Friday, February 26, 2021

Five Friday Favourites!

Happy Friday, friends! Here are our favourites for the week around here.

1- My Valentine's flowers were still going strong last week and this week. There are still a couple blooms left after almost two weeks. I trim the stems and change the water every three days and it's made such a difference. 

2- I've become that crazy plant lady who gets excited by the teeny tiny leaves that are emerging. 

3- This little lady loves a good picture... she also loves a good selfie. You should see my phone! 

4- When Toby and C lean in for a hug they go all in. 

5- It was margarita day on Tuesday and D and I were here for it! A couple margs each, chips and salsa and some Schitt's Creek made for a fun night!

Cheers to the weekend, friends!!

Linking up with Andrea 

Monday, February 22, 2021

My Peloton Review

Happy Monday. It's been almost four months since I got my Peloton bike so I figured it would be a good time to do a little synopsis of my thoughts... I got it after a friend of mine from the gym got hers and raved a ton about how great the workouts are (this same friend introduced me to F45 so I figured she knew what she was talking about). With our numbers rising and with the impending lockdown (s) we made the decision to get one in early September but only got it in November.... demand far outweighed supply!

So far it's been wonderful. I really enjoy all the different workouts. Even before getting the bike I started the app and  outdoor walking, yoga, barre, pilates and weights. Here are some random pros and cons that I've found:


1- Cycling: There is a cycling workout for everyone. You can start as a beginner or as a very advanced cycler but these workouts push you! I thought I was fit until I started Peloton and it began kicking me in the behind. You can also stack workouts so you can do warm up bike workouts and cool down ones and then do some light weights while still on the bike! I'm a huge fan. The arms and interval workouts are my favourite, followed by low impact... I'm easing myself in. I love the themed rides as well. 30-45 minutes seems to be my sweet spot for riding. 

2- Stretch: Simply the best stretch sessions I've ever had. The end. 

3- Strength. I probably use the strength workouts more than any other.... I love how no euqipment except for free weights (and bands) are needed or no equipment at all. I tack it onto the end of a cyclying workout or sometimes just do a 45 minute strength class. There are also body weight classes, barre and pilates and though the variety is good, 
4- Yoga- Peloton is also very strong in yoga.  I try to do a yoga session at least once a week and really like it. 

5- Challenges- as I'm not working out with other people right now, I love the challenges Peloton issues and the output that shows you compared to others (you can opt out of this)

6- Variety- this library is ever evolving and you really don't have to do any single workout twice if you don't want to. 

7- Love how they have themes. You can bet for Christmas I did lots of their themed workouts! Who 

8- Multiple profiles- I just set my mom up and C with their own profiles so they can experiment as well. My mom can use the app on the phone or when she is walking. 

9- Their user interface is incredibly easy to use and you can see your stats at a glance. 

1- Though their running and cycling is great, I find their cardio (HIIT and dance ) leaves a bit to be desired. I want harder, longer routines or more choreographed ones. My Les Mills membership (which I got a 30 day Trial for last week) includes some kickboxing and choreographed dancing which are more fun and give me way more of a workout. 

2- Pilates and barre are just okay. Les Mills has a great barre series. 

3- I find that sometimes the bike registers my workout on the apple watch (the app always does) and sometimes it doesn't. I find myself registering the workout on my own and then when Peloton does, it inflates the movement I've gotten for the day. 

4- The shoes can be hard to clip in and out of the bike. My brother and I were thinking about getting my parents one but when I got my own and saw the shoe issue, I didn't think my parents could handle it.

5- The cost- it's a huge investment. I use it in some form or fashion almost every single day-- some days it's some standing yoga or a stretch so it makes sense for me but not for a sporadic athlete.  

So there you have it.  Do you have a Peloton or the app? Any tips, tricks or classes to share? What are you doing for fitness these days?

Sidenote, if you are thinking of getting a Peloton, hit me up for a code so you can get some discounted merchandise... with my friend's code we were able to get some spin shoes. Also, my peloton name is saritapg if you want to be friends!

 Linking up with Tanya for Hello Monday.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Quaran-tine Valen-tine

Good Morning--- here are just a few snippets from our wonderful Valentines' Day. It was a different one but definitely filled with the most important things--- family and love--- and a little sugar thrown in for good measure....

D knows that I prefer mixed bouquets and knocked it out of the park with this awesome one.... He gets it the day before so he gets better blooms before the Valentines Day rush.

It is even prettier today as some more blooms are opening up.

Look who is all dressed up!

Then the kiddos took a turn dressing him up... no words.

We got gluten free treats this year and they were yummy!

We are fans of pretty around here. 

D and I took Toby for a long walk and then both took power naps before indulging in some Thai takeout.

My Valentine for the last 18 years...His lips are redder than mine and I'm wearing lipstick....

So stuffed after dinner but a dessert buffet had to be done (we wrapped most of it up after for during the week)

Between Costco and a gluten free bakery we were fixed for all those sugary "needs". C's friend also sent some cupcakes (on the other tray) that were also so delicious.

