Friday, January 31, 2014

Final Thoughts on Janathon

Final thoughts…..  Well, for my last official night of Janathon it was my intention to walk the hills program on the treadmill for 1 mile.  Except that about 10 minutes before I was ready to start, my son walked in with a back cherry, hot fudge sundae for me.  Plan A went out the window and Plan B kicked in – 1 mile of running instead.  So I did 1 mile in 11.14 to close out Janathon.

Here are my totals for the month of January:

  • Run -  19.2 mi - 3.9 hrs
  • Walk - 13.5 mi - 4.4 hrs
  • Cross training  - 2.4 hrs
  • Total -  32.7 mi - 10.7 hrs

This was my first time participating in a Janathon and I didn’t know what to expect.  On the surface, it sounded like a no brainer – commit to working out every day for the month of January and then blog about it.  No big deal, right?  Right…..

Except that I learned really quickly that sometimes life just does tend to get in the way of your best intentions.   Most days I didn’t have a problem getting on the treadmill and putting in a mile or two.  I alternated with floor exercises, stretching, and something new for me, planking.  There were a couple of nights where I didn’t care about working out.  The enthusiasm just wasn’t there.  But I had made a commitment, more to myself than anyone else, and so I would drag myself out of my chair and do some sort of exercise.  And I’ll tell you something – I was always glad that I did afterwards.

I participated in Janathon more for myself than anything else.  I wanted to make the commitment and follow it through to the end.  I wanted the exercise and I wanted to hopefully improve my running a little, which I think I did.  I’m not a marathoner.  Heck, I barely have the aspirations to do a real 5K.  But I do want to be healthy, improve my running and my stamina.  However, most of all, I hope that I can inspire one person to do something positive for their health.  In fact, I got my daughter to commit to the Couch to 5K Program.  Today she said to me, “Mom, I ran 5 minutes straight on the treadmill.  I’ve never done that in my life.”  Now that means more to me than any personal record of my own ever will.

Janathon was great for the inspiration and it was fun because I got to meet some new bloggers in the process.  I really want to thank my regular readers for following along this month and giving me support.  February will bring me back to my normal posts, but I think I will continue my personal quest towards a healthier lifestyle. 

Thanks to all the folks who were a part of Janathon 2014.  It was fun and a real learning experience for me.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a black cherry, hot fudge sundae to go eat.  But don’t worry, I promise to only eat half of it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Determination Goes a Long Way

A little bit of determination goes a long way!

I'll be honest, tonight when I got on the treadmill, I was not feeling it.  Technically I was scheduled to do a 2 mile run, but in my head, I figured I'd be happy if I did a mile.  I did my warm up, punched up the speed and took off.  My legs felt heavy and my breathing was labored but I pushed through. 

As I approached a mile, I thought, "What the heck, go another 2 blocks."  My breathing had settled down into a good rhythm and my legs were feeling pretty good.  I pushed up the tempo again, passed 2 blocks, and decided to try for 1.5 miles.

Knees pumping, elbows swinging, I passed the 1.5 mile mark and thought "What the heck, go for the stinking 2 miles."  And so I did.  But guess what??  When I hit the 2 mile mark I gave myself one final push and squeezed out another block before slowing down and walking another couple of minutes to cool down.

I ended up doing 2.1 miles in 26.21 and burned 158 calories.  I know it's not the best time in the world, but the whole point is, in my head I was only prepared to do one mile and I pushed myself into doing 2.1 miles.  It's amazing what you can do when you give that little extra effort.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Product Review - Build A Sign

I was recently contacted by the good folks over at Build A Sign company and asked to do a review on one of their products of my choosing. 

They have quite a well rounded variety of products too:
  • Signs
  • Magnetics
  • Business cards
  • Bumper stickers
  • License plates
  • Decals
  • Flags
  • Window clings
  • And many more products as well

I was actually just in the market to have some Snug Harbor Bay business cards made up, so this offer couldn't have come at a better time for me. 

