Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Craft Updates

I'm overdue to talk about crafty things!  And, boy, do I have a lot of crafty things going one!  Here's a run-down...

Knitting

The cowl that has been my knitting life for a while now is....still my knitting life.  I really do love it and the Madelinetosh yarn it's made of....but knitting takes more time than I ever think.  I even sat down and knitted through a two-hour long movie.....and didn't feel like I made a ton of progress.  My friend is waiting on me to start a sweater with her so I need to get this done!

Project Life


I'm still loving this, though I hate having to pick up pictures - now every two weeks.  I try to write out my journal cards at the end of every week but I'm now spacing out my trips to Walgreens for prints.  With my longer hours at work, those trips are now very inconvenient.  My main struggle with PL, though, is remembering to take pictures.  With my faulty memory, it's a lot harder than it would seem.

Card-Making

In the spring, I made a ton of cards after my co-workers kept insisting I provide the cards we send as a department.  So I'm still good on unisex birthday cards.  Recently, I made some college football cards since it's Mr. Higgins' favorite time of the year.

Scrapbooking

My mom and I have our second scrapbook retreat of the year in late September.  That should be super fun and productive as I hope to start and complete a book during that long weekend.  These retreats are priceless!

I think that's it!  So many crafts, so little time!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 5: Jari Love Challenge

Time is flying by - good grief!  I won't be sad to see summer and this heat end, for sure.  But it's amazing how quickly the weeks pass. 

This week will not be a great eating week.  Sometimes life intrudes upon our goals and this is one of those times.  I'll keep up the workouts, though, shirking any days off between now and week eight, which will be a complete break from working out.  Mr. Higgins' parents will be in town that week and working out is not an option. 

So, here we go, week five.....

Monday: Michelle Dozois' Rockin' Body Cardio

I consider this to be a lighter workout and I needed this after two days of Peak 10 workouts.  But I always forget how much this one works me - and how much I sweat.  It's good old-fashioned cardio and my heart rates gets up and stays up for the duration!

Tuesday: Jari Love's Get Extremely RIPPED! - Workout 2 and Michelle Dozois' Tight and Toned Core on Glo


I was ready to do some weights this morning and Jari gave me a great workout.  Even though this workout has no real cardio, the compound weighted exercises always get me sweating.  To finish off my 50 minutes of workout out, I did Michelle's Tight and Toned Core on Glo.  I surprised myself by being able to do a few of the harder moves but was disappointed when I struggled with others.  Sigh.

Wednesday: Body Fit 360 by Michelle Dozois

Since I didn't do a fusion/yoga/pilates workout last week, I was excited to do one today.  And it was fun.  As always, I love the intense stretching at the end of the workout!

Thursday: Two lighter workouts on Glo with Dozois' Supercharge Intervals in the middle


I began by doing a ten minute light cardio workout to warm-up.  Then, for the first time, I did Michelle's HIIT workout, Supercharge Intervals, which is 20 minutes long.  There are only five moves.  You start with 10 reps each and count all the down to only 1 rep each.  Wow.  This was difficult.  I finished by doing a 20 minute dance workout, to stay loose but moving after the HIIT craziness.  I'm not sure what I think about that style of HIIT.  For me, doing many moves rather than just a few is always preferable.  But I like to shake things up so it was worth it.

Friday: Get RIPPED! 1000 by Jari Love


I'm trying to use my heavier weights whenever possible.  However, I still can't use them for the endless bicep curl track.  My light weights are easier, though, and I'm able to do the entire track.  Yay!

Saturday:  Cathe's Intensity + light cardio from Glo


Today, my workout lasted 80 minutes, including a 5 minute stretch.  I did Cathe's Intensity (step + HIIT + HIIT Low) for 50 minutes, light cardio from Glo for 20 minutes, and then a 5 minute stretch.  I still don't like Cathe's style….and I know I say that every time I do her workouts.  But today, after it all, I felt great - and that's what matters.

Sunday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Remix

This is one of my favorites and it felt good this morning.  It's not easy, though, and I was sweating up a storm.  I think this one has just the right about of floor work.

Calorie Counts:


Monday - 1381
Tuesday - 2473 (UGH!)
Wednesday - 1388
Thursday - 1392
Friday - BAD!
Saturday -  1440
Sunday - 1412


This was not a great eating week.  Next week will have to be better!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Chicken Fajitas (2014:29)

When a gluten-free friend was coming over for dinner recently, I had a momentary panic about what to make.  Fajitas came to mind, but my tg-to fajita marinade contains worcestershire sauce, which has gluten.  The packaged fajita seasoning has never been my favorite and I try to avoid those whenever possible.  So I turned to the internet to find a new marinade. 

