December 31, 2010

Playlist: Ladies of the Eighties

The end of the year always makes me sentimental. I tend to go way back though, to my childhood. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and this is the music I remember listening to. Some of these women were role models and some, well not so much, but the songs stick in your brain.

Some of this music may have been recorded in the early 90s but the artist's career began or took off in the 80s.

Disclaimer: Many of these are guilty pleasures and quite cheesy. Enjoy with crackers.


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December 29, 2010

"2010: Just Keep Swimming" Meet "2011: The Next Level"

2010 has been a very incredible year. I competed in my first adventure race, began yoga teacher training, served on the Board of Directors for The Women's Wilderness Insitute, had three great trips to Albquerque to spend time with wonderful friends, and made my first trip to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market for more amazing times with great friends.

Unfortunately, it was also a scary and sad year. In April my dad was hospitalized with pneumonia and a pulmonary embolism. I am in my thirties and while I know it's possible to lose a parent at any time, that was a firm reminder that it can happen any time. Luckily my dad pulled through but there were a few rough months following while he got his strength back.

Then as you may know, this last October I lost Murphy. My sweet Pomeranian was my best friend of 11 years, and truly the loss rocked my world.  My eating habits went to Hades, my exercise routine was sporadic, and my yoga was at about 30% effort than I normally give. I gained about 8lbs. Not good.

So while 2010 was incredible, the setbacks along the way set the tone for the year "Just Keep Swimming". And I did.

Now with 2011 approaching I give it the theme "The Next Level". In this year I will:
  • Complete yoga teacher training.
  • Compete in another adventure race along with a few more races.
  • Improve my cooking and eating habits (I've bought myself a juicer and a food steamer for Christmas in hope of improving my eating habits at home and so far they're helping.)
  • Make bike commuting easier by adding a rack and trunk bag to my bike.
  • Begin teaching yoga.
  • Keep reading and hopefully add more books with the addition of cardio exercise accompanied by books on Mp3.
  • Keep providing a good home for the kitties including the newest edition, Finn. (yeah, I know I sound like a cat lady).
  • Have at least one great adventure away from home (maybe Wanderlust?)

So there my theme for 2011. They're not resolutions. No drastic changes to my life, just kicking things up a bit. What's your theme? What is going to set 2011 apart from 2010?

December 28, 2010

Chai Granola Recipe



Last week in the midst of gift giving I wanted to make something homemade and delicious but honestly was tired of the recipes I have used over the last few years. Then it hit me, most people like granola and most people I know love chai so why not combine them. I noticed there were a few recipes online but none really did it for me, so I made my own. This makes a very large batch so you may want to half the ingredients.

4 Cups Whole Oats
3/4 Cup Raw Shelled Sunflower Seeds
3/4 Cup Raw Shelled Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 Cup Flax Seed
2 TBSP Ground Cinnamon
2 TBSP Ground Nutmeg
2 TBSP Ground Cardamom
3/4-1 Cup Maple Syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together oats and seeds in a large bowl. Mix together spices in a smaller bowl. Combine oats, seeds, and spices. Once the mixture is thoroughly blended add in Maple Syrup, to taste.

Spread mixture evenly onto parchment lined baking sheets. It took three baking sheets for my large batch. Bake until golden brown, approximately 20-30 minutes depending on the oven and how well you like your granola toasted. To vary the granola you may want to add dried fruit (apples or bananas would be good).

I presented mine in cellophane gift bags and canning jars. The granola is great in yogurt, on ice cream, or with milk. Enjoy!

December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice: The Longest (Laziest) Night of the Year

I used to be a night owl. Mornings were brutal, evening was my time to shine. In the last few years that has changed for me. I think a good part of the reason for change is more body awareness.

My yoga practice has helped me recognize and explore the connection between my body, mind, and soul. I quit drinking coffee in April. I sleep when I am tired. I thrive in the sunlight. In the summer I am up until 10:30 and easily back up as soon as the sun rises. I get a lot done. So this year when the time shifted and the days began to get shorter I was in for a world of fatigue.

I have a really hard time mustering the energy to do things at night. Once I get home it is there I want to stay, no more wandering out and about to meet friends or hit a yoga class. While I am productive in the evening with crafting, talking with friends, and my yoga practice that window for productivity has shrunk. By 8:30 I am ready to wind down and go to sleep.

I am quite thankful for this awareness I have of my body, mind, and spirit. I haven't been sick nearly as often as I have in past winters. While the holidays have been hard because it's the first year without Murphy, they don't have the normal stress associated with them. My emotions and such feel more in balance.

That being said I am so thankful that today brings the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year. The Longest (and for me, Laziest) night of the year. As tomorrow comes to dawn the days will be longer, my energy levels will grow, and the beautiful cycle begins again.

Happy Solstice!

December 17, 2010

Champion's Cold Weather Gear

My training has always slowed down during the winter as generally I go indoors and hit the treadmill. While the fact that I keep up the cardio is good, the fact that it's mostly on the treadmill is bad. When it comes to running outdoors after a lot of time inside it's not always easy to keep myself motivated. If you stop on the treadmill you fall and it hurts. Outdoors it's much easier to cut the run short.

I decided this year would be different and I would keep training outdoors. I knew with the appropriate clothing I could easily run in the cold while staying comfortable but wasn't sure where to start. I got a hold of Champion and found out they have some great cold weather gear to keep me comfy.

With cold weather running and cycling clothing the priorities are minimal bulk, comfortable warmth (without being hot), and moisture-wicking. I was fortunate to try out two items that fit the bill. I have worn these for winter cycling, completing a 5K and snowshoeing. They're versatile and a great buy!

Double Dry® Ultimate Quarter-Zip Women's Top 
The first thing that surprised me about this top is how soft it is, it doesn't have a scratchy tag, and the seams are minimalistic (read: non-chafing). It is so comfy I have fallen asleep in it a few times. Functionally, it wicks moisture well while maintaining a low profile. The quarter-zip neck allows you to control the ventilation a bit and even when fully zipped it's comfortable. You don't feel like you're being strangled and the zipper is guarded by fabric, so no rubbing on your neck and chin. Of course my favorite feature is the thumbholes. I don't always run with gloves on so in winter I like extra long sleeves that shield my hands a bit. The thumbholes keep them in place. Another nice feature is bit of reflective element to the top. It's not an obnoxious design, just a smart addition in the right spots. 

