Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Vibram FiveFingers!!

I've got a pair of Vibram FiveFingers!! I've wanted a pair since this past spring, and I was finally able to find a store with them in stock so I could get sized and determine which style I'd like.  I chose the TrekSport that you can see below:

Aren't they gorgeous?!  So far I've only worn them walking, but I'm looking forward to running in them too :-). 

How about some more pictures of Champaign, IL.  Here we go:

Brick streets: beautiful, but not all that fun to bike or drive on.

Some plant pictures :-).

More reviews and recipes to come, but alas, the life of a grad student is crazy!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Pictures and Food as promised!

Why, hello everyone!  My first (extremely crazy and busy) week of classes is over :-).  Now for a recap:

At the farmers' market a couple weeks ago I bought a beautiful basil plant:

I am in love with it... but I fear it is dying (it no longer looks like it does above) in my tiny apartment with windows only facing one direction :-(.

I used some of my basil when making a bean soup in my mini crock pot.  It turned out all right, but I think it needed more flavor.  I followed a recipe, but my kitchen is still lacking in a number of spices (that I therefore excluded thinking it wouldn't matter too much).  Alas, I have more shopping to do...

Anyway, here is the soup:

I also bought a couple pluots from the grocery store a few days ago because they were on sale for $.99 per pound (should've gotten more!).  I LOVED them!  Here is one I had for breakfast with oatgurt and chia seeds:

Now for some Illinois scenery :-).

These are some pics from the UIUC campus - lots of people!

Some pics from Champaign neighborhoods I've wandered around on foot and bike:

I was astonished to see that people decorate their yards with lights - my fellow Iowans and I tend to use lights exclusively for Christmas.

I hope this post was worth the wait ;-).  I had fun taking the pictures... and I have more to show you at a later date...

Have a fabulous weekend!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Why so few posts??

Well, let's see... I've been super busy with work, orientation, getting adjusted to my new apartment, and transfering files from my old (very slow!) laptop to my new one.  Oh, and my graduate classes started today!  I miss blogging and taking pictures - I really do!!  So here's my to-do list for the week:
  • Take pictures of campus and/or the city and its parks, quaint houses, etc.
  • Take pictures of more food!
  • Do MORE real cooking instead of sandwiches, salads, and easy stuff like omelets.
  • Have some fun at various Welcome Week festivities.
  • And then blog about some of those things by the end of the week!

I also hope to finally have internet access in my apartment by the end of this week.  I realized I simply couldn't live without it - for personal and academic reasons ;-).  Yep, I caved, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

PVC update, kale chips, and sardines

First, I want to let you all know that I'll be doing another CSN review soon!  CSN has sooo many items at great prices.  I especially love their cookware - you can get a fantastic Dutch oven among many other items.  It's hard not to get carried away ;-).

Next I want to better inform you all about PVC.  After reading this article, I was concerned.  Now, I'm not so worried because I have additional facts, including a letter from Izola.  I was told they are in the process of converting all of their shower curtains to PEVA, a recyclable plasitc, but that is not because PVC is unsafe.  Here is an excerpt from their letter:

"It (PVC) is actually only toxic upon incineration.  There's very little conclusive evidence about the effects of the fumes from vinyl.  It's definitely not pleasant but there's still debate about it's actual measured toxicity.   It's more for the fact that it's not recyclable and biodegradable that we feel the creates a significant environmental impact. It takes over 100 times more energy and resources to create PEVA so while PEVA is a better alternative, it's not the perfect solution."

I was additionally left a comment on my last post by Jessvet that is informative.  Here it is:

"Beautiful shower curtain! Regarding your concerns about PVC in shower curtains, I would not panic. The scientific validity of the study disseminated by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice is very questionable (the study referenced in the article). Even the highly respected U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has criticized this study/report which is the basis for most of the 'scare-mongering' regarding PVC's and consumer exposure. I think a more realistic concern with PVC is for workers in the actual prodution plants and populations that live near such plants that may be releasing toxic by-products into the air. There is a much higher probability of inhaling toxin concentrations of PVC and associated chemicals in these situations. I would not panic about the small amounts of vinyl chemicals released into the air in a home unless one in the habit of deliberately 'huffing' plastic fumes continually in enclosed areas. While it is always important to follow-up on safety concerns related to consumer products, one must do so using scientific method. Controlled unbiased studies showing statistically valid results are essential before the public is scared into abandoning one product for another that might be even less closely scrutinized or lead to other health concerns, like mildew and mold development with hemp or cloth shower curtain use. Further research is definitely needed, but it must be done correctly without bias. Please know I have no vested interest in the plastic industry. I just hate to see organizations that often have ulterior motives spread fear through 'studies' that fail the test of scientific validity. Take care and just enjoy your beautiful shower curtain!