They have a good variety of card templates to choose from that include Business, Animal care, Personal, Real Estate and Construction.  If you like, you can also design your own layout.  That's what I decided to do.

I easily uploaded my own photo and added my text.  They have an excellent variety of fonts, sizes and colors to choose from.  You can get a matte or glossy finish too.  The whole design process took only minutes and I submitted my order.  9 days later I had my shipping confirmation, complete with a tracking number and 2 days later I had my cards in hand.

Let me tell you - I could not have been more pleased with my business cards when they arrived.  They are truly beautiful and very well made.  The colors are rich and the card stock used is very good quality 12 pt. cardstock.  They look even better in person than they did on the on-line template.

Build A Sign uses high quality materials and advanced printing equipment.  They can supply signs made of corrugated plastic, aluminum, art board, magnetic, banner and bumper sticker.  Currently they offer 14 different colors.  Whether you are a small business or a major corporation, they would be happy to serve you.  They are committed to quality customer service and want to make sure you have a positive experience with their company.  I wouldn't hesitate to order from Build A Sign again.

Another thing I really liked about the Build A Sign company is that they give back.  Since 2008, they have donated more than $ 600,000 in cash, goods and services to more than 500 non-profit organizations nationwide.  I don't know about you, but that's the kind of company that I want to give my business to.

Be sure to visit their Face Book page as well.  Right now, until February 2,  they are offering a 10% Valentines Sale with free standard shipping.  Go over and check them out if you need anything made.

I was provided custom designed business cards of my choice for review purposes and asked to give an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

(photos used are the property of Build A Sign and cannot be reproduced without permission.)

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

What I'm Learning From Janathon

If there's one thing I've learned from doing Janathon, it's that you have to make an honest commitment to exercise.  I started actively working out when I was 19 and I joined our local gym and I started working out with weights.  In the years since, I've joined and quit numerous gyms - usually I'll join, go pretty regularly for a year and then quit and revert to floor exercises, bike riding and hiking in the woods.  Nothing real strenuous, but enough to convince myself, most of the time, that I was working out on a consistent basis. 

But you know how it is - life just gets in the way.   I had 2 kids, my husband and I have always been self employed, we like to fish and hunt.  Sometimes I'd rather sit on the sofa and read a book or flip through blogs than work out.  Or maybe I want to go out back and refinish a piece of furniture, or sit and watch a movie.  And slowly exercise falls off my radar again until one day I look in the mirror or step on the scale and see that a few pounds have crept on and then I decide to start working out again.  It's a vicious cycle.  Does any of this sound familiar?

Janathon has really shown me how difficult it can sometimes be to make that commitment to exercise and keep at it.  But the rewards are so great.  And I feel good when I've completed my workout for the day.  I can honestly say that if I didn't commit to Janathon this month, that I would not have worked out every day.  Have I worked out to my full potential every day?  No, I can honestly say I haven't.  Maybe I need to work on that a little.  So this has been a good thing.

Today I started off with 12 minutes of floor exercises and leg stretches.  Then I walked 1 mile on a 10 incline at 2.7 speed for 22.14 and burned 122 calories.

You can read my Janathon daily journal here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Product Review - Easy Canvas Prints

How would you like to turn one of your own photos into a gorgeous canvas print?  Easily?  Well I have the solution for you in three words -  Easy Canvas PrintsAnd easy is an understatement.  Their canvas print designer is simple to use.  They accept a wide variety of file formats so just upload your photo, choose canvas thickness, size and border.   You can pick color, black and white and even sepia finishes. The canvas is then stretched in-house by their canvas professionals.  If you'd like to have them frame your print, they also offer a wide variety of color and style options. 

I recently had an 8 x 10 canvas print made and I was delighted with it.  I wish I could have gotten a better photo of my canvas so you could see how truly great this is!

