That Certain Something About the Outdoors

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Spot the girl. Extra points if you spot the dog!

There’s just something about being outside, I mean really outside, away from crowds and man-made things,  that is hard to pin point. It’s best described as something that eases the mind, awakens the soul, and refreshes the body. In other words, it does a lot of good in a lot of ways. Maybe it’s the fresh, crisp air, or the untrampled, somewhat unexplored ground beneath one’s feet. Maybe it’s the views that are unlike anything ever made by man. Maybe it’s the sounds, or lack thereof, or the wildlife that is just as curious about you as you are of it. Maybe it’s the smells – the pine needles, the wild flowers, the sweet grasses, the dry dirt… Maybe it’s the sense of solitude, or self-sufficiency or a necessity for survival – some primitive instinct that begins to emerge when one is far from civilization.

Whatever it is, it’s something that I like and something that I genuinely believe is a good something. It’s not always realistic to get outside – really outside – all that often. With our fast paced, packed schedules and obligations it can be a challenge to get out into nature even one weekend a month.

So I’ve set out to try to pinpoint some ways in which we can try to capture that something and infuse it into our daily lives. A feeble attempt to bring a little of that certain something about the outdoors home to tie us over and stimulate the senses until our next grand adventure when life allows us a chunk of time in which to get lost in nature.

Here goes:

1. Sight: The outdoors are full of beautiful, pure, natural sights and breathtaking views.

Try this! Decorate your home with landscape pictures, natural colors, and accents that bring aspects of the outside in. Check out Trekking Photography’s work.

TrekkingPhotography.com

TrekkingPhotography.com

2. Sound: The sound of the wind rustling through the grass and rustling through the trees. The sound of birds chirping and a stream gurgling…the sound of silence.

Try this! Leave your windows open and let the fresh air and the breeze in. Find a nice Pandora station that plays nature sounds.

3. Smell: In the outdoors your nose is met with natural scents of wild foliage and places untouched by man. They are pure and simple and interesting.

Try this! Bring the scent of the great outdoors inside with Juniper Ridge Wilderness Perfume. Cabin Spray: $40

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4. Mind and Soul: Outside, you can unplug and slow things down. There’s no rush and there’s too much to do, see, smell, and hear to even think about updating your Twitter. It’s just you, your thoughts, and your senses.

Try this! Unplug for a bit. Stow away your electronics for a night or a weekend. Take time to just think and to be aware of your surroundings and engage your senses. Take some of the time that you would normally spend on your phone or computer and instead try meditating. Or do something to care for yourself, such as a nice relaxing bath or a yoga class or reading a book you’ve been meaning to get to. Capture some of that slow-paced, quiet, reflection that being outside gives you.

When I’m outside I feel relaxed, happy, curious, and in awe. I think those are good things to feel. So my goal is to try to mimic what I feel when I’m outside in my daily life, even when I’m stuck inside.

11070515_10205339766405452_3832441715362798048_nLet me know what you do to bring that something about the outdoors into YOUR daily life in the comments!

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Working Out to Get Out: Fitness Tips for the Outdoor Enthusiast

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Spring is right around the corner, can you feel it? Depending on where you are in the country right now, you can probably feel it a bit more than others. Well here in sunny Northern California it feels like Spring is really starting to blossom. With the coming of Spring, I find the motivation to kick my workouts into high gear in anticipation of little dresses, short shorts, and, more importantly, backpacking in the mountains.

The countdown to warm weather and outdoor activities is on. The mountain roads and trails are opening up in just a few short weeks. Now is the time to commit to getting in your best shape so that you can fully enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer. Because if you hit the trail after a winter of hanging out on your couch without training first, you will be in for a less than stellar surprise.

10359155_10205203339274859_8055588343266801736_nHere are some tips to help you get in shape for your quickly approaching outdoor adventures:

1.  Give your stairs some lovin’.  If you have stairs in your house, use them to your own benefit. Walking or running up and down stairs is great training for hiking. It’s also just a great workout in general. Do enough stairs a11000056_10205164531464688_1503326286543275879_nt a fast enough pace and you can get a good cardio session in. Plus, stairs are great for your booty.