Here's a web site that references some of the concerns with the PVC scare."
So the moral of the story is to do your research if you're concerned about something.  Therefore, I'll be keeping my beautful shower curtain :-).
Now for the kale chips I made!
I lined a baking pan with parchment paper, tore up some kale, sprinkled it with some salt and garlic powder, and then put on the sheet and in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15-20 min.  I think I needed to toss the kale during the baking process though because the inner pieces were still soft while the outer pieces were burnt :-(.  I enjoyed the pieces that were baked to perfection, but there weren't many like that - perhaps I just need more practice.  Also, this was the first thing I made in my new oven - how exciting!!

Guess what I had with my kale chips???  I'll show you:

Yes, those are canned sardines!  I've been wanting to try them for awhile since seeing them on a few blogs.  The first bite wasn't too bad, but then the fishy smell, slimy texture, etc. got to me.  I added ketchup and mustard and was able to finish it all, but I don't think I'll be purchasing them again... even if they are quite healthy, as explained here.

I can't wait to go the farmers' market again this Saturday!

And then classes begin on Monday!  Anyone else starting classes or getting their children ready for school?  How's it going?


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Izola Shower Curtain Review

You all know I'm in my new apartment, which means some decorating of course ;-).  I'm grateful to have gotten one of my "decorations" for free from Izola.  I was sent one of their beautiful shower curtains to review.  They have a stylish collection with popular themes like world destinations, subway maps and eco-friendly shower curtains. I chose to review the Foliage Shower Curtain.  Here it is in my bathroom:

10 of 10!  That was my initial review anyways...  I LOVE the design, the size, and the quality, BUT I am afraid to have discovered that PVC shower curtains are potentially toxic, as referenced in this article.  This particular shower curtain is 100% PVC with nickel plated grommets :-(.  Izola does offer eco-friendly shower curtains that are 100% PEVA, and now I'm wishing I got one of those instead... since I fear I may have to get rid of this one because of health concerns.  I will sorely miss it even though I've only had it for about a week.  I'll contact Izola and let you know what they have to say.

Stay tuned for my kale chip experience and another new food I recently tried!

P.S. Yesterday was my first run in Champaign and I loved it!  The streets are so beautiful - some are even brick!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

GoLite winners!

The winners of the GoLite mesh cap giveaway are Julia and sAm!  Congrats ladies!  I've already e-mailed both of you - so just send me your info. and then I'll pass it on to GoLite :-).

I wish I could post more now, but I've just got sooo much to do in preparation for classes and my new job (job begins tomorrow and classes next week!).  I'll definitely try to post more soon though - I've got some interesting pictures to share ;-). 

It also doesn't help that I've decided to forgo wireless internet in my new apartment... so I have to head to the local library or somewhere on campus in order to blog, read blogs, and do other stuff online too of course.  It'll definitely be hard since I'm more or less addicted to the internet - but perhaps it'll be good for me?? 

Hope you are all enjoying your Sunday!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

GoLite giveaway ends tonight!

Hello all!  I've been super busy unpacking and stocking my new apartment with food and other supplies :-).  It's been crazy, but I'll be posting more soon!  Just wanted to give a quick shout-out that my GoLite mesh cap giveaway ends tonight.  Enter here!

I'll announce the winner sometime tomorrow.

P.S. I went to Urbana's Market at the Square today and had a blast - so many fresh fruits and veggies!  The only other 'big' farmers' market I've been to was in Madison, WI.  This one was a bit smaller, but it was still awesome :-).


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Moving to Champaign, IL

The big move is finally here!  I'm on my way to Champaign, IL where I'll be attending the University of Illinois for graduate school.  I'm just praying that it doesn't rain on me!

And I did modify the zuchinni pizza recipe I showed you in my last post by cutting the zuchinni into circles instead of length-wise.  Here's what the new version looks like. 

The zucchini was thinner, and I thought it turned out better :-).  Thanks again for the recipe Amanda!

And don't forget my GoLite mesh cap giveaway here

Time for me to do some last minute packing ;-).


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Enter my giveaway - you know you want to :-)

Yep, in case you missed it, I'm hosting an awesome giveaway for TWO GoLite mesh caps here!  As of right now your chances of winning are VERY high.

And if you love giveaways, you should check out Giveaway Scout.  They scan a large number of giveaway blogs and provide updates every hour with the latest offers.  Here you can find (almost) all blog giveaways, contests and sweepstakes in one place!

Now, how about some food pics ;-).  A couple nights ago I tried out a recipe for zucchini pizzas courtesy of Amanda over at The Nutritionist Reviews.  Here is the "pizza" I made:

Maybe more like a zucchini boat ;-).  Next time I'm going to try cutting the zucchini the other way in order to make thin, small round mini pizzas that have less zucchini and more toppings.  I may even try it that for supper tonight :-). 

In addition to my lovely zucchini pizza, I had a salad with vinaigrette dressing (and an unpictured PB sandwich):

And I know you all want to know how Elphaba, my kitten, is doing, so here are some pics:

How cute!  Frodo and Elphaba sleeping peacefully together :-).

Unfortunately, I am going to have to say goodbye to all my cats very soon since I'll be leaving home for Champaign, IL in order to attend grad school :'-(.  I've enjoyed their company for the summer though!

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

GoLite Review and Giveaway!

