Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Our Whole 30 Experience

We just officially finished the Whole 30 on Sept 18...and we survived!

For those of you who haven't heard of the Whole 30 it's 30 days of no dairy, no grains, no legumes, and no added sugar. So basically meat, vegetables, and fruit.

I had heard about it over the years on a number of blogs I read and while we were in Chicago for our anniversary all of a sudden it popped into my head as something we should do. Normally we would talk ourselves out of it somehow, but instead within 2 weeks of coming home we had our fridge and pantry cleaned out of all things non-compliant and were ready to go.

One of the main driving forces which I don't think people would think of when they first hear of us doing the Whole 30 was to be better at meal planning. We were getting so lazy, we both work into the evening sometimes and getting dinner on the table can just be daunting when you're already tired from a long day - let alone getting a healthy meal on the table.

I'm the type of personality that has to do it all the way or not at all, this year we gave up desserts for all of 2016...and it is so much easier for us to do that than to say "let's eat less desserts" or "let's eat more vegetables" we seem to be the types that need something really regimented in order to succeed. I knew that doing something that so drastically changed our diet would really kick our butts into gear on the meal planning front.

Now that we're on the other side I thought I'd share some of our results and what worked for us. I should start by saying that we absolutely loved the Whole 30 and are planning to do either the exact thing again right away or potentially slightly revised and longer with some different rules. More on that in the future!

To start off with a bang, those of you who might be thinking about this from a weight loss perspective - it wasn't what we had aimed for but it was a very welcome side effect. In 30 days I lost 18 pounds. I am heavier than some and so it shed off fairly quickly but in all my years of exercising/eating right attempts I have never had those kind of results. I never felt hungry, ate delicious meals, and didn't exercise other than going for walks and the calories that are burnt while living life. That is partly why I want to keep going with it, because if I could get to a healthier weight this way that would be awesome. We had some party foods this week since being off the Whole 30 so I'm sure some is right back on, but we're planning to do this again right after Thanksgiving and likely continue it for a longer period than the 30 days. This next 30 we will definitely add in using the treadmill to this because it's important to eat healthy and exercise our muscles too.

Favourite Foods:

- FRUIT! We were so happy fruit was still in the running. It honestly got me through the first few days. Sometimes a craving could be easily quenched with a juicy bite of pineapple. We also bought this smoothie in the produce aisle that was the best thing ever. We bought it to try to help get off caffeine during this because while you can drink black coffee, neither of us were interested in that. We purchased this smoothie made by Happy Planet in British Columbia, and it was made of fruit puree and yerba mate which has a bit of caffeine I imagine. We tried to indulge in moderation because it is really fruit packed so definitely had some sugar in the natural forms, none added in so it was Whole 30 compliant.

- One of my favourite breakfasts was what I was calling a "galette." I don't know that it fit the traditional description of a galette, but it was freaking delicious and I liked giving it a fancy  name. In order to create this breakfast delight, line a frying pan with prosciutto to start. Turn the frying pan on to medium heat-ish (I don't actually remember what heat I set it to but I usually just play it by ear). Next put some mushroom slices and asparagus spears on the prosciutto. Finally crack eggs directly on top. So pretty! I usually would put a little bit of water in the lid of my pan and then pour it into the pan while putting the lid on top. Then I turn the heat low and let the eggs and vegetables steam. I actually want this for breakfast tomorrow now that I'm describing it. Ugh so good. You could easily switch up the vegetables to include broccoli, peppers, etc. etc. Anything will fly! Prosciutto was a great snack during the Whole 30 because most bacons had added sugar at our local grocery store. This was a nice breakfast meat and could also be eaten as a snack wrapped around a pickle!

- My favourite way to eat vegetables of which we ate a plenty was roasted! I got so sick of steamed vegetables and raw vegetables by about day 3. I love vegetables but I just wasn't in the mood for them, however put some olive oil and garlic on those things and slap them into the oven - best food ever. I could have eaten roasted beets/sweet potatoes/broccoli/cauliflower every single day and not been sick of it. 

