4/30/11

Overnight Honey Granola

1/2 C canola oil
2/3 C honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 C rolled oats, (for best results, combine quick cooking and old-fashioned)
1 C sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, vanilla and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, combine the oats and sliced almonds.  Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture.  Stir until evenly coated.
Spread mixture evenly in a thin single layer on 2 ungreased baking sheets.
Bake in the oven for 10 mins.  Turn off the oven and leave the granola in the oven overnight.
In the morning, remove the granola and store in air tight container.

My family LOVES this granola.  I make it every week.  We eat is as a cereal, over yogurt and sometimes just dry.  It is fresh and has no preservatives.  Enjoy!

Overnight Honey Granola

There have been many requests for this recipe so I am going to repost this granola recipe. Enjoy! Let me know what you think.




1/2 C canola oil
2/3 C honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 C rolled oats, (for best results, combine quick cooking and old-fashioned)
1 C sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, vanilla and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, combine the oats and sliced almonds.  Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture.  Stir until evenly coated.
Spread mixture evenly in a thin single layer on 2 ungreased baking sheets.
Bake in the oven for 10 mins.  Turn off the oven and leave the granola in the oven overnight.
In the morning, remove the granola and store in air tight container.

My family LOVES this granola.  I make it every week.  We eat is as a cereal, over yogurt and sometimes just dry.  It is fresh and has no preservatives.  Enjoy!

Random Thoughts on Workout Gear

A few random thoughts on exercise clothing. First, good socks are a MUST. One sock does not fit all. I have several types of athletic socks and have learned they are not all the same. I have two types that I have found are perfect for my feet and my types of exercise. I have another type that rub my foot wrong throughout my entire class which means by the end of class, the side of my foot is raw and I'm very uncomfortable. Make sure you find a sock that feels good and buy lots of them.

My second thought is on the removable pads in workout shirts and sports bras. At first I thought this was a really great idea. But after many washes and having to put them back into place, I am not feeling the love anymore. What a pain! And what is the point? You might think that they are removable so they don't need to go in the wash. I say that when I workout, I sweat and even the pads need cleaned. Putting them back in place are very difficult.  I no longer see the intelligence behind this feature. I certainly need the cups/pads but I think from now on, I'll go for the permanent pads.

Finally...sneakers. It's common sense to have a good pair of sneaker that fit. The latest pair of sneaks I bought have been fantastic. I've never had a workout shoe that felt so good. Don't just buy what looks good.  I tried on the Reebok Zig Tech sneaker.  Personally, I think they are ugly but started seeing a lot of people wearing them at the gym.  I figured these women were working out like me so I would give them a try.  The first pair felt good.  The second pair did not.  The third pair felt best and are the ones I bought. What a difference it has made while I workout as well as when I'm done.  I have learned you really need to put effort into shopping for a sneaker. 

These topics may seem silly, but exercise is hard enough for most people to do.  If you do not feel comfortable while you are exercising, it will be much harder to get yourself motivated to workout again. 

4/29/11

Crazy For Bosu




I love to exercise.  I am not obsessed with workouts, I have simply learned to love the "me time" that I get while I do something really great for myself.  I have tried most things and genuinely enjoy most types of exercise.   Zumba, cardio interval and muscle works classes are my normal methods.  But I also do step aerobics, kickboxing, pilates and so on. 

Hidden in my living room are a set of hand weights, a 15 lb weight bar, a Bender Ball and a Pilates Ring.  I probably have more than 40 workout DVDs to choose from.  Variety is what keeps me motivated. 

My next purchase is going to be a Bosu Ball.  I have had my eye on these for a while but they are pretty costly ($100) and what if it is just a gimmick, right?  My physical therapist has recently added the Bosu to my regiment and I'm so excited!  I love it!  They say do 20 reps, I do 40.  I figure if I have access to it, I'm going to use it.  I am a believer now.  Squats on the Bosu are my primary exercise.  Talk about awesome!  You can feel your glutes and inner thighs right away.  If you are built like me, this is a very difficult place to work. 

