April 29, 2009

Wednesday Playlist: Stolen from Soundtracks

I have been listening to a lot of music from my early 20's lately and noticed a trend. I have been listening to movie music, from films like "Empire Records", "Mad Love", and "Dream for an Insomniac" (my favorite film). I thought this could be a good playlist and brainstormed a bit more to come up with today's offering.

Some of the songs are from musicals though a good portion of them are just songs I love from movies I love. I hope you enjoy!

Now before you listen, the list is not PG or even PG-13 so if you're under 14 it's not for you and some may not be safe for work.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

April 27, 2009

Bring on the Bug Juice

I have been thinking a lot about my rock climbing retreat last year. It was an amazing weekend in Vedauwoo, Wyoming with The Women's Wilderness Institute. It was a lot like being at camp when I was a kid. Granted it was a small group and we slept in tents not cabins and cooked together rather than eating in the mess hall but the camaraderie and energy were there. So why should kids have all the fun? Have you ever wanted to just check out for a week and go learn something new or improve a skill? Maybe one of these adult camps are for you.

If you're interested in more traditional wilderness skills try Outward Bound. While known for it's youth course Outward Bound offers a wide range of courses for adults including kayaking, climbing, backpacking, and sailing. Also try finding an organization like The Women's Wilderness Institute in your state (or wherever you may roam).

If you're a musician and want a chance to learn from an idol consider Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp. Held in various locations across the USA and in England these five day camps allow you to attend classes, jam sessions, write and record music and perform with rock stars. Now these camps are not for someone with moderate interest. Running about $8K per camp this is a serious investment but if it's your passion it could be worth it.

Now if you're lucky enough to be a lady and want to learn or improve your singing or instrument skills consider Ladies Rock Camp in Portland, Oregon. I was able to attend one of these camps in 2007 and it was quite memorable. I spent a weekend in Portland at the Girls Rock Camp learning guitar, forming a band, writing our own song, and then performing at the Music Showcase (I have a DVD to prove it). At the reasonable price of $375 not only do you learn skills and form new friendships but you're tuition helps raise money for the Girl's Rock Camps and after school programs.

If you are a member of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender community how about Camp Camp? Held in August each year, this experience may be the closest match to a traditional summer sleep away camp. With activities including swimming, arts and crafts, climbing, hiking, and mountain biking there is something for everyone. The week long camp also includes a Barn Dance, campfires, and the Talent/No Talent Show. Camp registration is $995 but campers also have the option to apply for staff positions to reduce tuition costs.

If you're always gazing at the stars then Space Camp may be for you. Located in Huntsville, Alabama, Space Camp offers 3-day ($449),6-day ($899), and 8-day ($1,299) sessions for adults. Campers participate in various simulations like walking on the moon as well as experience missions as part of the shuttle crew and mission control. Space Camp also offers Corporate Team building packages, though I think I would rather go alone. ;)

Maybe you spend more time digging in the dirt than staring at the sky. Are you a history buff and always hoping to wander across an archaeological find? The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center offers opportunities for novices as well as those with more experience. During the week long program you will spend time in the field which includes hiking to the site as well as working along side professionals in excavating efforts. Several evenings include educational presentations. The novice rate is $1,400 and includes meals, accommodations, permits and local transportation.

I never thought summer camp would be a part of my adult life but it's had a great impact. As usual my list of suggested camps is not all inclusive. If you have another passion be it baking, surfing, or ghost hunting then google it and camp may very well be in your future.

April 26, 2009

Checking In and Following Up...

It's been a crazy couple of weeks but it's been worth it. The Gear and Cheer Fundraiser for The Women's Wilderness Institute was an amazing success. We raised a lot of money for our Girl's programs and again it was a great opportunity to bring like minded people together.

I am so thankful to all the sponsors that donated food, beverages, and of course wonderful gear and products for the auction. I am also incredibly proud of the committee and all the volunteers that pulled together and made it happen.

The night was personally very touching for me. I finally got to meet some of my favorite people on Twitter, as well as Miss Emma from my blog, and was honored by The Women's Wilderness Institute. Courtney, this year's marketing intern, presented me with a rug made from a retired climbing rope. This amazing gift will return to to TWWI next year to be passed on to another contributor however I will cherish it during the time I have it.

Sometimes volunteer work can feel never ending and honestly there are times where you can feel like it's just too much to take on. At times when I felt overwhelmed with the event planning I looked around and reminded myself I was surrounded by a great committee and we were all working for a great cause. In addition, TWWI has certainly gone above and beyond to help me recognize the importance of my contribution and make me feel appreciated. Now I just have to take a step back and figure out what the next year will hold for me.

