Friday, October 24, 2014

We're back and what I'm reading this week

Howdy do, all?

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw we were gallivanting around New England for the last two weeks soaking up the fall foliage.  It was truly the best road trip we've ever taken and I'm so happy to have been able to go with my best friend.  I'll do a round up Monday but until then, let's get to...

17 Easy Crafts To Make With Leaves  (Now I know what I can do with some of my Maine leaves!)

10 Ways to Bring Charm to Your Home’s Exterior  (Our exterior often gets ignored, cute ideas!)

What Happens When You Bake Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough Ice Cream?  (This is hilarious and appropriate since we were at their VT plant not too long ago)

Step Away From the Scale: Daily Weigh-Ins Won't Help You Lose  (Daily weigh ins would drive me up a friggin' wall.  I know many believe in it and to each their own but not for the Mr and I)

Fall Foliage Is Worth Billions to New England's Economy  (Sometimes it feels like that's how much we dropped between tolls, lobster rolls and fees!)

Smelly Facts About Farting That Are Actually Super Fascinating  (Gross but interesting)

10 Giant Facts About Moose (You have no idea how hard we tried to see a moose in New England!  Saw plenty of signs for them but none.  Saw plenty of roadkill porcupines though...WTH??)

15 Name Brands You May Be Mispronouncing  (Pretty cool and thanks for the guide...I now know how to pronounce my shoes)

Lebron's Low Carb Diet   (Informative stuff no matter what side of the fence you're on)

People With Alzheimer's May Be Stumped By the Simplest Things  (Yes...this.  We're slightly past this stage but this is a good thing for people to read who think Alzheimer's is just forgetting your keys)

Teens React to 80's Fashion (Look, I get it.  80's fashion was out there and you know what, I loved every friggin' minute of it.  I had everything from a long button up shirt with skating dinosaurs on it (totally acceptable and I wasn't in elementary school either!) to a long white lace pencil skirt and crucifixes with black lace gloves (which I still own thankyouverymuch) during the best Madonna phase.  I will NEVER be sorry I kept Aqua Net in business, could be seen from space in my favorite neon sweatshirt or wore double stacked socks in my ankle high aerobics tennis shoes.  NOT SORRY!  Oh and kudos to the ones who embraced it and to the ones who didn't, I can't wait for society to make fun of your current style.  T'will happen!)

3 little mistakes that can sink your retirement  (Funny how you hit a certain age and your whole outlook toward retirement changes!)

The Best Free Yoga Videos for Newbies  (You've all heard me talk about Do Yoga With Me but some other great options too!)

10 Sticky Facts About Maple Syrup (We visited Bragg Maple Farm and learned a lot about this.  The grade B was our favorite and if you're ever in the area, you must go!  A moral imperative!)

The Best (and Worst) Positions for Sleeping  (I wish I could sleep on my back with a pillow but right side it is)

When 8 Back to the Future II Technologies May Become a Reality  (I'm sure it won't be long before the Mr will be begging for a hoverboard)

Is Diet or Exercise More Important for Weight Loss & Health? Why We Hate "80/20 Diet/Exercise"  (THIS!)

Watching This Porcupine Taste a Pumpkin Is Why the World Is Going to Be Okay Today  (OH. MY. GOD.  You guys!!  I can't stop laughing, cooing, making generally weird noises!)

No real plans except some college ball, maybe a little window shopping during the day, who knows.  I don't mind not having plans this weekend since the holiday season is gearing up VERY soon!  Our first Christmas event is in 2 weeks.  Yike!  Speaking of which, it's time to upgrade our Christmas decorations so the madness of searching out what fits with the new decor and DIY will be in the air soon!  Ahhhh!

What are your plans for the weekend?

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Breakfast on the go

When we travel, we typically rent homes with a kitchen.  But when you're staying overnight somewhere one or two nights, most homes won't rent for less than three days.  So when a hotel is the only choice, this means you're either captive to what the hotel serves for their continental breakfast or chance it with breakfast on the road.  

