Friday, April 25, 2014

By The Time I Get to Phoenix

.... oh, that was last year's vacation wasn't it?  Our completely fabulous Grand Adventure.  Did you ever If you haven't read about that trip, there's a tab right at the top of this page that has all the posts, which contain a boatload of fabulous pretty good pictures!





This vacation will be just as fabulous but in a much different way...



The good news is that I'm ready.  Shelley's wish that I find those couple of things I wanted but didn't need worked.  I found gold shoes!  I also found a couple of sundresses and I pieced together another bathing suit by buying 2 inexpensive ones and using the top from one and the bottom from the other. That bathing suit still cost me less than my other new one. (Thank you to my sister and her family for the birthday gift of a very generous TJ Maxx/Marshall's gift card!)


I'm really looking forward to the R&R. I am one who whole heartedly believes vacations are a time to completely dump routine.  For me, that means no planned exercise.  Will there be some nice slow strolls and swimming and that sort of thing?  Sure!  But none of the I'm getting up at 6 a.m. to run variety.

In preparation for not doing much other than laying on the beach, eating, drinking, laying on the beach, shopping, and laying on the beach, I exercised 14 days in a row without taking a rest day.  I haven't done that in a long, long time.  By the end, my legs sort of felt like I was back in marathon training, and I sure was glad when it was the 14th day.

I hope my body realizes that I'm resting it and some of the minor aches, pains, and aggravations I've been having heal up!

I have a couple days of miscellaneous stuff to get done before we're off.  I told Mr. Helen I still don't think I'm going to get to the closets - in fact I may end up shoving more stuff in there. That's what they're for, right?

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Don't forget about the Tommie Copper Compression Wear Giveaway.  You have until May 11th to enter!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tommie Copper Compression Wear is FANTASTIC (and there's a giveaway!)

Back in March our blogging friend Shelley did a review of Tommie Copper Compression Wear, along with a giveaway.  I commented on that post hoping to win my choice of something but alas, I was not the winner. To my surprise, that comment got the attention of the outreach coordinator for Tommie Copper - which led her to Doing A 180 where she read about my running aches and pains. The next thing you know, she contacted me asking if I would like the chance to do a review of my own.

YES PLEASE!!

She asked me to pick a few items from their current line and then asked if I would be available to review something from the new performance Innergywear items that are being released soon:  the Agility line for women and the Velocity line for men. Take a look at those items by clicking on that link and then you can look for my review of those things in the near future.

In the meantime, I had fun picking out a few items from the recovery compression line to try. I decided not to be completely selfish and so I chose compression shorts and socks for myself and a compression knee sleeve for Mr. Helen

Mr. Helen has had meniscus surgery on both of his knees.  The first surgery he pretty much recovered exactly as they said he would.  With this more recent one, he has had a tough time.  We think it's because the tear was so much more significant.  In any case, he has had a terrible time getting back to his exercise routine. If he ran a couple miles it would take the knee 2-3 days to recover.  He also had not been able to work as hard at his martial arts as usual.  The recovery compression knee sleeve arrived on a day when he was going to the dojo and he was excited to try it out.  When he got home the first words out of his mouth were that he was able to train as hard as he wanted and the sleeve contained his knee perfectly.  In the month or so that he's been wearing it he has gone back to his normal routine of several runs/weight training sessions and several martial arts classes a week.  He's a very happy camper.  He said he really likes that it provides "just enough" support that his knee does not feel tightly bound when he's working out.  Before we requested it we measured just as they instruct on the website and it fits perfectly.  He loves it so much he will buy one when this one wears out. Here are his sexy legs modeling the sleeve.

The first piece I was able to try were the socks.  The only compression socks I've ever worn in the past were knee socks so I was interested to see how ankle-length compression socks would work.  Plain and simple, I LOVE them!

