Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween reads this week

Happy Halloween y'all!  Did anyone watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown last night?  I did...for the third time this season.


Love it.

But enough of my nostalgia for the Peanuts gang, let's get to...

Celebrity Playlist: Sean Giambrone of "The Goldbergs"  (Oh my, what an eclectic mix of old school stuff for such a schmoopy nugget!)

14 Kids Movies From the '80s That Left You Horrified  (Tim Curry, why must you always be so damn creepy?)

9 Healthy and Easy Fall Salad Recipes  (Yum!)

6 Creepy Victorian Ghost Stories to Read Right Now  (Those Victorians spooked it up old school!)

20 Healthier Halloween Candy Choices  (I hope Brach's Caramel Candy Corn is on this list because I <3 them very much)

Why the End of Daylight Saving Is Not Necessarily a Sleep Fix  (I've never understood why this is such a big deal.  Two days, adjusted...boom!)

4 Stretches to Relieve Common Injuries  (I need some relief right about now.  Hope it brings you some too)

Houzz Tour: Meet the Schoolhouse Saved By ‘The Birds’  (Caw!  Caw!)

10 Classic Halloween Specials You Can Stream Right Now  (I'm so watching Garfield asap!)

 These Real Estate Agent Photos Are Laugh-Out-Loud Funny  (The first one is hilarious!)

Preserving Analog Memories in a Digital World  (I need to get on this)

How Hard Is Moderate Exercise? Not As Hard As You Might Think  (Interesting tidbit)

19 Brilliant Car Hacks to Ride In Style (and Save Money!)   (Some good stuff in there to keep in mind for the next road trip!)

Tom Mison's debut on Letterman  (Because well, he's adorable)

10 DIY Mistakes Everybody Makes (And How To Fix Them!)  (Good stuff!)

7 of the spookiest urban legends in NYC  (You mean, there AREN'T gators in the sewer?)

10 spooky Halloween movies filmed in North Carolina  (Looks like a road trip is in our future.)

I'm sure we've got a few scary movies on tap for today.  If I have my druthers, it'll be Fright Night (the original, that crap remake was bad), maybe one of the Nightmare on Elm Streets might make their way in there, maybe force the Mr to watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  (Insert his audible groan here)

Edit:  He just bribed me that he'll watch RHPS if I watch this HORRIBLE movie he loved called Trick or Treat.  (affiliate link)  Useless bit of knowledge regarding this movie?  Tony Fields (Sammi Curr- the demon rock star dude) was a Solid Gold dancer.  So yeah, I can't take him seriously in that.  Still trying to think of what I can barter to get out of this.

We didn't get any trick or treaters last night so continues the streak of no trick or treaters.  We might be on year ten!

Any Halloween plans?  How many trick or treaters do you get?

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Our boutique, art deco digs in Niagara Falls NY

A few people have asked me where we stayed in Niagara Falls and since I took pics of the place, I thought I'd show them to you!  Here's a bit of what to expect if you stay at The Giacomo like we did.

It's a boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Niagara Falls, NY.  The United Office Building was built in 1929.  It boasts an art deco architecture that was also blended with a Mayan theme.  In 2010, it was renamed The Giacomo and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Pretty cool, right?

Let's get to the room tour!

This screams boutique hotel over pretty much every inch and that's a good thing just because it makes you forget you're in a hotel.  I'm *not* a hotel person and the decor of hotels are usually pretty cookie cutter but The Giacomo has a decorators touch throughout.  I'll admit, it was a little manly and cave like color wise for my taste but a fun change of pace for us.

On to the bathroom...

It's pretty roomy though I wish they would've gone with double sinks in there since the vanity had the room for it.  But it had a ton of counter space for us to spread out all of our stuff.

They provided robes and the Mr and I always like to try these on at places that we stay and laugh at their idea of "one size fits all."  Mmm, nope.  But nice touch for those with a little less jelly in the middle.

