Fitness, Life

If there’s one thing my readers know about me, it’s that I’m an actress. Oh no, wait, that’s not what this post is about… Let’s start over. If there’s one thing my readers know about me, it’s that I love challenges. Challenges are essentially the only way I actually achieve anything in life because I truly thrive on external validation. (Hashtag, maybe not the best quality? Hashtag love yourself?) Anyway, today is a not a deep dive into my psyche, today is a recap of the first week of my most recent challenge – Fit Girls Guide‘s 28 Day Jumpstart.

Challenges are the Only Way I Ever Achieve Anything
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Life

No Spend Week One
Week One

It’s recap time! Because we’re one week into No Spend April already. WOO! Week One! (Also, I totally didn’t take pictures of my meal prep this week. Hopefully that’s not actually something you want.)

The Spends

Blah blah blah, mortgage, cell phone, condo fees property tax… who cares? Let’s get down to the things I can control!

1. My gas gamble didn’t work – gas went up by four cents and I had to fill up this weekend. Meh.
2. Groceries only cost $19 this week! I have a rice and bean recipe that I am obsessed with and my pantry was already stocked with carrots, peas, onion and rice so I mostly just made a huge batch of that and then supplemented with some burrito bowl fixings. Delicious.
3. … I went to the Make It Market with my mom on Saturday and spent $40.

You Spent $40!?

Calm down, internet. I spent $40 and I don’t feel bad about it. I bought a one-of-a-kind art piece, created by a local artisan. For about six months, I’ve been trying to put together a wall in my kitchen – it currently has a chalkboard and a canvas print on it and I really want to hang up a corkboard that I already have for organizational purposes. However, this wall needs a something else to help balance the proportions… and I finally found something! After months of looking! I can finally not have my corkboard just leaning up against my wall in my kitchen.

I feel fine with this purchase because it was conscious and mindful. In months of looking, I hadn’t found anything I liked and I spent a ton of time weighing out the purchase before making it while at the Market. (I also didn’t buy any craft distilled liquors or tiny rings like I vaguely wanted to, so… winning.)

The No Spends

I know, that’s not an actual phrase, but I’m using it.

One of my biggest expenses is eating out. Part of it is that I love trying out new restaurants, with or without other people, but another part of it is just habit. I used to travel for work and I got super used to sitting at the bar in a restaurant with a book and a glass of wine to unwind. I got super used to grabbing a Chopped Leaf bowl on my way home from the gym because it was quick and healthy, and I was starving. Like I wrote about the tuna melt last week, a lot of what I did was just so easy and relatively inexpensive… but easy and inexpensive adds up, yo!

Right now, I think I’m still riding on the high of being oh so virtuous. It feels good to clear out my pantry and to go home to eat the meals I prepped. (Note: Old!Erin would totally have prepped meals and still gone out to eat anyway… that’s why it’s nice to have the “challenge” element to lean on.)

The Yoga

Oh my gosh, you guys, I am loving the Yoga With Adriene TRUE challenge. It reminds me a bit of being back in university and getting in touch with all the elements of myself – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. I will note: I don’t recommend this challenge if you just want to “work out”. Though there are definitely some challenging physical elements, this is really about developing a yoga practice and figuring out what it means to you.

I did miss a day of the challenge – on Friday, I spent the night at my parents’ house, having a railway night (long story), and then I spent a day out with my mom on Saturday, going straight to my Saturday night plans. I had thought I’d be home by 10 pm or so, then being able to unwind with a little yoga, but that was not to be. In an amazing moment of kismet, Adriene actually spoke about how we have to develop our own practice, how it make take some of us longer than 30 days to complete the challenge and how we have to celebrate ourselves… during the session I wasn’t able to complete on Saturday and ended up doing on Sunday night. How perfect!

YYCEats

Okay. Dudes and dudettes, you may or may not know that I am currently on vacay in BC for a week. I usually spend my vacations touring around places I haven’t really been to before but this year I dropped all my extra cash on London, so instead I’m just relaxing out at my parents’ place in Kimberley. It’s been a lot of reading beach trash, drinking boxed wine and brainstorming blog post ideas so I don’t fall behind again. It’s awesome but it’s probably making me lazy. I don’t want to let the Stampede fall too far in the past, since it closed on Sunday, but I am on vacay, so let’s keep it real easy and start off by talking about “Things I Ate at the Calgary Stampede” (I know, I know, be so jealous).

