Sunday, October 19, 2014

Random Thoughts

What I am loving:  The fall colors and amazing sunsets I've been seeing over the last month.

What I find ridiculous:  The wedding industry.
Having just planned a wedding it is shocking how many vendors jack up the price just because it is a wedding.  Also, I've been watching Say Yes to the Dress.  During one episode where a bride had $2,000 to spend there were comments such as "[her] budget is limited,"  "It's not going to be pretty bling, it's going to be plastic bling," "bride's budget has their hands tied," and "slim line budget, options are really limited."  Eventually they found a dress that would stretch her budget.  The dress was $2600.  That is not stretching a $2000 budget, that is an increase of 30%!  Okay, rant over.

What I am excited about:  Looking at houses and owning instead of renting.  I want to decorate (see what's on my wish list below)!  I am also excited about starting to volunteer with animals again.  I should be walking dogs in a week or two!

What is on my wish list:  Wood working tools, although I'm not sure how much I would really use them, saws make me nervous.  I keep finding awesome DIY projects that I think I could do, but don't have the tools.  Some of those projects are on the blog Love Grows Wild - ladder, menu board, photo clipboards.  Also, Shanty 2 Chic's bench and address wall planter.

What I'm watching:  Favorite new shows are Unlivable and Manhattan Love Story.

What I'm reading:  I just finished .  I read it with my new book club!

What made me smile today:  Haley's spunk this morning due to the cooler weather (it is beautiful today, but pretty chilly with the wind chill).  Walking to the gym and then my Pumpkin Latte from Peet's on the way home.

What are you loving, finding ridiculous, watching, reading or excited about?  What is on your wish list?  What made you smile?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jus by Julie 3-day Cleanse Review

After my last cleanse my supervisor was so impressed with my results, she said I glowed, that she decided she wanted to do a cleanse.  She is a single mom and has 2 kids, so she wanted to wait until they would be out of town so she wouldn't have to prepare food without being able to eat it. Then a couple weeks ago it turned out that the kids were going to be out of town and she found a Groupon for Two Jus by Julie 3-day Cleanses and she convinced me to participate.  The timing also worked well for her since she will be in Miami next week.
I was a little hesitant of this cleanse because the juice is blended instead of cold-pressed and isn't organic.  It reminded me a bit of my smoothies that I can do at home, but I wanted to be a support for my supervisor.  Also, my last cleanse really helped quash my urges to eat fatty and sugary food and I hoped to have the same results this time.  Although I have been working out regularly and eating healthly, I am still having a lot of cravings, which I sometimes give in to.
The goal was to do the cleanse during the work week, but unfortunately with the Groupon options we only had this Wednesday available as a delivery.  Knowing that the juice probably wouldn't arrive until midday I planned to start on Thursday.  Once the juices arrived my supervisor started, even though she had already eaten.  I chose to wait because I had already eaten breakfast and had some good salmon packed for lunch that I didn't want to waste.  I wish I had started with her though because I knew my workout plans would probably need to change a bit over the weekend.
A quick recap of the plan, some of the juices are the same each day and others change.  You always start with a Morning Glory, then comes either a Spicy Lemonade or a Spicy Pome-nade, juice number three is the Sweet Spin, the fourth juice was either Chia Berry or Acai Blend, juice number 5 was different every day and then you end with a Sweet Spin.  This cleanse allows you to eat a moderate amount of steamed vegetables or egg whites.  You can drink 1-2 cups of coffee with Truvia or Stevia or tea.  And you are allowed to chew gum.  I don't know how I feel about this option, most other cleanses recommend against this. Blue Print Cleanse says, "Chewing gum contributes to gas in your system, as well as, “confusing” the digestive process. What does this mean? Your stomach is getting ready for food that isn’t coming. That being said, try to avoid it, but if you’re tempted to chew off your colleague’s arm please chew the gum, and make it sugarless."