Double Dry® Ultimate Women's Running Tights
I never thought I would be comfortable in running tights. I was pleasantly surprised by this pair. They're easy to get on thanks to a generous ankle zipper. They're a great length, a little long my short frame but didn't leave me with a ton of excess fabric. The waist tie is easy to use and conceals well. There is also a nice slim pocket with hidden exterior-access with a zipper. I never care for the interior pocket for keys, I always feel like any onlookers would think I was playing with my undies rather than trying to get my key out. While these tights are light weight and a thin, soft material they're also warm enough for winter sports.

December 8, 2010

You Get What You Need

The Sunday following Thanksgiving, The Womens Wilderness Institute hosted a celebration of gratitude in cooperation with the Colorado Mountain Club and the American Alpine Museum. I signed up to volunteer and man the sign-in table. It had been a long weekend of work, homework for Yoga Teacher Training and the general holiday stuff and I was ready to just sit at the table and smile and greet people.

Upon arrival I was asked if I could belay on the rock wall. A few volunteers weren't able to make it and I had my gear so of course I was in. While not a hardcore physical activity, belaying takes a lot of mental focus especially when belaying those new to climbing and children. So truth be told it took a few minutes to shift from my plan of sitting and greeting to being very active and engaged.

As I began to work with my first pair of climbers I could see the universe's plan unfolding a bit. After a weekend of studying for Yoga Teacher Training there was a lot of self-doubt beginning to brew. Would I be able to convey instructions in a way that people could understand? Am I really cut out to teach when there will always be so much to learn? How would my students respond to me?

All of that went out the window when I began to help two teenage girls with their first ever climbing experience. Not only was I going to be belaying but I would be teaching. I got them geared up so they were comfortable and felt safe. I taught them how to tie-in and the basic commands a climber needs to know. As one would climb I was able to watch her, provide coaching, and still answer the questions of the other girl about belaying and technique. All in all, I managed a lot in a very isolated area and window of time. I didn't think too much on how it would get done, just focused on doing it.

When it was time for them to take a break I was surprised at how fun it was. Then I made the connection, it was my passion for climbing that allowed me to share and teach and encourage. It will be my passion for yoga that will keep me centered and able to share and teach and encourage my yoga students.

So even in times of doubt, I know I can get past the hurdles because my passion drives me and I really believe this path I am on is exactly where I am supposed to be. The universe gave me just what I needed that day and luckily I was open to listen. You may not always get what you want but you always get what you need.

November 30, 2010

I Love Wool Panties!
aka My Review of PULSE Activewear

If you've been active in the outdoors for awhile you've probably heard that wool baselayers are the best. There are a lot of options for wool shirts and longjohns and that's a pretty easy idea to wrap your head around. Wool underwear? That's a whole other story. I have a hard time not imaging itchy wool near my ladybits and cringing. Luckily I am also a knitter and I know not all wool is created equal. If you're able to get your hands on delicious New Zealand merino wool then you are in for a treat. Luckily, that is exactly what PULSE Activewear is using.

Made with PrimaSoft, the underwear and socks available from PULSE Activewear stand out from other baselayer fabrics. The fabric is naturally very soft while providing excellent moisture-wicking and staying odor resistant. I was fortunate enough to try their V-Neck Sports Bra and Fitness Thong Panty for various activities and I am impressed. I wore the set running, cycling, during yoga, and snowshoeing. They kept me dry during the most vigorous activities and I felt comfortable the whole time. I will definitely bring these on my next camping trip. I feel 100% confident they will hold up for multi-day wear based on the fabric properties and design. I also put them through a few wash cycles and they held their shape beautifully and came out just as soft, if not softer than before, and wrinkle-free.

As far as the cut of the items I tested, they really worked for me. While they have a Fitness Brief Panty available for women I am a thong girl (yes I know: "LA LA LA Too Much Information"). However, when you're frequently wearing bike shorts and yoga pants the thong is your friend. The cut of the thong is generous while still serving as a low-profile garment. I really liked the V-Neck Sports Bra. It feels feminine while still maintaining some modesty. It is also great as a layer under more low cut items.

While I am not one of the men folk, I know most of my guy friends are boxer or boxerbrief types. I have heard it isn't easy to find these in wool but PULSE offers both as well as an undershirt for men. They also offer a year-round sock for men and women.

PULSE Activewear is a great way to upgrade your existing wardrobe or would make an awesome gift for a loved one, available at http://PULSEactivewear.com/.

Holiday Music- CupcakeMafia Style

These are my favorite holiday songs.It is probably the same list I posted last year and you know what? I don't care! I love these songs and I hope you do too.



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If you're outside the US or have trouble accessing the playlist you can also visit my list at Grooveshark - click here.

November 22, 2010

Gratitude and Magic

Thanksgiving week is a tough one for me. Three years ago at this time I planned on going to visit my grandmother to celebrate her 90th birthday and the holiday. Instead she suffered a massive stroke and we all gathered to say goodbye.

While the loss still causes my heart to ache I am able to celebrate with memories of how amazing my grandmother was. I am thankful for all she taught me and the magic she brought to my life. So I invite you to enjoy this playlist and find a way to share your gratitude with those still with us and a way to honor those who have passed.


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November 16, 2010

Oh Flatterware, You Make Me Smile

When I was a Girl Scout and it was time for our first camping trip I was so excited to go shopping for my first bit of gear. My favorite item was my pink collapsible cup. I loved how it opened and closed and stored in such a tiny fashion. However, it wasn't very durable. The rings could separate too far and it was then no longer water-tight. So I gave up on collapsible cups. As an adult I have been hesitant to try collapsible bowls and cups because they always seem cumbersome, hard to clean, and not terribly durable, that is until my friend Michele introduced me to Flatterware.

I love my bright red Flatterware cup for so many reasons:

  1. The Size: It actually holds a 12oz portion of a beverage or snacks. 
  2. It is Durable: You can bend it, squish it, fold it and it always bounces back to it's original shape. 
  3. Easy to Clean: The Flatterware items are a smooth. No rings with crevices that get nasty and filthy. They're easy to rinse out and clean, even at the base points. Also Dishwasher safe.
  4. Works for Hot and Cold Beverages! I can use it for water or tea. 
  5. Phlalate-free!

