Saturday, June 27, 2015

A feel good post

So I told you about my great experience with FitCamp.

I told you about my no-gym-membership necessary interval training game.

But what else do I do to keep myself feeling my best?


You all know I have a love/hate relationship with my feet. Ugly but functional I try to smooth them out and pretty them up but oh do they ache sometimes. And working out only adds to their woes. Luckily I upgraded my socks with a pair of Titan Elite Quarter High Basketball Socks. Don't worry, you don't have to play basketball, these socks are great for any athletic pursuit, including my favorite athletic pursuit: lounging around the house in my pajamas! Seriously, I have wood floors and a tendency towards Plantar Fascitis - I live in memory foam slippers - occasionally I want to feel the move of my foot on the floor without howling in pain after two minutes. It can be done! These socks hug your feet, cushioning the ball and heel and supporting the arch. They fit like a second, improved skin. I wore them to Tuesday's workout and, whereas my feet usually let out a humid sigh of relief when I take off my socks at the end of the day, when I took off these socks my feet chirped out a chipper "what's next?" No achy joints, bones, muscles, ligaments, FASCIA!

So care for your feet: oil or lotion, a regular clip of the nail, stretches, massages, a bit of exfoliation can't hurt, and of course, a high quality shoe and sock such as the Titan brand provides.

Repurposed packaging: Going to use this as a hair elastic

My college sisters may remember me rolling on a pickle jar in the living room, just trying to get those knots out of my legs! If I were an animal I surely would be a bull, plowing ahead and knowing no limits, at least when it comes to physical exertion. I don't know when to stop. Part of this has to do with living with chronic pain. Pain is our body's way of telling us to relax and slow down, but when you have Chronic Pain you have to learn to ignore those signals or you will start to close down. Since I have to ignore those signals to function I don't know how to listen to the REAL signals that mean I am pushing myself too hard. I rely on outside indicators, like my husband telling me I am overdoing it, or using someone else's workout to pace mine.

Anyhow, all this pushing has led to webs and webs of scar tissue in my body, most impressively my legs. It has gotten better, but they still need a lot of work, and while I would love to set up biweekly massage sessions, that is neither in the budget nor is there room in the calender.

So I do it on my own!

Old on bottom, new on top
I moved up from the pickle jar, to a repurposed foam roll from Ax Man, to a hand me down roller from my cousin Carole (she had one delivered to MN when she visited because she couldn't fly with it yet couldn't manage a week without it, seriously if you are an active individual you WILL get addicted!), to my most recent, most prized roller, appropriately called the Muscle Mauler Max.

Just look at the bumps and spikes on the roller. It arrives in the mail hungry to rip through those gnarled webs and lengthen those legs. I may appear to be an average 5'4, but I plan to stretch these babies out a good two more inches! ;)

My two favorite exercises/stretches with the mauler/roller involve my upper back (I love to hear it crack crack crack as the spine aligns, the pressure releases from my neck and skull, and I save myself the time and the cost of a visit to the chiropractor. I even imagine a little Cha-ching, cha-ching with every crack....okay, not really, but you could!), and the iliotibial band, which is located on the outerside of your legs, from the hip to the knee. The IT band is so painful to work through that I usually start with the fronts of my thighs to get warmed up. My legs lock up and tense with the pressure and I must breath deeply and be patient to allow them to relax. I have heard others say that this self myofascial release feels good, but for me it is only slightly short of unmedicated labor pains and I have been known to suddenly jump up onto my feet when I just can no longer take it. But every moment I spend on there, the few releases I am able to achieve, makes my legs feel like they can breath again. Like the blood is flowing in new areas. Like they are rested, and strong, and ready.

Even if you don't abuse or overwork your muscles I recommend the Mauler. It doesn't take much time, especially if you watch television. I try to read while I roll but I find myself rolling away from the book or unable to relax. I think I will start to have the kids read to me while I roll so they aren't being ignored but aren't using me as a jungle gym either.

