where I have learned so much about products (and had more than enough to drank in a safe location close to home) and I’ve discovered pairings that I never would have imagined at tasting events.

So, last Thursday, for the second time that week, I roped Bryan and Darci into coming to a crazy fun and informative event with me. They like it when I force them into things.

Beautiful (and Packed!) Tasting Space At Willow Park
When we arrived for the event at 7pm on the dot, we showed our tickets and were immediately ushered downstairs to the basement to select our seats. (And don’t they do a great job of making the basement look appealing!?) As a note, I recommend arriving 10-15 minutes before the event begins – there is no assigned seating for tasting events and, trust me, you want to be together with your group and near the front to get the full experience.

Kevin's Bacon
As we filed through the door and immediately began scoping for the best seats, we were handed a very special reception cocktail – the Kevin’s Bacon, created by Senior Product Consultant, Michael Bigattini just for us. (PS: If you ever can take an event run by Michael, do it – he is both knowledgeable and hilarious in equal turns.) Featuring Bacon-Infused Jack Daniels, black tea and maple syrup, the Kevin’s Bacon was an ideal drink for summer, light and perfect for all the BBQs I’m planning to throw on my patio… thank goodness Michael gave us the recipe!

Tasting Brochure CoverTasting Brochure Inside
Each seat was set with a tasting guide – ostensibly to make notes in, but it mostly just seemed like a great way to tantalize us with all the pairings we were about to try out!

Place Setting
We also were each supplied with 5 different glasses filled with a range of alcohol options, an “empty space” (temporarily filled with popcorn) for a warm drink that was yet to be brought up and a few of our food pairings that could be served cold. The excitement was mounting and the space was filled with chatter but as soon as Michael began to share his enthusiasm for the pairings he had put together, we were all captivated.

Pairing One
We first sampled Hot Pepper Bacon Popcorn with Chocolate Drizzle paired with the Howe Sound Diamond Head Stout. I had actually just posted on Instagram about how I didn’t care for stout… but this lightly hoppy oatmeal stout really was a perfect pairing with the popcorn. The stout mellowed some of the heat in the popcorn and brought out the notes of the chocolate. Plus… who can complain about popcorn popped in bacon grease!? I kept thinking I would save some for the drive home but that was not to be.

Pairing Two
Pairing Number Two! Chocolate Dipped Bacon Skewer with a created-by-Michael Mexican Hot Chocolate. This was voted the best pairing by a show of hands and though it wasn’t my pick, it was tasty. There was also something just so decadent about using the bacon as a stir stick for the hot chocolate. Darci felt that the cinnamon in the hot chocolate overwhelmed the other flavours (I find that cinnamon is one of those love it or hate it flavours), while I found this pairing just a liiiiittle too rich. Blasphemy, I know!

Pairing Three
Number Three: Salted Maple Bacon Truffle with a Manhattan. Did you know that the Manhattan was created for Winston Churchill’s mother, a society lady who loved her booze just as much as her son did? I sure didn’t! For extra points, here is an absolutely terrible picture of me looking real skeptical with my Manhattan:

Manhattan
And why do I look that way? Because, and I quote: “In this drink, the cherries are the mix – they’re the only non-alcoholic… wait, they’re brandy-soaked”. But it turns out, I do appreciate a quality Manhattan with quality ingredients. Also, I appreciate brandy-soaked cherries.

Pairing Four
This pairing featured the incredible and not at all healthy “Dude’s Magic Bar” (pretzels, chocolate chips, bacon, peanut butter chips, potato chips and dulce de leche)… Bryan’s pick for the best pairing. Bryan loves both peanut butter and being a dude. The Magic Bar was paired with the Granville Island Lion’s Winter Ale, a beer described by Michael as “vanilla-y and special”. (Can I please mention again how much I loved Michael’s enthusiasm for absolutely everything we consumed?) I already like the Lion’s Winter Ale and I loved how the mellow flavours made the Magic Bar seem not quite so terrible for you.