2. Walk or jog. Now that the weather is going to be warming up it is a great opportunity to get outside in your neighborhood and go for a quick walk or jog. Just getting your body moving is important, and the fresh air wont hurt either. If the weather’s not so nice where you are, get your steps in on a treadmill. If you don’t have a treadmill, head to your local gym. No excuses! Walk instead of drive, park farther away from the door when going to the grocery store…find little ways to get yourself moving.

3. Work Out in Your Living Room. Find a fun workout that you can do in your living room before or after work. There are so many online that you can choose from. An online workout, or a fitness DVD, make it easy to fit in a workout without having to commit the time it takes to get to and from where you are going. Just turn on the workout and get to it. (My favorites: www.toneitup.com, barre3 workout DVDs or MyBarre3 online, and Ballet Beautiful. I do 10391415_10205235803006432_9078270789625860469_none or more of these types of workouts every day in preparation for hiking and backpacking.)

4. Rock Your Backpack. A really great (albeit, nerdy) way to train for backpacking is to wear your backpack around the house or out for your walk or jog. You can start out with it empty and gradually add weight to it to build up your strength. It’s amazing how heavy your backpack can feel when you haven’t worn it for a few months. Best to startil_570xN.674740473_5sw6 wearing it ahead of time to get reacquainted.

5. Squat It Out. Squats are something that you can do anywhere. They will build up your leg strength which is so important for hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, fly fishing, trail running…just about any outdoor activity you can think of. The benefits of squats are unlimited. So do them. Check out this link to make sure that your form is correct. Then, get yourself this amazing tank top.

 

 

How To Relax This Evening

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Let yourself be quiet and thankful.

As a society, we tend to run on high speed, fueled by packed schedules and deadlines. Stress is a norm in many of our lives. But it is well known that stress is really really bad for you. Stress can have many serious consequences such as stomach aches, headaches, acne, and even life threatening heart issues. It’s important to give your body a break from all of the stress and give it time to decompress and relax. So, tonight, I encourage you to take some time for yourself. Here are few ways to relax this evening:

1. Go for a walk. Exercise is a great stress reducer. Going for a nice walk will expose you to fresh air and a little dose of the great outdoors. It will calm your nerves and ease your mind and give you time to think and enjoy the sights.

2. Do something easy and tasty for dinner. Tonight is about relaxing and being happy. Order a pizza, get Chinese takeout, or make something quick and fun that you love. Don’t get caught up with carbs or diets – tonight is your night to enjoy yourself, so have at it!

3. Watch the sunset. Sit out on your porch and watch the sunset. Just let your mind be quiet as you take in the sounds, smells, and sights. Allow yourself to just be. Be still. Be quiet. And most of all, be peaceful. Try to think about everything you are thankful for. Try to appreciate the moment and be present.

4. Soak your worries away. Take a hot bath with Epsom salts and essential oils. Light a candle, turn off the lights, and just relax. Breathe in the hot vapors and let go of the stress and bustle of daily life. Take this time to just be quiet and to listen to your breath and to enjoy the moment. Soak for about twenty minutes to let the Epsom salts and oils do their thing.

5. Give yourself a facial. Find a face mask in the store. St. Ives has a nice oatmeal one, and Freeman has an avocado oatmeal one as well. Or you can make one yourself. There are lots of recipes for home-made facials. I have used one made up of bananas, olive oil, and coconut oil. It sounds weird, but feels nice. Play around with different recipes and find one that works for your skin. The process of making a face mask can be fun and relaxing in and of itself!

6. Read a good book. Let yourself get swept away. Reading is an excellent way to relax and to get your mind off of the million and four things that you have to do. Plus, reading before bed is a much healthier option than scrolling through your Instagram and Twitter feeds. The artificial light from your screen stimulates your brain making it harder for you to fall asleep, whereas reading a book is calming and great for making you sleepy at bed time.