All canvases come with a Beehive or Sawtooth hanger so you can easily display them on your wall immediately upon receiving your work of art.  Easy Canvas Prints are durable and should last for decades if properly cared for.  You can even dust them with a soft cloth. 

Production time to have a canvas made is generally 10-12 days.  Easy Canvas did an excellent job of keeping in touch with me by email, sending an order confirmation and then by emailing again when my canvas shipped just 9 days later.  They even included a tracking number for easy postal tracking along the way.  If you're anything like me, I couldn't wait to receive my print.

Easy Canvas offers a wide variety of size options from 8 x 10 up to 24 x 36 and they have affordable prices for all.  Their website is easy to follow and full of helpful tips and information.  They also have a wide variety of retouching options, so if you have a photo you like that needs a little extra TLC, they can help!  I would suggest using a high photo resolution when you upload your photo file to their site so you get a crisp and clear canvas.

Easy Canvas Prints offers a new dimension in photo display.  They are perfect for treasured memories like weddings, anniversaries, vacations, children and even pets.  Visit their website and create a special memory now.  And get this, for a limited time Easy Canvas is offering my readers a 50% promo code by clicking here.  This is a fabulous deal.  Hey, Valentines Day is just around the corner.....

You can see their Facebook page here.

I was provided an Easy Canvas Print of my choice for review purposes and asked to give an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Crocheted Washcloths

Have you ever used a crocheted washcloth in the kitchen?  I'll admit I never have.  But my mom recently made me one and I love it!  I am amazed at how nicely it cleans all the pots and dishes and it easily wipes down the countertops.

It's almost too pretty to use, don't you think?

Thanks mom.  You may need to make me a few more of these.....  hint....hint.....

Monday, January 20, 2014

Keeping Up with Janathon

This starts week 3 of the Janathon pledge.  If you haven't been following along you can go here to access my official Janathon page and catch up with what I've been doing.

Basically I've been doing some sort of work out every day and then blogging about it.  Let me tell you, it's a lot harder to do than you'd think.  I never realized how often I will just blow off a day of exercise because, well you know, life just gets in the way sometimes.  We've been super busy with work this month, which is a good thing financially, but not so great when it comes to working out.  I'm just plain tired and the last thing I feel like doing half the time is running a mile or 2. 

So I've compromised in the name of Janathon and come up with a pretty happy medium, one that has worked for 20 days so far.  I've been trying to run on the treadmill every other day and then walk on the treadmill on the days I don't run.  My walking days also add either planking or floor exercises or some arm weights which I usually just do while I'm walking on the treadmill.  I'm multi-talented that way.  LOL!

I started up on the 1st with a mile run and by tomorrow I will have bumped that up to a 2 mile run.  I've been adding a little more each time I run.  I've also added planking which I've never done before.  My first plank ever was 56 seconds and my latest one was 95 seconds.  Those suckers are hard!  I'm also happy with my floor exercises because I've been doing some badly needed crunches and I've got my legs stretched out pretty good so I can finally do the splits again.  Yeah me!  So participating in Janathon has been a good thing and has kept me in line.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Gift from Cris

Today I got a special gift that was sent to me all the way from Spain.   Meet my friend Cris, from Here and There and Everywhere.

Cris was giving  me a lesson on Christmas customs of Spain and she said that they have 3 things:  a Belen (nativity), cava (champagne) and turron (the candy).

First, she sent me 2 boxes of el lobo Turron candy, which is a specialty of Alicante, Spain.  I asked her about the name, because I knew that el lobo meant wolf.   She gave me this great explanation and history of the candy - You're right, "el lobo" means the wolf!  Doesn't mean anything in terms of turrón though, it's one of many brands that can be found here (but it is one I frequently get). More important is the fact that it's the real mcCoy, at least "legally speaking", as it's one of the brands that's still made here in nearby Jijona (there's a turrón museum there I have to visit some day). It's a typical sweet from the cities of Alicante (the hard stuff) and Jijona (the soft stuff, that became popular throughout Spain who knows how long ago, and now a lot of the production is done by big sweets companies elsewhere in the country. But only the stuff made here gets the label and can be called "Turrón de Jijona" or "Turrón de Alicante". Although in common terminology most people just refer to it as turrón duro (hard) and turrón bland (soft). Both are made from the same ingredients - almonds and honey - it's just in one the almonds have been crushed! 

