Sparrow in the Tree Top
Find your song and sing it
August 26, 2014

We’re married! (More on that later ;) ) and we’re winding up what has been probably the most incredible 20+ days of my life. First of all, I now have three first names. I’ll admit, I’m still sometimes confused when I hear it out loud (Mrs who?) but then I have to resist the urge to ask people to repeat themselves (because it hasn’t got old yet.) Second of all, we somehow in our pre wedding madness planned a hodgepodge honeymoon that has turned out to be the trip of a lifetime. Right now we’re in the beautifully temperate San Francisco (seriously the weather here is my dream) – this portion of the trip started with a bang… As in I arrived without my luggage (US airways left it in Phoenix womp womp!) and then on our first night I woke up as that Napa earthquake made our 9th floor hotel room sway. Luckily I thought it was normal (it wasn’t) and Mike slept through it (heavy sleeper!) otherwise I might have reacted less calmly :)

Anyway. It’s been nothing short of incredible. So many moments. For starters, last night we went to a Giants game and we made it onto the kiss cam!! Amazing!! We love you San Francisco!

August 11, 2014

wedding preparations!

(that’s the backyard we’re getting married in on SATURDAY!!! ^^^)

Has anyone seen the Disney commercial with the little boy who’s like “But I’m too excited to sleep” ? That’s how I feel right now (minus the fact that I’m pretty exhausted from a whirlwind of stuff leading up to the wedding.)

I read a quote this morning when I was scrolling through my facebook newsfeed:

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.”

So much of “regular life” this summer we’ve given up to: “Well it’s the summer we’re getting married. What did we expect?” And it’s true. It was probably May when I relented and said, You know what? I don’t need to stay on top of an immaculate house. And we’re just going to have to say no sometimes. We can’t do everything and be in every place.

I know there are probably some people out there with a different school of thought when it comes to getting married – as in – why “waste” all that time and money and create so much stress for an event. Based on how many people I know who have had traditional style wedding ceremonies, I’m guessing there aren’t that many people out there who feel this way, but I think we’ve all thought it at some point. Like… is all this planning and stress worth it?

But I can honestly say, right now, I’m a bit dog tired. But not weary. And I’ve been run down, but I’ve had so much fun planning and crafting and organizing. I kind of feel like I’m in my element.

And yes it’s one day.

But it’s one day that we’ll surely be called to draw from countless times in our life – when things get tough, when Mike and I fight, when I feel alone, when I want to remember how important family is. I really don’t think you can put a price on that. But weddings are personal things – I have never been to two that are even close to similar. They’re all unique and special in their own way whether it’s at a court house or in the biggest church in the city. But in my life right now, I don’t mind the chaos. Because I am so, so excited.

July 30, 2014

I was nervous to have a bachelorette party. I’ve been to a couple but I was much younger and they were fun then but I was feeling a bit apprehensive that I’d feel too old for it all.

I was 15 at my sister’s bachelorette party (… uuggggh no! that was 15 years ago!). It was about 2 weeks after I’d gotten over Mono and my mom was a bit worried about me staying up late. If she knew what the plans were, she might have been more nervous. They got me into a bar by calling ahead:

No problem. We’ll just give her an underage ID bracelet.” (by the way, this would never happen in 2014.)

And so, before I was old enough to drink or vote, I got to see a drag queen show while sitting on a concrete floor of a Latino Salsa bar at one am. I’d never been in a bar until that point.

So this past weekend we took the train from Ottawa to Toronto. (side note: trains are amazing aren’t they? I see why the Victorians loved them. I need more train travel in my life.)

It was such a good weekend!! I can’t even really put it all into words, but it was just the best weekend. To hang out with such beautiful women – it felt like a gift to have all those pretty faces in one room.

We went to a women’s only spa (clothing optional and so the group of us reverted to 8 year old tendencies and spent the entire 10 minutes in the steam sauna trying to suppress our laughter. Luckily it was easy to avoid eye contact because of all the steam.)

And there was a handsome piano player who took our requests at dinner. Mine was Van Morrison (Crazy Love), my oldest sister’s: Elton John and the middle sister: Alison Krauss.

And my cousin. Can I just tell you about my cousin? She’s this beacon of light inside and out.

She brought a bachelorette travelling road show and set up the hotel room – it was a pink display of glory – cupcakes and candy bar and food and drinks and a photo booth. Including an Indiana Jones hat that I want to steal for regular life.

