Yoga Update

It’s been a few weeks now since I gave my first instructed yoga class a try at a yoga studio here in town. You may be wondering why on earth would anyone pay for yoga when you can find numerous free yoga workouts on line. I completely AGREED with you….that is before I tried the one free class this studio offered. I had nothing to lose and was not obligated to anything. And now, since its been a few weeks, I feel I should offer an update on what I have found by stepping outside of my comfort zone.

First, I must admit, I was completely blown away at how peaceful class is. I opted to start with gentle yoga since I have been suffering with mid back pain for quite sometime now. Class is conducted in low light, with relaxing music, and moves are slow enough to not cause any stress while trying to get into each pose before the next is introduced.

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The other thing I noticed to be most helpful is I can totally let go of my thoughts here. I have done numerous yoga workouts online while in my home and each has been very beneficial. That being said, I never truly can let my mind release and just be one with my breath. At home I work through the movements all while hearing the washing machine doing its thing, hearing my family walk around or talking about this, that or the other thing, or thinking about what I am going to prepare for dinner, etc.Plus, you have to remember I work from home…so ultimately, I NEVER can leave work behind like most people can. I simply can’t just turn off at home like I can in the studio setting.

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And probably the most important thing I have learned is proper form. If something is wrong they walk over and help you find the right placement of this foot or that hand, etc. I feel amazing after each and every class. Whether its from stretching or simply clearing my mind, I am not sure. Either way it’s a great feeling to have and I look forward to going every week. Which, yes, to answer your next question…yes, I have signed up and am now a paying yogi….as they say.

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What are your thoughts:

Yoga..yea or nay?

Home or studio?

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November=58 degrees…In Wisconsin…..Seriously??? Time To Trade In My Whisk For My Hiking Boots Once Again

As you can probably assume from the title, I am one VERY happy person. When I awoke Thanksgiving morning and saw the forecast prediction for the day after Thanksgiving was going to be in the mid 50’s I immediately put things into high gear. I simply looked across the room at my husband and he knew exactly what I was thinking……..he said calmly, “let’s get it all done today so we can hit the trail tomorrow.” I love how he understands me without me even saying a word.

As you can imagine I had a load of things on the to do list to accomplish with four days off for the holiday. We literally packed all our chores into one day, we got in our annual family hike for Thanksgiving morning, plus I made Thanksgiving dinner that same evening. Oh, I was so tired by evening but so happy to be free of the long list and just had a few things that needed tending to before we hit the long trail on Friday afternoon.

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Then Friday arrived and I was excited to get in some warm mileage on a dirt trail once again before the snow arrives full blast. We arrived at our chosen trail head to find just us. I did not mind this at all, I parked our lone vehicle and it awaited our return.

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The temp on my vehicle upon arrival was a balmy 58 degrees. Amazing!!!!

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And a few steps into our hike and I had to chuckle. Clearly, this lone dandelion was not ready to give up quite yet on summer either.

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The trail was wonderful. Leaves crunched beneath our feet,

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signs of deer were everywhere,

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nature could be heard and saw along the way. It was so good for my soul…to just walk, listen, and breathe the air around us.

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The only thing that could have caused me any worry was that we were hiking during the gun deer hunt season here in WI. We did see many different deer stands, thankfully no active hunters during our time on the trail . And yes, in case you are wondering, we did also wear blaze orange for our own protection on this hike.

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With 3.3 miles Thanksgiving day and just over 4 miles Friday, we could all agree that summer is going to missed.

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Hiking, along with numerous other things we were able to pack into four days, left us all with a feeling of happiness. Add that to a fabulous Thanksgiving meal……along with my first ever homemade whipped cream (which turned out wonderful I may add) so my husband could enjoy whipped cream on his pumpkin pie along with everyone else…and I could not have been more thankful for anything else in the  world.

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Now, we all have to return to normal life once again and hopefully be ready for Christmas in a few short weeks. Sadly, I have a feeling I will not be hiking anywhere where that snow is not covering the trail come this time but who knows, maybe just maybe, wishes will come true.

Life Lately….

As you all know if you have been reading recently I have mainly posted new trails for you all to try. Well, that’s because a lot has been happening in the background of life that I have been trying to gather and sort through in my mind. So I thought I would give you a break from trails and hikes we have been enjoying and focus on other life topics today.

Starting with…..we just celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been this long…seriously over half my life I have been married to this amazing man that puts up with my crazy ideas. It’s been fun so far….and we are far from finished. So as we begin another year of life together I can only hope the fun continues.Stay tuned….

