Friday, July 31, 2015

New Orleans

I had so much fun in New Orleans, mainly by eating so much good food.  Ha!  Though I was there for a conference, my co-worker and I made a point to try the standard things: beignets, po'boys, jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice, Hurricanes....  All were delicious!

Here are some photos from my walks around the French Quarter….  

It was a whirlwind of a trip; we never stopped!  But it sure was fun!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


I finally finished the massive third volume in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, Voyager.  It only took me two months to read - though I was working on other books at that time, too.

My Goodreads review:

Book series have a tendency to bore me after only a few books. The characters have no room for growth and their stories tend to become increasingly preposterous as the books go on and on. I was afraid this would be the case with Outlander….but it's not….yet.

This book caught and held my attention from the start. And then, just when I feared it would get boring, Jamie's secrets come out to cause drama and then, suddenly, he and Claire are in the Caribbean. It's insanely fun and alarmingly believable. 

Gabaldon never ceases to amaze!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Post-Cruise Workouts: Week 8

Well, if I thought I'd been eating bad before last week, I was dead wrong.  Last week was the worst week yet.  This week is going to be even more difficult since I'll be in New Orleans for a few days.  Fun!  But bad for the diet. 

I'm taking my laptop to NOLA and will have time to workout so at least there's that.  Sigh.

Monday:  Amy's Skills and Drills + McLean's Unleash Your Inner Strength + walk

It's always good to take it down a notch on Mondays after Peak workouts over the weekend.  This morning was a nice change as I hadn't done either of these workouts in a long while.  Though they're both a level 2 (out of 3), I was sweating and working hard like normal.  The moves weren't quite as tough, thank goodness.  At lunch, I walked at the rec and then did ab work.

Tuesday:  Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped 1000

This was the only time this week I would do weights so Jari was a good choice.  This workout (I did number one) has so much cardio along with the weights - it's tough!  I always forget how much work weights are with Jari - she does so many reps!  Ouch!

Wednesday: Dozois' Conditioning for Long Lean Muscles

I arrived in NOLA this morning and an early flight meant no morning workout.  I had a very long day, running non-stop but then had a fun evening out with two colleagues.  We explored and ate too much.  Ha!  At 9:30, upon arriving back at the hotel, I buckled down and did this workout.  I was super happy the wifi worked.  This was hard to get through but I was so proud of myself for having the discipline to get it done after such a long day.

Thursday: McLean's HIIT - Bodyweight Circuits + Amy's All Around Energy

After my workout the night before, this HIIT video did not sound appealing at 6am.  I got through it, in the limited space in my hotel room.  Once again, so proud of myself for getting it done!  After that 35 minutes of work, I tuned into Amy's workout for an additional 25 minutes.  Then, a nice stretch.  Yay!  I needed to burn mega calories for NOLA food!

Friday: Dozois' Rockin Body Cardio + Calorie Burning Cardio Blast

The hotel wifi was not cooperating this morning - at 6am again - so I was forced to turn to a workout on my laptop - Michelle's oldie.  It was fun and a nice change from the harder workouts.  That lasted 45 minutes and then I turned to her Glo Cardio Blast for 15 more minutes of cardio.  A stretch was quite lovely after all that!

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix + Ilyse's Rapid Fire Core

Since I had a morning flight home, I got up at 5:30…on a Saturday.  I knew I had to work out as soon as possible or it wouldn't happen at all.  Michelle's CIB Remix is one of my faves so that got me through.  I then wanted ab work so I turned to Ilyse, who is just a meanie in regards to core work!  Ha!  Then, a stretch.

Sunday:  Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit + Amy's Cardio Boxing

Back home - yay!  I got through Cathe's grueling Circuit because I'm so afraid of how much weight I've gained.  Though I should have done weights this morning I need cardio - and tons of it.  After that 40 minute workout, I tuned into Amy's lighter workout - it was fun!  I couldn't have done much more jumping around but I did jacks and jumping rope and added a bi more than Amy called for to burn more calories!

On top of all this, I walked so much in NOLA!  Every night we walked around the French Quarter.  It was fun!  I liked the city but I'm not sure if or when I'd want to go back.  The food and architecture were great but the heat, humidity, and smell was just a little too much.  And this is coming from a Texan!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Just when you think Dooku and Sidious don't like each other, they do something like this….


