March 31, 2009

Wednesdays + Playlists = Happy Yummy Goodness

Just like most humans I love music. I also love making playlists for my friends. So I have decided to try out new playlists each Wednesdays. Some will have a theme others will just be my mood that day or just fun music to get you through the middle of the week.

The first playlist is inspired by some great conversations about music lately and one of the reoccurring topics is guilty pleasures. You know, those songs you love that you may not like to admit to. This guilty pleasures list is all have metal. Not hardcore metal but cheesy glam 80's metal. Rock on!

March 30, 2009

Are you a dirty boy or girl?
Product Review and Contest: Rocket Shower

I love lunch time workouts, camping, going out to eat after a good hike or climb, and cycling when possible. What I don't love is being sweaty and self conscious that I may not smell so pleasant. Like many of my outdoor and fitness loving friends I was relying on baby wipes when I couldn't get a shower in but they just didn't really cut it and left my skin feeling coated. Then I remembered a product I read about awhile ago, Rocket Shower.

The History
Rocket Shower was developed by Linda DuPriest, an amazing bicycle advocate who has served on the International Mountain Bicycling Board of Directors, worked with Specialized, and coordinated bicycling and pedestrian efforts for the city of Austin Texas. DuPriest, an inductee to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, was commuting daily to offices without shower facilities when Rocket Shower was born. Tested with various outdoor enthusiasts the product has proven useful for all types of activities.

The Product
So what makes Rocket Shower different than soap and water or baby wipes? The content and the delivery. Rocket Shower is made from simple ingredients including witch hazel, a small amount of alcohol, citrus, mint, and vitamin E. The product is deliver via a spray pump in a fine mist and cools the body while helping evaporate sweat quickly and killing the bacteria that leads to odor. After spraying Rocket Shower on simply wipe off with a dry or damp towel.

The Review
I did a three fold test of the product: light work out, a day without showering, and post workout. The first time I tried it was post yoga. While I don't get sweaty I get warm. It cooled me off quickly and I liked the pleasant smell. Later in the week I woke up late for work, no time for a shower. I gave myself a spray down and wiped off with a towel and I felt great. The scent woke me up a bit and I didn't feel self conscious all day. Then the real test. After an 45 minute bike ride I definitely worked up a sweat. My first instinct was to hop in the shower but then I opted for the Rocket Shower again. It worked, plain and simple. I felt clean and didn't have a residue on my skin. It dried quick and I was ready to go meet a friend. I am keeping the travel size in my bag from now on. I love the ease of use and that I can use a washcloth and not have wipes to throw away and affect the environment.

Where to Buy It
Rocket Shower is available on their website in various sizes and bundles. You can also get their MicroNet towel if you purchase the Jet Pack. If you want instant gratification check out the Dealer Locator, which includes a few other online partners if you want to bundle your purchase with other shopping.

The Contest
Have you ever been dirty? Really dirty? Desperate to be clean? Email me a story of a time when Rocket Shower would have made your day and I will pick a winner from all the stories. Naturally, I will post the winning story here to share with everyone, but I may also post some of the better runners-up as well. If you want to remain anonymous, please let me know in your email as well as changing the names in your story to protect the guilty!

The winner will receive a full size bottle of Rocket Shower. I will also choose a random winner from all the submissions and that person will receive a travel size bottle. Deadline is Saturday, April 4 at 5:00pm MT.

March 28, 2009

Quick and Healthy Breakfast Cookies

For awhile I was eating Quaker Oatmeal Squares. They seemed like a good quick way to eat breakfast, then I read the nutrition information and the calories and sugars just weren’t worth it. So I thought about the flavors I liked and also the goal to make my breakfast vegan (while not a vegan I prefer to start my day with vegan meals) and found many recipes for Breakfast Cookies. I found two recipes that were a close fit and altered them to fit my tastes. I love the both recipes and find them ideal for breakfast on the go or a snack.

The first recipe I found at Mr., the original version can be found here. These are a bit crisp on the outside while a little chewy on the inside.

Vegan Oat Cookies

3 cups oats
2 large bananas
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 tsp salt or to taste
3/4 cup dates (pitted)
2/3 cup almond slivers
2/3 cup dried cranberries

1. Mix oats and salt. Add olive oil and mix well.
2. In a blender, mix bananas and dates until well blended and smooth.
3. Add banana mixture to the oats and blend well. Add nuts and dried cranberries. Let stand for half an hour.
4. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray. Pat mixture into the bottom of each cup, only filling about 1/3-1/2 way (or use cookie cutters on a cookie sheet to get shapes like the heart in the picture).
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-15 min.