Have any of you tried a type of a roller? Was it smooth or ridged like the Muscle Mauler? I would love to hear about your experience.


With a household of five we have entered the "never enough water bottles" zone. With berry season beginning it was time to order another fruit infuser. Without central air I need to drink an obnoxiously large amount of water. So much that water gets BORING!

Luckily I was able to try out the Brimma Fruit Infused Water Bottle Infuser. I love that the fruit section fits in the top of the bottle. My old infuser had the fruit in the bottom and I always forgot and ended up holding the bottle upside down between my knees trying to get the section correctly attached.

A couple weeks ago we went out of town on short notice for a weekend. As I tried to work through the perishables that Friday I came across more fruit than we could eat before leaving. I packed the apples and oranges away to bring in the car, but fond partial pints of berries in the fridge as well as a half of an orange. We couldn't eat everything so I put these random bits into a glass jar in the freezer. Whenever I want a cold glass of fruit infused water it takes no time to grab a few of those frozen pieces and put it in my new infuser. The fruit keeps my water cold and as it thaws it flavors the water.

My favorite flavors thus far are fruit combinations containing raspberries. I even love to over smush the berries, causing small gritty seeds to float about the water. Little extra bits of yum as I swallow it down.


Really though, they are pretty sad looking bears
Or rather, Vitamin D. I am always short on it. Getting a bit of a farmer's tan this year and chowing down on double doses of the supplement so I am hoping my numbers will be in range for once! I know the sun makes a difference, but if I have good numbers I will also attribute it to my NutraBear Vitamin D3 supplements. Gummy bear type supplements without corn syrup or food dyes, these supplements don't LOOK like anything special, unless wrinkled dried up prunes that look like a , hmmm, are those supposed to be bears?, are special. But once you get past the dried up appearance (I believe this is from packing so many supplements in a jar) the bears have the most flavorful taste of any of the gummy vitamins I have ever tried. Mango and Peach fills each little bear with such flavor that I automatically checked what the limit was for the day and snuck a couple extra.
Look at all the cute wrinkly bears!

I do feel a bit silly, an adult eating gummy bears each morning, and I do wait until after my coffee so as to not spoil my tastebuds with all that sweetness, but I must admit I don't forget to take my supplement so often as I would with the small white chalky tablet faintly calling my name.

How about you? How do you make sure you get all the neccessary vitamins? Do you have any vitamins or supplements which you regularly take? Ever tried the gummy form?

What else do you do to keep yourself feeling the best?

**I received products to review in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tea party!

No, not that kind of a tea party, I mean this kind of a tea party: 
Being that I have the summer off I have found myself entertaining in the morning more than usual. I like to refer to it as 'partying' but given that those present are often providers or other professionals I suppose it is not quite the type of party you may have in mind, but SOMETIMES I NEED ALL THE ADULT CONTACT I CAN GET!! ;)

 I fill up my french press and offer coffee, but it isn't always what my 'party guests' are interested in. Other times they say yes and I can tell their sips are for courtesy. I have arranged a coffee tray with three types of coffee so that I can tailor the drink to their taste, but I feel I may have forgotten something:  

Not eveybody drinks coffee

Shocking, I know.
I needed something else to offer.

Perfect timing as I received an offer to review a six pack of Enjoying Tea's premium teas.

Look at those cute little tins!

And inside the tins are high quality tea, fresh and aromatic.
The Rooibo
If you are a newbie tea drinker, the package comes with simple instructions that really break it down for you. 

I am looking forward to my first tea drinking guest so that I start my own little (accompanied) tour through the six varieties.

I love Chai, but have never even heard of the Rooibo. Anybody down to come over and give that or the Oolong a try?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Getting ripped, my second fitness post today!

So I told you all about Fit Camp, but that is only twice per week and sometimes it doesn't work to make it. I can't just sit on the couch and wait for the next Tuesday or Saturday to roll around. So what do I do in the meantime? Let me introduce you to a few tools that help me prime my body all week long.