This half ball is great for an all over workout.  You can use it to tighten your abs, work your legs, strengthen your core and so much more.  Now that I've had a taste and I know what I can do with this new "toy" I can't wait to get one of my own.  I'm not sure when that will be so I better start thinking about where I can hide this equipment in plain view, haha!

4/28/11

Don't Leave Home Without A Paddle

The forecast today as reported by Dawn (me) is MORE rain with and abundance of flooding. This has been a very unusual few weeks for weather in Central Pennsylvania. I am not one to really complain about the rain. It is Spring so rain is to be expected. The rain is necessary to bring the flowers, grass and trees to life.

The rain we have had is anything but normal. Day after day. Inch after inch. Flood after flood. It's crazy! This morning we were awakened by a thunderstorm and a tornado watch. I am so thankful that we saw no signs of a tornado. There are many places in the country that were not so lucky.

The heavy rains have caused many problems. Flooding being the big one. Basements are filling. Roads are shut down. I had to skip out of physical therapy early because the water was coming so fast there was no where left to move my car. Getting my son to school was quite an adventure. My husband has spent a total of 8 hours already repairing the damage to our landscaped hill behind our house. Twice the hill has needed to be reconstructed and now he must face the hill AGAIN to fix the damages left by the runoff this morning.

I don't know when we will get back to our "normal" Spring weather but I have a feeling I'm not the only one eager to get it back. I do know I'm glad I am not the weatherman. Hopefully the local weather teams will start having good news for us.

4/27/11

Change It Up

I am a pretty conservative lady.  I find a shirt I like and buy it in 3 colors.  Nothing too exciting here.  The thing is, every so often, I want a change.  I might want a new purse (yes, all my other ones still work, I just want a different one). I may be on the lookout for a new pair of Pj's (some women own too many shoes, I own too many pairs of Pj's).  A new lip color may be my thing.  Or maybe I am thinking about a change in hairstyle.

 None of these things are permanent or a big deal.  My husband doesn't understand this sudden need for change.  He has never understood why I would want to buy a new purse when my other ones are not broken.  He doesn't get that it has nothing to do with functionality and every thing to do with starting fresh. Getting a renewed look.  And of course, finding something new is always fun.  Let me just state for the record, that I usually bring back the "old" clothes, purses, etc. after a time.

So I am wondering, if desiring these refreshing changes are normal or if I'm just looking for ways to spend money.  There are some people who have the same hairstyle for decades.  They may wait until the zipper breaks before they buy a new wallet.  To each his own, right?  But for me, I get bored and look forward to that little bit of change.  Nothing drastic, nothing permanent.  Just something that feels a little different. 

I would really like to hear your opinion on change.  Is it excessive?  Is it normal?  Is it a woman thing?  Do men crave this as well?  Please leave a comment.

4/26/11

The gift of girlfriends

Kids are fun. Husbands are great. Girlfriends are a gift. Last night I got the chance to spend an evening with a table full of friends. We met at a local cafe. The night was beautiful so we found a table outside. As it got dark, we discussed a book, our husbands, the kids, our bodies and so much more.

Having good girlfriends is special. We can connect over experiences and feelings. Our frustrations with being a mom and a wife. We can share our joys with each other. Unlike our other relationships, girlfriend time is playtime for mommy. It is a time away from our responsibilities. And no one wants anything from us. Just being with each other is enough. A safe place to be yourself, for yourself.

You may not get together often but you pick up where you left off. With time you develop "inside" jokes. We come from different places and return to our own routines. When it's time to drive away, we have laughed and shared and recharged. This is one way we as women can help ourselves be better moms and wives. If scheduling is a problem, retail therapy is always a good temporary substitute.

4/25/11

Happy Girl!

Today is a good day.  I mean, I am really in a good place.  Since I feel like I'm going to burst with all that is good in my life, I am going to share a list of what I am thankful for. 