If you look at the socks you can see some grey looking stripes going across the top of the foot.  Looking at my left foot, all the way to the edge in that area is where I had one of the foot fractures that took me out of running for most of 2012 and where I've had what I refer to as phantom pain after every longer run ever since. Until I wore these socks.  They really do work at supporting the foot both across the top and underneath where the plantar fascia tendon is. Generally once I get home from long runs on Saturday I keep them on a couple hours while I do a bit of cleaning, which allows my foot to recover.  Using copper technology, they also wick sweat beautifully and my feet have never felt squishy.  These socks also conveniently are marked with an "L" or "R" so you put them on the correct foot to get maximum compression  benefits out of them. I'm pretty certain these are going to become my summer running socks. I also adore this bright yellow-green color they sent me!

Finally, I was able to try the compression shorts a couple weeks ago when it warmed up to all of 50 degrees. While I probably could have worn them alone, I was worried about being cold so I wore them under some capris and then left them on while I cleaned the house and ran some errands.  I ended up having them on about 4 hours including my running time. Again, I used the sizing charts to measure and order the correct size and I found they fit well. You can see here that they provide decent coverage as far as length goes.


They also perform well with odor control and sweat wicking and I felt they really did help the aggravation in my hip area to recover better after the run.

I do have a couple of little things I would like to see the Tommie Copper people change in these shorts:  I would like to see a gusset in the crotch area of the women's shorts (sorry but there's no other way to say that).  I also feel they need to work on the stitching in the waist band.  As a person who exclusively wears compression shorts I've had quite a bit of experience with them.  After wearing them for four hours, my immediate thought was that if I'd been wearing them while running for four hours, and especially if it was a hot and/or humid day, I would have ended up with rubbed raw spots in the waist area from the way it's currently stitched.

Ironically, while I was testing out these items a coworker approached me and asked me if I'd ever heard of Tommie Copper.  When I said that I had and was actually testing some items she proceeded to gush and rave about their compression arm sleeves.  She and her husband golf many, many times a week.  Last year she developed tendonitis so severely in one elbow it was hampering her swing.  For her birthday, her husband bought her the arm sleeve and after wearing it through their first weekend of golfing this spring, she ordered herself another for her other arm.

So, as you have read here, Tommie Copper has some great products!  Followers of Doing A 180 now have the chance to win any of the pieces I've reviewed.  To enter, please comment below with which item you'd like to have and/or things you love or would change about your current exercise wear or tell me if you've ever worn compression gear.  In other words, comment!  Open to residents of the USA and Canada who are followers of Doing A 180 only.

The winner will be chosen on May 12th.  Enter away!

These items were provided to me by Tommie Copper for review.  All opinons are my own.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Finally, The Big Reveal

If you've been following along, you know we recently purchased new furniture for our living room and family room.  While the family room furniture had to be swapped and is now on order, the living room furniture arrived right on time.

The new furniture was so different from what we had that I wanted to paint and get new carpet and window treatments.  The painting I really wanted to get done before the furniture arrived so I didn't have to worry about covering things.

I went out and got 3 samples and immediately narrowed it to two as one was too blue.  I painted big squares of the colors side by side on the wall behind the love seat and let them sit there for about a week so we could observe them in different lights as well as compare them.


As you can see the old color was a deep burgundy and fairly dark.  I really wanted to go a lot lighter to make the room seem bigger.  After consideration, we chose the color on the right.  It looked like very light grey with an occasional blue tinge depending on the light.  We felt the other color would be too dark and too grey.

We worked our butts off and got the room painted over a Friday evening and a full day on Saturday.  When the two coats were on and dried, I was really dismayed because the paint, called "Cloudy Day" ended up looking like a very pale blue.  At that point there was no more time to repaint and I felt like it might be better to wait.  I hung up one of the window scarves I had purchased and immediately felt that it was too light but I left it as I wanted to see it with the furniture in place.

When the furniture was delivered, Mr. Helen called and said that the paint looked GREAT with the furniture.  He also said I was right and I should order the darker scarves for the windows.  Once I got home and saw everything, I still wasn't thrilled with the paint but again, wanted to wait it out.  I also felt like I wasn't going to like the rug I'd chosen so we put it still rolled up in the living room while we waited for the new window scarves to arrive.

When they did, we loved them but I was correct about thinking I wouldn't like the rug with the new/better window treatments.  So I went on a mad hunt for a rug.  Just as I was about to give up until after our vacation, I found the same rug I had originally picked but in a different color scheme - however, it was online only which was why we'd not seen it.  Even better, it was on sale and I found a promo code for it and had it shipped to the store. We were able to pickup and return the other rug in one trip. Just last Friday it arrived.  As soon as we rolled it out, we loved it.