tophies
bbq and mikes



Pulled Pork Sandwich
At Stampede, you’ll quickly learn that there is pretty solid BBQ all over the place, specifically down the alley towards the Grandstand. How does a girl decide which barbeque stand deserves their well-earned $10? If you’re me, it’s the one with all the trophies, obviously! Most of these trophies are actually for their brisket but pulled pork is one of my very favourite meals (actually, I’m a sucker for pulled meats in general) so I went for it along with a Mike’s Hard Root Beer. Which?! Rootbeer beers are all the rage right now according to my dad who is “in the industry” (read: has a retirement job working at a liquor store) and yeah this tastes 100% just like root beer. So dangerous!

elvis


The Elvis
Guys, I get it. I now know how Elvis became Fat Elvis because I too have experienced the deliciousness that is a bacon, banana and peanut butter sandwich – in my case from The Peanut Butter Cupboard food truck. I stood in the rain for this guy and did not regret it at all – the perfect picture of salty-sweet. I might be able to recreate it at home but instead, I might just try to stalk this food truck around town instead… It’s summer in Calgary, they must be everywhere, right!?

mini donuts


Mini Donuts
And I rounded out that day of Stampeding with a little bag of mini donut – aka little clouds of sugary heaven. I somehow managed to save half for the next day and refreshed them at work by microwaving them for just 15 seconds. All my friends were so jealous.
Note: Don’t be fooled by imitators. The only place to get mini donuts is at the big yellow stand between the Big Four and BMO Centre called “Those Little Donuts”. I repeat do not go anywhere else.

Waffles and Chix


Fried Chicken Poutine
Another day kicked off with this not-so-little goodie from the Waffles & Chix stand. Waffles & Chix are actually all over the place in Calgary between their food truck and their booth at the Crossroads Farmers’ Market. But my mom and I enjoyed the fried chicken poutine a few years ago and it was so good that I have never wanted to taint the memory. This year we finally did and it was just as delicious as we remembered – all melty cheese curds and a bit of shredded cheese to fill it out, white gravy and delicately breaded fried chicken. Note that it is definitely a sharing portion. And that I was so excited to eat it that I didn’t take a picture… also, I was busy helping the little boy sitting next to me not lose his plate. It was a dramatic time. The picture above is blatantly ripped off the internet.

cheese pairing


Cheese Pairing
After all the craziness of the midway, Stampede Show Band and snowmobiles hopping over jumps (to be explained in a later post…), my mom and I needed a little Zen so we hit up the Co-op Wine Garden and enjoyed a little wine flight with cheese pairings. We have been obsessive with trying to pair our cheese and wine ever since (and we definitely have been carrying that little pairing card around with us) so that speaks highly to the success of it, yes?

nachos


Nachos and Beer at The Station
Did you know that there is a small beer garden with 20 types of wings, beer on tap and table service in the basement of the Big Four? (There’s also a ton of excellent food options down there, including some truly remarkable tacos from Anejo.) My mom recently had a cyst rupture in her knee so she needs regular walking breaks and we decided to just check out what was what in order to find a 30 minute sitting break. What a great choice! I was so thrilled with the table service, I couldn’t stop telling everyone how excited I really was. I’ve always found that wings are a lot of work for little pay-off and the nachos looked so incredible being carried by so we decided to go with them instead. They were a little bit on the spicy side but the full on potato slice they were made on were incredible and sitting in the Station was such a nice relaxing note to the end of our stampede day. Check it out next year.

mini donut popsicle


Mini Donut Popsicle
Okay, despite the fact that it was raining/hailing and I was wearing shorts, my day actually ended with a mini-donut popsicle. Last year I ate about four of these beauties – the dulce de leche base is so decadent without being overwhelming and y’all already know how I feel about mini donuts – and even though it was not popsicle weather, I couldn’t resist! Even if it meant I had an old lady comment about my shorts and popsicle combo… whatever, I gotta do me!

Seriously, mini donut popsicles, beer in the basement, crazy poutine… do it all. But don’t go to the wine garden. That’s just for me.

Note from 2020 Erin: Somehow I lost all the pics for this post in the Great Hacking of 2020. I dunno, dudes.

Culture

Two Thursdays ago my mom, Bryan and I went to see the opening night of Vertigo Theatre’s season closer Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily. Normally this would be a weird time to write about it – the show is still on but it would only have a week to go so it may be hard to get out to see it. However, this show has actually been so well received (it just won a Critter award!) that it has been extended until June 18 (which incidentally is also the day my show closes…)

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily
Program Image belongs to Vertigo Theatre

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily was a bit of a revelation to me. I’ve seen the team of Haysam Kadri and Karl Sine play Holmes and Watson before, and I’ve seen Haysam in a variety of roles over the last nine or so years… but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Haysam be quite so funny. He – and the entire cast, really – was obviously having a blast onstage, and the enjoyment is infectious.