Are you interested in joining us in our challenge to do an extended Whole 30 from October 11-December 23? If so, send me an email! I'd love to team up with others who are interested in reaping the benefits of the Whole 30 and work together to think of recipes, vent about challenges, and maybe more! cassondra.wiebe@gmail.com will get you in touch with me so we can talk about how we can encourage each other. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Welcome Fall 2016

I can't believe it's September! I don't know if I'm weird, but I'm a little excited. September brings with it for me the same fresh start as January. I'm a huge list maker and I have found that the start of Fall has really been a motivating push to keep going with projects, do things I'm excited about, and start Christmas shopping!

I think this drive came out of both September starting, and we're almost done the Whole 30 Challenge which I have always found "good habits beget good habits" a true statement. Also the word beget should be used more frequently. Since we're making good food habits, it makes me want to make other good routine decisions.

The first week of September I made a list of 24 things I wanted to do in September. It was on the 7th so it equalled to one thing per day for the month of September. Some of the tasks are more ambitious than others, it includes things like bake a loaf of bread (planning to do that this weekend since we're done Whole 30 on Monday and can enjoy fresh bread), purchase 3 Christmas gifts (done!), and finish painting interior doors. I started off so strong, did 4 things in the first 2 days...and now I haven't accomplished much in a few days but today I hope to get back on track!

A few things that I'm excited for this Fall:

- Being back to blogging! It's so good to have something outside of work that gives a creative outlet, fulfillment, etc. Also we did so many home renovations since the blog break - so we can all look forward to seeing the transformation to our bathroom, kitchen, and basically the whole main floor. We're about to start our basement as well so that will be exciting!

- Pumpkin Spice Lattes - even though it's cliche. So delish. Even more than that, Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino...

- Scarves. I basically always have a scarf on. I have an obsession. I try to follow a one item in one item out rule where if I get a new scarf I get rid of one I don't wear as frequently...but I do cheat on that rule occasionally. I got a new scarf my mom got me in Munich and it is my new favourite accessory for sure.

- Christmas Shopping. I know this is weirdly early! However, our list of people we buy gifts for is more than 20 and it gets insane and expensive. I have trouble thinking about more than one gift at a time when I'm at the store so if we start early we get a few done, spread out the costs a bit, and don't feel rushed. Every year I aim to be done by end of November and every year I fail - but I'm  hoping this year I'll do it. I've already bought gifts for 6 little kiddos that we have the privilege of hanging out with frequently, and have started some of the fall birthday's that are quickly approaching. We've also been working on a gift for Philip's dad that we started in March...still not done. He will be happy at Christmas to get his Birthday/Father's Day/Christmas gift all in one hopefully.

A few things I'm not excited about:

- Leaves falling on my lawn and in my eavestroughs #adulting. Although I am excited for my garden to be covered in the white stuff we all hate so that I don't have to be embarrassed about the lack of gardening I did this year.

- Wearing a jacket - one Winter as a teenager I didn't wear a coat for the whole year just to be stubborn. Dumb jackets covering my cute scarves.

- No Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise until 2017...So excited about Nick as the new Bachelor. I crushed Philip in our competition this past season and look forward to doing much of the same next year.

Are you loving or dreading Fall?

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

My New Obsession: Podcasts

I have 28 podcast subscriptions on my phone. That includes the fact that I've unsubscribed from a couple today, it's definitely a fluid list. I'm fairly new to podcasts and resisted it for so long. Philip is obsessed. I have found myself resenting his podcast family - especially when it means that he doesn't want to see a movie I want to see because he "heard it isn't that great." I know who you heard that from, and it is from one of your dumb podcast people. Who's more important them or me? Anyway, I caved and I'm officially an addict.

If you haven't tried podcasts, I'd highly recommend it. This sounds dramatic, but if they haven't gone as extreme as to change my life, they've at the very least changed my day to day routines. I used to come home and unwind with a TV show before starting dinner. That routine made me feel very lethargic and it was hard to be motivated to keep going with the evening, especially on days when Philip works extremely late it's easy for the TV watching to spill over until the sun goes down. Now when I'm driving a podcast is playing, by the time I'm home I'm quite into it and it feels strange to sit and listen to it without doing anything...so I do dishes...or I prep dinner/lunches...or I do laundry. Game changer. 

I have drafted this post a few times because I can't decide which/how many podcasts to list - and I'm constantly tempted to name the few that I listened to that day because they're fresh in my mind as podcasts I love. This may be a recurring post theme of which podcasts I'm loving that day. For now, here are 3 that I love!