1. Hiit The Game by Stack 52

Anyone who knows me knows that I love games, even solitaire. And anyone who has tried to add an exercise routine into their life knows that it can get pretty routine (read: BORING) ESPECIALLY if you don't want to drop a bill for a gym membership/classes/personal trainer.

That is where Hiit comes in. Hiit, which stands for High Intensity Interval Training, is a cheap and easy way to add variety and fun into your workouts. The game comes in a small box with a timer app that you can download for free on your phone.

You rack up points by completing rounds of exercise intervals in short bursts of high intensity work out. I have yet to play this in a group, but would love to give it a try. A group of my neighbors does early morning workouts at the lake nearby and I think I will try to talk them into giving this game a try.

As a busy mom this game is easy for a quick play before the kids get up or, more realistically, after I get them to bed.

There are over 100 exercises and as I get more familiar with them I plan to let my kids play alongside me. I am sure they will mess it all up and I will pretend they won, but hey, it is just another way to get my workout in while watching them.

Anyone know how to turn a pic in blogspot? Aigh, until then tilt your head ;)
And until I get to know all the exercises by heart, there are, along with a written description of each exercise, QR codes on each card that you can scan to watch a short video illustration of the workout (don't QR? there's a too)

I also love that the cards are color coded according to which area of your body they are working out. You can make sure to get an all over body workout, or choose to focus intensely on one area.

Seriously folks, let me know if you want to come play this with me!

Yikes! All out of time! Will have to finish my list later folks. Stay tuned to hear about some super powered socks, muscle massage, and hydration!

Until next time, check out the Ogre playing Hiit while eating ice cream on YouTube!

***I received this game for free in exchange for my honest review***

This Mombod is upgrading!

I am a mom.

I don't expect 6 pack abdominals.

I don't expect a 4 inch thigh gap.

I don't even expect Michelle Obama arms (now THAT is one hot Mombod!)

But I do want to keep outrunning (while pretending I can't) my kids at the playground. I want to increase my pull up/chin up numbers (in healthy competition with myself). I want to have courage to sign up for 5ks without worrying I will turn beet red huffing and puffing while my friends have deep conversations without breaking a sweat alongside me.

But wanting something and getting something are two different things.

I have to act.

I have to work.

This is why, tonight, I am starting my second round of FitCamp (and you should too!)

A month and a half ago, a stranger stopped me while I was walking out of a meeting at work. (Okay, it was my coworker that stopped me, but she has worked there a year and a half and we didn't even know each other's names!) She had been trying to talk my FFCS (friend first coworker second) Jenni into attending the workout group with her. Jenni said her no loud and clear (and kind) and pointed at me as the next victim.

At first a bit worried about what this would entail (commitment, pressure sales, everybody judging the new girl with the puffy red face, flyaway hair, and outdated workout clothes) I quickly made my decision to go. Dana, the strangeworker (stranger/coworker), seemed really nice and genuine, and although I have had equally feel good vibes with new friends who brought me someplace too good to be true (these nights ended with me speaking in tongues and searching for the nearest exit) I decided it was time to take a risk, and I am happy I did.

The Fit camp takes place in a camp in North St Paul, and although many of the (super nice) ladies who run it distribute HerbaLife, there is NO (NO!) pressure to purchase the product. In full disclosure I do not purchase it, though I know several folks who have done well on it and my interest is slightly piqued. It is just a matter of finances for me...

Anyhow, the class starts the first day with an assessment (how long does it take for you to run or walk a mile, how many sit ups can you do in a minute, etc) that is completed again on the last day of class to track your progress. Rumor has it that this time the assessment will be totally different. Class meets twice a week (Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings) in a beautiful park right next to a playground where the kids are safe to roam and play (points to whoever planned that one out!)