I've got a great review to share with you all today!  GoLite was very generous in sending me a complimentary mesh cap, Tumalo Pertex® 2.5-Layer Storm Jacket, and a Cayambe Reversible Travel Dress to review! 

I am so happy to be able to share this great company with you.  GoLite is a place where you can take your business and know that you're supporting a responsible eco-friendly business... not to mention that their products are top-notch!  Here you can see how "GoLite’s extensive use of Tier 1 recycled fabrics won the “Green Award” and was one of only 15 innovative products honored with a 2010 Backpacker Editors’ Choice Award."  That's impressive, but it's not all!

Earlier this year GoLite initiated their Product Take-Back Program in which they state "We'll take any unwanted GoLite product off your hands. When you send it back to us, we will repair, donate, repurpose, and/or recycle everything we get back. And if the technology doesn't yet exist to recycle it, we'll hang on to it until it does." 

GoLite is seriously "committed to building a sustainable business."  They even developed a GoLite Index™ that addresses each product’s key social and environmental impacts.  I am SO glad I've discovered GoLite and am able to share them with you! 

Now I'll get to the actual product reviews, but seriously, you need to check them out (here).  And while you're at it, sign up to WIN FREE STUFF!  For 93 days, GoLite is giving away free gear. You only have to enter once here, and you're signed up for the entire contest. You can win anything from a $700 tent to a $300 jacket to running gear and hydration systems!  So what are you waiting for?!

10 of 10!  This hat is SO much better than my cheap cotton ones - go figure ;-).  It's very stylish while also keeping my head cool due to the wicking and quick-drying material.  It even has an adjustable Velcro® back closure so it fits as snugly as I want it to.  It is totally my new go-to cap!

10 of 10 too!  This is a very lightweight waterproof and breathable shell.  It fits over almost any top I have and provides great coverage and protection from the rain!  I especially love the large hood.  Even before wearing this I could tell it was constructed well with its fully taped seams, waterproof zip hand pockets, and more!  I also love the color as it can go with absolutely anything :-). 

Last, but not least is my personal favorite: the Cayambe Reversible Travel Dress

10 of 10!  This dress is most definitely a travel dress, though it can easily be worn about town and so forth.  It is light, packable, very comfortable and stylish - especially since it is reversible (2 dresses in one - the other side of mine is black)!  It even has a UPF of 50+. 

I loved the above gear so much, I actually took pictures of me wearing it so you could see how it looks in 'real life' so to speak.  I don't usually take pics of myself (as many of you have probably realized) since I'd much rather be the one behind the camera instead of in front ;-).  It was worth it to show you the items from GoLite though.  Thank you GoLite and Outside PR (they coordinated the review).

I was even sent a cute bumper sticker that I am now sporting on my car:

But wait!  I'm not done yet!  There's a GIVEAWAY!  GoLite is going to send TWO of my readers a free mesh cap like the one I received. 

Here's how to enter:

Mandatory: Visit GoLite and tell me one cool fact you learned about them. Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. (1 entry)

Optional: How do you GoLite and live sustainably? (1 entry)
Follow my blog 'cuz you love me ;-). (1 entry)
Post about this giveaway on your blog. (1 entry)

This giveaway ends on August 14, 2010. The winners will be randomly chosen via generator and will be posted on my blog on August 15. Only one person per household may enter. The winners will have 72 hours to respond with their shipping address via e-mail after I contact them. If a winner doesn't respond, another winner will be chosen. Contest is open to U.S. Residents 18 yrs. and older only.

Best of luck to you all!

Disclaimer: I was sent the GoLite gear free of charge, but the above review is my honest opinion of the products - I would not give the high praises above lightly!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

SPIbelt Review

Before the reivew, I have to share some food fotos.  Here is an awesome food combination I recently discovered: cooked beats and cold cottage cheese!  Ok, it may not sound too spectacular, but I love it :-).  Here's a pic:

Don't knock it 'til you try it :-).

Some banana soft serve with homemade nut butter mixed in:

Yeah, it looks like a pile o' mud or something, but it's quite tasty with only 2 ingredients: frozen banana and nut butter.

Here's a wonderful shrimp salad with capers that I had a couple days ago.  It was fantastic!

Now for the SPIbelt review:

SPIbelt stands for Small Personal Item Belt.  They offer a variety of belts that you can see here.  I was sent a complimentary SPIbelt to review on my blog for you all.  This is the type I was sent, and here's a pic of the exact one I got in Pink Plaid (many more colors and patterns are available!):

10 of 10!  This is perfect to carry my cell phone and keys while I run or even walk.  Before I would tie my key to my shoe lace and just not carry my cell phone - I like this option much better :-).  Don't be deceived by how small the pouch looks - it expands and can easily carry a blackberrry or iPod.  The pouch is very secure too - no bouncing, etc.  So check out SPIbelt if you've been looking for something to carry small items while you exercise - there's even a water resistant SPIbelt!

I'll leave you all with a picture I took during a recent thunderstorm.  The pic. didn't turn out all that great so I edited it a bit.  Here are the results:

Have a wonderful first week of August!  Where did the summer go???