Pairing Five
During this pairing, we received the overview of how to properly taste wine. Unfortunately, by that point, Darci and I had already devoured both our wine and our Bacon Cannoli, so we just kept pretending with empty glasses. We are all class, all the time. The wine, by the way, was the Chateau Trillol from the South of France – a 50% syrah blend with notes of cherry, black currant, raspberry and black & white pepper. Michael described it as a “food-driven” wine with a good acidity to act as a palate cleanser to cleanse away the richness. I bought this wine.

Pairing Six
And finally, the pairing that Darci and I voted as the best pairing – Chocolate Bacon Pull Apart Bread and the Zenato Amarone. I have absolutely no notes about why I loved this pairing so much, but a ton of notes about the wines from the Valpolicella valley of northern Italy. (Only three types of red wine can come from this valley, Amarone is the highest end type.) I think this really exemplifies why I love the Willow Park events – yes, I got to enjoy delicious food and dranks, laugh at some clever humour… but I also gained some very special knowledge about wine that I can maybe use to feel superior in the future.

By the way, red wine should be served at “cellar temperature” (17-18 degrees Celsius) not strict room temperature.

Anyway, the night wrapped with us finishing up any nibbles or dribbles we had left, receiving a coupon for 5% off up in the store and tasting the plum & rootbeer bitters that were used in the Manhattan. (When you taste bitters, you put a drop on the back of your hand. It is still VERY strong. Bryan said we had to taste it for the blog, but I think he just wanted to prove he could do it.)

Close up of Bitters bitters dabbing Bitters Licking

Check out the Willow Park events page for more of their amazing upcoming events – I will be hitting up the Cupcakes Pairing event next… maybe I’ll see you there?!

Paint Nite @ The Station

In my opinion, every neighbourhood needs a solid neighbourhood bar – I think I alluded to this in my first real post, about my work neighbourhood bar. You know what I mean, a casual little bar that you don’t need to dress up to fit in at, that has solid greasy pub food and that is stumbling distance from your house. My neighbourhood has an absolutely rad pub that ticks all these boxes, The Riverbend Station. The Station is a pub that my dad used to hangout at with his friends in the 90s, but it recently came into new ownership, a renovation and began hosting what is, in my opinion, the very best new activity to do while drinking… Paint Nite!

Paint Nite events, taking place at bars across North America, are an event designed to elevate the typical night out and help patrons access their creativity. In Calgary, Paint Nite events take place at a range of bars across all four quadrants and you must buy tickets ahead of time from their website for the date, painting and bar that you love. All of the paintings are originally created by professional artists and the excellent Paint Nite team consists of fun, spunky and talented visual artists who walk you through the process of creating each painting in an easy and accessible way. You are always free to follow their instructions to the T or exercise your own creativity to take your canvas in your own direction. I have been to four Paint Nite events and was crazy impressed by the art I did each time.

My brother’s girlfriend, Darci, and I have been looking for a Paint Nite that we could attend since before Christmas and when a painting featuring a cute little owl popped up at my neighbourhood bar, we jumped all over that. We also brought along her boyfriend/my brother, Bryan, for a little extra colour.

The event started at 7 pm, but, always the anxiety filled perfectionist, I showed up just before 6pm to scope out the best possible table to paint at. (And you know that as soon as we were allowed to reserve our spots, I was all over that!) While waiting for Bryan and Darci to arrive – and pretending I wasn’t just going to jump on reserving spots – I enjoyed a pint of Kokanee Gold, which was on special on Mondays, and a few chapters of Judy Greer’s memoir I Don’t Know What You Know Me From. I love nothing more than a fun memoir when I know I’ll only be able to sneak in a tiny bit of reading. (My mom gave me her old Kobo a year ago and it is the best ever when you’re on the go.)

Beer And Book

I also snuck a look at the menu, but pizza was on special ($10 for a ten inch, $15 for a fifteen inch) so, really, our mind was already made up.

The Station - Menu

Right as Darci and Bryan arrived, our Event Host, Kenzie, popped up a canvas telling us to grab a canvas to reserve a seat… so I sent Bryan over to set up our canvases at the ideal table I had already picked out (close to the host stand, but not right at the front of the room and in the corner enough that I hoped our fourth seat wouldn’t be filled)… isn’t that what brothers are for!?