Each week there is a different workout (intervals, zumba, one week was a teamwork challenge titled "the amazing race"...). It was a lot of fun and when the class was all done and we completed the final assessments I found I had gained 4 lbs of muscle! This was a huge accomplishment for me as I honestly only made it to about a third of the classes due to busy summer plans and the expansion of our family to include Hun).

I do hope to see you tonight! And be sure to get any details I may have left out (time, location, etc) by liking their HerbaChamps FitCamp facebook page

See you there!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happy Father's Day! A cheap, usable craft you can STILL do!

Boo was the biggest goof during this whole project!

I came across an idea for a craft I thought the kids would love to make for the Ogre.  I had given him a grill that I found with good timing on SlickDeals but I know those homemade gifts from the kids hold extra significance.

I told the kids what I was thinking and was slinked around the house stealithy creating the gifts (aka, we were so bad at hiding our efforts, but it is so fun to watch the kids TRY to keep a secret and surprise the other parent).

Boo and I made a quick trip to Goodwill, pretending to be spys on a time sensitive mission to locate men's tshirts, size medium. Joke was on us as apparently the Goodwill I chose has been reassigned an outlet store. This means that instead of any logic, all items are tossed in giant bin tables and you dig through them looking for a desired scrap. This was the perfect mission though and tshirts were chosen, with only one melt down by the youngest spy which took place under said bin table. We regrouped and purchased the two shirts (the third we snuck out of The Ogre's own dresser drawer) for a whopping 89cents (you pay per pound!).

Of course I washed the shirts first, then had the kids pick their own design or saying. We worked together to lay the tape down in the desired design/wordage. Not the thriftiest use of Washi tape, but I couldn't find the masking tape, so the washi tape WAS cheaper than going to buy a new role.

Hun is a serious little arteest!
After taping down the design the kids picked their own colors from our selection of patio and fabric paints and went mad with the paint, making sure to cover the area around the tape so it would show well once peeled.

24hours later it was ready to peel.
Boo's finished project, prior to tape peeling

They picked various hiding places around the house and shook with eager suspense until today, when we told them he could have his gifts early so he could wear them all weekend long! Good thing too, as apparently I can't tell a men's tank from a woman's tank and he got to wear that one at home on Saturday instead of in public or to work.

Happy Father's Day Ogre and all the other "Good dads" in the world. You are so important and so loved! Thank you for all that you do!
Proud of their hard work. Proud of their dad!

An eyebrow fixing giveaway

When I was 12 I would flip through Seventeen magazine looking for hairstyles to try, outfits to concoct, and products to MUST HAVE!

When I was 14 I would flip though Cosmopolitan magazine looking for hairstyles to try, outfits to concoct, and products to MUST HAVE!

Although both my reading selections and my idea of what it is to be a woman have morphed, I still can't stand a shabby eyebrow. All too often though, I can be found sporting one. Like this bad momma in super poor lighting:

Ugh, hard to take even myself serious like that. I have some pretty blunt friends so I am surprised no one has scheduled an intervention.

Back to my teenage choice of magazines....

every third issue had a Tweezerman in the MUST HAVE section. They must have paid the magazines!

Anyhow, I always wanted one, but have stuck this whole time to the cheap Revlon tweezers that would close uneven and I would have to hold up to the light to see where the hair should actually be when the apparatus closes in order to really grasp the stub of hair. 

Now with a family of five I just don't have time to mess with that. And really, that silly excuse of a styling implement should NEVER be okay.

So I didn't get my Tweezerman, but I think I got something better, and you can too!

The 42 BEES slant tip tweezer is the best I have ever used (and I have BORROWED a tweezerman). The entire tip closes firmly including the point. It has a mini comb on the end to perfect that groom, and even comes in a resealable little tube so you can store YOUR tweezer away for yourself (and not for your husband's toolbox! Tell me I am not alone in this one!)

Speaking of the husband I would love to clean up the Ogre's eyebrows with these. Anybody want that video? ;) Let me know, really, peer pressure works! (and his eyebrows are getting a little, ahem, SPRY!)