7. Sleep. Sleep is one of the best things you can do for stress. Making sure your mind and body have the right amount of time to heal themselves and rejuvenate is extremely important. Try to go to sleep early tonight. Being well rested helps you to cope with stress better, it makes you look better [bye bye under-eye bags!], and it will help you to feel bright and ready to take on the next day.

What do you do to relax? Please share in the comments below!

 

Wild Eats: Frittata

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Easy, healthy, and tasty!

 

This is a super easy, healthy, and TASTY frittata recipe. It takes about twenty-five minutes, including prep time, and you can keep it in your fridge and grab a slice to munch on the go throughout the week.

 

Ingredients:

4 eggs

4 egg whites

1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt

1 cup spinach

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup chopped yellow onions

2 slices of cooked bacon, cut up into small little pieces

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

 

Before...

Before…

 

Here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray – I like to use coconut spray oil.

Combine the eggs, egg whites, and yogurt in a bowl. Mix well until they are a creamy, fluffy consistency. Then add in the other ingredients and stir well. Pour into casserole dish and bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes.

Remove, and enjoy!

 

After!

After!

 

 

Review: Frank Coffee Scrub

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Let’s be frank about Frank: it’s even better than you’d think.

If you are on Instagram, chances are you have heard about Frank Coffee Scrub – pretty much the hottest skin-care product out there right now. Guys and gals alike are absolutely raving about Frank. Instagram is plastered with pictures of customers, covered in coffee scrub, lovingly clutching their pouches of Frank and professing their undying love for the product. Not to mention, Frank’s marketing is brilliant, [ just visit frankbody.com to see what I mean.] It got to the point that I couldn’t temper my curiosity any longer. I ordered a pouch of the Coconut & Grapeseed coffee scrub and anxiously awaited Frank’s arrival.

First of all, the packaging is beautiful and cool. Frank comes in a resealable paper pouch. Frank comes in three scents, original, cacao, and coconut & grapeseed, which is the one that I got. I’m a coconut fan, what can I say? The coconut & grapeseed coffee scrub smells a lot like coconut and a lot like coffee. Put simply, it smells pretty darn amazing. True to the warning on Frank’s label, the whole process is super messy. But, it’s easy to clean up, and totally worth it.

Here’s how it works: Hop in to your empty bath tub or shower, get yourself damp, then scrub your little heart out and  let the scrub sit for about 5-10 minutes before rinsing. Trust me, your skin will have never felt so smooth. It’s kind of amazing. Plus, Frank claims to help reduce cellulite, psoriasis, and stretch marks, so there’s that too.

My recommendation: Get your Frank on. As soon as possible. 100% worth it.

Best part? The original costs only $14.95, the cacao costs $16.95, and the coconut & grapeseed costs $17.95, so you wont break the bank and you can keep coming back for more. Get yours at frankbody.com

 

Review: Honey Girl Organics

Did you know that it only takes 26 seconds for cosmetics and other products that are put onto your skin to be absorbed into your bloodstream? Scary. And gross. Especially when you consider the types of chemicals and “mystery” ingredients that are in most skin care products. The most startling part of that statistic, however, is that everything you put on your skin gets absorbed iImagen. When I heard that, I started paying more attention to the types of ingredients and chemicals that are in my makeup and lotions. It was terrifying. Such a large number of the ingredients are unnatural and man-made.

When I was in Haleiwa earlier this year, I discovered a skin care line based out of the North Shore of Oahu. The company is called Honey Girl Organics and their products are all natural, organic, and oh-so-good for your skin. Plus they smell amazing. Ingredients include honey, beeswax, and royal jelly, all from the company’s own Hawaiian grown bees. Since I’ve started using Honey Girl Organics products, my skin has never felt better.

Bottom line: I highly recommend giving this skin care line a try.

My favorite Honey Girl Organic product is the Face & Eye Cream [$30.99]. Check it out at www.honeygirlorganics.com.