The corner with the love seat.  You can see here that I had burgundy window scarves before.  I like a scarf treatment because we have those half shutters.  You can also see the new end table I'd wanted for the space next to the love seat.

Sofa View

View as you come in our front door.  The new carpet is by Mowhawk Home.  The pattern is Dawson and the color is Shell

View from dining room door.  Window treatments are by Royal Velvet.  The style is Lantana and the color is Mercury.  The furniture itself is American made in North Carolina by Klaussner Furniture.  The fabric is called Halo and the color is Gunmetal.


So here's the thing, I'm still not loving the wall color and honestly feel I'm going to end up repainting it once again before the winter comes. But overall we are thrilled with our new look. I especially love that I managed to keep things a bit neutral so that if I want to change the window scarves and pillows on the sofas I can.  Now, I've got to start working on artwork for the walls.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cranky.

I know I just wrote a post about how happy I'm feeling but there have been some things lately that throw moments of crankiness into my happiness and I want to get them off my chest!

First of all, I woke up in the middle of the night Tuesday/Wednesday to ice pellets hitting the bedroom windows.  Oh boy.  Not a good sign.  Sure enough, by the time we got up Wednesday morning, it was 32 degrees and there was a good solid 1/2 inch of sleet/ice on everything.  I wish I had taken a picture of my poor daffodils laying down on top of that. As it was, only a few of them bloomed this year so to see them lying there broken was aggravating and upsetting all at once!.  Also, none of my tulips bloomed.  Obviously the bulbs are there because the leaves are coming up, but I'm not getting flowers.  Anyone have any ideas?  I'm getting ready to pull them all out and maybe try some crocus there.

Also?  We are having a hard freeze for a few nights.  It will be a wonder if any spring flowers survive. Additionally, I am sick and tired of dressing like the abominable snowman to take my morning run.

Second, I am getting increasingly tired, tired, TIRED of my athletic friends and their memes posted on Facebook.  I complained about one last week, but I've been seeing more and more stuff like that and it's irritating the crap out of me.  The other morning I saw one about not complaining if you have a bad run and just to be thankful you can run because not everyone can.  NO NO NO! It's my run and I'll complain if I want to.  People are allowed to have feelings about their own situations.

And another thing:  what have we become that people are made to feel guilty if they don't work out every. single. day. - or worse, multiple times in a day.  I keep seeing statuses like, "I went for a 5 mile run this morning, then I went to the gym and lunch and tonight I'm going to take Zumba."  Yet the morning of the ice/snow a friend posted that she didn't want to deal with going out in it and had decided to be "lazy."  Immediately other people jumped in there and said things to guilt her into working out.  (Except me.  I posted that it was OK to take a day off.) That is SO completely unnecessary.  Most of us are not professional athletes but are just folks trying to live a bit healthier.  I just wish the madness would stop.

Third, the price of groceries is making me insane.  I have watched our grocery bill creep up over the last 18 months and I'm not buying anything different.   I have a completely new understanding of folks whose budgets are so restricted that they eat a lot of processed foods, because if you can feed your family on a $5 frozen pizza, why would you make your own?  In an effort to keep us eating healthier, I am now going to 2-3 grocery stores every week and only buying sale items, finding the least expensive produce, and doing without convenience foods.  For me convenience foods was stuff like the pre-bagged salads. I never do that any more.  Now I buy a couple of heads of lettuce and shred them and putting them in a container.  I didn't really love grocery shopping before and now I just want to get in bed, cover my head and pretend we don't need to eat.

Oh, maybe THAT'S  the weight loss secret I've been looking for:  just don't eat.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy.

Vacation is coming soon!  I went through all my summer clothes and honestly, do not need to buy a single thing.  What I would LIKE to have is one more bathing suit and a pair of gold sandals.  But if I don't find anything, I'm not sweating it.  Also, very oddly,even though I am not at all where I want to be weight-wise, I am not letting it bother me one iota.  I intend to enjoy this vacation and fully participate (in laying around and eating good food lol!).  I think our vacation to the Grand Canyon last year just made me realize that life is too short to not participate in wonderful experiences, weight be damned!