Who would enjoy Flatterware:

  1. Naturally campers, hikers, climbers...anyone who enjoys their meals outdoors. 
  2. Event Goers. The large beverages served at sporting events and other gatherings may be too much for one person and a Flatterware cup makes it easy to share a drink without sharing germs. 
  3. Travelers will enjoy the cup when visiting locations where cups may not be provided (yes, some accommodations don't have cups in their rooms and bathrooms).
  4. Parents will enjoy these for picnics or serving up snacks and beverages during outings. 
  5. Dogs will enjoy drinking out of the bowls while out and about.
  6. Environmentally-concious folks who want to reduce the amount of waste in the world.
The design is clever and they're a great item to keep in your bag. Visit the Flatterware website to discover where you can buy their bowls and cups for yourself or for a holiday gift!

November 11, 2010

Bountiful: Part 2
Purple Potato Chips

As a follow up to my post about local foods earlier this week I want to share another creation from my Door-to-Door Organics delivery.  Last week I received four purple potatoes. In a sense a potato is a potato, I probably could have used them in any recipe that calls for potatoes. I decided to try something new (at least new to me). I wanted a snack that could be good for the work day or a snow shoeing adventure.

After looking online and getting the basic idea for cooking times for baked potato chips I went to the spice cabinet and this is what I came up with. The chips can be a little spicy so if you like a mild chip use less Cayenne.

Ingredients
4 Medium Purple Potatoes
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Tsp Sea Salt
1 Tsp Black Pepper
1 Tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper
1 Garlic Cloved Finely Minced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Thinly slice the potatos, try to cut uniform slices. Set aside. In a large bowl combine olive oil, spices, and garlic. Add potatoes and toss to coat. I recommend using your hands (after washed of course) to make sure each slice is coated.

Lay slices evenly across two baking sheets. When laying out on the sheet make sure to keep thicker slices on one sheet and the thinner slices on the other, this will make it easier to gauge when they're done and remove a whole sheet at a time.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes until crisp on the under side. Flip and cook another 8-15 minutes. Remove from oven. You can either enjoy once they've cooled a bit for fresh warm chips or place in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

November 9, 2010

Bountiful: Finding Pleasure in Local Foods

November naturally brings to mind Thanksgiving (if you live in the US). I know a lot of people first visualize a turkey when they think of Thanksgiving, I on the other hand picture a Cornucopia. I remember numerous coloring pages and craft projects that featured a Cornucopia as a child. They were always a bounty of beautiful colors found in so many fruits and vegetables. I was always a bit in awe at the idea of so many fruits and vegetables and that is exactly how I feel when I open my delivery from Door-to-Door Organics.


A sample of one delivery
If you live in Colorado, Kansas City, Chicago, Michigan, or certain areas on the East Coast you may already be familiar with Door-to-Door Organics (also known as Suburban Organics. This organization is similar to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the sense you're buying produce from local farmers therefore eating local and minimizing the impact to the environment that comes with long-distance imports. However with many CSAs you buy your share and you get your box, not knowing what you'll get. With Door-to-Door Organics you get to choose the size of your box and whether you want it delivered weekly or every other week. You also can substitute items. As a terribly picky eater I love this. At the same time I rarely substitute items just because I don't know what they are or don't like them.

One of the great features of a delivery from Door-to-Door Organics or any CSA is it gives you a chance to break up your routine. For example, last week I got a Persimmon in my box. I had no clue what a Persimmon tasted like let alone how to eat it. I ended up researching recipes online and found a recipe for Persimmon Bread via Sunflower Market. Since they had Persimmons on sale I picked up two more needed for the recipe and gave it a try. It is delicious!  The best part is that is my usual response to cooking with something new from my delivery.


If you're not in Door-to-Door Organics delivery area, want to look at options for work trade shares of a CSA, or just want to learn more about eating local check out Local Harvest! They're a wealth of information.

October 27, 2010

Merrell's Peyton Bag

I am always looking for a good bag that goes easily from walking around to riding my bike while looking good in the process. I wasn't sure about the Peyton bag from Merrell when I ordered it but I had a giftcard so went for it. After a few weeks with it I can say I would get it again, even if I had to pay the retail $49 for it.

The high points
  • The single shoulder strap fits comfortable across the body or over one shoulder and it can be configured to lay across the body either way.
  • There is a cross strap that easily tucks away but can be used to stabilize the bag while riding.
  • It has a roomy main compartment. I can fit a book, snack, light jacket, wallet, and cosmetics. There is also a interior zip pocket good for storing small items and organizing.
  • The outside has two pockets that are roomy enough to fit sunglasses and an ipod. The pocket zip-up but you can easily port your headphones or hand-free device through.
The low points
  • There is a "hidden" water bottle pocket on the side, when you unzip it the mesh water bottle area is available however it's too narrow for even the smallest Nalgene style bottle. The only bottle that would fit is a disposable water bottle and well...yeah.
  • The cross strap is a blessing but it can be hard to reconfigure it.
  • Color selection isn't the best. When I got my back they had black available but now the website is limited to the print above or red or wine. You may have better look on another site if you want black.

So that's it, short and sweet. It's a stylish bag that is good for an urban ride and won't break the bank.

October 20, 2010

Revisiting Gratitude

 'Thanks' in Finnish
I am so overwhelmed my the outpouring of condolences, sympathy, and empathy I have received since saying goodbye to Murphy. I feel very fortunate and grateful to have so many friends in both real life and the virtual community who have offered gentle and kind words. It is times like this that we feel gratitude of great magnitude and yet I am left wondering, have I been living a mindful and thankful life. I would like to thank yes, but know I have had some obstacles lately of both the external and internal variety.

When I get bottled up in this way I like to go back and read a post I wrote in June of 2009 titled "An Invitation to Explore a Thankful Life". I am not an expert, I can't say that it is the only way to live. However I do know as gratitude's presence wanes in my life the chaos and frustration rise. Time to regroup, to be still, and just be thankful.

Here is my post from last year:

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 treacherous 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.

Awareness
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 appreciated the lesson I reached a point of calm, of peace.

