Tag Archives: about me

Sweating is awesome

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For the first time in years and years I signed up for a group exercise class. The last time I exercised in a group setting was in CEGEP (2-3 years of schooling between high school and university in the province of Quebec) for my mandatory gym classes and I intentionally took classes that were not too cardio centered. Why, you may be asking yourselves? Because, dear friends, I sweat when I exercise. Like a lot, like more than most of the men I know. This started about midway through my teens and was a source of intense embarrassment for me, especially during my days as a gymnast when I was forced to wear a long-sleeved leotard made of spandex, which was mostly green. Hello, sweat stain induced self-consciousness. The looks I got from my coaches didn’t help either, which, now that I look back on it, was just plain horrible of them.

So, what made me want to sign up for a group exercise class all of a sudden? A good friend of mine took up barre Pilates at the beginning of the summer. This is a fairly new take on Pilates that incorporates the core muscle exercises of Pilates workouts and ballet barre exercises. You may think this sounds like a lightweight workout and so did I at first, but when I saw the results my friend was getting, I decided to give it try as my extra get fit program for my wedding next Spring. How much fitter can a girl who runs 10kms want to get, you may be wondering? Well, running is great for my legs and butt, but my abs could still use a bit of work in my opinion as could my arms. I started looking around for a Pilates studio in my area that gave barre classes and found one within easy walking distance of our home and gave their barre class a try for the first time last week. Let me tell you, barre classes are not for light weights!!! I was shocked by how hard the teacher worked us, I had to take a few breathers during the class and holy moly, did I ever sweat!!! I was pretty self-conscious about it at first, but the teacher and the other girls were very sympathetic and said ‘No worries, we all sweat! It’s a good thing!’ That put me right at ease and during my second class today I felt way more comfortable than I did during the first one.

So, ladies, never stop yourself from working out because you sweat! Sweating is normal and healthy and is actually really good for you!

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Among these benefits, let me also add that sweat is a great way to detox your body! Have a hangover? Been eating a bit too many cookies, salty foods or cheese and feeling bloated? Go for a run or any other form of exercise that will get your sweat glands going, they do a great job of clearing your system of sodium and other toxins and guess what? The more you exercise, the more effective your sweat glands are, so if you find that you are sweating more after beginning a regular exercise regimen, that is normal and good news! For more on the health benefits of sweating (and working out!), you can read this article.

The bottom line is, I am so glad I signed up for my barre Pilates class, it has added a nice bit of spice to my active life and I can already feel some results after just two classes. Just because you are already in shape, doesn’t mean that you can’t be more fit and work some different muscles! The class has also helped me kick the last of my self-consciousness regarding how much I sweat when I exercise. Sure, sweating is not comfortable and is often portrayed as not being feminine or sexy but do you know what is? Being fit, healthy and feeling proud and confident about our bodies and guess what? You can’t get there without sweating! So go ahead, be active, sweat like Hell and if anyone ever comments on it, just keep on going, your body will thank you for it 🙂

Taking Stock No.3

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A partial view of the Cloud Gate and downtown Chicago

Hello everyone!

As you know, I enjoy doing these taking stock posts four times per year, it is a practice I picked up from fellow blogger Ashley over at Sed Bona. This will be my third post of this kind and I really look forward to doing them! Fell free to do some taking stock of your own and if you do, please let me know!

Enjoying: going over and over all the photos I took during My Darling and I’s little four day trip to Chicago last week! I’ve included two of them in this post and if you want to see more of them, go check out my photography blog and feel free to give it a like and a follow!
Listening: to Schubert’s Symphony No.8 in B Minor.
Wearing: my incredibly comfy Wilfred Free top, it’s just like PJs without being PJs, you can see a selection of Wilfred Free tops here.
Making: another scarf for myself. It’s slow going, but I will have it done by next winter!
Cooking: a chocolate orange cake for dessert with some friends tomorrow, recipe here.
Drinking: protein packed smoothies for lunch.
Feeling: better than I have since January, finally!!!
Reading: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Looking: for a blue clutch. I have nothing but black clutches and I would love to have a more cheerfully colored one.
Wishing: my IT band would stop acting up so I can get back to running.
Liking: how much stronger the sun is getting, it’s putting a bit of warmth into our Winter Days!
Waiting: for 19-2 to start up again, it’s one of our favorite TV shows and we miss it!
Snacking: on Chèbrie in other words Brie made with goat’s milk 🙂 Sorry, dear American readers, but you can’t have any! I’ll get arrested if I try to send you some, I kid you not!
Coveting: A Kitchenaid stand mixer and have been for ages!
Hearing: the soothing, bubbling sound of water spilling out of my aquarium’s filter into the tank.
Learning: to play the piano thanks to My Darling.
Loving: Google Play, all the music ever created is at my fingertips and the lion’s share of it is completely free!
Watching: David Starkey’s Music and Monarchy on YouTube, because I can’t get it anywhere else unfortunately.
Admiring: My Darling’s efforts to better balance his personal and work life.
Getting: nervous about all the renovations our neighbors want to do, noise and dust! Joy!
Wondering: when and where we are going to take our Summer vacation.
Playing: Piano Tiles 2, it is ridiculously addictive.
Noticing: that Quinn is getting cuddly in her old age!
Giggling: over Quinn chasing a bug.
Bookmarking: nothing lately.
Deciding: where to hang the painting My Darling got me for my birthday. He says bedroom, I say dining room.
Hoping: that my cake is going to taste as good as it smells!
Contemplating: ways to make a bit of extra money through my photography.
Wanting: the freezing rain to stop falling outside before the city ends up looking like this again:

