Friday, December 30, 2016

Cats and Paper

Christmas morning was a delight for the cats in our home.  It was our first Christmas together, in our home, with our cats.  I think they were appreciative.

Sidious loves paper....and curly ribbon, so we had a ribbon ban this year.

And, as with every year prior, Dooku got a new toy from his grandparents.  Of course, it was given to both him and Sidious, but Sidious doesn't get as much love from the family because she focuses all her love on Mr. Higgins alone.  Ha!

 It was a good Christmas for all involved!

Monday, December 26, 2016

FitnessGlo Challenge #2: Week Eight

Okay, so things are getting pretty busy as we get closer to the holidays.  Work is also a nightmare so I'm just barely holding things together.  Sigh.

Let's hope I can get in all my workouts...

Monday: Petra's High Intensity Drills + Ilyse's Easy to Follow Dance Moves

As I started moving this morning, I realized I was really sore from Sunday's workout.  My bum and thighs were not happy!  Ha!  But those muscles got a good workout today...  Petra's Drills are not easy but I made it through in one piece.  Next up, Ilyse - so much fun.  I really enjoy her dance videos, this one included.  It was a nice finish to the morning!

Tuesday: Ilyse's Your Best, Sweaty Self + Dance Intervals 101

I wanted to work just a bit harder this morning, so I tuned into one of Ilyse's toughest workouts.  Dang!  You definitely get sweaty in this one, since you never once stop moving!  It was a relief to get to Intervals.....but you never stop moving in that one, either!  Wow!  I jumped, jogged, and jacked all morning long!

Wednesday: Denise's Endurance Challenge + Amy's Combo Strength Conditioning + walk

Today, I wanted to take it down just a notch.  I've had three days of very high intensity workouts so my feet needed a bit of a break.  I kept Denise's workout mostly low-impact and only jogged lightly in place when that came around.  This one is a lot like her Interval Sweat - very, very similar.  After that, I did about 10 minutes of Amy's weighted workout.  At lunch, I walked outside for about 20 minutes - and got a lot of steps!

Thursday: Michelle's Calorie Burning Cardio Blast + HIIT - Breathless and Energized + Scott's HIIT - Sports Inspired Intervals + walk

It was time to work hard today.  So, HIIT!  Yay!  Sigh.  I started with the lesser of Michelle's two evils.  Cardio Blast is fun and it definitely got my heart rate going.  Next up, her HIIT always gets me struggling for breath.  But talk about effective!  And last, Scott's Intervals are fun and not quite as intense, mainly because you get a longer rest period.  At lunch, I walked outside for 20 minutes.  

Friday: Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped! 1000 Hardcore

I'm off for the holidays, as of today.  Yay! I celebrated by working out for longer.  Ha!  I did all of Jari Love's video - which alternates weights and cardio.  It's definitely not an easy workout.  My arms and legs were dying with all the weighted compound exercises.  Dang.  And the cardio is not at all easy.  That lasted for an hour.  I then did the ab work and finally stretched.  Nice!

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster + Ilyse's Just Dance

Since I won't work out on Christmas Day, I wanted a good workout today.  So, a CIB it was!  This one is so much fun.  It's also very tough.  But I love it!   I did all the peaks and felt good afterward.  So, then I tuned into Ilyse's dance workout...  I love her fun dances.  This one was good to do after a CIB as it's a bit lighter.  That made for 70 minutes of cardio.  I then did some sit-ups and stretched.

Sunday: REST

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

After You

Last year, at this time, I finished Jojo Moyes' Me Before You.  It was purely coincidental that I took the sequel on the same CO trip this year as last.  After You was not as good as the original, but I still enjoyed it.

My Goodreads review:

While reading Me Before You, I really grew to like Louisa Clarke and her family.  This is her story of growth and transformation after Will Traynor's death.

Louisa is, understandably, not the happiest of souls in this novel: she's struggling with Will's death.  Her parents are struggling with feminism after her mother catches up with modernity and decides to abandon some of her wifely obligations.  This is the comic relief of the story.  

But the real story of After You occurs when Louisa meets Will's daughter, Lily.  Together, they help each other grow emotionally by dealing with their "issues."  I can't say that I enjoyed this book as much as the first, but Louisa's journey is one that I find intriguing and heartwarming.  

Monday, December 19, 2016

FitnessGlo Challenge #2: Week Seven

After going out of town and eating horribly, I need to get back on track this week.  There will be goodies in the office but I need to be good whenever possible.  

That means working out hard!

Monday: vacation

Tuesday: Amy's Metabolic Meltdown + Scott's Multi-Level Cardio Drills + walk

I wanted a slow progression of intensity this morning so this was a good combination.  I did all of Amy's workout which is a level 2.  Whenever possible, I upped the intensity without overdoing it.  Then, I switched over to Scott's Drills and managed some lunge jumps before it was done.  Yay!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center with a co-worker.  After that bout of cardio, I did some sit-ups.  

Wednesday: Amy's Intervals + Dozois' HIIT - Breathless and Energized

Today, I needed to step it up a notch.  So, I started with Amy's workout - which is not at all easy.  Eight 20-second intervals with 10 seconds of rest in between.  Whew!  Then, Michelle's HIIT which is extremely hard after another HIIT routine.  Dang!  I definitely felt like I got a great workout this morning.  And a good thing since it was my only workout today.