Economy
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.

Gratitude
Sure, living a thankful life is naturally 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 intangible 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.

Invitation
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 adversity see if these tools can help you find happiness or at least a peaceful heart to work through your obstacles.

October 14, 2010

Saying Goodbye...


Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell. ~Emily Dickinson

I have always loved that quote but never began to understand it until I began to lose loved ones and now it rings true in my mind and heart. After 11 years of nurturing and love I have to say goodbye to my best friend, Murphy.

The pain I feel right now is excrutiating and my heart is truly broken. That is the hell. However I would do it all over again, because his presence brought as close to heaven on earth as a human can know. By allowing me to love and care for him, Murphy became my teacher.

  • He taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. He loved me whether I was blonde or brunette, overweight or thin, cranky or happy. If we as humans could see past the physical and the occassional grumpy personalities or adversity we would be a lot better off.
  • I learned that his bladder  and stomach didn't care if my depression is in a horrible downswing and I didn't want to get out of bed. He had to be walked, he had to be fed. Just keep the basics going, at least, and he was content to lie by my side and let me cry. Some days that's all you have to give and it's okay.
  • Material items don't matter. Murphy was just as happy when we were younger living in a 585 sq. ft. apartment as he was in a house or in a condo. He didn't care how many toys he had or what the furniture looked liked. The important element was the company he kept. I will always remember that. Life's quality comes from who we share the experience with, not how much we acquired.
  • There is always room for one more. When Murphy was one, we got a kitten, Murphy loved him like his own. When he was a bit older we added another kitten and he loved her just as much and played with her. He always shares his food with dog friends that come over and share his mom. I tend to be closed off and like my space to myself. He taught me to be open to having others around, the experience can be so much sweeter if you do.
Groundbreaking? Profound? Not really. But he has been the love of my life and like all great loves we learn from them. I will miss him for the rest of my life but I will always smile at his memory with no regrets.

I love you little man.

September 29, 2010

Thank you for stopping by...

I am taking a break from writing right now. I do plan to return at some point, I just don't know when that will be.

Enjoy the archives and take care of yourself.

Love Each Day,
Tali

****UPDATED****

I will be back next week! (October 12th-ish)

September 20, 2010

Recipe Review: Pumpkin Chai Cookies

Photo Courtesy of Patty Van Dorin
I have been trying to come up with the perfect cookie to send to loved ones during late summer time but nothing really stood out. Then when I got the craving for Pumpkin Chai Coffee Cake I thought, mmmm....pumpkin chai cookies! Luckily I googled rather than trying to create my own from scratch and found the perfect recipe.

Oddly enough, the original recipe called for a regular sweet glaze however the author, Patty Van Dorin, ran out of milk and didn't feel like going to the grocery store and substituted chai.

This recipe bakes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies that are soft and almost like a scone in consistency without being dry. The cookie itself is not very sweet and the glaze adds a kick while complimenting the autumn flavors in the cookie. Enjoy!


Cookies
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 Glaze 
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • Approximately 2 tablespoons strong chai (I used concentrate)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
  4. To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, chai, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add chai as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

September 9, 2010

Favorite Things: Goody Ouchless Comfort-Flex Barrettes

Have you ever had one of those weeks where nothing is going right? You know, the times where every mole hill feels like a mountain and trials you would normally handle with ease almost bring on 2-year-old style temper tantrums. Yep, we've all been there. It's funny how in those times of emotional wear we find comfort in the little things. In my most recent bout of inappropriate hardship I developed an even greater love for my new favorite barrettes.

Yes, for just under $4 I was able to turn that frown upside down. Did a barrette solve my problems or eliminate obstacles? No. However while practicing yoga it kept my hair back out of my face in a nice twist. Even through inversions and faster flows it stays in place, no fussing and adjusting. Then when it came time for savasana I didn't have to take it out! If you don't lie on the floor in Corpse pose often this may seem like a little thing but when you're able to just be there and breathe without dealing with the hair or barrettes that cause discomfort it is a really nice feeling.

Available at many grocers and drugstores these barrettes come in two sizes. The large is great for twists where all my hair is folded up. The small barrettes are wonderful for pulling half my hair back or twisting it up with the ends poking out. Not only are they great for yoga but for styling the post-bike helmet hair they're awesome. I have actually been able to wear them under my bike helmet as well. The design is so minimal it doesn't create pressure points or pain.

While I can't say the barrettes work miracles, give me greater clarity or anything else of huge magnitude I can say they give me just one less thing to worry about. On good days that's wonderful, on bad days that's even better.

August 27, 2010

The Cupcake's Big Adventure:
My First Merrell Oyster Urban Adventure Race!

About a year ago I completed in my first 5K and it was a lot of fun. Since then I haven't fallen in love with running but I have fallen in love with the motivation and excitement that comes with training for a race; It gives you direction and a goal. This year the goal was bigger and better! With my fellow team mates Lynn and Mary we registered as Team Cupcake Mafia for the Merrell Oyster Urban Adventure Race!

Prior to the actual race my team trained on their own, did a little reconnaissance and planning, and a lot of fundraising! We managed to raise $2600 for the local chapter of The Make a Wish Foundation. We were recognized as one of two top teams in fundraising and Lynn was recognized as one of two top individual fundraisers. Special thanks to all our donors!

Once race day arrived the fundraising efforts came in quite handy as we earned two course clues. I am not going to divulge the race details since there are still races happening all over the country but I will say the first clue was vital in me spending less time on a bus with a bag over my head.

Through out the course of the day I realized how important it is to pick a good team during your race. Luckily, Not only did I have a good team I had an AMAZING team. It is important to not only work with people you like but that have the same goals as you and are in similar physical shape (though I think my team mates exceeded me here). You don't want to be with someone who doesn't care if you finish the race if finishing is your main goal or to be pushed by someone who considers anything less than 1st place a failure if you're just happy to be there.



Out of 11 teams finishing our Women's Full Course Division we took fourth place. Not too shabby for our first year and for a course that veteran racers have considered their toughest yet. We had a lot of laughs, a lot of energy and awesome shirts! We covered about 34 miles throughout out Denver on foot, bike and using public transportation. We saw some amazing parts of Denver, visited areas that were off our beaten paths, and competed in challenges where we excelled and some that were out of our comfort zone.