1. The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

The Happy Hour has really been something I've found uplifting. Every week Jamie Ivey interviews a fellow female believer about what's going on in their life - they're often women of influence in their community - authors/podcasters/entrepreneurs that also have a strong Christian faith. She's very funny and light, but the talks really make me feel inspired in my walk with God and put me in a great mood. One of my favourite episodes recently was August 3, "Happy Hour #100: Aaron Ivey & Friends" where her husband interviews her. It really gave good insight into Jamie Ivey and made me feel like we were good buds.

2. The Simple Show

Tsh Oxenreider hosts The Simple Show, which I got into because I've been a long time reader of her blog, The Art of Simple. I don't know that I'm full minimalist - in fact I know I'm not - but I love to purge and limit the number of things we have in our home that we don't use. My very favourite episode was one of the early ones I listened to, June 11 "Ep 30: The More of Less with Joshua Becker." In fact after listening to it I requested Joshua Becker's book for my birthday and read it all within a few days of getting it. Such a good book, I'd recommend it to anyone looking to simplify their life.

3. Grown Ups Read Things They Wrote as Kids

This was my first podcast I ever subscribed to so I feel like it should be highlighted here. It is hilarious. They tour Canada having live events where brave souls go on stage and read from their diaries/homework assignments/etc. from when they were kids. I often cry laugh. I'll always remember my favourite episode ever from a couple of years ago...the short story the kid had written was called "Breeding Day" and it was about horses on breeding day and the drama that ensues. I told everyone about it at the time and always cried talking about how funny it was. I know my diaries are not something I would want to read on stage, or any of the weird comics my friends and I made, or my agenda books. It's all humiliatingly hilarious. They do come to Winnipeg so look for their events and know that if you speak on stage I may laugh at it on my commute to work some morning in the future! 

If you listen to podcasts, write in the comments about your favourite podcast! I would love to add to my ever growing list of 28 podcasts so far!

Also, if you don't know how to access podcasts on your iPhone, head to the Podcasts app (it's purple). Go to search to search for a specific podcast that you have in mind - go to the Podcasts tab (rather than All or Episodes) and you'll see the podcast listed. Click on it, and click the Subscribe button. From now on whenever there's a new episode it will automatically download onto your phone! You can also go to the Featured tab at the bottom and it'll show you podcasts of different categories that are popular which is a great place to start.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Wiebe's Take Chicago

All Summer I can't stop thinking/talking about our amazing trip to Chicago for our 5th wedding anniversary. First of all, how have we been married for 5 years? In some ways it feels like 1 year and in other it feels like at least 12. Life has thrown us a number of curveballs in our short five years, so it felt good to go on a weekend getaway together, taking time to appreciate the wonderful marriage we've built.

We went to Chicago for August long, with a day added on either side to make an extra loong weekend. I thought I'd share a bit about our trip because it really did kick butt. I had an awesome time and would recommend basically everything we did to anyone who ventures to the windy city for a weekend.

We left on Thursday straight from work - and just a note - I love to leave for trips straight from work, or early in the morning on a plane, or whatever else means that you're not at home scrambling and killing time and trying to think of things you might have forgotten. Leaving straight from work means packing the night before, having everything you need in your car, and hitting the open road not stressed from having just finished packing and being crazy. It also adds a fun element of being at work knowing your car is packed and you're about to head out on your adventure, rather than being at work thinking about the things you have to do when you get home before you leave.

As we left from work and didn't need to be driving through the night, we just drove to Fargo. Looking back, we probably could have made it a bit further and had a shorter day the next day...but no regrets, we had a nice time in Fargo getting our Target fix and getting some sleep before the next day. We also bought some breakfast groceries at Target to put in our electric cooler which we find saves some money on trips not having to go out for breakfast every day plus it is nice to have some cool snacks in the car/hotel room. Just to continue with this tangent pattern I've started, I could rave about our electric cooler forever. I got it for my birthday after asking to borrow my parents, it's so handy on trips for having cool snacks/drinks in the car and we found it even more helpful when going to my parents trailer to stay the past 2 weekends. I can easily pack our groceries the night before and it plugs into a wall or car for transportation and storage. Definitely made our last two weekends awesome food-wise. I believe ours is from Walmart, but you can find similar options at various stores including Amazon which I've linked for your convenience.