While many chains try to provide healthy choices, we're not the kind of people who like to linger with others early in the morning trying to stake a claim on food that sits out.  I know, I'm a weirdo.  Besides, I'd rather have control over what I eat if I'm looking to eat a healthier breakfast on the road.  So I do a little prep work ahead of time so that I have a filling, low cal breakfast on hand for us with nothing more than hot water available.

In a snack bag, I make two mixes.  

Pecan Peanut Butter Oatmeal  (1 serving)

40 grams quick cook oats
2 tbsp PB2 peanut butter powder
10 grams pecans
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 miniature box raisins

Brown Sugar Pecan Oatmeal  (1 serving)

40 grams quick cook oats
1 tbsp brown sugar
10 grams pecans
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 miniature box raisins

We'll grab four "to go cups" the night before if there aren't already some in the room and the next morning use two for green tea and fill the other two with our pre-mixed oatmeal and add water.  There's usually a microwave available for use if the water in the in room coffee maker isn't already hotter than magma.

This breakfast clocks in at 350 calories and if they have bananas available in the breakfast area, we might add that to get some fruit in if we're going to be on the road for a longer stretch.

You don't need to travel for these to be handy.  If you got up late for work and had to rush out of the house without breakfast, keep a few of these in your desk drawer at the office so you will always have a healthy alternative available to you!

What are your go to healthy breakfasts when you travel/are late for work?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My ordeal with funguy

I was going through old memory cards the other day when I came across some doozies from 2011.  Not only was I more 'cushy' in these pics but it brought me back to some seriously gross and embarrassing things I had to endure.  I wondered if I should even share it but the fact is, I could save someone out there $690 and that is worth sharing.

See back in 2007, I was minding my own business getting something out of the pantry when a big can of baked beans fell right on my big toe giving it a nice little crack.  I would clean it and just wait for it to grow out.  In 2008 is when we started our first bout with exercise which meant sweaty intervals in the gym shoes.  It seemed like the toenail was taking forever to grow out.  I would paint them so I could wear sandals or whatever.  As the weight loss really kicked in and our workouts were getting longer and sweatier, the crack in the one nail gave...uh...I have to type it...toenail fungus the chance to take root.  I went back to cleaning it diligently and then turned to over the counter products with little luck.  Then it did something horrifying, it spread.  I'm talking to BOTH feet and I had no idea what to do and was freaking out.  I could feel the nail on the other foot trying to separate from the bed and it had gotten down pretty far.  If you're squeamish, try to cover the pics because they aren't pretty.

Seriously, you've been warned.

I know, I know, I gasp in horror as well!  Imagine having these attached to your body!

This is the foot that originally had the problem the big toe is cracked about halfway down and literally for 3 years my nails weren't growing.  But you can see how the fungus spread to the two piggies next to it.


What's worse?  It jumped feet and only affected my big toe at that point on my left foot but this is the one that suffered the most damage.  That opaque look is where the toenail is not only discolored but separated from the nail bed.

Seriously the next step would've been to tape the nail down so it didn't come off while working out.  I'll give you a minute to shake off the heebie jeebies.

Toe fungus doesn't just stunt the growth of newer healthy nails but it thickens the nail as a whole.

About this time, I started seeing a ton of commercials for this new laser treatment you could do for foot fungus.  It was touted as a miracle cure, many testimonials, very low fail rate, blah blah blah.  For the low low price of $700, a place was doing this treatment and they were offering $150 off if you attended a seminar and booked your treatment that night.  Well, what did I have to lose?  Other than all of my toenails of course.  (Supposedly even the full price was a deal as I've seen it quoted between $1500-2500!)

So the Mr and I packed up, went to the doctors office and thought we were in the wrong place.  Everyone was 70+ and many looked sickly.  I looked wide eyed at the Mr and wanted to leave but my desperation kept my grody feet firmly planted.  The humorless assistant gave my tootsies a peep and told me I was a perfect candidate and we needed to book the appointment to get the money off so I did.  We were due for our cashback award from our credit card at the time and it would cover the whole thing since insurance, unfortunately, does not.