The next original recipe was found at Eat, Drink, and Be Aware. A great blog from a fitness minded foodie. Again I made a few modifications and was pleased with the results. Compared to the Vegan Oat Cookies these are a little more traditional in cookie consistency.

Peanut Butter and Banana Breakfast Cookies

2 large banana pureed in blender
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (unsalted and unsweetened)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup flax seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat two cookie sheets with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together banana, peanut butter, agave nectar, and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine oats, flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Stir the oat mixture into the banana mixture until combined. Stir in dried fruit and seeds.

I dropped dollops from a serving spoon onto the cookie sheet to make 10 large cookies, size is a matter of preference but will affect baking time. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 14 to 16 minutes or until browned.

March 26, 2009

Thankful for Yoga Socks

This week has not been what I planned for training. No climbing, minimal biking, and not even my regular amount of time at the gym. However here and there I have managed to get in more yoga than normal. In the midst of today's snowstorm I was pleased to remember my yoga socks.

There are a lot of yoga socks out there that have little nubs on the bottoms so you don't slide or allow your toes to stick out. However I fell in love with this pattern because it exposes the heel and the toes while keeping the arch of the foot and ankle warm. I plan on making a few more pairs and trying out a lighter cotton yarn for early summer sessions.

An easy pattern for yoga socks can be found at Six Degree Arts. These can be knit in just a few nights and are a great gift for yourself or the yoga lover in your life.

March 22, 2009

Late Bloomers Challenge

Last weekend when I was at the climbing wall with my niece I met an interesting woman. By met, I don't mean we exchanged names, however we chatted. She and her teenage son were there climbing. They just began climbing recently and made the move to buy their own climbing shoes. She told me that it's quite a struggle for her, that she didn't feel like she was in great shape but that it was something she and her son could do together and they had a lot of fun.

While I was belaying my niece she told me she thought it was great that I was passing this on to my daughter so early in life. Naturally I corrected her that I was just the aunt but was excited to share this experience with the little one. She then made reference to how she wish she had started earlier and had the confidence I have.

I was surprised. Shocked really. While climbing a few years now I am still a newbie in the climbing world but the knowledge I had gained was new and exciting to her. So I sat down while my niece had an apple and told her abot my experience. That up until age 27 (5 years ago) I was not an active person. I shared with her the baby steps I took getting into the gym, going hiking, taking climbing classes, and my new goals for running and cycling. She talked with me about the goals she has for her and her son and asked my advice on gear and such. When it came time for me to leave I said goodbye and she thanked me for my time and advice.

The point of basically I was a late bloomer. Sometimes I take it for granted but when I think about it I get very excited that I have made such a change in my life. I challenge everyone to try something new this spring. Whether that means stepping your running up by trying a half marathon or trying out lead climbing for the first time or going for a walk after dinner rather than watching American Idol just try something new. The only thing you have to lose is regretting that you've never tried.

If you don't know where to start check out your local recreation centers. They have amazing classes for kids and adults. Find out what free clinics stores like REI might be having, they're a wonderful resource to get you moving in the right direction. Visit for climbing, hiking, and biking groups. It's a great way to connect with others and have a great time.

My readers, who I consider friends, keep me inspired to keep moving and try new things, I hope I can do the same for you. Get out there!

March 19, 2009

Prelude: Failure to Plan is a Plan for Failure

I know from too many bad experiences that what they say is true, “Failure to plan is a plan for failure”. Whether it’s a job interview, a shopping trip, or beginning a new project it’s necessary to do your research and make a plan. So as I begin my new adventure of bicycle commuting I have been finding out what I need to know and how to be successful.

There are many reasons why I am choosing this endeavor but a few include reducing my impact on the environment and incorporating a new method of exercise into my regular routine. I am in relatively good shape; I do cardio 4 times a week, yoga 3-4 times a week, and try to climb a couple times a week if possible. My job is 8 miles from home which isn’t unbearable and most of the errands I need are within 2 miles. I have faith that I can do this and will be a better person, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

As a regular part of my blog I will be including updates over the next few weeks about my bike and its recent modifications, important information and resources for better bicycle commuting, my experiences (the good and the bad), and tips and trick I learn along the way.

I look forward to sharing this experience with you and welcome your suggestions and ideas.

March 18, 2009

My Wordle

I used my blog feed to make this and love the way this turned out. Get yours at Wordle.

March 16, 2009

Garbanzo Beans! They're not just for hummus!