When the night was over we’d closed “Boots and Burbon” down and my voice was hoarse from singing.

Girls weekends are good for the soul. I had a few people ask me why we didn’t do a joint Bachelor/bachelorette party. This is why ^^^. Sometimes, it just needs to be you and the girls.

Getting home felt good though – especially when I saw that handsome devil waiting for me on the Train Station platform.

18 Days!!

 

July 25, 2014

I’m thinking back to a moment in my cousin’s kitchen about… gosh was it already 8 years ago? It’s the summer before she’s supposed to get married and we’re having some drinks and carrying on like the women in my family tend to do. (Which is amazing by the way and just the way I like it.)

We tend to move in pack formation. And this occasion was no exception.

Someone casually slid it into the conversation.

“So… are you going to change your name?”

And this is the part that I remember the most; about four of the older ones converging on my soon-to-be wed cousin (I think this included maybe my sisters and a couple of the eldest cousins who had already been married):

“Tell us you’re not going to change your name.”

You could tell from her expression she’d already made up her mind, and there wasn’t really a chance of mob-mentality swaying her decision. Although to her credit she did a good job of appealing to the masses with only non-verbal communication. They backed off pretty quickly.

I just kind of took it all in – too far from having to make my own decision to really be able to take a decision on it.

And now, nearly a decade later, weeks away from walking down the aisle myself and I’m still not much closer to the final call. (shhhh don’t tell Mike that though… ;) )

So I’m putting it out there; are you the product of your name, or is your name the product of you?

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

I flip-flop back and forth; on one hand, I think that having spent 30 years with a title more or less, it’s become a part of me. History morphed around the notion of property rights (including of the person and of actual land tenure… which quite obviously is inalienable and able to be owned…) into a system that seemed straight forward and rational… if only for the reason that you could see who belonged where and to whom subsequent off-spring belonged.

As the feminists might say,

It’s not too pretty of a picture.

On the other hand, I’m a lot more than the name that was passed down to me through my dad’s side of the family. I’ve got a lot of different maternal names buried into the three that I sign on legal documents.

There’s my grannie on my mom’s side that was just this amazing collection of immigration from France and Germany.

And then my Grandma, my dad’s mom, she’s got German in her too – and apparently ties to the Alsace region of France. Which would explain my dad’s ability to have this amazing golden brown tan… (Consequently this was not something that I received in the strongly Scottish-Irish looking genes I sport on the outside.)

What I know for sure; marriage to me, is not about ownership. I know for a fact that this isn’t a universal belief, but it’s what I chose to believe.

So I’d say first of all it’s a choice; marriage is something we’ve chosen for each other.

And second of all, I think I’m already so much more than the name I have today. So while changing my name might change me a bit too, I think that my grandmothers (and even my mother might say) your name will never be able to completely outwardly tell your whole story; it’s only part of it.

Clearly however, my jury is still deciding… so I’m interested to know:

Would you change your name? Have you changed your name? If not why not?!

(P.S. I’ve got no judgement for either decision, like I said neither of my sisters changed their name – I just think it’s cool you can do whatever the heck you want!)

July 22, 2014

dock-at-cottage

Blogging has been frustrating me lately. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s summer and there’s so much else I’d rather be doing, but I’m finding it hard to sit down and hammer “it” all out.

Sometimes I get bogged down with the echo that a  blog has to “be” something… it’s like the Rat Race of the internet world. For me, that’s when it becomes overwhelming. To be honest, sometimes (especially when you know, Life) the thought of sitting down to create perfectly polished content takes the fun out of it for me.  Right now I’ve got a lot of really beautiful to-do items on my brain, but I don’t like the idea of blasting wedding stuff all the time – because I think that can come off as pretentious – and a bit “GETTING MARRIED IS THE ONLY THING.” And then otherwise I’m like… “Heyyyyy. Here are my half drafted thoughts.” TakemeasIam.)

You see this is me at my core; I’m a bit of a happy-go-lucky-pinteresty-photo-taking-cynic – because a good blogger doesn’t really show the un-composed side. Sure she might show the “real” side, but un-composed? Unedited. Never.  It’s a curse and a blessing in regular real life for me – because I’m really transparent which can either bring you waaaayyy down or it can let people know that you’re on the same side. As in, we’re all un-edited; I mean, I truly get that. And I like to think it keeps me grounded…It’s probably also why I have a small (but amazing!) circle of blog readers – I’m thinking I’m not main stream enough for the analytics kick-backs. (Funny story; one time I actually had analytics. (What? That’s the end of the story.)