Thursday: Cathe's Intensity + walk

Cardio, cardio, cardio.  That's my mantra this week.  Cathe's workout is so good if you want to move and keep on moving!  I did the step routine and then the Lo-HIIT, which I made as high-impact as possible.  My head was pounding this morning so this was tough to get through - but I did it!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center again - and again with a co-worker, which makes the time pass so quickly!  Awesome!

Friday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix

I knew this CIB would not get done tomorrow so I did most of it today.  And it is tough at 5:30am.  Whew!  I was able to get through most of it - peaks and all - before I had to quit, 15 minutes before it was over.  But it's such a good workout!  I love this one!

Saturday: REST

Cookie baking day with my mom.

Sunday: Peak 10 More Cardio Strength

I got home at 9:30 from my parents' house and worked out shortly thereafter.  This CS is so's a struggle to get through.  And I had to modify bits of the last circuit...  My energy was lagging and I felt gross.  But I got through it.  I then did the last 15 minutes of CIB Remix from Friday....and then 10 more additional minutes of cardio, for a total of 75 minutes.  I was exhausted.  I managed 5 minutes with the 12-pound weights and then ab work.....and then a stretch.  Sigh.  

Calorie Counts:

Bad.  I had a few good days but all the holiday treats are just too tempting.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Estes Park in Winter

We're back from a long weekend in Estes Park, Colorado.  It's one of our favorite places along with the neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park.  

We got one good day of snow over the weekend so we decided to drive into the park and see what was going on at a higher elevation.  

This is what we encountered at Bear Lake.  The snow was blowing like crazy and the lake was iced over.  How incredible is that!  We somehow managed the hike around the lake, though the snow came up to our knees in spots.  

But the cold hike was worth it, for perfect pictures like this.  It was truly gorgeous, all around the lake.  And we didn't encounter any souls as crazy as we were, which was really nice.

It was our very own winter wonderland!

Monday, December 12, 2016

FitnessGlo Challenge #2: Week Six

It's that time of year.  There's food everywhere!  I'm not going crazy, by any means, but I'm eating worse than usual.  

So, as always, that makes me super motivated to work out.

Monday: Ilyse's Dance Intervals 101 + Groovy Dance Party + walk

Cardio time!  I love Ilyse's Dance Intervals - it gets you going hard and fast.  You jump, jog, and jack for quite a while before you get a break.  And then you keep coming back to it with intervals.  Whew!  After that fun, I did another favorite, Groovy Dance, which I always make as high-impact as possible.  At lunch, I walked the track at the rec center, wanting to burn as many calories as possible.  For some reason, at the end of the day, my bum was aching.  What did Ilyse do to me?!

Tuesday: Amy's Cardio Intervals + Sports Sculpt

Amy got me going this morning with Intervals.  This workout is tough because the intervals are 30, 60, and 90 seconds long.  90 seconds is always longer than you think.  Dang!  After that, Sports Sculpt was a bit lighter but I kept going hard.  There was no lunch-time workout but I went to hear our nutritionist talk, which meant a long across-campus walk.  Then, I had to walk to the other end of campus (literally) for a meeting. So, lots of steps!

Wednesday: Shape's Bikini Body Camp Transforming + Scott's HIIT - Sports Inspired Intervals

I was ready to work hard this morning after a semi-bad dinner last night.  First up, Michelle's cardio from Shape's Transforming workout.  I love this one - it works you hard without killing you - burpees and lunge jumps included.  Dang!  After that, I finished up my morning with Scott's HIIT - always a good choice.  No lunchtime workout but more walking around campus, so that was something.

Thursday:  Ilyse's Your Best, Sweaty Self + Denise's Interval Sweat + walk

This morning started out okay but I soon started feeling very bad. I got through these workouts but it was not easy.  I like Ilyse's workout but it's definitely one of her most intense videos.  Dang.  I skipped the tuck jumps because I felt so bad, I couldn't physically do that.  Instead, I did high knees.  After that fun, I did Denise's workout, which at least alternates all the high impact with some squats.  At lunch, I walked outside in the blistery cold wind.  Fun.

Friday - Sunday: weekend getaway

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Quick Getaway

Soon, we're off to one of our favorite places for a quick getaway with friends.  I can't wait.  Yes, there will be bad eating but it's worth it.  January comes, every year, for a reason.  Ha! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

FitnessGlo Challenge #2: Week Five

It was nice having two days off from workouts at Thanksgiving.  I didn't really want to do that but, oh well.  My body got a break.  

Now I'm motivated to work hard whenever I can.  There's always so much going on during the holiday season but we must take time for ourselves to stay healthy and happy.  And, amazingly, I'm always happier when I'm eating right and working out consistently.

Monday:  Amy's Intervals + Kickboxing Skills and Drills

After a horrible night of little sleep, I was very uncertain about these Intervals.  I made a few of them a little....less intense....but managed to get through all of Amy's workout.  The treat, afterward, was tuning into her kickboxing workout.  At its start, there's a lot of cardio and jumping so at least I felt like my hard work continued.  So, a very good morning, despite a sleepless night.