1.  The sun is shining!
2. My Jesus loves me.
3. My children are healthy.  There are so many sick children in this world, I do not want to take their health for granted.
4.  My husband has a good job, and he can provide so much more than just the basics for us.
5.  I can exercise and I love to do it! (This one took me about 28 yrs. to be able to say but at 34 I still feel this way)
6.  I could drive with my windows down today.
7.  The sun is shining!
8.  I heard a new song that I love.  The song is Who Says by Selena Gomez and I LOVE the message.
9.  Today has been a day with no physical pain.
10.  I have great friends.
11. I ate a piece of chocolate peanut butter pie after dinner last night.  I savored every bite and the best part is that I didn't have to wrestle with any guilt :)
12. Did I mention that the sun is shining today?!?!

Sorry I could not stop at just 10.  No, my life isn't perfect.  But today, I am feeling great and I want every one to know.  Anyone care to share what makes you happy?

4/24/11

My favorite room.

 
We are more than halfway through April and it has been too cold and too wet to get outside and use our patio. Last summer we took out the little cement slab and had a beautiful flagstone patio installed. My hubby and my dad built a gorgeous pergola. We bought outdoor furniture. My husband did the landscaping. I finally talked him into buying a chiminea. We did get some use of this outdoor room last year. I was heartbroken when it was time to move the furniture to the basement for the winter.

This year, we added a bigger table so we can entertain more comfortably. I couldn't wait for the the furniture to come out of storage. Well, it is all out...but we can only look at it from inside the house. This rain is never ending (or so it seems). By the time the the furniture dries out, it is raining again :(.

We had our first meal outside today at lunchtime. There were a few hours of beautiful weather and my family jumped on the chance to get outside and enjoy our outdoor room.

Picture taken last summer while the sun was still shining.







We had a brief glimpse of what is to come.  It is only Spring now.  Some day the rain will slow down and we will get to head outside and enjoy this beautiful outdoor room.  I am looking forward to making many memories through the rest of Spring, Summer and the Falll. 

4/23/11

My kitchen "must have".

I have really begun to enjoy the task of cooking for my family.  Previously, this has been a necessary duty but over the past 6 months or so, I have really found the kitchen to be place of fun and satisfaction.  Of course, the more I cook, the more gadgets I need.  And somewhere along the way, I have discovered that I love to read recipes. 

The one gadget that I use almost every single day is my iphone.  Sounds silly but its true.  I have several recipe apps on my phone.  Whenever I have a few minutes, I find myself searching for new meal ideas on my phone.  It doesn't matter where I am, it is like a game for me.  There are so many recipe apps to choose from.  While they are designed differently, they are basically the same.  Enter an ingredient and then you get lists of food ideas to make.  Most recipes include pics, and nutritional info.  Every night we have something different.  We are no longer in a rut of the same meals from week to week. 

Most of the apps have a shopping list function so you can create a list of the items you need to pick up at the store to make your meal.  The apps I have also have a "favorites" or "recipe box" function, so you can see a list of the meals that have interested you.  Personally, I use my favorites lists as a running list of what I want to try, not only the meals I want to make again. 

The drawback of so many recipes that are easily accessible is that I can't remember which ones I want to make again.  My husband often says, "remember this one and make it again".  To which I shake my head and say, "of course, it is saved on my phone".  The reality is I can never remember where I got the recipe from.  But now there is an app that fixes that!  I have an app that is a place to keep record of the recipes that are a hit.  I can take a pic of it to jog my memory.  I can write notes, and this is where I list the name of the app I got the recipe from.  This has been a fantastic tool for my kitchen.

I have always had cookbooks and recipe cards but was uninspired.  Now the possibilities are never ending!  I never saw myself being so tied to technology.  But I love my iphone and all that I can do with it.  Who knew my phone would be partially responsible for my happiness in the kitchen?

4/22/11

Once you start...

The Mini's had another egg hunt (candy scramble) this morning. As I find myself once again dipping into the bite size goodies, I realized, bite size chocolates in many varieties are a trigger food for me. I certainly have my favorites, mostly anything dark chocolate but I am no snob to the milk chocolate category of candy. The jingle for a brand of chips is "Once you pop, you can't stop". Everyone has their own weakness when it come to food. Here is my top five foods I need to keep away from or else I have a terrible time walking away.