And that’s ok because blogging doesn’t, despite what the “blogger-psychoanalysts” say (how are there all of a sudden so MANY of them), have to be about validation. It really doesn’t. That’s why, in my world, it’s a hodgepodge of stuff; it’s baking and DIY and long rants about life like maybe about changing your name or dropping out of school.

Sometimes I have fun editing pictures and being useful to someone out there in the great wide world, but much of the other time I like the idea that a blog is a blog – nothing more, nothing less. That’s probably why they called it a “blog”; the world’s most nondescript, sloppy, and arcane sounding name. I’ve never been the sort of blogger to fine tune content that “takes my readers into consideration” – when I get to that point, I always think to myself, it’s time to take a bit of a step back from the whole beautifully edited world that is the internet.  And so I did.

But I came back.

We always do, don’t we? (Except for “Project: Baby Blog” (remember!?)…. she’s been gone a long time now… it kind of makes me nervous… like you’ll never know where she’ll pop up. Kidding! #bloghumour)

So you see. This is the sort of random-ish rant piece you get when I don’t write regularly.  In the back of my head earlier today was like… “oh yea, you have all those posts you’re supposed to do.” Until the reality check kicked in and I remembered:

A blog is a blog.

And sometimes it looks a lot like this. ^^^

July 9, 2014

Pickled-Radishes

Radishes on their own aren’t my absolute favourite, but enter some vinegar, garlic and pickling spices? Something in the world happens and the end result is what has quickly become my favourite summer condiment.

This recipe is super quick and easy to throw together. I love how the colours bleed a bit when it’s all mingling in the jar. And because the colour is so rich this is a great little side for a summer plate – I love it with corn on the cob, sausages or a pulled pork sandwich.

pickled-radishes pickled-radishes pickled-radishes pickled-radishespickled-radishes

Pickled Radishes

Pickled Radishes

Ingredients

  • One bunch of fresh radishes (about 10 in total - thinly sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons pickling spice
  • 6 cloves of garlic, whole and unpeeled
  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

Instructions

  1. Trim and clean radishes and garlic.
  2. Add to jar with vinegar, pickling spices, sea salt and sugar.
  3. Close Jar and shake to dissolve sugar.
  4. It's recommended to refrigerate and marinate for 3 days before serving, but we've eaten them within about 6 hours and the result is still pretty tasty!
  5. stays good in jar for about a month
http://sparrowinthetreetop.com/food-fare/pickled-radishes/

recipe is a variation of this one here on Epicurious.

What’s on your BBQ table this summer?

July 8, 2014

Hey there speedsters. This is the Second instalment of The Need for Speed Runner’s Clinic on Sparrow in the Tree Top. I’m on a mission to pick apart the art of digging deep and finishing strong. The first post in this series was about using your mind to get  faster. Today’s post is all about physical Strength training. Join me! 

Need-for-speed-running-clinic

And just like that, the Need for SPEED is BACK.

If you’ll recall, it’s the series I started (ahem over a month ago now) to get to the bottom of speeding up your running pace. It’s been a bit of a lapse in time and I’ll come clean about why; I’ve been dreading this post. Mostly because I’m a big believer in “practice what you blog” (or blog what you practice, whatever way you want to put it) and strength is not something that I feel I practice enough.

Needforspeed2And when it comes to blogging I feel like there are so many other qualified experts you could look to to tell you about strength training. (Like is it just me or is Jen a total superstar?)

This isn’t to say I don’t understand the value of strength training. I understand full well, that if I want to get faster, I should be doing more of it. I think I’ve known this for awhile, but it was even further grilled into my running brain when I interviewed Brian Mckenzie, who is the guy behind Crossfit Endurance, last year for iRun. Anyway. I’m on board. Just someone tell me how to like, embrace the buffet. (Talk about mental blocks for running, who knew they existed when you weren’t, you know… running.)

So where I’ve got a lack lustre track record, I make-up for in knowledge. And in terms of strength training (including with weights) here are some rules and lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1. Strong back, strong legs: In my opinion, a strong back is the most underrated muscle group for runners. Strong backs keep it all in line; as in, your hamstrings stabilized and your core muscles in place. If you’ve got tight or pulled hamstrings, it’s more then often related to the strength of your back.

