Mid-Week Tangent: Wine Wednesdays Returns!

It’s been a while since a good, old-fashioned wine Wednesday hasn’t it? I’m really going back in the memory bank here, because it’s been a while since we actually visited any wineries, but nonetheless here we go.

p.s. If you missed previous Wine Wednesday posts, you can find them here, here, here, and here.

Region: Kelowna

Winery: Rollingdale 

Varietal: Cabernet Franc

Price Point: $39 (very pricey, I know)

Brief and non-technical Tasting Notes: To me, cab franc is one of those wines that can be either absolutely brilliant or completely abysmal. Thankfully this cab franc falls is the former. It’s smooth, rich and smells divine.  The only challenge with this one is its price tag. I’ve talked about this before, and I know our local wineries are often small producers that have to invest a ton just to create a few hundred cases,  yet 40 bucks still seems really steep to me. I mean, I bought a bottle because it was delicious, but still…

Although not the highlighted wine today, it’s also worth trying their Paint the Town Red, an everyday red blend, which is light, fruity and super drinkable. Their blanc de merlot is super unique and ultra refreshing for summer. It’s a merlot but pressed without the skins so just has the faintest pink hue.

Winery Vibes:  Winery vibes are super important yet underrated. This is the feeling that you get when you walk into a space, and is influenced by things such as: aesthetics, decor, set up, staff friendliness and knowledge, sampling protocol (free vs. fees, sampling variety, etc.), snobbiness vs. accessibility, etc.

I’m not going to lie to you: from the outside, the Rollingdale wine tasting room looks like a Dexter kill room, the kind of space where you might enter and never exit again alive.  It’s a metal shed, windowless and completely terrifying. I promise you that once you enter you’ll know that everything is going to be ok.

The interior boasts barrels of wine, palates of wine for shipment, and a very, very casual and un-pretentious set up. I used to work in the tech sector and it reminds me of those stories of tech startups operating out of someone’s garage. It looks like they’ve set up a temporary space to make, store and sell wine until they make it big.

I’m really not selling this experience, am I?

Let me assure you, you can have a good tasting experience. It just won’t be accompanied by all the aesthetic bells and whistles that you get at some of the larger wineries.  What you will get is casual, straightforward service. One of the tasting room staff is a bit of a gruff, older gentleman, but he is friendly enough especially once you get into the tasting. We’ve also been hosted by his wife, who was infinitely more gregarious and very into the wine tasting experience. In other words, no matter who you get you’re in good hands.

We tasted at least eight wines, and could have had more if we’d been interested in sampling whites. They do make a marechal foch, which is rarer in our neck of the woods, but I found it to be a bit too young and sharp on the palate right now. In a couple years, it may be great. The same goes for their merlot, which smelled heavenly but just didn’t have the flavour to back it up yet. What I appreciated was their willingness to tell you when some of the wines are young and can benefit from laying down for a while. Many wineries act as though that’s not the case when it clearly is.

All in all, Rollingdale is a fun stop on day of wine touring. I wouldn’t suggest it as the crowning winery of a tour, but you’ll get lots of generous pours, friendly service, fewer crowds, and a couple of varietals that are definitely worth taking home.

*It probably goes without saying, but I have received no compensation for writing this. Rollingdale has no idea who I am, nor do I have a followership on this blog that would inspire anyway to pay me for writing nice things about them.


Training Tuesdays: working out in the heat

Welp. The summer has descended on my little town and it is hella hot. On Sunday, when highs were a mere 29 degrees, I mistakenly thought maybe, just maybe a 1pm hike wouldn’t almost kill me. I was wrong. Within seconds of hitting the trail, my throat was parched. And I mean parched. Like bone dry as though I had been wandering through the desert for hours. Lesson learned: summer heat is no joke and neither is working out in it. As we step boldly into summer, let me present you with the obvious yet oft-forgotten tips for making the most of summer workouts without dying.

1. Hydrate like a fiend: It’s not just during your workout, it’s before your workout and after your workout. Try not to needlessly dehydrate yourself the day before your workout by, ohhhh I don’t know, sharing two beers, a giant cider and a half bottle of wine with nary a sip of water to break up the constant flow of alcoholic beverages into your system.  That would be foolish and I know nothing of such behaviours. And yet, because it’s patio season, it sometimes happens. When it does, add extra water into the mix. And I mean a lot of extra water. It’s not just your workout that’s going to increase the likelihood of dehydration. The warm temperatures will do that all on their own. So just drink a ton of water. It’s obvious.