D and I watched The Dressmaker after---- let's just say it wasn't the best choice for a Valentine's movie.

And that's a wrap on Valentine's Day, friends! How did you spend yours? 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Friday Favourites

Yes to a long weekend! Here are things that have been bringing us smiles lately.

1- Real life school started back and everyone couldn't be happier.... except for Mr. Toby who we think is missing all the mayhem and "magic" that virtual school had brought to his life...  He was living his best life with all the puppy snuggles he was the recipient of.

2- Speaking of online schooling, look who was working with his tessellations with our third grader.

3- My friend dropped off a belated birthday beverage as she was doing a Dry January but wanted to celebrate with a festive beverage with me via facetime... on my actual birthday, we still met up for a drink but this was another way to extend  the celebrations :-)

4- We made this spicy sushi dip last weekend and it was so awesome!

5- Superbowl was quieter without the incredible party we usually  go to at our friends' house. We did make the best of it with some salty dogs, awesome snacks and that awesome Weeknd halftime show!

6- My old neighbour's birthday was this week so a few of us headed to her house to wish her happy birthday from a distance. We brought her a latte and flowers and made the best of the freezing outdoor celebrations. 

What's everyone doing for Valentines' Day? Ours will involve a family brunch, some takeout, valentine's bingo, cupcakes. maybe a newlywed game and some pink sparkling wine.

Cheers to the long weekend, friends!!

Linking up with Andrea 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Books Lately

This month was a great reading month. With TV on a go-show, a lockdown, stay at home order and my new love, The Libby app, I got to read some really wonderful books.

The unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself, The Girl with the Louding Voice is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams.  Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path, Adunni never loses sight of her goal of escaping the life of poverty she was born into so that she can build the future she chooses for herself – and help other girls like her do the same.  

The best books are the ones that have you haunted for many moons after you've read it and this book certainly did that for me. Written in a beautiful broken African dialect that improved after the protagonist got more educated, this book was raw, powerful and thought provoking. I had to take many breaks while reading to really digest the story. It was beautiful, davastating and haunting.

Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Reese Witherspoon- Whiskey in a Teacup

Reese’s southern heritage informs her whole life, and she loves sharing the joys of southern living with practically everyone she meets. She takes the South wherever she goes with bluegrass, big holiday parties, and plenty of Dorothea’s fried chicken. It’s reflected in how she entertains, decorates her home, and makes holidays special for her kids—not to mention how she talks, dances, and does her hair . Reese loves sharing Dorothea’s most delicious recipes as well as her favorite southern traditions, from midnight barn parties to backyard bridal showers, magical Christmas mornings to rollicking honky-tonks.

I listened to this one and loved the short, well written, light read. It was fun, fluffy, cute and I'm an island girl from Trinidad and Tobago who clearly identifies with Southerners. I can imagine this would be a beautiful coffee table book. I love Reese and her book club and now I do even more so. 

Rating- 4 out of 5 stars

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

As light as this book was, it was also powerful. If you love the Olympics and gymnastics like I do,  you'd appreciate this one. I understood more about Olympic athletes, the pressures, the strains and the stress both while they are athletes and after. A simple book, some plot twists and good character developments. I enjoyed it. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5. 

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

Reese's book club recommended this one and it captivated me from beginning to end. It was beautifully written and captured the vibrancy, colours and textures of India very well. Central to Lakshmi's story are many f issues that have impacted many the world over for centuries- abortion, socio-economic inequalities and women's lack of rights. It was heartbreaking, some parts were crushing and all of it beautiful. 
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose of­fice she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but. As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives — a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys — she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.
With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.

This book is not a genre that I would normally read but I really enjoyed it. I thought Lori to be relatable, likeable and immensely human in her approach. I enjoyed reading about her clients and their journey. I also think it did a great job destigmatizing therapy. We spend all this time and money on our physical health and appearance when your mental health is equally or even more important. It was real, entertaining and very well written.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Florence Adler Swims Forever

Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home. Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.

When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.

A wonderful first novel with beautiful writing, it reminded me a bit of Judy Blume. My heart was broken for the family and I felt their pain, frustration and angst. There were many characters but they were very well developed. I couldn't imagine going through what the family went through without the support of the larger community. It poses the question: how much would we sacrifice for the ones we love? I also was very interested in the Jewish traditions and customs so well described in this novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5. 

New York florist Flora Donovan is living the dream, but her bubbly optimism hides a secret. She’s lonely. Orphaned as a child, she’s never felt like she’s belonged anywhere…until she meets Jack Parker. He’s the first man to ever really see her, and it’s life changing.
Teenager Izzy Parker is holding it together by her fingertips. Since her mother passed away a year ago, looking after her dad and little sister is the only thing that makes Izzy feel safe. Discovering her father has a new girlfriend is her worst nightmare—she is not in the market for a replacement mom. Then her father invites Flora on their summer vacation…
Flora’s heart aches for Izzy, but she badly wants her relationship with Jack to work. As the summer unfolds, Flora must push her own boundaries to discover parts of herself she never knew existed—and to find the family she’s always wanted.

