Thursday, October 19, 2017

Whiplash Smile

Ahh, that title.  Not only is it the title of my favorite Billy Idol album but it definitely applied to our vacation.  This was our 4th trip to Traverse City and by far our most turbulent. 

We paddled our first full day and thought we'd launch from a new to us site...the Old Mission Bay.  We got everything ready to roll and launched from the beach to a glassy bay.  We marveled at the crystal clear waters that morphed to dreamy blue and finally a foreboding black that was still clear as far as your paddle.  While the paddle out seemed to take forever to reach the end of the bay, it felt like I was paddling through molasses.  When we got out to Lake Michigan, you could see the different currents going from slightly wavy to a light chop.  It was nothing we hadn't encountered before.  The Mr set a pretty good pace and I was keeping up.  Thing is, I have no rudder on my kayak and he's got a nice fin to give him some direction.  When you paddle, you tend to set your sights on a landmark and paddle toward it.  We were both eyeing the same outcropping which seemed like it never got closer.  When it finally did, I thought I recognized it as the little "tree island" that was close to the Old Mission Lighthouse.  It had crossed my mind earlier in the paddle "how cool would it be to paddle there" but I thought it was on the other side of the peninsula.  Turns out it was on top and we just found it. 

I burst into tears because I was so proud of what we'd just accomplished.  I had no idea how far we just paddled but we'd gotten pretty battered the last bit of the journey so we felt pretty triumphant.  The winds kicked up and we ate our paddling snack on our boards.  I'm sure the people at the lighthouse thought we were nuts and yeah, we were but we had no choice but to paddle back.  As we headed on the side back down, I was already exhausted.  My shoulders hurt so bad from trying to keep up and then having no real break at the lighthouse meant it was going to be a rough paddle back in the best of conditions.  What I was contending with was a rudderless yak that should've had the advantage with the waves behind it but there was a horrific undertow.  This meant for every one stroke I should've been able to take, took 4 strokes and that was to keep me from spinning mercilessly in a circle much less making any forward progress.  I finally broke down crying because I was getting sucked backward away from the Mr and these were the conditions for the entire paddle back.

I had to take the Mr up on his offer to put a tow line on the yak because otherwise, I was going to get sucked out somewhere in the middle of Lake Michigan which people don't realize is like an ocean.  There are waves, currents, undertows, riptides and all of the regular things except big sharks and salt.  As he tried to tie me, I had to paddle furiously to attempt to stay even with him.  I was exhausted.  He mistakenly thought he could hook me up and I could take a rest.  Nope.  My goal was to not have to have him even feel me back there but he could instantly feel what I was dealing with.  We had some seriously close calls that had us both terrified and completely exhausted.  As we got within 200 feet of the bay, the line snapped.  We had no choice but to be on our own and he felt instant relief when he got there.  I didn't.  We still had a good 20-30 minute paddle until we hit the beach.  While it was mild on top, the current was still underneath and it would sometimes flip me completely backward at which point I would paddle backward while making forward progress toward the beach.  The last hour of the paddle, both of my shoulders were popping in and out of the socket.  Not popping like that cute little old age popping sound when you are working out, I'm talking between that and Riggs popping his dislocated shoulder back into place on the door frame.  When we hit the beach, I wanted to throw the paddle in the trash and leave it all there for someone else.  We both declared we were never paddling again this year after that.  I couldn't raise my arms to grab a glass or point for two days.  It sucked.  A check online showed we paddled just over 8 miles, our longest ever in more ways than one.

But then the Mr's birthday came along and paddling on Crystal Lake which was perfectly glassy sounded like a good idea since we were both healed up. 

Well, of course halfway through the winds shifted and it was a bumpy ride back.  Thankfully no undertow to suck me back so I was able to use the waves coming against me to leverage some paddle power off their crest.  It still was exhausting and then we really were done with paddling.

That was all bad's where we get to the whiplash part.

It was our last night and we were home while there was still light.  We got in the hot tub to soothe our muscles and we laughed as I ungracefully slid into the hot tub for the umpteenth time.  Between the dolphin skin-like texture of the hot tub edge and the last minute pair of dude swim trunks, I had to bring because I couldn't find my bathing suit bottoms meant it was always a slippery entry.  When our time was up, the Mr said he could get out first and help me out and I said that was okay.  How I wished I'd listened.  As I swung my foot over the hot tub, I felt like I didn't have a good stance on either side.  I knew I was in between the two sets of steps going in and as I tried to steady myself, the steps kicked out from under me and I fell backward hitting the stairs, wooden deck and finally my head on the ground.  The Mr stood up watching me helplessly and the last thing he saw was my head bouncing hard off the ground and back into it.  It's funny exactly how many thoughts can go through one's head in about 4 seconds.  As I saw the roof and sky as I fell backward, I thought "wow, I haven't seen this perspective in like 20 years.  This is going to suck.  I wonder what part of me is going to hit what.  Wow, I had to look like Rikki Rockett falling out of his drum set like in the Talk Dirty to Me video, I bet that was pretty funny looking."