And of course, the after shot!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***I received this product free of charge in exchange for the review and hosting the giveaway***

Spry. Definition: active, lively, especially when referring to an old person. (Aka, a great product with a poorly thought out name!)

It has been OVER a week since I last wrote! In that past week the fam has expanded with the addition of an bubble gum smacking foster tween we shall call Hun. Hence, the lull in posts.

Also in the last week and a half the troop managed to all go in for teeth cleanings and we have continued our battle with allergies and colds. 

That said, this was a fabulous week to review my package full of goodies from Spry.

Spry's (not so) secret ingredient? Xylitol is a sugar alcohol effective in inducing remineralization of deeper layers of demineralized enamel and reducing dental caries. How does this work? Apparently your body perceives sugar when consuming xylitol and so produces excess saliva. Don't worry, you don't notice this, not like you drool or anything. And if you don't believe saliva is amazing, read Mary Roach's Gulp. (If I can find it I can lend it to you). Saliva is awesome (aren't all bodily fluids? No really though, read Gulp and you will get it!)

What was in my SPRY swag bag?

Xlear Spry Gum  Mine was peppermint, but it comes in five flavors including Cinnamon, Fresh Fruit, Green Tea,and Spearmint.      
I didn't try it due to TMJ, but Hun has a mouth full of silver baby teeth and the doc found three more cavities so I let her chew it whenever her little heart desires. I figure there is more bad bacteria in our house now with the introduction of so much tooth decay so I let Moo and Boo go all out with the gum as well. Hun did state that the flavor doesn't last as long as other gums, but really she could chew it all day. Boo is a little more controlled in the gum department and hasn't complained of any flavor loss. 

Xlear Spry Mints- Again these come in many flavors but mine were Lemon Creme. As I was rolling my eyes at the childrens' gum obsession, I was secretly popping these little yellow diamonds into my mouth and TRYING not to chew. Hard for me to let candy or mints desolve but these were a bit textured (Think the rough outer layer of a giant lemon head) so my oral fixation was fed and I was able to enjoy the texture without a chomp. Again, Hun wasn't the biggest fan but I really did enjoy these and was happy to know they weren't sugar coating my teeth

Spry Xylitol Peppermint Toothpaste- No food dye! No flouride! A safe to swallow (aka kid friendly) toothpaste that I am actually okay with my kids using! I still will have them spit of course, they need the practice, but luckily the (majority) part that they end up swallowing won't be filled with nasty ish!

Spry Oral Rinse- When you read the ingredient list on this I swear you can hear angels sing. Again, no food dye (do you really want to rinse your mouth out with flourescent fluids?) And that smooth, just left the dentist feeling it leaves you with? I think it must be the glycerin, but if you ever made your own coconut oil based toothpaste (angels sing again) you know that glorious feeling. 

Spry Bamboo Toothbrush: Again, do you really want to be rubbing that hunk of colored plastic around your teeth and gums? Does the earth? I have a million plastic toothbrushes and I usually get them for free, so a total change would be a hard sell/adjustment for me but I do love this idea. If not for you then maybe buy one or two for the next generation (you know, your favorite little who is much more effected by toxins in their environment than you are). I noticed that Amazon does sell a Junior version. 

Xlear nasal spray: I forgot about this until I started writing the blog post and noticed the two spray boxes in the picture. Being that about 75% of the past few weeks I have not been able to breath through my nose and 24% of the time I have only been able to breath through one nostril, I decided now was as good a time as ever to give the nose a squirt. 2-4 sprays per side? I averaged it for 3 and am happy to report my mouth has been closed for the last few paragraphs of type here. I am breathing! (Says the lady who has fills tissues twice per hour with a thick bright orange something. Time to see a doctor? Hell no, I'm going with xylitol!)
Hun and her gum
One last thing....want to try Spry for yourself? Use this link to receive an even larger Spry care kit, values at $65, for only $25! But act now because come July this offer is gone.