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As the leaves start falling this means less sunshine and that for me is like a death sentence. Here in Wisconsin most people hibernate all winter long. I see my neighbors come and go but don’t talk with them for months since I very rarely step foot outside in the winter months by choice.  I don’t even walk to the end of the driveway to pick my own mail in the winter months. Sad but true….it is what it is. I am simply not a winter lover!!! So as of October I always begin taking my “sunshine vitamin” (Vitamin D) to help with the winter blues that typically hit me hard by January.

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On the brighter side of things….we have planned one last camping trip of the 2017 season before the snow flies here in a few days/weeks. You really never know when it will happen…..so hopefully we make it through this last trip without a light covering of white stuff on our picnic table. I am excited to get out one last weekend and enjoy nature before it all freezes over. I am a bit up in the air but I do believe we will be sleeping in our SUV this time around and using our new SUV curtains we made a few months back.

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Soon after all this happens,Thanksgiving arrives which we are planning once again to keep up with the tradition of a Thanksgiving morning hike. Many people do some type of turkey trot but we would rather hike a trail than be surrounded by a bunch of runners/walkers. Looking back to last year reminded me to dig out the blaze orange once again since its deer hunting season in our parts during Thanksgiving.

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And after Thanksgiving comes the big Christmas holiday. This year we plan to simplify and not be so stressed out by who wants what, where, and when. Christmas is always a big stresser in my life. Why does everyone put so much pressure into two days of the year….like honestly, its two days?To make this less stress, we already have decided on a few things, we have already discussed our family gatherings and thankfully all I have left to do is the menu planning. Well, and gift buying but that is fairly easy at this stage of life.

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I have been getting back to making some family style meals with the colder weather upon us now. Summers meals can be almost anything after a long hot day of playing outside for my job. Fall and winter offer me more time in the kitchen(often with the kids helping) to prepare more thought out meal plans. I have been concentrating on two meat free dinners during the week and one on the weekends. This soup blend I found has been changed up a variety of ways and so far they have all been winners.

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Casseroles are back in the rotation once again and are a family favorite.

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And our son even surprised us one night by making french onion soup which was so yummy.

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As for workouts…..this has been the biggest change recently. Yoga has been my “go to” to help strengthen and get some flexibility back in my thoracic spine area. Physical therapy was an option but both my MD and my chiropractor suggested trying yoga before physical therapy since this is suppose to offer more benefit. Without a doubt, I am feeling better already….so for now yoga is scheduled into every single day.

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And four days a week I am back at the gym. Walking has become difficult to do since the sun is leaving us faster every evening that passes by, so the gym is my “go to” for cardio. Plus, in my opinion, movement is medicine!!! I feel so much better after a gym workout than I do if I do not go. Which means there really is no question of whether or not I need to make this happen. So once again, until the days get longer, I am back at the gym on my trusty elliptical.

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That should do it for today.

Anything your curious about….let me know?

Do you change up your workout routines as the seasons change?

 

 

An Offer I Could Not Pass Up

****Disclaimer: I was offered free product for an honest review of my thoughts on this company. All opinions are honest and in my own words.

After a horrible week of chaos before leaving for our Virginia hiking trip I must say life is getting back to a new normal. Is it normal for everything to break, for work to be super stressful, and for plans to change all in the week prior to vacation? Well, this is exactly what all happened here…there was even a point two days prior to leaving I wanted to just forget the entire trip. Thankfully, we did not and we had the best time with nothing….not one single thing going wrong. How wonderful is that?

Anyhow, about two weeks prior to leaving for this trip I was given a diagnosis of something I had a feeling was coming but was avoiding for quite some time. Well, now its time to face the facts and move on. Its nothing life threatening but will be life changing for me for sure. Then, ironically, a week after this I received an email from Swanson Health asking if I would like to take advantage of $50 in free product from their website to try. I took a quick look and noticed a few things that they offer that was on the list of things to try from my doctor. How is that for perfect timing?  So I decided why not give them a try and I placed my order.

That being said, I have been trying to take my doctors advise and learn how to meditate. No laughing now…..because if you know me personally, sitting and clearing my jam packed mind is a funny thought in itself for sure. So far I am not sure if its working or not but I am truly giving it my best shot. I bought some essential oil room/yoga mist and have been trying some sound therapy to help get me to “this place” where I should not be thinking of anything. Again…..trying not to think of anything…..really trying;-) I have also been doing yoga daily to help with joint and muscle pain I have daily which was also suggested. Happily, I am seeing improvement and the days where I forget to do it I find myself reminded by evening with my body talking back. Thankfully 10-15 minutes of yoga is easy and can be done literally anywhere. Along with massage (thanks to my husband) and daily exercise I have been feeling pretty good once again. This mist I bought is pretty nice in all honesty. I am not a big fake scent person so I really love that its an essential oil mist and can be used anywhere. There are many scents available and a little goes a long way for a small price.