1. Chocolate and peanut butter eggs. Doesn't matter which brand. This is a deadly combination.

2. Homemade granola. Since I make this on a weekly basis for my family, I have gotten much better with this. When I first started making this, I could not keep out of the container. There is just something about that sweet and crunchy snack.

3. Peanut butter chips. I have made the mistake of bringing these into the house to use in pancakes. Sure, some make it into the batter, the rest take a more direct path to my belly (and then settle on my hips).

4. Tortilla chips. There is something about this salty and crunchy snack that is very difficult for me to walk away from.

5. Trail mix. Especially a mix that includes nuts and chocolate. A good trail mix is a perfect combination of sweet and salty.

Most of these things I have learned to live around but it isn't easy. A few of these things you would be hard pressed to find in my house at all because I have learned my limits.

Anyone care to share what treats are irresistible to you?

4/21/11

A thankful attitude is a choice

I am a very blessed woman. Both in material and immaterial ways. It is easy to forget that it is all a gift and that it could be gone tomorrow. I think I am a pretty thankful person. I try to teach my children to be grateful for what we have and share with others. Every one in a while, I get a reminder to be thankful even when it isn't what I feel.

I am talking about our spare car. Yes, I said spare. I have a car, my husband has a car and he has a car given to him by his employer. Every once in a while, my car has to get work done, and I have to drive my husband's car for a day or two. I really dislike this car. I like my big SUV crossover. His car is too low, to heavy and what gets me angry every time I drive is that the doors lock automatically but don't unlok unless I make it happen. Of course, I always forget and my blood starts boiling when I go to help the kiddos out of the backseat.

When I find myself feeling ungrateful and frustrated, I have learned to take a moment and be thankful that this car is paid for it runs and it is available when my car is not. It hasn't been easy but for some reason this is a very clear example to me of choosing to be thankful.

So, I choose to be thankful for this car as I go about my busy day today. I will also be extra thankful for my car when I get it back ;)

4/20/11

Great way to start the day

I slept horrible last night. Then I woke up super early so I could take a Pilates on the ball class. This is a newish class for me. I have started taking this class on days I am unable to take my regular classes later in the day. Today, I must get to the dentist. So here I am at the gym before 6 am.

I didn't exactly run from the car to the gym. When I did begin my trek inside, another gym-goer was walking in beside me. He commented on my greyhound liscense plate. "ooh! One of my favorite topics!" I thought. So we walked indoors talking about my retired greyhound and the one he had which has passed away. It wasn't much of a conversation but it was a brief connection over something very precious to me. It didn't make the clock read any later or put that first cup of coffee in my hand but it did make me smile as I walked into the gym to face that huge exercise ball and my lack of balance and control of my core.

Later I will be very tired due to my lack of sleep, but for now I have my workout done, I'm a drive home away from my coffee fix and a sweet greeting from my doggie girl. Overall, this morning has started much better than I expected as I watched the minutes tick by.

4/19/11

Frills and such

I don't know if it is a "girl" thing, birth order or simply personality but my daughter has so far been much more of a challenge to raise (yes, I know she is only 4). This isn't a bad thing, it just is. She is a terrific kid just very strong willed and independent. But recently there has been a subtle change.

Over the past few weeks, she has grown into this little girl. She is all about the jewelry, leggins and frills. She loves her lip gloss and sparkles for her face. She is even putting together differen tops and bottoms and creating adorable outfits. It is so fun to listen to her as she plays, "reads" and interacts with the world around her.

She is funny, smart, beautiful and growing into such a great young lady. She is still strong willed but there is so much in her to treasure. Some day I will be glad she can hold her own. For now, I'm going to enjoy watching her grow. It is all going by so quickly.

4/17/11

Money well spent

As I snuck in to give the kiddos one last kiss before I went to bed tonight, I was struck by the thought that the Lava Lamps I bought for my kids were a great idea (hooray for mommy!). My children have so many things that it is hard to know what to get them for Christmas. So much of what you get for them gets played with for a little bit and then gets put aside. We have two bedrooms and a playroom filled with toys and they still say there is nothing to do, imagine that.