And....for those that enjoyed my Late Bloomer's Challenge I wanted to recommend two other blogs for you. Both are stories of women who climb and how life has changed since they began climbing:

Where Were You Before Climbing? - The Rock Climber Girl
Where I Was Before Climbing - Katie

Photos by Xavier Enriquez

April 21, 2009

Wednesday Playlist: The Boys of Summer

Last week's guilty pleasure list was so much fun I considered doing a round two. Then the weather changed and I decided to postpone round two because this gorgeous 80 degree weather has me thinking of being water side and basking in the sun. Add good music from the fellas I have dubbed the Boys of Summer and it's a perfect day!

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

April 19, 2009

Making it a Reality

We live in interesting times. Humans have developed increasingly sedentary lifestyles and many of us catch ourselves sucked in to television. While I try to stay active and moving the truth is I need my rest time, we all do. Unfortunately, where television is concerned it has this magical way of turning an intended hour of downtime into three or four hours. I tend to watch movies and dramas but I know there is a huge draw towards reality television. Maybe it’s because we like to relate to the people on the screen and feel we could be in there shoes. So why wait for a casting call? I have looked at some of the more popular reality shows and have some ideas of how we can make them a reality of our own.

If you like The Amazing Race then try an adventure race in your own state! The Great Urban Race has a presence throughout the United States ending the season with National Championship in New Orleans. Teams of two come up with their team name, matching outfits/costumes and compete in a one-day race solving clues and puzzles. Prizes are awarded for the top placers, Best Costume, and Funniest Pictures.

If you want an adventure race that pushes you’re physical endurance, think Eco Challenge only much shorter, consider the Merrell Oyster Racing Series. In teams of 3-6 people (depending which race format you choose) you can expect to paddle, bike, climb, run, bowl, and compete in trivia and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Unlike a triathlon or marathon you don’t know what the course will be in advance. Of course, that’s part of the excitement. These races also serve as a fundraiser for a local charity, so in addition to the course entry you will be expected to raise money; however the minimal pledge is manageable at $100 per team.

Do you love the sense of accomplishment and emotional rollercoaster that comes with The Biggest Loser? Wish you could have their trainers and access to a team to keep you motivated? Want to lose weight, gain strength, and boost the self-confidence? There is a boot camp for you. In the Denver/ Boulder area we have a group called BCOR that offers group classes early in the morning or in the evening. Most are set in a park and don’t require special skills. You just have to show up and be ready to move. There are many fitness boot camps popping up all over the nation. One unexpected place may be your local recreation center. Your local rec centers are always improving from adding climbing walls, and outdoor education for adults they’re also adding boot camps and nutrition programs. The best part is they’re offered at a much cheaper rate than you would find with a private organization.

Perhaps watching a family who has fallen on hard times receiving their new home on Extreme Makeover Home Edition is one pulls on your heart strings. Then Habitat for Humanity might be up your alley. I know you’re thinking “Cupcake, are you crazy? The last thing I built was a bread box in high school”. That’s the beauty of Habitat, if you can hammer a nail you can help out. You can also volunteer as a family, a company, or a group. You will be helping build a simple house that a family has made a down payment on and will be working on themselves. The housing payments are not for profit and go back to fund additional houses.

Then again maybe it’s music or performing that moves you. Do you like to watch Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance or maybe enjoyed Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within? Want to dance but think it’s too late to learn as an adult? Well quite simply you’re wrong. Granted I am 32 and harbor no thoughts of becoming a professional ballerina or circus performer, but I am not opposed to shaking up my workout routine. I have found that many recreation centers have ballroom, swing dance, ballet, and even hip hop for adults. If you live in the Denver area you can also look into courses through Colorado Free University. If you’re looking for something a little more exotic how about Aerial Dance? Aerial Dance Over Denver has beginner courses and I plan to make this my fitness endeavor in the fall.

Sometimes I may sound like a broken record but I want you all to keep trying new things. I know how much excitement and value it brings to my life and hope everyone else can feel that spark too. If you’ve been inspired to take a class or try something new based on a reality program please share your story in the comments section, I would love to hear from you.

April 15, 2009

What the Girls Experience: Emma's Story

I have shared with you my passion for the outdoors as well as my passion for volunteering and specifically why I volunteer with The Women's Wilderness Institute. With our annual Gear and Cheer fundraiser only a week away I thought you might like to hear from one of our younger participants. Emma attended a Wild Voices trip in 2008 and this is her story.