This made me laugh.

A phone in case you want to call 1989.  I mean I'm fine with a phone in a bathroom but this thing was OLD!

Lots of really nice toiletries and Scope which I promptly used after I ate a sub with lots of onions.

The space under the vanity had extra towels, tissues, toilet paper and a hair dryer.  Long haired girls say hallelujah!  

They were kind enough to provide free coffee for coffee drinkers. We're not so a tea cup would've been a nice 2 coffees and 2 teas instead of 4 coffees.  The waters were free too and that is so rare these days so those things that don't nickel and dime you on vacation are much appreciated.  But for those who wanted to imbibe in some wine, you could order some for a fee.

That bed was cushy and probably the best night's sleep of our vacation!

They also had blackout curtains because if you know anything about the Niagara Falls area, it's that it's all lit up from casinos to lights shining on the falls and tons of street lights.  You'd seriously never be able to sleep without the black out curtains provided.

Oh yeah, they had an iron and ironing board...a MUST for me!

Did I forget to mention they provide you with truffles and dark chocolate?

You can also go down and grab some free cookies in the evening.  Ours were uh, a little overly done for our tastes but appreciated the thought!

They also have a lounge up on the 19th floor if you feel like your room isn't enough to hang out in.  It's just some couches, a bathroom and TV.  We thought it'd be a rooftop deck but it wasn't.

They also have a lounge/bar downstairs if you want to hang out there.

We had a good view of the Canadian side and the mist from the top of Horseshoe Falls from our room so I know we lucked out since I saw some people complained about their parking lot view .

We got a King Deluxe room so I don't know if that makes a difference in view or not.  The price at the time we stayed was $199 per night.  I've already seen better rates for them.  *kicks pebble*

Yes, they are a higher priced hotel and there are cheaper options but the luxury, comfort and not feeling like everything needed to be thrown in a washer was worth the extra cost to us.

It is centrally located and walking distance to Goat Island where you can do Cave of the Winds, Niagara Falls Park, nearby parks and other attractions.  It's across the street from a casino if you're into that kind of thing.  (We're not)  The Culinary Institute which gets rave reviews is across the street so take advantage of it!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"So bad, it's good"

Oh man did we step in it last night!

When we were on our tour of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in the evening, we were taken into the receiving vault.  The outside was apparently used as the Collins vault in the movie House of Dark Shadows.  (affiliate link)  Dark Shadows was before my time but the tour guide gave it a glowing review saying "it's so bad, it's good!"  They have a soft spot for it as demonstrated in one of the holding vaults inside.

It was filmed at Lyndhurst in Tarrytown which was about a mile from where we stayed and I wish we'd had time to tour it while there.  I found that TCM was playing it during the day yesterday and DVR'd it and "surprised" the Mr with it last night.  I can always take into account different technologies and such and I suppose back in the day it would've been quite the thriller but it was a true B movie if there ever was one.  It was cool to see Sleepy Hollow cemetery in there though and be able to say "hey, I've been there!"  I also enjoyed seeing Tyne Daly's husband on Cagney and Lacey as the Renfield like character Willie Loomis.  It was pre-moustache and beer pooch.

What I loved were some of the fashions of the day.  Julia had some awesome kind of swinger look going on where she always looked like she'd just rolled out of bed with a dude with a 5" mustache and should have a martini in one hand and a cigarette in the other.  Elizabeth was the matriarch of the family with either a Jackie O look during the day or these long, flowing late 60's peignoirs with trippy colors at night.  Fabulous!  

So if you're looking for a good B movie, rent it or if you were a fan of the show, add it to the library.  Just don't be like the Mr and fall asleep.  Don't worry, I snapped his underwear band in the middle of the night for retribution.

Our workout was a killer as the folks at Fitness Blender turned us to mush with their double kettlebell workout.  575 calories and two burnt shoulders later and it was time for dinner.

