Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The "no poo" challenge!!! I made it 2 weeks, and then some...

I saw this interesting challenge in one of my "hippie" sites/blogs I follow...The "no poo" challenge.  Once I realized I was no longer going to need to spend $8 for each of my bottles of vegan shampoos and conditioners, I was intrigued.  I'm all about simplifying my life, not having to buy crap that I don't need.  I'm not a materialistic person and the luxury of having all these separate bottles for each part of my body seems so over indulgent.  Needless to say, I was ready to go!

I told all my friends/family I would try this for a couple weeks.  So far, I've made it the two weeks and then some.  I'm a month in and going strong.

The strangest part of all of it...I have only washed my hair four times in the past month.  WHY?!  Because my hair isn't full of shampoo and conditioner residue so it stays clean for a whole week (probably more but that's the longest I've gone).  It doesn't get oily, too dry, smelly, itchy, ...nothing!  It's healthier, easier to comb through, my natural curl frizz I love dealing with is no longer...it's utterly amazing!!!

Here's what I'm doing:

I take 2TB baking soda as well as 2TB apple cider vinegar in mason jars to the shower with me.  When it's time to shampoo, I fill the baking soda jar with water and use it as my shampoo.  I scrub my scalp just as I would with shampoo, and while I was waiting for suds the first couple times, I finally let go of the notion that I needed bubbles.  I rinse well, then do the same with the apple cider vinegar jar.  Be careful of the eyes, and it tastes less than desirable, but it really does condition the hair.  No, you will not get that slick coating of chemicals on your hair that makes it feel like it's truly conditioned, but I guarantee it will be easier to comb through after your shower.  My hair does not smell like vinegar (believe me, I've asked so many people) and it looks SO healthy and clean.
I have a spray bottle with a little tea tree oil in it that's watered down that I spray in my hair for a little bit of a scent, but otherwise, nothing.

Here's how it looked at two weeks:

And at about four weeks (it's only getting healthier, softer, less hair falling out, etc):

I'll keep everyone posted on the progress.  I have heard people say that at around one month they start seeing their hair getting brittle and breaking off easier.  I'm hoping that's not the case but am willing to be the guinea pig for all. ;)

Try it for a couple weeks.  If nothing else, just do it on occasion to strip your hair of all the buildup we all get from all the store bought shampoos and conditioners.

The money facts:  The best part of this whole process, it's costs me $.04 to wash my hair and $.11 for the conditioner.  $.15 for each hair washing!  That's with regular sized boxes and bottles of soda and vinegar (imagine if I purchased larger/bulk?!?!).  ;) 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bald Eagle Release - May 2014 - Audubon Society

My family and I were witness to an amazing and beautiful event this past month.  An injured bald eagle was released after going through rehabilitation at the Portland Audubon Society .

She was found on West Hayden Island, appearing to have been injured by another eagle during a territorial fight.  She was discovered by a hiker who called the Audubon Society to come pick her up.  Upon further examination, they discovered that she was previously shot by a pellet at some point in her life, and also had a fracture to one of her wings, on top of the puncture wounds on her feet and nerve damage to her other wing by the recent fight.  The worst of all discoveries, she had sustained injury to one of her eyes and only had partial vision.  As a bird, this is typically "the end" of their life in the wild.  However, upon further examination they discovered that this was an old injury and she had been surviving in the wild with it for quite some time.   She was an amazingly strong bird and seemed to be fit to return to the wild after rehabilitation.  You can read more about her story here:  Rescued Eagle

We arrived at Kelley Point Park which is just across the river from West Hayden Island.  She was a nesting bird on the island and had a mate prior to her injuries.  They chose to release her at the park across from the river to allow her to regain her bearings.  They weren't sure if she would fly when they opened the crate, but all that were surrounding her to see her back in her natural habitat were hopeful.  After speaking about her a bit, giving us a back story, we witnessed the release:

You can imagine how pleased everyone was to see her take off right away.  She headed in the direction of the island and at that moment, we thought we'd never see her again.  The crowd of people started walking towards the path she had just flown.  We soon discovered that she was up in a tree, next to the river, taking in her surroundings.