 

Wild Eats: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Do you ever get in a recipe-rut where you fall into the habit of making the same old things for dinner time after time? I sure do. But some times I get the urge to really put in some effort and make something special. If you’re feeling adventurous, give these Stuffed Bell Peppers a try for dinner tonight. They are easy, healthy, and tasty.

 

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Here’s what you need:

1/2 cup of cooked brown rice

1 lb ground bison

4 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 onion (chopped)

3 bell peppers

8 oz cans of tomato sauce (x2)

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

Here’s what you do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

Cook the brown rice.

Combine the ground bison, the chopped onions, and the minced garlic in a skillet and cook until the bison is evenly brown and the onions are soft.

Remove the tops, seeds, and membranes from the bell peppers and set them top up in a shallow baking dish. If the peppers wont stand up on their own, you can trim off pieces of the bottom to make a flat base.

Mix the browned bison, onions, garlic, rice, one 8 oz can of tomato sauce, and the Worcestershire sauce in a large mixing bowl.

Spoon the mixture evenly into each bell pepper. There will be left over mixture. You can save it for a fajita type deal, or you can go ahead and add another bell pepper to this recipe and stuff a fourth one. Up to you.

Pour the remaining 8 oz can of tomato sauce over the top of the bell peppers. You will use this sauce to baste the bell peppers every 15 minutes as they cook.

Stick the baking dish with the bell peppers into the oven. Cook at 350 for about one hour, basting the bell peppers every 15 minutes with the sauce.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Beauty, Naturally

 

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I will admit, I love makeup. I love doing my hair and dressing up. But, I’ve learned that if you aren’t healthy and beautiful on the inside, you wont look your best on the outside, regardless of how much foundation and mascara you use. Recently, I’ve been on a quest to find a natural beauty regimen. I spend a lot of time outdoors, camping and exploring with my husband, and I don’t take makeup with me when I’m out adventuring! So, it has become essential that I focus on shifting my beautifying techniques to start on the inside, rather than focusing on products that go on the outside. Glowing, flawless skin, a healthy complexion, glossy hair…all of that depends on what you put into your body. Here are a few tricks that I’ve learned to attain beauty in a natural, healthful way:

1. Drink water. No…I mean LOTS of water. Our bodies are primarily made up of water. When you feel yourself becoming thirsty, that means that your body is already in the beginning stages of dehydration. It is recommended that you drink water constantly throughout the day rather than waiting until you feel parched. I keep a 22oz bottle with me, and I try to drink at least three bottles full of water each day. Ideally, one should be drinking at least half of one’s body weight in water every 24 hours. Water helps to flush toxins out of your body, and, most importantly, your skin. If you start amping up your water intake, I bet you will notice your skin start to clear up and, before long, it will take on that greatly coveted natural glow. *Bonus: Drinking more water will give you energy!

2. Coconut Oil. I have found that coconut oil makes an incredible, all natural moisturizer. It can be used all over your body, like a lotion – minus the chemical ingredients. Coconut oil is a wonderful lip balm, and it makes your skin positively glow. It’s also great to use in your hair as a conditioner. Just smooth it into your strands before a shower, and let it sit for a few minutes before washing it out.

3. Limit Dairy. I’ve been trying to limit my dairy intake and since I’ve done that, my skin has become less bumpy and more smooth.

4. Stock Up On ZZZZs. Getting a solid 8 hours of sleep every night is a crucial part of a natural beauty regimen. When you sleep, your body repairs itself. Your mind, your skin, every single part of you is worked on while you sleep. Getting enough sleep reduces dark circles under your eyes, adds to your natural glow, and helps to reduce cortisol levels (which are caused by stress). Investing in some quality sleep is a good idea whenever you can.

