May 26, 2009

Wednesday Playlist: It's Getting Hot in Here

When I was originally inspired to pull together a summer playlist it was hot out. Since I began collecting submissions we have had a lot of rain in Colorado but that hasn't stopped me! Here's a compilation of some of my favorite songs that remind me of summer as well as some from my fabulous Tweeps!

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May 21, 2009

Back in the Saddle

We've all heard the saying "It's just like riding a bike" but commuting via's not just like riding a bike. Well at least not like I remember it when I was young. Back in the day I would ride all day long with my friends and nobody worried about whether or not they would make their destination on time, if they would be too sore the next day, if it was safe, or if they would look presentable after the ride. As adults these are things we worry about and they often discourage us from bicycle commuting. After a few weeks of commuting by bike I have learned a few things that may help you give bike commuting a try or improve your experience.

The Time Factor
Many of us don't have the luxury to arrive at work anytime we please. Whether the distance of your ride is too long to commute solely by bike or you need to work up to fitness level needed for the daily ride you may have options. In the Denver/Boulder area we are fortunate to have the RTD bus and light rail service. All of their busses are equipped with bike racks and you're permitted to bring your bike on board the light rail. My regular commute would be about 13 miles to and from work and 26 miles a day is a bit much for me (right now). However combining my biking with the RTD has trimmed that down to about 12 miles round trip. Much more manageable for someone new to this adventure.

Check out what your local mass transit may offer. I was originally a bit intimidated by the process but once I became familiar with the RTD and it's schedules I have really begun enjoying it. I like the people watch and I am learning more about the community than I would in a car.

The Comfort Factor
There are a few elements that go into comfort. The initial element is the bike itself. For the best results go to a true bike shop. You can take your current bike in and have a fitting done. They will make adjustments and can make suggestions for the proper tires or other items like the saddle(bike seat). The saddle I had was fine for recreational riding but I needed something different for commuting. When I went to the bike shop they measured my sit bones and I found out my previous saddle was too wide. After a few days in the new saddle I have minimal soreness. While your instincts would say if you're sore get a cushy padded seat the reality is that may not be what you need, consult the experts and trust them.

Beyond the bike you need to feel comfortable which in my case means hydration and layers. I have a Camelbakwith 787 cu. in. of storage space and a headphone portal so my IPod is protected and the cord is manageable. This allows me to store my daily essentials and snacks. I can also fit my Marmot Precip jacket. I love this jacket because it's a great layer when it's windy or raining and features underarm ventilation which I need even when it's chilly.

The Safety Factor
Safety goes beyond wearing a Helmet though for the record I have to say it WEAR YOUR HELMET. A helmet does no good left at home or attached to your pack. Put it on your noggin. Helmets save lives!

Okay, that being said even with helmets accidents happen. It's a grim topic but people do get injured and in a time of emergency you don't want medical professionals guessing if you have allergies, insurance, or who to contact. I was lucky to find the Xtreme Sports ID bracelet. Upon purchase, $8 initially and $5 annual renewal, you register the bracelet online and input all of the information that is needed during a medical emergency.

Even better it's not like the metal bracelets that bring images of "I've fallen and I can't get up" to mind. The bracelets are a light weight plastic, come in a variety of colors and sizes, and are so comfortable you can leave them on while you sleep and in the shower. They feature the medical alert symbol, an 800 number, and your personal ID number so your information is easily retrieved. I recommend the bracelets for more than just biking. If you're a solo outdoor enthusiasts you can use the online tool to send a message to your emergency contacts and let them know where you are going and when you expect to return. They're great for any sport or even for kids to wear daily in case of an emergency or separation. Want to win a child's size bracelet?
Read the contests section below for details.

The Presentation Factor
I plan on talking a little more about clothing and hairstyles that will take you from the commute to the office with ease in future posts. For now, let's focus on the sweat issue. Few of us have a shower at the workplace, I know I don't. I rely on items like Rocket Shower (previously reviewed here) and Action Wipes to get me from the bike path to the desk without scaring off my colleagues and customers. Both products offer a body spray in a light fine mist that help eliminate bacteria which stops odor from starting. Action Wipes also features wipes, similar to a baby wipe in size but a better texture and the Action Wipe formula made for athletes. I have a sample of Action Wipes Spray to give away as well, so check out the contests section. To buy Action Wipes now and get a 15% discount code vist, just enter "cupcake" at checkout.

Keep Moving Forward
Just like any other activities you will have some discomfort and frustration when starting out with the bike commute. I have had many moments wondering why I was doing it. Then I see animals playing, smell aromas that remind me of happy childhood moments, and see my community in a way I never have before and I realize it's not just about my health or the environment. I am learning and growing with every ride. Get out there and do it!!! (Also check out my previous post to be prepared for a flat tire on the road)

The Contests - Deadline for Entry is June 1
Xtreme Sports ID (Child's size): I have a pink marble bracelet to give away. Perfect for the little one who's curiousity has them wandering off or a child with allergies. Email me at with Xtreme in the subject line. Include your name and contact information.