Tuesday: Scott's Boot Camp Burn

This morning, I felt so much better after a good 8 hours of sleep.  It's amazing how much better one can feel!  So I was ready to do weights this morning!   My feet have been protesting all the high intensity, though, so I decided to keep this one low-impact today.  I walked for a while at lunch, but just outside and only for about 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday: Ilyse's Work Hard, Have a Great Time + Dozois' Calorie Burning Cardio Blast + walk

I wasn't looking forward to Ilyse's workout....but thankfully it wasn't as bad as I remembered.   My least favorite move: jumping knee touches.  I don't know why, I just hate those.  After that workout, I tuned into Michelle's quick Blast - always fun and super effective!  I felt well worked after all this.  Ha!  At lunch, I took a 20 minute walk outside, enjoying the crisp (finally!) air.  

Thursday: Cathe's Intensity + weights

Today, I wanted cardio.  Cathe seemed like a good idea and she definitely got me going this morning!  Whew!  After the step section, I did the Low HIIT but made it as high-impact as possible.  And it was a good workout, for sure!  At lunch, I went to the rec to do weights, despite a better invitation involving food.  Ha!  Talk about resolve!  And I felt better - if not full - afterward.

Friday: Crunch's Fat Burning Pilates

My only light day for the next three weeks.  I better enjoy this one - and I did!  Ellen Barrett is so much fun and I love this workout.  You will plie yourself to death - but that's a good thing!  I skipped a bit of the standing section to be sure to do all the ab work.  It was a nice, productive morning!

Saturday: Cardio Strength 2 on Glo + Ilyse's Fun and Easy Cardio Dance + weights

I was not looking forward to this CS - but I really wanted to work hard.  So I suffered through it.  Why is it so hard?  There's a lot of tough floor work.  Sigh.  Despite feeling fat and eating too much, I think my fitness level is still up there.  So, yay!  After that 50 minute workout, I tuned into a new-to-me workout by Ilyse - Cardio Dance.  And it was fun and easy!  So, 20 minutes of that followed by five minutes with the 12-pound weights.  Then, finally, a stretch!

Sunday: Cardio Interval Burn on Glo + Amy's Total Package

Lots of cardio today!  CIB was first up.  This Glo CIB gets progressively tougher so there's no point at which you feel better.  Ha!  But it's good - and effective.  After that 55 minutes (ouch!), I tuned into Amy's unique workout just to take it down a notch (my feet were hurting).  Amy works you hard without killing you - nice!  After twenty minutes of that, I did a nice stretch and ab work.

Calorie Counts:


Friday, December 2, 2016

Cat + Tree = Love

Dooku is ready for Christmas.   

Every year, the darned cat eats the tree bristles on the first day the tree is up.  And every year the darned cat throws up bristles two to three times.  And then he seems to learn.  And remembers that he enjoys his spot under the tree.

Cats are hilarious.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Redbird Christmas

My book group chose another Fannie Flagg novel to end out the year, which is typically, for them, a Christmas book.  This is the first time I've chosen to read the Christmas selection and I did so only because of Flagg.  I've learned that I really enjoy her Southern novels.  

My review, posted to Goodreads, of A Redbird Christmas:

My book group chose this Fannie Flagg book for a nice Christmas read. This was my third novel by Flagg and I was once again charmed by the southern warmth of her characters and their stories. My only gripe with this novel is how quickly it ended. There was a Christmas miracle, of sorts, and then everything is tidily wrapped up in two pages. If only life came together so easily. Ha! If you're looking for a heartwarming Christmas novel, this is a lovely story.

Monday, November 28, 2016

FitnessGlo Challenge #2: Week Four

Wow!  I'm almost a month into this Challenge!  That's crazy!  And it's even crazier to think that Christmas is even that much closer.  Eek!

I'm excited that it's Thanksgiving week.  My eating will be horrible but that's fine. You gotta live life sometime.

Monday:  Scott's Multi-Level Cardio Drills + Multi-Level Sports Drills + weights

This morning, after a tough weekend of workouts, I wanted something not quite as intense.  These two workouts are level 2 - so not as jumpy or crazy insane.  I still got a great workout but just didn't kill myself.  Ha!  I must remember that I really don't enjoy the Sports Drills - it's too, too easy.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center - which was crazy busy.  Dang!

Tuesday:  Ilyse's Full-On Cardio Blast + Denise's Interval Sweat

I wanted to work hard today...and Ilyse almost killed me.  Holy cow!  I always forget how intense this Blast is....but dang!  I got through it - forcing myself to breathe when I didn't think it was possible.  I finished off the morning with Denise's cardio - also intense but with good low-intensity breaks (aka squats and lunges).  Talk about a great morning of Glo!

Wednesday:  Michelle's Calorie Burning Cardio Blast + HIIT - Breathless and Energized + Scott's HIIT - Sports Inspired Intervals + Ilyse's Heart-Pumping Groove

So to kick my own butt this morning, I decided to put all these short HIIT workouts together to make one long HIIT workout.  Okay, ouch!  I was exhausted after the first one and huffing and puffing after the second one.... Thankfully, I saved Scott's for last because his is the most doable.  But, dang!  When I want to work hard, this will do it!  After a short work day, I did 30 minutes of cardio, in the form of Ilyse's low-impact Groove.  I love that one!  This will have to tide me over for two days with no real workout.

