Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bulu Box Review and Giveaway!

What is a Bulu Box?  Well, it's a box filled with 4-5 nutritional supplements that is sent out each month - you can sign up for a monthly subscription, or enter my giveaway to win one of the five boxes that Bulu Box is providing!  The contents of the Bulu Box change each month, but always contain a mix of products, ranging from vitamins, supplements, sports nutrition, meal replacements, diet, energy, and more, from top brands.  It's a surprise each month, and it gives you an opportunity to try out products for the small monthly fee of $10 - and this includes shipping.  

Here's what I received in my Bulu Box:
 Fish oil caplets, a bottle of vitamin D3, Revhoney energy gel, Nightfood bar, and a weight loss supplement.
 Plus an info card on all the products inclosed.

One of Bulu Box's co-founders, Paul Jarrett, lost over 100 pounds, and he is pretty enthusiastic about promoting a healthy lifestyle - like me, he's become a convert to this way of living.  I think this is a fun way to try some products that I'd never heard of (although I didn't try the weight loss supplement, as I don't go for that kind of thing), and while I'm not sure I'd spring for a subscription, this is a neat idea that will probably appeal to many people.

If you would like to be entered to win one of the five boxes I have for a giveaway, just leave a comment saying that you're in.  I'll let random.org draw the winners and announce them on Friday, August 3rd.  U.S. and Canada only.

Good luck, and thank you to Bulu Box for sponsoring such a generous giveaway!

FTC alert:  I was given a Bulu Box for review; opinions expressed are all mine.  Bulu Box will be fulfilling the giveaway prizes directly to the winners.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Hike With the Bluebirds!

Back in the dark ages, I belonged to a group called Bluebirds - we were the younger part of the Camp Fire Girls, and I think we joined in first grade.  We were girls who went to the same elementary school together, and basically grew up together.  I was able to get together with two of them, Erin and Jenny, on my trip - I don't think I've seen them for 20 years or so! We planned on a hike and lunch (again, how much do I love that I can think of doing a hike without a second thought?!) on one of the days that Barbara had to work.  Erin and Jenny came to pick me up and we spent about an hour talking, while waiting for the fog to lift.  It was great - just so much fun to catch up in person...somehow our yearly Christmas cards don't quite do it like an in-person visit.

We went to Wilder Ranch, which is just a few miles from Barbara's house - and like the forest of Nisene Marks, another gorgeous place that I had no idea existed!  We walked through the old buildings before heading out onto the cliff path, where we hiked for about two hours.  I will say that we entertained the idea of sunscreen too late (the bottle was back in the car), and we all ended up with a little souvenir of our hike in the form of red skin...someday we'll learn!  It was a great day - here's some pictures, new and old:
Jenny and Erin headed to the carriage house; interior shots.  Of course now I wish I'd made them pose on the buggy!
Such a pretty day to enjoy the gorgeous scenery!
Old friends - I'd say we all are looking pretty fit and healthy and I love that nothing is slowing any of us down!
Where the sea otters hung out - I especially liked that the one guy in the lower left had his own private ledge...

And now, a blast from the past - my 11th birthday party:
Me, Erin, Jenny and my cousin Tara - blowing out the candles on my cake that was decorated with M&M's - yum!
I had a slumber party - we slept in our camping trailer.  Hanging from the top bunk, because, why not?
A little lawn-dancing with Jenny...
Opening presents - my parents gave me a record player and a bunch of 45s!  Some of the records were Bill Hailey's Rock Around the Clock (yes I'm old but that was an oldie for even ME back then, lol), Brand New Key, Smoking in the Boy's Room, and Cher's Dark Lady.  Quite the eclectic assortment - I wonder how my mother ended up choosing them?

Finally, here's our fifth grade class picture:
 Center row, blue dress - me, then Jenny, then Erin - dang, we were so little!

Fun memories, and a great day spent with two (very youthful) old friends!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Mishmash

You may have wondered about the note I recently put on my sidebar, just under my picture.  It's there because I got an email last weekend alerting me about a complete stranger who had randomly taken 70 pictures from my blog, and had created a "family album" on Facebook, claiming I was his sister.  Bizarre, to say the least - who DOES this???  Anyway, I reported him to Facebook and a few days later his page was gone, but how strange, right?  I grabbed some screen shots of my pictures, just in case.  Check out his caption:
Sorry Henredrick, but cute as this little guy is, my baby days are over!

Anyway, I didn't think I had to actually spell it out, and it probably won't stop anyone who is really determined, but I figured I should at least have something in place saying not to steal my stuff...just because I put it "out there" on the internet doesn't mean it's up for grabs.  Geez!