Chia Berry

Day One
The first juice started out rough.  I already knew that I probably wasn't going to like this juice because my supervisor had such a hard time getting it down on Wednesday.  We ended up chugging it down together and moved on.
I had the Spicy Pome-nade next and it was very tasty.  It is nice. light, just a tad sweet with a little bit of heat.  I would definitely drink this any day.
Next up was the Sweet Spin, this juice was much better than the Morning Glory, but still not my favorite.
On my drive home I drank the Acai Blend, which I also enjoyed.  It was fairly chunky, so it you have trouble with certain textures this may not be the drink for you, but I thought it was very tasty.
When I got home Big B and I discussed going for a workout, but I opted out because I didn't feel like I had enough energy to do an actual workout and I was sore from my Hard Drive class the night before.  However, I did end up getting almost 10,000 steps by the end of the day.
Later Big B and I walked over to the Brambleton Town for one of their Sizzlin' Summer Concert, the Doyle Brothers performed.  One the way over we stopped at Subway to grab a sandwich for Big B.  I'm usually not a humongous Subway fan, but boy did their sandwiches look delicous.  Cleanses are definitely harder if the person you share your house with is eating normal food.  For some reason I don't have much temptation to eat food at work, but I did at home tonight.  It was also a bit hard to watch other concert attendees enjoying their adult beverages.  I definitely plan on brining a beer or some wine with me to the next concert, Cherry Crush.
At the concert I had decided not to follow the Jus by Julie's instructions.  I had the Sweet Spin next because I really enjoy something sweet at the end of the day and didn't think I could go from something sweeter to the Sweet Spin.  Once we got back home I ended the day with the Not So Chunky, yumm!!

Day Two
I slept really well last night and today I felt just a well as I did during Day One.  I don't know if that is because I didn't do the detox baths or if it was because the juices were blended.  I had the Spicy Lemonade today, this juice is tasty, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the Pome-nade.  Another difference was the Chia Berry.  Again this drink was tasty, but I liked the Acai Blend a bit more (I think because it felt a bit more like normal food).  This night I got home later than normal and Big B had already eaten, luckily, because his food smelled so good (and it was just chicken and squash)!  The last juice of the day was the Island Coconut, also delicious!!

Morning Glory
Day Three
I had planned on sleeping in, this would be the first in a while because I normally set my alarm so I can make it to gym classes during the weekend (although I usually wake before it goes off on Sunday).  Unfornately I didn't make it very late, but I was lazy and laid in bed for a couple hours.  Again I feel pretty normal and not like I did last cleanse.  Unlike the other cleanse were my opinion on the juice changed each day, I didn't notice that this time.  Morning Glory, was still not great and I had to chug it down.  I actually don't know if there would be much flavor if I plugged my nose.  I didn't try this, but I think most of the dislike was the strong smell of kale.
After drinking my Spicy Lemonade I felt good enough to go for a walk/run, I planned on incorporating the walking because it is hot outside, high 80s.  Boy was I glad I hadn't planned on running the whole way, it was warm and I should have brought some water.  It actually looked like I had taken a bath by the time I got home, I was that sweaty!
Next up was the Sweet Spin, but it tasted really weird today, so I had less than half and then ended up throwing it away.
After about an hour I was really hungry, so I had 8 almonds.  These are not on Jus by Julie's plan, but they sounded better than egg whites or steamed veggies and they were allowed on the other cleanse.  I also drank the Chia Berry, it tasted even better with the almonds.  Sweet with a little bit of a sour kick.  Again some people might not like this juice because of the texture, but I love chia seeds.
Another reason I wish that I had started the cleanse on Wednesday is because we went to the Red, White and Bram (an event in our town center with music and fireworks).  Because I knew that there were going to be some good food carts, beer and wine, I decided not finish the cleanse that night.  I figured now I could extend my leftover bottles and have one for lunch and one for breakfast.  Either way I cheated a bit and don't regret it one bit.  The lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound!  Now the challenge is to not let this derail my plans.

