Help! My Hands Look Like a Dude’s

The benefits of weight training. There are many. A faster metabolism, a toned physique, and increased strength. The down side? Is there a down side? Well, my hands are looking like a fifty year old construction worker’s. Make that a man construction worker.

I noticed in the past year or so a lot of veins popping up on my hands. I know veins may be a part of aging hands, but I don’t think so suddenly and in such abundance.  Of course I can’t be sure. I have also read that weight loss can cause veins on hands due to decreased body fat. I have noticed that Sarah Jessica Parker’s face looks very youthful on SITC, but her hands have bulging veins. I feel it is because she is extremely thin with very little fat on her body. I am nowhere near Ms. SJP in size or weight, but I have lost weight. About twelve to fourteen pounds. Could this have contributed to my senior-looking hands also? Until recently, I wasn’t the best at caring for my hands. I would dive them into a bucket of harsh cleansers without gloves, when washing surfaces, floors or sinks. I washed countless dishes and never gave gloves a thought until now, so it could also be plain neglect. I have also noticed the increased appearance of veins since I started heavy weight lifting. Calluses are another issue. I have about two hard calluses on both hands from my pull-up and bar grip. I know what you’re thinking. Why not just wear gloves? I do wear gloves, but I also lose gloves. Like all gloves, winter gloves included. I’m like a little kid who needs their winter gloves clipped to their jackets.That is why I need to move to the tropics. You don’t need winter gloves in Mexico, but I digress. In the past year I have lost four pairs of expensive weight training gloves.  I remove my gloves to go to spin or another class and always end up forgetting them in the studio. At times they are placed in the lost and found by the cleaning staff (thanks ladies!) and at other times they go into glove oblivion never to be seen again.

Now I’m trying to put forth a better effort to care for my hands. More lotion, and using gloves when cleaning. I’ve never been the type to go for a manicure but I may have to be the type soon. As for my cuticles, I won’t even go there. A kid in my kindergarten glass gave me cuticle cream as an end of the year gift. Enough said.

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These are the negatives of weight training!

These are the negatives of weight training!

Revised TLC care for hands as of right now:

-Lotion after hand washing as much as possible
-Buying weight training gloves….again
-Using the cuticle cream each night (thanks Alysha!)
-olive oil on hands each night and wearing my Avon repair gloves when sleeping.

IMG_1843IMG_1844Wait….where’s my other Avon hand repair glove? I can only find one. What did I tell you about me and gloves. Maybe I was Michael Jackson in a past life.

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That’s my routine in a nutshell.  Any suggestions for the callused, veiny and aged? Do you think I could clip weight training gloves to my gym clothes?

New Girl at the Gym

I saw this letter posted at my gym on the bulletin board yesterday. I felt compelled to share, because in many ways, I was once the new girl at the gym. I think it is our job as “seasoned gym patrons” to make everyone feel welcomed, supported and encouraged for making a positive lifestyle change.

Dear New Girl at the Gym,

You stand across from me in boot camp or on the treadmill next to me or a few bikes over in spin. I have never seen you before, but here you are. I can tell by the look on your face you are embarrassed. Embarrassed that you can’t do a pushup or don’t know how to adjust your bike or that you walk on the treadmill when the girl on the other side of you runs for a full hour at the speed of a cheetah. You look around and wonder what on earth you are doing here. You glance at me and I smile, but you look away pretending you didn’t see, because that would mean I noticed you. Maybe you are discouraged. Maybe you tell yourself this was a huge mistake and you’re going to ask for your money back. Maybe you wonder if I’m judging you.

I am not.

I want you to know how proud I am of you. You see, even though it might not seem like it, none of us are judging you. Why? Because so many of us were just like you. We know what it is like. We know how hard it is, especially in the beginning. Really we do. Maybe you woke up one day weighing forty pounds more than you did five years ago. I have been there. Maybe you stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office, had the nurse cluck her tongue, and then had the doctor say something like, “Now let’s talk about your weight.” I have been there. Maybe you recently had a baby, and you wonder if there will ever be a time when you don’t have to tuck your stomach into your pants. I have been there. Maybe you get half way through the warm up in a group fitness class and wonder if you are this out of breath now, is a full hour going to kill you? I have been there. Maybe money and time are tight and the idea of spending $30-$70 a month and an hour a day on yourself feels awfully selfish. I have been there. So many of us have.