2. Dead-lifts are a runner’s best friend: Closely related to #1, the deadlift is a great weight-lifting exercise for runners. I’m not going to go into the mechanics here (since I’m anything but qualified from walking you through one), but if you work out at a gym or have a go-to trusted source for instructional exercises, I’d recommend you learn how to do a deadlift properly, and do it often. Deadlifts work muscles that are a runner’s best friend: including the lower back, the glutes and hamstrings. When you strengthen this group, you can drive it home when you tell yourself to turn it on; I’m serious, when my mind says “Kick-it” at the end of a race, this is the part of the body I’m speaking to.

3. Strong core, strong mind: If you read my first post in this series, you’ll know how big of a part I feel the mind plays in becoming a faster runner. I can’t say it loudly enough, but guts are more or less tied to your frame of mind. And literal guts are likewise related. One winter I did the Ab-Ripper X work-out about 3x a week and I’m not exaggerating, it’s the only time in my running life that I can say I actually felt stronger. Like sometimes I’m aware I’m building muscle, but this time, I could feel it when I turned a sharp corner or when I bent over to pick things up, and I stood taller, literally. Strong core muscles make you feel strong and when you feel strong, you act strong. As in, you tell yourself to run faster and you do.

4. Don’t Overkill it: This one might be contested among the more hard-core cross fitters out there, but I would argue, there’s a time for strength-training, and I don’t think it’s all the time. I think weight training is a good thing throughout the year, but when you are taking it to the next level in a lead up to a race, I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing to back-off on the weights while you focus on a strict regime.

5. Don’t be afraid of Weight: Is it common knowledge now that heavier weights won’t make you bulky? I remember that’s what I thought until recently. I was a bit under-educated in the gym (I usually stuck to the treadmill or elliptical) and when I went to use the weight machines, I’d barely put enough on. I’d get done 20 reps and think “That was easy.” More weight is good (once you’ve worked up to it of course, gradually) and it won’t make you bulky. Make your effort worth it!

6. Move with intention: If you’re doing strength exercises, they need to be controlled but at the same time involve ballistic intent. The purpose behind the burst of strength within the movement is to really foster the fast-twitch muscles. That’s what I learned from x-fit anyway :) I’m still working on this one but I have to admit it’s my most favourite part of the weight regime. I love the idea of pushing it like I own it with a hercules-type of movement.

7. If you can’t do the Weights, put in the fab four: I had to put this in because let’s be honest, the gym still intimidates me and my attendance is patchy. If I’m trying to make myself feel better, I know that there are four things I can do from the house that will help (not to the same degree as a proper weight program but it’s a pacifier): Abs, arms, squats and prone. Oh and the often over-looked runner’s calf lift.

Well. I made it through this post. I have to admit, I’m kind of reinvigorated about the whole thing. It’s a pretty busy summer so I found it hard to stick to a gym routine (it’s way easier to just take 45 minutes for a run when I get home and not have to drive anywhere) but hopefully in the Fall I can come back to the basics again. I’d love to see if it could help me shave some time off of some of the Fall races I have planned!

Need for Speed

What about you? Is strength training something you’ve found to help you get faster?

July 7, 2014

20140707-085744-32264425.jpg

I’m not really in the habit of weekend recap posts, but yesterday as I hauled shelves from our fridge in the garage into our backyard, where I sat and scrubbed exploded-beet, while wearing a sunhat, rubber gloves and a tube maxi dress yanked up and tucked into jean shorts, it dawned on me that this weekend doesn’t really fit anywhere into normal.

The maxi dress? Avoiding tan lines.

The jean shorts? Trying to avoid beet-back-splash from the hose.

The exploded beet? Do I really have to get into that one?

We live in the suburbs. Our backyard is a television of sorts for the neighbours. It probably looked a little like a massacre happened in our house and I was too stupid to conceal it by cleaning up the evidence in the laundry room tubs in our basement.

I have to re-wind a bit to Saturday around 3 pm when I had my second dress fitting. Yay! Except not yay in the least. You might recall the first fitting. It was a weird experience. I showed up on Saturday with a  smile on my face. When she opened the door to let me into her house, I said cheerfully “Hi how are you?!”

Good.” Was her response. And then she slammed the door behind me.

Clearly she was lying.

