June 30, 2009

Wednesday Playlist: Freedom Baby!

In light of the upcoming Independence Day weekend I thought a playlist celebrating songs of freedom might be order. It's also fitting considering last week's list was songs of protest.

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June 29, 2009

Don't Let the Name Fool You: Mountain Hardwear is Perfect for an Urban Adventure

I ride my bike about 85 miles a week. Not a ton but it's my primary mode of transportation. Bike commuting wouldn't be possible without good versatile durable clothing. In addition to riding I need clothing that fits into my casual work environment, allows me movement to climb on an indoor bouldering lunch break, and moves with me throughout yoga. That is why I love my new items from Mountain Hardwear.

I love my Petra pant for so many reasons. While the fabric is light and moves easily it doesn't feel flimsy. The pants feell durable and well made. The zip thigh pocket is perfect for my keys or a little money and the slash pockets are nice and deep (important when hiking or riding for security). Another great feature is the adjustable tabs in the waist, allowing a little more room for sizing. As a woman who's body fluctuates I really love this element.

The top I adore is the Duration Tank. I love the Pale Orchid color, it's very flattering and goes well with black (very important to the Cupcake). My favorite part of this top is that it feels like I am wearing nothing! The fabric is so light and breezy I feel very free and cool even in the warmest temperatures. The wicking properties keep me dry and it has antimicrobial finish, which is a fancy way of saying it controls odors. In a perfect world I wouldn't worry about such a thing but an active girl will eventually perspire. It's nice to know this top has my back in the odor control department.

With a name like Mountain Hardwear one might feel you need to hit the hills to don this apparel. The reality is it's perfect for anyone who's looking for strong, fun, attractive clothing to take them from the Farmer's Market to Yoga in one comfortable outfit.

June 23, 2009

Wednesday Playlist: Music With a Message

In light of what is going on in Iran and all the issues that are close to home I am choosing songs of protest for this week's playlist. I am not going to make a big political statement here because that is not in my nature. I do however like when musicians take hold of their art to speak out on what they believe in. While the songs may not be the traditional protests folk songs one usually thinks of they're all filled with a message.

With thoughts of peace for Iran and gratitude for soldiers who believe in equal human rights enough to put their lives on the line, I give you "Music with a Message".

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June 22, 2009

Car-Free Commuting: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

It has been a wonderful week with my new bike. I love her, she's fast and pretty and I feel extra sassy riding her around town. While I have been doing the car-free commute for awhile, this week has been quite the eye-opener. I would like to share three little lessons I have experienced a long the way. Once upon a time I may have gotten frustrated by these incidents but now I look at the hidden lesson, the silver lining if you will.

The Good: Getting Lost
I decided to forgo the look at the bike map when my regular path was closed and explore the neighborhood for awhile. It lead to a few dead ends, a few unexpected hills, and the best part, a fox mama and her baby. Now I add a little extra time in the commute, just to take the liberty to get lost for a little while because you never know what you'll find.

The Bad: Control What You Can
You may know I experienced a little tap on my rear tire from a driver on my morning commute. It was an accident, no injuries or damage to the bike, and the driver felt horrible however I am thankful for the experience. In this particular situation we were at a stop light. I had checked everything out, was aware of my surroundings, I was prepared but one day dreaming driver could have changed my life forever. While this incident was out of my control it is a reminder to be prepared. Wear your helmet, carry a patch kit, extra tube, and pump, and have an ID handy (I always wear my Xtreme Sport ID). We can't control everything but having control of what we can helps us stay prepared for the unexpected.

The Ugly: Mister Bitter Pants on the Light Rail
On the light rail there is a special spot for biker's to stand and providing there is available seating and space for other passengers, up to two bikes can be in this space. On the evening commute I always look over the situation before boarding. There were about five empty seats and plenty of standing room however Mister Bitter Pants wanted to stand in the bike area. I asked him if I could please put my bike there, it was the rules of the train that I couldn't stand somewhere else. He then told me that was only true providing there was room. After taking an obvious glance around the space I said "Well, I believe any reasonable person would agree that the five empty seats and other standing area qualifies as 'room'." He just told me "You're welcome" in a smug tone and moved.

I almost lost my cool. I really strive to be a kind person but when someone behaves so callously to me for an unwarranted reason I get defensive, hurt, and a little sad. I reflected on this the entire ride home, and for a few more days. Then I realized he could just be a schmuck, or he could be one of the many people who have had a bad experience with a cyclist. When you're on your bike it's so easy to pick and choose which traffic rules to follow, to sneak up on pedestrians, and to generally be self-involved. The joy of the bike is it allows you to tune out everything else, unfortunately tuning out can quickly lead to perceived selfishness.

I like to take this as a little warning to watch my behavior on my bike. While I feel I wasn't in the wrong during the ugly incident, I don't want to be the reason someone becomes bitter towards cyclist. I am striving to be an ambassador for the cycling community and I invite my fellow cyclists to as well.

I love seeing the hidden lessons life deals us. Each of the experiences could have become discouraging and made me re-evaluate being a Car-Free Cupcake. However I embrace the adversity, the challenge is what makes it all worth it.