Action Wipes Spray: For this contest, just shoot me an email at with Action in the subject line. Include a brief story about your best bike commute experience (that will be shared on and your contact information.

May 19, 2009

Wednesday Playlist:
You've Come A Long Way, Baby Part 2

Last week we looked at the female singers and groups of the 1950s and 1960s. To quote Lesley Gore it was mostly "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows". Since then females have come a long way in music and are no longer limited to singing bubble gum songs with the goal of hitting the Top 40.

Here are 45 Fabulous songs from female musicians in the last 15 years. While this is my longest playlist yet, I still feel as though I could add more. I would love to see some comments on which female musicians you would have loved to see included.

The language and content of some of the songs may not be appropriate for those under 18.

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May 17, 2009

Yoga + Martial Arts + Meditation = Budokon:
Cameron Shayne - Budokon for Beginners

I love Yoga. Back in the day when Tae Bo was so popular I enjoyed those Tapes (yeah they were tapes then). When I became the owner of Gaiam's Cameron Shayne - Budokon for Beginnersat the Gear and Cheer Auction I thought this could be fun and I am happy to say it's been a welcome addition to my yoga and fitness routine.

Cameron Shayne developed Budokon combining his skills as a second degree black belt and experience with yoga. The Budokon techniques are rooted in Iyengar and Ashtanga yoga practices and from Okinawan Karate-Do, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and Olympic Style Tae Kwon Do. Shayne has a calm and empowering presence in the video. His style allows for clear verbal and visual instruction while maintaining focus on the breath.

The DVD is structured in three parts: Yoga, Martial Arts Poses, and Meditation. The yoga routine should be manageable for most. The poses are fairly common and held for shorter periods of time than some yoga styles require. The Martial Arts section is a combination of kicks and punches that focus on form and figure, and then short guided meditation. The full program runs about 40 minutes and I feel a very unique sense of peace and vigor upon completion.

If you are new to yoga or martial arts or just like to know what to expect I recommend viewing the "Poses" section prior to trying the routine your first time. If you need to reference the Poses while in the Full Workout mode you can easily select the pose title when it appears on the screen. Once you become more familiar with the poses you can move to the Short routine. This moves at a faster pace and involves less instruction.

The video, available at Amazon for $12.99, has been a great way for me to add a little oomph to my yoga routine. I have never been the type who would attend Martial Arts classes but I like the way the Budokon poses challenge my body in a new way. I recommend this for anyone who wants to try yoga but thinks it will be too slow paced or for anyone practicing yoga who would like to add a zesty new element.

May 16, 2009

The Routine of Change

"The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order."~ Alfred North Whitehead

As I was moving into my condo this past few weeks this quote rang in my brain. I have been so busy the last few months with work, volunteer work, and life that it helped me add structure and order. When you don't have much spare time you have to make every minute count but also make sure that you're being effective and moving forward.

Then when unpacking amongst the chaos of the boxes I realized I had a routine. There were certain things that needed to happen for me to feel established in my home. The shower curtain had to go up, the bed had to be in the right place, my bathroom had to be functional for my morning routine and my pets had to be comfortable. I realized that even during a time of great change I had a routine. Having lived in this home before, a few years ago, I was also intrigued at how I began to put things back in their "place". I made a concious decision about what elements I wanted to be different but then it's as though my subconcious handed me a cup of tea and said, "Let's just make this as easy as possible and stick with what we know."

I find it interesting the way we work so hard to preserve our sanity during change by calling up on our previous experiences, our memories, and our instincts. Even in times of positive change we can be fearful and yet we respond with amazing tools to add a routine, a sense of familiarity and stability.

Certainly nothing profound...just some thoughts from the Cupcake.

May 12, 2009

Wednesday Playlist: You've Come A Long Way Baby Part One

So I have a problem, I love the pop music of the girl groups and singers of the 1950's and 1960's. The songs are catchy, sweet, and just make me want to sing along (occasionally there is a dance but you will never see it). At the same time the messages aren't always empowering. The message was often "Do whatever you have to in order to get a man and keep him". For a fairly independent woman I find that concept pretty backwards. However it was a different time, I could dwell on the "dark side" of the music but I would rather just go on singing along and do my sassy (yet private) dance. After all in the end Lesley Gore is an out and proud lesbian, and we've come a long way!

Next week will be a look at female artists of the last 15 years. How far have we come? I'll let you know next week.

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May 10, 2009

A Girl on the Run:
Jilly's Story

Mother's Day has never been a special day for me. I do not have a relationship with my mother for reasons I won't bother you with. I don't have children of my own at this time, so for me it's just another day. Yet today, I read a story by my dear friend and mother Elena. It is women like Elena who help me celebrate Mother's Day in my own way, with pride for having them in my life. She has three beautiful children and she has given me permission to share this story about her oldest, Jilly.