I'm probably the last person on the planet to try these, but have you seen the nail polish strips that you peel and stick to your nails?  I was curious, but not enough to pay the $8 price for them; then I found a box discounted to $2 at Target - bingo!  My biggest surprise was that they smelled like nail polish when I opened the box - I really thought they were just stickers, but no, it's actually polish.  Anyway, they weren't too difficult to use, and I'll probably try them again when it gets closer to my half marathons - I get paranoid about having real pedicures because I'm afraid they'll do something that will make my feet hurt, so with these, I can still have pretty toes (and keep the damage that running does to the nails hidden).
So fun!  Of course, I probably should have taken a picture when I first put them on - this was taken over a week later and there's some chippage from wearing my running shoes.  

Oh - do you not LOVE my pink sandals?  I found them in the clearance section at TJ Maxx - $20!  They are BOC brand, and so comfortable.  Heh, based on the polish and the shoes, you might think I spend a lot of time in the clearance sections of stores.  You would be right.  I check them fairly often...you never know what bargains are out there!


I came home from my trip with a lovely parting gift - an espresso machine!  You guys.  This thing is AWESOME.  I am becoming quite the barista, and in the process, am saving tons of money by making my own iced-venti-nonfat-lattes.  Sorry Starbucks, but I don't need to visit you nearly as often as I used to!  This is an old Krups machine - it belonged to Barbara's husband back before they were married, and was used on a daily basis.  We figure it has to be around 15 years old...he took great care of it, and it still works wonderfully.  He replaced it with a super-fancy Rancilio espresso maker, and now that I think about it, I need to put in for that machine in 15 years!  Oh, and another fun thing that came with making espresso at home?  I'm using a wedding present - the pretty blue and white espresso cups - for the first time.  Who knew that holding on to something for 28 years would finally pay off?
Thanks, Dave - this has been a real treat!

While I was in California, I bought some espresso coffee at Java Bob's, and I've liked it a lot.  I can order more, but I think I should buy some locally (and not pay shipping charges).  I bought a can of Illy espresso at World Market the other day (expensive! but at least I had a coupon), and I can buy some at Starbucks, too.  Any other brands that I should look for?  I like a dark roast, if that helps.

One thing that I love seeing when I go to Santa Cruz is the beautiful landscapes.  The weather there is perfect for so many interesting flowers and plants - here's some that we saw as we walked around downtown Santa Cruz one evening:
 The hydrangeas - gorgeous.  And I love the tiny flower centers, too!
Succulents - I never was a fan of them back when we lived in California, but I can't get enough of their different shapes and colors now!

My favorite picture, though, is this one:
This is what 35 years of friendship looks like!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - Running Camaraderie

I'm convinced that one of the biggest reasons I enjoy running so much is the camaraderie - runners are, for the most part, the most welcoming, friendliest group of people I've met.  Case in point:  while we were at Fleet Feet in Aptos a couple weeks ago, I chatted with Russ, who owns the store along with his wife Tina.  As Barbara and Theresa were getting fitted for new running shoes, I mentioned how much I was enjoying the running weather in California.  Russ invited us to join them for their Saturday morning group fun run, just like that!  Sweet!  I was especially pleased when he said that their runs start at 8:00 am - in JULY.  Those beachy California runners are so lucky - no crazy heat and humidity that forces them to wake up at insanely early hours to run.  I even wore a jacket to start the run - I know.  It was wild.

We met with the group at the store, and what a fun, friendly bunch they were.  There were actually two groups - one that was training for the Wharf to Wharf 10K, and the fun runners.  Russ said I was welcome to join either group for their run - the fun runners were going to run an out-and-back for 30 minutes each way in Nisene Marks (which meant nothing to me as I'd never heard of it...turns out?  It was a forest.  On a MOUNTAIN.)  Barbara planned to walk, while I ran - we probably should have gone with the other group, as there were walkers and slower runners in that one, but no matter.  The first group took off, and we tried to keep up, but we missed crossing with them at a stoplight and had to wait until traffic cleared.  Not a big deal, but by the time I rounded the bend to the forest, I had lost sight of the last runner and didn't know which direction to go, so I got an unexpected rest break for a couple of minutes until the next runner (who was leading the other group) came along. 