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Around our house we have been preparing for winter. Like it or not I feel it coming and its never a good feeling but I am not dreading it quite as bad as other years yet. Our fall chore list is long but we are getting there. I can only dream of owning a home where the summer season stays around all year long and you never have to pack away patio tables, grills, close up windows to the frigid cold breeze, and swap out lawnmowers for snow blowers. I tell ya….its a big dream!!!! With winter always comes cold which means dry air and then comes dry skin and hair. For me, I have been using the same facial moisturizer for a few years and love it so much I purchased another container from this company when I found they offered it much cheaper than I buy it here on the store shelf.

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Speaking of joint health, I never really jumped on the cherry juice bandwagon since its so darn expensive but when I saw that they had a concentrated bottle and the reviews were really great, I gave it a try. So far we have used it in smoothies, taken it straight from a spoon, my son has flavored his homemade kombucha with it, and drizzled it over greek yogurt to add flavor. It’s pretty good but as for any joint health improvement, I can’t say I notice anything yet. Although, I am not sure how much or how long you need to consume it to be able to notice joint health relief either. So be what it may, its not bad used the way I have tried and I may possibly order more here and there.

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The last thing I ordered was something my husband swears by and something I have been taking for years also….Tumeric. I know everyone is talking about tumeric tea online lately but personally I can’t even imagine drinking this spice this way. We have tried a few different brands of capsules(our preferred method) and if you do not eat a bit of food with them you will surly taste tumeric shortly after ingesting it…and sometimes even puff orange powder like puff the magic dragon. Oh, so not tasty!!!! Anyhow, capsules are our way of reaping the benefits of this wonderful spice for inflammation relief and when I saw that Swanson Health offered this also at a better price than we normally purchase it from another company, I immediately knew I had to order some. Plus, at the time of my order they had a special going of buy one get one free. Bonus!!!

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All in all, I was thrilled with this company for a few reasons. Typically, I place and order for our tumeric and it could take anywhere from one to three weeks to arrive. Grrrrr, its never ever been on time. And like I said, even two days without this product and my husband can barely move his fingers since he has such bad arthritis from years of working with power tools for his profession. I also love that they really have reasonable prices and things did not seem be be sold out when I was shopping around the website. Again, an issue with our current vitamin/supplement company. Everything I ordered from Swanson Health showed up in 4 days, with exactly what I ordered, and in tacked. I was very happy and would highly recommend if you are shopping around for a healthy living company you may want to give them a try. Look around their website….they offer many, many different items for the health conscious consumer.

 

Virginia Part #2 : Sharp Top Trail @ The Peaks Of Otter

After hiking McAfee Knob on day one while in Virginia we woke up sore and stiff. Although, we were not going to let that hamper our plans for the day which were to hike Sharp Top Trail next.

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Across the road from the trail head is the Peaks Of Otter Visitors Center where we first stopped for a trail map, restrooms, and a chat with the park ranger.

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Why??? Well, all the way to the Peaks of Otter on the Blue Ridge Parkway we saw numerous and I mean numerous trucks full of dogs and bear hunters.

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And sure enough when we were pointed across the road to the trail head there were also signs warning us of the bear problems nearby.

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We made sure before heading down the trail that our bear spray was on us at all times.

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This was a hell of a hike!!!! Short, at just over 2 miles according to our GPS, but wow was it rocky and very hard to manage at times.

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About 3/4 of the way up you reach an area with big boulders once again that lead you up some steps and brings you to an old building.

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Round the corner from this building and you will be speechless. Suddenly you are once again on top of the mountain looking at 360 degrees of beauty.

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Simply amazing!!!!

We spent a good amount of time up here where we had a small snack before deciding to head back down by the way of the shuttle offered at the gift shop at the bottom. Down is so much more painful than up for both my husband and myself that we agreed with the rolling rocks we climbed to get up here that the shuttle would be the safest route back. This shuttle can be taken both ways or one way either up or down. For us one way cost $6 each. The shuttles run on the hour and the entire ride up/down takes about 15 minutes.

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My opinion of this hike is its rough on the knees and ankles. It took us just under 1.5 hours to get to the top and the trail itself is straight up. We saw no bear on this trail but I will tell you we did see them very nearby so some type of bear repellent would be a safe idea. If you are not a hiker and don’t have the proper gear to attempt this hike the shuttle is worth every penny to enjoy the view from the top.