A few days later, I was in the office and ready to get zapped.  Lucky for you, I kept a document of my thoughts and feelings at the time.  Here's are my exact thoughts from that delightful experience on August, 2011.

"The girl I met last week called me back and the man and I made our way back.  I slid off my flip flops, she gave us our sassy glasses and she got me some extra pillows.  A doctor came in, I couldn’t tell you his name, looked at my toes, said "awesome" and she said I wanted better looking nails for our trip in the Spring.  He asked where and I said Hawaii.  He said he’d never been but is looking to go there and the assistant said so was she “take me with you!”  He said go with them? (Meaning us)  And she said “no, you!”  He got a look on his face like "what kind of impression are you trying to give these people" and left.   Flirt on your own time, people.

Flirty assistant making her way in with extra those will somehow help.

"Apparently a doc just has to see it, nod and leave and the assistants can do all of the dirty work.  Interesting.  It looked like the laser was having issues with starting up.  Something wasn’t plugged in in the back so she squats down and I can see into Breast Valley and of course, the Mr is enjoying the view of her cleavage.  Finally it started up and she got to frying my big toe.  About 400 pulses on the big toe and 100 on the others.  I didn’t see what the big deal was as she did the first 25-40 pulses and she would then put pressure on my toe to get rid of any stinging or burning.  I wasn’t feeling anything and thought it was going to be a piece of cake.  Then getting close to 100 pulses, I start feeling some heat.  Then it feels like a red hot poker slamming into my nail bed and I winced and said “sorry!”  That was about how it went for the next 25 minutes.  A slow steady buildup that sounds like a rubber band snapping on you then slight heat and then ZING!  Hot poker!  *sizzle*  

I was cracking jokes left and right as my defense mechanism and sounded drunk as I babbled incoherently.  I felt so bad for wincing but she said she could get a lot more done on me than most people who freak at about 10 pulses.  So I would make sure 15 was my minimum unless it hurt like a bitch, which it did a few times.  My toes would get tingly and numb from time to time.  I developed a nice case of flop sweat that was coming through my pants once I realized this was going to be a little more painful than I bargained for.  Still WAY better than going on antibiotics for 3-6 months with liver damage panels being done to make sure you’re not screwing up a major organ!  I said “oh crap, I have to go through this again in 2 months, don’t I?”  She laughed and said yes.  I asked who was the youngest person they’ve ever done and she said “you.”  I yelled at the Mr “I TOLD YOU!”   She busted out laughing.  She said her mom and fiancĂ© both had the problem too and her mom even had to have her toenail removed 3x and it still grows in all gross but she won’t go to her to get it done.  I started to feel vain for having it done but it’s gross and it’s not healthy either.   I’d like to keep all of my nails in tact please!  It took about 30 minutes but it was a LONG 30 minutes.  I have to go again in 6-8 weeks.   Now that I know what I’m in store for, I can’t say I’ll look forward to it but will be glad it’ll be (hopefully) my final treatment!"

I went back almost 8 weeks later for my next evaluation to see if I needed another treatment because by this time they're supposed to see if you're already showing signs of clearing up, which you should be.  Well, guess what, I wasn't.  My nails looked just as gross so I figured another round (included in the price) was required.  Here are my thoughts from that session...

"Second treatment time.  I was not looking forward to this since I knew what to expect.  They were running behind so it was about 15-20 minutes before we got back there.  I assumed the position and she started zapping away.  It’s so deceiving because the first 2 rounds of 10 pulses make you think “hey, this isn’t bad” and then all of a sudden ZAP…BURN!  I wince in pain, she squeezes my toes to make the pain bearable then proceeds.  The treatment was thankfully almost half as long as the first one so it was over in about 20 minutes or so.  Once again the flop sweat was flying.  I was pretty sure there was going to be a big sweat outline where my body was but just one big puddle where my lower back sweat.  I asked when I could wear nail polish again and she said they just got in some nail polish that has treatment in it so I bought a bottle.  I’ve got an appt 9 weeks from now to hopefully get the okay that I won’t need a 3rd treatment.  There was a point during the treatment when I wondered if childbirth would be easier but then deemed that was crazy talk.  You’ll think anything when you have a lit match jammed under your toenail."

