Shine-on Award!

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Shine-on Award

It was a wonderful surprise to see that Journey Around the Globe nominated me for the Shine-on Award! Thank you so much!! Through your blog I am able to see  and hear about your travels in places that I dream of everyday.

Here are the rules come with the acceptance of the this Award:
 
You must thank the person who has given you the award.
Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
Link the person who has nominated you for the award.
 
7 things about yourself :
  1. I was born in the Philippines and hope to one day take Eric there to meet my extended family and to see the places my family is from.
  2. I LOVE ice cream! Like to the point where I need some every day, even in the freezing cold. I’ve started to eat more frozen yogurt to make my habit a little healthier
  3. I have a hard time sitting still. Even when I’m on vacation, I need to be moving around exploring and trying new things. I must learn to relax every now and then.
  4. I enjoy trying new foods; the “weirder” the better!
  5. I’m afraid of heights but I’m slowly trying to overcome this fear. Maybe I should try skydiving to just take care of that problem.
  6. I lived abroad in Italy back in 2005.
  7. I like challenges and pushing myself to new limits. Sometimes, you can really amaze yourself with what you are capable of doing.
I would like to nominate the following 7 bloggers:
http://thefunkyjunkieblog.blogspot.com/
http://domestocrat.net/
http://travellingismypassion.wordpress.com/
http://confessionsofaperpetualoptimist.wordpress.com/
http://gigiwellness28.wordpress.com/
http://worldcurioustraveler.wordpress.com/
http://adultescence.wordpress.com/
 

Memorial Day weekend road trip

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We arrived last night after finishing our Memorial Day road trip. We decided to take advantage of the holiday and time off work to see new parts of the country, well at least new for me since Eric has already been to all 50 states. After our boot camp workout early last Friday morning, we rented a car, put Sura in the back seat, and started our journey. It reminded me of our road trip last year where we covered 2,423 miles. We only covered 1,780 miles this time around but considering we only had 4 days, I think we did a great job getting around.

UntitledI was able to visit 3 new states making my new total of visited states 34/50. Sura has been to 21 states which I consider quite the feat for a dog! We visited 2 national parks, had tons of BBQ, and even saw the Budweiser Clydesdales. Next up: Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky!

Back in Austin, TX

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We spent the past few days celebrating my brother’s graduation in Austin, TX.

IMG_3003The last time we were there was last August but the weather felt like nothing changed. It was scorching hot and humid! There is so much to do in the city but I feel like I need to do most of it either early in the morning or later at night. My family rented a house in the downtown area so we were able to get a more local feel instead of staying at one of the hotels. I’m proud to say that even while on vacation in hot Texas, we were able to squeeze in a run/workout (early in the morning). To escape the heat, we decided to go check out the local whole foods out there. Yes, we have a whole foods in Atlanta but since Austin is where Whole Foods started, it is much larger and even has different eateries and food stations inside. Eric was more interested in their beer refrigerator room.

IMG_20130517_175359_510No visit to Austin is complete without spending the night out on 6th street. I love how the roads are closed off in downtown as people hop from bar to bar. It reminds me a lot of New Orleans except nicer (in my opinion). The next day we drove out of Austin to see Lake Travis. It was cooler and breezy outside which made for nice outdoor lounging weather.

IMG_20130519_162605_063 IMG_20130519_164457_307We found a nice little cafe on a cliff and decided to have drinks while enjoying the view of the lake. I am told that the water levels are extremely low and usually you cannot see the land mass shown in my first lake picture. But, we still saw plenty of boats and people participating in other water sports below. It was a nice weekend away and hopefully we can go back for another visit (maybe in the winter, though).

3 weeks of bootcamp

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I have finished the 3rd week!…and I’m still alive and moving! 🙂

935205_10151470317212762_1309903807_n(pic from fitwit)

The workouts have been intense and there are days when I am so sore, I basically have to just roll out of bed. But everyone has been so friendly and helpful. Each day is a challenge and I questioned if I was even improving from day 1. But then, I started running again and have seen a lot of improvement on my endurance and strength. I have not seen a huge change in my weight but I know that there is more to fitness than a number on a scale. I feel stronger and more energized everyday. I also think that I am adjusting to waking up at 5am everyday and can be so much more productive in a day now.

I have become more interested in natural running and decided to expand from my five finger vibrams to include another minimalist shoe from innov8.