Save a spot! That's what brothers are for

That’s why we invited him, yo.

We dove on the menu and created the perfect pizza for $15 – ham, chorizo and bacon. When the pizza’s on special, you’ve got to double down on the meats! And in case that wasn’t quite enough for to quench our hunger while in an artistic frenzy, we also added on an order of cod bites. It may not have seemed this way to most, but our food arrived in perfect timing – right as we finished up on the first layer of the painting which meant we could snack while we waited for it to dry!

The First Step
(That hourglass outline will become an owl. Seriously. It’s like paint-by-numbers but more fun and more beautiful.)

Bryan and Darci
Bryan and Darci relaxing with some pizza.

Our pizza's on a chair!
Our server was crazy resourceful and found us an extra bar chair to set our pizza on while we painted away. It seems counter-intuitive to review the pizza that we created ourselves but, trust, it was delicious… lots of toppings, perfectly melty cheese and a great crust that could hold up to all the tops but was also perfectly light.

Cod Bites aka pure deliciousness
This is a terrible representation of the Cod Bites, because we had to tuck them between all our canvases to fit them on the table, but they were definitely the highlight of the night. Lightly breaded with a sriracha-infused coating, they were just crispy and spicy enough to add some kick.

I won’t go too deep into describing the process of creating our paintings – just know that the two hours of instructional time flew by in a haze of mixing colours, dabbing the perfect amount of paint here and there, and jokes from Kenzie. She was also crazy on point when it came to settling our painting insecurities and helping us fix any perceived imperfections. I will share a few of my work in progress pictures, though, along with the final project…

Step Two Step Three

Final Product

Isn’t amazing how even though we were working on the same basic picture, our individual personalities came through anyway!?

If you are looking for a fun night out, I could not more strongly recommend doing a Paint Nite. I am sometimes even tempted to do one alone! (Note that there are almost always discount codes available so you can buy your event tickets for $25. If you are having trouble, email me… and, hey, maybe I’ll just join you! I’ll always take any excuse to paint…)

Theatre Thursday – Calamity Town

Thursday January 28 was an absolutely incredible day. Not just because I took the day off work, so I got to enjoy a leisurely sleep in followed by a morning on the couch with The Girl on the Train and a cup of my favourite “Read My Lips” David’s Tea. (And tried to take a very blogger-tastic picture of myself pouring my tea… go easy on me, I’m new at this whole thing!)

Tea StashPouring Tea I Guess

It wasn’t just because it was not only a typical sunny winter day in Calgary, it was also a warm, sunny winter day in Calgary.

Backyard Sunshine

It wasn’t even because I managed to carve out some time for the trip to Costco that I force myself to take every three months for the essential, super non-perishable bulk products that I crave. Yes, Costco was as crazy busy as always…

Costco Craziness

… and, yes, my shopping cart was a petite bit embarrassing…

Costco Shopping Haul

But, hey, there are some snap peas in there! And I always feel so incredibly productive and grownup when I come home with a full stock of toilet paper and frozen treats. And can we talk about some of the name-brand finds that will pop up at Costco out of nowhere? That day, Cucina (as in the delicious smelling soap that was once carried by the now seemingly non-existent Fruits and Passion) had a consultant on site and small booth set up. I was going to take a picture, but I was worried my excitement might make me look like a creep.

Anyway, why was Thursday so great? Because it was the opening night of Vertigo Mystery Theatre’s Calamity Town and, as a subscriber, I was off to see it with my mother and my brother! (Yes, I am very fancy. Obviously. And this is the reason I have always considered Thursday to be the day for theatre – we’ve been a part of the Thursday opening night crowd since I was in university.)

First, of course, we had to eat! We had a few errands to run before dinner so when the time came to eat, we needed something reasonably quick that would satisfy even my brother Kevin, the king of picky eaters. We briefly considered whipping into a Vietnamese place, but our last errand took us to the Fabricland off of Macleod Trail and once on Macleod, we saw the sign for Open Sesame and our minds were made up!