I am so thankful for a great day with Lynn and Mary as well as our great transitions team (Phil, Joe, and Monica). I learned a lot about myself both in training and through the actual race and I am so delighted my team is ready to go back for more next year!!!!

August 20, 2010

A Little Bit Goes A Long Way
How King Sooper's Got My Business Back

I think if you're going to blog about a bad experience you have to blog about the good ones as well. About a month ago I wrote about a bad experience with King Soopers, more commonly known as Kroger in other parts of the country.

To sum it up I went in to the store the next day after being short-changed. I asked for the manager and got the Head Cashier and she didn't care. She made no effort to make this experience better, in a nutshell she just shrugged and told me she didn't care.

I had one fellow blogger, Jordan, comment
"So wait, you're complaining about a business that's following standard procedures over money? It's your own fault for not having checked over your receipt and the cash given back to you.

Any business is going to tell you this and to play the victim here is absolutely ridiculous. I'd shrug over you too if I were "C."

Next time you should learn to check your items/receipt before you leave the store."


The reality is yes, I should have checked my money at the time but it really wasn't about the $10, it was about the way it was handled. Having been in retail management I have never read a policy and procedure manual that says "Tell the customer they're flat out wrong, shrug and walk away". I sent my information to King Soopers and got a call back from the store manager. She assured me that contrary to what Jordan indicated in her comment, this was not their policy or standard procedure and the Head Cashier was completely out of line in her actions.

I talked with the store manager for awhile and she let me know that particular employee was no longer at this location and then she did the simplest thing. She asked
Tali, What can I do to get your business back?
It was seriously that simple. I let her know taking the time to let me know the employee was in the wrong and not representing the organization appropriately meant a lot to me. That asking for me to give them another try felt personal and good.

So I will try again, and now I feel like I have someone I can go to directly with my questions or concerns. It feels like a community grocery store again, not just some big box where I deposit my money, take my goods, and go.

August 16, 2010

I Am No Longer An OR Summer Market Virgin

I was very fortunate to be able to go and play at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market this year. Held every summer and winter in Salt Lake City the market is a gathering of outdoor brands, representatives, suppliers, and retailers. A unique opportunity to see the up and coming products, hold meetings face-to-face, and the most magical part, to be around thousands of like-minded people focused on outdoor recreation some merely by career but for many it's a dream job and a lifestyle. There are a ton of reports about OR and the newest latest and greatest gear to be launched soon. However as an OR Virgin I will break this down into three areas of observation.

The Show
As an event planner I have to say this show is amazing!!! Coordinating a city wide trade-show is no small feat. There are so many details, contractual elements, and space requirements it will make your head spin. The OR group did an amazing job, not only designing a great trade show and various parties but seminar content was valuable and the Open Air Demo at Jordanelle State Park was fabulous! Usually you see one or two weak areas in an event of this size, but there were no weak spots to be found.

The People
Going to OR Summer Market was like going to summer camp. I knew I would see a few familiar faces that I have met in person before like Darren Bush of Rutabaga (my adopted brother) and Brad Werntz of Pemba Serves. I also met a lot of friends from Twitter for the first time in person, thanks to Sara Lingafelter's efforts to organize a great Tweetup.

One of the amazing things about the Outdoorsy folks on Twitter is that many of them have mastered the art of authenticity and transparency when it comes to Social Media. By being themselves online you get a true sense for who they are. So our night at the Tweetup was more like catching up with old friends rather than the awkwardness that comes with most first time meetings. Thank you to all that made the Tweetup an amazing night and for making my first OR an incredible experience.

In addition to the Tweetup, I was also blessed to me @JodiM! Also a friend found in the Twitterverse but our connection began through Yoga. I was able to spend two great nights with Jodi going out to dinner, to a yoga class, and I got to help paint her living room. This is what it's like when you meet Twitter folk. Truly amazing.


The WT????
There are three things that blew my mind.

  1. The scantily-clad Trade show models: Yes, I have seen this before but for some reason I didn't expect to catch a full view of semi-nakedness at OR. I remember staring as I walked past the Reef booth because there model was bent over with little more than a thong on and that was a whole lot of booty in my face. Then of course I felt pervy for staring. At another booth, I can't name because I can't remember who it was, models were walking around in lingerie. Does it make for more sales? I don't know? Is it a bad thing? I can't say. I just didn't expect to see it.


  2. I was asked to leave a booth. It was a very spacious booth with plenty of room but they were only interested in having meetings and without knowing who I was or why I was there didn't make any effort to set a meeting with me. I appreciate their dedication to their purpose, to sell, but it definitely wasn't the most tactful approach. There were a lot brands out there who handled their desire for a "meetings only" environment in a more polite and professional manner.


  3. THE DOGS!!!! There were so many dogs and puppies at the trade show I couldn't believe it! All of them were sweet and lovable and ready to be pet. I think every trade show should have dogs.


So that's my experience in a nutshell. Special thanks to Darren for getting me acclimated and being an awesome big brother.

August 10, 2010

Supporting the Girls Without Spending a Fortune: Three Great Sports Bras under $30

I wear sports bras all the time. Seriously, about six days a week. So I need to have quite a few on hand unless I want to be doing laundry constantly or be the gross girl who wears a sweaty sports bra over and over again. However, just like regular bras, sports bras can be pricey. The good thing is you don't have to spend a fortune for quality.

You may have heard of Champion Athletic Wear from their C9 line featured at Target or from their performance apparel and sponsorship of the Expedition Hanesbrand team and their summit of Mt. Everest.

I have been a Champion fan for a long time because they're priced affordability while providing the features I need namely support, wicking, and of course fun colors. Check out my three favorites.


The Basic
C9 by Champion Seamless Racerback Bra- $16.99


This is a great bra for every day wear. I commute by bike, run, and do yoga in this bra and it works for everything. Each season it's available in new fun colors or the basics. It provides my C-cup girls with good support without mashing them. It's nice to maintain a girlish figure while still getting the support I need. This bra is available at Target and while available online in black and white you can find more festive colors in the store.