If Sherlock Holmes isn’t necessarily your jam, you still may love this show because it is peppered with real historical Victorian London references and characters. Paul Welch’s Oscar Wilde looks astonishingly like the real deal and lights up the stage with his witticisms. The script tends to stick to Wilde’s more popular works for its referential humour so even casual fans will be “in on the joke”.

I can’t imagine that I’m in the minority when I say that I love clever humour that throws around cultural references. This past month of theatre in Calgary has absolutely fed into this love and I hope that it is a trend that will stick around for awhile.

And if you’re on the fence about Holmes at all, let me just say… I was offered a ticket to see it again last Friday and I deeply considered it. I decided not to take it though so someone who hadn’t seen the show could have the opportunity. Soooo…

(Please note: This show did just win a Critter award for Best Direction of a Play so that may increase interest in seeing it. You can get tickets by visiting the Vertigo Theatre website.)

(Double please note: I know today is Tuesday… Thursday is the day before my show opens and if I thought I was stressed before… At least Tuesday still alliterates, guys!)

Life, Stuff About Me

British Museum

Y’all, it feels like it’s been months and months since I wrote a monthly wrap up post. There have been so many different things to happen in the month of April that I cannot believe it’s only been 30 days. Also, they are painting the offices at my work and it is making my allergies act up like whoa, so my mind isn’t exactly all here either. I’m a little worried about the day after they paint my physical office. #firstworldproblems, am I right?

Overall Month Rating

A. It has been absolutely beautiful week and today there was free pizza at work, but I swear I’m not blinded by that. This month I went to London with my baby brother, I maybe sourced a fun little way to make some extra money during the summer, I started rehearsals for an incredibly fun play… and I found a roommate for the summer. Yes, it’s only for four months, but I think it will be so much easier trying to find a roommate for September than for February and it warms my heart to help out an endearing little college student for the summer.

Highlight of the Month

Can I just say all of London? If I have to narrow it down, seeing In the Heights in the King’s Cross Theatre or our Yeoman Warder tour at The Tower of London were definitely hugely great days/moments.

Lowlight of the Month

I NPC’ed a 12+ hour long LARP event the day after returning from London. I love LARP, but that was a poor choice. In a hilarious (??) turn of events, I took two fairly lengthy naps during the event. On a couch in a room that houses some sort of childcare/child playroom/child thing. That is never a recipe for waking up and feeling good about your life and your choices.

Number of Workouts Completed

Okay, it may have been an ambitious choice to loudly state that I was going to start a Couch to 5K on a month that included a two week trip to a place full of cider, fish and chips, and museums. That definitely did not happen. There was also a two week break from barre during the trip… but I sure did complete a ton of steps daily while trying to save money on the Underground. I’ve also kept up the soothing morning yoga.

Number of Plays Watched

Well, I’ve been pretty open about seeing three rad plays in London…

Number of Movies Watched

In theatres – 0. All my money was ear-marked for London this month!
At home/on the airplane – 8. When you are determined to kill jetlag, you can watch an awful lot of movies on an airplane. (However, it didn’t work. Maybe I’m getting old?) We also watched Hot Fuzz approximately two times (in various bits and pieces) over our time in London, caught Clueless while exhausted one night and on our second last morning of our trip, we enjoyed a bit of a lazy morning and plugged the tablet into the tv to enjoy Frozen on Netflix with a morning cider.

Number of Dates I Took Myself On

Just one! I agreed to drive Bryan and Darci to an event so they could drink and, while they were in the event, I took myself for a petite dinner and reading date. Naturally, it was awesome. (It also led to my potential opportunity for the summer.)

Best New Food Discovery

Jacket potatoes are super a thing in London, I realized. Lots of pubs had a lengthy list of different jacket potato fillings you could select from and there were even street vendors that offered ones to purchase and eat on the go. One night, while dying for a little comfort food, I enjoyed a jacket potato with tuna and mayo stuffed in it. You can guarantee that I will be whipping one of those bad boys up on a lazy winter Thursday night.

Best New Culture Discovery

Anne Perry’s Inspector Thomas Pitt series of historical mysteries. This is really more of a re-discovery, as I read and casually started collecting the series in paperback when I was in university and always needed a paperback book to stash in my bag for transit. When I was in London, though, I kept recognizing street names from the titles of her books and now I am devouring these books like crazy. Twisty and turn-y mystery plots, an accurate Victorian London landscape, awesome and complex female characters (Thomas’ eventual wife Charlotte is arguably the main character of series) and a quirky cop as the title character all come together to create a light, entertaining read that doesn’t make you feel like you have a sugar hangover.