Side Effects (fun details not everyone might want to know)
With both cleanses I have had fairly normal stool, which is awesome since a lot of people seem to have issues with this, at least from what I have read.  I also always get a bit of a white/green film on my tongue.  It is gross!
This time I noticed that I had to urinate more often and when the urge came I had to go then.  I don't remember this occuring as much during the first cleanse.  I've also noticed that I've been a bit chilled, luckily its warm and humid here, so I can just step outside to warm up.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Week After My Cleanse & Green Orange Smoothie

On Sunday I was positive I would never do a cleanse again.  However, almost a week later, I'm not so sure.  Maybe I'll have to try another brand and compare the two.

Some positives from the cleanse:
- I have lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks (this has included healthy eating after the cleanse and working out regularly)
- I'm not craving junk food as severely as I was before and I have become much more mindful of when I am full
- Coworkers at work have stated that I already look thinner and my skin looks healthier

- I felt a bit naseous through Tuesday
- I was so sick of juice!
- I have felt a bit weak when returning to my normal workout routine

On a side note I made the most delicious smoothie Thursday morning and made it again this morning.  Although it looks very green it actually tastes a like an Orange Julius.

1 cup spinach
1 banana
1 cup orange juice
1/4 scoop of vanilla protein powder (I am currently using Syntha-6, Vanilla Ice Cream)
I Tablespoon of chia seeds
I blend all of these togethers using a Magic Bullet then I add crushed ice to the top and blend it again.
Calories 310

I prefer a more fruity smoothie, so on Thursday I added raspberries and this morning I didn't have any berries so I added some raspberry kefir.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Life Juice Cleanse - Last Day

I'm definintely done with this cleanse.  Iwasn't hungry and I wasn't craving other food, but I was dreading the thought of drinking more juice.  I got a late start to the day and ended up not going to Kickboxing because I got completely wrapped up in the book I'm reading and couldn't tear myself away to get out of bed.  (As a sidenote check out Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller.  I love Jodi Picoult's stories and this one had me laughing, and crying.)  This means I had to drink the juices even faster than the other two days, blech!  Don't get me wrong, these juices aren't bad and actually are pretty tasty, I'm just tired of them.

Once I was able to tear myself away from the book, I'll be honest, once I finished the book, I went out for a lovely walk.  The weather is beautiful!  I ended up eating almonds again and skipping the second Oh My Greens, maybe I'll be in the mood for it later in the week.  Looking forward to easing out of the cleanse tomorrow and starting to eat more normal food.  The plan is fruit, maybe a juice or two and almonds tomorrow.  Tuesday I can add some lightly steamed greens and Wednesday I will add in some salads and complex grains.  Thursday fish comes into play and Friday is the start of my healthier eating plan.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Life Juice Cleanse - Day Two

I slept wonderfully last night and woke up feeling pretty good, but a tad bit light headed.  I took Haley for a walk and was excited to see the sun out, even though it was pretty windy.

The Solé took me a bit longer to drink this morning, but the Positive Balance went down better.

The one thing I haven't liked about the cleanse so far is that I feel like I have to drink the juices almost back to back to get them all in, or maybe I just drink them too slowly.  Shortly after I finished the Solé it was time for Positive Balance and then Oh My Greens.  Add in the fact that I am trying to increase my intake of water, I feel like all I am doing in drinking.  

This afternoon I treated myself to a massage.  It was one of the recommendations that Life Juice gave.  I have been a bit sore from working in the two year-old classroom this week and moving a classroom at work yesterday, and then helping a friend move a few items.  Plus I'm a bit stressed from all the wedding planning.  The massage felt wonderful, relaxing and I was glad I indulged.

After the massage it was time for the Bodacious Bunny.  I also decided to eat 8 almonds.  Life Juice gave a list of a few items you could eat if you absolutely had to, although I didn't absolutely have to eat something, I did feel like my body needed them.  Other food choices were a few celery stalks, a couple of cucumber slices, warm vegetable broth or a half cup of coffee (no sugar or cream).  But I felt like I needed that protein more than anything else so I opted for the almonds, which I keep in my pantry anyway.

