Friday, April 30, 2010

A Few Ways to Volunteer

I just wanted to put up a few links of ways to volunteer to help Louisiana deal with the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon. If anyone knows of any links that I've missed, please let me know in the comments!

Volunteer Louisiana

National Audubon Society (Help the birds!)

BP Hotline numbers

Oiled Wildlife Care Network

Oil Spill


My heart goes out to the people who were killed and injured on the Deepwater Horizon, to the fisherman and other residents of South Louisiana who are being affected by the spill And I deeply appreciate the efforts of the people who are trying desperately to shut off the well and clean up the oil.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Agion Stink at Nothing Experiment- Part I

I recently received a free workout shirt from Agion in order to participate in an experiment they are doing to try out their odor free workout wear. Basically, you get a free technical (i.e. non-cotton) T-shirt if you test it out and write them a review. One side of the T-shirt is treated with their odor removing formula and one is not.
I haven't finished testing my shirt yet, but I thought I'd go ahead and blog about my experience with it today. If you want to be a tester, you can sign up to get your free shirt here. They want you to get the shirt as sweaty and stinky as possible, in the most interesting way possible, then write to them about it. There is also a chance to win a vacation if the most people vote that your test is the best one, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't stand a chance. :)
I had planned to wear my shirt on a bunch of runs this summer because I get pretty disgusting then, but once the shirt came in I realized I had to change my plans. Why? Because the shirt, supposedly a small, is huge. I wore it with mid thigh (think 5" inseam) gym shorts today and it was nearly as long as the shorts. I kind of hate to say that because it sounds like I'm complaining about a free shirt, but I'm just mentioning this because it changes my testing approach. (I find that running in baggy clothes leads to a lot of discomfort and chafing.)
Fortunately, Tulane's Reily Center has been uncomfortably hot since the weather has warmed up. I can definitely work up a sweat in there and I figured that if I pushed myself pretty hard, I'd be able to give the shirt a good initial test run.
In brief, I lifted weights, did 20 pushups, a bunch of ab work, and then hit the treadmill for my favorite indoor cardio workout: power walking at a 15% incline (which is as high as it goes), 4 mph, for 30 minutes. I decided to amp it up by raising the speed to 5.5 mph for a two minute interval every 5 minutes. I was sweaty by the time I finished with the weights and abs, but after the cardio I was drenched. My hair was dripping with sweat. Mission accomplished- I was disgusting!
To add to my disgustingness, I must confess that I chose tonight to test out the shirt because I went to Lola's (awesome Spanish food) last night and ate a TON of garlic. I am positive that I was vampire proof all day today and I figured it would add to my stinkiness at the gym. (Apologies to my fellow gym goers, by the way!)
I also weighed myself before and after my workout on the scale in the gym. It said I lost 0.4 lbs after my workout, which basically means that I sweated out that nearly half a pound water. (I drank a BIG glass of water when I got home!)
As for the shirt, the first thing I noticed about it was that it did a good job wicking away my sweat. Although I was a sweaty mess from the neck up, the shirt itself was dry (and I'd been wiping my face on it and sort of pressing it onto my torso to make sure it got really sweaty) and looked really crisp and presentable. The shirt is white, which I think helped make it looks especially dry- but I definitely didn't think it looked like a workout shirt at the end of a workout.
But the big question is- how did it smell? Well, I worked up the courage to sniff my arm pits. I'd actually forgotten which side was supposed to be odor free, but I figured it out immediately. One armpit smelled, predictably, like a sweaty armpit, but the other smelled exactly like the shirt did before I put it on. Success!
I found myself thinking about when and where I would wear a shirt like this. First of all, I don't really care how I smell after a standard gym workout or a nice run at the end of the day. I'm not going to do anything but go home and shower. And my hair and skin look pretty sweaty so there is no hiding the fact that I've been sweating. However, I think that an odor free shirt would be pretty useful for more social type sports- like Kick Ball, where you will be interacting with people. I think it would be nice to feel like I didn't smell repulsive in a situation like that. I also think that an odor free shirt would be good pretty much all summer in New Orleans for non-athletic outdoor activities. Due to the humidity, I find myself smelling pretty offensive after a while even if I go outside but don't exert myself.
All in all I'm not sure I would use an Agion shirt as a gym or running shirt, but I might be likely to wear one to an outdoor festival or a team sporting event.
Of course, I'm not ready to call an end to my experiment. I'm definitely having fun trying to think up creative ways to test it out. I really want to see how the shirt holds up to multiple washes, and I want to see how it stands up to a tougher challenge- namely, my darling fiance. I'm going to give the shirt to him in the end anyway since it's too big for me, plus I find man sweat to be stinkier than lady sweat and I want to see how the shirt holds up. So next- I'll wash the shirt and then convince him to wear it for a workout-hopefully a nice long run!
So stay tuned for Part II!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Save The Dates