This year I picked out a Lava Lamp for each of them. I had one when I was in college and I loved it. I warned them of the dangers from the heat so they leave it alone. Every night they make sure mommy or daddy turn it on before we close the door. Then before I crawl into bed, I sneak in, give a kiss and turn off the Lava Lamp.

It's like a really cool night light. Its actually better than a night light because it is entertaining while it sheds a little light in the room withought casting spooky shadows. I like that the Mini's enjoy their Lava Lamps. I love that it is the middle of April and there is at least one Christmas present they both received that still gets daily attention! This may not be a typical gift idea for young children but it has proved to be a great idea in this house.

4/16/11

Family...bring it on!

Tomorrow after church, my family of four will load up the car and travel almost two hours to celebrate Easter with my extended family. I am so excited to see everyone who is going to be there. I come from a pretty big family. One Grammy, lots of aunts and a great group of cousins. The cool thing is my cousins having kiddos that my kids can play with.

Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve were big family events. Tons of food, laughter, maybe some singing and if the cousins were lucky, it would end in a sleepover at someone's house. We had the "cousin table" and it was so much fun. These are great memories I will always cherish.

Now that we are grown and have families of our own, things are different but I still get so excited to see everyone. Now that our generation has had kids, it is fun to watch our little ones interact with each other. Tonight as the Mini's and I were filling eggs for the Egg Hunt we will have tomorrow, it made my heart smile when my daughter said, "I waited all year to see everyone". Because our generation has moved all over we don't get to see each other very often and I love that my children look forward to playing with their peers.

A home with all of us in it is loud, crowded, full of food and ringing with laughter...and I love it!  I am so blessed.

4/14/11

The sun changes everything.

The sun is shining...finally! It has been a long, wet week but today is beautiful. The day after tomorrow is supposed to be wet, but today and tomorrow, the sun will be shining. A little sunshine with fresh air goes a long way.

The walls are no longer caving in. My tolerance for noise has increased (because we are outside of course). Running errands is much better because you don't have to dodge cold raindrops (especially while holding the car door open as the Mini's take forever to get in and out of the car).

I know Spring is the season for rain and without the rain, the flowers and grass would have a hard time growing but day after day without sunshine takes a toll on a person. Having made my way through a week of wet, I am so thankful for the warm sunshine. As with many things we can get so busy we forget to appreciate the good around us. The sun is good.

Now I'm going to go enjoy this beautiful day on my fantastic patio. The first of many chances start my outdoor living.

4/12/11

Seriously?

I was at the store and noticed a pair of sneakers for kids that looked like a pair of Shape Ups. I could not fathom they were true Shape Ups so i made mention to my friend the similarity to the grownup shoe and moved on.

Today I saw a child wearing them and I asked another mom if they were Shape Ups. She said yes they were. Still not sure they would make such a thing, I went to the Sketchers website. They do make Shape Ups for kids. I think this is terribly unsafe. Personally, I do have a pair of Shape Ups sneakers. While I would never suggest they tone anything, they definatley help to keep me aware of how I walk. Since I am currently in physical therapy for a laundry list of things, they have been helpful in reteaching me how to walk properly. I feel these sneakers are unsafe to play in. These shoes are walking shoes. They are not meant for play or serious exercise. I don't know why you would buy these for your child. If weight is a concern, get them outside or take the money you would spend on the sneakers and get them involved in some activity through the Rec. Program or somewhere similar. Don't feed them the myth that a pair of sneakers will make a person in shape and healthy. Do something together. We need to teach our kids that exercise is fun. Our kids need to know how to make good choices for themselves. They do not need a pair of sneakers that will be dangerous to be a kid in.

4/11/11

Doing good.

Twice a year my church has a clothing giveaway for the community. This is something I am very involved in from beginning to end. My kiddos have heard me talk about this event and are used to me being gone alot for the week before this event. I have been eagerly waiting for the time when my children could join in and help in some part of this service to others.

Yesterday was the beginning of setup for this project. A group stayed after church to set up the room and start putting out clothes. For the first time my kids were able to help lug bags from the shed into the multipurpose room. I was busy running here and there, doing this and that when I would look around for my kiddos and they were both very busy worker bees. In the moment I was glad because that meant I could keep doing what I needed to do. Now that I'm away from the work, I am so proud of my Mini's. One person stopped me twice and told me that my kids were very good workers.