Since I feel a bit tired today I plan on finishing off the second Oh My Greens and the Spiced Almond Milk then taking another bath and then off to bed early.  I hope to have enough energy to go to my normal Cardio Kickboxing class tomorrow morning at the gym.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Life Juice Cleanse - Day One

Over the last few years I have considered doing a cleanse.  I have been interested in how I will feel during cleanse and if really would make me feel better at the end of it all.  Then I get engaged, I'm struggling to eat healthly, and Big B is out of town for a long weekend.  Perfect time to see how a cleanse goes, so I'm going for it.
I started off by doing a lot of research.  I read this article, and this one, and then lastly I found Chef Amber Shea's blog where she reviewed numerous juice cleanses with a little more depth than other articles I had found.  I really appreciated all the information that she shared.
After reading all the articles I narrowed down my choices to Life Juice, Blueprint Cooler Cleanse and Suja.  These cleanses all hit the items I was looking for in a cleanse.  I wanted my cleanse to taste good, have organic fruits and vegetables and the juice be cold-pressed.  I read through each website and Blueprint was out because one of their juices contains cashews, probably not a good match for me with my allergic reactions to them.  All the juices ended up being about the same price when I added in shipping costs.  So, I ended up with Life Juice because they have the cheapest shipping price and I would rather spend that extra money on the juices than on the shipping.  Hopefully it means its the best, right?  Who knows, maybe next time I will try out a different brand.
I had planned on starting the cleanse on Thursday, the day Big B left.  That way I would have a day to come out of the cleanse before he got home.  However, I didn't receive the juices until mid-day on Thursday, so that plan was out the door.  (Note to anyone interested in ordering from Life Juice in the future, make sure you state a day earlier than you plan on starting when completing your order.  This seemed to be an issue for Chef Amber also.)  The packaging was nice and the juices came in a large insulated bag with a smaller insulated bag to carry a juices you might need for the day with you.  The information card was cute and I was excited as I loaded the juices into the fridge.
I woke up this morning ready to go.  The reviews for the first juice, Solé, were not glowing.  Solé is a mix of filtered water, lemon and pink himalyan sea salt.  And the reviews had mentioned how salty it was, I actually missed the fact that there was even lemon in it while reading the reviews.  Throw in the fact that I normally try to avoid salt as much as possible and I was a bit nervous.  Life Juice recommended warming Solé, but this sounded a bit like drinking that hot-salt-water-I-used-to-gargle-as-a-kid-when-I-had-a-sore-throat, so I chose to drink it cold.  And I was pleasantly surprised, Solé reminded me a bit of a margarita and I had no trouble finishing it.
Juice #2 was Positive Balance, I was not a fan and struggled to get it down.  I have a feeling it is the beet ingredient that turned me off.  I am hoping it will hit the spot a bit better over the next two days.  The plan was to drink this around 9:30 am, but since I was at work and ended up in the two-year-old's classroom, I didn't finish it until close to 11 am.
Juice #3 was Oh My Greens, it had a lot of the same ingredients as the Positive Balance, but I definitely enjoyed it more.  By now it was towards the end of my work day and I am starting to wonder how I am going to finish all 6 juices.
Juice #4 I drank on my way home from work.  Number four is Bodacious Bunny, lots of carrot in this one!  Although I don't typically enjoy carrot I did like this juice.
Juice #5 was supposed to be Oh My Greens again.  However, it is now almost 8 pm and I just didn't think I could drink two juices before going to bed.  Although most sites, including Life Juices, don't recommend skipping a juice, I had to go with how I was feeling, so I skipped it.
Juice #6 was Spiced Almond Milk.  Life Juice recommended drinking this warm like Solé, but I wasn't in the mood.  Either way I thought it was pretty tasty cold, maybe I'll try it warm tomorrow.
I've only noticed a slight headache today and hope that I continue to feel good throughout the remaining two days.  After this post its off to a warm bath with epsom salt and Bath and Body Works Lavender Vanilla Luxury Bath, sounds like a good end for the evening!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Things I Learned While Swimming Open Water Swims

I've been a swimmer for as long as I can remember.  My mom put me into swim lessons at an early age.  She hadn't been very comfortable in the water and wanted to ensure that her children were.  Eventually my sister and I joined a summer swim league in New Jersey and then when we moved back to Colorado our neighbors introduced us to year-round swimming.