I stumbled upon this recipe for Flavorful Chicken Fajitas and decided to give it a try.  I cut up the chicken and made the marinade the night before so the chicken would have plenty of time to soak up all those juices. 

The chicken smelled lovely as it cooked - always a good sign!  And thankfully, these fajitas turned out great for my guest.  If I have one compaint, it's that they were a bit too salty.  (I used normal salt instead of seasoned salt, which I did not have.) 

This may just become my go-to fajita recipe! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

S

I finally finished the novel S, by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst.  Mr. Higgins read it first and then suggested I read it.  It's unlike any other book I've ever seen or read and is, therefore, very hard to describe.

There are two stories going on in this novel, plus the backstory of the supposed author of the book.  Very confusing, I know.  The novel tells the story of S, a man who has no memory.  The second story takes place in the margins of the novel and tells the story of those who read the book.  

Here is my review as posted on Goodreads - though it's a bit vague:

When I first picked this up to read, I had no idea what to expect. I was quickly drawn into the mystery of S's story - a man with no past. Once we encounter the ship with its odd crew, I was even more intrigued.

The heart of the story is in the margins, with Jen and Eric. Sure, S and Sola have their own story but it's the young love and youthful angst that keeps one emotionally vested in the story.

This book was a very interesting experiment - indeed, there's nothing like it - and I would call it a success.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week Four: Jari Love Challenge

After the overindulgence in Vegas the previous week, I really needed to get back on the healthy bandwagon this week - and fast!  The Sunday before was a good precursor - a Dozois cardio strength and calories totaling about 1450.  But I'll have to keep it up!

I'm ditching my yoga/fusion/stretch workout this week in order to get in some additional cardio to burn more calories.  Maybe I can do some extra stretching on the weekend; it just always feels so good! 

My feet are still hurting from Vegas and now my legs ache from Michelle Dozois' workout on Sunday.  But here we go...

Monday: Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped 1000 - Workout 2

Waking up, it felt way too early; I'm obviously still on Vegas time, two hours behind.  I stumbled into some workout clothes and started moving as soon as possible.  I like this workout, though the lateral lifts always get the better of me.  I filled in the rest of my 50 minute workout time-slot with additional leg work and the push-ups/sit-ups at the end of Workout 2.

Tuesday: Amy Dixon's All Around Energy on FitnessGlo

Wanting some cardio, but not crazy intense cardio, I found this level 2 (out of 3) workout on Glo and thought I'd try it.  It alternates cardio and body strength segments.  This was the first full-length Amy Dixon workout I've tried and, while I mostly like her style, I don't like her non-stop gabbing through the entire thing.  I mean, she literally never stopped talking.  I'm used to cueing, not constant gabbing, and I found it distracting.  That being said, I may do this one again.  The intensity is good for those days you don't want to feel like you're dying when working out.

Wednesday: Michelle Dozois' Total Body Cardio & Strength on FitnessGlo

I actually tried to do a different Dozois workout on Glo this morning, but, for the first time, Glo messed up and wouldn't load the video.  Since I was barely conscious and not capable of complete brain functions at 5:30am, I chose to do this workout again, for the second time.  It's a very good one - classic Michelle style and efficiency. 

Thursday:  Jari Love's Get RIPPED! Slim & Lean

This morning came and I was a tiny bit more conscious than yesterday morning.  I got through three strength segments with Jari, alternating with my own cardio intervals.  My hamstrings have been super tight and painful since Tuesday, I think, so I tried to get a good stretch in afterword.  I have no idea what's going on; my hamstrings are usually quite cooperative.

Friday: The Firm's Bootcamp: Maximum Calorie Burn

The last time I did this workout, I realized it would be the perfect morning workout.  The cool down pops up at about 45 minutes into it, which is perfect!  I was a bit more alert this morning which was good - there's some high impact cardio in this!  And I always forget how hard it works me!

Saturday:  Michelle Dozois' Cardio Interval Burn on FitnessGlo


I was really looking forward to this workout and I liked it as much as I remembered, thank goodness!  I did the workout + bonus block + stretch.  Whew!  I also added on a 10 minute ab workout.  That's 1.25 hours of working out, peeps!