(White arrow shows the stairs that slipped on the leaves they were on and red shows where I ended up.  If I hadn't turned mid-fall, I would've hit on my spine the bottom wooden stair.)

I felt an instant headache, a tingling in the back of my head and a weird sensation I couldn't quite identify.  The Mr ran over to me asking me over and over if I was okay.  I started laughing which hurt intensely but I said that had to look pretty funny and he assured me it wasn't.  I felt like someone had sucker punched me in the back of the head.  Actually the back of the neck.  He helped me up and said he was going to Google concussion symptoms as he helped me inside.  I did the same and when I saw pressure in the head, that was the sensation I couldn't pinpoint.  Pressure.  He grabbed some acetaminophen to help with the pain and swelling which several websites said was suggested but definitely not ibuprofen in case there was internal bleeding.  He had me lay down to rest and told me he would be continually quizzing me on the details of the accident.  After thirty minutes, I felt better as far as the thumping in my head and the pressure but the stiffness was setting in.  We went to the fire pit and made some smores.  We only had that night and I wasn't ruining it due to my accident.  As my head started to feel like a bobblehead where I couldn't hold it up well on my own, I started thinking about actress Natasha Richardson who fell on "soft snow", was joking and talking through a headache and refused medical treatment.  Six hours later she was gone due to internal bleeding on something coined "talk and die."  That freaked me out so we went inside and called our insurance nurse.  She asked the Mr a series of questions about my behavior and symptoms and I seemed to pass that with flying colors though he was told to watch me for a period of 6 hours, wake me in the middle of the night and if symptoms get worse, take me to a doctor.  I felt better and we set another fire in the pit and enjoyed a late dinner.  I got up in the middle of the night for a wee so the Mr knew I was still alive.

The next few days sucked because as the pain/stiffness in my upper back, neck and side of my face got worse and a quick check showed I had every symptom of whiplash.  I'd been a passenger in two car accidents so I knew what that felt like and this was the worst case I've had.  I couldn't even turn in bed without holding the back of my head because I couldn't support the weight of my own head.  Though I'm grateful I didn't have a huge knot on the head, I knew landing on your neck could be equally disastrous.  (Though I did crack my head on the huge lipped headboard earlier in the stay so it was not a good head trip for me!)  Frankly, I'm thankful to be alive after all of that!  I think of how if I hadn't instinctively turned to my left as I fell, letting my knee and butt take the brunt of things initially, it could've been my spine that hit directly on the wooden deck platform and I don't even want to think about that.  This is on top of the leg injury that had me hobbling the whole time which is taking a helluva time healing up.

What I learned from all of this?  I'm lucky AF.  Lucky things didn't take a turn not once, twice but three times between one treacherous paddle that had us both terrified and two head injuries that had me seeing stars.  I'm lucky that I have someone who didn't hesitate to be my rudder both literally and figuratively in times of hardship.  I thank God for him and his quick thinking in all situations.

Ever had a head trauma (or two) or close call on the water?

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Much needed break

Last week, we took a much-needed vacation for the Mr's birthday.  I've been working my brain into mush and he's had a big work project he's been involved in so we both needed the down time.  We returned to the familiar haunts of Traverse City, MI where we enjoyed some of our favorite places.

We decided to stay out of the downtown area this year and we had sunny weather for a majority of the time which meant starting a few of our days doing morning yoga in the backyard.

We brought our paddling gear with us since we saw we'd have a few good days to get it in.

There are a few stories but I'll save that for tomorrow.

It truly pains us to know that this could likely be the last season for Hoxsie's Farm Market since it's for sale.

It was the first thing kind of welcoming you to the general Traverse City area coming in on M72 and when you saw its old truck full of pumpkins, you couldn't help but get the warm fuzzies.  The thought of that going away in the name of progress, killed my spirit a little.  When I saw the listing, I immediately screamed: "we need to buy that!"  The Mr quickly reminded me that we know nothing about farming but I told him we could learn.  Well, we don't exactly have a million bucks lying around but if y'all could get a million people to donate $1 to the cause, I will give you a free pie in exchange for your generosity which usually cost about $10-14 so that's a pretty good return, right?

