Monday, December 31, 2012

Workout Equipment isn't a Place to Store Stuff?!

Happy New Year! As 2012 winds down, many people, including me, think of making resolutions. My philosophy lately has been to make a resolution I know I can accomplish, get up every day, drink coffee every morning, feed the cat daily, etc. You get the idea. Nothing too dramatic like reduce spending by X, or eat only healthy food, or workout x times a week. I did sort of make a resolution for 2012 to complete 12 events as part of the Bike Run Yoga Challenge, sadly this didn't happen. I had 14 possible events picked out and only made it to seven.

This is what happens though right? I always say "life gets in the way". There are always so many things, people, needs pulling you in all sorts of directions, hard to carve out a few minutes for yourself to take care of your health.

I met a personal trainer the other day, he wants to start practicing Bikram yoga, he commented he is very tight, hardly stretches. We discussed his many athletic endeavors and years of activities that damaged the body. I asked him what he told his clients about stretching and we both had a chuckle because of course he tells his clients they need to stretch and the importance of stretching but he doesn't do it himself. Easier to fix other people than yourself.

So this year, I'm going to go out on a limb and post it here....I am resolving to do a better job is using my workout equipment as it intended and not as a shelf, table or doorstop.

What resolutions or goals have you made for yourself?

Friday, October 19, 2012

First spin class at the new Fly Wheel in Dallas

When my friend, Karen, said she wanted to go to a free class at the new Fly Wheel spin center on Oak Lawn I was a bit oblivious as to what I was getting myself into. It's harder than it looks folks, and it doesn't look easy once you see the bikes! It is however a ridiculous workout in 45 minutes and super fun.

When you go in, you walk into a very spacious welcome area where computers are set up for you to register yourself. Desk people are there to help you get signed in and they have shoes to borrow, though I brought my own shoes and they worked just fine.

They have a common/co-ed locker area and then several shower/bathrooms with various necessities to primp up after, remember, you are in Highland Park after all. We put or things in lockers and walked to the spin room.
Man, this place is decked out with some top gear, these bikes were nice! They had plenty of staff to help adjust the seat height and position. The guy that helped me even tightened the clips for me. There are also two weight bars, 2lb and 4lb, for use near the end of class. I guess my upper body weight against my arms as I leaned in wasn't enough of a workout!  
Bonus, each bike is already prepped with a bottle of water and a towel. I might bring my own water next time....16 oz of water is such a tease when you are in full sweat mode.

Class was kind of like riding a bike at a club with rockin' jams blarring and lights dimmed. Lights low were good for me, less people noticed my knees going up and down slower than everyone else! Only after she posted the rankings of the bikes and I saw where I was did I decide it mattered to me to not be last. I mean, how can I be so slow? I have completed 2 century rides and clocked countless miles on the bike training... Why all the sudden did my legs not want to cooperate? Lots of it has to do with speed and like running, I'm not the fastest but I can get out there and do it. Cycling is the same, I can ride for a long time...just not at the fastest speeds. And spin is all about speed.
We went through a series of fast, less fast, um never slow though, more resistance, less resistance...for 45 hardcore, sweaty minutes. When we did the arm stuff near the end I was pretty much done, not really wanting to participate...but they turned the lights up a little so now everyone can see me...must participate! Ugh. My arms were not happy.

When Kate, our instructor finally said we were done, it was better sounding than the teacher in Bikram when they announce final savasana, I was so happy! Whew, what a workout! Looking forward to going back!
If you have never done spin or have but want a new challenge, go this week, they are offering free classes until they officially open Sunday. Go online, and set up a profile and get a free class!

Also, added bonus, Troy Aikman was there! Not today but I'm hoping if I go enough maybe his sweat will land on me!

Here are a few pictures of Fly Wheel.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tour Des Fleurs, no surprises until the end!

Me with my dad and mom after the race.

Well, the end of an era, or at least a decade is near. Running the 2012 Tour Des Fleurs (TDF) marked the last race I would run in my 30's. I was greeted with a wonderful surprise, my parents drove up from Austin to celebrate my 40th birthday! It was equally if not more emotional an experience as crossing the finish line at my marathon. Maybe more so since I wasn't expecting them to be there. It is a wonderful feeling to know people love and care about you so make time to do something so special.