I ordered Save the Date Cards today. They're going to look a lot like this, except with information that pertains to my wedding. :) They are from RSVP Stationers. I think they're pretty darn cute!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dirty Blondies

I did a trial run of the blondies last night- I made them with bourbon, pecans, chocolate chunks and....(drum roll please)....browned butter! I've read about browned butter before and heard that it was awesome, but I've never actually tried to make it before.
Well, it turned out perfectly (browned but not burnt) and gave the blondies a really rich, nutty taste. It also made them a pretty dark color- hence the title of my post.
The blondies are delicious and I'm sure my coworkers are enjoying them, since most of them got dropped off in the break room this morning. The recipe was really easy and fast- I'll definitely be making these again. (Especially since I am a notoriously bad dessert maker- it's nice to have something that goes right!)
I also think that the bourbon soaked figs will be an excellent mix in since the blondie batter itself tastes like butterscotch. I'd picked up butter scotch chips to go with the figs, but now I'm rethinking it- I think white chocolate would be better....
Such yummy a dilemma!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Quick Dinner

I made a pretty good, very healthy, quick dinner tonight- chicken with summer squash, spinach, and cheese! I wasn't sure how much seasoning it needed, but in the future I will probably jazz up the basic recipe. All things considered though, it is definitely on the make again list.

1.5 Chicken Breasts (I never really have room for an entire chicken breast so I make 1 for my darling fiance and half of one for me so I don't waste food)
1 yellow squash, thinly sliced (aka summer squash)
2 cups spinach (more or less, I used half a bag of the pre-washed stuff)
3 slices of swiss cheese (any cheese will work)

Basically, I cut the chicken into strips then sauteed it over medium heat in a little olive oil until it was browned and almost cooked through. I added the squash slices and cooked them until they were soft. Then I added as much spinach as would fit into my sautee pan, and stirred it around until it wilted. I seasoned everything with some freshly ground pepper and garlic powder, then put it in a 8x8 glass pan that I had coated with cooking spray. I topped the chicken and veggie mixture with sliced cheese, then baked it for 5 minutes at 375. I ended up adding some salt to my portion at the table. I'd say this took about 30 minutes from start to finish.
In the future, I will definitely saute some onion and garlic before adding the chicken to the pan next time. I think you could really play with the flavor profile of this dish by adding different spices (I think oregano would work well) and ingredients (I'd normally add tomato sauce, but I wanted to have something non-tomato-y for a change). And of course you could use different cheeses in this recipe- I think mozzarella, goat cheese, and feta would all work really well.
All in all I'd say that I'm a fan of this dish. The squash and spinach tasted really fresh, and the cheese made it seem really decadent. The squash and spinach paired really well together, and I never would have thought to combine them on my own. Of course, now I'm envisioning a homemade pizza with tomato sauce, spinach, squash, oregano and goat cheese.... Or an omelet with squash, spinach, and mozzarella....Yum!

In other news, I kicked butt at the gym tonight. I did my regular weights, abs, and pushups workout; then followed it with an 800 yard (that's 1/2 a mile!) swim. I'm really tired now!

Does anyone know a good way to work out your back muscles? I would like my back (and arms, but I think they are progressing nicely) to look really good in my wedding dress, so I'm trying to incorporate more weight lifting into my routine.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Something to Write About

Inspiration strikes!
I am having some members of my sorority alumni club over for dinner (and a board meeting) next week and I intend to feed them. I looked at Smitten Kitchen for some menu ideas and I think I'll make cranberry walnut chicken salad (minus the celery and with basil instead of taragon, because BLEH) on croissants, with a green side salad, and blondies for dessert. I think I may also make the Israeli salad with pita chips for dipping as a starter, but I haven't decided yet. The burning question is: what should I put in the blondies?
Some of my blondie ideas are chopped dried figs (presoaked in bourbon) + almonds, white chocolate + raspberries, butterscotch chips + chocolate chips....

So please, help me decide! A) Should I make the Israeli salad or not? and B) What should I put in my blondies?

Blogger's Block

I've been having trouble thinking of things to blog about, so you'll have to once again forgive my absence and the random nature of this post in which I'm just going to write about whatever springs to mind.