We had to continue the tradition with our annual viewing of...

For once, we got to see Leland/Fishtown on a sunny day!  It's usually cold, windy and sometimes rainy so we were glad to see it on a rare bright October day!

The birthday boy has two things he wants to do on his birthday in the general area...a paddle on Crystal Lake and lunch at The Cherry Hut.

You can see why they call it Crystal Lake.  I swear I have never seen water so friggin' clear in my life.

We followed it up with a late day drive at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore along Pierce Stocking Drive.  Unfortunately nowhere near peak.  We only lucked out on that front one trip out of four.

Of course, you can't not go to farmers markets...

...or pumpkin patches.

We're not wine drinkers but I always like seeing fruits on the vine.

It's always nice to take a break from shopping downtown to sit on the boardwalk on the Boardman River.

One thing TC does big...Halloween.  It is not uncommon to see massive Halloween displays like this one on some random person's house.  If we had kids, we would literally drive up here and stay Halloween weekend just to take them trick or treating.

Of course, when you have a fire pit, s'mores are always on tap.

The morning we left, the deer came to bid us farewell.

It went by way too fast and we both agree that next time, no paddling.  Tomorrow's post will explain some of that but more that it just sucked so much time away from the day.  Each paddle was 3 hours and that didn't include set up and packing.  Before you knew it, the day got away from you and we said we felt like we needed an extra few days because we didn't get to go see our favorite town of Frankfort because of it.  Lesson learned that we need closer to 8-10 nights when we go if we take the board/yak.

Now we're back to business as usual.

Where was your last vacation?

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Food Review: Trader Joe's Rice Cauliflower Stir Fry

I love me some homemade stir-fry.  It helps us feel like we're not missing out.  (Given we just had our first "real" Chinese take out a few weeks ago in eons, I can confirm, we're not really missing out by doing it our way.  Except for crab rangoon.  God, I love that stuff.  Huh?  What?)  

While perusing with the masses at Trader Joe's a few weeks ago, I spied this in the freezer section:

You guys have seen me post some stir fry meals where I rice my own cauliflower but I was feeling lazy and thought we could give it a try to see how it stacked up.

Here's a peek at the nutritional info and ingredients:

Pretty decent though I wish I'd paid more attention to the sodium, that's about 450mg of sodium if you split the bag compared to the 100mg we get if I DIY it and for twice the amount of cauliflower.  But still, not bad in the scheme of things.

Just basically dump it in a skillet frozen...

...and let it come to temperature.

I paired it with a nice mango glazed tuna filet.  So what did we think?

The flavor was really good but I know some of that is from the salt.  It was not nearly as filling as when I do it but if I'm not feeling like going through the whole shebang for healthy stir-fry, this could fit the bill sometimes.  If you're looking for a good, quick stir fry option then you should give it a try if you have a TJ's near you.  As a reminder, this IS  TJ's which means the likelihood of it sticking around long term is a crap shoot at best.  Stock up but don't get attached.

What are your favorite stir-fry ingredients?

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Current Pre-Christmas Crushes

Look, I know it's not even Halloween yet, I get it.  You're not ready to see Christmas stuff yet.  But my God man, they need to stop sneaking it in my magazines or in my social media feed because you know mama's gonna be all over that!  So for you Halloweeners (ha!), you should probably skip this one.  It's not long though.  You know you kind of wanna peek.

I was scrolling my feed one day and this baby popped up from L'OCCITANE en Provence:

It's an advent calendar that is full of beauty products from them to count down to Christmas!  At $70, I'd never splurge on it for myself but how fun and it won't add calories to the waistline like chocolate advent calendars.  ;-)  How cool to have little travel sized stuff you can throw in your bag for vacays!

You all know my go-to store for Christmas is Pottery Barn and they're not disappointing!

I saw these Vintage Holly Berry Salad Plates and about squee'd myself!  MUST get these.  How cute would Christmas breakfast look on these!?

(Why can I already feel the Mr's gaze boring through my head saying "no more Christmas plates everrrrrrrrrrrrr!")

Ooh, ooh...Mr. Kot-tear, look at these Nostalgic Santa Tidbit Plates!  Perfect for portion control so I think I should get them.  HA!

And just in case I want to wrap up in a Christmas blankie, the Fair Isle Fur Pom Pom Throw would remind me of our first Christmas in Vermont!