I absolutely love Open Sesame – it may not be the newest or trendiest of restaurants, but I have so many fond memories of hosting 19th birthday parties in the small raised loft area, having deep conversations in the tent-inspired bar or eating an entire huge dessert each with my dear friend, Claire, after the waiter expressed his uncertainty that we could do it.

Open Sesame Signage

Once we made our way through the elaborate wooden door and down the Arabian Nights-inspired staircase to Open Sesame (going up the stairs takes you to sister restaurant, Bolero, a Brazilian steakhouse), we were greeted by the special of the night – martinis!

Welcome Sign - Martinis!

I briefly considered a martini, but with all of my leisuring, all I had really eaten that day was two eggs on toast and I figured straight gin was perhaps not the best idea I had ever had. I selected a Malbec instead, while Kevin opted for an Aladdin’s Passion fruit shake.

Our Drinks and Chopsticks

Now, Open Sesame offers a range of Asian fusion menu items… but I don’t know that I’ve ever known anyone to order off the menu. The real star of the restaurant – and the whole reason you go there – is for their make-your-own-stirfry bar. You select a protein and a carb off their menu (coconut rice is a delicious and recent addition to the carb list), are brought a bowl and little paper with your selections marked, and then you hit up the veggie and sauce bar to design a delicious bowl of all your favourite things! (Their great chefs do the actual stirring and frying, of course.) I find the easiest way to put it together is throw every single vegetable you like into the bowl and then mix together 4-6 scoops of fish sauce and one of the spicy sauces. Easy-peasy and hits the spot every time… and I almost always have leftovers too!

Empty Bowl

I’m a failure at blogging and only took a before picture. My stirfry was too delicious and I was too excited to remember to snap an after. Just picture calamari and a zillion vegetables over coconut rice.

I was sharp enough to ask my mom to snap a picture of Kevin and I while we anxiously awaited our creations. On the other hand, I forgot that he was wearing the hoodie that reflects light like he is Iron Man, so he somewhat steals the show in our picture. (He’s also obviously very thrilled to be a part of this.)

Me and Kevin at Open Sesame

Once the food arrived, our table fell silent for a good 15 minutes while we eagerly dug in to our delicious meals. In, chat, eat, out… and all in an hour during the dinner time! We grabbed fortune cookies on our way out the door…

Fortune Cookies

… And it was off to Calamity Town!

Calamity Town Program

Opening night is one of the very best times to see theatre, in my opinion. There is such a buzz of excitement in the lobby and it is always thrilling to see the “who’s who” of the Calgary arts scene that comes out for opening. What would a Vertigo play be without Louis B. Hobson’s distinctive laugh following all the best moments? Or Craig Hall’s utterly charming welcome and thank you speech?

This year, Vertigo received an updated liquor license that allows patrons to bring their drinks into the theatre – as long as they are in a plastic glass – which is also all too exciting. No more trying to throw back a glass of wine or entire beer during a 20 minute intermission! (Oh yeah, and there are snacks after the show on Opening Night. Usually involving a cheese tray of some type. I’m not saying it’s the best part of the event, but it just makes a great night all the better. Their caterer rules.)

Back to Calamity Town. A world premiere script, inspired by Ellery Queen’s 1940 novel of the same name. Of course, it is always great to see old favourites including Tyrell Crews, Julie Orton, Jamie Konchak back on the Vertigo stage, but it was also such a delight to see Lindsey Angell back on the Calgary stage after last year’s Liberation Days. However, Christopher Hunt stole the show in his tour de force performance as numerous witnesses during the second act trial scene. (When does Chris Hunt not steal the show, though?… I may be biased. He taught us scenework during our fourth year acting course in university. But he really is so great!)

The greatest part of any mystery is trying to unravel the plot before the characters figure it out, so I won’t give away anything right now. Calamity Town is running at the Playhouse at Vertigo until February 21, 2016 – the theatre is tucked under the Calgary Tower so grab dinner and cocktails at one of the numerous restaurants nearby then enjoy an absolutely incredible night at the theatre. Love it!