You see us running or biking or lifting weights, and may feel discouraged or that we are judging you. Please, please, PLEASE know that we are not, because so many of us have been in your same shoes. You see us for what we are now, but many of us started out just like you, on a journey to find our best selves.

Please come back. I know it is hard, but it will get better, I promise.

And then you will wake up one day and wonder when you became that person. You know that person who can jog a few miles or do a whole spin class or even do boot camp without being sore the next day. And you will be the one, standing across the room, smiling at the new girl hoping she knows how lovely and wonderful and brave she is. Hoping she knows she is worth all the work. Because you are. You are so worth it. You deserve to be your healthiest self.

Now there might come a time and a place where someone will judge you, even someone at the gym. Maybe they make rude comments or give you that look. Maybe they have never known what it feels like to struggle with their weight. Maybe they have low self-esteem. Maybe they have never eaten an entire pan of brownies by themselves (I have) or an entire bag of Halloween candy before a single trick or treater came to their door (I have). Maybe they forgot what it was like to be the new girl. Please, don’t waste your time on them. You are on a journey to be your best self, and they don’t belong on your journey. Find people and a place where you can begin where you are.

Come back. You are so worth it.

Written by Erica Millard
visit: http://ericamillard.com/?p=1566

The Many Moods of Exercise

The other day I got caught up in some discouraging news. Call it a setback. Without divulging details, it put me in a blah mood. Andy calls me a The Grinch when I get in these moods.  I just want to stand on top Mount Crumpit, with my hands on my hips and look down at the “who’s down in Whoville” and feel annoyed at them for no particular reason. I hope everyone has seen the Dr. Seuss classic to get the full gist of the analogy. I was in a Grinchy state of mind (and also looking a little bloated like the Grinch in the mid section, if you catch my drift ladies).

I was supposed to be going to meet my friend Desi for Tabata, and then do some upper body free weights after class. Suffice to say, in my foul mood, I did not feel like going anywhere. Then Desi texted me to let me know that she was not going to Tabata because her daughter suddenly needed a drive to work. Well, it was then and there I decided to forget it. I am not going to the gym at all.  I will sit on the couch and brood over a glass of vino (or two.)  Before delving into the Merlot, something hit me. Why should I sit on the couch? Exercise is what I need, not wine. I needed to pump happy endorphins into my body stat! I don’t know what motivated me, God sending me a message, or perhaps Michelle Lewin’s glutes on Instagram, but whatever it was I got up and got going.

My exercise breakdown comes in many moods at times. If I’m upset, discouraged, angry or sad, I still make it to the gym. Before, any minor negativity would get the better of me, or any excuse. I was the queen of lame excuses for missing a workout, such as, my friend’s mom’s hamster died. I’m too sad to go to spin. This attitude proved to be useless. Exercise has lifted me out of many a bad mood and has been there for me time and time again. The only one I can rely on to get to the gym is myself.

My Happiness Workout Meter:

10-  Happy- My heart is ten sizes bigger and I’ll cut the roast beast. :)
9-
8
7
6-
5-  halfway to happiness
4-
3
2
1- Grinchy. I hate you, Who’s!:(

When I am not in the best mental state, my workouts start out very low on the meter. After my warm up of 5-10 minutes on the stationary bike or rowing machine, I can already feel an increase on the happiness meter.

Loading on weights for the final set of bench presses. I’m feeling a bit better.

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Pull-up machine time. I’m feeling pretty good now.

IMG_1791After back rows, lat pull-downs and push-ups, I feel very good. Finally, made it to my last exercise, see-saw shoulder presses with kettle balls. I’m so glad I got off the couch and exercised. The meter is at least at 8 now. Look. Is that a smile I see?

IMG_1794By the time I stretch, I truly feel wonderful, emotionally and physically. About 9 on the meter. More importantly, I feel as though I can come up with solutions for my dilemma and feel energized. Didn’t get that promotion at work? Having some family issues? Your insurance won’t cover the entire cost of your kid’s braces? Don’t sit around and blame the Who’s! Get off that brooding butt and go for a walk, pump that iron, Zumba till you’re laughing. Exercise may not solve your problems, but it will surely give you mental clarity, a more positive attitude and energy to come up with a solution.