2. Dawn and dusk are your friends (for outdoor workouts): Listen, from my patio I see people running at 4 pm in the afternoon all. the. time.  Perhaps they are superhuman specimens immune to the effects of heat.  Or they are fools. Experts will tell you that heat has a definite impact on performance. In fact, Runner’s World tells me that “The “slow down factor” varies from runner to runner, but in general, slowing down 30 to 90 seconds per mile is common in hot/humid weather. ” Naturally, it’s not just running that heat impacts. Any activity will suffer in the heat.  So unless you have to, don’t take your workout outdoors in the heat of the day. I know, once again, this is pretty obvious.

3. Switch up your workouts: super hot days are the perfect time to hit a nicely air-conditioned gym for some strength training, or maybe an indoor or outdoor body of water for a swimming day.  Sure, maybe you really, really wanted to run outside today, but if the forecast is showing crazy highs I promise you your body will not notice if you bump that run back a day or two until things cool down. If you live in a place that’s always hot, you might just have to make friends with early morning runs, late nights runs or the dreaded treadmill run. Yes, this one’s obvious too.

4. Lay off the black clothing: 90% of my workout clothing is black. I don’t have a dark soul (or perhaps I do…), I just think it hides sweat better and I sweat a lot. Trust me when I say I’ve been on many a run or hike when I’ve regretted the all-black ensemble.  Summer heat is the time for loose, flowing, light-coloured clothing.

5. Shady activities are great (literal shady, not sketchy shady):   Fun fact: did you know that the temperature in the shade is actually the same as in the sun? But, because you’re avoiding the solar radiation, it feels 10-15 degrees cooler. That’s a big difference.  Trees make glorious shade, so seek out the most tree-ful locations you can find and you’ll be made in the shade (oh yeah, I really did just say that). If you can, hike or run in parks with an abundance of trees.  A shady park can even serve as a great body-weight or HIIT workout location. Who needs the gym? Also, did you know that studies have shown being around trees (and nature) actually improves our psychological health? It’s true, and it’s a win-win.

Summer heat can be a serious workout energy sucker, but don’t let the heat be an excuse. It can be really easy to put off a workout because it’s too hot, but you can make peace with summer heat by being summer workout smart.

TWIR #114: aches and pains

Well, it’s safe to say that my muscles got a good hit this week. Three of this week’s workouts have left me with stiffness and soreness that has varied from mildly uncomfortable to ultra annoying. I suppose it’s a good thing, but in the moment it’s a bit less pleasant. Nonetheless, it’s been a decent workout week so let’s see what happened.

Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: rainy day adventures
Observations: Sometimes you just have to seize a rainy day as a lazy day. And I did. We ran a ton of errands, which I personally find fun, ate a totally mediocre “sticky bun”,  lounged around watching golf, and even fit in a viewing of Father of the Bride. All in all, it was a pretty damn good lazy rain day.

Activity: mini hike
Relevant Stats: 5.8 km + 170 m elevation gain
Observations: You know those days when you can’t figure out what to do for your workout and nothing sounds good until you throw out the idea of a short hike? No? Well, I do and Sunday was that day. We checked out a short and easy hike that was perfect for a cloudy and cool day (i.e. there was no tree cover at all, so it would be insufferably hot on a sunny day).  And then after doing all that good for our bodies, we went to our favourite gelato place because, well, balance.

Activity: stairs
Relevant Stats: 36 min.
Observations: As always, I’m proudly declaring that extra minute above 35 minutes. This was a rough day of stairs. They were still feeling easier than past weeks, but certainly not easy. What really fired up this workout was that there was a dude there running stairs too and I was determined not to throw in the towel before he did. I was super proud of myself for outlasting him even though he ran those stairs way faster than I did. My competitive spark makes no sense even to me, but it came in handy to keep me from quitting about 15 minutes into this workout so I’ll keep it.

Activity: cardio warm up + strength
Relevant Stats: 5 min. spin + 35 min. strength
Observations: Okay, this wasn’t a great workout. I got to the gym and tried spinning and had nothing in my legs and then tried strength training and had nothing in any of my other muscles either.  It was one of those days when I wondered why I went to the gym at all. But I tried and I didn’t give up 20 minutes in like I wanted to, so I considered it a small victory.

Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: This was a dig deep and persevere workout. My body and mind were both feeling exhausted when I arrived at my training session. I don’t even think my trainer was working me all that hard, but at one point the workout actually felt vomit inducing.  I’ve never actually understood the whole thing about working out so hard you think you might puke, probably because I never push myself that hard, but it finally happened to me and I hated it. I want to really emphasize that I don’t actually think I was over-exerting myself. I think I was just tired and my body was finally rebelling against me for filling it with so much crap over the last month.. Ugh. Why does it have to be true that you really do feel better when you eat better? I mean, I actually love vegetables and eat a ton daily by choice…but I also love wine and M&Ms

Activity: cardio + strength
Relevant Stats: 25 min. spin + 25 min. strength
Observations:  I bounced back! I have to admit, after two tough workouts, I was expecting this one to suck, and I bitched and moaned and delayed my gym time until I couldn’t any longer. And then, after all that complaining, I had a great workout. I worked my legs and glutes hard, which they definitely didn’t need after the stairs and my training session, but it felt good to load up on single leg dead lifts, box jumps to squat holds, single leg weighted squats and more.  We topped off our day with a lovely evening stroll to the hilltop with some friends visiting from out of town.  And then some apple pie for good measure. Once again, balance my friends.

Activity: mini hike
Relevant Stats: 5.5 km
Observations: After successfully feeding ourselves and the baby (as in our friend’s baby, not ours) and then after a successful baby nap, we ventured out for a short hike. We hadn’t rushed because it was supposed to be cool and overcast but then we got to the trail and the sun came out and it was hella warm. Lesson learned: always hike early in the Okanagan.  Still, it was lovely and scenic and baby slept so it was a success all around  .  We celebrated with post-hike beers and enchiladas because, you guessed it, balance (yet again).

So there you have it, a solid week of workouts carrying me into the weekend. We have oodles of guests (2 sets!) rolling through town, it’s the US Open, and the sun and hot temperatures are set to return.  In other words, the weekend is looking pretty fine. Happy weekend y’all!

Mid-Week Tangent: Cinnamon Bun Woes

Oh friends, you know that expression “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”? Well, shame on me this week. After my National Donut Day fail, I gave our local coffee shop another chance with it’s Sticky Bun Saturdays and I’m here to tell you that I am officially throwing in the towel on Ratio Coffee‘s pastries. It is a sad moment for me, partly because I was duped not once but twice, but also because I so badly wanted to have a local pastry hotspot. Alas, I will keep looking. In the meantime, join me in my cinnamon bun woes.

Okay it’s a terrible picture, I know, but it doesn’t even look promising.

Where: Ratio Coffee, Vernon BC

Price: about $4.50 for one “sticky” bun (i.e. pretty pricey)

The Low Down:  Okay, here’s the thing: the cardinal rule of a sticky bun is that if you want to call it a sticky bun, then it absolutely must be sticky. This is non-negotiable.  If you have a tiny ribbon of non-sticky cinnamon running through incredibly thick layers of dough, then call it a cinnamon ribbon bun and call it a day.  This is a cinnamon ribbon bun at best.

I know I sound critical, but cinnamon buns and sticky buns are a personal fave, and what makes them delicious is all that sticky goodness. My dream cinnamon bun is ultra moist, with thin layers of dough that are basically just a vehicle for masses of buttery cinnamon-sugar filling that oozes out both the top and bottom. And if you’re going to call something a sticky bun, that oozing-out-the-bottom factor is absolutely paramount.  Paramount.

This “sticky bun” only leaves up to half it’s name: bun. Oh there is dough, friends. There is so very much dough. To be honest, the dough is perfectly fine. It’s brioche like and quite tasty.  But no one, and I mean no one, buys a sticky bun for the dough. You buy it for the sticky filling. In this bun, there was none (rhyme unintended but delightful nonetheless). I wish I had taken a picture of the barely-there ribbon of cinnamon that ran through this bun. I mean, it was less visible than the streusel ribbon in a coffee cake. Unacceptable.

The saving grace for this bun was the frosting, which my partner loved with all his heart. I had a more measured reaction. It was good in that it was frosting, but it was by no means incredible frosting, and there was certainly not enough of it. That said, it was absolutely critical to balance out the sheer volume of dough in this bun. Without the frosting, I probably wouldn’t have eaten my half of the bun at all. That, in itself, is a sad testament to just how disappointing this bun was.

Here’s the long and short of it: I absolutely do not recommend this sticky bun, but if you choose not to heed my warning, at the very least make sure you pay for the frosting.

Training Tuesdays: allergies & exercise

I was cocky when Spring first rolled in. My colleagues at work were all complaining about their allergies and I was full-on flaunting my clear nasal passages, so sure that I had escaped seasonal allergies.  How could I have been so foolish?  Naturally the universe wasn’t going to let that kind of hubris slide. Sure enough, May rolled around and suddenly the seasonal allergies descended on me. And here they have stayed. For over a month. Dare I say that both me and my nasal passages are very, very unimpressed.