Thursday: REST

Friday: REST

Saturday: Scott's Sports-Inspired Drills + Bring It On

It was a miracle that I got a workout in today.  Ugh.  I did both of Scott's workouts.  The first was pure cardio drills - and very typical of Scott's style.  The next had cardio and weight drills, which alternated.  I added on a few extra minutes at the end to get in a full hour of work.  Then, a nice stretch.  I was almost immediately sore.  Ouch.

Sunday:  Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit + McLean's Cardio Hip Hop

And I was still sore this morning.  Wow.  I had to force myself to do Cathe's workout...telling myself that I really needed to burn mega calories.  I got through this one, with no short-cuts. Awesome!  Then, McLean's fun dance routine, which I always try to make as high impact as possible.  So, a total of 70 minutes of cardio.  Ab work and a stretch to finish my morning.

Calorie Counts:


Friday, November 25, 2016

A Homemade Life

When I visited my friend, SKP, a few months ago, she pointed out a cookbook/memoir that she thought I'd enjoy.  After showing it to me, I went home and bought it online.  

This is my review of A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, posted on Goodreads:

I decided to read this book after a friend showed me the recipe for the author's wedding cake. Molly Wizenberg apparently loves chocolate as much as I do, therefore this was a book I needed to read. 

Wizenberg's memoir recounts stories throughout her life, which almost always involve, in one or another, her love of food. Her bond with her father was solidified through food; she met her husband because of a food blog. And so every chapter of her book closes with a recipe. 

Most of her recipes are fancy, rather than homestyle, if that makes sense. I'm more of a homestyle girl myself, but almost every recipe sounded delicious. Indeed, one of Wizenberg's strengths is her ability to describe taste and texture. And so I'm tempted to try every recipe in this book....starting with the chocolate cake.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pumpkin Bread

I love Pumpkin Bread.  It was never a staple in our house, because my dad doesn't love it, so it was always a treat when my mom decided to make it.  Her recipe, I'm pretty sure, is Betty Crocker's and contains shortening.  It's delicious.  I love it.  But shortening grosses me out.   

So for years, I've wanted to find a recipe that used butter or oil instead of shortening.  Last week, I compared about three recipes to my mom's Pumpkin Bread and decided to make the one that appeared the most similar, outside of the shortening.  

This Ultimate Pumpkin Bread won the comparison contest so I got to work baking.  I love whipping up butter and sugar.  I mean, really.  After a few minutes, seeing how fluffy it gets....  It's magic!  Ha!  The only thing I changed in this recipe was to use half Splenda for the sugar.

And it turned out great.  Practically as good as my mom's.  I say 'practically' because hers will always be the best.  But this one is very comparable and everyone loved it, me included.  A keeper, for sure!

Monday, November 21, 2016

FitnessGlo Challenge #2: Week Three

After another bad weekend of eating - and with Thanksgiving around the corner - I've not lost a bit of motivation to keep working hard.  Ha!

Overall, I'm enjoying this Challenge so far.  It's nice to change things up with different workouts.  

Monday: Ilyse's Work Hard, Have a Great Time + Dance Intervals 101 + Sweaty, Sassy, and Strong

I had extra time this morning so I went into this workout hoping to do enough to make up for not walking at lunch.  So, I did 50 minutes of hardcore cardio with Work Hard and Dance Intervals.  Whew!  Those two are definitely tough and contain a bunch of jumping.  Then, I slowed down a bit with Sweaty, Sassy - keeping these 15 minutes low-impact.  It was a nice workout, all in all.  Then, a stretch and sit-ups.

Tuesday: Denise's Super Cardio + Total Body Strengthening

Time for weights today!  I didn't really remember Denise's workouts so it was all a surprise this morning!  Super Cardio is half cardio, half strength. I kept all the cardio low-impact which was lovely this morning.  My body thanked me!  Ha!  Then, Total Body was all strength work - with weights and without.  I was definitely working hard - Denise is no slacker with the weights!

Wednesday:  Amy's Intervals + Scott's Multi-Level Cardio Drills + walk

Okay, I needed to work hard today because my eating was not going to be good.  So, HIIT with Amy - ouch!  And then HIIT with Scott.....  Sigh.  These really got me this morning, especially Amy's workout.  There's just hardly any rest between her circuits.  At lunch, I took a 20 minute walk outside because the weather was beautiful - well, too warm for November but still nice.  

Thursday: Ilyse's Ultimate Dance Extravaganza + Dozois' HIIT - Breathless and Energized + weights

I wanted something different today so I tuned into Ilyse's dance workout, which I haven't done in years.  It was fun and different than her other dance workouts - more dance-y, if that makes any sense.  Then, I ended my morning with Michelle's HIIT - always tough and effective.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center.   Always glad to get that done!

Friday: Crunch Super Slim Down: Pilates Yoga Blend

Today I wanted relaxing and this old Crunch video was perfect.  Ellen Barrett leads you through some yoga sequences to start and then you do some pilates and core work.  I made sure to do all the core - ow!  It was a very nice way to start a Friday!

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix + Denise's Continuous Strength

Time to really work today.  I did one of my favorites, CIB Remix, and had a lot of fun - outside of the peaks.  Ha!  This one always makes me work hard but it also makes me happy.  After that 55 minutes, I did 10 minutes of Denise's strength workout before my arms were screaming and I stopped.  Ouch!  I did a nice stretch and ab work.