I knew my 6-day backpacking course to the Snowy Mountains with Women’s Wilderness was going to be great, but I had no idea that it would be such a life-changing experience. When I set off to Wyoming on that hot summer’s day in July with 10 girls that were practically strangers, I had no idea that we would all feel like sisters by the end of the trip.

Over the course of the trip, we all learned how to set up tents, cook food in the backcountry, and survive in the wilderness. One of the many thrilling aspects of the course was being able to decide as a group where we would sleep at night. That, as well as many other things, made me feel very free while I was on the trip.

Every night, we did a Bead Ceremony, when the girls and leaders would reflect on their day and add a bead to their bracelet. I remember that the leaders were so kind, understanding and helpful, and how it was so powerful to be in an all-girl group. We really understood each other, and we each experienced the thrill of the wilderness.

But of course, every good experience has a bad side to it. This experience came hand in hand with......bugs! By the end of the trip, I had at least 50 mosquito bites! But I tried to look past that and made the most of the course anyway. That was probably what Sally* was trying to do as well, but she was homesick and miserable for most of the trip. When a horse wandered into our camp on our last night, Sally’s attitude changed completely. She loves horses and feels a strong connection with the animals.

The horse incident was pure magic - I’m sure of it. Along with the beautiful views, thrilling night noises, crying for joy and sadness at the same time, and the feeling of peacefulness I had during the trip, Sally’s transformation was one of the moments that made the Wild Voices backpacking course unforgettable. Although I faced mental, physical and emotional challenges throughout the trip, I know that the course made me a stronger, better person. If every girl in America could go on a Women’s Wilderness trip, the world would be a much better place. I feel even more confident now that I have gone on the Wild Voices trip, and I know I will be successful in life, whatever I do. The spiritual aspect of the course, especially, was overwhelmingly powerful to me, and I know I will continue to see the girls and leaders I met on the trip for many decades. I can’t wait for my next course with Women’s Wilderness!

I hope those of you are in the Boulder/Denver area will come to Gear and Cheer on Thursday April 23, at Rembrandt Yard in Boulder and help support the programs that help make strong girls and strong women.

* Name changed

April 14, 2009

A Treat from My Tweeps!

I have really enjoyed making playlists to share with my friend, especially my Twitter pals, or Tweeps. I really feel learning about other's music tastes helps me get to know them better (especially my virtual friends). The best way to amplify that learning experience, find out what their guilty pleasure music is.

I define guilty pleasure as the music that makes you rock out, makes you move, makes you smile, but you may not necessarily want to get caught listening to. Now it could be the shame, it could be because your friends are so tired of hearing the same song over and over again, or perhaps it's because you have a signature dance move to go with the song that you don't want to see on Youtube.com.

So here it is the playlist from my Tweeps, with a few of my own thrown in for good measures. Which ones are mine? I'll never tell ;-)

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

April 9, 2009

Cupcake Challenge: Giving Back by Doing the Things You Love

If you've been reading my blog a bit, know me, or follow me on Twitter you know a few things about the Cupcake. I like being active, I like trying new things, and I love volunteering and giving back to causes I believe in.

For those of us who like adventure and to push ourselves physically we always feel compelled to challenge ourselves. So my newest challenge to you is while setting your spring and summer time goals consider a fund raising event in your chosen sport (or a new one)! Sometimes finding out where to start is the toughest hurdle so I have done a little research to get us going.

The HERA Women's Cancer Foundation has a variety of events for outdoor enthusiasts that support their mission to end the loss of life due to ovarian cancer. The events began with the Climb for Life which was brain child of Sean Patrick when she was recovering from her seventh ovarian cancer surgery. Since then the success of the climbing events has lead way to the upcoming Escape from Granogue Mountain Bike Race, and 2009 Run Like a Girl 8K Series.

Want to hit up Yosemite this year? Perhaps consider Climb for a Cause. Over Labor Day weekend this event will include an attempted summit of the Half Dome as well as other fun events. If you participate you'll be raising funds for The Cambodia Project and Guatemalan Dental Relief.

Yet another organization doing amazing things while getting people off the couch is Climb Up So Kids Can Grow Up, which raises money to fight against pediatric AIDS in Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Participate by doing a climb in your own state this May!