So this was a mountain that I was running up.  The scenery was beautiful - when I actually took the time to look at it.  Going uphill, I tend to put my head down and power through, but for every uphill, there was a downhill, and that's when I got the chance to enjoy the forest.  This was a tough run, and after a while, we left the paved road for a rocky, rutted dirt path.  I continued to run on that for a bit, but I got tired of only looking down as I tried to not step on a big rock or into a hole - yes, I'm still paranoid about twisting my ankle.  So I turned around started running back, and soon I saw Barbara walking toward me.  She whipped out her iPhone and got a couple of blurry shots (because I was running so fast, I'm sure), but at least you can get an idea of how pretty the forest was:
Hey, I was going downhill so it's entirely possible I might have been running super fast! ;)
 So pretty!  So uphill...it just kept going up!  Mountains are like that.
The purple blob between the trees is me - I'd rounded the bend at this point, while Barbara was still on the uphill part.
 Gorgeous place - I'd love to go back and hike it so I could take in the scenery better.
Afterward, with Russ.  I was giving him a hard time, because I'd asked about hills before the run, and he only mentioned the one behind the running store.  Apparently mountains no longer register with him, LOL!

Russ invited us to join them for their Tuesday workout - Chutes and Ladders.  They run to Seacliff beach and go down the hill there, and then up the stairs on the cliff.  And then they do it over and over!  We loved the name and while the workout sounded extremely hard (yet fun), had hoped to join them, but it turned out that we were pretty busy that day and didn't want to mess with evening traffic to get there.  Here's a picture of the stairs, to give you an idea of what they do:
I got this from Google images - can you imagine running up this staircase?

Next visit, we are going to tackle Chutes and Ladders for sure!


And speaking of running camaraderie, I have to tell you that my running club peeps made me do the impossible last week - I actually joined them for a hill workout.  THAT'S how much I like running with people - I'll even do hills, just to be with them!  You all know by now that I hate running hills and doing hill workouts - I went to one back in the fall of 2010 and that was it.  So last Monday night, when Jenny texted me that she wasn't going to make our scheduled run the next day, I knew my extended hill sabbatical was over, and I met with the running club bright and early on Tuesday morning to (ugh ugh ugh) do hill repeats.  Guess what?  I still hate hills, but I did the workout.  And I survived.  Ran a mile to THE HILL, then ran up that dang thing 8 times.  I walked back down it, even though I normally love to run downhill, but I needed to recuperate before going back up.  And then we walked the mile back to our cars.  Not only did I live to tell the tale, I actually got up and did it again yesterday.  I KNOW!!!  I don't recognize me, either.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pinecrest - Childhood Memories Revisited

(Fair warning...this is a long one.)

On my first full day in California, my childhood friend Matt (who I reconnected with here) and I went to Pinecrest Lake, which is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Our families, along with a lot of the San Jose Sailing Club families, used to go camping up there for two weeks every summer.  I remember Pinecrest as a place of freedom, mainly because we were allowed to just wander around all day long...we didn't have to check in with our parents during the day, and we were free to do whatever we wanted.  What could be better?

As kids, our days at Pinecrest were spent roaming around the lake and campgrounds, climbing the huge rocks, going swimming and fishing, and hitting up the general store for candy, comic books and the occasional frosty ice cream cone.  On any given day you could be as lazy or as active as you wanted - it was a great place to spend your vacation.  Ever since we reconnected, Matt has asked me to go visit Pinecrest with him when I'd come out to California, and I always declined, because Barbara and I were too busy for me to take an entire day out of our plans.  But during this trip, she had to work several days that I was there, so Pinecrest made the agenda!

I remembered the drive to Pinecrest taking all day, but it actually only took us three hours - and no, it's not because Matt was speeding - the main difference was that we were in a Prius as opposed to a camper that was towing a boat trailer.  And those windy mountain roads that always made me carsick?  No problem!  Again, riding in the front seat of a car vs. the back of a camper probably had a lot to do with that.  Perks of being an adult!  The upside was that I not only enjoyed the drive up, but also didn't spend the first hour trying to recover from being green with motion sickness.

We arrived at the campground and I was amazed - the place looked and smelled the same..there is a distinct pine/flowery smell that IS Pinecrest.  We made the first of several trips to the general store, to buy candy and bottles of water, and I also bought a postcard, which I immediately sent to my parents since there was a little post office right next to the store.  Then we put on our walking shoes and sunscreen and took off for a walk around the lake, just like old times.  The path is narrow and you have to scramble up over rocks and tree roots - it was a bit of a challenge for me, but nothing I couldn't handle.  The old, overweight me?  No way I would or could have done this.  Matt was in front with me following, and I swear, we were 10 years old again.  We went quite a ways before we found the perfect rock (I keep calling them rocks, but they're more like boulders) and we climbed up it to sit for a while, enjoying the view, the gorgeous weather, and the memories.