I had some black rice in the pantry that I'd been neglecting so I made that along with orange mahi and brussels.

Looks like the perfect Halloween dish especially since Brussels look like little brains.  HA!

Not sure what we're doing tonight since the Mr has to work late.  I know he says what time it'll go to but it's always 2 hours longer than he estimates.  So that means separate workouts for us today.  Pfft.

What's you're favorite B movie?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rebuilding stamina and apple pickin'

Oh man, the 'joys' of being in the second week back from vacation and into your formal workouts.  Last week, I felt like I'd been dragged down a gravel road and we even "eased" back into them!  Two Walk Away the Pounds, two strength sessions (one free weight and one TRX/yoga) and one Turbo Fire. The first few days, we always feel the bloat will be there forever but by weeks end, we always feel more ourselves but not fast enough for my liking.  There's also that weird part of me that likes rebuilding the stamina I lost while on vacation.  It's not that we were in a car the whole time and not hiking or walking everywhere but it didn't balance with our whoopie pie ratio.  (What?  It's Maine's state treat, we felt it our duty to put various flavors to the test.)  

Sunday we decided to take an impromptu apple picking trip and make traipsing up and down super long orchard aisles with a heavy arse bag of apples our workout since it was such a perfect fall day.   I don't have any pics from the farm but here's our take from the orchard minus the two we ate for dinner that night...

We got Suncrisps, Winesaps, a few Romes and I think we got a Melrose or two.  I'm going to use the smaller ones for pie next month so I'll vacuum freeze those with pie spice and they'll be ready to roll when I am.  I'm thinking some apple butter is in order as well as maybe some applesauce to go with the stuffed pork chops I want to recreate from our trip.  Say know you want to...

Pork chops and applesauuuuce.

We watched A Million Ways to Die in the West (affiliate link)  the other night.  Am I the only one that thinks Seth MacFarlane kind of looks like Christopher Knight (above)?  Never mind.  No, actually don't never mind, I did a search and a ton of comp pics came up...


See, I knew I wasn't crazy!

Where was I?

Oh yeah, I'm gonna recreate some dishes from the trip.

Actually I already have a few times.  Our first morning back, I made blueberry pancakes and used up the rest of the Vermont maple syrup the lady gave us at the home we rented.  Then Sunday night, I did my version of a lobster roll using baby langostino since the meat tastes almost the same while saving some money.  I have to say my version was what I always thought they should taste like.  We're not down with cold meat on a lobster (or crab) roll.

For me, that's always a great thing about vacation as well.  If I find dishes I really enjoyed, I'll try to recreate them.  If we ordered something that sounded good in theory, I'll improve upon them and make the Mr shake his head in amazement and then tell me how much he'd pay for it if I sold it in a restaurant.  :-)

Vacations, especially regional ones, tend to re-spark my culinary fire!

Do vacations inspire you to recreate some of the items you enjoyed once you're home?  What are your favorite ways to use apples?

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Road Trippin: Fall in New England

Fall in New many people dream of doing this trip and I was no exception.  I decided that my birthday present to myself this year was a massive road trip of New England with the majority of our stay focused on Bar Harbor, Maine or more precisely to visit Acadia National Park.  As I began planning, I just went gonzo adding a few days here, a few days there to other spots to break up the butt numbing drive.

By the time I was done planning the Mr's use or lose vacation time, an almost week vacation doubled to include Niagara Falls on the American side, a few nights in Vermont, a work week in Bar Harbor Maine and because I've always wanted to see it and with the success of our new favorite show, we added a few nights in Sleepy Hollow, New York on the loop back.

Come along for the adventure!

First was our stop off in Niagara Falls.  We had to do Cave of the Winds and went up and had the falls pummel us on the hurricane deck.