Best Book Read

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. I’m a sucker for anything zombie, but this book approaches it in such an interesting way. It’s obvious that there are zombies, but it isn’t about zombies, per say. Once I had finished reading the book, even I knew it was over, I knew the story that needed to be told had been told; I still wanted a sequel. This book is equal turns eerie, thought-provoking and heartbreaking. Please read it.

A note: I feel a little bit awkward writing this post without acknowledging the fires in Fort McMurray. At the same time, I’m not sure exactly what to say. It’s sort of similar to how I felt during the Calgary floods of 2013 – though I knew very few people directly affected by the floods (many of my friends were evacuated briefly but their homes were safe), it was ever present in everyone’s world and we were all affected. That’s sort of how the fires are flitting around the edge of my world. An absolutely lovely woman that I work with recently moved down from Fort Mac and I will be supporting her and the friends/family that are fleeing down to her. Please educate yourself on what is happening to our neighbours in the north and what you can do for them to help out the most.

Culture, Life

Happy Tuesday, blog buddies, and let me apologize for my disappearing act over the past two weeks. I swear I have a good excuse, though – I just returned from a terribly exciting, relaxing and historical trip to London with my youngest brother, Kevin. (And I promise that I would have tipped my hand and told you all ahead of time, except that apparently in my 29th year I’ve grown somewhat paranoid and decided that it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to tell the interwebz that my house was going to be empty for two weeks…) I booked the trip on a whim after a bit of a life shakeup at the end of last year. Kevin is a writer who took a day job this year and decided to join me to take advantage of finally having a regular income. My favourite people know that I love solo travel, but this time it was so much fun to spend some time with my little brother as an adult and to have someone to laugh about shared nonsense with.

I probably won’t do a formal day-to-day recap of my trip – partially because it was just a lot of wandering around museums and streets, partially because I’m not sure that we’ve built the blog relationship where you care to hear about me sitting in nine different pubs to kill the hours between adventures. (Yes, we averaged almost one pub per day. It was pretty impressive.) I will be dropping tidbits/anecdotes here and there, though, as we return to our regularly scheduled blogging. But for today? How about a few highlights?

Tower of London

1) Did you know that people live in the Tower of London?! This has been the first thing I’ve said to absolutely everyone who has asked me about my trip because it still blows my mind. The Yeoman Warders (“Beefeaters”… yes, the uniformed men who give hourly tours – they are not “just” tour guides at all) are actually Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard formed by Henry VII and the 37 Yeoman Warders and one Chief Warder that compromise this military group actually live at the Tower of London with their families! The Chief Warder lives in the Queen’s House… literally, her house at the Tower because it is still an active Royal Palace. There is also a doctor, chaplain and the Resident Governor living on site. I had been to the Tower of London before, but somehow this fact slipped my notice before and Kevin and I just could not stop marveling over it.

pub

2) The system of ordering in British pubs is quite different from Canadian ones, and really wonderful. Jetlagged and starving at 9 pm on our first day there, it did take us probably far too long to figure out how things were done but once we did, we were hooked. Essentially, the system in the pubs cuts out the middleman and takes a lot of the pressure off of sitting for too long or not ordering food – you can do everything on your own time. For those who don’t know (and to save you the jet-lagged confusion that I experienced), when you enter a pub proceed directly to the bar to order and pay for your drink of choice. Bring this drink to the best possible table and enjoy it (and maybe one or two more!) with your friends and conversation. If you decide to do food with your drink (and please keep in mind that there is never any obligation to do so… you’ll probably notice that most of the tables around you aren’t eating), bounce back up to the bar to order and pay for your food. In a small bar, you’ll just indicate to the bartender what table you’re at; in a bigger one, they may give you some sort of table marker. The best part of all? When you’re done with your evening, you can just leave… no waiting for the cheque because you already paid!

airbnb

3) AirBnB is always worth it. I’ve done AirBnB before but other people have always done the actual renting and I’ve just tagged along. We rented a lovely little flat in Kennington owned by a very charming and friendly gentleman, and it could not have gone smoother! It was so nice to have a private, relaxing home base in which to kick back in the evenings and to enjoy some cereal in the mornings. I think the cereal is what saved us from getting tired of restaurants on this trip!

wicked

4) If you are really thrifty and clever, you can see two professional West End shows in one day for less than forty pounds. In our case, a Wicked matinee for 17.50 and an evening showing of The Woman in Black for 12.50. It was our second last day and was absolutely thrilling.
I think that may be enough for this Tuesday… but I have so many more rambles and pictures so I’m sure you’ll see more pop up soon…