Two months later, I saw absolutely no difference and by this time I should've been halfway grown out.  There was no way I was going back because a third treatment was "not guaranteed to be covered unless it was deemed they somehow incorrectly administered the procedure."  Meaning, no way to prove it so it's out of pocket for you!  I was TICKED.  So many other things I could've spent that money on.  Then I did more research and since everything was touting tea tree oil in their products to deal with it, I wanted to see how people did using it straight up.

I read that if you use a carrier oil like castor or even olive oil, you can do a mix of 1/4 oil to 3/4 tea tree oil in an empty nail polish bottle to brush around the perimeter of your toes after a shower/workout.  You also have to file down the thickness of the toenails for it to help permeate and the most important but less than pleasant part...keeping the area under the toenails free of "debris" before putting a drop or two of pure tea tree oil under them.  This means, sweat, skin, lint from socks, etc.  So I would use the knife part of clippers (that only *I* used so as not to spread it to the Mr) and then disinfected after each use to dig out anything under there after a shower when everything was soft and easily removable.  Sometimes it felt so gross I almost barfed but I knew it was my last resort.

Given the results, it should've been the first resort.  This is what the worst nail looked like after two months of diligent treatment with the tea tree oil.

I know, still not pretty and the nails were still hard to clip at this point but you have to keep them trimmed as low as possible while treating them.

Five months later, they looked like this.

This was actually after a slight "relapse" after a vacation.  We were in the ocean and a beautiful moldy looking black spot appeared under the second nail but I kept the nail thickness buffed down, trimmed short and if I went on vacation tea tree oil was applied every night regardless of whether the feet were exposed to nature or not.

It's been about two years since I had any issues and as you can see, I'm completely healed.

Sorry for the ghost white feet.  I actually can't keep up with the nail growth!  I'm pre-home pedicure.

Not a single crack in sight, no spots, no issues and I haven't treated regularly for over a year.

Obviously my experience could differ from yours and I'm no doctor so see one of those before you go ahead with treatments of any kind.  But here's the short list of what worked for me if you had to skip past the nasty pics:

1)  Buff down the affected nails with a sanding buffer block file to a normal nail thickness.

2)  If you have nail separation, keep the area between the nail and the bed clear of 'debris' every day for the quickest healing.  I used pure tea tree oil directly under the nail.

3)  Use a mixture of one part carrier oil like castor to three parts Tea Tree Oil to treat the nails on top of the nail and around the edges after any vigorous activity or shower.

4)  When in the shower, especially right after a workout, use Pedifix Tea Tree Funga Soap to wash your feet.  I've written about this before as it's also good to keep any areas like thigh cracks, "gut hang" or areas where there is skin rubbing together rash free.

5)  Spray your shoes with a Lysol type spray after every workout or long walk to keep bacteria at bay.

6)  BE VIGILANT in your treatment.  You must do it every day without fail or you set yourself back.  I wasn't always so good and it could regress pretty quickly.  I did treatment for 3 months after no visible signs were left to be sure and then I haven't had to do any more treatment.

7)  If you want to give your pitties an extra advantage to keep it at bay and you're a toenail paint kinda person, Dr.'s Remedy Enriched Nail Polish with tea tree oil gets excellent reviews on Amazon.

I'm sorry this is kind of a gross subject and one I'm not exactly proud to share.  But if anyone can save money or learn anything that will help them from my experience, I'm glad to share it.

Ever had a run in with athlete's foot and/or toenail fungus?

(This post contains affiliate links to products I used during my treatment.  Should you buy through them, I will get a few cents back to cover blog expenses.)

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No time to workout?

