Bike repairs were complete, weather was splendid, and workload levels were in - dare I say (while holding my breath) - low.
There seemed no better opportunity to take advantage of the scraps of seasonal temperatures.
Having been crafted countless times before, the sole divergence was a seriously severed quantity of wheat bran. My container held a meager 22 g, yet the recipe had called for 90 g. The result was a distinctly fluffier composition with faint undertones of baking soda.
Inspired by Sunday Baking's Lemon Meringue Financier and guided by her Mochi Brownie recipe, I set out to construct the three-layer specimen without qualms of any nature.
My swirled lemon curd had also submerged into the batter, forming grim-looking craters rather than the vivid yellow swirls I had envisioned.
A small amount of the sugar syrup hardened at the bottom of the bowl before it could be beaten within, but the overall result was satisfactory.
Future renditions of the creation shall be undertaken with caution, for the dehydrating properties of black cocoa - in conjunction with rich chocolateyness harness the potential for breakouts.
Without a moment's hesitation, I took to the nearest cycle-able route and swooped up a 2 Ladies. Spending under twelve minutes in its entirety, I declared the mission a success - successful enough to park my bike and climb to the second floor just as the sun bid farewell to another day of human interaction.
Tangled tresses no more, I quickly scanned the inbox before venturing further east to Sherway Gardens, where a tedious errand was to be completed.
I began to browse aimlessly, as I often do, before making my away over to the refrigerated assortment of macarons, cakes, and pastries.
For once, I was served by a younger member of staff, as the owner had taken to a phone call at the time of order placement. Doe-eyed with soft, kind features and seamless brows, there was no judgement sensed from her gaze.
The image of dehydrated slices of Uncle Tetsu's Original Cheesecake materialized in my mind, but peeking into the bag told a different tale.
This rendition was intact - a single specimen of uniform hue and smoothness across all of its six sides. It was a cube, we learned as after extracting it from its carrying case, impeccably crunchy, tinged with butter, and dusted with golden sugar granules. The Chestnut Rusk was scrumptious, like a street food edition of French toast, devoid of the saucy sogginess and sticky utensils. Contained within were threads of plushness, and chestnut chunks woven in between to boast a subtle bite. Spectacular was the treat on its own, yet even more gratifying was its consumption paired alongside an Iced Americano. (Because true Canadians fear not the single digits.)
Fillings were smooth, like LUNA, though only mildly sweet with varying degrees of depth across the flavours. Matcha White Chocolate was a subtle take on bittersweet grassiness with the non-intrusive incorporation of white chocolate. Irish Mocha, coated with a copper shards of cocoa-flavoured cereal, was on blander than we would have preferred; neither perceiving presence of chocolate nor coffee, we dismissed it quickly while reaching to sample the other two.
Declared the winner of the trio without hesitation was the Salted Caramel. Depth had been attained via a distinct robustness, while its sophisticated sweetness was heightened with a sprinkle of savouriness.
A bag of Japanese short grain dating back over a decade was tested for edible qualities, but ultimately deemed unsafe due to horrendous wafts of staleness escaping the rice cooker. I substituted udon instead.
The class saw the return of two familiar faces and a former student who had frozen her membership since the onset of COVID-19. A couple occupied the previous semi-private session, yet the married duo from last week was not to be seen; it was somewhat relieving to me, oddly enough, and alleviated congestion for the lavatories.
We reverted to the Bosu ball warm-ups, complete with extension of the body ("flying") and holds at the last rep. Instability, as well as elongation of the fibres in my Amazon grip socks, led to teetering off the ball. Lunges were added on after the marches with the intent of stimulating the quads and thighs. One foot was placed on top of the Bosu ball, while the other positioned within the same plane as the hip, heel raised for ultimate test of control. Navigating to the Reformer, our attention was directed to the stopper and gear bar settings: the stopper ought be in the third position and the gear bar in second, we were told. Adapting the settings for personal use is a distinct benefit of these group classes, for it provides opportunities to familiarize and understand the mechanics of the machines, rather than simply using them in arranged configurations.
The foam roller was obtained, yet laid horizontally instead of vertically. With the upper body glued to the Carriage, ribs tucked, and foam roller inserted beneath the pelvis, we proceeded with the core series. Elevating the lower half of the body while maintaining an imprint challenged the front side of the code, notably isolating the lower ab muscles with tabletop toe dips, lower abs lifts, and half-windmills. We then rolled the foam roller up against the shoulder rest and laid sideways for a quick massage of the upper back. One of the hand straps were pulled over the top knee for clamshells, fire hydrants, and bent knee circles. Five second holds were called out at the end of each set.
- Bird Dog holds were executed for ten seconds on each side, totalling about three on each side. Critical was resisting rotation of the pelvis ("Don't lean!") while maintaining core engagement, a neutral spine, and (exclusively for me) a lifted gaze. Too often had my head dropped amidst the exercises, resulting in frequent reminders and, in essence, wake-up calls to rectify the repercussions of my daily device-using habits.
- Upper body rotations were performed to stretch the scapula. With one elbow on the box and the other besides one's ear, the torso was twisted such that the transverse abdominals were tensed and neck remained long.
The final exercises targeted the lower body. We stood atop the Reformer with one foot on the platform extender and the other on the Carriage, arms raised to form a star pose. Shoulders were to be depressed and chin lifted (mainly me). Shifting the Carriage front and back effectively isolated the inner thighs, while squats in first position would continue to engage the entirety of the legs and backside. I was reminded to keep feet angled at no more than 45 degrees and keep the chest and chin lifted.
We concluded the class with not a rolldown but slow hip flexor stretches. Rotation of the pelvis was to be countered, and the stretch ideally done without moving the leg on the Carriage, but rather bending and extending the standing leg.
Adopting group classes in substitution of private training had shed insight on the steps for future development: form checks were more regular this time around, though improvement was not guaranteed without ongoing dedication and self-discipline.
My weakness and neglect of pilates practice was not to be overlooked, and I left in low spirits, feeling even more defeated than the Sunday past. I began to grasp the reality of not only slow progression, but a steady regression in skill level. Re-incorporating my once-frequented routines would become a priority for the upcoming week. I would see to it.