Monday, July 20, 2015

Post-Cruise Workouts: Week 7

I cannot believe it's been seven weeks since our cruise - since our summer officially began.  Wow.  My workouts are still going strong, thank goodness!

My eating has not been great, especially on the weekends so I'm still afraid to step on the scale.  Oy.

Monday: McLean's Kickbox Your Way to Fit + Ilyse's Groovy Dance Party + walk

This kickboxing workout is very tough in the beginning - so much for a "light" day of cardio. Thankfully, it gets less stressful.  Ilyse is always fun and this dance always makes for a good workout.  At lunch, I walked at the rec center - a co-worker helped keep my pace up so I got pretty sweaty!

Tuesday: Amy's Intervals + Cardio Intervals + weights

I wasn't exactly looking forward to this morning workout but I was happy to work hard.  And work hard I did!  Whew!  These intervals aren't easy.  I subbed different moves for the burpees, not wanting to irritate my back.  The second interval workout isn't any easier, since you go for longer. Wow.  At lunch, I did weights with the trainer at the rec.  Here's hoping my arms don't ache as much as last week's weight session!

Wednesday: Cathe's Intensity

This morning I had some extra time so I was able to do this entire workout - the step, HIIT-hi, and HIIT - low.  It's definitely a challenging workout!  The low-impact HIIT is such a relief after all the high intensity work....but it's still really tough.  Cathe sure knows how to work you hard!

Thursday: Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped! + Amy's Metabolic Meltdown

Again, I had some extra time this morning but I needed weights.  So, I did the first workout on Jari's video - and I always forget just how tough this one is!  Dang!  Then, I tuned into Amy's not-so-intense cardio workout.  It was good - and nice change that didn't exhaust me.   So, I had a good hour of work before my stretch!

Friday: Crunch's Fat Burning Pilates

Today was my light day and thank goodness since I woke up several times in the night with a very unhappy stomach.  I only did 30 minutes of this workout since ab-work did not sound appealing.  This is a good one - nice, low-impact cardio work that is unique and fun!

Saturday: Peak 10 More Cardio Strength + Michelle's Burn Calories, Release Stress

We have been eating SO bad….I'm really freaking out.  I wanted a lot of good cardio this morning.  Even though there are weights in More CS, my heart rate never drops even when I stop jumping.  Ha!  I worked really hard for those 55 minutes.  Then, I did 25 minutes of Michelle's "light" Glo workout.  It was good and got me more, blessedly less stressful, cardio.  I finished off with a five minute stretch.

Sunday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster + Ilyse's Killer Core

It's been a while since I touched the CIB - FB so it was a lot of fun this morning!  Sure, I sweated and almost died during the peaks, but it was fun.   Ha!  I added a few more minutes of my own cardio at the end to get in 65 minutes of work.  Then, a stretch followed by Ilyse's ab workout.  Ouch!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Oreo Brownies (2015:13)

I've been craving a good, rich, chocolate-y dessert for some time now.  Finally, a time arose when I could make something - and take the majority of it to work.  

We had double-stuffed Oreos in the pantry that we hadn't opened - and they were given to us last year.  So, they were just a tiny bit stale but not expired.  This inspired me to make something I've been wanting to try for some time: Oreo Brownies!

I make these in a 11x7 pan so I made 3/4 of the recipe.  I didn't make any more changes, though I used some Splenda in place of about half of the sugar.  That was a mistake because I've learned - now I know for sure with this experience - that it doesn't melt the way sugar does.  But, that did not affect the taste!  I also left off the frosting, thinking that it was unnecessary - and it was!

These turned out amazingly well!  I baked them for about 25 minutes - but could have done with only about 23, probably.  I like fudgey brownies!  Everyone at work loved them and I could have eaten five right out of the oven....but resisted.  This one is a keeper, for sure!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Healthy Zucchini Muffins (2015:12)

I've been unable to find a good zucchini bread/muffin recipe.  And considering there's a cute lunch place that I frequent that has excellent zucchini muffins....  Well, I feel like they're taunting me with their deliciousness that I'm unable to duplicate.  Ugh!