I hadn't planned on posting anything today but after a great bike ride and relatively productive day I was ready for a snack. I made one of my favorite savory, crunchy treats this weekend and they hit the spot. So here it is an easy to make treat that has the satisfaction of crunchy chips or pretzels without the fat.

Baked Garbanzo Beans (aka Chickpeas)

2 - 15 oz. Cans of Garbanzo Beans/Chickpeas, drain well
2-4 Tbsp. of your favorite seasoning. I use Spike seasoning blend but have also used Cajun seasoning or garlic salt and crushed red pepper.

Preheat oven at 450 degrees. Drain the beans as much as possible, I put them in a strainer. Spread beans on a baking sheet and coat with seasoning to your own taste preference. Total bake time will be 45-60 minutes until nice and crunchy. It's best to stir them around every 15 minutes or so for even baking. Store in an airtight container.

March 15, 2009

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
How I Learned To Change My Goals and Expectations for Climbing.

This week brought the end of a friendship and partnership, my climbing partner to be specific. Now I won't let this post turn into a venting session however I have to give a few of the details. My climbing partner was a dear friend but she was also my polar opposite. She is very much a go with the flow type of person. While this can be a good quality it also translated into constantly being late for our climbing sessions and lately a lack of focus while belaying me. Luckily we climbed indoors and the risk factors were minimal however gearing up to get outdoors for the season, well I didn't have the trust to bring her with me. These climbing issues coupled with some of her behavior in the non-climbing world really showed me a new side of her. A side I didn't want in a partner or a friend.

So this parting of ways forced me to ask what went wrong? After talking to friends and reading a few articles online I realized that our goals and expectations weren't the same. I expected my partner to show up on time, focus while we were climbing, and to establish a consistent schedule so we could both improve and push ourselves further. My goals are to get outside more (at least once a week) this season and to gain more competence in sport climbing this year. While these expectations and goals may seem pretty simple they're not for everyone, my climbing partner said she agreed with the goals but her actions showed otherwise.

So just like dating and breaking up, now that the relationship has ended I am not ready to hop back into something serious. I have decided to adjust my goals and expectations for the season. Rather than focus on goals that are based on having a single partner, my new goal for 2009 is to broaden my climbing community. I have been in a climbing rut and limiting myself with my climbing partner monogamy. I am ready for climbing partner polyamory. My new expectations...simple, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

I surveyed my Tweeps (friends on Twitter) and many said they go to the climbing gyms to find partners. That's what I will start doing. Even though I am not an extroverted type who's comfortable asking strangers if they want a belay, I am going to work past that insecurity.

I also have a number of other friends who climb that I haven't yet climbed with and I am excited to have more time to branch out and climb with new people. In addition, I will use the virtual world including,,, and Twitter to meet new climbers for conversation and climbing. I hope to learn from others this year and hope I can bring something to their lives too.

Overall it's been a bittersweet week. Anytime a relationship ends there can be sadness but I am very excited to shed the old goals and expectations and dive into a new world of opportunity.

March 11, 2009

Book Review: Girl on the Rocks
by Katie Brown

While looking at climbing route guides at the library I came across Katie Brown's "Girl on the Rocks: A Woman's Guide to Climbing with Strength, Grace, and Courage" and I can't lie my initial thought was 'Oh! Pretty Pictures.' I figured this book would have some useful information, knowing that Katie is a Boulder, CO based climber who began climbing before she was even a teenager. Katie is also active in the climbing community as the Enthusiast-in-Chief of, an online climbing community.

I myself have only been climbing about 2 1/2 years so I gobble up every bit of climbing literature I can get my hands on. When I started reading "Girl on the Rocks" I thought it might be a little under my skill level. The beginning is a great introduction into the sport of climbing and how to get started and I thought that might be the scope of the book. However I kept reading on because the pictures were excellent and I liked the tone of the book.

Then I got to the chapter that addresses fear when climbing. The honesty of this section really appealed to me. I catch myself wondering sometimes "Am I nuts for climbing?" Sometimes it hits me while I am 15 feet off the ground, other times its while buying gear and worrying about kilonewtons. This chapter taught me I am not alone in my fear, and it doesn't mean I am not cut out for this sport. Katie speaks to her own fears and you also learn about other professional climber's fears (and joys) in interviews peppered through out the book.

The section on overcoming fear and the pretty pictures are enough to make this book a worthwhile read for me, but then I hit the Advanced Techniques Chapter. Here's where the great visuals of hand jams, heel hooks, and other techniques really helped me feel like I am ready to move up a level. I had the 'Wow, I can do that!' moment. Following the techniques sections are tips and a schedule for training. Another helpful area for the novice climber who is ready to kick it up.