Suddenly, I found my energy for workouts waning, slightly mind you, but noticeably enough that I was annoyed. I’d been on a good roll with momentum and I was not going to let pesky pollen derail me. I started Googling to see if my allergies were, in fact, getting in the way of my exercise mojo, and I was shocked to find that the so-called experts claimed that exercise would actually help my allergies.  Apparently research shows that exercise alleviates allergy symptoms. To this I say: LIES! My own experience of exercising with allergies is threefold:

1. Sure, exercise helps in the moment.  When I’m kicking ass on the spin bike or running up stairs, my body is using all of its resources to not die. Then you have to deal with the aftermath…

2. …which is that all of the allergens are now clinging to you because you are sweaty and, by virtue of the sweat, your pores are open for little bits of pollen to make themselves at home (sidenote: I am not at all claiming that this is scientifically true. I know virtually nothing of science, but it seems plausible enough that it’s become my theory).  The second your workout is over, you’re nothing more than a resting ground for every allergen out there. An immediate post-workout shower and wardrobe change is absolutely critical to ward off hours of congestion and sneezing. And even that has not always been enough for me.

3. Benefits of exercise are limited to strenuous exercise. If you’d like proof, I’ll invite you to join me on a hike, where the ascent spares me any allergy symptoms, but where the descent will have me sneezing and blowing my nose so much so that I will burn my way through an entire travel-sized packet of tissues. That is no way to hike, my friends. All the charms of nature are lost when you’re in the throes of multiple, large-scale sneezing fits.

No matter how you slice it, one thing is clear: allergies suck. Here’s to pollen finally taking a hike and leaving me and workouts alone.

TWIR #113: is this week over yet?

The thing about going a mile a minute for a couple weeks straight is that you’re bound to crash. And this week I crashed. This was the week I lost my energy, motivation and desire to do anything other than lay on the couch mindlessly watching TV. The only unfortunate part is that I’m still working on three jobs, writing this blog, and trying not to lose the fitness I’m starting to gain. In other words, laying around mindlessly all day hasn’t been an option. Also in other words, this week has been really long and tiring.

Let’s see what my body got up to to try to keep the old mind focused, shall we?

Activity: hike!
Relevant Stats: 10-11 km, 400ish m elevation gain
Observations: We hit the road and drove out to a local trail that was supposedly very challenging and that supposedly featured great views. The trail turned out to be far easier than expected, though it was considerably longer than what I’ve hiked lately, but we never made it right to the end so I can neither confirm nor deny the views. My better half hit a part of the trail he did not like, and I did try to quickly get to the end on my own, but I realized that it was still a lot farther to the end, and I couldn’t leave him standing on the trail alone forever. Especially with the mosquitoes.  Good lord, the mosquitoes. I hadn’t experienced swarms of mosquitoes so terrible since the summit of Mount Allan on Centennial Ridge (a stunning hike, by the way, aside from the bugs).  They were fearless vultures, landing on us en masse whether we were moving or not. Ugh. Aside from the bugs, it was a great outing and definitively proved hiking is getting easier again.

Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: cozy rain day
Observations: Sunday was supposed to be gross, which hasn’t happened here in a while and which seemingly justified a day of doing nothing. I luxuriated in laziness, making waffles, baking a cake, meal planning, and watching hours of golf. It was a lovely day of rest for this tired body and mind.

Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 50 min.
Observations: I was feeling good about my strength and fitness on Monday so I decided to up my weights on step ups and single leg squats, and also combine them with split lunges, back squats, dead lifts, and single leg dead lifts. My poor glutes. They didn’t hurt so badly in the moment, but man were they tender by the end of the day!  I was sort of proud of myself, but also sort of annoyed because it hurt to do basic things like, you know, sitting down. I suppose this is where that stupid expression ‘no pain no gain’ comes from, right?

Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: My glutes were still sore as hell for this workout, but I thought spin would be just the ticket to loosen them up. Spoiler alert: spin does not loosen your glutes, especially if you do a ton of standing hovers and epic hill climbs.  In keeping with my gym wifi woes, my Apple Music failed to function yet again, which left me super irritated and robbed of spin music variety. I really, really need to update my playlists on my phone so that my workout vibes aren’t hampered by spotty wifi, and yet I’ve been thinking that for months and I’ve made no progress so I’m not holding my breath.

Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 55 min.
Observations: Well, I got my money’s worth in this workout. For one, it was inexplicably 10 minutes longer than usual. On top of that, I asked last week for lower body in our next session and my trainer certainly delivered. Unfortunately, she chose to listen to me during a week when I’d absolutely slayed my glutes already. They were even more tender going into this workout then they’d been the day before. She started me off pulling the sled loaded with way more weight than usual (though she claimed that it wasn’t that much heavier), incorporated some heinous resistance band forward and backward low squat walking, and then also kettle bell lifts, kettle bell squats and glute bridges. My hamstrings and glutes were toast by the end of this one.  Let this be a lesson to us all: be careful what you wish for.

Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 35 min.
Observations: I didn’t have time to do a full workout, so I gave my all to this 35 minutes. Sometimes when I know that my time is limited, I am able to push myself 100 times harder than I would with extra time.  This was that workout. I finally (!!!!) got my Apple Music reliably working and I used some of the longest and most epic Guns n’ Roses tunes to fuel some seriously tough progressive hill climbs. I’m talking 14 minute progressive hill climbs.  I tried to switch up my musical choices at the end to fit in some sprints but my legs legitimately had nothing left in them. On the plus side, my glutes finally relaxed a bit, so I considered this workout a success on many fronts.

Activity: hike!
Relevant Stats: 8.5 km!
Observations:  Fridays are my new favourite workout day. We’ve gotten into a good rhythm of hitting the trails together and, depending on my workload, our hikes vary in length, but we got in a good one today. It’ll probably mean working a bit this weekend but it was worth it to get out there for a good chunk of trail before the rain descends this weekend.  And, if I must say, we really hauled ass…well, once my tired hamstrings and glutes woke up, that is. Hiking success!

The weekend is now upon us and, here at least, it’s looking like a total rain fest. At first, I was quite upset by this, but I suddenly see the potential to be lazy yet again, to perhaps completely finish one of my projects so that I can go back to having a reasonable two jobs, run stairs again (because rain = not too hot) and maybe even to find a new guilty pleasure on Netflix.  Yes, I lead a wild life. Happy weekend y’all! Get out there (or stay in) and do what you love.

Mid-Week Tangent: national donut day fail

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last year, it’s that there is a day for every damn thing on this planet.For those of you who didn’t know, last Friday was national donut day. National Donut Day is apparently so worthy of celebration that it gets two days. That’s right. When this past donut day rolled around, I thought to myself ‘I’m fairly sure we’ve already had one of these this year.’ Sure enough, Google revealed that June and November feature National Donut Days (if you’re curious as to why, check out this article).

That’s all a bit of an aside, though. I had no idea it was actually national donut day when we opted to check out the donuts at a local coffee shop. Every Friday is donut day at this coffee shop, and we just happened to remember that as we were driving home from our Friday morning hike (balance, y’all).  When I found out later that it was National Donut Day, I convinced myself that our buying donuts by pure chance might somehow mean that we’d  stumbled upon a mecca for amazing donuts. You see, ever since leaving Vancouver, I have missed my beloved apple fritters from Breka so very much.  And the dulce de leche donuts from Breka. And the occasional glazed old fashioned from Lucky’s Donuts. The Okanagan is wonderful in many ways, but so far it is not so wonderful when it comes to bakeries.

Alas, despite our high hopes, unfortunately, we were wrong. We had not stumbled upon a donut mecca.

Looks so promising doesn’t it?

Where: Ratio Coffee

What we Had: lemon thyme for me, cinnamon sugar for my partner in crime

The Verdict:  I didn’t try the cinnamon sugar because, to me, a donut without some form of glaze isn’t even worth eating. According to my better half it wasn’t that great.

My lemon thyme donut was a big disappointment in the actual donut department. The dough was tough. If I’m going to eat a yeast donut (my preference is always cake donuts), I want it to be light as air, fluffy, ultra pillowy soft, but with a slight crunch to the outer edges. This donut was all chew. It had an odd stretch to it when I tried to tear it apart, as though the dough had been overworked, and the outer edges had no delightful deep fried crust. It was the kind of donut that made me regret wasting calories on it (i.e. the worst kind of donut).

The one saving grace for this donut was the glaze, which was quite heavenly. It was supremely tart from the lemon and had the essence of thyme without being overwhelming. I’m usually not one to go with herbs in my baked goods because if they are overdone it’s just a big old mess, but this glaze got it right. I am not going to lie: I basically ripped the bottom of the donut off this bad boy and ate a thin layer of the donut with the glaze. Had this been my entire donut experience, I would have been a happy camper. But alas, it was not.

And so our national donut day chance experiment with Ratio Coffee donuts was a big old fail. I’m not tempted to try their donuts again, but I am willing to give them a chance on their sticky bun Saturdays because, well, sticky buns are life.  But as far as winning donuts in the Okanagan go, I’m still on the hunt.