What does having 'no time to workout' mean?  Some people say they have no time to workout but run themselves so ragged taking care of everyone else that they put their health last on the list.  Or you have others who will be the first to give you the summary of three brand new shows that aired in the past two days.  Some people say they have no time to workout but play online games or peruse Pinterest for 30 minutes or more.

Look, I get it, we all need to destress from the day but doing it with activities that promote us to be more sedentary isn't always the best choice for our long term health.  Exercise is truly one of the best ways to work out the person that said that thing that ticked you off or the irk leftover from that dude that cut you off on the way home.  If you're just looking to add some extra movement into your night or want a fun way to get the family off the smartphones and movin' their booties, I've got the perfect workout.

If you've got time to watch your favorite show, you've got time to slip in this workout.  I'm not talking about while it's on, I mean instead of fast forwarding through the commercials, pick a show and let the commercials be your timer!

Did you know that network TV commercials clock in at almost 14 minutes while cable commercial breaks are closer to 16-17 minutes?  It doesn't sound like much but every little bit counts!

Each exercise listed is designed to work your whole body during each break.  So for the first commercial, do the walk in place with overhead arm reaches.  For the second commercial break, do the knee lifts with arm pullbacks and so on!

Challenge yourself to do this a few times a week to start and get the family involved!

If you're not a big TV watcher and the internet is your time suck, set the timer on your phone or online stopwatch for 3 1/2 minutes for the exercise breaks and do it every 10-12 minutes for an hour. 

Your body will thank you for it!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Maple Pumpkin Puff Cookies

One day, we were traipsing up and down the food aisles of Target and I was stopped in my tracks.  I saw a maple brown sugar cake mix from Pillsbury for $1.25 and I grabbed two of them for the upcoming holidays.  I mean what says Fall recipe more than maple brown sugar?

Well, maybe this...

This is a super easy recipe that you will want to keep the first two main ingredients on hand during this season of get togethers because it can literally be done so quick that even a last minute invite will have you the hero of the party.

Here's what you'll need:

1 box Pillsbury Maple Brown Sugar cake mix
1 15 oz can pure pumpkin (not the pie mix)
1/4 cup Pillsbury Maple Brown Sugar frosting
1 tbsp apple cider or milk  (not pictured)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, add the dry cake mix and the can of pumpkin.

Give it a stir until combined.

Lightly spray or use a Silpat non-stick silicone baking mat (I never bake without mine!  Wonderful!) and use a small cookie scoop to dip into the goodness.

I put 12 dollops of dough on a large cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes.  As you can see, they basically look the same coming out as they did going in.

If you're a perfectionist that wants a completely flat cookie, wet your finger with a little water and smooth out the top but for this recipe it won't matter.  Transfer to wire rack to cool while the next batch bakes.

Ready the frosting for dipping your cooled cookies.  Put the frosting and apple cider in a small bowl.

Give it a stir until combined and the perfect dipping consistency.


A nice, thin frosting cap.

Repeat with the rest of the cookies or drizzle over the top if you want a more fancy pants look.

Try not to fall in mapley love.

Clocking in at about 85 calories per cookie...take two...I won't tell!  ;-)

If you can't find the maple cake mix, a spice cake works very well with this!

Linked up with Yesterfood, Sand and Sisal

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Friday, October 17, 2014

What I'm Reading This Week : Spooky Edition

The witching season is upon us and you only have a few short weekends before the goblins show up begging for the good candy.   Thankfully we don't get trick or treaters so we don't have to worry about buying any candy to be tempted by.  We do get a few of our favorite seasonal treats to have on hand during the season but stopped being tricked by getting a whole bag and pretending it was "for the kids" we never got.  Not that I wouldn't mind getting some, I used to love decorating for Halloween but the lack of visitors and space for Halloween specific storage takes it out of play.

I used to be a fan of haunted houses back in the day but can't handle them anymore.  The whole separating you from your party or mazes are not my idea of fun especially since I've been abandoned in mazes several time.  I don't find it funny so that did it for me.  Plus I have nightmares now from scary movies much less living in one for 20-30 minutes.  Yes, I'm old.  I had my time with Halloween haunts and I've moved on.  

