Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hooping Up a [Wind] Storm

Last week a very special something arrived in the mail. It was my spiffy new adult-sized hoop, along with a mini hoop, made with love by Pixie Hoops. Of course I had to try out my hoop post haste. After watching some instructional videos (check out Hoop City for some great online classes) and picking up some new tricks, tips, and techniques, I headed to a nearby park with my hoop and music in tow.

Despite having to battle some strong winds, I stuck it out and worked on a few things. Having just learned how to hand hoop above the head and also how to jump into hooping at the waist, I practiced those moves quite a bit. I also wanted to improve my flow and how to combine what few moves I know into more of a dance instead of a laundry list of techniques. So I put together the following combination:

Find more videos like this on Hoop City - Hooping Community

(Yup, that's the music from Harry Potter playing, if you can hear it above the wind.) The above combination consisted of four moves: hand hooping at the waist, jumping into waist hooping, followed by moving to hand hooping above the head and then spinning the hooping down and around my body, still in hand. Can you see all those things?

If so, then I have another challenge for you. Can you find that combination embedded in this jam session?

Find more videos like this on Hoop City - Hooping Community

I had a super-fun time rocking out with my fabulous hoop (thanks, Pixie!). In fact, I had such a good time that I recorded many-a video for your viewing pleasure. If you're interested, check out my other hooping attempts on my Hoop City video database. My Flickr account is also bursting at the seems with hooping shots, strangely enough . . . .

As awesome as hooping is, there's a slight bittersweet edge to it. I want to give that topic its own post, however, so watch for it on the blog tomorrow. For now, I'm off to puppy school with Lio and the Best Husband Ever, on to visit the in-laws, then home again. What do you think I plan to do then? I bet you can guess!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

No-Sugar-Added Sweet Saturday

Happy Saturday! I hope it was a good one for you. It definitely was for me and the Best Husband Ever! If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you know that on Saturday mornings the hubby and I usually head out on the town to enjoy a yummy treat along with a game of Scrabble. Today was no different, and in the slightly crispy autumn-ish air -- not too cool, not to hot! -- we headed downtown to the farmer's market. We were running later than usual, though, and Black Cat Bake Shop didn't have any more of their amazing cream cheese-frosted pumpkin muffins left. Which was okay, actually, because I'm not really sure if I was in the mood for a sweet and carbalicious treat this morning.

The Best Husband Ever was able to get one of his usual sweet favorites, a sticky caramel bun, and we then made a beeline for one of our usual coffee haunts. He ordered some local decaf tea, while I enjoyed a skim latte. It was the first I've had in a long while, and it hit the spot! I also snacked on a Larabar (pecan pie!) that I discovered in the depths of the pantry earlier this morning. It wasn't an extra-sweet treat, but it was sweet in all the right ways regardless.

After a morning of hanging with the hubby and doing some grocery shopping at Costco (star purchase: dark chocolate covered pomegranate nubs), I enjoyed a different kind of sweetness with my brand new hoop baby. Videos coming soon . . .

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Build a Bento

Prepping a bento lunch of homemade artichoke hummus, apple, mini bell peppers, and honey sesame crackers. What did you have for lunch today?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Autumn!

Did you know that today is the first day of fall? Well, it is! And the thermometer backs that story up -- I don't think we even hit 70*F today here.

I really enjoy the autumn, complete with cool crispy-clear days, apple picking (especially for the east coasters -- this is a tradition that this newly Montanan ex-New Jersey-an misses greatly!), changing leaves, and pumpkins, pumpkins, and more pumpkins. But still -- brrrr.

That's what our puppy, Lio, thinks of the changing weather. Good thing he has some warm-hearted giants to dominate with his chihuahua tongue -- er, I mean cuddle up to. Also good that he has an adorable array of miniature canine clothing to snuggle into, like his camo hoodie. That's right, they make dog hoodies. With pockets. Who knew?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hooping Sunday

What do you think I've been up to today?

The first was created in response to a hoop-flow challenge posted on Hoop City's forum. Someone posts a song once a month and participants put together a little flow performed to that song. It's meant to encourage hoopers to try something new that might be outside of their comfort zone.

As for me, I really enjoyed hooping to Ave Maria. But I liked rocking out to The Incredits from The Incredibles soundtrack even more. . . . What's your favorite song to dance/run/move to?