I think this book is a great tool for girls and women who want to get into climbing or are ready to move into lead climbing. The attention to detail is strong without micro-focusing to the point of losing the readers interest. Check it out at your local library or consider adding it to your collection. Available at Amazon
for $14.96.

March 8, 2009

Energy Bite Revamp

A little while ago I posted my Energy Bites recipe. I love them but I will be honest they're too sweet at times. Sometimes they're exactly what I want but for those not so sweet moments I wanted to branch out.

My dear friend Anna, from Homespun Oasis, set the tone with her variation on the recipe:

I used 1 c. honey
1/2 c. Agave Nectar
3/4 c. Almond Butter
1 c. dehydrated cranberries
3/4 cup carob chips
2 c. vanilla-almond granola
1/2 c. sunflower seas
1/2 c. pine nuts

I followed the directions on the original recipe and combined all of my wet ingredients over low heat until they were runny and added the almond butter. After the almond butter was fully integrated, I added all of my dry ingredients, being sure to save the carob chips for last (because they melt, and I like some bites to be very carobby and some to be very almondy.) - anna holler

Then I got back into the kitchen and made two more variations. The base was the same for both batches

1/2 c. agave nectar
3/4 c. Almond Butter
3/4 c Sorghum Flour (gluten free alternative available at Whole Foods or other such shop.

Combine agave nectar and nut butter in sauce pan on medium low heat and then stir in Sorghum Flour.

For the first batch I combined craisins, raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds and rolled oats for a total of 1 1/2 c.

For the second batch I wanted a salty and sweet affect so I used 1 and 1/2 c. of crushed pretzels.

All in all I am really impressed with how this recipe has developed. If you have a chance to make it and make mouth watering changes of your own let me know or share them in the comments section.

March 5, 2009

Can You Give Back By Buying Gear?

This week I have had a lot on my mind after hearing more bad news about the economy and how this is impacting non-profit organizations. If you’re a regular reader or follow me on Twitter you know I am involved with the planning of The Women’s Wilderness Institute’s Gear and Cheer fundraising event. We have been very fortunate to have great support for the event as well as amazing organization like Kelty and Sierra Designs as 2009 sponsors for the educational programs. Also a new development from 2009 sponsor Mountain Hardware the Send a Kid to Camp program that is supporting TWWI and other organizations.

Between working to set-up the auction and receiving my REI dividend this week I have been thinking a lot about buying gear. As you’ll note from my previous blog, Gear on the Brain, my decision making was based on how much I can get with my coupon and dividend but then I took a step back. I realized I shop at REI because I like supporting their amazing Stewardship Program. So what if I based my brand decisions on something greater? In a time when corporations are cutting their charity budgets how can I show them my support? Easy, show it with my dollars. Buy from organizations that give back.

I took a bit of time to research the brands I already use and figure out what they’re doing to make an impact. After visiting companies’ websites and learning more I have discovered they break down into three major areas: Non-Profit Partnerships, Environmental Impact, and Event Sponsors.

The Non-Profit Partners

Since I am considering purchasing quickdraws by Black Diamond, let’s start with them. This organization supports a lot of regional and national organizations. As with most of these corporations their entire list of philanthropic contributions is too large to list but to name a few Black Diamond is supporting the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and HERA’s Climb for Life.

The North Face also has an impressive list of partners. One organizations of note is which focuses on supporting “high quality grassroots social and economic development projects around the world” by matching donors with community based projects.

While some may not consider Clif Bars and Luna Bars gear we can all agree we need nourishment when were on the go. These companies focus on sustainability with their own product development as well as partner with great organizations like International Mountain Bike Association and American Whitewater but they also have a unique way of connecting to the community. Clif Bar aims to get more people biking than commuting by car particularly when traveling within a 2 mile radius. Check out the 2 Mile Challenge!

Environmental Impact

I knew that Patagonia did a lot on the local level to help the community but their global involvement is impressive on a much different level. Not only is the Patagonia distribution center in Reno, NV LEED Certified but they’re developing a rainforest in Chile, distributing Environmental Grants, and have the Common Threads Garment Recycling Program.