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The new window scarves arrived last Friday and this time they are perfect!  Now, we're just waiting for the area rug and the living room will be done.  Photos coming as soon as that happens. I am very happy with how it has come together and can't wait to start working on artwork, etc. for the walls.  I am also VERY happy that I found a sectional that will go down my stairs!  I took some measurements and went back and worked with our salesman and he talked with the driver who did the first delivery and we found something!  Bonus #1 was that they are not charging us a second delivery fee.  Bonus #2 is that Mr.Helen was so swamped at work he told me to just take care of it since I work 2 miles away from the furniture store - wheeeee!  Bonus #3 is that I got to pick every single aspect of the unit:  the pieces I wanted, the fabrics I wanted, the pillows I wanted - even the welting on the cushions. The whole experience was like I was spending big money - a very fun, satisfying and happy experience!

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I got to have a sunshiny, short-sleeved 6 mile run last Saturday. I somehow managed to run it faster than I've been running lately. I was hysterically happy.  If I didn't have so much to do, I would have kept running, it was just going that well.

My hot sweaty, freckled, happy face

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Finally a video (from a friend who never posts such things) posted on Facebook.  I'm so glad I took the 10 minutes to watch it through as my friend suggested, because it reaffirmed to me that we should leap on every chance we have to live our lives fully!




Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Stairwell Won.

If you are part of a step/blended family (or even know someone who is) you should go read Karen Anderson's blog on the death of her step-children's mother.  Beautifully vulnerable and said in a way that really captures the uniqueness of being part of such a situation.  I'm pretty sure I could not be the woman that Karen was.

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Lori had a nice little rant on her blog yesterday about that dumb Jenny Craig commercial with Kirstie Alley. Here's my rant: Stuff like this irritates the crap out of me.  I'm so tired of seeing things like this that make women who could never manage this feel less than adequate.  So irritating!


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Once the painting of the living room was finished and sat for a couple of days, I started getting worried about the color, because it looked bluer than I thought it was going to.  On my swatch it looked more grey and the color was named Cloudy Day so grey, right?  Then I began to think that maybe it was because of our old furniture and rug with the blue there.

Good news though, it looks FANTASTIC with the new furniture.  And I know all ya'll are wanting a photo but you're just going to have to be patient and wait because once the furniture was in the room, I changed my mind about the window scarves and carpet so all that's on order right now.  Once everything is set, I show you photos, I  promise.  If you want to see it before then, you'll just have to stop by and visit me *wink*

I knew there was a problem as soon as Mr. Helen called because he was raving about how great the furniture looked and telling me I was absolutely right about the window treatments (I had put the one I first chose up on one window) and that I should just go ahead and buy the different ones.  I kept thinking "he's doing that good news before bad thing."  Sure enough, the stairway going into the family room became a problem with the new furniture delivery down there.  So much of a problem that it couldn't even be delivered!  Argh! Thankfully, as they had tried to get the old stuff out first and that wasn't working, just before Mr. Helen started to break it down and saw it up into pieces, he had the thought they should try to bring the new stuff down. It was a no go.

The issue is that it's very narrow AND the stairs from the upper level of the house come into that opening therefore creating a short space to shove furniture through even if you try to turn it on end. Plus you have to make a right hand turn right at the bottom. Looking at this photo, the brown stuff above is the covering over the stairs that go to the bedroom level.  We are beginning to think that perhaps that shelf/ledge was built after the furniture was put down there.  What a mess!


So, back to the drawing board on this.  I have actually been working with our salesman to see if we can find a sectional that we could buy pieces of that will go down there.  We think we may have something worked out but I'm waiting for a final determination which may involve sending someone to my house to measure things. Ask me if I wouldn't like to just tear that ledge off... I'm sure it's probably concrete behind there though.  This is truly an old house problem.

