GEEK Out Saturday.

When I was a young girl, with eyes as big as the world, I viewed winter as a magical, romantic, and beautiful time. I longed for snow, and the smell of a fire burning in the fireplace, and the taste of perfectly warm and chocolatey Hot Cocoa. (Get the Perfect Hot Chocolate Recipe HERE!)

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Now that I am older, I feel as though that magic has all but disappeared—a distant memory that I am not sure when I will circle back to. (Feeling Moody…)

Now that I am older, I view winter as a cold, dreary and somewhat depressing time of hibernation. And, also, a time that I can not wait to be done with! I am so very ready for Spring, Summer, Warmth, THE SUNSHINE! Ahh it will be so very lovely to walk outside and be kissed and hugged by the warm, lively sun!

But alas! We have a good month before such loveliness enters our atmosphere here in the Volunteer State. So until then my dears, here are a few links to bring you to a fanciful place in terms of snow, winter, and downright Geekdom! Enjoy!

How to make an AT-AT Imperial Walker snow sculpture.

How big is the biggest Snowman you’ve ever seen??

Five Ways Jennifer Lawrence Ruined My Life.

Having a Lego Pancake Bot would make my weekend mornings TEN TIMES BETTER.

Imagine if we were all driving this 3-wheeled, two passenger, eco-friendly beauty?

Enjoy your weekend!!

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Have you ever done Yoga with your pet?

Meet my new puppy! Clancy James. AKA Ball of Absolutely Undeniable Fuzzy Cuteness and Love. You can imagine how much he gets spoiled!!

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One of the most humorous and fun experiences we’ve had together is when I attempt to do yoga. I lay my mat out, I take a few deep breaths, and go into the sequences…Clancy however, thinks that Downward Dog is an open invitation to play tug-a-war with my dangling ponytail, or to jump energetically at my leg when I raise it in the air! As for Bridge pose, well forget that! He runs under my back and instant paranoia sets in: “What if I fall on him!? Oh God!!”

Needless to say, I had to alter my practice quite a bit with him scurrying about! Not to mention the fact that he took the opportunity of being fancy free and able to mischievously dig into the laundry basket, catch-all basket, and  a school book of mine that I had foolishly left within paw’s reach.

While Clancy is still far too young to truly respect the art of yoga, I feel that as he matures and becomes a bit more…how should I put it, obedient? Yeah. Obedient, I think he’ll be a great Yoga partner! Inspiring a deeper Downward dog if nothing else! Check out these silly, yet inspiring-me-to-want-to-train-my-pup-in-yoga pics I found online!

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What do you think?? Would you ever take up Yoga with your Fido?!

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And if you’re feeling lack-luster, just think, “If a bear can do this, so can I!!”

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A Few Random Thoughts.

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As the day goes on, I find myself scouring the internet, and more often than not it’s entirely unintentional. It’s more of a checking the e-mail, which leads to a cool link, which triggers another cool link, and so on and so forth until I have ten tabs open and my LapTop is drained and ready for more battery.

I thought that, for today at least, I would share with you some of my finds from today! Hopefully they will enlighten you or tickle your fancy the way they did for me! (I also highly recommend watching the 2013 Movie Trailers! I’m so excited for some good ole Box Office Entertainment.)

20 Movies for the new you of the new year.

Have you ever been misquoted?

Vivienne Westwood and the Climate Revolution.

5 Questions with Alexis Wineman, Miss America’s First Autistic Contestant.

Start the day out right! De-Bloat During Breakfast.

Awesome, blood-sugar quenching recipes.

Desserts with No-Baking Required!

 

 

Quintessential Livelihood

Long ago, when people believed that the earth was made up of four elements—earth, air, fire, and water—they thought the stars and planets were made up of yet another element. In the Middle Ages, people called this element by its Medieval Latin name, “quinta essentia,” literally, “fifth essence.” Our forebears believed the quinta essentia was essential to all kinds of matter, and if they could somehow isolate it, it would cure all disease. We have since given up on that idea, but we kept “quintessence,” the offspring of “quinta essentia,” as a word for the purest essence of a thing. Some modern physicists have given “quintessence” a new twist—they use it for a form of so-called “dark energy,” which is believed to make up 70 percent of the universe.

 

Thanks to my handy-dandy Merriam-Webster iPhone App and it’s Daily Word feature, I was enlightened by this very interesting dig into the history of the word “Quintessence.”

Isn’t it a lovely picture this history has painted, too?