IMG_20130512_121813_339 IMG_20130512_121741_157I don’t know if hot pink would have been my first choice but the pink shoes were priced lower than the others so I went ahead and followed my frugal senses. The color is growing on me and I think I’m starting to like them. What I love is that they are flexible and have a pull-tie instead of shoe laces. The lightweight design promotes a more natural running style. It takes time to adjust from other running shoes with a thicker sole, but after the five fingers, and now these, I can feel the difference and prefer the minimalist shoe now!

Next week is our last week (unless I decide to continue with boot camp). So close!!!

Raised garden bed

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We had really great weather this past weekend so we decided to take advantage of being in Atlanta (the next few weekends we will be gone) and work on a raised garden bed to grow vegetables and herbs in our backyard, one of the things on my goal list!. I originally got the idea from someone at work. About a month ago, we bought all of the supplies but never got around to building it. Well it all came together this past weekend!

We followed another blogger’s design to construct our garden box.

You need:

  • (Five) 4 foot pressure treated pine 2×8’s (4 for the sides and 1 for the inner brace)
  • (Four) 8 foot pressure treated pine 2×8’s
  • 1 4×4 post 8’ long
  • wood screws
  • weed cloth to cover the bottom

(We used pressure treated pine instead of redwood for cost reasons and skipped the irrigation system piece). The blog goes into the details of constructing and we basically followed their directions. I recommend checking it out if you want to build one. It took us about an 1-2 hours to put it together. We got a deal on garden soil and purchased 40 bags to fill the raised bed.

IMG_20130512_163905_931 IMG_20130512_163922_017 IMG_20130512_170240_880After building the box, we stopped by farmer D’s and picked up a few small organic plants to include in our garden box. So, our garden includes: 3 types of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash, basil, bay leaf, oregano, chives, and lavender. Eric also decided to try growing watermelon (a small round one) so we planted along the side so that it will grow and flow into the yard. We also bought a small aloe plant that is in a pot on the side. The project took some time and a lot of work and sweat was put into its assembly but the end product was worth it. Now I’m crossing my fingers that at least 1 of these things stays alive for the season!

Baked fish tacos

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In my attempt to have a somewhat “healthier” cinco de mayo, I decided to served baked fish tacos. Originally, I considered doing grilled fish but all the rain interfered with that plan. Fish tacos are best when you cook firm, white, flaky fish. I went to the farmers market and picked up cod fillets to use for the tacos.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of cod fillets
  • 1tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. Combine the olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper
  3. Pour over the fish and let it marinate for 15-20 minutes (I marinated for 40min), season with salt and pepper
  4. Place fish on a foil covered baking sheet (sprayed with nonstick spray) and cover with foil.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes, remove foil cover and bake for an additional 3 minutes.
  6. Break fish into smaller pieces to fit inside a tortilla
  7. Serve with toppings (I had mango slaw, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, chopped jalapeno, salsa, guacamole)

mex fish tacoTacos are great for parties since they are fairly easy to prep and everyone can make their own taco customizing it the way they like. Our friend made a Mexican soup to go along with the meal. My picture isn’t the greatest but all the food was eaten before I had a chance to take a new picture. I guess that is a sign that the food was a success :-)… and it was relatively healthy (trying to be better with food while in boot camp)!

Easy pico de gallo

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We invited a few people over the weekend to celebrate cinco de mayo. Originally, the plan was to have an outdoor lunch and cook on the grill but the rain didn’t like that plan. Instead we held our celebrations indoors. I made fresh pico de gallo to accompany the baked fish tacos (recipe up next) I ended up serving. This recipe is really simple and tastes so fresh. It’s the perfect topping for tacos or any texmex dish!

Ingredients:

  • 4 vine ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 sweet onion diced (you can add more but I don’t like too much onion)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Mix together the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper
  2. Add lime juice
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  4. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 10-15 minutes before serving

mex pico

Week 1 complete-feeling sore!

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But it’s definitely the good type of sore. After signing up for fitness boot camp, I am proud to say week 1 is complete! It has been a little rough adjusting to waking up at 5:30am to get ready and go but gratifying to be finished by 7am. I am slowly learning to get everything ready the night before and I’ve been making an effort to sleep earlier in order to get enough sleep.

Here is how the first week went–

Day 1:

  • Warm ups (jogging and stretches) and introductions to proper form. The warm up was more than I was expecting and I was definitely out of breath before the actual workout started.
  • Baseline assessments: Holding plank, push-ups (on my toes), jumping rope (especially challenging for those lacking coordination…me!), squats, and burpees (I have a love-hate relationship with these).