So, we became swimmers.  It has become part of my identity and I even considered myself a swimmer when I took a hiatus from the year-round team in middle school.  In high school I lived and breathed the pool.  I was on the summer swim league, year-round team and high school team.  Then my first job was a lifeguard at the Parker Recreation Center, eventually I started teaching swim lessons and then my senior year I started coaching the summer swim league.

But, I hadn't participated in an open water swim until I was almost 30.  I did a few swims at the My Way or the Tri Way, I participated in the swim-run-swim.  Then, I moved to Seattle and really started participating in open water swims.  There are a variety of swims available, inlcuding the Green Lake Open Water Swim (GLOWS, what a fun acronym!), Emerald City, Fat Salmon and Park to Park Swim.

During all the swims I have picked up some valuable lessons:
1) You don't need to wear a wetsuit.  Although others will look at you like you are crazy.  I have never worn a wetsuit, mostly because I didn't want to shell out the money or deal with peeling it off.  However, I have heard that wetsuits do help with your buoyance and keep in mind I haven't participated in any swims with extremely cold water temperatures.
2) Wear the proper equipment.  Caps will keep your head warmer and cut down on drag.  Goggles will help you see better.  I also consider my road id to be an important piece of equipment.  If something were to happen to me in the water there is no identification on to help rescuers (I actually consider this important for all athletic events or trainings that I participate in).
3) If you are intimidated by the stories about getting hit or kicked look for swims that start in deep water.  If you start in deep water then everyone already has some space around them from treading water and there is less collisions.  The swims that involve the most bumps are those when you run into the water, at least in my experience.
4)  If you are doing a race where you start out on land and then run into the water prepare mentally for the shock of the water.  I have found that the water always feels colder than I expected.  Once you run into the water stay calm, take deep breaths and know that you can always breath with your head out of water or flip onto your back if needed.
5) Most the other swimmers are swimming in the middle.  It is okay to move over to one side or the other or to drop back so you can swim your race.  Better to be a bit back or to the side in the beginning and swim with a good stroke, than in the middle, but not swimming efficiently.
6) Train with sighting.  If you do most of your swimming in the pool then you don't need to sight for the finish line or to stay straight.  Unfortunately, this is a big part of open water swims.  There are two reasons to practice sighting.  One, this will build up your muscles.  My neck is always sore after my open water swims, the more you practice the less sore you will be the next day.  Two, swimming while sighting drops your hips and can effect your breathing so you want to practice this before you are actually racing.
7) I breath bilaterally, on both sides.  This is definitely helpful because you can see those around you better and you don't have to sight as much.  The less often you breath the faster you will be, but more importantly breathing on every odd stroke will allow you to even out your stroke and swim straighter.  If you are new to breathing bilaterally you can start out with the pattern of breathing twice on one side, stroking for three strokes and then breathing twice on the other side.  I actually tend to breath this pattern while extending the amount of strokes between the breathing.
8) Swim as far as you can at the finish.  It is much easier to swim through deep water than to run.  Also, the water can be an amplifier, so stopping to stand up and then not reaching the bottom will slow down your finish.  I swim until I am unable to complete my pull correctly and my fingers are scraping against the bottom.  I have actually passed a few other swimmers at the finish using this technique.
9) Have fun!

Monday, February 24, 2014


My theme for this Valentine's Day was hearts.  I didn't start out planning it that way, but there are so many cute heart ideas and recipes on Pinterest I got wrapped up.  I painted my nails with hearts, made heart cookies, heart cinnamon rolls and heart egg in toast.  I also had planned on making heart shaped bacon, but my breakfast plans were making me frustrated and I decided to let that one go, more on that later.

On Valentine's Day I made these cookies.  I found the idea on Celebrating Everyday Life with Jennifer Carroll.  I loved her photos, however I wanted to make cookies from scratch.  I followed this recipe from Made to be a Momma and they were delicious!

