Archive | October, 2012

Last Minute Halloween Costume Idea

31 Oct

If you are planning on hitting the clubs or simply go trick or treating with your kids you need to dress up in order to get into the Halloween spirit.

In the past I used to buy Halloween costumes.  I would go to a party and there would always be somebody dressed in the exactly same outfit.  I would be surrounded by 3 Sexy Cops, 4 Sexy Nurses, 5 Catwomen and 2 Geishas.

Few years ago I started making my own Halloween costumes.  It’s inexpensive and so much fun!

Last year I went as a Flamenco Dancer.  The best part was that I didn’t have to buy anything.

I wore my floor-length black skirt and a black lacy top and added 2 big red flowers to my hair.

I did my own black-n-red lace make up.  This part was a bit time consuming but so worth it!

Happy Halloween everybody!

Frankenstorm and Soup

29 Oct

Toronto is under a wind warning today.  It’s going to get wet, windy and wild, as the remnants of Hurricane Sandy bring a powerful fall storm.   We may possibly have power outages.  The city officials advised everybody to have enough food, water and other supplies for another 72 hours.

I went into a major cooking overdrive.  The soup is done and the stew is bubbling away on the stove.

There is nothing more comforting on a cold fall day than a bowl of rich, hearty soup.  Here is one soup I love.

Mushroom Barley Soup


1/8 cup olive oil                                 5 cups water or stock

1 medium onion, chopped              ½ cup barley

1 medium carrot, sliced                    2 cups baby spinach

1 lb sliced button mushrooms        Salt and pepper

Stir and cook onion, carrots and garlic in the heated oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add in mushrooms and let it cook for a few minutes.  Pour in water or stock and add barley.  Let it boil, and then bring heat to low. Let it simmer for about an hour.  Add spinach when the soup is done.  Salt and pepper to taste.

I Like My Yoga Hot!

26 Oct

Several weeks ago my friend invited me to join her for a hot yoga class.  Since all my friends are always raving about how much they love it I decided to give it a try.

I was told that I shouldn’t eat 2-3 hours before the class and come properly hydrated.  I think I drank about 2 liters of water in less than 2 hours!

I was actually very excited when we arrived at the studio! The class had started and I thought at first that the heat wasn’t that bad.  15 minutes into the class I felt that the heat was intolerable; I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I was drenched in sweat and super irritated.  I was also getting very dizzy and nauseous.  I became so nauseous that at some point I had to leave the studio and I got sick in the bathroom.  I was advised by another instructor that I’ll benefit more if I get back and try to finish my class.  I don’t even know how I managed to get through to the end.  I felt I could hardly execute anything.  And then I got sick again when our class ended.

“This is my first and my last class” – I said to my friend.  At that point I felt I’d never want to do it ever again.

I went straight to bed when I got home.  For the next 5 hours or so I was shivering uncontrollably and fighting a horrible migraine. “And people pay money for this?” – I thought to myself.  I thought this is how it feels right before you die.

I am fairly fit but the following day my body was sore. It was that “good sore” feeling when you get after a really good session at the gym.  And here I thought that I hardly moved yesterday.  So if I were to go through the poses all out I’d probably be getting some serious workout.  My skin was “glowing”.  Hmmm…. I decided to return; I am not a quitter!

Apparently, it’s not unusual to feel light-headed and nauseous during the first few classes.  As a result of the yoga practice the body starts to cleanse itself by getting rid of the toxins that were stored in the system.  That’s what was causing my condition and here I thought I was in good health.

My second class was so much more enjoyable!  I made a decision to incorporate hot yoga into my exercise regime.  I only manage to go twice a week but I can already feel that my joint mobility and range of movement had increased.

Once I got past my initial horrible experience I grew to like hot yoga more.  I still find some of the poses quite challenging but each class is a little different.  All instructors are fun and motivating. The heat doesn’t bother me as much.  I absolutely love how I feel afterward!

I will be writing about my progress more in the later posts.

Does anyone know how many calories are burned during one hot yoga session?

Ontario Wine Route

22 Oct

Copper Leaves From Maples Gently Slide…

Fall is my favorite time of the year.

I love the smell and crunch of fallen leaves under my feet.  I love to stand on the balcony and admire the rich ochres, bright lemon yellows, and dark reds in trees on the Beltline Trail.  I love crisp and sunny days when I get to pull out my boots, jackets and scarves.  I have my “best fashion moments” in fall!  I even love rainy days – they are perfect to stay in, eat soup, drink tea and curl up with a good book.

Eating a rich Thanksgiving meal, dressing up for Halloween and celebrating our birthdays makes me love this season even more!

I felt I was buried in the studio from mid-September until the Thanksgiving weekend.  Getting ready for the Canada Salsa Congress  (or any congress, for that matter) consumes a lot of time.    I was sooo missing out on this lovely time of the year!

It rained cats and dogs on Saturday.  Sunday morning greeted us with lots of sunshine and warm temperature.  We packed some proscuito-apple-arugula sandwiches for the road and headed for a scenic drive along Ontario Wine Route.

The drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake from Toronto took us less than 90 minutes.  After a small confusion over directions in the Google Maps we started our tour by stopping at Southbrook Vineyards.

We saw a large flock of birds flying in the distance.  We also heard lots of loud noises every couple minutes or so, as if we were at a fireworks show without any lights.  We met two ladies there and they explained that the growers are using propane-fired cannons (acoustical repellents) to scare birds away.  Bird damage to grapes is a serious problem for many vineyard owners.  Unchecked, birds can completely destroy an entire crop.

This property is so beautiful, I can totally see why people are celebrating their special occasions here.

Our next stop was Diamond Estates Wines.