Now, pass that roast beast.

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I’m really not worthy, first I have to thank God, and then my parents. It’s all so surreal. (holds award in both hands and shakes, looking up to ceiling above podium.)

Oops, sorry. I was just practicing my acceptance speech should I win the coveted Very Inspiring Blogger award. I REALLY want to win. C’mon people. Choose me already! Does this sound too desperate? I know, sorry….again. I just love to think of myself as inspiring. For one, I like this badge:

ar-inspiringblogger1Isn’t it so pretty with its little retro typewriter? Also, I REALLY want to win. (oops sorry.) Truth be told, one of the people who inspire me the most in the blogosphere , Meg of Less Thighs More Thunder, nominated me. She’s spunky, determined, and she kills it in CrossFit every time (and she can do a handstand now.) Every time I read her workout logs, I’m like, damn girl! You are strong! So if you haven’t checked out her blog, click on the link.

Now, I’m going to proceed with the seven facts about me. Then I am going to nominate 15 other blogs I love because that’s the rule.  There are also a couple of other rules such as, thank the person who nominated you, and add a photo of the retro typewriter to the post if you wish….I mean the badge.

Facts about me:

1. I am Canadian, but I detest snow. How did that happen?

2.  I’m married to a great guy who can cook.

3. I love to travel, and have itchy feet. (as in I like to travel. Not that I need to scratch them itchy.)

4. My favorite food is authentic Italian anything.

5. I looove playing practical jokes on people. I own many plastic roaches which I love to put in people’s tub, bags, shelving, and on toilet seats when I visit.

6. People don’t invite me over much. See fact 5.

7. My favorite show is Vikings right now. Andy and I never miss an episode.“Skol!” (you just gotta watch.)

The blogs I nominate.

1.  http://cultivatinghabits.com/about-mk/

2. http://lessthighsmorethunder.wordpress.com/about/

3. http://fromdoughnutstodumbbells.com/about/

4. http://hiitmom.net/about/

5. http://autumnptw.wordpress.com/about/

6. http://mypursuitofhappinessandskinnyjeans.wordpress.com/about/

7. http://sobersenorita.com/about/

8. http://godspeaks-i-listen.com/2014/06/23/the-battle-belongs-to-the-lord/

9. http://nylifesupply.com/about/

10. http://thedancingrunner.wordpress.com/about/

11. http://www.herhappybalance.com/about/

12. http://www.happybeinghealthy.com/about/

13. http://liftingmyspirits.wordpress.com/about/

14. http://memoirsofayoyodieter.com/

15. http://wherewordsdailycomealive.wordpress.com/about/

These blogs are uplifting, positive forums that promote wellness and joy. Please visit them if you can.

As for the blogs I nominated, please do not feel the need to participate. I am off for the summer, suffering from insomnia and have the time to do this now. I hope that I included everyone I meant to, because around #10 my eyes were getting a bit googly and unfocused. I do love reading all your blogs and YOU have inspired me to live better and healthier. XOXOX

Now, pick me. Please pick me. Do you think I never win these awards because of the plastic roaches thing? I always include that in the facts about me section.

Desperate again. I know…sorry.

 

Coyotes and Tigresses and Bears…Oh My!

I had a horrific nightmare last night. I dreamt it was winter! Egads! I was in a snowstorm with no mittens, and was walking aimlessly in a blowing white, mass with a polar bear in the distance. I was trying to lose the bear, but he kept edging closer and closer to my pending doom. My face was burning from the windchill and my hands were numb. Just when I felt like falling in a snow bank face-first and giving up all hope, I sprang up from my pillow in a cold sweat and ran to the window. Birds were chirping, the sun was shining, there was not a snowflake to be seen or a big white bear. Phew. Just a nightmare, but it felt so real. See what happens when you have one too many white wine spritzers?