Day 2:

  • Warm up and more introductions to proper form
  • Kettle bell presses (15lbs each side), kettle bell swings (25lbs)
  • Timed sequence of plank, kettle bell swings, push ups, then kettle bell swings

Day 3:

Rest day so I went for a light run

Day 4:

  • Warm up jog
  • 2 rounds of stations (spending 4 min at each station) including: running an agility course, 10 kettle bell swings, 10 bent over rows, bear crawl, crab walk back, 10 side plank crunches, 5 med ball burpee throws (12lbs), 10 jumps over a ball.

Day 5:

  • Warm up jog and stretches
  • Completed 5 rotations of: 30meter touch run back for 5 times, 10 push-ups, 15 sit ups, 20 squats
  • Team game: 20 triceps dip, planks, table stance, 150meter sprint, 10 burpees, 20 box jumps.

Day 6: (tomorrow)

  • Much needed yoga!!

So I’m feeling tired and sore but I think I that is reasonable considering the tough first week. The intro to proper form was really helpful. So many people are injured because of incorrect form and this is preventable. I think taking the time to learn the moves and having a proper warm up/cool down is the key piece! I even do a little more of a cool down stretch once I get back home to make sure I stay injury-free! Let’s hope I can keep up my motivation over the next few weeks!

Fitwit

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It’s time to get fit! Ironically this is happening after the beach vacation LOL

Eric and I signed up for fitwit which is a fitness training group, similar to a boot camp workout. After doing some research and watching a video, I knew I had to give it a try.

We workout for a month straight from 6-7am! Through fitwit, we have trainers and other people in our class that have been doing it for years. It’s a nice way to meet people since some of the activities involve pairing up. So far, it has been difficult adjusting to waking up that early (around 5:30am) but it’s a great feeling knowing that I am done with my daily workout before I even go to work.

It all started this past Monday. The first few days have been okay, mostly learning proper form. On Monday, we did out baseline assessments (pushups, squats, plank, jump rope, burpees…) so we can measure our progress by the end of the program. Tomorrow we start the real workouts. I’m nervous and excited. Hopefully I will be able to get through it and reach my goals. Another great thing is that a portion of the fee goes towards their foundation which supports youth in the area. So not only are you benefiting by enrolling, but so are others in the community. It has been a while since I followed a strict workout routine and I’m looking forward to making it through this month. Wish us luck as we take this on!

Budget cruising

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I mentioned in my last post that Eric and I planned our trip to the Bahamas as a quick getaway without breaking the bank. There are ways to save some money while cruising. Keep in mind there are different types of cruise lines. We ended up choosing Carnival since their boats tend to have a more “casual feel.” There are several ways to save some money but here are the main ones that I focus on:

  • Choose an interior room-most cruise ship rooms are tiny and this is especially the case for interior rooms. So why choose it? Well, it’s the cheapest room. In my opinion, when you are cruising, the last place you want to be is sitting in your room. So, take the saved money and use it elsewhere. AND if you tend to get seasick, lower level interior rooms are the most stable and have the least amount of rocking!
  • Avoid purchasing drinks on the boat– Carnival allows you to bring 2 bottles of wine per person (above 21). This was just enough wine for our trip. Water, teas, and coffee are free. We aren’t huge soda drinkers so we didn’t buy the soda pass. But if you like soda, there were several people who just bought a 12pack or something of soda cans and carried it on the boat. Our room didn’t have a refrigerator but there’s always ice available. We also saw people carry on packs of bottled water. I try to avoid plastic bottles so I packed our own water bottles and just refilled them at the water stations in the dining areas.
  • Avoid booking most excursions through the cruise– The excursion packages tend to be overpriced. If you are willing to wait and get off the boat, there are several other vendors that offer the same activities for less money. There is also the independent option. For example, Eric and I visited a beach in Freeport. It was a $14 taxi ride, free beach entry, and $5 for a beach chair. The same excursion the cruise offered wanted to charge ~$69/person for the same beach trip (included bus ride, chair, and lunch). Sure we didn’t have the burgers they had for lunch but we just went back to the boat to eat (since we already paid for that food).
  • Minimize shopping on the boat– You are on a boat with nowhere else to go so you seem tempted to buy everything on board. It is cheaper to buy anything you need once you get off the boat at port. This is why it’s important to plan and pack everything you will need to avoid this expense.

 

So there are ways to save some money on vacation. I don’t think these are the only ways, but they are simple and easy tips to keep in mind if you are looking for a budget cruise vacation. Finally, it also helped that Carnival has had a few issues with their boats lately which have been highlighted in the news. I decided to leverage this and took advantage of the especially low rates they offered (in my opinion, an effort to combat the bad press).

Side note- please do not take money out from the gratuity as a method to save money. The staff work really hard and the gratuity that is charged is not that much given everything that they do!