Then Friday night I made cinnamon rolls ready for when Big B headed out to work on Saturday, since he leaves much earlier than I wake up.  I found the recipe for the heart cinnamon rolls here, but be warned I actually ended up coping and pasting the recipe on to a word document.  The original web page kept changing to an american food recipes page, very annoying!  Instead of starting from scratch you can always buy Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls and just roll them from each side and then pinching the bottom to form the heart shape.

Later on Saturday I painted my nails.  I got some advice from #16 on these Nail Hacks from Buzz Feed.  They didn't turn out exactly like the hearts on Buzz Feed, but I still thought they were cute.  And I was pretty proud of the heart on my right hand, since I am not an ambidextrous person.

Right ring finger
Left ring finger

Lastly on Sunday I made some egg in toast and bacon. We have a gas stove in our kitchen, which has been a new experience. I love the fact that the stove warms up very quickly, but it tends to burn out when I turn down the heat.  Because of this I ended up burning a sandwich and then I couldn't get the second sandwich to toast.  I eventually made the sandwich, cutting out the heart and then toasting it in our George Foreman.  This didn't work out as well as I had hoped and ended up a bit squished, but at least they toasted without burning.  Then I cooked the egg in my heart cookie cutter on the stove and then placed the cooked egg inside of the sandwich when everything was done.  Although it didn't turn out as well they did on Reclaiming Provinvial, they were tasty, but not worth photographing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I originally started fostering Mars around October 2002.  I had only recently started fostering and she was my second or third foster group, sometimes I fostered more than one kitten depending if they came in as a litter or not.  Mars was my first "feral" foster.  I place feral in apostrophes because most of my feral fosters were just under-socialized, not necessarily feral.  She definitely started a trend because I rarely fostered any other type of cat, I had found my niche.  Plus, when you foster ferals like I did, in your only bathroom, then they pretty much stay out of your way until they are ready to go back to the shelter and get adopted.  Unlike other kittens who are all over you while you try to use the bathroom in any capacity.

Mars and another kitten I fostered, about a year after I adopted her.
I learned a lot while fostering Mars.  I had never fostered a kitten so scared and Mars was definitely fearful, although I have since fostered other kittens who were much worse off.  I had some things to learn and even lost her while visiting a friend, she somehow wedged herself under his Kegerator.  I didn't know you needed to keep a scared cat in a smaller, and open, area until they have gotten used to them.  I also learned that it was easier to wait on naming the kittens until they were older, this way you would know their individual personalities, and it helped me stay a bit more detached.  I originally didn't name Mars because another staff member had dibs on her and wanted to name her Madelyn, a name that didn't seem to match her.  I also had always thought that I couldn't ever own a cat with Haley, she has pretty high prey drive.  But Mars is sometimes too smart for her own good and snuck out of the bathroom, meeting Haley.  Luckily Mars isn't a typical cat and just laid down like a submissive dog and Haley treated her as such.

As time went on Mars started to grow on me more and more.  She is a snuggle bug, she doesn't necessarily like being carried around, but the second you sit down she is ready to be on your lap.  Mars is also a bit naughty, I seem to be attracted to animals that are a bit too smart and stubborn for their own good.  Big B says, "like dog/cat, like owner."  But, I am allergic to cats and Mars bothered those allergies more than the average cat.  The original interested party decided they weren't ready for another cat and I had a dilemma.  I asked around trying to find Mars a home with someone I knew and trusted, to no avail.  Then right before it was time to take her back to the shelter my allergies stopped acting up and I decided to adopt her!  In the meantime my roommate had been calling her Mars, he thought she looked like Biere de Mars, and being the smarty that she is, the name stuck.

Mars showing off that big brain of hers.  Check out the awesome carpet in one of the places I have lived.  And it was in the kitchen, who puts carpet in the kitchen?  