I actually almost didn't sign up for the race. I saw the emails and had decided my running days were getting farther and farther away from me, that trying to run a 10K was a little to ambitious. Then my friend asked if I wanted to run with her, she was training for the Tour Des Fleurs. I agreed to train and explained I hadn't run in quite some time, that we would need to take it slow. The first day we went out we ran an hour. That is not taking it slow. But, it did make me rethink running TDF and I decided if I can run for an hour in a training run, I could probably run the race. So I signed up. And I am so glad I did. I had a great time running. I was hard and I was tired but there is something about running and crossing the finish line that makes me feel such a sense of accomplishment. And having my parents at the end was the best prize a girl could ask for!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

DaLat Pho Restaurant Review - Might be my new pho place!

Vegetable Pho with accouterments 
I buy a lot of "deal" vouchers. I get email from Daily Candy, Voice Daily Deals, Living Social, at least two Groupon cities at any one time, KGB deals, Amazon Deals, and a site called Yipit sends a recap email daily of all the deals in categories I already selected. This is besides all the emails I get from businesses.

For the most part I use the deals, there have only been a few, maybe two that I ever forgot to use. And yes, I know, I can probably go back and get at least what I paid and use it towards a visit, but really, if I couldn't make it in when the deal was going on, what makes me think I am going...ever?! My mom recently was giving me a hard time for NOT using the deals I buy, I just bought a deal for a place in Austin and forgot to use it when I was there. Since then I have made a concerted effort to find my deals and USE them!

Today was a special day, I used TWO deals! I bought the Starbucks Deal off Living Social earlier this week. It was $10 worth of Starbucks. That was a no brainer. I bought it, loaded the value onto my Starbucks card and enjoyed a latte and smoothie. Fifty percent off at Starbucks is ALWAYS good.

I also used my DaLat voucher I got a few weeks ago on Voice Daily Deals. It was $10 for $20 worth of Pho. DaLat is a cute place, well lit and has plenty of seating, even two areas to sit outside. My friend and I sat in the patio area along the side. We ordered shrimp spring rolls as an appetizer and two vegetable pho.

Khanh, the owner has a condiment bar set up inside so you get get as much, or as little of the typical pho accouterments; basil, cilantro, jalapeno's, bean sprouts, lime, hot sauce and a few new ones, pickled red onions and one other I can't think remember. (I went back for more bean sprouts.)

The food was good. Spring rolls looked like spring rolls and came with a nice smooth peanut sauce. Pho broth had good flavor and there were adequate amount of noodles in the soup. The vegetable pho came with tofu, which maybe I should have known but since I didn't I had to pick it off. Not really a big deal, but next time I will definitely say no tofu so they don't have to waste it.

The vegetables appeared to be baby bok choy, carrots and green onions. I would have liked some broccoli and/or mushrooms. I usually ask for extra vegetables when I get pho. I specifically didn't this time to see their regular portion; I think for my taste I will ask for extra vegetables in the future.

Tangmosa with Pho! 
Khanh even offered us a Tangmosa on the house. (He might have seen me posting about his restaurant on facebook and foursquare.) :) What is a Tangmosa? It is champagne and Tang. Yes, that's right, they serve Tang. Sadly I didn't grow up on Tang so I am not a fan. The drink tasted like Tang and champagne; if you like Tang, this would probably please you. I am more interested to try their White Rabbit shot which apparently tastes like fruit loops.

I definitely will be going back. If you need a good pho place and live in Dallas, I suggest driving by and trying some pho. They are open from 11 am - 2 am so there is plenty of time to get your pho on!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Next Race - Tour De Fleurs Sept 15th

I'm finally running in another race, the last one was in May. I lost my steam as Summer hit and life somehow got busy. That seems to be my excuse lately, "life" got in the way of me living life. I don't know why but I seem to never have enough time to do all the things I want to do.

I had seen am email about the Tour De Fleurs and had decided I wasn't running in it for two reasons, cost and it was a few days before I turn the dreaded four-O. Somehow the idea of running my last race in my 30's after not running for months didn't seem like a smart way to end a decade. Then a friend texted me and asked if I wanted to run with her to help her train for the Tour De 5:30 am! The real answer to that question is no. No, I don't want to run, no I don't want to get up at the crack of dawn, or before....ever. But when a friend wants to run and needs someone to run with, you can't be selfish and snuggle further under the covers of a warm bed, no, you have to say yes and get your ass out of bed and go run. So I did.