A lovely light book with great character development. A good story line with some surprising twists and turns along the way. The characters were mostly likeable and the plot a nice one. The characters contributing their personal perspectives helped the story to move forward as well.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

What have you been reading lately?

                                                       Linking up with Steph for Show Us Your Books.

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Monday, February 8, 2021

Healthy Habits and Staying Motivated

Hello friends... Today on Not Just a mom with SarahAdrienneDaraJenJoanne, and Lauren, it's a topic near and dear to my heart.... healthy habits.... Here are a few of my healthy tips:

  1.  I think the most important thing is food. 80% of it all is food. When I'm consuming more sugar and simple carbs(like right now), I feel it. I meal plan at the beginning of the week making as many healthy choices as possible. In an ideal world, our diets mainly consists of lots of veggies, lean protein, some beans or complex grains and some fruit.... we indulge on weekends and a little on the weekdays too.
  2. We drink lots of water... I put a big jug out and have to refill it a couple times a day. I also love a good hot water and lemon but I'm really not consistent enough with it. 
  3. I cut fruit and leave it on the counter so my kids (and the grown ups) can have some. 
  4. We intermittent fast most days. I still have a coffee with cream on a morning but my first meal is usually a larger lunch. I then do a mid afternoon snack and it's dinner with a treat after as well.
  5. I make time for exercise almost every single day from 30 to 90 minutes. ( I consider a walk with the puppy exercise as well).  I used to always be a gym person but hello Covid. I've gotten a Peloton and I'm a huge fan of their variety of classes. I'm also thinking of getting a Beach Body on Demand membership as I like a couple of their programs there as well and it's way cheaper than the Peloton app. I also use YouTube workouts. I love exercise and the endorphins it releases in me. 
    Post workout "glow".

  6. Variety of workouts is key or else I get bored and plateau. I'm a cardio girl but I also love my strength classes, yoga, dance, HIIT, barre and Pilates.
  7.  As I've gotten older, I've begun to listen to my body--- If I really am tired, I still do a workout but it will be a Pilates or yoga  workout followed by a longer walk with the puppy.
  8. I do my workouts in the morning now as I have most energy and then it's out of the way!
  9. I love a fitness tracker. I used a Jawbone, then a Fitbit and now my Apple Watch. It really motivates me to move more. 
  10. More than a year ago, I started meditating many mornings using the Headspace App. It's a great start to the day!                  

More and more, I'm beginning to realise that I need to love and accept my body more, appreciate it for its beauty, strength and purpose and give myself some grace. I'm not going to be the size I was in my twenties unless I starve myself for an extended period of time (spoiler alert, I'm not). When my pants begin to get too tight or the scale tips too far in the other direction, I take action for sure.  I eat for health but also for taste and it's about balance. Some days are better than others and I need to be okay with it or if I'm not, do something about it.  I'm really working on that. 

What are your favourite healthy tips?

Friday, February 5, 2021

No grain, no pain

Though technically, there are many gluten free grains... some of which we've incorporated into our diet.

Dear Gluten,

It's not you, it's her.  On Christmas Eve 2020 (Merry Christmas to us), we got a call from A's pediatrician saying she tested positive for celiac markers. In 2019, she had another autoimmune and had been experiencing intense stomach pains for quite a few months. We tried different things including meds (both OTC and prescription), natural remedies and physical work with her. Nothing worked and if anything , it was getting worse. We were relieved and overwhelmed all at once when we finally got a diagnosis. Relieved that we finally found a cause for the intense pain and discomfort but overwhelmed because hello lifestyle change for our little miss going forward.

We decided to become gluten free as an entire household (for the most part)  to make things easier for meal prep, to avoid contamination and to support A as much as we could. Sidenote, we are still finishing up as much of the crackers/appetizers in the house. As Darin and I went Keto for quite a while and then transitioned to low carb, it would not be a huge deal for us. For the goldfish obsessed chicklets in the house, another story.

So here we are more than a month into the process. As per our doctor's recommendation, she is going completely gluten free for a few months. Going forward, for special occasions if she wishes, she can indulge knowing that it will possibly cause some tummy trouble. We are hoping that with age it becomes less of an effect for her but who knows at this point? Her tummy pain has definitely eased up a bit though not completely. The way I'm looking at it, things could definitely be worse. 


We were all at home in January, a good thing since we've been able to experiment. We've found some wonderful substitutes and we've been trying different things. There are so many gluten free resources available. Takeout is a little more tricky but the couple of places we have tried have been so knowledgeable and helpful. 


So many available resources:
1- Word of mouth. One of A's classmates' moms found out and has been a wealth of information on different places locally and online. A neighbour of mine also has experience with different grains like millet and sorghum
2- A few  gluten free stores in town with so many delicious items. 
3- A couple local dedicated Facebook pages. It's put me onto different restaurants and different local products.
4- Our mainstream groceries, Costco and Amazon have so many different options available. 

So chug along we will. Slow and steady wins the race?

Have a wonderful weekend, loves.

Linking up with Andrea as gluten free is my new favourite thing to talk about ;-)

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