A Little Something Extra
Champion Shape T-Back Sports Bra - $29.99


If there is sexy in the world of sports bras this would be it. The bra is a little lower cut so be prepared to show a little cleavage. It also features molded cups that add more shaping to it. This is the bra I choose when I am hitting yoga or the gym in the morning and then out to lunch in the afternoon. I don't feel like I am wearing a sports bra with this one.

The All-in-One
Champion Seamless Empire Long Top With Built In Sports Bra - $19.99


First a little disclaimer this bra top lists at $36 however I have always found it about $29.99 and it's currently available at the Champion Website for $19.99. I love this top for the simplicity and empire waist design. It is fitted enough that you don't feel like you're wearing a tent but lets you breathe. Great for those days when skin-tight doesn't feel like an option.

Next time your out shopping for athletic apparel keep Champion in mind. In addition the the bras shown above and other athletic apparel a new line of cold weather training gear will be available in September for both men and women that was inspired by Expedition Hanesbrands. Some of these very pieces were actually worn on the summit of Mt. Everest. The new line includes base layers, hard shell and soft shell pieces. They will be available in select stores: Sports Authority, Modells and on championusa.com so keep an eye out.

July 19, 2010

But I....


I weigh too much. It's too embarrassing. I am too old. I just can't...

I have been thinking a lot about the excuses I hear and give when it comes to living an active life. While this blog post was moving around in my brain similar  thoughts were in the minds of two women I admire. The first post comes from Amy, an incredible woman and life coach. In her post "Excuses", she guides you on how to identify what types of excuses you're giving, how many are valid, and how to develop a strategy to get through the invalid excuses.

So I can hear the excuse for this now..."What if I don't do it right?" or "I don't believe I can motivate myself". Well then check out how Katie, at Adventure-Inspired Tales, used Amy's model and put it all out there. She's a brave girl, and I know you're brave enough to do it too. Confront yourself and your excuses!

If you need a little more motivation, check out these great stories of inspiration.

I can't do it alone

A few of these stories came courtesy of Michele Flamer's amazing, inspirational, emails and posts as the leader of the 30 Day Challenge on Facebook. So if your excuse is "I can't do it alone" check out the group and you will find safety and success in numbers!

I'm too big and too heavy

At 501 pounds Scott Cutshall was told he would die in six months. Click here to learn how he went from barely being able to move to biking as a lifestyle.

I'm too old

It's true once you reach a certain age you may no longer be eligible to be a professional athlete (though don't tell that to Mara Yamuchi who began her professional running career at 30). However age shouldn't and won't stop you from trying something new and having FUN! I love this piece on beginning kayaking after age 50. It has some great information on getting started that can be translated to other sports and activities.

I haven't done anything like this...it could be embarrassing.

Yes, when trying something new or pushing yourself to the next level you will be outside your comfort zone. You won't know everything and you will make mistakes. Some of them will be embarrassing mistakes but you're not alone and if you're able to laugh at yourself it can be character building. Check out these stories from Runner's World.

But I...I..I just can't

 If you really believe that watch this video. The amazing story of a man who runs for his son who can't.

I love this...


My dear friend Anna posted this quote this morning and I love it so much I wanted to share it with you all. 

"Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself.
They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused. "
~Alan Cohen


I know for myself it's been a point of contention, letting others see my light when I only see my dark. I am thankful for dear friends like Anna and others who are so close to me.  I hope you all can carry a bit of this with you, especially when trying new things and putting yourself out there. Upon new challenges it may be hard to muster the strength, confidence, and energy to get through and it is okay, no it is GOOD, to let others remind you of your beauty, strength and light.

July 18, 2010

How King Soopers/Kroger lost my business over $10 and a shrug

I normally don't write posts venting about my daily issues. Unfortunately, at this point I am fed up with King Soopers/Kroger and this weekend they forced me to ask the question "Where has customer appreciation and service gone?"

I live in Southeast Denver and happen to be right across the street from King Soopers. While I generally do most of my shopping at Sunflower Market I do go to King Soopers on a regular basis. I have noticed in the last year that the staff there has gone increasingly down hill.

There used to be a great guy who stocked the dairy area, he always said hello and asked if he could help me find anything but when he left the staff's deficiencies became glaringly obvious.  The staff is more concerned with chatting with each other about their weekend plans or what they did last night than helping customers. When you ask for help you generally get an eye roll. I accepted their shortcomings based on the convenience for shopping (which is embarrassing to admit), however I am through with them thanks to their Head Cashier who was on duty this weekend. I will omit her full name, only to call her C.

I had shopped in King Soopers around 9:30 Friday night. The self-checkout cashier wasn't at his station and after waiting for him to get back and give me change I didn't think there would be a problem. He said the amount accurately and handed me cash and a receipt. It wasn't until the following morning I noticed he shorted me $10. Not a huge amount but I figured it was worth checking in to see if they could help me. I thought at the very least they would take my name and number and if the drawer had been short they would give me my money or at least a store credit.

So I went to the Customer Service counter and the clerk called for "C" the Head Cashier on duty. I explained the situation and she told me I should have come back the night before because she couldn't help me now. I said "I shop here a few times a week and that's all you can say" and she advised yes, I should have come back the night before. I wouldn't care if she lied to me and said she would check the drawer or forward it on to a real manager. Just something to feel like I was valued as a customer.

At that point I asked her "You don't care if you lose all my business over ten dollars?" and she SHRUGGED. She shrugged, said no and walked off.

While I don't feel as heated as I did about the situation yesterday, I am going to stick to my guns and boycott my local King Soopers, and perhaps all the locations, that is to be determined. When I was growing up it seemed that people took pride in their work, but I just don't see that these days in a lot of retail locations. It seems more prominent in industries like grocery stores where they know they're the closest and most convenient. I don't expected to be waited on hand and foot. However I do expect to be given the benefit of the doubt as a seven year customer at a location and to be treated kindly, not like I am in "C's" way.

So there is the end of my rant. What have I taken away from this? That respect works both ways, even in retail relationships and sometimes you have to walk away.

June 30, 2010

Come Party with a Purpose or Shop at Skirt Sports to Benefit The Women's Wilderness Institute



Party with a Purpose Happy Hour  Thursday, July 1st
There is no cover charge
4-6 pm at the Boulder Chophouse & Tavern
921 Walnut Street
Boulder, CO 80302-5172
(303) 443-1188

Skirt Sports Sales Promotion: 10% of ALL sales on July 1 (24 hours) will be donated to TWWI. No code required.