One of my fondest childhood memories was brought to mind by another blogger's post (Hi, Katy!) about pulling her son around in a box painted to look like a car (she's teaching him about transportation).
When I was little, my grandparents got a new washer and dryer and set up the empty boxes in the middle of their living room when my brother and I were there along with my two cousins. There were several boxes and they cut holes in the sides for doors and taped them together so we could walk through different "rooms" in the house. They let us scribble on the sides of the box too so we could "paint" our house.
This also makes me think of the times my mom would let us spread a bed sheet over the dining room table and we'd play "camping" with that as our tent.

I also thought I'd write a list of things that my cat Pancake has recently stolen or tried to steal:
Magnets off of the refrigerator
My Camera (he generally just grabs the strap and drags it from the table to the floor, which is great for digital cameras :P)
My Soap
My darling fiance's stethescope (unsuccessfully)
My hairbrush (and then he tried to flush the toilet when I took it away from him).

Pancake also thinks that splashing the water in the toilet is hilarious (and now we keep the lids closed at all times) and that the wires of plugged in appliances like hairdryers and irons are fascinating toys.

And, predictably, I've run out of things to say... So anyway, have a nice day and enjoy the weather if it's spring where you are! I love spring in New Orleans, but it doesn't last nearly long enough.

What's your favorite childhood memory?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Non-Virtual Shopping

I had to stop by the mall yesterday for a watch battery, so I took advantage of the chance to try on the white dress from White House Black Market I'd been admiring. Unfortunately, the bottom is really sheer. I may still stalk the dress until it goes on sale and maybe get it to wear with a slip, but I'm not paying full price for something that obviously should have been lined when it was not. The fit was adorable though.
I did pick up a little black dress that was on sale! :) It is really comfortable and flattering so I'm pretty excited about it. :)
I didn't get anything else because I wanted to look for swimsuits, but the American Eagle ones I wanted to try on weren't actually in the store. :( I guess they haven't gotten around to stocking swimwear yet, but it's too bad. I want to go sit out by the pool!!
I swung through Forever 21 but I didn't see anything I liked.
I also heard a woman in Forever 21 loudly call her toddler daughter a b*tch, which was really upsetting. Yet another reason I love shopping online- fewer evil people to be around.

On a brighter note, I tried a tasty new food this week: Steel Cut Oats! They have a really great texture- creamier and chewier than regular oats, if that makes sense. I also learned a good way to cook them (and found a cool new blog to follow in the process). If you just put them in a pot on the stove it takes 30-45 minutes for them to cook. However, if you add 1 cup of steel cut oats to 4 cups of boiling water, boil it for 1 minute, then turn off the flame and let it sit overnight; you can just reheat them in the morning! I separated my oats into 4 portions and have been reheating my leftovers in the microwave with a little milk. I top them with vanilla, cinnamon, maple syrup, and strawberries. Yum!

Which do you prefer? Shopping online or in a mall?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


So many recaps, so little time!
I also wanted to post about the Crescent City Classic on Sunday. I love the Classic for several reasons. First, it was my first race- which means that it's been a year since I've been racing! I'm so happy to have found such a wonderful and healthy hobby! Secondly, the Classic is, in my opinion, the perfect length at the perfect time of year in New Orleans. 10K in April is just about ideal for a good fun run for me. And finally, the Classic is a really fun race. Lots of people wear costumes, there is a brass band playing at the halfway point, and spectators hand out all sorts of stuff- like mimosas, jello shots, bananas, and donuts!
I did not choose to dress up this year, but my darling fiance did. He wore cut off denim shorts and a sleeveless Jimmy Buffet t-shirt. And he beat me by a full minute! He walked around the rest of the day declaring denim the original Under Armor.
I was really proud of both our times because we each knocked 5 minutes off of our times from last year. I ran it in 57 minutes! :)
Of course, now that the Classic is over, I've identified a bunch of races that I want to run this year. Here, in chronological order, are the races I've found thus far that I want to run-

Run for Home 5K
Greekfest 5K
Forge Racing Spring Trail Series
Spillway Classic
Gulf Coast Half Marathon
Jazz Half Marathon
Stennis Half Marathon