Sunday: Cathe's Intensity + Ilyse's Groovy Dance Party

Much cardio was needed today.  Cathe's workout was really good.  I did it all - the step, the HIIT and the Low HIIT.  What a workout!  After that finished (50 minutes later), I did 20 minutes of Ilyse's dance workout.  This one is a lot of fun and easy to make more intense when you want to work harder.  And today I did!  So, 70 minutes of cardio and then, finally, a stretch and planks.

Calorie Counts:

I did pretty good this week - and the weekend.  Wednesday was really bad but the rest was pretty good, under 1200 calories.  Yay!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Scalloped Potatoes

Last year, at Thanksgiving, when we sat down to eat our big meal, my dad asked where the potatoes were. My mom and I - the cooks - were perplexed.  We had never served potatoes at Thanksgiving.  Mashed potatoes and roast are a Sunday staple in the house where I grew up - therefore potatoes were not special enough for Thanksgiving.  

Fast forward to our latest cruise when I ate way too many potato dishes - potato salad, mashed potatoes, potatoes au gratin, potato wedges, french fries, hash browns, diced breakfast potatoes.....  And out of all of those, I loved the potatoes au gratin.  Don't get me wrong, they were all delicious, but the potatoes au gratin were so creamy yet firm.....oh, my.  So, so good!  

And so for this Thanksgiving meal, I decided to find something similar for our big feast.  We would not serve mashed potatoes but something different.  After searching my favorite food blogs, and discounting most au gratin recipes as just too fattening, I settled upon Skinnytaste's Skinny Scalloped Potato Gratin.  (Just a side note...  During the holidays, I don't count calories.  So I should have found an au gratin recipe but.....  Well, I settled upon this one and I liked it.)

I didn't measure my potatoes and meant to halve the recipe....but I had a bit more than half of the amount of potatoes.  So I may not have had quite as much liquid as I should have had.  But I followed the recipe, otherwise, and these turned out great.  They're not as creamy as on the cruise ship but they're potatoes.  With butter and cheese.  And you can't really go wrong with that.  

Mr. Higgins approved so I'll make these at Thanksgiving....  And hope my dad is satisfied.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

FitnessGlo Challenge #2: Week Two

After eating horribly last weekend, I'm motivated to work hard.  

Monday: Denise's Interval Sweat + Dozois' Work It

Thanks to the time change, I felt almost rested this morning, despite sleeping horribly all weekend.  I wasn't looking forward to Denise's workout because I remembered not liking it during the last Challenge.  But it was straightforward enough to be a blessing this morning- and I enjoyed it.  After that, I tuned into Dozois' light workout, which I tried to make harder by increasing what I could to high-impact moves.

Tuesday: Petra's High Intensity Drills + Amy's Metabolic Meltdown + weights

I can't really say I was looking forward to Petra's workout, but at least I knew what I was getting into, since I did this one last week.  Ugh.  After that fun, I tuned into Amy's workout which has both high and low impact circuits.  I made them high when I could, wanting the added benefit.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center.....and had to walk in the rain to do so.  So, yay!

Wednesday:  Dozois' Conditioning for Long Lean Muscles

This workout is a lot of fun - basically another BodyFit 360.  Since I wasn't feeling great today, I did my Friday workout on Wednesday!  And I only did about 35 minutes of it.  But I love this one!

Thursday: Scott's Boot Camp Burn + walk

Weights today!  I couldn't really remember Scott's Boot Camp but it was good.  I kept the cardio drills low impact to have a lighter day....but I still got a great workout.  Scott isn't my favorite but I like his no fuss attitude.  At lunch, I walked the block around campus, which takes about 20-25 minutes.  And it was so nice outside! 

Friday: Shape's Bikini Body Camp Transforming + Dozois' Calorie Burning Cardio Blast + Ilyse's Sweaty and Sassy Dance Fit + Amy's Core Power

Today was a good workout day!   I started it off with Michelle's cardio on the Bikini video - so good!!  Then, I did her HIIT on Glo, which is really, really good and effective when time is an issue.  In the evening, I tuned into Ilyse's fun dance workout for some low-impact work since I couldn't walk at the rec today.  I don't like this dance as much as some of the others but it was different.  And to end the day - Amy's core workout.  Ouch!

Saturday: Cardio Interval Burn on Glo + Amy's All Around Energy

I was ready to work this morning and this CIB was good!  And tough!  I always think that                     it's not too tough...and then it sneaks up on me.  Whew!  It felt good to work hard, though.  After that 55 minutes, I tuned into Amy's toning/cardio workout, which I really, really like.  After 20 minutes of that, I was done.  Then, after sit-ups, I stretched.  Lovely!

Sunday:  Peak 10 More Cardio Strength + McLean's Cardio Hip Hop 

This CS is never one I look forward to.  I have no idea why, but it's just so tough.  Maybe it's because you go to the floor in every circuit except one.  Sigh.  Thankfully, I didn't mind the hard work today but it was not easy.  After that, I did 15 minutes of McLean's fun dance workout.  Then, five minutes with the 12-pound weights followed by a stretch and ab work.  A good day!

Calorie Counts:

I had three good days this week but then I had an all-day conference...and the weekend....  Sigh.  It's frustrating.  However, I was able to get into a pair of my skinny jeans this week...and a blazer that was too tight a year ago.  That makes me extremely happy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Drawing in the Dust

The second book I read while on vacation was really good: Zoe Klein's Drawing in the Dust. If you have any interest in the Bible and archaeology, you would likely find this entertaining (though not academic).