June 17, 2009

Wednesday Playlist: 21

This week's list is short and sweet. Twenty-one songs that remind me of when I was 21. As you can see my music taste was a bit narrow and not the eclectic bit of insanity it is now. However all these songs make me feel invincible, like you do at that age ;-)

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June 10, 2009

An Invitation to Explore a Thankful Life

The other day I was taking my laundry down to the laundry room, and the door was locked. While it should have been open the person in charge of opening the laundry room in my building was running late. I admittedly was frustrated for a moment after hauling the basket with two loads down the stairs and having to go back up and wait. Then I realized I wasn't being thankful. I am fortunate enough to have two full loads of clothing and plenty left in my closet. I am lucky to have washing machines available, electricity and clean water. That's when it hit me...my most trecherous unhappy times in my life have resulted from periods where I wasn't thankful.

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to live a thankful life in the last few weeks and I have realized for me it includes three important elements: Awareness, Economy, and Gratitude.

When I talk about awareness I certainly include the idea of looking outside yourself and being in tune with your fellow humans and the earth but it's more than that. There is a saying that goes "You can't always get what you want, but you get what you need". Whether this sounds familiar because of a Rolling Stones song or something you've heard in a spiritual setting it still holds true.

Sometimes we can get caught up in goals or an idea of a very specific outcome or desire. We lose sight that we may have already been given the gifts and tools we need. In the past year I have changed jobs unexpectedly, moved two times, and had my gallbladder removed. While I won't go into the personal details I can say that I have learned and grown from each of these experiences. At times it all seemed like too much and I thought I had made mistakes. When I stepped away and looked at what I was learning and appreaciated the lesson I reached a point of calm, of peace.

No, this isn't about stimulus plans or mortgage rates. It's probably one of the most important things I have learned and it has certainly cost me a lot to learn this lesson. The times in my life that have ended in heartache have come from excess; Spending too much money, drinking too much, talking too much, and going too far physically. Realizing that excess was a trigger for self-pity, depression, and overall unhappiness helped me curtail that behavior. Now I spend less money and enjoy simple pleasures, I listen more and learn more, and I listen to my body. Practicing economy has been a break through in my life. It may not be for everyone but it has been the gateway to happiness for me.

Sure, living a thankful life is nautrally going to include practicing gratitude. It's easy to be thankful for what we have, the tangible things, be it family, friends, material things. We touch our possessions, we talk with our loved ones, there is no denying them. However for me the gratitude piece is about being thankful for the untangible and the forgotten.

When riding up a hill (literally on my bike) I sometimes curse my decision to go car free. I may be out of breath and my legs are on fire and the rain drops are starting. Then I remind myself, I have been given an amazing gift, my body. I have the luxury of being able to ride 10+ miles without a second thought. I have a home to shelter me from the rain storm. I live in a country where a woman can travel alone and be relatively safe. Some may consider it a "glass half-full" attitude, and I embrace it. I could focus on the negative but rather I give thanks for what I have.

I know many of my readers are like minded and are thankful for nature and the simple things in life. However I invite you to explore the elements of Awareness, Economy, and Gratitude during the next week. When faced with adveristy see if these tools can help you find happiness or at least a peaceful heart to work through your obstacles.

June 9, 2009

Wednesday Playlist: You Call That A Love Song?

First I apologize for posting two playlists back to back. I try to include some other content between lists but...this week got away from me. The plus side is I have some great product reviews and other posts in the works.

So this week's playlist is another compilation from some great suggestions from Twitter and Facebook friends. The idea was inspired by TheClimberGirl. While I don't remember how it came up the concept of unusual or untraditional love songs brought up a lot of fun and unique amorous songs. Feel the love.

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June 3, 2009

Wednesday Playlist: Has Anyone Seen My Synthesizer?

Hey cats and kittens, I am a little under the weather so this intro is brief. I love synth music, it makes me think of simpler time and falling in love. Enjoy!

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June 2, 2009

Almost Au Naturel

Recently I asked the question on Twitter, "What is your favorite deodorant/antiperspirant for an active lifestyle?" since my Dove Antiperspirant hasn't been towing the line so to speak. Most of the responses were for Deodorant and for all natural formats. After such interesting feedback I gave three a whirl and was over all pleasantly surprised with the results.

Brand:Kiss My Face Liquid Rock
How it works: Neautralizes body acids
Pros: Unscented, effective
Cons: The Roll-On was a bit messy at times. Needed reapplication on more active days.
Overall: I would use this as a daily deodorant. I always thought the rock formulas were a cruel joke played on Whole Foods shoppers but it really does work.

Brand: Jason's Tea Tree Deodorant Stick
How it works: Tea Tree Oil is antibacterial supposed to stop odor from starting.
Pros: The package is pretty
Cons: Burns on application, needed to reapply 4 times in one day
Overall: This one failed me big time. So glad I didn't wear it on a date. It didn't withstand climbing or biking and I am not very sweaty lady.

Brand: Burt's Bees Herbal Deodorant
How it works: Herbal blend of sage, lemon and lavendar neutralize odors.
Pros: Love the spray-on formula, nice scent, effective
Cons: For some the con could be the scent because herbal is not for everybody, also required reapplication on more active days, wait to apply after shaving as it can sting a bit
Overall: I would also use this on a daily basis. The fine mist application was really a favorite for me and I like the scent. It is strong at first but dissapates over time.