We ran for an hour. Yes, that's right....after not running for nearly 3 months I ran for an hour. I WANTED to stop running after 2 miles but as I was eyeing my watch and asking when we were turning around, my friend stated plainly, "you can run for an hour Carolyn". Ugh, fine! (I have always needed that extra push.) So we ran. It wasn't that bad. It never is. The IDEA of running is always way worse than the actual act of picking up your feet and moving forward. And I didn't die; my shins hurt for a few days but life didn't end from getting up at the crack of dawn and running.

The next week we ran not quite as long, giving my shins a break, and went to Bikram yoga after. That felt MUCH better!

I think after a few more runs I should be ready to run in the 10K Tour De Fleurs.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review of the Crofton Handheld Steam Cleaner

Aldi has a handheld steam cleaner on sale for $19.99 this week. I just had to get one! The idea of being able to clean all the tiny little nooks and crannies for just $20 was too exciting! I have seen lots of infomercials on other handheld steamers and just love how you can clean and sanitize all with steam. I already own the Shark steam mop and tried to use it once on the couch, it was awkward and it didn't work well; I don't suggest this. lol Today was the first day the Crofton Handheld Steamer was available and I went as soon as I could and snagged two, one for me and one for my parents. I can't wait to show them how easy it will be to clean the oven and stove!

Here is what you get for $19.99.

There is the basic steamer unit, a long hose attachment, jet nozzle, a floor nozzle, window cleaning nozzle, round brush, corner nozzle, beaker, funnel and a micro fiber floor nozzle cloth. Oh, and instructions. The attachments appear to be solid, of good construction and thick plastic, must be required to withstand the heat and steam.

It is pretty easy to use, fill it with water, plug it in, press the button, clean stuff. I did skim the instructions but like most instructions for inexpensive items, they don't spend lots of money on staff that writes detailed or well written instructions. Not to worry, if you get this, you can figure it out.

To fill it you push the top in and turn; it has a clear arrow that says "open" to tell you which way to turn it. Put the funnel in the steamer base and fill the beaker with water. I used filtered water. The instructions do say that if you have hard water you should use distilled water. I did read one of the challenges with steamers is deposits corroding the inside, using clean, distilled or at the very least filtered water should prevent or prolong this issue.

Indicator light on, waiting for it to get hot.

I poured the water in, secure the top and plugged the steamer in. There is a light indicator that comes one when you plug the steamer in and goes off when it is ready to steam. I attached the jet nozzle, the cone shaped one. It is as simple as push in and twist. There are two markings, one is a single dash and one is  double dash. You push it in with the single dash up and twist to the double dash.

And then press the button and steam!

Here are some videos of me cleaning things. These were taken after using the steamer for less than 5 minutes. (Meaning it is easy to figure out and use.)

Cleaning the faucet and drain of the bathroom sink.

Cleaning the edge of the front loading washer.

Cleaning the top edge of the washing machine.

I steam cleaned more things than this. I steamed the couch cushions, the oven/stove, the dishwasher and the back door that looked nasty and grimy. I used a microfiber rag to clean up the water and dirt particles the steamer blew out or dissolved. You do need to kind of steam and wipe, two hands are necessary for a smooth cleaning process.

I used the floor nozzle with the microfiber pad to clean the couch cushions, it worked like a charm! The cushions have those little lines in them like carpet that gets professionally cleaned; they look brand new!

I used the corner nozzle to get some of the grime in the bathroom sink. And I used the hose and tested steaming something like a mattress. I like just the jet nozzle the best, it is attached directly to the steamer base so you only really need one hand to get it to steam, verses the hose where you need one had to hold the hose and one to push the bottom on the steamer. Either way though, it seems to work.

The steamer doesn't hold that much water, about 8 oz. You have to refill it a lot, it only lasts about 15 minutes. This might seem annoying to some but I figure the base unit might be larger and heavier if there was a larger water tank and I prefer something that isn't going to give me a muscle cramps using it for 15 or 20 minutes. This steamer is perfect. It is the perfect size and weight. It also has a nice long cord so you can move around with it.

I have a whole list of things I plan on steaming before company comes Friday night. I can't wait!

If you are looking for a handheld steamer, this one is a good one that works and won't break the bank.

Not sure why you would want a steam cleaner? Here is a list of seven reasons to clean with steam.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Why cucumbers are so good for you

I've been growing my own cucumbers this year, trying to saving from buying outrageously priced ones from Whole Foods or Central Market. I successfully had 4 plants, all producing cucumbers. I almost always was able to find used for all the wonderful, large cucumbers! I mostly juiced them with other things and made green juice. However, at the height of the crop I started juicing them alone and making cucumber water and drinking it all day. I lost 5 pounds in just a few weeks!