My Goodreads review:

I had to give Klein 5 stars, just for creativity. To write another book of the Bible…. Wow. 

I thought this novel, as a whole, was a lovely story of both archeological discovery and self-discovery. Page matures a lot, professionally and emotionally, as this novel progresses and it's nice to see a protagonist that is not perfect (though she apparently is physically - ha!). 

The archeology of this book was fascinating and made me yearn for a map of the Holy Land to have on hand. The history, the religion, the anthropology… Very interesting!

Monday, November 7, 2016

FitnessGlo Challenge #2: Week One

So I've decided to do another FitnessGlo Challenge.  I debated between that, Les Mills, or Cathe (who now has streaming videos)...  But for now, I'm going to do Glo again.  In the new year, I'll do the other two.  

This time around, I need to make this Challenge more difficult.  It needs to progress - start a bit easier but get harder and harder.  Last time, while following their Advanced Program, I wasn't always challenged.  That needs to change.

So here we go!

Monday: Dozois' Burn Calories, Release Stress + Ilyse's Heart-Pumping Groove + walk

After four days of very high-impact workouts, I needed to back off just a bit today.  Thankfully, I had these two workouts scheduled for this week so I pushed them to Monday.  Michelle's workout is definitely low-impact and Ilyse's is just fun.  With hers, I had to be careful not to jump.  At lunch, I walked at the rec center with a co-worker.  It's much easier when you have accountability!

Tuesday: Amy's Cardio Combo + Conditioning Drills for Results

It was time for weights today so I tuned into Amy's workout....which I didn't remember from the last Challenge.  It was good - but low-impact so I made it high-impact.  Ha!  I didn't get too far into the second video before my stomach started getting very unhappy.  So, I had to cut this morning's workout short by about 5 minutes.  Ugh.

Wednesday: Petra's High Intensity Drills + Ilyse's Just Dance

My stomach was a bit better this morning - or so I thought.  I tuned into Petra's interval workout......and I can't say that I enjoy this one, but it is effective.  I was huffing and puffing very quickly.  After that workout, I finished off my morning fun with Ilyse, whose dance always makes me smile.  And stomach got very unhappy.  Sigh.  No lunch workout but I walked around campus a lot!

Thursday: Shape's Bikini Body Camp Transforming + Scott's HIIT - Sports Inspired Intervals + weights

Time to work hard today....and thankfully my stomach had no objections.  Yay!  I started off with Michelle's cardio on the Bikini DVD.  Such a good mini-Peak workout!  Then, with my remaining 15 minutes, I did Scott's HIIT - a challenge but not too, too hard.  At lunch, it was a struggle to go do weights on this rainy day, but I did!  I was able to keep my same weights...I just couldn't do as many reps after missing a week.  But I'm so glad I went!

Friday:  Bob Harper's Yoga for the Warrior + walk

I wanted super light today - after seven straight days of cardio - so I chose yoga for my Friday workout!  Bob does a good workout - and he forces in some push-ups which really got me, for some reason.  But it was a nice, light morning.  At lunch, I walked outside for 20 minutes.  

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix + cardio

Knowing my eating would be horrible today, I decided to do Peak 10.  I love this workout - it's so much fun!  The peaks are difficult but at least the rest is mostly enjoyable.  After the video ended, I did 15 minutes of my own cardio to work a bit longer.  Then, a nice stretch followed by some ab work.

Sunday: Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit + Amy's Sports Sculpt + weights

I was not looking forward to Cathe's workout...but I did it anyway, knowing I needed a hard workout.  It's tough, all the jumping, but I got through it with a lot of sweat.  After that 45 minutes, I tuned into Amy's workout which lasted an additional 20 minutes.  Then, I did some weights for about 5 minutes, using the 12-pound weights.  Whew!  My stretch afterward was very nice (the sit-ups, not so much).

Calorie Counts:

Ugh.  So the weekend was horrible for eating.  Horrible!  Any weight I'd lost since vacation got put right back on, I think.   The week wasn't too bad; I had some good days.  But.....ugh.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Butternut Squash Soup

Lately, I haven't met many soups I didn't like.  And my soup horizons have broadened a lot, thanks to a co-worker's love of it.  Last year, I made my first Carrot Soup - a big step for Mr. Higgins and we both loved it.

For my next soup adventure, I thought Butternut Squash seemed a good choice.  I actually don't love squash, except for a bit of zucchini now and then, but when I saw this recipe, I thought I could like it.

I followed the directions exactly - a rarity for me.  Ha!  My only substitution was dried sage instead of fresh.

And....I didn't love it.  Maybe it needed more spices for me, I don't know.  Mr. Higgins (a squash lover) really enjoyed it.  I froze the leftovers so maybe I'll take one up, spice it up, and try it again.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Paris Letters

Vacation was so nice and relaxing.  I read two books in that week - just lovely!  One of the two, I'd recently bought on a whim: Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod.

My Goodreads review:

Who doesn't dream of leaving their mediocre life for one of fun and adventures? Janice tells a story of how she did just that. It was not an easy process, which is refreshing to see. It's also nice to see just how she accomplished such a task….and kept on accomplishing it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I wish I'd known about her letters: I would have subscribed!