Mars has been quite the character since the move.  As I mentioned above she is sometimes too smart, and stubborn.  The two things she has been especially stubborn about over the last two months have been 1) getting into the food in the kitchen and 2) sitting on my lap.  Luckily she hasn't been too naughty about scratching up the carpet.  We put her favorite scratching post next to her bed and I think this has helped immensely.  Scratching up the carpet was one of her naughtiest habits in Seattle, as everyone who came to my Ladies Christmas Party a few years ago can collaborate.

Mars decided there was enough room on my lap between me and the laptop, even if she had to hold on tight.
In the past she would much rather sit on Big B's lap than my own.  Maybe it is because his lap is bigger, or that he tends to move around a little less when we are sitting down (usually in the evening), or that he is usually warmer than me.  But something in Virginia has made my lap much more inviting.

I finally convinced Mars to take a nap beside me so I could get up and down with a bit more ease.

What a silly cat!  Definitely makes me feel loved, but I wish she wasn't so insistent sometimes.  It makes it hard to get motivated to get off the couch when you move your nice warm cat and she crawls right back on before you can even stand up.

I thought this would be a favorite spot for her, but this is the only time I've seen her get up in the window.  Maybe she'll like it more when it isn't so cold next to the glass.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Making Shredded Chicken

It is amazing what new information and tips you can learn on the internet.

I would love to have this Crockpot. 
Since moving to Virginia I have been using our Crock-pot more often than I did in Seattle.  Part of this is due to the fact that I was away from home far too long for the slow cooker, it cooks slowly, but not slow enough.  Although I guess this wouldn't be a problem with a programmable Crock-pot.  I also have been using the slow cooker more due to our schedules.  We attend a few cycling classes that get done at 7:30 pm and then Big B goes to bed early since he has to get up around 4:30 am.  With the Crock-pot we get home from class and the food is ready versus the minimum 30 minutes it would take for me to cook a recipe on the stove or in the oven.

You can check out my Pinterest if you are interested in some slow cooker recipes, I have tried most of them and will delete the pin if the recipe isn't up to snuff.

A lot of my recipes involve shredding the chicken after it is done cooking.  In the past I had always used two forks and shredded it with a scraping motion.  But with the lovely internet I have found a much easier way.  While searching for the fastest way to cook chicken, more about this below, I came upon this article!  Who knew you could use a mixer to shred your chicken?!?  Plus, you don't need an expensive or powerful mixer to shred the chicken, I use a mixer similar to the one pictured.  Seriously, it takes about 1/4 the time to shred that chicken up, awesome!

In case you were curious I was originally looking up the fastest way to make shredded chicken, obviously the slow cooker was not the winner, for a recipe that we had decided to make last minute.  I found that the fastest way to cook chicken is on the grill, a George Foreman will work.  However, the resulting chicken isn't always the best to shred.  The second fastest way to cook chicken is to bake it in the oven.

 Here is an example of how well it turned out.  Pineapple Chicken Verde with brown rice.

Monday, February 3, 2014

My Top 10 Running Items

Running does not come easily to me.  Because of this I do everything I can to make running easier, or to help my body recover faster.  Below are the 10 items that I have found that make running a bit easier for me.

1. Nathan Intensity Vest Click here to see my review.

2.  Nuun.  During my swimming years I drank a lot of gatorade and because of this I'm really not a fan of it any more.  Luckily there have been many developments in different options for drinks that will replace your electrolytes.  Nuun is my favorite, plus it contains no sugar and has less calories than a lot of other options out there.

3. Lululemon Ta Ta Tamer  This is by far the best bra I have ever owned.  It keeps everything in place without any smooshing.  Plus I can wear it all day, if necessary, and my shoulders don't start hurting.

4.   iPhone  This link is my take on running with my iPhone, I also talk about #5.

5.  Earphones

6.  Wright socks.  These socks have a double layer to prevent friction and blisters.  Unfortunately, I didn't discover these socks until after I had run my half marathon.  I had blisters throughout my training and then during the actual run I developed more.  I tried a couple different things that helped Band-aid Brand Adhesive Bandages Activ-Flex or Spenco 2nd Skin Squares covered with Moleskin.  The Band-Aids for Blisters helped a lot if worn after the run, but really couldn't hold up to all the friction during the runs.  The 2nd skin with moleskin helped a bit more during the run and the 2nd skin feels fantastic on top of blisters, but they only protected the blister for some of the run.  So far I haven't developed any blisters with Wright socks and they are thin, so you don't notice the extra layer.