5. Exercise! Whether it is a relaxing yoga class, a nice run outside, a fast-paced barre class [my favorite barre workout is barre3: www.barre3.com], or a full-body toning video from the girls over at Tone it Up! [www.toneitup.com].  It doesn’t matter what you do. Find something you love that makes you feel good about yourself, and then make it a habit! My favorite form of exercise is hiking. What’s yours?  Exercise will increase circulation in your body, and it helps pump oxygen to your organs. And don’t forget, what is the largest organ in the body? That’s right – skin. Exercise will make your skin healthier. And that’s what we’re going for with this natural beauty regimen! So even if you just do a Tone it Up video for 15 minutes, or an hour-long barre3 class, that’s ok. As long as you are doing something good for yourself to get your body moving a little, that can do wonders for your body and, especially, your mind. Exercise reduces cortisol levels, keeps you limber, and gives you endorphins which make you happy. And happiness is beautiful!

6. Relax. I’ve been mentioning cortisol – that nasty chemical that is released in your body when you are stressed. Too much cortisol can have detrimental effects on your health. Try to make an effort to relax and let go of stress. Take a hot, candle lit bath with your favorite bath soaps. Go on a weekend getaway with your honey. Curl up by the fire with a good book and zone out for a while. Get a massage, or a manicure and pedicure. Drink some tea, or a glass of vino and just…let go every once in a while. It will do wonders for your body…and your mental health.

7. Pay Attention to What Kind of Food You Eat. I’ve tried to focus on eating whole foods and I have been making an effort to eliminate processed foods from my diet. When you think about it, processed foods are hardly food at all. They are modified, filled with chemicals, salt, and sugar, all in an effort to appeal to the taste buds, while completely disregarding what they do to our bodies. By sticking to whole foods, you can be more sure of what is going into your body. Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish…these are all things that are in their natural forms. Stick to those types of foods. Your body will thank you for it.

 

 

Resolutions

ImageIt’s funny how we put so much emphasis on the starting of a new year, as if it is literally a new chapter in our lives…as if January 1st is somehow a remarkably different kind of day from December 31st. There is some sort of intangible excitement that comes with the turning of the clock at midnight on New Year’s eve that is electric. It is, in fact, just the reason that everyone has been waiting for to start again. A new year, a new beginning. A chance for new habits and new goals that may yet be attained. A chance for anything to happen.

I am a sucker for New Year’s resolutions. Every January I declare that I will exercise more and eat healthier, and I generally do alright. But by the end of the year, I am anxious for the opportunity to start again – to begin my endeavor for life changes once more. I love New Year’s resolutions. I love that they give people hope and that they are a statement of people’s honest intentions and deepest desires. Whether or not they manifest themselves as reality isn’t really the point. It’s the hope, the thought of something better, and the opportunity for change that is there if one has the discipline to embrace it.

Cheers to a beautiful 2014! May all your resolutions become your reality!

5 Ways the Backcountry is Good For You

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Backcountry Goodness!

There is always a moment when I first set out on a trail that will lead me winding and twisting for days back into the backcountry. It’s like all the stress of the hustle and bustle of life releases in one giant cleansing breath. I feel lighter. Free. Back to my roots. Backpacking has become a huge hobby of mine and not just for the break from work and the city. Here are five ways that being out in the backcountry, away from society and all creature comforts is GOOD for you!

1. Clear your mind. Get away from the chaos and constant over-stimulation and just be, bra.

2. Breathe in the fresh, clean, pure air of the wild. It’s good for your mind, body, and soul.

3. It makes you have to rough it a bit. In this day and age of everything being readily available and easy to obtain, having to work for your food, shelter, and – to an extent – your very survival is a GOOD thing. Get your hands dirty! You wont regret it.

4. Backcountry adventurin’ is great exercise! Carrying a huge backpack full of gear on your back for 12 miles a day is a workout like no other. AND you are usually  in some of the most stunning landscapes out there so that’s a bonus: amazing view while working out. I’d take that over the gym any day.

5. In the backcountry, you have to step outside of your comfort zone. You might find yourself in some less than ideal situations: a rain storm, a ripped tent, an encounter with a bear… it is GOOD to face your fears and to tackle whatever the wild might throw your way. It gives you the opportunity to surprise even yourself and to do something that you did not even know you were capable of.

So get outside! Breathe in the fresh air! Surprise yourself! The backcountry awaits you!