I love that they were so happy to help and be a part of something where the focus is on others. I pray that my husband and I will encourage our children to love others not only with their words but also with their actions.

4/9/11

Egg Hunt? Candy Scramble.

This morning we got ready, found some Easter buckets and drove to a local Egg Hunt. The hunt was divided into age groups. Each section marked off by colored tape. The candy and other loot was scattered all over the field. When the buzzer sounded, the kiddos were off to fill those buckets. Within a few minutes the buckets were full and we went home.

Don't get me wrong. I think it is great that this yearly event takes place. I don't buy these foods so its great to have a chance to enjoy a few treats. My question is, where is the hunt? All the candy is laid out for all to see. You just grab as much as you can as fast as you can.

Every year my husband recalls terrific egg hunts he attended through his father's employer. With great detail he shares those many memories. While we had a fun fifteen minutes on an otherwise cold and dreary day, I don't see what the real point is. Maybe if it was called something other than an Egg Hunt, I would not be writing this. Are there still traditional egg hunts taking place? We have a real egg hunt for the kids when my extended family gets together to celebrate Easter. Looking is involved so I think it is safe to call it a hunt.

No matter what it is called. I'm glad who ever planned this "hunt" thought to include Reese PB eggs in the treasure to be found. There were tons of those to go around. Which is great for us because then the hubby and I don't have to feel guilty for eating the one or two the kiddos found.

4/8/11

Retail therapy works!

It's true! Retail therapy is a term used when a person does a little shopping to make themselves feel better. Most of us have done it. This morning, as I skimmed the paper a heading on retail therapy caught my eye. As someone who loves any chance to shop, I had to keep reading.

The article stated a study has found that people who get out and shop on a regular basis live longer than those that don't enjoy this pleasure. The study focused on older people although I don't know how old you have to be to be counted in this group. Shopping is beneficial because it gets a person out and about. The person shopping feels a part of the community. And of course because you are walking while you wander from store to store, shopping offers physical health benefits by strengthening your heart and burning some calories. I doubt I'm in the target age range this study focused on. So this does no apply to me yet .

Personally, retail therapy is a way to give myself a little pick me up. It does not matter what I buy or who I buy it for. The search is fun and the find is satisfying. This special form of therapy is also great in a group setting. A group therapy session is a very effective way to de-stress and have fun!

The study seemed to focus on the physical benefits of shopping. I like to think more on the
emotional benefits. What's important to remember is there is a study that has been published
saying that shopping is good for you. I'm not surprised, I've known it all along. And now my husband will know too!

4/7/11

Turn it off.

Ironically, during my Muscle Works class my fellow classmates got talking about cupcakes. Yum! We talked and talked about cupcakes. Where to get them, what flavors to try, etc. This was a fun conversation. Strange considering we were working out but still fun. Then the talk started to switch to how bad it was to eat things like cupcakes. This too started out in fun (insert joke about working out harder here) but it got me thinking.

I personally struggle with this. I am ok most days. I understand there are certain foods that I can not eat often. I tell my kiddos they are "sometimes foods". That's the good part. The tough part is when I do eat that super yummy "sometimes food", how do I turn off the internal voice that tells me I did something wrong. It isn't wrong to enjoy the occasional treat. I know this. But I still find myself feeling like I did something bad. I'd love to figure out a way to turn off the voice so I can truly enjoy my occasional treat.

If you have any ideas or experiences to share, please leave a comment.

To end on a funny note I will say that our cupcake talk did make our 2 minute plank go by so much faster!

4/5/11

Less loads coming up!

Very recently I thought of another reason to look forward to warmer weather. It's not the fresh air in and outside of the house. It isn't the kiddos playing outside or playdates at the park. It isn't a break from the school year routine. These things are fantastic reasons to enjoy the upcoming warm weather, but tonight I thought of a new one!