#greenjuice = #delicious – Cru Juice Chinook

In many ways, my office is very much what you think of when you think of a stereotypical office job. The work we do is very fascinating and unique, but all of the constructs and characters are there. (I love every bit of it. My first professional job was a corporate training travel position and I am still not over the luxury of having not only my own desk but my very own office.) Not the least of these stereotypes is the sheer amount of food that floats around our office. We have a table in our common area where people will often place homemade goodies or leftovers from meetings and the assumption is that these snacks are fair game.

(… I do realize that one day this is probably going to result in all of us eating tainted cookies or someone’s party platter for their event later that night. It’s fine. I accept my fate.)

Case in point:
Sombrero Chips and Marshmallow Brownies

Last Friday, mystery chips and brownies appeared on the centre table and naturally we were on it like frat boys on a keg. The end verdict was that the chips were “sombrero” flavoured.

Though I love mystery snacks as much as the next girl, after half of one of those marshmallow brownies and a handful (… or two… or five), I knew I was in need of a little real nourishment. And lucky lucky me, I my timing could not have been more spot on… local cold-pressed juicery Cru Juice was celebrating the grand opening of their Chinook Centre location!

(Apparently “juicery” is not a word? I’m sticking with it!)

Cru Juice Chinook

First of all, Cru Juice is as beautiful as it is delicious and you should visit their website (where they take way better pictures that I do when I am trying to be sneaky in a mall) to revel in the beauty. Then you should order a bunch of juices, making sure to grab at least one green juice because it is the standard every juice should aspire to and one nut mylk because they are amazing after a tough workout, and revel in the deliciousness.

I may be overstating, but from my perspective I would say that Cru launched the raw juice trend in Calgary. We brought their juices into Barre Body Studio over a year and a half ago and they were a crazy runaway success. Not a shift goes by where I don’t sell at least 2-3 juices… and usually buy one myself. Since then, they’ve expanded from their original Bridgeland location to a stand in Holt Renfrew (now closed), a 17th Avenue location complete with raw food as well, a stand just next to lululemon in Southcentre Mall and are carried in numerous fitness studios and local retailers. Founders Amanda and Naomi were named a Top 40 Under 40 by Avenue Magazine this year and they really are taking the city by storm.

Cru Juice Menu

Cru Snack Menu

But enough background, let’s move on to the grand opening extravaganza! The new Cru Juice is located on the main floor, right by Abercrombie & Fitch. They carry the full complement of juices (keeping in mind that your mileage may vary – the juices are fresh and DO sell out) as well as a variety of raw snack options.

Cru was pouring samples of any juices all day but, trust, a devotee like me knew exactly what she wanted. A G1 #greenjuice to top myself off with some much needed nutrients and a Pure Raw Energy bar for when I hit that mid-afternoon slump. (Note that #greenjuice is my personal favourite of their Greens line – the green apple, ginger and lemon just give the perfect touch of sweetness and brightness to the juice.)

#greenjuice Cru Juice and Snack

Also Straws at Cru Chinook

Juice and straw in hand, I took a few moments to browse their “shop” shelves. Cru has a real knack for making local partnerships and giving the people what they want… they were selling terrariums from Plant, natural deodorant from routine, adorable Coutu Kitsch earrings  and S’well water bottles!

Earrings

All the Terrariums

For the especially healthy-minded they also carry a range of cookbooks and a special collagen line that is sold very few other places in Canada.

Cookbooks

Collagen

I took up entirely too much of the lovely Cru staff’s time chatting about the collagen line and everything that collagen is good for. Essentially, it is a tasteless, colourless powder that can be dissolved into any liquid (even, perhaps, a Cru juice…?) and just lubricates all your insides. Hair, skin, nails, joints… it’s good for it all!

I’m still deeply considering purchasing a round of collagen… but I’m on a bit of a tight budget right now with a trip to London to save for, and it’s just about time for me to do another one of Cru’s great cleanses. Which do I pick? Collagen for my active joints or a cleanse to reset those hunger cues…? (My life is obviously really difficult if these are the choices I am faced with… But still! Which do I invest in!?)