If want to help inner-city urban teens experience the wilderness and love to summit mountains then check out Backpacker Magazine's Summit for Someone and their collection of amazing climbs. The events cover 17 peaks and different levels including women specific climbs and expedition climbs of five days or more.

A organization that has been known for their marathon, half-marathon and triathlon events is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. This group is unique in the fact that you are part of a team and train together to work towards the big day. If the idea of running or completing a triathlon doesn't knock your socks off check out their newest expansion into Hiking and Cycling events.

If the above mentioned events make you feel like a fish out of water how about Kayak for a Cause? This group chooses different charities each year and past recipients have included Outward Bound and the Sierra Club. This July's race will be the ninth year with paddlers going from Long Island to Connecticut.

While this is a relatively short list I hope it gets you thinking about your next step and how you can take your love of the outdoors to the next level. If you don't see something in your community or have a specific non-profit group you would like to support consider organizing your own event. Take it from me there is nothing more rewarding then organizing an event when your passion is the driving factor.

April 5, 2009

I'm Going In, Cover Me!

This week's playlist is a compilation of some of my favorite cover songs. There are some cover songs that make me weep and not in a good way (Twisted Sister's Leader of the Pack comes to mind). However some artists do a great job. I tried to put them in some logical order but...yeah, it may just be some chaos. I look forward to hearing your contributions of other great cover songs! Some songs may have lyrics Not Safe for Work.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

We Have a Winner!

Thank you everyone who entered the contest. Choosing the winner of the Rocket Shower essay contest was hard! There were so many stories that I could relate to but ultimately I chose one based on a series of unfortunate events. The winning story was submitted by Jen Dennis and is titled A Tale of Dirt:

There have been a lot of occasions when I have been really dirty, and I mean, can't see my clothes because I'm that covered in mud, dirty. And somehow I always seem to be the only one who gets dirty; I think its an occupational hazard spending most of my life outside, but evening on hiking weekends I manage to get my legs covered in mud when everyone else is squeaky clean.

So here's a little story when the rocket shower would have been very useful.

Last year I went on rugby tour to Spain. Typical tour, we were drinking lots and playing the odd bit of rugby, normally in just sports bras and shorts because it was that hot. A lot of the time we didn't wear shoes either (because we were drunk and it seemed like a good idea.... I digress). Towards the end of the tour we got to play in the finals. Great.
The game was going well, the pace was quick and it was hot. Very hot with a hangover. I got the ball and I was making a break for a try, and all of a sudden I fell over on the ONE piece of mud on the entire pitch and got covered in mud. At least, we think it was mud - the ref. did try and tell me it was sewage ( so not).

Post game, so still hot and sweaty, we had to pile back into a coach which had turned into an oven whilst we were playing. So cue more sweat. great!

We got back to the hotel, and our wisdom me and my friends decided to put on our bikinis instead of diving straight into the outside pool. Because we were staying on floor 9 or something we got the lift up... and would you believe it, the lift broke down!!

We were stuck in there for an hour, and by the time we came out we roasted, and sweaty, and smelling of post- rugby work down (and mud).

I could have definitely done with the rocket shower at any time during that day.

The winner of the random drawing was Kerri Pszenny. Kerri's need for Rocket Shower was the result of the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk. That could be a hot and sweaty situation!

April 2, 2009

My Adventures In Cycling
Part One: Prepared Like a Girl Scout, Where's my Badge?

It seemed as soon as I was road ready the weather decided to work against me. However I have managed a few rides and realized just like any other activity being outdoors is much different than the gym. You can't compare running on the treadmill to a trail run and riding uphill in the cold with wind blowing is so different than the stationary bike.

Since the weather hasn't worked in my favor I have been training and riding in smaller increments working my way up for the big daily commute goal. One part of that goal is being prepared for emergencies, particularly flat tires. I have outfitted my bike with an under seat bag including the core basic repair items:

  • Spare tube

  • Patches

  • Tire Pressure Gauge

  • Tire Levers

  • A Multi Tool

  • Pump

Of course having the tools is useless if you don't know how to use them. A client who commutes via bike frequently told me just sit down and change the tire three times in a row, in the comfort of your own home. The last thing you want is to have your first tube change be on the side of the road when the sun is going down. I watched this video a few times and went for it.

How to Change a Flat Tire on a Bicycle -- powered by ExpertVillage.com

It was so much easier than I had imagined and I feel better when I am out on the path miles away from home. My next installment will include tips for making your bicycle commute more comfortable in the mean time,visit REI's Expert Advice Site for a Basic Cycling Checklist.