This awesome reason to anxiously await the sunny days to come is...less laundry ;) As the person in charge of washing, drying and putting away the clean clothes, I'm ready for a bit of a break.

Our family of four goes through crazy laundry in the cooler months. The kids have their own. Then we have the grown up loads which include the standard whites and colors but my hubby and I also accumulate a basket full of super sweaty exercise clothes. Then there are the linens, dog beds,rags,etc. I expect you know, you have the same loads to face each week too. This is a job that NEVER ends but in the warmer months, the clothes are smaller so they take up much less room which means...less loads!

Okay, so maybe there is no reason to throw a party to celebrate this epiphany but as I was switching yet another load from washer to dryer I couldn't help but smile and wonder how I will spend my extra time this summer.

Gotta a job around the house that never ends? Share!

4/4/11

30% done.

I am an avid reader. I have been in book clubs and before that was always happy to talk about any book with other book lovers. As with most things in our lives, even how we read books has changed. This has led to a change in how we talk about the books we are reading.

Being a book lover, I did not think there was room in my life for an ereader. I want to feel the pages and always be able to judge how much is left of the book to read. But then I used an ereader app on my iPhone. It was actually very handy. I was surprised how easy it was to use and how much I did enjoy it. But considering the screen size, the page swipes were never ending. I decided to try the full sized ereader. I love it for so many reasons. It is lightweight, no matter how big the book. It is cheaper because there is no actual paper printed on. And for someone with wrist problem like me, it actually allows me to read for long lengths of time without any pain.

The funny thing about this new technology is the lingo. And I'm starting to hear it more and more. Instead of referencing a chapter or page number, when talking about a book you are currently reading, you talk about percentages. For example, to quote a dear friend, "I'm really enjoying the book. I am at 30%". It was when she said this to me that I realized this is how we ereader converts now speak. Nothing wrong wih that, I just think it is funny as well as a sign of the times.

What do you think of ereaders? Have you used one? Would you?

4/3/11

Commercials work.

I am an advertiser's dream.  Ever since I was a small child, jingles would stay with me and as my mom and I would go through stores, random jingles would pop out of my mouth.  I remember very clearly going through the grocery store and smacking myself on the forehead as I passed the V8 jiuce saying, "I should have had a V8!".  Now, as an adult, I am still very likely to by a product or brand because I have seen or heard on a commercial recently.

Things have not changed so much over the past few decades.  You've gotta love TV commercials from Thanksgiving through Christmas.  If your house is like mine (and I'm sure it is), during every other commercial, one of the "Mini's" is asking, "Can I have that for Christmas?  Mommy, can I?" 

A commercial will come on for some As Seen On TV product and my son (who is so thoughtful) usually turns to me and says, "Mommy, don't you want one of them?"  I remember the first several times my oldest saw the commercial for the Perfect Pancake Maker.  With very wide eyes he turned to me and said, "Mommy, we need one of those!"  This of course was followed by earnest requests for the Big Top Cupcake Maker.  And of course, "if you order in the next 10 mins, we'll send you a second on free!".   This special offer makes it almost too hard to pass up, right?  You can't miss out on such a great deal, I mean, they are practically giving it away (insert sarcasm here).    

It's always fun to see the world through the eyes of a child.  If the TV says it is the best, it is the best.  Not all advertising has become a joke.  I'm only poking fun at As Seen On TV commercials.  While advertising has changed over the years, it certainly is very effective.  I'm not sure which gets better result, advertising or word of mouth.  It probably depends on what you are buying.  Either way, advertising works.

What do you think?  Have a funny story? 

4/2/11

LEGOs, smart play.

Genius!  LEGOs were invented in the 1940's.  Almost every home and many waiting rooms across America have at least one set available for anyone over the age of 2 and under the age of 12.  Whoever decided to remarket the LEGO brand to this current generation of youngins was a genius.  I have no idea how they thought to take this familiar toy and run with it.  However the leap was made, it was definately a smart move financially.  For the makers, maybe not for the comsumer ;)

What used to be a toy that allowed kids to build, take apart and rebuild over and over is so much more involved now. Now there are different LEGO Series that you can buy.  You can buy the town and build a firehouse, police station, airport, etc.  You can also build popular movie themes.  There is a Toy Story, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Harry Potter Sets.  Of course, each series has multiple sets to be bought and added together.  Very smart, I'm just saying.