Summer, yes summer, is in full swing. I am enjoying everyday and indulging the senses because soon enough my nightmare will be a reality (except for the Polar bear.) On a whim, Andy and I went on a glorious hike the other day. It was perfect hiking weather, warm but not humid. Before setting off on our happy trails, we came across this sign:

IMG_1778What’s up with all the wild animals? Coyotes first and then Polar bears in my dreams? Some kind of symbolism? Of course, this was no dream. I love and respect animals, but being mauled to death by a coyote is not my ideal way to go. I questioned going ahead with the hike. Andy said it should be fine, so we decided to continue. The sign did say that these animals are most likely to come out at dusk and it was barely noon. Let’s hope one of these animals is not an early bird and defies its nocturnal pattern. Stick to the path, Red Riding Hood. The views were gorgeous and I am glad we continued on. It felt so serene hiking by a flowing stream and no sign of Wild. E. Coyote.

IMG_1777On the fitness front, besides hiking, I have been working hard at the gym. I am still working on my pull-ups, and progress is more or less the same. The other day, I was going out for a run, but along came the torrential downpour. I went down to my building gym and had a great run on the dreadmill. Since I bore easily on the treadmill, I have to keep it interesting.  I did this workout found at  http://www.self.com/body/workouts/2013/10/ten-boredom-busting-treadmill-workouts/           

Speed-Endurance-Treadmill-Workout  It was a solid sweat session, and felt great to work on speed. Not to mention, it really was “boredom busting.” After this workout, I was sure to do a full body stretch.                :

Yesterday, a balmy summer night called for a few drinks and good chat. My friend Trish is a real hoot, and without a doubt always gets me laughing. She was in Jamaica in April, and I haven’t seen her vacation photos, or heard about her adventures until now. It was great to catch up. Of course a few white wine spritzers were in order. Trish has a beautiful deck in her yard, surrounded by mature trees. I always feel as though I am up north in the Muskokas when sitting on her deck. I suggested to Trish she buy a CD with nature sounds, like a babbling brook, or a loon calling and play it whenever I come over. Then I would truly feel as though as I was in cottage country. I’m sure she’ll get right on that.

IMG_1796Well, I am off for my weekly grocery haul. Have a great week. Be good to yourself and each other. Keep on roaring, but keep away from those wild animals.  Ahhh, that’s it! The symbolism. Unleash the beast within! Oh, that’s some good symbolism.

My Lady Lumps

Can we talk orange peel? Not the skin that covers the citrus fruit, but the type found on my thighs. I have managed to make changes to my body that I’m very proud of. I have dropped down four pant sizes, but still have cellulite on my thighs. My saddlebags are pretty much gonzo, but the stubborn cellulite remains. The lumpy, bumpy fat deposits found under the skin has been an affliction I have lived with for all of my adult life. My cellulite is now something that I have come to accept. I doubt it’s going anywhere, especially as I age, so I may as well come to terms with it.  I have tried many over-the-counter remedies, some of which have helped, but did not remove my cellulite completely.

Here is a photo of cellulite.

320px-Dimpled_appearance_of_celluliteNot my personal cellulite, but close enough. Except mine is deposited more on my outer thighs. I was debating whether or not to go to the H and M change room and strip down to my bikini in the harsh fluorescent lighting and take a photo for this post (I find H and M lighting the worst) but I chickened out.

I will share tips that I have found helpful to reduce my cellulite. I personally do not feel you can get rid of cellulite all together, and it is very much in the genes (get it? In the “genes.” Am I still the only one laughing?)  I do believe it is possible to reduce and control with effective workouts and wise choices at the grocery store.

640px-Formation_of_CelluliteHere’s the heavy on my cellulite: First can I just say, look at the size of those fat cells on the unhealthy side. Those things are bigger than M and M’s! Too many M and M’s are probably what got them that size.

1. Diet: First things first. If I am downing the Merlot by the bottles and coffee in excess and saying yes too often to a super-size meal with extra fries, but rubbing firming cream on my thighs until my fingerprints come off, I will not get rid of my cellulite. Diet is key. When I am eating clean, unprocessed foods, especially lean meats and a lot of leafy greens, I notice my skin is smoother over all. A lot of water, at least two litres each day, helps as well. Water does aid the body from removing toxins. If I am being completely honest with myself,  if I omit coffee and alcohol all together, my results would be a lot better with the removal of toxins and orange peel reduction.strong>

2. Exercise: I have discovered that certain types of exercise decrease my cellulite more so than other types. Weight training has been the most effective for firming and tightening up my lower body. Squats, lunges and deadlifts have shaped my thighs and glutes like no other form of physical activity. Don’t be afraid to lift, ladies. It works. I personally find that cardio is effective, but intense interval training works best for me. Tabata, HIIT or Insanity, where you are doing such exercises as, burpees, foot ball sprints and jump squats for a certain time frame and then resting and repeating very effective for leaning and toning.