We were told not to be alarmed if crows started attacked her, as once she regained her bearings, she would surely make them her first meal out in the wild.  Within a minute a crow began to attack her, but she seemed to not be bothered by the pest.   The crow would grab branches of the tree and drop them on the eagle, dive bomb her and continuously "caw" trying to get the attention of other birds.  The eagle just sat and watched.

We watched the crow pester the eagle for awhile, and then the somewhat harmless interaction became a little more threatening.  We started hearing the calls of another eagle and an osprey.  Both were coming into the area to see what all the fuss was about.

Before we know it, another female bald eagle is coming in for a landing right near the tree that the other eagle is sitting in.  The osprey is diving and encircling the new female eagle and creating quite a scene, which ends up distracting the crow.  The crow then begins to go after the new eagle and the osprey.  It seemed as though the new eagle came over to help distract and protect the released eagle from the other birds, but that was questionable as the female eagle very well could have been a threat.

The released eagle looked on while the commotion was happening just outside of her tree:

After a bit, the new female eagle took off and took the pesky crow and osprey with her.  All seemed calm as the released eagle sat in the tree, grooming herself, taking in her surroundings.

Not long after the peaceful moments of watching the eagle groom herself and relax for a bit, the crow came back, creating quite the dramatic scene.  Again, dive bombing the released eagle, at one point even knocking her off balance.  She regained her footing and continued to sit while he continued to make his loud "caw" sound.  The anxiety was building in the crowd as we knew this would attract other birds, and it wasn't long after that the eagle returned. 

She circled in and landed on the branch right next to the released eagle.  It was a bit tense as the eagles both fluffed their feathers and made sounds towards one another, keeping their mouths open as you can see in the second pic.  This lasted for several minutes.  We were waiting for a fight to possibly break out, but shortly thereafter the eagle took off again.

We could hear the osprey returning and indeed, it had followed the eagle back to the area the released eagle was sitting:

The second female eagle perched just above the released eagle while the osprey dove towards the tree.   At this point, the group of people watching collectively agreed that it seemed that the second eagle was not there as a threat to the released eagle, but as a distraction and protector.  Several times she had deterred the other birds from the newly released bird and even positioned herself to be the target.  She was a bird from the same island that the released bird was from, but we are unsure of how she may be related to the released eagle.

You can see the osprey through the tree just above the second female eagle.  This interaction continued for several minutes with the osprey diving towards the eagles.

After a few minutes of this interaction, the birds both looked in the direction of some more woods that were over to our right.  The released bird took flight for the second time since being released and they both went in that direction together.   (No photos, however, as I was in awe watching them fly away together. This was the last photo I took of them before they flew off).

It was an amazing experience, being up close and person to two bald eagles.  Watching the natural behaviors of the crow, osprey and eagles was fascinating for all of us.  This was most definitely a once in a lifetime event.  Something none of us will ever forget.  So many tears were shed.  Nature is truly beautiful. 

Be sure to support the Portland Audubon Society.  Volunteer, donate & take a field trip out to their location to see what they do. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reposted from December 2013 - Plank Challenge!!! Join in!!!

Time for a new Plank Challenge!!!   Repeating the one from December 2013 that we had.  This one will still have squats and crunches.  Let's get hot for summer!!! ;)

Our new plank schedule is a bit more gradual than the last.  I noticed my back was getting pretty sore after a couple of the 30 second jumps, so I decided to find a challenge that was bit more gradual.  I also wanted the simplicity of having a single number to remember when it came time to add in squats and crunches (YES, you read that right,...we're adding squats and crunches if you're so inclined to try it out), as my days all run together because of my crazy schedule, and remembering one number is hard enough, let alone different numbers for each exercise.