A recipe for Healthy Zucchini Muffins popped up on Gimme Some Oven recently - and I love that blog!  I decided I needed to try these, ASAP.

I made a few changes to the recipe....  With only maple syrup to sweeten the muffins, I knew that just wouldn't be enough sweet for my taste buds.  So, I subbed some sugar for the syrup.  Instead of an egg, I used egg substitute and instead of nasty coconut oil, canola.  I also squeezed the liquid from the zucchini - having not done that in a previous attempt with another recipe, I knew I should.

These turned out fluffly and yummy!  They're still not very sweet, even with the sugar.  I may add a tiny bit more next time.  And they freeze very well.  This is a keeper!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Post-Cruise Workouts: Week 6

We had a lovely Fourth of July….and with it came tons of food.  It's a good thing I'm getting in plenty of workouts!  Ha! 

Let's get to work!

Monday:  Ilyse's Work Hard, Have a Great Time + PeakFit Pure Cardio + yoga

I finally had a good sleep last night and was ready to work this morning.  Ilyse's workout was great…until FitnessGlo crashed and wouldn't load for ten minutes.  In desperation, I turned to the only thing I had on hand - Pure Cardio, usually reserved for my Peak 10 Challenges.  It was fun to do a few circuits…and then Glo was back up.  Yay!  At lunch, I did yoga with the new teacher - lots of hip stretching and twists.  

Tuesday:  Shape's Bikini Body Camp Transforming + Dozois' Calorie Burning Cardio Blast + weights

This was a fun morning of exercise - no dread factor!  I did the cardio - led by Michelle Dozois - of the Shape workout, which lasted 30 minutes.  Then, I tuned into Glo for Michelle's cardio blast - so much fun!  45 minutes of non-stop cardio and then a 5 minute stretch.  Nice!  At lunch, I worked with the trainer at the rec on a new machine weight regimen.  Fun.  At least it was different.

Wednesday:  McLean's HIIT - Bodyweight Circuits

This is always a tough one.  I forced myself to do the floowork - though not burpees - despite my lack of enthusiasm.  I did the plank to frog which is never fun.  Ugh.  I had every intention of walking at work until a line of showers came through.  My umbrella stood no chance of keeping me dry on the trek to and from the rec, so I stayed put.  

Thursday: Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped! 1000 Hardcore + walk

It was time for the second workout on Jari's Hardcore video.  The first segment after the warm-up is a squat to a lunge with biceps....oh, boy.  My heart beat revved up and stayed up for the entire workout.  After this ended (about 30 minutes), I did my own cardio with some weights.  It was a killer workout!  I got to the rec today to walk at lunch.  Yay!  I even did some ab-work afterward.

Friday:  BodyFit 360: Dance Conditioning

My light morning - finally!  It's been such a long week and this morning's workout was perfect - light cardio and then a long stretch.  Lovely!  The dance in this is fun and I always look forward to it!

Saturday:  Peak 10 Cardio Strength Remix + McLean's Cardio Hip Hop

Time for some serious work this morning.  I started with Michelle's CS - this one is so tough.  Every circuit goes to the floor, except the last one.  I was dripping sweat throughout - which is annoying.  Ha!  Then, I wanted some more cardio so I turned to McLean's fun dance workout - nothing too tough after all that jumping in the CS video.  I took 10 minutes to stretch and do sit-ups, so 1 hour and 25 minutes.  Wow.

Sunday:  Dozois' Cardio Interval Burn on Glo + Amy's Plank Work

I always think this CIB is easier - and it's not.  The ascents seem just as tough as the climbs, for some reason.  Ack!  I got through it, but it wasn't easy.  I then did a stretch and wanted to do some core work - Amy's level 2 workout looked good.  And it was - though a bit easier than I anticipated….which is a good thing, I guess.  

Friday, July 10, 2015


Heaven help us all.

(But he's sooooo cute!)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Raspberry Crisp (2015:11)

When planning the Fourth of July menu with my mother, it quickly became apparent that we needed a dessert that was easy but tasty.  My first thought: cobbler and ice cream.  But there was one problem: I don't have a cobbler recipe that I love and neither does my mom.

So I turned to the Pioneer Woman and found her Raspberry Crisp recipe.  We would sub blueberries for raspberries, add ice cream, and voila!  