*Solitary tear runs down the Mr's cheek*  

I still occasionally read about them and can't help but wax nostalgic over the good ol' days when haunted houses were campy vs. gorefests.  I still like 80's horror movies with the mid 90's horror movies thrown in before the 'torture' genre took over this time of year. (Though I must admit, I can't get into Friday the 13th movies any more.  Any time we watch them we're always like "ugh, how did we think this was good back in the day?")  I would like to go to Sleepy Hollow sometime and do the night tour of the cemetery.  I think just the atmosphere along with the history of the area would be enough to creep me out for a long time.  

Enough of my babbling, let's get to...

Real Haunted Houses database  (Look up real haunted houses, haunted attractions and haunted hotels for a last minute otherworldly jolt)

Halloween store predicts top costumes of 2014  (For those who want a peek at what might be showing up at your door this year)

40 of the most breathtaking abandoned places   (Some would make me crap in the daylight, others make me sad for the history that is lost and others are gorgeous!)

13 Halloween Movies that Will Scare You Senseless  (Break out the popcorn and cover your eyes!)

Halloween Movies for Wimps  (Okay so it doesn't ALL have to be spooky!  I would have to add Halloweentown 1 & 2 to the list)

Scary Halloween Font  (In case you're throwing an impromptu Halloween gathering and need a good font for invites, banners, etc)

Elva Zona Heaster: The Ghost Who Helped Solve Her Own Murder  (Holy poo!)

Cupcake Recipes to Gross People Out for Halloween (Some interesting looking sweet treats for the ghouls!)

Ghost Stories from American Folklore  (Some stories to send chills down the spines of those gathered 'round a proper Fall campfire!)

Knott's Scary Farms  (Mama doesn't do these anymore when they went from being campy to gross out/forcing mazes on you.  But if you've done it, let me know how you liked it!)

Backstage Monster Transformation at Knott's Scary Farm  (It's a bit lengthy but if you're curious about how much goes behind pulling off a professional haunted house, it's a good read!)

10 Ghost Stories that are totally freaking real  (Yike!)

ABC Family's 13 Nights of Halloween schedule  (The family that scares together, stays together!)

Are you a slasher movie expert?  (Apparently I have "above average" knowledge but I'll be honest, half of them were guesses)

Haunted house attractions...yay or hell no?  Scary movies...yes or no thanks?

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quick Meal: Sweet and Spicy Fish

Raise your hand if you like quick meals.

*raising hand*

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind laboring over a stove when I need to but on weeknights, we don't eat dinner until after we workout.  I grab my shower and then I don't want to get all wrapped up in something that takes forever to prepare.  One of our go to dinners especially on strength training days is fish.  High in protein, lean and relatively low in calories.  Fish can sometimes taste bland if not properly spruced up so I'm sharing a less than 20 minute dinner prep recipe that is in moderate rotation for us.  I hope it'll become a new favorite for you too!

I used some cod I had on hand which is a nice, meaty fish.  Dense and not overly fishy.  This is typically the kind of fish you'll find when you eat fish and chips.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

I crack some black peppercorn on top...

...then I add some heat.  This berbere seasoning is amazing.  A nice heat but also has a hint of maple flavor from the fenugreek inside so it has a sweet and spicy kick.  If you don't have any, you can substitute cayenne pepper but I highly suggest giving this spice a try!

We can handle the heat so I put a goodly amount on.

Then it's time to grab my Simply Fruit Orange Marmalade and I measured out 2 tbsp.

Divide it by the number of fillets you have and spoon onto the fish.

Brush the marmalade to coat.

Like so.

Bake for 16-18 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.

Ready to dig in!

This particular meal clocked in at 350 calories for the fish, green beans and half a cooked sweet potato (3 oz) that I microwaved for 5 minutes while the fish was cooking and topped with 1 tbsp of my homemade pumpkin butter.

Quick, low cal and delicious!

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