Cru Cleanse Ad

Visit Cru Juice’s website for more information about all their delicious juices and cleanses – they will even deliver if you can’t tear yourself away from the day job like I did – or swing the new Chinook location and try out a few for yourself.

Juice Love
(If there’s one thing this picture/my desk says, it’s that I obviously love beverages and know exactly what I am talking about. Just go.)

Short-Lived TV Shows I Love

I have had plans every evening this week and I have cancelled every single one of them. And I have loved it. Flu season had a late start here in Calgary and I’ve been pulling eleven hour days at the ol’ day job so going home at the end of the day and zoning out with a little TV and leftovers is heaven. Last night I was asleep at 9:30 and today, for the first time this week, I feel energized.

So, obviously Fit February is off to a raring start. (But still! Over 15 000 steps per day! That has to count!)

My new shut-in nature has also granted the opportunity to catch a few episodes of Eugene & Daniel Levy’s Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek on Netflix. At work, I’ve had numerous people, independently of each other, tell me that I remind them so much of the daughter on the show that they’ve actually checked the credits to see who was playing her. I don’t know if I see it yet, but Schitt’s Creek is a weird quirky little show, which I love, so I’ll keep watching it anyway.

“Weird quirky little show” is a pretty apt definition when it comes to the type of tv I like. I’m a big fan of the “gets cancelled after 13 episodes” or the “it’s crazy that they got renewed” niche. So, if you like little shows that make you feel better about your life, here’s a short list of short-lived tv shows I love:

1) Mixology
Mixology
This guy only had 13 episodes, one season, and I’m honestly not sure if it could have handled any more seasons. Mixology tells the story of 10 singles in a bar over one night – each episode is a little vignette that centres around two of the characters, though the other storylines progress as well. It’s easy to bang through this entire series in a week and it always inspires me to dress up and head to a cocktail bar. Also, I’m a fan of everything Vanessa Lengies does. [You can watch Mixology on Canadian Netflix.)

2) Friends with Better Lives
Friends with Better Lives
13 episodes filmed, only 8 episodes aired… maybe I wouldn’t have loved this sitcom if it kept going, but there was just something about the premise. Hey, these are people in their early 30s who are all in completely different places in their lives and that is cool. Add in some James Van Der Beek and Zoe Lister-Jones and an early episode about what a guys’ night becomes when you hit your thirties and move to the suburbs… I’m happy. (However, Friends With Better Lives apparently has a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I mostly watched it on the airplane while travelling for work… So I may have terrible taste. But the acting on this show is just SO GOOD.) (Friends With Better Lives can be found on Amazon for purchase.)

3) Garfunkel and Oates
Garfunkel and Oates
The Netflix app on my new SmartTV doesn’t easily show how many episodes there are of a given show if you just click on it to watch it and, holy geez, I was so disappointed when I realized there was only one short season of this show after binging on it. Garfunkel and Oates is a folk comedy band (consisting of Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, who you will definitely recognize as every present guest stars if you watch any comedy at all) and the tv show is a fictitious look at their lives trying to make it in LA. Awesome strong funny girls trying to make their way in the world… with songs? I’m in! (Garfunkel and Oates can be viewed on Netflix.)

4) Happy Endings
Happy Endings
This quirky little ensemble comedy about six friends dealing with the fallout of two members of their group splitting up, featured an all-star cast (seriously… Adam Pally, Elisha Cuthbert, Damien Wayans Jr…) and sharp writing. It is an even better version of Friends with Better Lives. Happy Endings actually made it to three seasons, but was plagued with a strange episode sequence in Season One (the ever present “they” were concerned about too many episodes about the breakup off the top of the series so the first season aired in an odd order) and with its airing time being bumped around during Season Three. I cannot say enough good things about this show. If you love clever, aware humour , even in the wackiness of situations – early New Girl, anyone? – track Happy Endings down and watch it. (Happy Endings is tragically no longer on Netflix. The first season was released on DVD in Canada and the rest of the seasons are considered imports… One day, they will be mine, though – and for a reasonable price!)

5) Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars
Wikipedia describes Veronica Mars as a teenage noir drama, but I still think it fits on my list. And, yes, it was critically acclaimed, has a movie and stars Kristen Bell… but it was still consistently plagued with potential cancellation (that is why the third season has several mini-story arcs) so it counts as short-lived and underappreciated! Even if murder mysteries aren’t your thing, give Veronica Mars a chance… if only to watch the brilliant nuanced performance that Kristen Bell brings to every second she is on-screen. And the rest of the cast isn’t too shabby either… (Psst: Krysten Ritter, Max Greenfield, Alona Tal and Jonathan Bennett are only some of the guest stars who will have you going “Hey! It’s them!”.) (Veronica Mars can be found streaming on Netflix. But it’s so worth it to invest in your very own copies on DVD.)

6) Community
Community
If Veronica Mars maybe doesn’t fit on this list, Community maybe really doesn’t fit on this list. After all, it is so close to the six seasons and a movie that Abed always referenced. But, at the risk of sounding like a super hipster, I was into it first! I made everyone I know watch it. I have an ex-boyfriend who told me I was the Dean, because he was Jeff Winger, which made me the Dean because I loved both costumes and Jeff Winger. Every season has real winning moments, though I think the second is my favourite season and the third season Christmas episode is my favourite episode. Community does Glee better than Glee does. Just watch it. (Community can be found on Hulu in the US and on Netflix in Canada.)

I wonder how long I can keep being a shut-in for so I can re-watch all my shows! What are your favourite semi-unknown shows to watch when you just can’t brave the rest of the world?

Fit February

Oof magoof, I love alliteration. I’m all about grandiose declarations like “No Wine Weekdays”, because, of course, if it alliterates it must be true. (Though apparently just declaring things does not actually make said things happen, even if it does sound good. You do kind of need to put in a little work.)

One of the amazing things that makes my life so very full is Barre Body Studio. I stumbled into the studio in early February 2013, after eating only a banana (which I soon learned was not nearly enough sustenance), and was immediately hooked on the warm, friendly vibe of the studio. And the low-impact, highly challenging workout, of course. But mostly it was how amazing the studio made me feel about myself. How I felt like even though my leg muscles were trembling so much that I thought I would fall over, I also could do absolutely everything. When the opportunity came up to work at the studio front desk, I immediately jumped on it, even though I had a full time job, just so I could really be a part of the studio culture.  Over the past six months, I went through the rigorous (but crazy fun) teacher training and I recently took over my very own Saturday afternoon class. I absolutely love it.

The best part – other than sneaking in a workout while I work – is being a part of such a loving, inspiring community of women. This January, we kicked off a 24 or more in 30 Workout Challenge amongst all the instructors/front desk staff where we aggressively supported each other, held each other accountable and posted so many sweaty pics to Instagram while we tried to fit in as many workouts as possible. It all capped off on Sunday afternoon with a Round Robin style barre master class where each instructor busted out her most torturous sequence to challenge and motivate the rest of us. My booty may still be shaking.

Just to demonstrate how tough the class really was, here are several very beautiful and very fit ladies working a scandalously difficult lunge series at the barre:
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By contrast, our fearless leader (and studio owner) Marlo, looked absolutely flawless during the same sequence… That’s why she is our Queen B!
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(Both images shamelessly snagged from the private BBS Challenge page, taken by beautiful instructor Jaimie.)

In any event, inspired by my colleagues, I’m going to keep this wellness train rolling into Fit February and try to fit in 24 or more in 29 days. Though I no longer have the BBS Challenge page to be accountable to, I do have something just as good – this blog. So over the next month, you’ll be seeing little sneak peeks and references to my various workout triumphs and tragedies.

Speaking of tragedies, it’s Day One of Fit February and I’ve already fallen overboard. No workout today.

But I did work 11 hours and get in 15000+ steps without even trying, so that’s got to count for something, right!? Right.

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Now I just need to remember that workouts really do make me feel as jazzed as I look in the picture above. (Just guess which one I am…)

Maybe once my butt stops hurting.

Got some fitness goals for February? Want to join me in my nonsense? Drop me a line in the comments!