***I received this product for free in exchange for my blog post!***

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Ogre is rough on his bike accessories. Well, not really that rough, but he uses the bike a lot, usually to lug around the trailer with the two tots, and nowadays even more as he has taken to adding on a second trailer for a third kid and/or groceries. I have a feeling he is "that guy" to some folks on the East Side. Like, there's "that guy" again, the one with the massive calves lugging the trailer train.

But back to the accessories.

When it comes to the father of your kids lugging your precious spawn around BEING SAFE is HOT!

And it was those very spawn, all limbs crashing about as they board the trailers, who have TWICE knocked the bike over and busted his headlight.

It was time for something heavy duty. And great timing too as I was given the opportunity to review a Team Obsidian Bicycle Safety Light  in exchange for free product.

Once the light arrived The Ogre gave me his feedback: BEST LIGHT he has ever had!

First off, his worry of this light busting is significantly decreased as, instead of the usual chintzy plastic that most things are made from these days, the front flashlight is made of sturdy metal. If our less than graceful children crash the bike over again there will be little to worry about in terms of replacement.

Notice also that I said 'flashlight' in the last sentence. The headlight, which affixes to the handlebars with a 'thumb screw' also can be removed (with a second thumb screw) and used as a flashlight, safety wrist strap and all.

The front light also has two modes: solid light or flashing light, and can twist to make the light beam wider or more concentrated. I asked the Ogre what he would use the different settings for and he stated that he would probably use the fine beam for as a flashlight and the wider beam for when biking to increase visibility.

The tail light affixes, also with a thumb screw, to the seat of the bike. The light is red and also has multiple modes. This light can be removed and worn as a belt clip. I love the dual uses for these accessories!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Hooked: Conditioner

My cupboards are full of half used shampoo and conditioner bottles. I get bored easily.
That said, ever since I first conditioned my hair with Regenepure Biotin Conditioner I have refused to switch to another kind.
This conditioner is thick. Still, it manages to  leave hair feeling light. Not washed out light, but healthy light. Not stripped, but replenished.
My scalp has felt healthy too. No excess oil, no dried out flakes, just a smooth, bright scalp.
The scent is an earthen clean, the tea tree oil definitely stands out which is fine by me - I love that scent!
**I received this product for free in exchange for my unbiased review **

How to tell your chicken is done

How do you tell your chicken is done?

Well, naturally, there is an app for that!
Check out all that this app "does"

After reviewing a prior thermometer, but before passing it on to my friend Gina to award her for her awesomeness, it broke.

So I had to review another. Because Gina wanted one and she is awesome, got it?

I received the Redi Chek Direct Connect Roasting Thermometer in the mail, set it aside for a couple weeks of heavy vegetarian eating, and then remembered to grab it when we got a good deal on a couple packs of chicken legs and decided to crock pot em.

(TIP: Use the crockpot outside in the summer. It won't heat up your house, but it will be too hot for any bugs or animals to assault it.)

Check out this video of me unveiling the hallowed thermometer:

So, what happened when I probed the chicken? Nothing. I COULD NOT get my phone to communicate with the thermometer. The app would not work and I couldn't eve SEE the awesomeness I was missing.

To be honest, I think the whole app thing is a bit of a trend overkill. The poor app is only rated 1 and a half stars with many stating that they would go with less than one star if they could.

So, Gina, this one is all yours. Perhaps the ANTIawesomeness of this appliance will balance out some of your AWESOMENESS and leave your household a little more average. Oh wait, your household could NEVER be average.

It wasn't pretty, but it WAS tasty

How to tell your chicken is done, the old skool way:

 Cook it until the meat is falling off the bones and the sides of your crock pot are charred... or maybe it IS worth it to just risk a little e. coli in the name of flavor. I, for one, will be sticking to the old school dial thermometers for the foreseeable future.