Montreal during the ice storm of 1998, image credit: CBC news

Thinking: I’m ready for dinner.
Knowing: my dinner will not make itself and delivery is not an option in this weather!
Opening: a bottle of wine so I can enjoy a glass or two while waiting for My Darling to come home from his conference.
Feeling: very accomplished, it has been a productive day!
Marveling: at how much more in control and organized I have been feeling lately.

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The stunning Tiffany glass dome in the Chicago Cultural Center

On living in the neighborhood your family has been in for four generations

OMG you guys, I am so sorry for being such an absentee blogger over the past few weeks, but I was hit with a nasty bug at the end of December which left me completely wiped out. I only started getting back to normal last Friday. The moral of this story is: if your house is way too dry (below 30% humidity), any chest and throat infection you contract will potentially be way worse than it normally would. I kept getting worse until we went out and invested in a good quality humidifier and got our numbers back over 40%. Yup, old houses dry out fast in winter!

Now, on a more cheerful note, I am, as I have mentioned before, seriously in love with the neighborhood we live in. My Darling and I have been in and out of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce all our lives and from the time I was in my late teens, I knew without a doubt that the day I got my own place, it was going to be in N.D.G. What I did not know until far more recently was just how deeply rooted in this part of Montreal my family’s history was. That sort of family history is not the kind of thing a kid is typically interested in. All I really cared about when I came into this neck of the woods for dinner with my paternal grandparents when I was little was how many sweets my grandmother was going to slip me when my mom wasn’t looking, the bouquet of flowers my grandfather would give me from his flower pots in the Summer and the huge (to my brother and I) hill we would drive down in Montreal West on our way home. Since I have moved out here though, my grandmother has loved telling me stories about what the neighborhood was like when she and my grandfather grew up here, because it turns out that out of her 84 years, my grandmother spent 79 of them living in NDG and my grandfather spent 84 of his 89 years here. They moved out to the suburbs to be closer to my aunt a few years ago and while my grandfather was perfectly happy with the change, my grandmother felt completely uprooted and it took her over a year to get used to her new neighborhood.

To put things into perspective, my grandparents remember what NDG looked like before a chunk of it was torn down to make room for the Décarie Expressway. They remember where the old streetcar routes ran (there have been no streetcars in Montreal since 1959) and they saw the Basilica of St-Joseph’s Oratory be built and its dome rise into the skyline of the neighborhood in 1937. My grandmother’s parents arrived here as immigrants from Slovakia in the 1920s and my great-grandfather delivered coal in the neighborhood. My grandfather’s parents were the first owners of a house down on the corner of Old Orchard Avenue and Côte-Saint-Antoine. They moved in in 1932 when my grandfather was six years old and the family kept the house for nearly 50 years.

I love the feeling of living in a neighborhood where my family has so much history. I love knowing that I am walking the same streets that my great-grandparents, grandparents and father walked. I love being able to talk to my grandmother about how little the area has changed since her childhood. She actually grew up in the same ten block radius  that I have called home since 2008. However, having so much history in the neighborhood can also be very bittersweet, like when a venerable old tree reaches the end of its life:

Montreal plans to fell 165-year-old tree in N.D.G. | Montreal Gazette

You know a tree is old and much-loved when news of its upcoming demise makes the news in all the English outlets in town. Everyone who lives in my area knows this tree and I spent well over a half-hour talking about it with my grandmother earlier today when she called to ask me if I had read the story I linked to above. The tree is right across the street from the house my grandfather grew up in and he couldn’t bare to talk about the tree being cut down when my aunt gave him the news earlier this week. I know the tree well, because I can barely stay on the sidewalk when I jog by it and I give it pat and say hello to it every time I go by. A tree this old merits some form of deference when you cross its path. The tree means so much to locals that the borough is bringing in a second team of experts to make sure that nothing can be done to save it before making a final decision about its fate, but it is fairly certain the poor old fella will have to come down since the entire center section of his trunk is rotten. I am planning on walking down to visit him, say goodbye and take some pictures of him in the next few days…and hopefully he won’t fall on me if he really is in as bad a way as they say he is. I will probably cry. This tree has been in the neighborhood long enough to see it grow from a tiny farming community to one of Montreal’s first suburbs and four generations of my family have walked past it, watched it grow and admired it. How can I not be touched by its demise when I think of that?