Please note:  None of the pictures, nor the calendar, are my property.  Everything was found on Google doing various searches for this challenge and for proper vs. improper techniques.

INTRODUCING, our 2014 Plank (and crunch AND squat) Challenge calendar:

Looks easy, huh?!  We'll see how it goes!!!  ;)

Since I'm the one instigating this challenge, I want to be sure I cover my butt by first saying, if you have any injuries or problems with your neck, back, hips, shoulders, ankles, etc etc etc, please be sure to check with a professional before starting this challenge.  If you decide to do it regardless of what a professional (physician, therapist, etc) has to say, please, please, please, stop doing the challenge if you're feeling any pain, soreness, swelling, etc in any part of your body.

Here are some samples of the proper and improper ways to do the planks, squats and crunches.  Please be sure to check your technique and make sure you are doing them properly.  No good will come out of doing them improperly, and you will sorely regret not taking the proper precautions.  Believe me, I know from experience!!!!

Here is a proper plank:

Note that the arms are at a 90ยบ and the elbows are directly below the shoulders, there is no sag in the back, the feet are slightly apart, the head is looking down and slightly forward.  Alternative plank styles are out there as well (if you notice your back getting sore, try the modified one at the top of this next photo).

Level 3 is unnecessary...unless you're just rocking the planks and want a challenge.

Here is the proper squat:

Note that the upper portion of the legs become parallel to the floor and the arms are also parallel to the floor.

Here are some improper ways of doing the squat.  Check in the mirror to be sure your back, legs, etc all look the same as the picture above, and not like the ones below (other than the correct one below, of course):

And finally, for the crunches:

 Note that a crunch is just that, a crunch.  We're not bringing our head to our knees.  Focus on keeping the lower back on the floor, and be sure to not allow your hands/arms to add strain your neck.  One of the things people tend to always do is pull on their neck to help raise their back.  This is horrible for your body and can do more damage than you think.  Keep your abdominal muscles tight and just focus on using those muscles to raise your head/shoulders, whether it's an inch or several inches.  But do no more than your body allows.  NO STRAINING!

And just to show what the straining looks like...again, don't do this!

Let's have some fun with this and support each other through the full challenge!!!  Looking forward to 30 days of working hard together!!!   Enjoy tomorrow!!!  Day 1 will be here before you know it!!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

New Challenge - The Tank Top Challenge!

Today is the last day of our Squat/Crunch/Plank challenge, so it's time for us to start another one!   Congratulations to those who stuck with it and made it to 150!  150 Squats, Crunches and a 150 Second Plank!  I NEVER would have thought I could do it!

This time we'll be working on maintaining the strength in our abs (we did work awfully hard to get our strength up), but we'll be adding more arm work in order to get our arms in shape for tank top season!  I, for one, can't wait to see the changes as I'm addicted to tank tops and would love to have some beautiful guns to show off while wearing them. ;)

So, without further ado, here is our new challenge!
(Please note:  I borrow all of my challenges from other websites so be sure to check out the websites I get them from and give them the credit for the changes we're making!)

The Tank Top Challenge!

It's a 30 day challenge, so we will be starting Saturday, Feb 1st and completing the challenge on March 2nd.

As you can see, each day we will be doing 2 sets of the numbers listed (day 1, 2 sets of 5 push ups, 15 second planks, and 5 chair dips, and so on).  Once we reach day 16 and on, we will be doing 3 sets of each.  Looks easy?!?  Yeah, so did the squat, crunch, plank challenge. ;) 

BUT, I'm not leaving it alone with just this challenge.  We'll also be adding Burpees into the mix.  So, as well as completing your 2 or 3 sets from the chart above, Burpees will be completed to the number based on the chart below.

And look, I even found two challenges that have rest days on the same day!!  Yay!!!

So, now, the disclaimer:  Please check with a professional before performing these challenges.  If you feel any pain or discomfort, do not continue.  Be sure to check your form for every exercise and check back with this blog regularly to ensure you are still doing the exercises correctly.  