My daughter, Jillian, is a member of Girls on the Run. Girls on the Run is an organization for girls between the ages of 8 and 13. They train to run a 5K while also teaching about healthy body image and making good life choices. For twelve weeks she's been training hard and meeting with her team twice a week. This Saturday was the capstone 5K event. It was also her 9th birthday. So we all got up early and packed the whole family out to Latta Park with literally thousands of other Girls on the Run, their coaches and families. The air was filled with excitement. Each team had their own 'costuming', there were some wearing mardi gras beads and feathers, some wearing artificial flowers and grass skirts. Jilly's team all created capes for themselves, because they are strong, like superheroes.

Finally it was time. The 5K route was set out to be 3 laps of a little over a mile each. They sounded the start and very shortly after starting on her first lap, Jillian fell down. She skinned up her plams and bloodied both knees. At that point she had a choice. She could have decided that she was done, that she'd had enough and couldn't go on and no one would have blamed her. Or she could decide to finish the run she'd been training so hard for. She chose to keep going. She shook it off and finished the race. She crossed that finish line with tears in her eyes and fell into her daddy's arms crying that she was hurt but she made it and she finished strong, no limping for this girl. As a mama, I don't know that I've ever been so proud. I honestly didn't know she had it in her.

Since Saturday morning I've taken every opportunity to brag on my girl, but I've also been thinking about the analogies drawn by her experience in relation to our lives. In life we face many struggles and sometimes we fall down and skin our knees too. And when we are down, we all have a choice to make at that moment. Stay down, or get back up and keep running. And we may want to just sit there and cry over our wounds. And the very idea of getting back up and continuing hurts. We have to dig deep and find the courage and determination and never, never give up. It doesn't matter where we end up in the race of life, the important thing is crossing the finish line and being able to hold your head up and knowing that no matter what, you did your best and even though you may have gotten injured along the way, you ran the race that was marked out for you. And at the end of it all, we can fall weeping into our Daddy's arms too, knowing that He will make it all okay for us again.

May 5, 2009

Be Confident and "Live Out Loud Everyday"
Even in a Swimsuit

I know that I am not alone in saying shopping for swim wear is the bane of my existence. I don't love my body, I don't like seeing it in harsh fitting room lighting and I really loathe the idea of finding a two piece that's top and bottom both fit (finding the Holy Grail may be easier). I often settle for an ill fitting takini top and board shorts, or at my lowest point last year, my lycra tennis skirt with built-in shorts. So why do I share this humiliating information with you? So you will understand just how lucky I feel to have found LOLE Swim wear.

LOLE (Live Out Loud Everyday) creates clothing that takes a woman from the trail to lunch in the city with ease. In that same spirit their swim wear is both attractive and a little sexy while still being functional. I was fortunate enough to receive two tankinis and the first thing I noticed was how sturdy they felt without being bulky.

Upon further examination, I noticed that the bottoms are fully lined and that is a huge plus to me. If you've ever been swimming in the ocean or a sandy area you know the perils of sand crotch. There is nothing more uncomfortable than sand stuck in the lining of your swimsuit, and getting it out discreetly, forget about it! With the fully lined bottoms that is not a worry.

When I tried on Gulf Halter Top and Reef Hipster bottom in Watermelon I was pleased with the fit. The leg holes were roomy, the top provides excellent support, and the color was very flattering, even to my pale skin. I then tried on the Cali Halter Top and Catalina Bottoms in Light Moss and this was my favorite. I really love the color and the cut of the bottom is very flattering for my shorter legs.

After the fawning over pleasing fit and colors I had to take them for the real test, the swim. I am delighted to say the suits were just what I wanted. The tankini tops are cut loose enough to give you some breathing room but not so full that they flop around when you're swimming. The bottoms stayed in place when I kicked, no riding up so I suddenly wasn't caught in the accidental thong. Not only are they beautiful and functional but they're chlorine resistant and rated UPF 50+ for protection from UV Rays.

If you find yourself in a bind this time every year looking for swim wear I highly recommend LOLE. While tankinis are my preference they also have a one piece and various bikinis. The colors and prints are designed to mix and match so go crazy, and Live Out Loud Everyday this summer! Click here for a list of retailers.

Wednesday Playlist: Me Circa 1991

Anytime I pack or unpack my home I get nostalgic. I remember a simpler time when things were easier, I was in the beginning of my high school years and all I had to do was be me. Granted at the time I am sure it was laced with drama and heartache but looking back it was so very basic. Very few worries and cares, it was all about fun and being in the moment.

Here's a collection of songs that remind me of that time. May not be appropriate for ages 14 and under.

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