Another heavy hitter in global environmental impact is Mammut. Climbers in particular will be interested in the Kirgistan Mountain Project where Mammut has set-up fixed ropes for climbing, helped refurbish base camp, and is developing a mountain guide training program. In addition Mammut has climate-neutral ropes but offsetting their production expenditures by partnering with

Event and Athlete Sponsors

Many brands including some of those listed above sponsor elite athletes, like 5Ten, helping to support some of the top names in climbing. Some organizations are known more for their sponsorship of events. Tubbs Snowshoes for example sponsors the Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer and Winter Trail Days. Marmot has also been linked to some great events like “Going to the Dogs” in Estes Park which supports local No Kill animal shelters.

So there you have it. While this is in no way a comprehensive list I hope it gives you a starting point when looking at how your gear dollars can go further. If you have information on other brands and their impact please email me at or leave a comment.

March 3, 2009

Gear On The Brain

So the last few days it seems like gear talk is in the air. It started on my birthday when I got a REI giftcard from my cousin (she knows me so well). So then the decision was easy. I was going to get another six pack of quickdraws so I have twelve. I originally bought the Omega Pacific Dirtbag Draws. They're budget friendly for someone just getting into Sport Climbing and the reviews and comments from other climbers have been good.

Then the REI dividend arrive with a 20% off member coupon. So that doubled my budget and the coupon makes that go even further. So initially I was thinking step it up to the Black Diamond 6-pack of draws. They're light and having some of each would get me acclimated to using different draws.

Then it all went to Hades when I read's posts on gear this week. Now I am thinking I need more layers, possibly different approach shoes, and more pink (yeah I am the rarity there).

Then I remembered, gosh I want to do more Geocaching, I really could use a GPS device! Or wait, I could get the less expensive draws and some accessories for my bike, or wait! Yoga accessories!

So as I babble about my gear choices and you're thinking Cupcake, why do I care? Why, because you like to vote! You like to give your opinion and you want to tell me what you would do.

March 2, 2009

Cupcake Wobbles But She Doesn't Fall Down
(or My review of "Yoga for Climbers")

The skinny, I enjoy this DVD. I love the way it's laid out with a section on meditation, breathing, and then two 28-minute sessions. Session I is for climbing days and Session II for non-climbing days. So tonight I did Session II. The music is mild and not distracting, the direction is clear, the pace is good and the supplemental climbing footage helped me stay focused on the goal.

My only disclaimer is this may not be right for everyone. I have been doing yoga casually for a few years and in the last four months been stepping it up with daily poses and private instruction once a week. If I had no prior knowledge of yoga, this video would be a little intense.

This Session contained a lot of balancing poses like Half Moon and Warrior III. If you're new to yoga or need a little assistance have a chair or yoga block and strap available to help you through the poses. I suggest reviewing Poses menu for the session prior to diving in. You can get acquainted with the poses at your own pace.

Overall I am happy with my purchase for $24.95 I've added another element to my weekely routine. I would recommend it to any climber who wants a quick yoga routine they can incorporate into their training.

Video available through

Cupcake in Downward Dog Artist: Snailwing

March 1, 2009

Nesting and Nourishment

When I fell asleep last night I had the intention of rising early and heading to Echo Lake for a hike. However upon waking at 6:30 am I was feeling super stuffed up and also had the need to nest. I am not sure where the need came from but I felt like cleaning and getting my crafty/desk area organized as well as my climbing and hiking gear sorted out.

So this morning I have been moving at a snail's pace but have managed to get the laundry done, the desk cleaned up and enjoyed a wonderful Cinnamon Scone from Whole Foods. While digging in my pantry I found the raw sunflower seeds I purchased a few days ago and decided it was time to make a small batch of Energy Bites.

I can't recall where I learned this recipe but have been making them for a few years now. I will be the first to admit, they're not that pretty. However they're all natural, delicious, and pack a lot of energy in a little package. I like to freeze them and then bring them on hikes or to the climbing gym for a snack.

So here it goes, simplest recipe ever! What you need:

1 Cup Honey
1 Cup Peanut Butter
1 Cup Carob Powder
1 Cup Seeds (I vary it and tend to use a combination of Sesame, Pumpkin, Sunflower and Flax)

Pour the honey in a medium size sauce pan and heat on low to medium heat. When honey is liquidy add the peanut butter. When the two have melted well together add the Carob Powder. When it is dissolved add in the nuts.

After all the ingredients are well mixed transfer to a baking pan. Depending on how big you want your bites you can use a loaf pan or an 8" x 8" pan. Place in refrigerator at least one hour to set-up. I then cut them up into squares, place a few in a baggie, and throw them in the freezer. They last about a week in the refrigerator or a month (or more) in the freezer. Enjoy!