Last but not least, have fun, encourage one another and don't give up!  Even if you miss a day or can't do the full amount, do what you can!  Anything is better than nothing!!! 

Proper form for each of the exercises:

Push ups with or without knees down:

Proper plank (if you did the former challenge, you should be familiar with this one):

Proper chair dip form (start with knees bent and if you can, work towards straightening legs more):

And last but not least, the burpee: 

Drink plenty of water, breathe and have fun!!!  You're doing something great for your body!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Oil Pulling - My New Found…..Quirk

I blame the internet for all of my strange habits and tendencies.  BUT, it's the reason I have become as mindful as I have about my body.  So many of us are becoming more in tune to our bodies, listening to them as they scream at us for various reasons.  We all see the changes people make and the mindful things they do in the name of feeling great, and we all want to feel that way too.  People will do (almost) anything to see progress in their health, habits, love, and life in general.

The newest craze (not really, most people still don't know about it) is oil pulling.  I heard that term from a friend of mine who mentioned it as something I should do alongside a cleanse (that I'll be doing soon).  She said the words and my instant visual was strange to say the least...I had NO clue what she was talking about.  And so began my research (because I can't leave anything well enough alone...we all know that!!!).

Here's a better visual than the one I had, of what oil pulling actually is.  He looks much cuter than I do while doing it…and it'd be more accurate with a little dribble of oil going down his chin.  ;)

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that started becoming popular in the US in the 90's.  It's purpose is detoxification and rejuvenation.  It's the practice of swishing oil in the mouth for 15-20 minutes, every day if possible, to pull the harmful bacteria, toxins, fungus and other organisms, that do not belong, out of the mouth, teeth, gums and throat. 

A story about oil pulling (click to enlarge):

When brushing our teeth, we can not rid the mouth of all of the bacteria, so this practice daily will help eliminate the bacteria/organisms we can not clear.  The mouth is a gateway for everything that enters our body, for our food, drink, sicknesses, etc.  If we're not clearing the buildup of the "bad bugs", our overall health begins to decline.  We've all been told over and over that our oral health is a direct correlation to our overall health, so we need to take better care and be proactive, and oil pulling does just that.

How to oil pull (best time of day is first thing when you wake up):

• Take 1TB of Sesame, Sunflower or Coconut Oil (preferable cold-pressed and organic)
(please note: I only take about 2tsp as 1TB was too much for me to swish without drooling ;) )
• Swish the oil in your mouth (yes, even the solid oil, it will become liquid within 10-20 seconds) for 15-20 minutes, no less, no more
• Dispose of the oil  (do NOT swallow, it's full of bacteria and toxins that you want to get rid of)
• Rinse with lukewarm water or sea salt water
• Brush your teeth and tongue
• Enjoy the results!  You'll start seeing them within no time!


• Whiter teeth
• Clearer skin
• Improves overall oral health
• Prevents mouth diseases
• Lessens congestion and allergies
• Asthma cure?  Many say so.
• Helps with neck, back, joint pain
• Clearer head
• Reduces headaches (migraines)
• More energy
• Better sleep
• Some say it cures many diseases (cancer to name one)
• Improves PMS symptoms and regulates cycles

The dangers of oil pulling:

• I'm still looking.....

Here's a photo of my teeth on day one and day 6.  My teeth are already becoming whiter!

I've also been sleeping harder, waking up more energized, and (TMI, I know), my monthly visitor, that I despise, was 2 days shorter!  I don't know if it's just coincidence, but I'll take it!!! 

After the first couple days, I became addicted.  My mouth feels so much cleaner and my breath is fresher. 

I've made this part of my morning routine, oil pulling while either showering or making juices for the family.  Distraction is your best friend to ensure the time doesn't drag, but be sure to swish and put thought into making sure you're getting the oil all over in your mouth.

So, in summary, all I have to say is, what have you got to lose???  Give it a shot, make it part of your hygiene routine.  Your body will thank you in so many ways!!