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I don’t know much about the medical field other than that I have nothing but the utmost respect for all of those out there conducting research and finding cures to disease and cancer. However, the core of my being relies on the attempt to not pump my body with man-made chemicals and instead to rely on the “old-school,” dare I say “hippie” ailment remedies. gaia_rings

And, quite frankly, while I think those Middle Agers were over-shooting a bit when they concluded that harnessing stella-lunar power would cure all diseases, I do think that they were on to something that was lost over time. I think that people jump too quickly at the chance to “trick” nature or mask it and pretend it isn’t there by disguising the pains by way of modern medicines. Instead of taking this route, I think it’s important to first go back to the quintessence of one’s body and mind to see if there is something somewhat more simple that’s the underlying cause of the problem at hand. For instance, I happen to be pretty anemic. I tend to fall under deep lethargy and sometimes feel achey and flu-like due to my iron dropping too low. I came to realize that if I ate large amounts of spinach and other high-iron, vegetarian-friendly foods, I was cured in a jiffy. This can also be said of my admittedly bad knee and hip (I really shouldn’t run, but it’s such a great release!). When they ache, I find that not only a dose of vegetarian Glucosamine can help, but adding flax, turmeric and ginger to my meals, can be extremely beneficial.

The next time you’re feeling achey and low, maybe try checking out a homeopathic, cheaper cure to what ails you! What do you think..?

2013, Let’s Do This.

The internet seems to be a flurry with Detox foods, drinks, and supplements, get fit quick schemes, and resolution apps to download for your smart phone. Yep, it’s that time of the year again. A time where we all pretend that we are going to make a life-long change that will most certainly make us better people who are more slender, more healthy and conscious eaters, and more regular gym-goers.

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This might seem like a negative beginning paragraph, but honestly, I just want to focus on the positive! Not the negative, starvation routes, or the crazed workout plan routes, or the buying-a-$1000-self-help-Guru routes.

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I want to make it my resolution this year to be good to myself. And by doing so, be good to those around me. Be true to the person that lives inside of me who knows I am strong and capable, yet gets overwhelmed by constant anxiety, nagging, and impossible goals…In other words, follow this great man’s advice:

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

What will you be resolving yourself to this New Years??

Hiking!!

Yes indeed, it is that time of year again! When the weather gets all snuggly… there’s a smell in the air that just can’t be beat… the days seem shorter… the colors more vibrant… and every shelf of every store displays those lush oranges, deep reds, and bold yellows to entice you to buy their warm and cozy looking decorations. (Not to mention, everything, I mean everything, is laced with pumpkin, nutmeg, apple and/or cinnamon. I know those are the only recipes my taste buds are calling!)

It’s also my favorite time of year to hike! One of my most favorite past times. Venturing off into the great trails of whatever city I happen to be in. Pretending like I’m no longer a part of my current world, but rather a part of a past world, one without booming vehicles and smartphone this/smartphone thats. A world where my peace and tranquillity can only be broken by seeing a fellow hiker approach (or run at me if said hiker happens to be a fun loving furry pooch!) to whom I smile and nod and say “Hello! marvelous day isn’t it?!” And they can only reply with “Yes!! It is!”
And why does fall make this hike so marvelous? Well, the crisp weather, the cool breezes, the warmth of the sun…it all adds up and leaves my body feeling invigorated and graciously happy.

That’s my kind of hike.

And that’s also why I’ve decided to sit down today and throw out a list of awesome hikes for my fellow readers to look into! I found two amazing sites:

Outside Magazine’s America’s Best Trails & Tecca.com’s Top Websites to Make Your Hike Great.

Outside Mag is, of course, our link to the great outdoors a la actif. If you’re a nature loving, outdoorsy, campy, hiking, climbing, trail type of person, their website and magazine are right up your alley. This particular link shows off the best trails for, well, just about any occasion! For example, they have chosen winners in many a category, including “Best Trail for Getting High,” or “Best Trail for Donating Blood,” or “Best Trail Named after Booze.” As well as a few more typically thought of trail categories like “Best Pacific Coast Trail,” or “Best Prehistoric Trail.”

Tecca.com’s article is equally handy, linking you to some awesome sites to help you plan your next hiking adventure or escapade into the great outdoors. They site reviews perfect for backpackers, family outings, pet owners, etc. and all in one convenient article.

So what’s your excuse!? You have all the resources right at your finger tips, and all the adventure lies in you. 🙂

OH and when you get home…

Apple Cider Cookies

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Apple Pie Sandwiches

Enjoy! :):)

 

I’m Strong til the Finich, ‘Cause I eats me Spinach

Popeye had it right; Spinach comes packed with a whopping punch of 36% (6.43mg) Iron per cup (180g) when cooked/boiled without salt.

And while it’s great for many a reason to eat your Spinach, it’s beneficial to think outside the spinach box to find nutritional rather than supplemental ways to get enough iron. It’s extremely important to make sure your iron levels are in check, especially for us girls, and especially for us veggies! I, personally, suffer from anemia and I can always tell when my iron levels are low. I become extremely lethargic, I crave ice and, yes, spinach, and I also have a strange metal-esque taste and feeling in my mouth. It’s not fun. And It’s not necessary either!!