Friday morning we left bright and early and were Chicago bound. We spent the majority of the drive alternating between chatting about basement renovations and listening to our favourite podcasts (I think I'll do a post soon about what podcasts I've been listening to so stay tuned for that). 

Before we had left for our trip we did one thing that I'd highly recommend: Spot Hero
Spot Hero is an online service that allows you to book parking ahead of time at better rates. Especially when driving to the downtown of a large city it's nice not to have the stress of having to find parking especially because it's normally quite expensive and you're already tired from 10 hours of driving during the day. We arrived at our parkade to find it full. Panic. However, we called Spot Hero and they had us set up at a new parking location around the corner in a few minutes, kept our same rate (for those who are interested we paid $75 for the entire time and the regular rate on our new spot was $65/night if you'd just driven up that day and paid), and the new spot was valet parking so that was quite handy after we'd already been to a parkade and had a bit of stress from that situation. 

Once we were all parked we headed to our hotel. I'm sure most of you have heard of Hotwire, we booked all of our hotels for this trip (and most of our trips for the past 5 years) on Hotwire. It's a bit risky because you don't know where you're staying until after you book, but if you select a high star rating you're going to get somewhere nice and we've never had a bad hotel booking from their site. This hotel was amazing. We loved it. It was the Hotel Monaco which is right on Wabash downtown. Great location for walking (which we did a lot of) and the staff was so friendly. Our room was gorgeous, and we even had a stellar view of a naked guy across the street (I will spare you the photo and instead include a happy Philip in a hotel photo).

The first night we just walked around for about an hour as it was already late just to get a feel for the area, and then we ordered food to our room and went to sleep.

The next day we walked from our hotel to the Lincoln Park Zoo! I've included a map of everywhere we walked on our first full day in Chicago because it was epic. We actually clocked over 6 hours of walking that day...our actual walking to and from places would have been 2 hrs 38 min as you can see on the map, but we would walk into stores and keep walking along, also the zoo was all walking so that definitely added to our time. 

The zoo was so nice! It was hot so the animals weren't the most thrilling, but it's a free zoo and a nice way to get out and get some fresh air. Also for a free zoo, it's at least as nice as a lot of paid zoos I've been to so good job Chicago.

We were basically sweaty for the entire time in Chicago because it was so hot and we walked so freaking much.
After the zoo we had tickets to The Second City which was very funny. For those who don't know, The Second City is where SNL alumni like Tina Fey & Amy Poehler got their start - so it's a sketch comedy/improv show. They perform every day in Chicago at multiple times a day with all different shows, and I believe even a trolley tour.

Next we just did some shopping in the area, we had especially hoped to go to CB2 so we really enjoyed window shopping there. We also went to a Jonathan Adler store which was amazing but I was so tense in there because I was afraid we would break something that cost $15,000 and we would have to sacrifice our left arm to pay for it. I sounded like a crazy wife with how many times I reminded Philip to be careful.

Walking back to our hotel after that long day was not a proud moment for me. I was so hangry. We hadn't eaten since the hotel and we'd walked a good 4 hours already with a long walk back and needing to find somewhere to eat. It was fairly epic. We eventually got back to the Loop area and we found a nice patio overlooking the river and had some delicious burgers. Food tastes so good after a long day.

Sunday was another day that started with walking! We had an amazing walk through Millenium Park and then a new park called Maggie Daley Park, they had the most beautiful elevated walkways it was such a fun walk. We were headed to the Field Museum and had decided we'd take the Lakefront Trail for something different. I'd definitely recommend trying to walk rather than take a cab when you stay downtown in a city, we felt like we got to see so much more. The first day we saw a lot of historic homes in Lincoln Park and we saw a lot of downtown walking North to Lincoln Park. Then this day we saw a few parks, the lakefront, etc. For real look at how beautiful this walk was, first a walk through parks surrounded by gorgeous architecture and then walking along the glistening lake. It was boiling and there was a hilarious live Zumba class on the sidewalk with one guy freestyling at the back - that guy has style.