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rocky Mountain High

At long last, here is my promised recap of our trip to Estes Park, Co.
Our flight to Denver on Saturday (my darling fiance's 30th birthday) was pretty uneventful and when we arrived, we were given a giant Chevy Tahoe to drive around in. The Tahoe came in handy when it was time to haul around our rented skis, but aside from that, it was definitely more vehicle than we needed. We were, however, grateful for the 4 wheel drive because we needed it to get up the driveway to our cabin every day.
We stayed at the Amberwood Cabins and Lodge in Estes Park and were really pleased with our experience. We had a nice little cabin all to ourselves. The interior was entirely wood paneled, which made it feel incredibly cozy. We were able to cook meals in our cabin kitchen and have a nice fire in our fireplace every night. It was lovely!
Cooking dinner was incredibly convenient because once we got into Estes Park, we discovered that virtually all of the restaurants had closed at 8pm (darn winter season). Fortunately, we were able to get some tasty Mexican food at a restaurant called Ed's Cantina. Happily, it stayed open until 9. It was at Ed's Cantina that I learned that while the green chili in Colorado is not actually green, it is delicious!
The next morning, we were supposed to get up very early to go horseback riding. However, it was 17 degrees when we woke up, so we canceled our reservation with the stable and went back to bed. We slept in, then went into town for supplies and snowshoes. We both got really hungry before we made it back to the cabin so we stopped at The Egg and I for lunch. It was great- I highly recommend the Hiker's Benedict, which was basically Eggs Benedict with asparagus and ham.
After lunch we hiked over three frozen lakes- Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Eagle Lake- in the Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a beautiful 3.4 mile hike. It was a little tough at first but once we got used to climbing uphill it was well worth the effort. It helped that the entire walk back was downhill, of course. On the way back from our hike, we saw several herds of Elk. I was incredibly excited about this. Of course, a couple hours later, we saw another herd of Elk hanging out next to the grocery store parking lot, right between the Safeway and the local liquor store- it was pretty funny!
That night, we grilled out for dinner. Actually, my darling fiance grilled out while happily drinking bourbon and smoking a cigar (and wearing his new cowboy hat), while I stayed inside where it was warm, prepping the meat and making a salad. We had steak for dinner, and made barbecue chicken to reheat the rest of the week. We had a local wine with dinner that was really good. It was the Guy Drew 2005 MSCF red table wine.
The next day, we drove to Eldora to go skiing. On the drive there we drove the Peak to Peak Highway and we drove back home a different route through the Boulder Canyon. The views during both of these drives were amazing and we took a lot of time to stop and take pictures.
Eldora was a lot of fun because it wasn't very crowded and it was small enough for us to ski practically the whole thing in one day. We were also pretty pleased with ourselves because we were able to save a ton of money by renting skis in Estes Park and buying discounted lift tickets there instead of at Eldora. There were a lot of blue runs at Eldora and we spend the first part of our day on those so I could warm up. After lunch, I decided to brave the black slopes (which I have never done!) I skied really well! I skied on three different black slopes and was even able to work on developing short parallel turns. It helped that the slopes (and especially the blacks) weren't very crowded and that the slopes were also nice and wide, despite being pretty steep!
When we went to ski the first black slope, it had been temporarily closed due to wind, and we were practically the first people up there once it opened. We were able to ski down twice and have the slope entirely to ourselves. It was amazing!
Tuesday was our last full day in Estes Park. We woke up early and went on a breakfast ride at Sombero Stables. Horseback riding was fun and we were happy that we'd rescheduled. Our ride in 45 degree weather was much more pleasant than it would have been in 17 degree weather!
Our final planned activity in Estes Park was a couple's massage at the Riverspointe Spa. My darling fiance had never had a massage before, and I think he really enjoyed himself. He had a hot stone massage and I had a massage that combined hot stones and essential oils. We both got mud facials as well. It was really relaxing and definitely helped work the soreness out of my muscles from all the winter sports earlier in the trip! I'm also pretty obsessed with the way Thieves Essential Oil smells.
We spend the rest of the day walking around downtown and buying souvenirs for people. On Wed. we flew home. Our trip was really fun and relaxing and I would totally recommend Estes Park as a great place for a vacation. I think it would also be a good place to vacation with children because there is so much to do outdoors.

Where do you like to go on vacation? Do you have any trips planned?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I'm back!

Colorado was wonderful and I'll write a detailed recap soon- but for now, I just wanted to write a short post.
Snowshoeing was really fun, skiing was excellent (I even started practicing some short turns on black slopes), and horseback riding was cool (who knew horses could climb up steep hills!) We took 80 million pictures because the Rockies are gorgeous and saw Elk everywhere- even next to the grocery store parking lot!
I'm also hoping that our time spent at a high altitude (7500+ ft. from Sat. to Wed. afternoon) will have filled us up with lots of red blood cells to help us during the Crescent City Classic on Saturday. :)