I know any day now, they're going to drop even more Christmas goodness upon all of us so you'd better brace yourselves.  I'm sure I'll have another Christmas Crushes post but I had to share these few things that were getting me fired up for the season!

Do you do advent calendars?

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Friday, October 13, 2017

What I'm Reading This Week #41

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you've had a wonderful week and are ready to par-tay.  We are firmly anchored into the season of Fall so you can imagine my delight.

That will be pretty evident in...

U.S. national parks with stunning fall foliage  (We're at peak people, just throw your plans for the weekend out the window and road trip!)

This PG-13 Haunted Train Ride Will Scare the Bejeebers Out of You  (Okay, Love Saves the Day where Madonna traded her jacket for the boots in Desperately Seeking Susan is in New Hope so yeah, I now have a reason to road trip here!)

The 10 Best Small Towns to Visit for Halloween  (We can absolutely vouch for Sleepy Hollow.  Do the night lantern tour at the cemetery, it is FANTASTIC!)

10 Simmer Pot Recipes That Will Make Your Home Smell Like Fall  (Can't wait to bubble bubble toil and trouble!)

55 Utterly Adorable Homemade Halloween Costumes for Kids  (I would give extra candy to these cuties!)

42 Country Ideas for Decorating Your Fireplace & Mantel  (That's it, I need multiple fireplaces!)

Kids Ranked Their Favorite Halloween Candy  (Looks like you'd better buy pucker power for them and chocolate for you!  ;-)  )

Trader Joe's FINALLY Released Its Pumpkin Products  (Ignore the piss and vinegar reviews, the Mr LOVES the pumpkin cream cheese and the pumpkin cinnamon rolls are really good.  Just remember if there's anything you don't like, you can take it back for a full refund even if it's an empty box!)

How to Watch Scary Movies With Someone Who's a Total Weenie  (I can relate to most of these because while I liked scary movies in the 80's and the Scream movies in the 90's, once it turned to uber gore and torture stuff, I couldn't watch anymore.)

20 ghost-busting trips to take for Halloween  (Holy crap, I didn't know our favorite Christmas destination was full of dancing ghosts!)

10 of the Best Quotes From It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown  ("I wouldn't want to be accused of taking part in a rumble."  So funny!)

A yummy cookie for Halloween  (Caramel Candy Corn is my favorite and even if you're a candy corn hater, the cookies alone are like Snickerdoodles.  Take most of 'em to work for the dingoes)

Culinary aromatherapy for sure  (Make this now if you like holiday baking!)

What are you up to this weekend?  Any plans for a pumpkin patch?

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Get Pumped in the Pumpkin Patch!

You may think I've lost my ever-lovin' mind and you're probably right.  I was thinking about our trip to the pumpkin patch and how it was basically a field of medicine balls/free weights of varying sizes just waiting to be utilized!  

(Working out or offering a sacrifice to the pumpkin king?  Twas an overhead press.)

You know those places almost always have delicious seasonal treats like pumpkin doughnuts and cider to end your pumpkin picking experience.  I think it only fitting that we be prepared to work off what may be waiting for us at the farm stand.

**I am not a health/fitness professional.  This workout should not be construed as medical advice.  Always consult your doctor before beginning a new fitness routine- especially ones involving pumpkins.**

Pumpkin Squats- Grab a goodly sized pumpkin between 8-12 lbs and holding it in front of your belly button as a stabilizer, squat pushing your booty back when you go down and squeezing the glutes as you come back up.

Overhead Pumpkin Press- Using two smallish pumpkins (think kettlebell sized), do an overhead military press to full extension and lower into 90 degrees and repeat.

Pumpkin Curls- Using the same two smallish pumpkins and holding them underneath, do a bicep curl keeping your elbows pinned to your hips as you curl.  You may be holding pumpkins but you still need good form.  ;-)

Pumpkin Twists- A take on the Russian twist.  Grab a medium sized pumpkin and hold it close to your torso if you have a weak core or slightly in front of you if your core is stronger.  Twist side to side keeping your hips forward as you twist.  Do not hyperextend your twist.

Pumpkin Halos- A classic kettlebell move with a not so classic kettlebell!  Holding a small kettlebell sized pumpkin in front of your chest, bring the pumpkin around the left side of your head, behind it and around the right side of the head back to the starting position in front of your chest like you just drew a halo around your head then reverse the action starting on the right and ending on the left.  Be careful and don't thump your gourd on your melon as you do these!  (Yes, I know it's not truly a gourd)

Pumpkin Lunges- Grab a goodly sized pumpkin and hold it in front of your chest.  You can do walking lunges, forward lunges or reverse lunges.  If you're doing multiple sets, switch it up each time.