Door prizes



  •  $100 Skirt Sports Gift Certificate

  • Certificate for one TWWI womens' course of your choice for the 2010 season!

  • Free Entry to The Women's Adventure Event September 12, 2010

  • Free Entry to the ZOOMA 1/2 Mile or 10K held in Colorado Springs July 17 2010

  • Run Like a Mother - A book to entertain and encourage mothers of all levels to fit running into their crowded lives because we know for certain the rewards are oh-so worth it. by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea


Can't Make it? Please consider donating online.  What can your donation do?



  • $50 will buy a rock climbing harness to support the girls on our Rock Camp course

  • $100 will provide hearty food to fuel a girl on scholarship during 12 day course

  • $250 will supply equipment necessary for her to reach a new level of self-confidence

  • $1,000 will provide a full-scholarship for a day trip for a girl in need

June 22, 2010

Summer 2010 Playlist

Once again it's summer time and I feel a playlist is always necessary to get me through the work hours when I would rather be outside playing. Some of the songs are cheesy, some classic, and I hope you enjoy them all!

Click to listen

June 14, 2010

Making Dreams Come True

Overall I am a pretty content person. If I died today I can honestly say my regrets would be few. However I still have goals and two of my main goals are to complete an adventure race and to go to surf camp. One of those goals will happen this year! I am excited to report that I will be racing with my team mates Lynn and Mart as Team Cupcake Mafia in the Denver Merrell Oyster Adventure Race.


We will be doing the Full Course which consists of running, biking, and solving various challenges and puzzles to make it from one check point to another. These challenges can vary from mild to wild and I think it's going to be a fun, exhausting, amazing day.

The only thing that makes this event better is that it's a fundraiser for the local chapter of the Make a Wish Foundation. If you're not familiar with the organization you should be. They are responsible for making the dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses who deserve sunshine and rainbows. Check out their website to see examples of their work in action and you will be in awe.

Our team goal is to raise $800 and I hope with the support of our family, friends, and people who support the Make a Wish Foundation we can exceed this goal. As an incentive to donate we will be having a few drawings.


  • For anyone who donates $5 or more by July 31, 2010 you will be entered to win a copy of "The Girl's Guide to Surfing". We will also have a few other items being thrown into the drawing pool to be announced by July 1.

  • Additionally a person or business that donates $50 or more willhave the otpion of their name or url on the back of our team shirts and recognition on my blog and twitter.

  • Any business donating $200 or more would receive their logo on the back of our team shirts and recognition on my blog and twitter.


To donate just click here and select Denver, Team Cupcake Mafia, and Team Member Tali Koziol.

Thank you.

Love Each Day,
Tali

June 3, 2010

Luggage Love: Briggs and Riley's BRX Explore Upright


If you're like me you have a lot of packs. Backpacks, day packs, hydration packs, and more. Packs are great for excursions into the wilderness but navigating airports or weekend trips that don't involve camping call for something else. So when I was given the chance to try a bag from Briggs and Riley's new BRX line I jumped at the chance.

With the current state of travel and checked bags costing an additional $25+ each way on most major airlines it seems that carry-on is the way to go. However after carrying my pack from the main terminal to the end of Concourse A at Denver International Airport on a trip a few months ago wheeled luggage seemed like a nice little luxury. So I opted for the BRX Explore Upright 19. The bag is a great size for weekend trips and comes in Amber, Ocean, and Slate. When I got the bag I could tell it was different than traditional luggage.

Since the BRX line is Briggs and Riley's "Adventure" line I wasn't sure what to really expect then I realized it's designed intelligently with great features like you would expect from "Adventure" gear. The first detail I really noticed was the outer slash pocket. So many times you have this pocket on a piece of luggage but you would be lucky to stuff a newspaper in there, they're just not designed to be functional. The pocket on the Explore is generous without being bulky and you can easily fit a magazine, a book, or even a light jacket in it.

In addition, the outer slash pocket there is a full organizer pocket that is lined in bright orange (on the Ocean bag at least). This may seem like a silly detail to love but most items are lined in black or dark grey and it's hard to find items inside. With the bright orange I easily located hair bands, pens, bobby pins, my black wallet, any of it. The pocket is also set-up well with enough interior pockets to hold a laptop and be useful but not so many that you feel overwhelmed by the need to over organize. Other great features on the exterior of the bag include compression straps (it's about time we see this on a wheeled bag) and a strap to attach an additional carry-on or purse, which tucks away in it's own zipper compartment when not in use.

One other item you'll notice on the bag is the exterior handle system and wheels. They're of good quality and feel rugged but light. Even better the exterior handle systems means more usable space in the main interior compartment and if you're bringing along gear the more room the better. The interior features a built-in compression system to help keep gear and clothing in place as well as a roomy lid pocket.

I found the bag to be easy to roll, easy to take corners, and easy to lift when full. Being 5'2" a bag that can be hoisted over my head with ease when full is very important during air travel and storing luggage so this is a major win for me. While the bag works great for someone at my stature I believe someone taller would also find it appealing because the handle system expands to a generous length.

At $260 I believe the bag is priced right. It has a lot of great features and it offers a Lifetime Warranty which is good for manufacturer defects, as well as airline damage and "any reason" damage. Where else are you going to find that? Seriously.

May 27, 2010

Tomatillo Avocado Salsa Recipe

My friend Aly makes an amazing Tomatillo Avocado Salsa. It's addicting. When she moved to Milwaukee we were worried we wouldn't be able to savor this delectable treat anymore, then she gave me the recipe. It's so simple, so delicious, and so versatile. I use it alone as a dip but also love it on scrambled eggs or mixed in with black beans and rice. Give it a try! It's perfect for all the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend Parties.

1 Lg. Can Tomatillos or 15-20 Fresh Tomatillos Boiled or 15-20 Fresh Tomatillos Roasted
1/2 Med. White Onion about 3/4 Cup
1 bunch cilantro
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper - This makes a fairly mild salsa without the seeds. If you like spicey keep the seeds and/or add more pepper
2 Avocados
 
 
Drain Tomatillos and put in blender. Dice Onion and add to blender. Cut stems off cilantro, chop a bit, throw in blender and pulse. Dice Pepper, add to blender, and pulse. 
Puree all ingredients thoroughly and throw in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
 
Prior to serving cut up avocado into small chunks and add to salsa.