LEGO has taken the name and put it on what feels like everything.   T-shirts, sneakers and card games, you would expect a brand name to use.  What amazes me most though, is that LEGO has created a series of Wii games.  LEGO Batman, LEGO Star Wars (just released 2nd game), LEGO Harry Potter and LEGO Indiana Jones.  I have no idea who thought this oldie but goodie toy would translate into a successful video game but if my son and his friends are any indication, it was a bright move on LEGOs part. There is violence but as each person "dies" (the pieces fall apart), they reassemble just as quickly and keep going.  These are action packed video games with story lines and level after level of bad guys to defeat. 

Someone somewhere is sitting in an office and thinking of the next move for LEGO.  I can't imagine what it could be.  Of course, I never would have thought to add LEGO to the gaming world.  Any thoughts?  Please share.  Thanks!

4/1/11

Zumba! Every woman should try it.

As a kid growing up, I hated to exercise.  Gym, was not my friend.  As I got older, got married, started cooking and eating whatever I wanted, I found myself weighing over 200 pounds.  During my weight loss journey, I learned to love exercise.  The transformation was amazing.  I went from doing exercise each day because "I have to" to looking forward and truely enjoying my time set aside for exercise each day. 

I did not become an exercise freak.  I don't workout for hours on end.  But I do love that hour each day that is mine to "bust it out!"  The catch is, I get bored quickly.  I'm always looking for something new, challenging and different.  For years, I spent tons of money on new dvd's.  It was working so it was worth it.  Then I joined a gym that offers classes.  I love the variety of classes that a gym offers.  I love that my workouts became an hour instead of 30 mins.  And I love having a buddy who joins me for classes. 

One of the many classes we have begun taking and are sure to attend at least once a week is Zumba.  I was very intimidated to take this class.  I do not dance.  Never have.  I could not imagine I could keep up.  Getting my groove on aside, I was used to hard core cardio classes.  If I take a dance class, am I going to have to exercise again to feel like I got a real workout it? 

So, we tried Zumba.  It was different.  A bit overwhelming in fact.  There were all these women.  There was hollering and shaking, clapping and everyone else seemed to know what they were doing.  I am a pretty conservative person so this was not my norm.  I made it through and I was exhausted.  No need to worry about Zumba not being a good enough cardio workout. 

I went back again, and again.  It is so much fun!  It is loud and it is crazy.  If you are like me, a little uptight, I  think you should try it a few times.  Give yourself a chance to loosen up a bit and enjoy.  I have done no other workout that makes me feel the way Zumba does.   The great part is that no one judges you or your ability.  My instructors always make a point of saying "if you can't figure out a move, don't worry, JUST KEEP MOVING".   I think that is a great way to make everyone feel included regardless of their ability.  I can only speak from my experience, but the classes I have attended are extremely diverse.  At 34, I am probably one of the youngest women in the room.  There is one woman who looks to me to be in her 70s.  There are woman of all shapes and sizes.  The atmosphere is comfortable.  No one cares what you look like either physically or in your ability.  We show up to work hard and have a blast. 

There is something about this type of music that makes you feel strong and sexy.  It is very empowering.  Moves that can be suggestive in nature do not feel that way when you are in a room full of women doing the same thing. This combination of Hip Hop, African,, Bollywood and Latin music keeps you moving.  I have found that personally, it has helped me feel more self confident and accepting of myself.  It really is freeing.  You get in that room and the music starts pumping and you can't help but get moving.  I think every woman should give Zumba a chance. 

This class is offered all over the place.  You can take it at a gym, in some churches, around here, they even offer it at a roller rink (no skates involved).  You can even get a dvd and do it at home.  I have never done this workout at home. I'm sure it is still very good.  If you can get to a class, I really encourage you to give it a try.  While the workout at home is probably good, I cannot imagine the atmosphere is the same. 

If you have taken Zumba, share what you think of the class.  Thanks.

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