3. Creams and firming rubs: I haven’t tried everything on the market, but I have tried many anti-cellulite and skin firming rubs. For me, they all proved to have the same results. You must do these external treatments in conjunction with clean eating and exercise, or it is pretty much pointless. Consistency is also key. If the bottle instructs you to rub cream on area two times per day, make sure you do so for best results.

Those are the big factors to reduce my cellulite. A diet of fresh, unprocessed foods and movement.

As I said, I think my cellulitis malas is here to stay, but I’m now focusing on getting as strong and fit as I can and feeling good, as oppose to looking perfect. For me, life is about living and enjoying indulgences within reason. If that means I will be of the orange-peeled variety, I’m okay with that. In celebration of lovely lady lumps, I have called in some friends. Hit it Black Eyed Peas!

Any tips to share to reduce unsightly cellulity?

A Lovely, Fresh Salad That is Easy to Prepare

It is that time of year. BBQ’s, yard parties and the like are in full swing. My friend Dianne hosted a lovely backyard soirée at her house Saturday evening. Before her BBQ, I decided to bring my summer pasta salad. It is tried, tested and true, not to mention easy to prepare. Last minute, I changed my mind and brought a lovely, light salad I found via Pinterest. Gotta love the convenience of Pinterest.

Bocconcini and Tomato Salad:

You will need:

I box of cherry tomatoes. After washing, chop your cherry tomatoes in halves and add to salad bowl.

IMG_1770Add two tubes of mini bocconcini cheese to tomato halves.

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You will note that some of the bocconcini is a bigger size in the photo. Make sure you buy the mini size. I bought one regular size tube, and had to end up cutting the regular size in halves.

Next add 2-3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, and 2-3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.

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Add some finely chopped fresh basil to salad. Salt and pepper to taste comes next. Mix everything well in your salad bowl. Place in fridge and let chill before serving.

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There you have it. A simple summer salad that will surely please the masses.

recipe found at http://carolynnsrecipebox.blogspot.ca/2010/10/tomato-bocconcini-salad-with-fresh.html via Pinterest.

 

 

You are the Magic

I just couldn’t sleep last night. Getting out of bed, I made a sleepy-time tea to see if this would help. I should have delved back into my book, but instead I turned on the TV and started to channel hop. It was wee hours past midnight when all the infomercials are trying to convince you to bust out that plastic to make your life better, easier, happier, thinner and richer and other dubious claims.

One particular infomercial stood out, and frustrated me. It was an ad for a diet pill. To prevent t-rex to tigress’ poor behind from being sued for defamation, I will use only the words “diet pill” for this post. What the ad was telling viewers was shameful to me. In essence the diet pill’s target audience was the overweight and obese. Those who have tried every diet shake, pill, and meal replacement bar out there, only to find to their dismay that none of these things worked and they only ended up wasting money. This pill was claiming to be different from all the rest.

Instead of changing the channel, I watched more of this magic weight loss pill pitch. What really made me disappointed in the ad was the message conveyed. It was, don’t change a thing about your lifestyle. Just take this pill.  In other words, if you’re eating and drinking in excess, processed foods are on your main menu, smoking and leading a sedentary lifestyle, that’s just fine. You don’t need to exercise or eat healthy, fresh foods. Indulge your sugar fix galore, forget about moving your body and just pop this pill. After all, it’s not about being healthy, it’s about being skinny.

Do you believe the hype?

Do you believe the hype?

Will this pill be there to help you when your body starts to break down and rebel from lack of movement? Will this pill be there to help you when your knees, back and joints ache? Will this pill be there to make you stronger and feel better? When your skin is looking dull and tired, will this pill be there to rejuvenate you and help you to look refreshed? When you’re feeling a little out of shape and winded from climbing the stairs, will this pill be there to increase your stamina?  When you’re feeling down and a tad lack-luster, will this pill give you the same high as completing a 5K, hiking in nature or completing your first pull-up? Will this pill be there for you when your five year old is asking you to toss them a baseball after you just cleaned the house? My bet is on no, but as long as your can fit in those size four jeans that is all that matters.