The problem began when we had too many blueberries...but with 12 people coming to dinner, that was a good thing!  But when it came to adding an appropriate amount of ingredients to the recipe, I did something wrong.  We spread it all in a 9x13 pan and put it in the oven....and nothing happened to the top.  It didn't crisp.  I drizzled a tiny bit more butter on top....nothing.  I turned on the there was a slightly burned nothing.  Ugh.  

I stirred it up a bit, moistening the crisp part with the blueberries and put it back in the oven for a few minutes.  That would have to do. It came out alright but I was not pleased.  Many people there thought it was great....but not me.  

My search for a good cobbler/crisp recipe continues.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Post-Cruise Workouts: Week 5

Another week, another weekend of bad eating.  Ha!  It's fun but I'm worried about the scale.  I still haven't stepped on to it, but I did take my measurements the other day - and they were fine.  That gives me hope.

All I can do is keep at the workouts...

Monday: The Firm's 500 Calorie Workout + McLean's Bodyweight Assault Challenge + yoga

I was a bit out of it this morning so it was good to have a real warm-up with The Firm's workout.  I then did all the cardio rounds of this workout so it lasted about 25 minutes.  Then, I tuned into McLean's workout on Glo.  I've done it once before and this morning it was as tough as I remembered.  Ha!  Amazingly, I finally made it to yoga today - my first class with the summer instructor.  We did a lot of hip stretching so I'll probably be feeling that tomorrow!

Tuesday: Amy's Intervals + Cardio Intervals + weights

This morning, I felt the need to take it up a notch.  I'm really liking these workouts by Amy - they're tough but without a great dread factor.  You can switch up the moves as long as you keep going for the allotted amount of time.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec - for the first time in forever - as part of the summer wellness challenge.  It was....productive, I guess.  Ha!

Wednesday:  McLean's Kickbox Your Way to Fit + Ilyse's Easy to Follow Dance Moves + walk

Wow.  I can't remember ever doing McLean's kickboxing workout and it was tough!  How tough?  You're doing lung jumps 6 minutes into the workout.  Dang!  I got through most of that one and then switched over to Ilyse's workout to tone it down for a bit.  That one is always fun!  At lunch, I walked at the rec, today on a treadmill, which I usually avoid.  But it was a nice change.

Thursday:  Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped 1000!

This morning was tough: I felt icky and was still sore from weights on Tuesday.  I didn't allow myself to think, though, and just went through the motions to get into this workout.  The weights were not always easy nor was the cardio, in my icky state.  But I powered through it and was super glad I did.  When workout #2 ended, I did my own cardio/weights to finish out my 50 minutes.  There wasn't a lunch workout today but I walked to a cafe where I met a friend for lunch.  A relatively healthy lunch!

Friday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix

Before heading out of town this morning, I got this workout in - thank goodness!  I love this one!  It's so much fun, you don't even realize how hard your'e working!  

Saturday: rest

Sunday: Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit + Amy's Body Weight Training

After a lazy Saturday of eating way too much and hardly moving, I was dreading Cathe's workout.  Somehow I got through it, which made me extremely happy.  It runs 45 minutes so I wanted something else after it.  Amy's workout fit the bill - low impact but intense.  Wow!  It was a nice change. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Scrappy Cat!

This week has been another frustrating one at work - for both me and Mr. Higgins.  A three day weekend couldn't come at a better time.  

Every once in a while I run across a video - usually involving cats - that can make me smile under any circumstances, even at work. This is one of those videos.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sacred Hearts

For this month's read, my book group made a surprising choice (fiction!  historical fiction!): Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant.

It took me a while to get interested in this one, despite the setting and my interest in religion.  See my Goodreads review below:

We are introduced to St. Catherine's convent through the eyes of a reluctant novice. Dunant's storytelling keeps the reader intrigued with medieval Italy. The reader gets to experience religious life, contemporary healing techniques, a minor plague, the Counter-Reformation, and even, possibly, the miraculous. 

Especially interesting to me was the continuous presence of medieval medicinal/healing techniques, since the main character of the novel is the convent's dispensary mistress. Combined with the presence of the miraculous and political intrigue, the story of the reluctant novice is a highly interesting read.