7.  GU Energy Labs Gel were my favorite thing to consume while on runs.  I'm the type of person who needs about 2 hours to digest before any physical activity.  However, I also noticed that after about an hour on a run I could really use some calories.  I had heard gels were the way to go for people like me, but I was a bit worried about cramps.  Luckily I was participating with West Seattle Runner in a couch to half-marathon and they have a wide expanse of knowledge.  They suggested trying gels, or whatever other food you want to try, towards the end of a shorter run.  That way if you have any gastrointestinal issues you will not be far away from home.  They also recommended drinking at least 4 ounces of water with any food you intake during a run.  I had success with most of the gels I tried, but I liked GU's taste and consistency the most.

8.  My knees are not a fan of running, so I ice them.  Body Glove Deluxe Ice Pack Knee and Elbow Wrap is one of my favorite ice packs because I can take it anywhere and don't need a freezer, all you need is a few ice cubes and water.  I would take this to work with me on days I ran before I headed home.  That way I could throw the cubes and water in before I left work and had an ice pack ready for me after the run, and then I would ice my knee as I drove home.
I also like this ice pack, Thermipaq Hot Cold Pack,because it isn't as cold as other packs, but it stays cooler longer, so I usually can ice both knees with the same pack.  You can also use it as a heat pack, although I don't use that feature.

9.  A Massage Stick is great to have about the day after a long run when your muscles start to become sore.  I especially like it for my calves and shoulders.

10.  Women's Performance Compression Run Sock are also great after a run or on an airplane.  My feet have a tendency to swell up, so anything that will help prevent it is key in my book!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Running with My iPhone

I have always liked to run with music.  The beat helps me push myself and then I also can't hear myself panting.  (If you want to know more about how the beats can help you check out Melanie's post on Lifehacker.)  Before I had a smart phone I would run with an mp3 or iPod.  Once I finally upgraded to a smartphone I had a HTC Incredible.  I liked the Incredible, but couldn't play very much of my iTune library from the phone and my memory was very small.

But I loved the added apps I could use to track my runs.  My favorite app is Nike +, but I have tried Edomondo, RunKeeper and MapMyRun.  I like Nike + for a couple of reasons.  One, I found their GPS to be the most accurate when I would drive the same route.  Two, I love that you can set goals and see your total miles that day, month, year or lifetime.  Add on the fact that you can play your music through the app, set goals during your run for distance or time (I use this a lot when running with Big B since we are different speeds.  If we are going a 30 minute run I can set that goal and run until it tells me I'm halfway and then turn around and head back.)  Also, if you you like the social aspect you can post your run on Facebook and get cheers during your run.

So, I would run with my iPod and my phone.  But, soon I just didn't have enough hands, see the dilemma from my Nathan Intensity Race Vest review, and I stopped running with my phone.  I have a FitBit (more on that some other time), so I wasn't too upset about my runs being tracked, but running in Seattle doesn't always feel the safest and I wasn't a big fan of being out of touch from 911.  So when my Incredible started missing texts and calls I already had decided my next phone would be an iPhone.
My iPhone holds all my music, not to mention all the music apps available, plus I can use my Nike + and call 911 if necessary.
When I run with my iPhone I either use JayBird BlueBuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphones or Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Woman earphones (pictured).  I picked these two particular pairs because they are water, and sweat, resistant, but most importantly because I could connect with Siri while running.  That way if I needed to call 911 I could push a button and tell Siri to call without missing a step.
The JayBirds are wireless too, so I used them a bit more than the Yurbuds.  I would place my phone in the a pocket, race belt or pack and then I could just focus on running.  The Yurbuds allow ambient noise, which is especially important if you are running on a road instead of a path.