May 24, 2010

Dirty Girls Need Love Too: Products That Pamper Active Gals

I like to get dirty, but I think you knew that. Between biking, climbing, hiking, and just playing outdoors I tend to be a little grubby a lot of the time. At the same time I like to take care of myself. I like soft skin and pretty shiny hair (even if it's windblown or I am rockin' the lovely helmet hair). Over the last few years I have found some great products for girls like me who are no stranger to being dirty but like to feel a little pretty too.

Lips

I love the lipgloss by "Yes to Carrots". It is shiny and soothing with just a hint of color. My favorite element is how easily it is applied. A lot of glosses are globby but this goes on smoothly. I love that is not tested on animals and 95% organic and Paraben and Carmine free. The only thing I would change is to add an SPF coverage.

Face

I don't like to wear a lot of make-up. Sure I own Foundation but that's really for special occasions. For my daily wear I opt for tinted moisturizer by "Kiss My Face". I have sensitive skin and most tinted moisturizers I have dried irritate my skin. The Kiss My Face pigment comes from minerals, not chemicals, and the product is oil and fragrance free. The mineral coverage also provides SPF 8 UVA/UVB protection.

Hands and Feet

My hands and feet always need a little extra love. They tend to be dry and when I added activities and the elements to that they just don't stand a chance. However I have found using Burt Bee's Thoroughly Therpeutic Honey and Bilberry Foot Creme does the trick. While designed for feet I love the results so much that I began using it on my hands as well. I have tried other products that work well but they are heavy and greasy. This moisturizer is light, absorbs quickly, and smells delicious.

Hair

I wash my hair every few days. I am prone to dry skin and also dry hair so shampooing frequently doesn't help. However, I am not a fan of that second or third day "Have you been in the wilderness too long?" look my hair takes on. So when I discovered "dry shampoo" I fell in love. The powder spray allows you to apply it right at the roots where hair may get a little oily and makes it easy to style. The transluscent formula has worked on my hair when it was dark brunette as well as blonde. While there are a lot of more expensive brands on the market I have found Batiste Dry Shampoo works just as well and is less expensive. I prefer the "Blush" scent but it also comes in "Tropical" and "Original".

May 14, 2010

Contest: Win a Yoplait Goddess Gift Pack

I've been a fan of Greek Yogurt for awhile now so I was excited when MyBlogSpark gave me the opportunity to try Yoplait's new Greek Yogurt. I was able to try two flavors, the Honey Vanilla and Plain, and liked them both. The Honey Vanilla is very smooth and flavorful and great with a little granola mixed in. However the plain is what I really love.

No, I don't like the taste of plain yogurt but I love to use it in smoothies and to replace sour cream in dips for chips and vegetables. While regular sour cream has over 400 calories per cup and about 45 grams of fat the Yoplait Greek Yogurt is fat free and only 100 calories per container while still still packing in 14 grams of protein. It really is a great alternative for making ranch or dill dip for fresh veggies. Just swap out the same amount of sour cream called for in the recipe.



Thanks to the folks at Yoplait and MyBlogSpark I am able to choose one lucky reader to try out two cups of Yoplait's Greek yogurt, available in Strawberry, Blueberry, Honey Vanilla and Plain. In addition to coupons* for free cups of yogurt, you will receive and "Nourish Your Inner Goddess" gift pack featured in the picture above. To enter the contest just post a comment about what recipe you would like to try with Yoplait's Greek Yogurt by the end of the day Monday, May 17. The winner will be notified on Tuesday.


*This coupon offer for a free cup of Yoplait Greek yogurt is not valid in some states, including California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Tennessee.

May 10, 2010

Car Free Cupcake's Favorite Items

I have been doing my best to bike commute and use public transportation for the last year or so. When Pemba Serves began their Car Free Me initiative  I looked back at my post titled "Back in the Saddle" written in Spring of 2009 and realized I am still using all the items I mentioned to make bike commuting easier, but I have added a few more. 

Mountain Hardwear's Transition Super Power Jacket


When I bought this jacket I thought it might be too light for Spring commuting but I was wrong. I should have know that Mountain Hardwear's windstopper technology would keep me warm with minimal bulk. The jacket fits close but not too tight and features light reflective details (great for bike commuting) and THUMB HOLES!!! Perfect for keeping my hands warm during cooler rides without impeding my ability to shift and break. Priced at $140 it is a worthwhile investment. Available in Men's and Women's.

Arm Warmers


Honestly I had never thought of arm warmers beyond an interesting emo fashion trend until I realized I wanted to wear sleeveless and short sleeve tops but didn't want my arms to freeze during the warm-up period. While I could throw on a jacket there are times it is too warm and shedding the cumbersome layer quickly is not easy. Then I realized arm warmers were the answer. I started out making my own funky arm warmers out of argyle knee-high socks I never wear. Then I was lucky enough to bid on pair of Naturally Bamboo arm warmers at a silent auction. They're soft yet durable and once again have THUMB HOLES!!!! They've only got a few more pairs in stock so shop quick. Otherwise there are other excellent arm warmers available just check your local outdoor outfitter.

Arnica


While biking is one of the gentler cardio activities you can do it's not always easy on the body. Knees, shoulders, arms, and legs all get sore. I began using Arnica cream years ago for other pain and once I get off my bike I put a little on my know trouble areas and I am able to ride again the next day without pain. Arnica also works for Saddle soreness. You may want to skip this part if you're faint of heart or uncomfortable talking about the nether regions.  There was one day shortly after I began my regular bike commuting adventures that I went to get on my bike and OUCH!  I hadn't been fitted for a proper seat yet and I don't wear bike shorts since I only commute 10-20 miles roundtrip. I had to forgo the bike that day but when I got to work I realized I had my arnica cream and thought, heck why not. I used the cream in the "saddle area" being careful not to touch delicate tissues and by the next morning I was fine. I couldn't believe it. I am not a doctor and if you try this it is at your own risk however it's made my bike commuting life much happier.