Matt was the official photographer for the day since I had a major fail and brought my camera with a dead battery (I still can't believe I did that) - these are all taken with his iPhone:
 End of the lake behind me
Another view of the lake and mountains
Looking toward the swimming area (or beach, as we called it) - if you click on the picture, you can see the white buoys in the water - that's where we used to swim (and where we swam a little later on!)
On top of a rock, at the prettiest lake in the world!

Eventually we headed back to the beach, and went for a swim. The water was so cold! We got in, and talked about swimming out to the buoys that marked off the swimming area. They looked pretty far off, and as kids, I remember it being a deal to swim all the way out there, but we surprised ourselves by zipping out to them pretty quickly.  There used to be a really thick rope connecting the buoys but now it's a cable, which wasn't as easy to sit on, but we did manage to tightrope walk it from one buoy to the next.
Picture circa 1973.  (I wondered where the big rock was, but the lake was higher than when we used to go, since we were there in early July and we didn't camp until sometime in August).  Buoys in the background...

And in the "some things don't change" category, I still wore a shirt over my swimsuit to protect my shoulders from sunburning, only this time it was a rash guard instead of a cotton t-shirt.  We had a blast and wished we'd brought some floaties like all the kids were using...next time.  We finally got out of the water and laid under the shade to dry off - no current picture, but I can guarantee it was pretty much like this:
L to R:  Me, Kathy, Mitch, Matt
Pinecrest kids then...
 ...and now.  Still the same, right?!

Then it was time for our frosty - just as good as I remembered:
Nothing like a twisty ice cream after a nice hike and swim!

After that, we walked around the campground where Matt pointed out sites that we'd stayed at.  I'll have to rely on his memory, as they all looked sort-of familiar to me.  I couldn't resist climbing another rock - these are randomly scattered throughout the campground, and it always felt like we'd hit the jackpot if we scored a campsite with a big rock in it.  I love that I have a body that allowed me to climb these rocks...four years ago, there's no way I could have done this.  Score major points for being fit and strong enough to play like a kid again!
And in the "it's a small world" category, a few minutes after these pictures were taken, a family came along to climb up as well...and it turned out that the father had coached Matt's oldest daughter in soccer a few years ago!

After that, we had one more destination - Split Rock.  As we discovered that while we may have felt like 10-year-olds in our heads, our bodies were a little tired after a full, active day, so we drove to the upper campgrounds to find it.  Some kids (hey! you kids! get offa my rock!!) had built a covering out of branches over the split part, and we discussed taking it apart, but we decided to let them have their own fun (the hooligans!) and left it.
Matt had to see if walking through the split would magically transform him back to a real 10-year-old, but it didn't happen.  Real life, what's the deal?!?

It was a wonderful day - I loved revisiting a place that held so many good memories, and doing it with my childhood best friend.  This was our home away from home for many years, and I discovered that you actually CAN go home again.  Only at the end of the day, we were both walking a little on the creaky side...as kids, we would have crawled into our respective sleeping bags, slept hard, and woken up to do it all over again.  As an adult, I was thankful for a soft bed and a rest day afterward!
Thanks for the wonderful day back in time, Matt!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Mishmash

Impulse buying - most of us do it, and I'm no exception.  Two of my favorites purchases from my recent trip are a rock, and a picture of plants.  Here's the rock (and mineral and fool's gold!) seller:
His name is Nicky, he's going to be in third grade, and really, how could I NOT buy something from him?
My rock.  Cost me a dollar - totally worth it! 

And here's a picture of my picture:
Amazing succulents growing around the area.  I first saw this for sale at a coffee house - it was framed, and priced around $125.  Loved it, but too expensive.  Then the night we met Janell for dinner, we stopped at an artisan's gallery, and I found it, unframed, for a much more reasonable $30 (although Janell thinks I'm crazy to have spent that much).  I think it's beautiful, and hey - I like supporting local artists!


And speaking of shopping, we hit the jackpot on shoes this visit.  Amazing deals were found at Nordstrom Rack (oh how I WISH we had one here), and also Aptos Shoes, although I ended up with only one pair, as there weren't as many great deals in my size.  Oh well, it was fun to play!
Shoes, glorious shoes!!!  Mine are the blue Born flip flop sandals in the right corner.  If the blue Danskos were available in my size, I would have bought them, too.  Barbara and Theresa both got new running shoes and now I'm (of course) wanting a pair in purple, too!
Shoe love starts early!


Shades of Seinfeld:
Seen at Bookshop Santa Cruz, haha!


