Does anything say summertime like a backyard camp out with your cousins?

Cousins in the tent

Pretty sure they didn’t all five of them sleep like that all night, but they did make it most of the night out in the tent.

Isn’t summer awesome?


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So this isn’t exactly my photo, but I did ask for it to be taken, and it was of me, and it was my phone. Close enough, right? Heck, it wasn’t even today – the rules of this project get more loosely defined with every passing day!

But oh my goodness, what a fun time we had!

Rowing with Tristan

I found out through the community newsletter that Shells & Sails was hosting a “Try It” day in Manotick, where you could sign up for a free rowing or sailing lesson this week. My friend Yvonne has been rowing competitively for a few years now, and I’ve always had the rowing machine at the gym as part of my workout routine, so I thought it would be fun to give actual rowing a try. And Tristan is a willing volunteer for most of the schemes I cook up – sometimes I wonder if he’s on Beloved’s payroll: “Here’s 20 bucks, go keep your mother entertained for a while.” 😉

I. loved. it. Seriously loved it. I loved the feeling of being on the water, the speed of cutting through the water, and the power of using my own strength to pull the boat. It didn’t take too long for Tristan and I to get coordinated, and I loved the feeling of us synching up and working together. Though he tends to be less excitable and effusive than me, he did say he enjoyed it.

The coordinators of the Try It day were telling me that they’d seen a very positive response (ours was the last time slot over a two day period) and were hopeful about setting up a potential Manotick rowing club. That would be AWESOME! I’ve been idly thinking about getting a canoe or a kayak for years. It might be time for me to finally get out on the water, and I’d love to be able to do it right here in the ‘hood.

Have you ever tried rowing? What did you think?


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10 tips to walk 10k steps a day

by DaniGirl on July 1, 2015 · 2 comments

in Me, only better

Did you hear that bellow of “GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL” on Sunday morning? No, that wasn’t an overenthusiastic fan at the FIFA Women’s world cup – that was me, reaching my weight goal after more than a year of (admittedly on-and-off) trying. Yay me!

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Even better than meeting my weight goal, though, has been that I’m meeting my movement goals. Even though I’ve had my FitBit for more than two years now, it’s only since this spring that I’ve been consistently meeting my goal of 10.000 steps each day. A goal of 10K steps per day is sort of arbitrary, I’ll admit, but I’ve read a lot of studies that say it’s an ideal point to maintain fitness and lower your risk of things like heart disease and diabetes. And the best part? It’s a genuinely achievable goal, even for a sedentary girl like me.

So, from lazy me to you, here’s 10 things you can do to step up and meet that 10,000 steps per day goal.

1. Wear comfortable shoes. I picked up a second pair of running shoes and keep them in my office. It’s surprising what a difference this makes!

2. Step-load the early part of the day. This may work for me because I’m also naturally a morning person, but I try to get in as many steps as I can as early in the day as I can. When you’re at the end of the day, you’re much more likely to make an effort to take a quick walk around the block to overcome a 1,200 step deficit than plan a hike to make up 4,000 steps.

3. Set a task reminder to move. I must have seen this tip recommended a hundred times, but have only taken it to heart recently. I have a task reminder set up at work to go off every 90 minutes, and when it goes off I have to stop what I’m doing, walk down the four flights of stairs to the main floor, walk the length of the building, and walk back up again. It’s the best part of 1,000 steps, and it’s really quite amazing how much it clears your head.

4. Leave your car in a central area and walk your errands.
With a parking lot in front of each big-box store, it’s tempting to move your car from lot to lot as you go from store to store. Resist the urge, or park a bit further away if you’re just going to one spot.

5. Think of walking as a me-time indulgence rather than an obligation. This was a huge one for me. Once I stopped thinking of getting my steps in as a drudge and started thinking of the time as an indulgence, I found myself working harder to make time for it. And walking is a gift to yourself – mentally and physically. You deserve it!

6. Find a buddy. Tristan comes with me when I walk the dog every night, and he sets a brisk pace that’s natural for his coltish teenage legs but a challenge for me to keep up. It’s also a wonderful quiet interlude to suss out things that may be weighing on his mind, or for us to catch up on our busy days. At the office, my friend Annie and I have taken invigorating lunch-time walks that breezed by in the depths of conversations. I find that keeping up with my FitBit friends online also serves as a motivator when I feel like slacking. I am the opposite of competitive in most things, but I hate to fall out of the leaderboard on FitBit!

7. Make it part of your routine. After a while, finding small ways to pad your day with extra steps becomes second nature. I’ve started circling my office building to use a different entrance each time I come or go, adding a couple of hundred steps each time. I also figured out that I had just enough time to park my car in the driveway after work and hop on my bike to get to the boys’ school in time to walk them back home again. I am really missing the extra kilometer of steps from the after-school routine this week!

8. Make it fun! Listen to a podcast, or your favourite music while you walk. If you’re particularly dexterous and can’t stand the idea of missing the latest activity on your social networks, walk while surfing your smartphone. Or, choose a beautiful place to explore on your walk – drive to a neighbourhood you don’t often visit, or find a trail to walk.