You may already know that there are a multitude of fods that are high in iron and yet acceptable for veg-heads. BUT did you know that there are actually means of COOKING that can affect the amount of iron your body consumes?! I didn’t either. And I was extremely intrigued by the Shape posting about cooking in Cast Iron Pans. According to the posting, “Women should aim to get 15mg iron a day (quite true), so use your cast iron skillet to prepare iron-rich foods such as lean beef, fish, and poultry. **Bonus: You’ll avoid all the carcinogenic toxins found in many non-stick pan coatings (TOTAL bonus!!).” 

But what happens? What gets added to one’s food when cooked via Cast Iron skillet??

Acidic and watery foods (like spinach and other leafy greens or fish for those pescotarians out there) absorb the iron molecules from the cast iron pan/skillet.

Researchers published a study in the July 1986 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and showed that cooking in cast iron skillets added significant amounts of iron to 20 foods tested. For example, the researchers reported that the iron content in scrambled eggs increased from 1.49 mg to 4.76 mg of iron. Pretty amazing huh?? They also found that the iron in one serving of tomato sauce increased from under one milligram to almost 6 mg when cooked in an iron pan. Most surprising, though, is applesauce. A 100-gram serving (about a quarter of a pound) went from .35 mg of iron to over 7 mg when cooked in cast iron! I need to get me a Cast Iron Pan!

A few things to keep in mind:

The longer you use your pan, the more build up of a fatty layer will develop. It’s still safe and healthy to use your pan, as a matter of fact, chefs believe it enhances flavor! However it decreases the amount of iron transferred from the pan, so don’t rely just on the pan! 

Also, beware of cooking your food too long. Eventually, if left long enough, more than just iron will be transferred. A yucky, metally taste will come along too. Never fun.

And a few more tips via Dr. Weil:

“One caveat about cast iron cookware: don’t use it for deep-frying. (You shouldn’t deep-fry anyway.) Iron can accelerate the oxidation of fat and cause it to become rancid.

When choosing iron cookware, look for products with a fine, smooth surface, which will take better to seasoning. Avoid pots and pans with pits, ridges, cracks, chips, seams and jagged edges. Good quality cast iron is uniformly gray and the same color inside and out.”

 

Scrumdidilyumptious Apple Oatmeal Cookies!

   

Two of my very favorite snacks include Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Apples. When I found this recipes online (via FitSugar-by way of Pinterest of course!) I had to give it a try! These bodacious cookies are a delight to the tastebuds, and actually quite healthy for you! The recipe incorporates Flax Meal, Apples, and Cinnamon (cinnamon was my own addition—I decided upon it because I was all out of Vanilla Extract and in my mind, when Apple meets Cinnamon, one cannot go wrong.

The Flax Meal comes loaded with Fiber-soluble and insoluble; it has a great dose of Omega-3’s (something that is a bit more difficult for vegetarians to come across); and, another little known benefit of the mighty Flax is that it is an abundant source of Lignans. Lignans have both plant estrogen and antioxidant effects on our bodies. They could be cancer fighting and preventing agents.

Alright, now on to the Recipe!!

Apple Oatmeal Flax Cookies
[as inspired by: http://www.fitsugar.com/Healthy-Recipe-Apple-Oatmeal-Flax-Cookies-5324399]

Ingredients:


1.5 cups Whole Wheat Flour

1/4 cup Flax meal (ground flax seed)

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 tablespoon Cinnamon

1 pinch salt (I’m not a big fan of adding too much salt so I used less than the teaspoon the original recipe called for.)

1 cup Canola Oil/Vegetable Oil/or any form of Cooking & Baking Oil you deem perfect.

1 cup Turbinado Sugar (or any form of sugar you please.)

egg whites

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (not 100% necessary, especially if you use the cinnamon.)

2 cups Whole Grain Quick Oats

2 Small to Medium Apples, Peeled and Chopped

1 cup of any of the following add ins (totally optional suggestions! Feel free to get creative and think of your own!) Chopped Walnuts, Sliced Almonds, Raisins, Dark Chocolate Chips, Carob Chips, Pumpkin Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Chia Seeds, Chopped Dates, etc. etc.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix the flour, flax meal, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate, larger bowl, beat together oil, sugar, eggs, and (if you added it) Vanilla Extract  until fluffy. Stir in the oats, apples, flour mixture, and nuts/add-in option.
  4. Spoon out cookies onto a non-stick cookie sheet. Cook 10-15 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown. (It took my oven 15 mins on the nose, but ovens vary so keep an eye and nose on the lookout) Place cookies on a cooling rack. Enjoy!!