Turrón is the MUST HAVE dessert after all the meals during the Christmas holiday period. My mom always said it didn't feel like Christmas if there wasn't any turrón, even if she just ate a few pieces! 
So here's what it looks like and let me tell you - it's really good!  I've only eaten the hard one so far, but it reminds me a lot of peanut brittle, which I love anyway, so this is fab! 

Cris told me I was on my own as far as the champagne went.  LOL!

And finally she sent me this adorable thimble with a nativity scene on it. She said she purchased it for me when she was in Granada last year and was saving it to send to me for Christmas.


The thimble is so pretty and delicate.  I have it on my book shelf where I can admire it.

Be sure to visit the post that Cris wrote where she explains about the custom of Kings Day in Spain.  In it she tells the story of the 3 Kings, their journey to Bethlehem, and what they have to do with the Belen.  For more on this subject, read Cris' post here.

Cris - thank you again for such a lovely and thoughtful gift.  It was so much fun to get an unexpected present from half way around the world. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

First Division Museum at Cantigny

Last fall we made a visit to Wheaton, Illinois in order to visit Cantigny Estate.  I wrote a blog post about it here.

Also on the Cantigny grounds is the First Division Museum and I was really looking forward to going through it.  The First Infantry Division was literally America's first division and was formed during WW1.

In the main lobby are statues and displays honoring the regiments from earlier American wars, beginning with the Revolutionary War,  that would eventually form the First Division.   The First Division has played major roles since WW1 in conflicts that include WW2, The Cold War, Viet Nam and Desert Storm.

The displays are life size, very detailed and interactive.  I thought it was interesting to get an inside view of battle scenes, meeting rooms, and military hospitals.  They had a huge and diverse collection of memorabilia.  As we walked from room to room, we transitioned from year to year.


Also on display is a steel beam from the Twin Towers of 9/11.  Last year I saw several different monuments in different areas of Illinois that commemorated the destruction of 9/11. I also reviewed The Stories They Tell which was a fascinating book detailing the events and people involved and affected on that fateful day.

After walking through the museum we went outside....

And did a little phoning....

Another cool thing they have on the grounds of Cantigny is their tank collection.  They have 11 authentic tanks on display from WW1 through Desert Storm.  And the best part of it is that they let you climb all over them!

Afterwards we continued walking around the beautiful grounds of Cantigny.  Cantigny is a gorgeous 500 acre public park donated to the area by Colonel Robert McCormick.  If you're in the area, I highly recommend visiting.  Plan on making a day of it!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Baked French Toast Casserole

This year Tony made Paula Deen's Baked French Toast Casserole for breakfast on Christmas morning and it was so good!  The beauty about this recipe is that you can prepare it the night before, put it in the refrigerator and then pull it out and bake it the next morning.  It was so easy to do!
Tony gathered all the ingredients......

Cut up the French bread, placed it in the pan and poured the egg and half and half mixture over it.  Hey, I never said it was low-fat!

Then he prepared the praline topping and spread it on top....

He covered it with tin foil and put it in the fridge.  Christmas morning I got up, threw it in the oven and let it bake for 45 minutes while we opened presents.  It filled the house with the most fragrant smell and by the time the casserole was done, we were starving. 

Does this look fantastic or what????

It was hot, fluffy and totally delicious.  The recipe makes a lot and we just refrigerated the rest and then heated it up in the microwave the next morning for breakfast too. Thank you Paula Deen!
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