9. Bring or borrow a pet. Sometimes, the idea that the dog is counting on me is the only thing that motivates me to get out in poor weather, or after a particularly long day. She doesn’t mind walking in the rain or snow, and inspires me not to mind so much either. We haven’t melted yet!

10. Be kind to yourself – each day is a clean slate. While I now make my step goal six or seven days each week (as opposed to making it two or three days each week this time last year), I don’t beat myself up if I don’t make it every single day. I have consistently made my weekly goal of 70,000 steps each week since Easter, though. Turns out when you aim for 10K steps a day, you often land somewhere closer to 12,000 or 14,000 steps a day!

And now, a bonus tip for FitBit Zip users!

I got my first Zip back in January of 2013, and upgraded to a Flex about a year ago. I still use my Zip as a backup when the flex is charging, though. I used to hate the idea of “losing” the steps between first waking up in the morning and when I’d get dressed for the day and tuck my Zip into my pocket or clip it to my bra, so I’d carry it around in my PJ pocket – and then inevitably forget to move it when I got dressed. All that to say, I wish I’d had the brainstorm two years ago that I had last month when I discovered the Best! FitBit Zip! Accessory! Ever!! Are you ready for it?

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A hairband! Seriously, why did I not think of this before? So when I want to record my steps before I get dressed (or, ahem, after I put on my jammies!) I just do this:

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I’ve also been known to actually attach the Zip to my ponytail in the pool or while doing yoga.

You know that old expression, “Look after the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves”? It’s like that with steps, too. Find a dozen times to add 100 steps to your day, and you’re there!

What do you think of the goal to walk 10,000 steps a day? Do you do it? Any other tips to share?


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One year ago today, we arrived in PEI:

Prince Edward Island - day 1

*happy sigh*

We’re still a few weeks away from embarking on our PEI 2015 adventure, in that delicious time when you can actually start thinking about all the things you want to see and do, but before the panic of packing and attending to all the forgotten last-minute details.

I think the thing we are most looking forward to during our PEI vacation this year is exploring. It was our favourite part of the trip last year. There is something delicious about turning down a random road and wondering what’s around the next bend.

The Points East Coastal Drive site lists eight suggested routes for easy PEI day trips, conveniently arranged by subject matter. Like bays, beaches and boats? How about lighthouses? Or maybe a vineyard and distillery tour is more your speed? I love the chatty, colloquial but richly detailed nature of these articles – it’s like having an Islander as your navigator, pointing out things that only the locals know.

Speaking of Islanders, how fun is this? Tourism PEI has launched a program called Ask an Islander. They’ve engaged several PEI personalities to be ambassadors, including Chef Michael Smith and photographer Dave Brosha. I love this idea, and keep going back to the site to see the new questions and answers as they are posted.

Have a favourite PEI day trip to share? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Disclosure: Points East Coastal Drive is a sponsor of this blog. However, my love affair with PEI is 100% genuine and I’d be happy to talk your ear off about the Island any day of the week.


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This photo session for a colleague and his family was supposed to take place on Father’s Day, but we got rained out. Today was a perfectly perfect day for pictures, though, and you couldn’t ask for three funnier, kinder or more patient subjects for family portraits!

Three handsome fellows

Adorable, right? They were wonderfully patient with my ideas and let me boss them around a hike that only got us a little bit lost. This was my absolute favourite kind of family portrait session: casual, playful, and with lots and lots of laughter.

Kind, funny and photogenic, too – I can’t wait to show you more photos from this fun afternoon!


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Technically this photo is from yesterday, but I loved the poignant moment so much that I knew you wouldn’t mind if I shared it as today’s photo of the day.

Saying goodbye

I swear, I never leave the boys’ school without a smile on my face and respect in my heart for the hard work these people do. We’re lucky to be a part of such a wonderful community. Every time I look at this photo, I can’t help but smile.

Now it’s time for a summer of beaches, parks, family visits, road trips, and adventures big and small. BRING IT ON!


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Photo of the day: First and last days of school

25 June 2015 Ah, me boys

You can pick out more than a few changes from September 2014 to June 2015, not least of which are haircuts, growth spurts, and the fact that mom remembered in June what she forgot in September – to turn on the autofocus! They’re growing up WAY too fast! Simon in the bottom photo is the […]

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Photo of the day: Undulating clematis

24 June 2015 Photo of the Day

Can you tell I’ve been having fun in the garden lately? Not actually doing any work like planting or weeding or pruning, mind you, but poking around with my camera, exploring the shapes and colours. This is a purple clematis that grows over a chain-link fence near the driveway. I love it because it grows […]

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Photo of the day: Raindrops on roses

19 June 2015 Photo of the Day

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens Brown paper packages tied up with strings… These are a few of my favorite things!

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In which she fights the urge to wrap her boys in bubble wrap

18 June 2015 Mothering without a licence

Help me navigate this one, oh wise and experienced bloggy peeps. I’m trying to be free-range relaxed, but my inner helicopter parent is screeching for control. As I’ve mentioned, we’ve signed Lucas up for soccer. He’s loving it and to my great surprise, so am I – so much so that I regret not caving […]

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