I was tempted to buy a bottle of their 20Bees Gewürztraminer but it wasn’t on the tasting menu that day so I passed.

The third winery we went in was Trius at Hillebrand.

We ended up buying some wine here;  I got  2011 Vintage Riesling Dry and Oscar’s got 2011 Chardonnay.  We also got a complementary tasting certificate for 2 at Peller’s!

I was insisting a family member should get married here!

 We went to Joseph’s Estate Wines after.  I got another bottle; this time it was a 2008 Late Harvest Vidal, a sweeter table wine.  It smells like ripe peaches, honey and apricots!

The road was lined with several farm stands selling local edibles.

The prices were somewhat high.  Because of the harsh weather this year farmers  saw only 10% to 15% of the their crops 😦 Farming business is not for the faint of heart.

Take Me Home!

I bought a basket of Royal Gala apples.  They are sitting on the kitchen counter and my whole apartment smells like apples!

We visited more wineries – Pilliteri, Jackson-Triggs and Peller.  Each winery in Niagara has a unique atmosphere, we got an opportunity to taste some of the rare and fine wines but it was  getting overwhelming.  Next time we are limiting our visit to no more than 5 wineries.

The drive home was along the bank of the Niagara River.  The road is winding its way through enchanting cliffs, fruit orchards and large riverside houses.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” –  L.M. Montgomery.

And so am I.

How I Lost 28 Lbs

12 Oct

It has been 3 years since I’ve lost almost 30 lbs and, most importantly, kept the weight off.

For the longest time I bought almost all my clothes at Mendocino because back in the days it was the only ones that carried size 00.

Being super thin in Eastern Europe is not a good thing.  My relatives in Ukraine always tried to secretly stuff my suitcase with smoked sausages, meats and cheeses “na dorogy” (“for the road”) during my earlier visits. I repeatedly told them to take it all back as we are not allowed to bring meat and dairy products to Canada. They would nod their heads and then try to hide a package (or two) in the sleeves of the jacket that has already been folded in the suitcase. It broke my heart to surrender all those yummy homemade goods to customs agents 😦

2005 Montreal Salsa Convention, in my mid-30s, size 0

So I ate, and I ate and I ate and never gained a single pound.  In my mid-30s I became size 0, in a year or so I had to buy clothes in size 2.  Nothing to worry about…right?  People complimented me saying that now I actually looked healthy, not emaciated.  But the weight started creeping up on me.

2007 Canada Salsa Congress. Size 4 and not worried yet

In March 2008 I made a decision to stop dancing completely.  I stopped teaching, rehearsing, performing and social dancing.  It freed 20 hours of my time each week! I could finally catch up with my non-salsa friends, read and do all non-dance related activities.  However, I didn’t change any of my eating habits because I didn’t feel I should.  After all, I had been thin all my life and I thought if people had  “thin genes” they’ll stay thin.

3 months later I was in shock. I was 20lbs heavier! People were congratulating me and asking when I am expecting.  Awkward!  I had to tell them that no, I am not expecting.  It was getting more awkward when they kept insisting that I should admit I was pregnant.  Some of them offered “helpful” advice: “Try to so some sit-ups”.  I didn’t feel good about myself. I was no longer able to fit into any of my clothes. It was a nightmare to go shopping for bigger clothes and eventually I stopped going out altogether.

For the first time in my life I was desperately trying different extreme diets.  I haven’t lost a pound and was constantly hungry and irritable. By 2009 I hit my highest weight, 136.5 lbs and was wearing size 8 clothes.  I was bigger than the day I gave birth to my daughter many, many years ago.

I also started to miss the stage and wanted to get back to dancing but who would have me on their team looking like this?

2009 New York Salsa Congress. I am at my heaviest…GRRRR

I was waiting in line for pay for my groceries at Metro and randomly picked up a small Prevention Guide brochure featuring Flat Belly Foods.  “I went from size 16 to 4!” –  was written on the front page.  Yeap, right…. I didn’t believe in any diets at this point.  I checked the recipes inside, they weren’t complicated, didn’t require to slave over a hot stove for hours and promised delicious foods. I bought it on a whim and started trying recipes one by one.  The foods truly were delicious so kept making them just because I liked how they tasted. I started trying these new foods in August 2009.

The booklet included testimonials of people who lost weight on Flat Belly Diet. Some of them reported loosing up to 4 lbs in one week.  It didn’t happen to me.  For the first 4 weeks I haven’t lost anything, only my clothes somehow were fitting better.  I lost 3 lbs in maybe 6 weeks and even then I thought it was the water weight only.  However, by October 2009, just in time for the Canada Salsa Congress, I’ve lost 10 lbs and I was able to wear clothes one size down.  I finally started feeling better and became motivated to shed all extra weight.  I knew then that this diet was working and started following it more closely.

In late 2009 New Skin Dance Company was conceptualized with the 2 of my close fellow Salseras and I was back in the dance studio working on the brand new Ladies Styling  routine for 2010 Vancouver International Salsafestival.  Practicing for several hours 7 days a week for 4 weeks non-stop helped to melt extra pounds in no time.

With my fellow New Skinnies at the 2010 Vancouver International Salsafestival. I am at my lowest weight, 108 lbs, size 00 again!

2012 Med Salsa Congress, Israel

Flat Belly Diet doesn’t feel like a diet, it’s a much healthier way of eating.  Several of my friends and former coworkers tried it and it worked for them.  When we are not training with the Team I gain between 1.5 to 2 lbs, which quickly come off as soon as we go into a “crunch” time, usually 2-3 weeks before the “big performance”.

Hopefully this story will inspire anyone who’s looking to make changes in their lifestyle.  I’ll be more than happy to provide answers based on my experience.

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