If you would like to learn more about the history Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, you can check out this site.

 

A love for all things old

Here is something you should know about me: I love all things old. Antiques, classical music, period costumes, historical fiction novels, old houses, old churches…I became fascinated with all of these things as a small child and have remained so. Therefore, when I gave a concert with my choir at St-Viateur church in Outremont two weeks ago, I naturally brought my camera along and happily snapped away before our dress rehearsal began and during our break. I had been by this church so many times and we had sung in it once before, but I had never had an opportunity to take photos inside.  It is a neo-gothic masterpiece and is in a fairly good state of conservation as far as churches in Montreal go. We have so many beautiful old churches in our city and so many of them are in need of serious restoration, but because they are so numerous, they can’t all be saved. About a month ago one church in the Saint-Henri district had to have a cupola above one of its steeples removed because the parish couldn’t afford to have it repaired. Stories like this always break my heart because all of these churches are at the heart of neighborhoods and at the heart of the history of so many families. These buildings breathe history and every time one of them closes, a chapter of our city’s history disappears with them.

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A second stained glass window in St-Viateur, this one can me found at the front of the church, to the left of the altar.
A stained glass window in 100 year-old St-Viateur Church, Outremont.
A stained glass window in 100 year-old St-Viateur Church, Outremont.

The day before my concert, I drove out to Hudson to meet up with my mother at Finnegan’s market. She had told me about the market many times, but it is a good hour’s drive from my place, so I had never been. The market is open every Saturday from May through October and oh, what a treat it is for people like me who love antiques!

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Antiques in one of the barns at Finnegan’s Market in the town of Hudson, West of Montreal.
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More antiques in the same barn at Finnegan’s.
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Crystal is abundant at Finnegan’s!

My goal when I headed out to Finnegan’s with my mom was to find a lovely piece of furniture to add a bit of storage space to my Darling and I’s kitchen and I found just the thing in the form a beautifully 1890s wash stand! It suits our needs perfectly as it combines both a cabinet and a drawer that we are going to file our bills in and it will free up some space elsewhere in our kitchen. What a successful trip that was and I even came away from the market with an adorable find I was not looking for: two wooden hens that one of the antique dealers let go for less than his asking price because the market was closing and he was looking to bring back as little of his merchandise as possible. I promptly named them Coco and Coquette. Aren’t they the cutest?

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Coco and Coquette, my unexpected finds!
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The beautiful 1890s wash stand I purchased at the market.
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The detailing on the doors of the wash stand.

On that note, I’m going to sign off, but I should be back with a shiny new post in the next few days! It took me a while to get this one up because WordPress was being rather uncooperative when it came to inserting my pictures, but my next one will be lighter on pictures, so all should be well!

Welcome!

Welcome to Old Orchard Chronicles, I’m so glad you’re here!

I’ve been working on ideas for this blog for some time and am happy that it’s finally come together. I first started blogging in 2009 when my Darling moved to Toronto for a two-year contract. I was left feeling rather disoriented and alone when he moved away and began blogging on an almost daily basis as a way t o reach out and interact with others. When he came home I began blogging less and less since we began spending more time together and then in 2012 my father became very ill with depression before passing away in 2013. You can read a bit more about him on his page where you will also find some links to mental health resources. It was such a shock when my father passed away that it took me quite some time to get my feet back under me. I tried going back to my first blog, but I just didn’t identify with it anymore because I was so completely changed from the person I was when I started it, so I decided to start again from scratch.

This blog is going to be about the things I love: music, cooking, reading, jogging, traveling, caring for our rambling old upper duplex, travelling, photography and sometimes shopping (because yes, I do love to shop sometimes!). I will also blog about things that touch me, or sometimes just things that happen in everyday life that make me go ‘What the heck???’ or ‘Hey, this happened and it was amazing!’

I can’t promise a post everyday, I will not be blogging on a schedule. I am doing this because I enjoy writing and sharing the things I love and I hope you will enjoy reading about them and if you do, please feel free to comment on my posts as I would love to hear from you!