 

 

 

Memories I Will Have Forever From Virginia: Part One….McAfee Knob

Memories….they are made everywhere. Many of my memories are from here in Wisconsin where I was born and raised for the past 40+years of life. However, this past week I made some more memories with my husband on a bucket list trip to Virginia where I know my heart aches to be……in the mountains.

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We live in the flattest state around(in my opinion) and I have seen almost all there is to see here numerous times. So when the chance comes that I get to escape the grind of every day life to go to my happy place I am the first one packed and ready to go. So let me share with you the past week in the mountains of Virginia.

For this vacation we drove from WI to Salem, Virginia to begin our adventure. Now you may wonder…why such an off the wall city like Salem? Well, I had a bucket list dream to fulfill and I wanted to make sure I could do this before we packed in anything else. My dream was to hike the AT up to McAfee Knob and get the iconic picture that you see in many, if not all, hiking magazines, on hiking websites and so on. Every time I would see this picture displayed I would tell my husband….some day I will get there. And as usual, he would just smile and say….I have no doubt you will. Love you honey!

The morning of our hike we left before sunrise to make sure we could find the trailhead and get a parking spot. I had read that parking was sometimes packed but was hoping it would not be too bad since our hike was happening Monday morning. We arrived with about twenty minutes to spare before the sun started peeking over the mountains. The lot had a fair share of cars but all looked to have been there overnight. The lot was easily located of the 311 and marked clearly.

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The trail itself starts across the street from the parking area. Again, clearly marked with signage once you cross the 311 carefully, since cars zip around this mountain road fairly quickly.

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The view going up was so beautiful.

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A bit up the trail you will come to a split. Signs are large and arrows point you in the correct direction. ***Now, I will tell you that many AT hikers recommend hiking the fire road up to the knob and then taking the AT back to the parking lot or vice versa since the AT is quite rugged. We did not do this. I did not train physically and drive for two days to hike any fire road for whatever reason what so ever. I came to hike the AT up to McAfee Knob and back and I am so happy we did.

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The trail we found to be difficult. Remember….we hike flat ground in WI almost all our life. This part of the AT was covered in rock, boulders, and roots in many places. Very little was ground and being we were headed to the top of of a mountain it was clearly up all the way.

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Eventually you will come to a crossing that again is well marked and will lead you across the fire road.

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Then you reach an AT shelter where you head up another clearly marked trail.

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Eventually you see the trail start to have huge boulders and you weaving around these while you make the last stretch to the top.

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By this time I was tired. And I mean TIRED!!!! Hiking up the entire trail was difficult plus our GPS clearly did not agree with the mileage that was posted with all the information I had read regarding this trail. So if you attempt this hike and find your mileage is also different keep going…..you will be so happy you did. We finally reached the top of the knob and immediately we checked the mileage to compare.

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I soon forgot about this little issue because when I rounded the corner I felt like I wanted to cry. OK, maybe I did a bit. It was truly amazing in every way!!!!!!

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We had did it and we did it together. We arrived to find a few others but the longer we stayed the more others arrived. We ate a small snack and rested a bit before returning to the bottom by way of the AT once again. We saw deer, lizards, and many, many caterpillars along the way.

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When we finally arrived back at the 311 parking lot we had clocked a total of 9.5 miles and almost 6 hours of hiking with I would say about 45 minutes were at the top exploring, resting and having lunch.

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Most importantly……I crossed something of my bucket list that I will cherish forever…..my own iconic photographs on the top of McAfee Knob with the love of my life.

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A dream come true!!!!!!!!!!!

Signs Of Autumn Are Everywhere

Oh my goodness…..are you feeling what I am feeling here in WI? Although, I am not by any means feeling the gloom and doom of winter quite yet, I sure am feeling the signs of autumn.

Leaves are beginning to change colors on the tree branches.

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Some have already fallen from trees.

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And some are just starting to change. Fall is quickly approaching for sure.

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This is the time of year where summer is trying so hard to last just a few weeks longer.

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Iced coffees are no longer my preferred morning beverage…it’s now a big cup of hot coffee to take the morning chill off.

Soups are making a come back on my weekly meal list with no complaints from my husband or son.

For us here, we are living everyday like its the last. Fall is a great time of year to hike here in the midwest with much less bugs. We spent the entire weekend hiking waterfalls and with camping plans right around the corner….blogging is really going to have to take the back burner for a bit until I have more time. So just know that I am collecting photos and fun outings to share with all of you when time permits. And I can only hope you use what I share to get out and try something new and be inspired to enjoy the great outdoors as much as I do.

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As for now, I will be back as soon as possible….first I have to savor every moment before the snow begins to fall.