Once home from vacation, I ordered one of Janice's Paris letters - an archived one - to frame for my office.  It's nice to dream of leaving behind the real world.....

Monday, October 31, 2016

Vacation Weeks Workouts

Y'all know I do not work out on vacation....unless I'm hiking in a beautiful place.  I jump, hop, and burpee enough the rest of the year; vacation is all about relaxation for the mind and body.  

Our vacation this month is from a Wednesday to the following Wednesday, which means two work weeks of two days.  Wow!  That's nice!  

Monday: Ilyse's Your Best, Sweaty Self + Dozois' HIIT - Breathless and Energized

Now that Peak 10 is over with, I feel a bit bereft.  Thankfully, Ilyse's workout kept me working hard this morning.  Whew!  Tucks jumps AND air jacks, oh my!  After that finished up, I did Michelle's HIIT workout, which is just fantastic.  I like her HIIT circuits, which combine two moves, generally, instead of just one, done over and over.

Tuesday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix + weights

I was missing Pure Cardio this morning so I did something different - this CIB without the peaks...which means it's just like Pure Cardio!  Cool!  And I just love this CIB - the dance moves are so much fun.  At lunch, I forced myself to do weights and was proud of getting to the rec.  Yay!  My last workout before vacation!

VACATION(!) for a week

Thursday: Dozois' Rockin Body Cardio

Back from vacation... I did my traditional first-workout-after-vacation: Michelle's old but good Rockin Body Cardio.  It's fun and gets you moving without killing you. Ha!   It's a good way to ease back into the workout regime.

Friday: Ilyse's Dance Intervals 101 + Groovy Dance Party + walk

I needed more cardio - tons more! - so I tuned into two of my favorite workouts from Ilyse.  Dance Intervals is non-stop jumping for the first 7 minutes (after the warm-up) - talk about a challenge.  After that workout, I did her Groovy Dance - so much fun.  At lunch, I walked for 20 minutes outside.  

Saturday: Ilyse's Your Best, Sweaty Self + Full-On Cardio Blast + Amy's Cardio Intervals + Core!

Today, I wanted to work long and hard.  I opted out of a Peak 10 workout, wanting more of a break from it after the Challenge.  So I pieced together my own cardio workout with two videos from Ilyse and one of Amy's - for a total of 75 minutes of jumping and jogging.  Whew!  I'll not lie - my feet were aching.  So I did Amy's Core! workout - effective and not too daunting.  Then, a nice stretch. 

Sunday: Cathe's Intensity + Amy's Total Body Sculpting

After yesterday's cardio fest, I was afraid my feet would really protest today.  And they did a bit, but I was able to get through Cathe's workout - all the cardio plus some of my own for a total of 60 minutes.  Yay!  I then did some weights with Amy - 15 minutes (out of 20).  It felt so good to stretch after all that!

Calories Counts:

Thursday: 1358
Friday: 1191
Saturday: 1177
Sunday: 1322

Vacation was great - and as usual, we ate and drank way too much.  But that's what vacation is for!  So it's back to being strict until next weekend, when we'll have company to celebrate my belated birthday.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


We've been on vacation for a week and though I planned on getting my blog posts in order before I left....that obviously didn't happen.  

So, here's a picture!  And I'll have more posts soon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Maisie Dobbs

I just finished a novel, chosen by my book group last month (I'm a bit behind), called Maisie Dobbs.  Jacqueline Winspear has created a character, and a series, that is surprisingly, very moving.  

My review:

I'd long heard Winspear's series, Maisie Dobbs, but, for some reason, didn't feel the need to read it.  After watching Downton Abbey, it seemed to be in that very similar vein and, unlike every female I know, I don't have an immediate love of everything British.  Quite the contrary.  

And so I expected a rather emotionless novel based on a character born of privilege.  I was wrong on one account - Maisie comes from the lower classes and is able to get a good education only because she happens to gain the attention of wealthy benefactors.  And then World War I happens, whereupon Maisie goes to nurse wounded soldiers in France.  After the war, she becomes a private investigator, using the skills she learned earlier in life from her mentor.  

Maisie makes a good private investigator - she's very analytical. She's not completely emotionless but her emotions are frequently unknown to the reader.  I really enjoyed her story, though, especially of how she nursed in the war and fell in love for the first time.  

I'm tempted to read more, though mysteries are never really my favorite.  Maisie's story, however, may keep me interested.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week Eight: Peak 10 Challenge #6

My last full week before vacation!  Also, my last week of this Peak 10 Challenge!  Wow!

This Challenge has flown by, like so many others.  Where does the time go?!  It's definitely a challenge and after 4 weeks of doing that additional Cardio Strength workout, mid-week, my body is tired.  It needs a vacation!

Monday: PeakFit Pure Cardio + walk

Mondays are always difficult but at least I had Michelle to look forward to.  This workout is so much fun!  I did it backwards again this week, in order to do the lunge jumps and get them over with quickly.  I like doing it this way!  At lunch, I took a walk outside - between 20 and 25 minutes - because it was just so lovely!

Tuesday: Peak 10 Cardio Strength

Mr. Higgins had to get to work early so I woke up, 30 minutes early, with him.  And had tons of time to work out!  I slept badly so I wasn't as enthused as I was the night before about doing this CS....but I did it.  I even added five minutes of cardio to it, before and after, to warm-up and cool down.  Nice!  This one is tough, especially in the morning, so I was proud of myself for getting through it!