Sunday:  Michelle Dozois' Cardio Strength 2 on FitnessGlo


This was my first time doing this workout and, oh my goodness, it's a doozy.  There's more floor work than any other CS and it was super tough.  Sweat was pouring off of me 15 minutes into it.  This was also my first attempt at one-arm burpees.  I was mostly able to do them, though my left arm is definitely weaker.  

Calorie Counts:

Monday: 1345
Tuesday: 1345 (eating the same things; I like routine!)
Wednesday: 1393
Thursday: 1395
Friday: bad!
Saturday:  1405
Sunday:  1398

This week I really needed to stay on my diet and I'm proud that I did.  Next week will throw me some curve balls so I need to be prepared.  


I definitely got my money's worth out of FitnessGlo this week!  And I really do love it.  If you need to shake-up your workouts, Glo is a great way to do it.  For only $12 a month, you have TONS of workouts at your fingertips.  And you can cancel anytime!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Upon Thankfully Leaving Las Vegas

As you may have figured out by now, I was in Las Vegas last week for a conference.  Mr. Higgins joined me so we could have some fun in between my sessions of "work."  When it came time to leave Vegas, I was so ready to come home.  Here are some thoughts on that dreadful interesting perplexing....city. 

The last time I was in Vegas was, I think, 2001.  I was not old enough to drink or gamble and just walking through the casinos made me feel like I was doing something very wrong. But even back then I was put off by the smoke-filled, dark, loud rooms.  Ew!  Who would willing spend time in such places?!  But I did really enjoy walking through the hotels and seeing all the architectural wonders they acheived.  

Our conference was at the Cosmopolitan and that's where we stayed.  This hotel wasn't built the last time I was there and it was odd seeing two huge 60+ floor towers in that space by the Bellagio.  But the hotel was amazing - clean, modern, and chic. 


Complete with balcony - and a view.


It really was incredible.  I could have just watched the Strip for hours from our terrace.  The only downside: you hear the Bellagio fountains all night long.  Think cannon fire every 15 minutes and you'll understand. 

We walked a lot, making it to almost every hotel on the Strip.  We even ventured out to Freemont Street - old Las Vegas - on Friday night.  We were supposed to do this Thursday but our plans changed.  Little did we know just how crazy it gets in Vegas on Friday nights.  You get carded and wrist-banded before entering the Freemont Street Experience. 


We wandered around the casinos and finally got dinner after dark, at about 8:30.  After a frigid 30-minute bus ride, we were deposited once again on the stifling Strip, hopping off at The Mirage.  Mr. Higgins wanted to see the Srip at night.  Oy.

It was packed.  I felt like I was in New York City.  And let me tell you: I have no desire to see NYC.  None at all.  So when I came upon a crosswalk and waited behind a hundred people to cross the street, I got a little nervous.  I'm not claustrophobic but I don't like crowds and feeling trapped. 

The Bellagio fountains provided a brief reprieve....


....until we saw a homeless guy being kicked by the police. Wow.  Can I go home now?
 
Mr. Higgins wanted to "people watch" some more - weird, since he's such an introvert - but I said I was going up to our safe perch on the 47th floor of the Cosmo.  It was 10:30 by then and I was content to relax on our balcony. 

I don't know if I'll ever want to return to Vegas.  I think that's an every-ten-years-or-so kind of destination.  There's only so many encounters with odd people that one can take.

Oh, and we shared an elevator with a gigalow who was just getting "off work" at 10am on Saturday.  He had been so "worked" so hard all night long that all he wanted was a shower.  Ewoh! 

Bye-bye, Vegas.  


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Slow-Cooker Shredded Chicken (2014:28)

Though I love my Whole Chicken in the Crock-Pot recipe, it's a bit tiring dealing with all those bones.  And so I went looking for a way to make good chicken breasts in the crock-pot.  This Slow-Cooker Shredded Chicken sounded great.

I bought a 6 lb bag of chicken breasts and dumped them, frozen, in the crock-pot with about a 1/4c of water.  Following the directions, I sprinkled the chicken with the dictated spices.  As it cooked, it smelled wonderful, thanks to the garlic powder.  I checked the chicken at 7 hours and left it in for an additional 30 minutes.  Next time, I'll probably cook it for 8 hours just to be safe and worry-free.

When I took the chicken out, it was clear I hadn't really needed the water.  Six pounds of chicken was shredded in about 5 mintues - amazing!  And it tasted great!  In the end, I had 6 bags of 2 servings each to freeze.  Wow! 

I've since used this chicken for wraps and salads.  It's better, I think, than the whole chicken in the crock-pot.  It's flavorful and nicely (and easily!) shredded.  This will become a standard for me to make every few weeks.