At the risk of sounding cliché, I will risk it anyway. You see, I have never been over weight, but I have suffered from poor body image and terrible ideas of what being fit is. Skinny used to be my everything in my younger days, and nothing else mattered, so I feel I can relate to those who may be feeling desperate or hopeless. I have tried diet pills, meal replacement programs and starving myself skinny. Here is where that cliché part comes in. I know we live in a time where instant gratification feels good, but there is no other feeling in the world than meeting your goals through plain, simple hard work. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Yes, it will be challenging and it doesn’t happen overnight, but instead of buying these pills and potions, use that money to get a membership to a gym or just a good pair of trainers. Find your passion, may it be dancing, running, spinning, weights, swimming or walking. Get off the couch and get moving. Bypass the fast food joints as often as possible, and make a grocery list and buy fresh and nutrient-filled foods. You will see results. You will be happier and healthier. It won’t be as easy as popping a pill, but it will be so much more worth it.

Trust me, this feels better than pill popping:

800px-Female_joggers_on_foggy_Morro_Strand_State_Beach

 

The magic is not in a pill.

It is in you.

Good Eats and all that Jazz

Hello there! My summer has started with rip-roaring fun. Leaving the humidity of Toronto behind, Andy and I packed up the car and drove five hours east to even hotter Montreal, Quebec, the French-speaking province in Canada. Not just the weather was hot there, but so was the music. Montreal was bustling with crowds of music lovers for the Montreal Jazz Festival. Before leaving Toronto, I packed some containers with healthy snacks to avoid mindless/endless snacking at those roadside trucks stops. I also made sure to eat a meal before leaving so I was full. Road trips are usually my downfall and I end up sabotaging my eating plan, so I was glad I planned ahead.

Some car snacks for the road.

Some car snacks for the road.

Andy and I met up with one of his closest musician friends, Ronnie, from his former band days. Ronnie is the lead guitarist in renowned reggae artist Burning Spear’s band and was there as a part of the festival. Ronnie gave us two guest passes to the show at the Metropolis in downtown Montreal. I haven’t been to a live reggae concert in a while and I really enjoyed it. It was great to hear the hypnotic sounds of Ronnie’s guitar again. He truly is a talented artist. Although lead singer Burning Spear is nearing his seventieth year, he sure still can move on that stage. I hear he has recently embraced hot yoga and credits this form of exercise to keep him quick and nimble.

Burning Spear live at the Metropolis

Burning Spear live at the Metropolis

We spent the majority of our time strolling the cobbled streets of historic downtown, trying to dodge the crowds who were out to enjoy the musical acts on the major bandstands.

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Since it was Canada Day, I had to wear my red and white.

Since it was Canada Day, I had to wear my red and white.

IMG_0688It was so hot and humid, 37 degrees C with the humidity ( 98 degrees F for Americans ) that even I had to jump on the ice coffee bandwagon to cool off.

imageDowntown Montreal, centre ville, as it is called by the locals, is filled with hip, European style bistros and we had no trouble finding good eats on a patio to people watch. We had dinner one evening at Cafe du Nouveau Monde. Andy had the tender steak, while I had a pulled pork sandwich with local cheese, from rural Quebec called Oka.

IMG_0694imageOne especially hot night, we met Ronnie at his hotel for a few drinks. Andy was thrilled when in strolled one of his musical idols, bass player Mr. Marcus Miller.  Andy was unsure whether to stop him for a photo-op, but I convinced him to ask. Mr. Miller looked pretty chill and was chatting and laughing with many fans. Finally, Andy approached him, and he replied, “absolutely” when Andy asked for the photo. I’ve never seen Andy so star-struck. It was kind of cute. Later, we watched a live jam session with a bunch of “cool cats.”

Andy and Marcus Miller

Andy and Marcus Miller

After two days of fun (and heat) in the sun it was time to check out and head home to Toronto. The Jazz Fest was fun, with a plethora of sights, tastes and sounds of music to engage all the senses. I couldn’t leave without having a Montreal crepe. It was delicious.

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Andy’s spinach and cheese crepe.

My Mexican burrito crepe.

My Mexican burrito crepe.

Until next time Montreal….

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