Wednesday: PeakFit Anytime Anywhere

I felt better this morning after getting more sleep last night.  But dang!  I sweated so much during this workout!!  But I love, LOVE, at the end of these Challenges, seeing how much easier it is to get through this workout.  It's always so difficult in the beginning but at the end, though it's still difficult, it doesn't kill me anymore.  Awesome!!  

Thursday: Michelle's Total Body Cardio and Strength + weights

This morning, I was ready to have a day of no jumping.  And I didn't!  Well, kinda with some burpees and squat jumps....but at least no real high-impact cardio.   I kept this cardio light and still got a great workout, as usual.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center.  Whew!  I really worked up a sweat.  I walked a few laps, to get more steps, and then had a nice stretch.

Friday: Jillian Michaels' Six Week Six-Pack + Ilyse's Lengthening Stretch to Feel Good

So I decided to do some serious core work this morning.  I got through the Level 1 workout - well, most of it in the 30 minutes I chose to dedicate to it.  Ha!  Jillian definitely works your abs like crazy!  Someday I need to do the Level 2 workout again.  Sigh.  After that, I did Ilyse's stretching video - not great, but okay.

Saturday: Dozois' Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster + Amy's Body Weight Training

I was ready to work hard today - feeling gross and bloated - so this CIB was just the right thing.  I love it!  It works you hard but you have fun, too!  And the peaks don't kill you - well most of them don't.  After that 55 minutes, I tuned into Amy's workout for an additional 20 minutes of work.  Whew!  I did all the hard stuff, though I didn't want to.  It felt good!  

Sunday: Dozois' Peak 10 Cardio Strength - Fat Blaster + McLean's Bodyweight Assault Challenge

This morning, I was a bit headache-y.  Ugh.  But I had to get through this CS….which is, at least, a bit more fun than the others.  The last circuit, though, is the toughest.  Yikes!  After that 50 minutes, I did 15 of McLean's workout, skipping some of the floor work for cardio instead.  After all that, I was tired.  But I did 5 minutes with the 12-pounds weights and then stretched and did sit-ups. 

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1179
Tuesday - BAD
Wednesday - 1198
Thursday - 1179
Friday - 1139
Saturday - 1382
Sunday - 1159

I tried to eat well this week but Tuesday was my splurge day - out to eat with a friend to celebrate our birthdays.  We got cake.  Oy.  But then I was good, resisting every tempting thing put in front of me at work.  

Friday, October 14, 2016

Ranking Peak 10 Workouts

As I was typing out my workouts one day, I thought it'd be cool to rank the Peak 10 Cardio Strength and Cardio Interval Burn workouts.  I often say, "I love this one" or "that one kills me every time"....  So why not put them in order.  

First, which ones are harder?  And then, which ones are more fun than others?  

Cardio Strength workouts - Ranked in order of toughness

1.  Peak 10 More Cardio Strength - the floorwork is just so tough.
2.  Cardio Strength 2 on FitnessGlo - again, the floorwork is killer.
3.  Peak 10 Cardio Strength aka PeakFit Cardio Strength - super tough plus challenging Peaks.
4.  PeakFit Cardio Strength 2 - challenging cardio and Peaks.
5.  Peak 10 Cardio Strength Remix - more challenging choreography.
6.  Cardio Strength 1 on FitnessGlo - tough but at leas the Peaks aren't as bad.
7.  Peak 10 Cardio Strength - Fat Blaster - complicated choreography but easier Peaks.

Cardio Interval Burn workouts - Ranked in order of toughness

1.  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster - the choreography takes a long time to master and the ascents typically involve jumping.
2.  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix - some jumping in the ascents and tough Peaks.
3.  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn aka PeakFit Cardio Interval Burn - the original has some of the toughest Peaks.
4.  Cardio Interval Burn on Fitness Glo - tough ascents, climbs, and Peaks.
5.  Peak 10 More Cardio Interval Burn - tough but at least the Peaks don't seem as hard.

Cardio Strength workouts - Ranked in order of fun factor

1.  Peak 10 Cardio Strength - Fat Blaster - once you get the hang of the more complicated choreography, it's a lot of fun!
2.  Peak 10 Cardio Strength Remix - this one flows very nicely.
3.  Cardio Strength 1 on FitnessGlo - being a live recording, it's fun to hear Michelle and the ladies.
4.  PeakFit Cardio Strength 2 - fun cardio!
5.  Peak 10 Cardio Strength aka PeakFit Cardio Strength - eh.
6.  Peak 10 More Cardio Strength - oy.
7.  Cardio Strength 2 on FitnessGlo - do not want.

Cardio Interval Burn workouts - Ranked in order of fun factor

1.  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix - love this one - fun, fun, fun
2.  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster - after you get the choreography down, also, fun, fun, fun.
3.  Peak 10 More Cardio Interval Burn - good kickboxing sequences in this one.
4.  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn aka PeakFit Cardio Interval Burn - easy and fun cardio.  
5.  Cardio Interval Burn on Fitness Glo - not bad but a bit clunky compared to the others.

There's not a bad workout among these.  My least favorite overall is the 2nd Cardio Strength on Glo.  I just don't like it.  But even that one has its moments.