Pumpkin Upper Cuts- Grab two smallish pumpkins holding them underneath and do alternating upper cuts punching away from you and to eye level.

Pumpkin Kick Backs- Grab a medium-sized pumpkin and hold it to your chest.  Balance on one leg and kick back with the other making sure you're not standing on super uneven ground or near vines you could trip on.  Switch legs and repeat.  Holding the pumpkin will help work the core as you balance.

Pumpkin Tricep Extensions- Using a smallish pumpkin, hold it with both hands over your head and slowly lower behind your head making sure not to hit your head as you lower or raise it back up.

Single Leg Pumpkin Deadlifts- Grab a small to medium sized pumpkin and hold it to your chest or allow it to hang in front of your hips depending on your preference.  Balance on one leg and slowly hinge forward allowing the other leg to raise as you bend.  Make sure the balancing leg is slightly bent and you're not standing on uneven ground or near vines you could trip on.

Be prepared for double takes and whispering but you never know who you could inspire.  I mean think of the kind of dedication someone must have to pump some pumpkin to get in their strength workout!  Talk about breaking out of a rut...just make sure you don't step in one as you're doing it! Yes, this workout is somewhat tongue in cheek so if you think I'm joking, I am.  If you think I'm fall fitness genius, I am.  ;-)   I demonstrated the squats to the Mr with their pumpkins and I don't know why he kept looking around.  Again, should you choose to do it, you do it at your own risk but you can bet I'm personal going to be doing it.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Food Review: Orton Bros Pumpkin Pie Cookie Buttons

Have you guys heard of the Vermont Country Store?  Well, if you haven't and you're big on nostalgia, let me tell you, this is the website/store for you!!  We got the chance to visit the actual store in Weston, VT last year for Christmas and you guys know what a nostalgia/sentimental nerd I am - I was in HEAVEN!  Do you have A Christmas Story freak in your circle of friends or family?  Buy 'em some Lifebuoy soap.   Do you love Christmas decorations from your childhood?  Peek at their holiday shop.  It's not just a holiday place though.  Missing that fragrance Grandma used to wear?  You might just be able to find it there!  

While perusing the store, the Mr's sample radar went off.  I swear that man can sniff out a sample within a two-mile radius.  Well, HE was in heaven when we hit their food section which you could literally make a meal from between cookies, crackers, cheeses, and fudge!  When he told me I had to try these cookie buttons he tasted, he didn't have to twist my arms. They were the zesty lemon flavor and holy hellcakes!  Remember McDonaldLand cookies from your youth?  Well, they taste exactly like those!   Needless to say, we bought two boxes.  Since we weren't familiar with Vermont and the amount of time between towns with restaurants was getting longer, we split a box for lunch.   No regrets.

We've since ordered more and shared with friends, they are that good.  So when they came out with seasonal flavors like this pumpkin pie, I knew we had to try them.  They only sell them in 3 packs online (darn) so I ordered pumpkin pie, cinnamon, and maple.

Today we'll be trying the pumpkin pie.  Here's the nutritional info.

To me, this is how you can tell they're a little more homemade than your mass produced gigantor cookie company...

See how no two cookies really look the same?  Plus that pic of my giant paw gives you some scale on their size.

But how do they taste?

Okay, remember when Violet Beauregard swiped the 3 Course Dinner Gum and could taste each element as she chewed?  That is exactly what this cookie tasted like to us.  The first chew or two tastes like plain pumpkin puree which honestly turned me off a little.  But as you continue to chew, the spices kick in and then it truly tastes like pumpkin pie.  I think it's because of its more natural, unprocessed as possible way of being baked that lends that taste when it's a more layered cookie. Like the zesty lemon is just like chew and bam...lemony goodness because there aren't other spices competing for your taste buds.  The pumpkin spice was good but not a flavor either of us would have to have again.  We're definitely looking forward to the maple and cinnamon flavors because they are straight up, non-layered flavors.  (Edit:  We just tried the maple and while they're good, neither of us tasted all.  So I'm beginning to think zesty lemon should just be ordered for all 3 boxes from now on and that is just fine with me!)

If you like light, crispy cookies full of flavor, the Orton Brothers Cookie Buttons are one of our favorites and we don't typically buy cookies on the regular to keep in the house.  Plus they're low enough in calories that even if you went ape poo on a whole box, it'd be the equivalent of a meal, not all of your meals for the day.

What's your favorite seasonal cookie?

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