Cucumbers are good for general hydration since they are mostly water. They also help in digestion and elimination. You just "feel" cleaner. During the entire time I had my cucumber water, I never used a supplemental electrolyte replacement drink or powder and I always felt well hydrated and energized.

The season in Texas for cucumbers has past I poor plants look like someone stepped on them after having a bad day. I can't wait until next year when I plant even more!

Here are some other great uses and benefits for cucumbers....
Uses and Benefits of Cucumbers

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Trying Bikram Yoga the Right Way

Photo by Sandy Foster at Yoga Bliss Photo
I often come up with things I want share while laying in Savasana. I know, you aren't suppose to think. I'm suppose to be in the moment, enjoying the practice. Yea, yea...I get it. I just have a hard time DOING it. My mind is constantly thinking. I come up with some of my best craft designs and blog posts while in class. So I'm not going to fight it, I'm just going to keep trying and while good stuff is being generated, well, I am going to take advantage of it.

One day last week I was laying on my back, staring at the ceiling, dying. It is so hot in Dallas right now, you could do Bikram yoga outside. Every where you go it is hot. The only difference between being outside and sweating your ass off and being in the room and sweating your ass off is the amazing feeling AFTER you get out of the hot room and life somehow seems better.

So anyway, I was dying, struggling to stay calm and still. The teacher was talking about precision and doing the postures the right way and why that was important. And I thought, it is like words. Words are just individual letters put together in a very specific way. When the letters are put together in a particular order, they mean something. Sometimes two words might have the same letters but because they are in a different order, they make a different word....mean something different. Here is an example. If you take h-t-i-s, you might come up with hits or shit. They certainly mean different things and if you are using these letters to create the written or spoken word,  you certainly want to get the letters in the right order so your message is communicated correctly.

The same goes for yoga, in particular Bikram yoga. Bikram yoga is very precise, movements or lack of movements are very specific, methodical even,  to provide a very specific result. Change the order or add something and you might end up with "shit" instead of the desired result.

You've probably seen it in class. Someone is trying so hard to do what the teacher is saying they skip important steps, trying to look like everyone else. But they can't do it, they keep falling out because they don't have the steps before that so they have no foundation.

It is often difficult when learning something new to remember how to do something the right way, what order the steps go in and even maybe what are the steps. Repetition is the best way to get those details into the brain. There is an old saying about doing something 21 times and it becomes  a habit. 

Practicing yoga is no different. When you come to class, keep an open mind, listen to the teachers and don't let the ego get in the way of you improving your body. So what if you can't do the full expression of a posture? Is that really the goal? No. The goal is to heal the body, be healthy and improve the mind body connection. Those things can all be accomplished at any level of a posture. The postures are simply the mechanism we use to generate change.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

American Airlines provides a digital screen for passengers, is this revolutionary?

American Airlines announced they have in-seat entertainment, wi-fi and powerports available for all seats. Awesome. How about giving me free checked bags?! Why do I need a tv screen in the seat? I have a phone, Kindle and laptop...I would much rather have a free bag checked.

Businesses should give their customers things THEY want, not what the business THINKS they should want.

Crofton Dehydrator is on Sale at Aldi!

I was poking around my blog and noticed a post I did last year on the Crofton Food Dehydrator got 308 hits this week. This week?! Why the heck would anyone care about this particular post? Because Aldi must have it on sale this week!

I checked Aldi and sure enough, it is on sale this week for $19.99. Here is my original blog post.
Crofton Food Dehydrator Makes Great Snacks for Cheap!

This dehydrator is a "good" cheap dehydrator. I will say it never occurred to me so many people would be interested a year later...I should have updated my post. This dehydrator is good for short time spans. I did melt the trays by leaving it on too long(overnight); it got too hot and the plastic is not as strong or heat resistant like other dehydrators.

I still think it is a good dehydrator, just be aware it is 20 bucks so you are getting what you pay for.

What I liked the MOST about it was the clear trays so you could see the food dehydrate. Also, because the trays and top are clear, you can dehydrate outside without electricity. In Texas we are entering into the 100 plus days on a consistent basis...perfect for dehydrating!