I drew from the people who indicated they were interested in my remaining GU products, and the winner is Linda!  Send me your mailing address (email it to 40somethingsjourney@gmail.com) and I'll get them in the mail to you.


Sit and Knit update:  I'm working on a project that I can't show you yet, as it's a gift.  Actually, I have so many projects going that I should institute a speed-dating style to my knitting...set a timer, knit for X number of minutes, and then change to something else.  Anyway, here's a shot of the windmill bags that I brought out to California as gifts for Barbara and Theresa:

Pink for Theresa, blue and yellow for Barbara, and all three of the bags in the last shot.

The bags got praise from a stranger, too...Theresa was carrying hers when we went shopping one day, and a boutique owner complimented her on the bag and said that she could sell them in her shop!  Very sweet, but I'm about as slow a knitter as I am a runner, and I wouldn't be able to mass produce them.  Still, that was nice to hear.


On my last night in Santa Cruz, we went to Laili restaurant - they serve Mediterranean/Afghan style food.  Oh my, it was GOOD!  Fresh flavors, and it felt like we were eating on the healthier side, as well.  We ate in the courtyard outside, which was gorgeous...everything about the night was a real treat!
Left to right: Chicken Kabob, Pumpkin Boranee, Spinach Chicken Flatbread (with a bite taken out, lol) - YUM!


Believe it or not, I haven't even come close to being finished with recapping all the fun I had in California.  More next week - aren't you lucky?!  Have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - Firecracker 5K Recap!

Ever since I started running, one thing I've especially liked to do is to find a race anytime I'm traveling out of town, and participate in it.  So far I've done a 10K in Maui and two races in the Santa Cruz area (Wharf to Wharf 10K and Big Sur 10.6 Miler).  Obviously I don't travel a lot, but hey - it's a start.  This year I was happy to discover that there was a race on the fourth of July in Santa Cruz, and convinced Barbara to join me...and her 10-year-old daughter, Theresa, too!

This was such a sweet community event - their local Rotary club is the sponsor, and they did a fantastic job not only with the race, but also the pre-and-post race events as well (pancake breakfast, yum).  They had a kid's 1K, a flat 5K, and a hilly 10K - something for everyone!

We all planned on doing the 5K together - Barbara has had some knee issues so I knew she wouldn't be able to run much, and this was going to be Theresa's first "running" 5K (she's done several walking races already), so we figured we'd do a little running, a lot of walking, and just have a good time.  Look, we even said so in the video (we are at the 2 minute mark):

(I know, the man looks scary.  But he was really nice!)

Well...two of us had fun.  Theresa, not so much.  We started off the race running, pretty slow, but you know how hard it is to not run faster than you should when you're surrounded by all the other runners at the start.  I've done that to myself on numerous occasions, and I think that's what happened to Theresa - unfortunately, it's a hard thing to come back from, especially when you're 10.  So we walked, and offered encouragement, but really, she was OVER this whole race early on.  As it was three laps around the park, we ended up calling it after the second lap - why prolong the misery?  Of course we all ran in at the finish line - hey, got to look good for the photographers, right?  Once we were done, Theresa returned to her normal sunny self, and we had a good time getting our fruit popsicles, goodie bags and t-shirts, and the pancake breakfast. 
Registering that morning...and also?  The man behind them is the owner of Fleet Feet Aptos, who we spent some time with a few days later - talk about a small world!
Participating in the pre-race warm up - love the dubious look on Theresa's face!
Yeah, some people got into it more than others (haha, notice I was being the photographer and not participating)
 Red, White and Blue - of COURSE we did an appropriate color theme!
In the starting area - lots of runners, dogs, strollers, but not a lot of people dressed up for the 4th of July - what gives?
Luckily this lady restored my faith in the fun run dress code! 
Finish line - and I'm going to employ the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" mantra regarding my legs, blech.
Nice action shot of Barbara at the finish!
 They are so cute!
I'm always a fan of a frozen treat after a race!
 Forget to take a picture of us with our pancakes, but you can sort of see us in this official shot - I've never been able to really eat after a race, so maybe this is the key - cut it short?  Ha!

About a week later, the three of us went out for a walk/run along the path above the beach, where Theresa and I practiced running - we would pick a point to start and to stop ("ok, we'll start at the light pole and run to the end of that fence"), ran at a comfortably slow pace, walked in-between the running, and we did our own 5K, although Theresa didn't know we were going to do that when we started!  It was important to me that she felt good about her ability to run, and I know she was very proud of herself afterward.  I know she'll have to face running the track during P.E. at school, and I'm hoping that she has some tools to hold her own against all the sprinters out there.  And if she can find some enjoyment in running, then all the better!