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Happy Saturday, all! How is your weekend going? Mine has been quite fine, starting off with some exercise and then a trip to the farmer's market for this:

It's a pumpkin muffin with a cream cheese topping, stuffed with sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. Isn't he so cute-looking, tucked into his bag? Too bad he didn't taste quite as nice. I much prefer the un-sunflower seeded version, which I enjoyed last week.

The Best Husband Ever got himself a treat, too, before we headed off for some Scrabble and tea. Afterward we enjoyed a visit to see his folks and a Costco run before turning homeward. I had hoped to do some hooping today, but instead we cleaned the house in a frenzy of elbow greased enthusiasm. I love my clean abode!

Now I'm sipping tea, blogging (obviously), and poking about in the hoop dance corner of the internet. What's on tap before Monday? Church, puppy school for Lio, and visiting our very pregnant friend-couple, who are expecting their first child this week. Oh, and I should figure out what to do with this homeless produce that I snagged from the teacher's lounge on Friday (yes, that is a peanut butter-filled pretzel, added to show actual size):

Any thoughts, other than lots and lots of zucchini bread?

Friday, September 18, 2009

We Have a Winner

Many thanks to everyone who participated in Kitchen Courage's book giveaway. We had the most entrants ever in an event hosted here submit a book recommendation. Thank you for making this a success! I was advised by my literary readers to check out:
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Harry Potter
  • the Archangel series
  • Edible Wild Foods
  • the Bible :D
I can't say "thank you" enough, everyone! I'm already a big fan of the Bible as well as Rowling's wizard-licious series, and I'll be looking into the other titles.

Enough book chat. I'm sure you want to know who is going to receive their very own hardback copy of Gesine Bullock-Prado's Confections of a Closet Master Baker. Without further ado, the winner is . . . TwistedChicken! Congratulations! Please contact me at escagnel04 (at) yahoo (dot) com with your shipping information and I'll get your book in the mail post haste.

Thanks one more time to everyone for participating. This was quite the fun little event for me. I hope you enjoyed it just as much. Also, don't forget that author Gesine is a fellow blogger, so don't be afraid to stop by her site and say howdy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Warning: Hooping N00b Ahead

Today I hooped outside for the first time! It was nice having a little more space, but annoying to try to dance in my inflexible running sneakers. I'm also getting frustrated working with my toy hoop. As I'm started to try more moves that lead to more drops, my hoop is feeling more and more fragile. Plus the water inside it is bugging me, as is the weight and speed of the hoop. For the past few days I've felt like I've made good progress, and have definitely had fun. Today, however, was a little more like work. Part of it was wearing the sneakers. I need to find thrifty dance-friendly shoes! Also, I was tired, and this was my second attempt at recording (apparently for round one I was on the wrong camera setting...oops). So this is not me at my best, and since my best isn't all that great either, you can imagine the quality of my "dance" before you even click "play."

However, I want to regularly record my progress, for fun and as a tool. I also want to get more used to the idea of performing, even if it's only for my digital camera (and you!). Today I tried to work on incorporating hand hooping at the waist. I experimented with taking the hoop off my body, with limited success. I also attempted flowing with the dance more, keeping my eyes up off the ground, and doing something with my arms besides assuming the ubiquitous Tyrannosaurus Rex position. Again, with limited success. It was fun to try, though.

If you can't hear it, I filmed this to the sound of "Under the Sea" from "The Little Mermaid." Oh yeah. Thank you all for your supportive and encouraging comments on my last (and first . . .) hoop dancing post. It means a lot, and it's so glad to know that I'm not writing into a vacuum, that there are people in corners of the blogosphere who are hearing and, what's more, receiving my message. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am so grateful for you, wonderful readers and subscribers! If you watch any of this video, you deserve a sticker, and a big one at that.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Read All About It: A Foodie Book Giveaway!

Remember my review of Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado? Remember how you wanted to take a peek at this memoir? Remember how you salivated at the thought of the hand-crafted baking recipes tucked into the end of each chapter?

Maybe you don't remember any of that. Or maybe you do . . . either way, I've got a surprise for you. I'm giving away a hardback copy of Bullock-Prado's ode to her real-life transformation from Hollywood do-it-all to professional small town baker. Exciting!

Want to claim this book for yourself? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, September 16, telling me what your favorite book is. I am a devourer of the written word and am always on the prowl for new reads, so I'm looking forward to what you all have to share! I will select a winner via an online random number generator and post the results by this Friday, September 18.