After I melted the trays I almost gave up, not wanting to waste more money on a project I wasn't sure I was going to keep up. I looked up several different dehydrators and finally settled on an inexpensive model I found at Bed Bath and Beyond. I got the Nesco basic model and ordered extra trays and screens through Amazon. You can get the Nesco at Bed Bath and Beyond or at Amazon. (Probably other places too, I didn't do a very lengthy search.)

Nesco Dehydrator

This dehydrator is a little more expensive but it also is more durable, has varying heat settings and the way the air flows through the trays, rotating the trays isn't necessary. This means you can turn it on and leave it! 

I have dehydrated all kinds of things; kale, apples, okra, chard, spinach, squash, zucchini, carrots, basil, cilantro, parsley, jalepenos and bananas. I even made flax chips and fruit leathers (roll ups). I love it! I dehydrate all the time now! 

I still think the Crofton dehydrator is a great starter model to see if you are even interested in the process, just keep an eye on it so you don't melt the trays. Happy dehydrating! 

Stephen Covey will be missed, his ideas and inspiration will live on.

Stephen Covey

I was in Chicago at an all day event listening to Tony Robbins when my mom sent me a text that Stephen Covey had passed away. The irony of being being inspired by one great life coach while one was leaving this world did not escape me. I was essentially there to do what Stephen Covey suggested was the 7th habit of highly effective people, "Sharpening the Saw."

Tony Robbins in Chicago
Stephen Covey died July 16, 2012 due to complications with a bicycling accident he had a few months earlier, he was just 79. Read the Washington Post article here.

Tony posted a great tribute to Stephen on his website. There is a 60 minute interview, the two of them discuss Stephen's ideas and principals of living. Check it out here.

"We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals." ~ Stephen Covey

More Stephen Covey Quotes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How I grew cantaloupe without trying

I started with dirt and ended up with cantaloupe; how I grew cantaloupe without even trying. 

I started a gardening project early April of this year. I bought two inexpensive garden bed kits, put them together and added compost and dirt. I let them sit there for a few days and then got inspired to plant cilantro, parsley, basil and cucumbers.

Two beds await
I bought a few plants and put them in the ground. I noticed a few tiny sprigs coming up from the compost, I wasn't sure what they were but they looked like tiny bean sprouts to me. I was pretty excited, hoping they were sugar peas (I had thrown out some old seeds at some point.)

I gently pulled some out of the ground and moved them more into a row. Soon they started to grow and clearly were not beans or peas.

Various unknowns in the garden, these photos were taken early May.

Here are even more unknowns popping up.

This is how the bed started, mostly herbs, a few unknown plants.

Then the unknown plants started to take over.

And over....(in the background are the cucumber vines, they also took over the bed.)

 Until I basically had a bed of unknown plants that were pushing out the parsley, cilantro and basil.

They did start growing fruit but since I didn't plant it I had no idea what it was; looking at photos on the internet only confused me more!

Fruit that some people thought was watermelon or squash or pumpkin

Below are some photos of the progression of one unknown fruit which after weeks of growing I finally determined was cantaloupe! This is actually the third fruit, fondly called #3, I saw growing but it is the one that grew the fastest, I think because of a terracotta pot I put in the middle of the bed (it waters the bed). I should point out it grew faster but it took longer to ripen enough to pick.

If you want to see the entire album of garden photos, click here. Be warned, there are A LOT of photos. :)

June 5 it's so cute, it still is a little fuzzy.

June 5

June 6 - 3 1/2" tall

June 6 - interesting how they grow in different shapes, the oval one  stayed oval.

June 6

June 7 

June 9

June 9 

June 10 - about 4 1/2" tall

June 11 - 13 3/4"

June 13 - 14 5/8"

Decided to put a jar under it to support the fruit.

June 14 - 15 5/8

June 18 - 15 7/8"

June 21- not really growing that much 16 1/8"

Not liking the jar too much

July 10 - Full size at 16 3/8"
Between June 21 and July, I didn't take many photos and what I took is boring, it doesn't look much different. You can view all the photos in the album by clicking the link above. It took about 3 months for this cantaloupe to grow to its fullest size and fall off the vine. It might have stayed on there a few more days if the vine hadn't gotten wet from rain and the weight of the fruit made it fall off. It was interesting to see how long it took to turn brown. I had others that turned brown much earlier and had started later.

Here are some pictures of the actual fruit.
#3 cut open

Look at how much fruit there is! Almost no rind and very small seed area.

Yummy cantaloupe!

Here are few more that started to grow...looking forward to eating them in September!

New Bag Styles