The Omega-3 Debate

Recently, there has been talk about the possible bad side effects of supplementing with Omega-3‘s as well as the “31 percent of omega-3 supplements failing to live up to their claims.”  The thing that gets me is, a “supplement” is just that, a (typically) swallowable pill that adds to one’s diet what they either are, or think they are missing. Can one not simply amp up their diet and forego the unpleasantries of swallowing horse pills each morning??

Not long ago, I dove head first into writing a scientific research paper that looked at the effects of one’s diet on their auto-immune systems (focusing on Arthritis and joint inflammation). Throughout my research, I found that the Mediterranean diet was the cream of the crop, tip of the top diet for not only those suffering from auto immune disorders such as Arthritis, but also in a general lifestyle way too. 

Why is this? Well the Mediterranean Diet consists of a lifestyle in which nothing is cut out (dark chocolate and wine can still make you feel fine!) and everything that is eaten, is fresh, natural, organic, and of course, moderation is key. Another key aspect of this diet is the amount of naturally occurring Omega-3’s that are consumed.

 

“What?” You say. “Omega-3 doesn’t sound tasty and delicious, speak English please.”

Omega-3’s are essential Fatty Acids that our bodies need in order for us to function properly and live our lives from day to day. Because our bodies do not produce them naturally (hence the reference “essential” attached to their definition) we must consume them in our diets, particularly Omega-3’s in the form of EPA and DHA. The primary food source is fish, though flax (try some delish Flax Seed enhanced Pancakes for one stellar breakfast!) and algae oil have been newly discovered to help those of us who don’t eat fish. And who consumes a substantial amount of fish in their typical diet? Oh yes, you guessed it, those Mediterranean smarties.

 

What’s so wrong with being a proud American consuming a stereotypically proud American diet of corn-based and processed foods? Why I think I answered my own question there…but in case I didn’t:


One’s diet should maintain a fine balance between those Omega-3 essential fatty acids and Omega-6 essential fatty acids. (The recommended balance is a 2:1, Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio; the average American ratio is more like 15 or 16:1- WOAH nelly.) Omega-6 essential fatty acids are yet another essential to the healthy functioning of our day-to-day lives, however these fatty acids are derived, in majority, from vegetable oils, including safflower, soybean, and in particular, corn oils. For this reason, Americans, who rely a great deal on corn based, well, everything, are giving their diets a pretty big disadvantage as far as that “happy functioning” state goes.

Sure, our bodies adapt and learn how to function at a seemingly happy state, but throw in the typical wear and tear that comes with aging, and suddenly ailments set in. For this reason, it’s my own opinion that we should start to head towards a more balance fatty acid ratio. I mean, dark chocolate and wine are still allowed! Why would you say no!?


(A personal favorite of mine: Dreaming Tree Wine.)


(Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegrante/Acai/Goji-all tried and true kitchen companions. :})

Helmet Head. ‘Nuff Said.

 

As you all know, I am indeed an avid Biker Chick, of the manual bicycle sort. Ya know, where you’re pumping and huffing and sweating up hills, wishing that you had a lasso to grab ahold of that show-off car that just whizzed on by you.

So, you’re huffing, and puffing, and blowing that hill down, and you triumphantly reach the top and maybe go downhill a smidge of the way leading to the next incline that eventually leads you to your ultimate destination. Now you’re there and it’s time to drink some H2O, pop some food in your mouth, and check the bathroom mirror to make sure you’re at least presentable for work/class/social gathering/etc.

My issues truly start here.

I have long hair, and a lot of it! And it’s wavy to boot, which I like to embrace and style naturally going for that oh-so-coveted Jennifer Aniston beachy-waves look. This look, however, is not enhanced by a bike helmet. In light of this issue, I took it upon myself to Google search and test and ponder and type out this post in order to shed a bit of light on just how one can hush the helmet-head.

There’s the typical, go-to headband, hat, pony-tail, bun…but these become so boring and un-fun, so quickly. That is, until you’ve created your own, cut from unused jersey fabric headband! And wrapped it round your noggin in a cute, funky way!

Or you can follow this link, http://www.refinery29.com/helmet-hairstyles, and learn 5 cute and seemingly doable helmet hair buster do’s. I love how cute and stylish they all are, and the fact that they look as though they will hide the sweat and crazies caused by the helmet, makes them all that much cuter!
**WARNING** before following this link, make sure you’re knowledgable in how to style your own hair into a braid, twist, and/or bun. Otherwise, you could be disappointed.

A great tip I gathered from the same site as above, is the use of dry shampoo to vamp and revamp the roots. As well as a beachy-waves spray (this link leads to a homemade version of just such a spray-cheaper and healthier for your hair!) that you can spritz onto hair after arriving at your destination.

I hope these tips help out anyone else who happens to be a bike rider with lack-lustre hair! Anyone have some tips I can add to the list?! I’d gladly give them a try!