At any rate, the fitting ended with me in tears in the car sitting in front of her house. My dress in a pile in the back of our Honda. I’m trying to keep my cool as I explain to the dress shop that referred me,

“WHY WOULD YOU SEND ANYONE TO SEE THIS WOMAN?!”

Fast-forward:
Dress-shop brings me in, sets me up with a new seamstress. Lovely lady; goes by Hung. Hung says we’re good to go and will have the rest of it wrapped up by August 1.

And then it’s 8 pm Saturday night I’m filing into Bluesfest and by 9 pm Lady Gaga is on a stage in front of me owning a thong-body suit:

“WHAT’S UP MOTHER F**%&*RS?”

“YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL TONIGHT. I LOVE YOUR SPIRIT.”

And suddenly the night is beautiful and clear. The sunset is perfect. Enter feeling of calmness, happiness, erasing memories of basement where Lebanese woman was yelling at me about gaining weight.

Sunday was a new day, as Sunday often is.

It’s productive. I made the world’s most moist chocolate cake. With rich coca. Zucchini. Chocolate chips. It’s vegan. It’s to die for.

It’s now in Cliff’s stomach.

(why don’t I learn?! Why do I never learn.)

It’s 7pm I’m on the phone with emergency vet services:

He’s about 90lbs.”

I dunno he looks fine. He’s starring at me right now.”

Well it started with a ¼ cup of coca…. Yea but he only got about ¼ of the cake.”

Well everything on the internet says he’s going to die and go into kidney failure.”

Ok vomiting and diarrhea? I’ll call you back if any of the above happens.”

It didn’t. And we’ve all recovered. I realized this morning while in the shower that I still had some of the beet back-splash on my legs. And that’s when it hit me that it was just the strangest sort of weekend.

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July 4, 2014

20140704-091109-33069520.jpg(Just a girl and her dog #summerlovin ^^)

I inadvertently tucked another item off of my summer of 29 list! Which if you haven’t been following, was my attempt at trying to do some things for me this the summer dubbed whirl-wind of life. It was Canada Day when I got to jump in the lake for the first time (and hopefully not only time); I had made it Number 8 on the list of things I really wanted to do before the summer was up and I turned 30! Apparently I’m not the only one wanting to carve out a bit of time for just me. Alicia from JayBird blog has got a “Wanna List” going on (as in, forget your typical “Bucket List” extreme and let’s just try and tackle space for things that are simply gratifying). It’s something I’m continually trying to remind myself since the I know in the back of my head that “life is really what happens when you’re busy making other plans” but it’s harder to commit to real-life when things are busy all around you. If there’s anyone out there doing the same, I’d love to hear your take on stopping and smelling the roses.

Having my picture taken while wearing a bathing suit makes me squeamish. (not just me? Ok good.) So needless to say, there’s not usually to much proof of me swimming. But actually, I LOVE the water. I love floating and just staring at the sky. And I love it when it’s so hot outside that jumping in is the biggest relief. So self-confidence, be dammed, picture be proof. And summer of 29? I love you.

July 2, 2014

canadaday

(Canada Day in Ottawa on Anniversary 1)

Yesterday around 10:00 am while we were in the midst of staying really still in the sweltering heat, I realized it was our five year anniversary. This was an important discovery since I got to bring it up first, which of course gave me free reign to say. “I can’t believe you forgot our anniversary.” (Winner!)

It’s always funny to look back on how as a couple you got together and analyze that moment that you decided you were going to stay together. For Mike and I it happened on Canada Day. Yesterday’s weather was a lot like the first Canada Day we spent together – that was the day we spent the morning wandering around downtown Ottawa (which is awesome on Canada Day and everyone has to do it at some point!) and we found ourselves caught on Parliament Hill during a torrential downpour, the likes of which you only see in movies like the NoteBook. We weren’t in Ottawa yesterday, but just after lunch there was a Tornado warning for the entire area (which luckily didn’t amount to anything) and I think from every Canada Day here on out, especially if it’s stormy, I’ll always wonder who else might be on Capital Hill starting something beautiful.

Here are Five Things I’ve noticed about Five years: 

1. Time goes by way too quickly. That first Canada Day we spent together seems like yesterday.

2. I know a lot about you, but I’m still learning things everyday.

3. I remember who I am with you; I feel like my own person and that’s really important to me.

4. I’ve learned how to compromise on who gets to choose the movie we’re going to watch.

5. There’s still so many exciting things in store for us, and I’m not just talking about this summer.

mike

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