The Mr had a wonderful time and was like a kid.  We wandered the area and saw the top of Horseshoe Falls and watched the Maid of the Mist boats we rode when we went on the Canadian side in 2010.  We walked further up and watched the crazy fast water that would eventually dump you over the falls.  This was honestly our only "relaxation" stop.  We just kind of hung out at the hotel, the Giacomo for most of the night, ordered in, watched TV, explored the hotel and got a great night's sleep on their comfy bed.  I wish I could say the phrase "comfy bed" applied to the rest of the trip but it didn't.  Ugh.

The next morning we got up before the sun (a regular occurrence this trip) and I couldn't help but notice as we were on our way to Vermont, we would practically pass Sharon Springs, NY where the Beekman Boys had their store.  I was all over that shizz!

We picked up two jars of raw cinnamon honey.  To say it was the most heavenly thing I've had in my tea, on my flapjacks, on my sweet potato, etc is an understatement.  Completely amazing and I just saw they are expanding to the second floor soon.  I've already called road trip again.  Given there's a cozy hotel across the street it might be a nice quiet stop on the way to somewhere else as well.

We got to Vermont and had a wonderful time exploring the Stowe and Montpelier area.  Our favorite experience was a place called Bragg Sugar Farm.

We had to watch a little video about maple syrup making but we didn't mind and then we got to sample the grades and such afterward.  We both liked the same grades (Grade A mild amber and Grade B which is the best for cooking/baking)  The woman said the fact we agreed on the same grades was rare because people usually have big ol' fights when it comes time to buy and one couple was even like "we'll have to take this outside."  I don't know what she got him to agree to but he won that one from what we heard.  We got to try maple creamees, which is maple soft serve ice cream.  HOLY BALLS Y'ALL!!  SOOOOO good!  We got baby ones because we knew we were trying them elsewhere but they weren't good so I wished I'd gone full Monty on the ones from Bragg.  If you're in the Stowe or Montpelier area, make sure you stop by Bragg Sugar Farm!

We stopped by Emily's Bridge in Stowe.  You can read more about it here.

On our way to Maine, I had a surprise up my sleeve for the Mr.  When we're on vacations, it's kind of "our thing" to go on crazy roads that make people want to barf from fear.  I found such a road in Mt. Washington Auto Road in Gorham, New Hampshire.  Before we got there, he pointed to it's snow capped mountain and said "oh my gosh is that snow up there??"  I non chalantly said yes and giggled inside saying to myself "and you're gonna be on it in a few minutes!"

We went 6200+ feet up and went from beautiful fall trees to stunted pines to barron snow covered landscape.  Good thing we had our winter coats!  It was windy but we had fun exploring the summit and looking at the beautiful ice and snow formations on anything that would stand still on the summit from chains to banisters to railings, etc.  The bottom right up there are what we nicknamed "snow feathers" and they're formed from the super high winds at the summit.  Simply stunning.  The Auto Road is now closed for the season but if you plan peak season in New England next year, put this on your to do list...this was in our top three favorite things from the trip.

When we finally made it to Bar Harbor, it was later so we just grabbed dinner a few streets over from our rental home.  It was chilly on the patio but nothing some hot tea and chowder couldn't take the edge off of.  The next day we headed to have our first real lobster experience.  Lobster boils is what I think they call them where they slap ya a big ol lobster, mussels, taters and such.

The Mr was adequately weirded out by the whole thing but was a good sport and ended up enjoying it.  I was glad for the experience but the whole ripping apart an intact animal was more than my pansy ass would like to imbibe in again.  I prefer to keep my head in the ground where my meals come from.  Internally, I named him Larry and thanked him for his life.  When we got back and we saw live lobsters in the tank, I said a prayer for them and promised if there was a way to bust them out without going to jail, I'd consider it.

We strolled Bar Harbor's streets and were frankly very surprised at how touristy they were.  We've been to Hawaii, Florida, Vegas eons ago, Memphis and have never felt a true tourist throng until we came here.  Wow!  Between cruise lines and buses, it was flooded with people and we reveled in the two slower days in town on Sunday and Monday and maybe a little on Tuesday.    To escape the masses, we took a stroll on the Shore Path.