The most impressive thing about the museum was how old the original exhibits were! When you walk in the museum has a really awesome feel to it, but the first exhibit area is a bit dull and underwhelming on first glance. It was all taxidermy animal exhibits so I wasn't super into it, and they looked like they'd seen better days. Then we started reading the plaques. These things were ranging in creation dates from 1902, 1905, 1908, etc. These were super old! That started making it a bit cooler. 
Philip's favourite was the dinosaurs. I'm not 100% sure on what my favourite exhibit was, some of the Egyptian section was quite interesting and also the area about man through the ages.

This was a day full of knowledge, taking place on the peninsula of knowledge (this peninsula into the lake has the museum, aquarium, and planetarium - quite a cool place). After the museum we went to the Shedd Aquarium. We only paid for a basic pass because it was getting close to closing time and we didn't feel the need to pay for the full pass. The basic was only $8/each. However, if you have more time I'd probably recommend getting a better pass. This one didn't give us sharks, dolphins, sea lions, penguins, or the sting ray touch (but who are we kidding no way would we have touched those things). In the area we were in there was a sturgeon touch area so if you're into that kind of thing the $8 would still get you some fish touching.

Our shins and other parts of our legs we didn't know could hurt before this were dying by the end of all of this so we decided to take the opportunity to water taxi to Navy Pier from the aquarium. Definitely a good call. It was super nice on the lake and another new way to see the city from a different vantage point. 

At Navy Pier we did the least touristy thing and just went to a late movie. We saw Star Trek Beyond with about 6 other people and thoroughly enjoyed it. The movie got out around 12:30 am and we had a bit of a walk back to our hotel. We did survive, but I'd say it wasn't the safest because we ended up missing the turn we were supposed to take and it was just us and a few homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks. Didn't feel the greatest, but we were okay. We eventually looked at our phone again for a map and realized we were just under the road we needed to be on to get to our hotel so we went up some stairs and we were back in the crowds again safely. 

The next morning we were headed out, to Minneapolis! We love Minneapolis and go almost every year. It's fun to have a city within driving distance that has lots of fun activities and as we've been fairly regularly every time it seems we try something new and get to know the city a bit better. We were only there for one day so we went to Mall of America upon arriving, saw another movie - Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates. We have a tradition of always going to a movie at Mall of America every year when we go. I don't know why, but it is fantastic.

Before heading home we went to the newest outlet mall in the area, Twin Cities Premium Outlets which was close to Bloomington so if you're in the area for a long weekend it is worth checking out. I'm not a huge fan of Albertville so this was a nice change. 

Then the trip was over! Just a bit more driving and we were home safe and sound. It was a bit of a whirlwind but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and were so happy to celebrate our anniversary in that way. Here's to the next 5!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Home Office Ideas: Staples Makeover Contest

For those who don't know, Philip has been working out of our home for 2 months now! It wasn't a planned transition, but it's going great so far! Staples is currently running a contest (check out details here), and it seemed to fit with this transition in our life and figuring out how to create a beautiful and functional workspace for his new business to grow. 

I started out with the basics: a desk & chair. Without those the office would be a little less than functional for us. I loved the storage this desk has to offer, while still maintaining a sleek look. The chair looks comfortable, and doesn't have torn apart arm rests like our current chair does (why does this happen?!?). 

After filling in those basic essentials. I got to the fun stuff. I'm crazy into this bird print. Who knew Staples had decor options? I also happened across the fact that they have sewing machines, outdoor stuff, all kinds of non-office goods. Anyway, this bird art floats my boat and would look happy on an office wall. Or any wall for that matter :). For function and prettiness I also decided to include these cork boards, feminine and functional.

To warm the feet, Philip & I can battle between these 2 rugs...

I've been thinking of a new filing system for us, right now we have a beige hand-me-down filing cabinet, but this could work out really nice for doing a lot of paperwork in our second office - the living room. Just a quick jaunt down the hall and we'd be ready to go with a mobile filing system. I also like the baskets underneath for holding file folders and papers that are waiting to be filed. 

Last but certainly not least, one of our "needs" right now (if you can call it a need) is that Philip is working a lot in evenings and weekends, and his work is always on the computer. If I had an iPad I could easily do some of my computer work in the living room without disturbing him. This is definitely on our to buy list next time we have some extra cash waiting to be spent - if that ever happens!

This is how I would spend my winnings if we get the prize!