Want another chance at this delectable memoir? Correctly guess why September 16 is a super-special day for this blogging gal and you get an extra entry! Leave guesses in a separate comment on this post as well.

On a side note, I want to send a humongous thank you to all you wonderful regular readers. You always leave me such encouraging notes, especially on my recent triathlon, ED struggles, and foray into hooping. As cheesy as it may sound, you have no idea how much those seemingly small comments mean to me. Thank you for making me a part of your life, and for being a part of mine.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I've discovered a new activity . . . and I like it. It's healthy, creative, ab-toning (woohoo!), and just plain fun. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll have seen my tweets on the topic. It's . . . hula hooping!

Hula hooping?

I heard that. And you're right. It's a little . . . random. But bear with me.

Let's rewind a few months. Toward the end of the last school year, I saw that the YMCA was offering a hoop dancing class. I was intrigued, but unable to attend due to my schedule. No matter, I thought. I planned to start attending during the summer vacation. Unfortunately, the class disappeared with the dwindling school year.

But my interest was still piqued. Ever the resourceful blogger, I got to Googling. I discovered that apparently hula hooping as an art and a sport (a.k.a. hoop dancing) is more widespread than I expected. Even better, there are instructional DVDs. With the blessings of Netflix, I was soon watching Hoopnotica's Level One DVD in the comfort of my living room, $5 Target toy hoop in hand (or on waist, as the case may be).

It was . . . frustrating. This is truly an instructional video, not a dance or aerobics workout. It provides you with the building blocks to create your own dance. At the time, I just wanted to sweat. The DVD went back to Netflix, and I stashed my hoop in a corner for the rest of the summer.

Until now. As you know, I recently completed my first triathlon (yeehaw!). I also set my running shoes working toward a new goal, the hefty half-marathon. Somewhere during the process of training for both, I upset my left hip. It could be the IT band, it could be something else. For now, though, I'm keeping my activity low-impact. Reenter the frustration. I love being active, feeling strong, and pushing myself hard. When I can't, I feel . . . bleah.

But then I remembered my hoop. Hoop dancing is low-impact, great for the core, and a heart-rate booster as well. Perfect for my unhappy hip. I looked up some more hooping resources (check out Hoop City -- SaFire, the site owner and hooping guru, pretty much rocks) and found myself sold. I downloaded as many tutorials as I could get my paws on, and then just rocked out to my favorite music while hooping. I think I spent at least 2.5 hours hooping this weekend.

You might not call what I do hoop dancing, exactly. Not yet, anyway. But, as clumsy as I look and silly as I feel when I see myself attempting to hoop (as in the video below), I like it. A lot.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fall is in the Air

Black Cat had something new at their farmer's market bakery stall today -- pumpkin muffins!! I adore all things pumpkin, so of course I had to make one of these cream cheese-iced lovelies my own. They had plain pumpkin as well as a pumpkin stuffed with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. I get a little nervous about nuts in baked goods, though, because sometimes bakers can go a little overboard for my taste. I decided to go with a standard pumpkin.

It was a good choice. I made quick work of it, along with a personal pot of masala chai tea, while the hubby and I Scrabbled. The pumpkin muffin (or "muffin," I suppose -- whoever heard of an iced muffin?) and the fact that I wore a scarf to the market this morning made me feel deliciously autumnal.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bento is Back, Baby

Return to work and school means one certain thing -- the return of the bento. I dug out my original bento box and went kawaii on my lunches this past week. An old favorite has been my meal of choice, comprised of yogurt (especially Greek yogurt!), fruit (like these luscious peaches), and cereal (Optimum Blueberry Cinnamon and Mother's Best Honey Graham, which is my current carb obsession). Healthy, easy to put together, and even easier to eat. Yum yum!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Found: One Blogger

I did not drop off the face of the earth after last week's triathlon . . . but I did fall out of the blogosphere's orbit. It's been a crazy week!

I turned 27, and celebrated the day by waking up to the sweetest series of notes I've ever received from my wonderful husband . . .

. . . I finished my first-ever triathlon in 1:34:53 (16:28 for the 500 meter swim, 51:11 for the 12.8 mile bike, 27:14 for the 5K run) . . .

. . . and I began my first week of the new job of elementary teaching and working with families as the school year opened up on Monday. That's largely why I haven't blogged. I absolutely love this job, but it's left me exhausted at the end of every day. I'll get into more of a routine in the coming weeks, though, and make my presence known around the web once more.