It runs the coast line and then back into town at the quiet end.  Worth a stroll should you go for great views of all of the ships, big and small, in harbor!

The next day was Acadia National Park.  I was so excited!  We went up for sunrise at Cadillac Mountain.  While the shot below makes it look like there were only a few people there, there were probably over 100 so it was not a quiet, zen experience.
The views from the park were ten kinds of stunning from Sand Beach (lower left) to Jordan Pond's view of Bubbles Mountain (lower right above.)   The trails here are no funny business.  We're talking many with railings drilled into the boulders and no way to back trail if you chicken out.  There are of course easy ones too but lots of moderate to strenuous ones for hardcore climbers and daredevils if you're into that kind of thing.

What we are into?  Movies.  What's the Mr into? Stephen King .  (affiliate link) So what did we do?  Oh yeah...we saw the Pet Sematary (affiliate link)  house and noted the hilarious placement of the "children at play" sign that now resides where Gage bit it by the Orinco truck.

We also swung by Stephen King's home in Bangor (red house, lower left above) and then on to Mount Hope Cemetery to the spot where Stephen presided over the house keeper's funeral.  (Lower right above)

On our way back, I decided to take a detour to another surprise I had in my back pocket if we were in the area.  Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory.

I think it was built to replace the old bridge in 2006 and we went straight to the top.

The views were amazing...

Toward the end of our stay, we went at low tide and walked across the sandbar to Bar Island.

You've got a 4 hour window (two hours before low tide and ninety minutes to two hours after) that the sandbar is exposed for you to walk (or drive) across.  When the tide rolls in, any cars or people stuck on the bar or on the island will be SOL until the tide rolls back out.  We got there plenty early and did the hike to the other side and top of the island.

The view of Bar Harbor was breathtaking.

We had the most amazing time in Bar Harbor and we're glad we were able to enjoy some down time as well as active adventures.

On the way to Sleepy Hollow, we made a pit stop in Portland to see the light house.

Truly a classic lighthouse!  We didn't have time to peruse the town but we definitely want to go back because it looked pretty cool there!

Then we arrived in Sleepy Hollow and stayed a few nights.

We visited the Olde Dutch Church, the Headless Horseman bridge and the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving's grave.

It was quite possibly the most peaceful place I've been in some time and the Headless Horseman Bridge has a beautiful waterfall nearby.  I could've stayed there all day.  Make this sleepy town a stop because they do it up right for Halloween.  If you want something a little more octane fueled, they do a Headless Horseman haunted house at Philipsburg Manor across the street.  But everyone and their mother comes here to celebrate Halloween so get your tickets for stuff at least 2 months in advance to guarantee they're not sold out.

We stopped by the lighthouse after strolling through the park.

We had a beautiful view of the Tappan Zee bridge and that gap under the bridge before the first peak?  You can see the Manhattan skyline through there...kind of a big ol' tease.

You know we got our pumpkins in Sleepy Hollow this year.  I mean, come on!

At night, we took a two hour lantern tour of Sleep Hollow Cemetery.

It was really cool and I'd take any of the tours they offer as well.  Super knowledgeable guides and such history in that place.

It was a very long drive but we had some good stops to break up the monotony and we had this little ditty play every hour and fifteen minutes on the 26 hour playlist I made to remind us to do calf raises and ankle pumps so we didn't get a blood clot from being bum bound so long.

It was a wonderful trip and I hope all of you consider doing it at some point because it's so beautiful.  If you'd like to see more pictures, swing by my Instagram!

Pay attention as the week winds down, I may have picked up some souvenirs I'll be giving away to a lucky reader!

What was your longest road trip?

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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 (affiliate link) 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 (affiliate link) 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 (affiliate link) 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 (affiliate link) 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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