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Here's a perfect description of how I felt (um, and maybe? acted...) on Monday before and after the furniture debacle.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Paint Palooza

Well, the painting got done and Mr. Helen and I are still married.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a bit surprised when I got home Friday evening that not even one stripe of paint was on the wall.  Even though he began to talk about getting it started towards the middle of last week, he didn't want to paint.  The difference between Mr. Helen and me in these situations is procrastination.  Whereas I am the sort who figures it's best to plow through the job and get it over with, he will procrastinate until the cows come home hoping against all odds that this terrible thing is just going to go away.

The reason I mentioned that we are still married is because it was one of those marriage moments when you wonder why you are even putting up with that other annoying person in the first place. By the time he did come upstairs to get started, I realized what he was procrastinating with and I was ready to throttle him - not to mention, I'd been edging the room for about an hour and a half.

When we purchased our new furniture, we had to pay to have it delivered but it's worth it because for every piece they bring in, they take an equal piece out.  So basically we've paid someone to move our old furniture for us.  All set, right?

Well, when we bought our house we inherited everything in the family room, which consisted of a large overstuffed sofa and love seat, a huge antique looking computer station, a huge projection TV and the gas fireplace.  When we asked the realtor why they weren't taking it, she said, "They don't want to have to move it all out of here again."  Here are a few shots taken the week we moved in (jeez, I need to clean up down there now, it was so neat 8 years ago!):




We lost that computer cabinet and bookcase when we had the flood a few years ago but all the rest of it is still there.   To get that cabinet out of there, we had to cut it up into pieces.  We've always known when the time came to get the old furniture out and the new furniture down there it was going to be a challenge.  If you look at the middle picture to the left of the sofa you can see how the stairwell is small and narrow with an overhang.  Here's what it looks like going down:

Here's what it looked like the other night when Mr. Helen decided he was going to try to get that big honking sofa out of there all by himself:

Yes you read that right:  all by himself!  As you can see he took the railing off but what on earth was going through his mind I have no clue... until I realized he was procrastinating the painting!!  I was so torked I texted Shelley who sympathized and empathized and once I blew that steam off I calmed down.

Anyway, 1 1/2 hours after I started edging and cutting in he decided he'd start rolling the walls.  I finished up about 7:30 and left him.  It took another hour for him to get the first coat on. In the meantime, I had a glass of wine, and decided we could stay married.

Saturday he rolled the second coat of paint then "let" me do the trim.  As I was about 2 hours into painting trim I realized one of the reasons I hate painting is that every single time we paint, I do the edging and the trim.  Basically, I do the hard stuff!!

While I gave up my Saturday morning long run because I knew I would just be worrying about getting the painting done, Mr. Helen left and went to the dojo for 2 hours.  When he got back, I handed him a small can of flat white and asked him to touch up around the ceiling edges where some of the wall paint had spread out, you know, in case semi-pro fixer upper Lori ever visits.

All told I calculated it took 12 woman/man hours from prep to finish.  Well worth it and I'm really excited to see how it looks with the new furniture which is being delivered today.  Who knows, they might have to saw that sofa to get it out but I won't be there. Thank goodness the professionals are coming!

I know you want before/after photos and those will be coming soon.  In the meantime, enjoy one last look at the overstuffed sofa (which now has no legs but that I insisted be put back where it belonged in the room). Mr. Helen is cheering for the UCONN men, which are playing for the national basketball championship tonight.

"I Gotta Call Dad"


Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday High Five

I know not everyone is into NCAA basketball but I have to tell you it’s pretty crazy to be living in Connecticut right now with both the men’s and women’s basketball teams in the Final Four.  I feel like if they both win, rioting will commence.

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Tale of the Tape #1:  Valerie Bertinelli has gained some weight and it's finally caught up to her to the point where the media is talking about it.  Turns out Valerie broke her foot back in December and couldn't work out.  Huh.  Now here's a woman who surely has many things at her disposal to help her and yet she couldn't work out and gained weight.  Maybe I need to stop being so hard on myself for the weight I gained with my stupid fractured foot.

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Tale of the Tape #2: Biggest Loser winner Rachel, says she has gained 20 pounds since she shocked even the trainers during the finale with her skeletal appearance.  She has admitted she went overboard with her training and has declared that with this gain she’s at her perfect weight.

She weighed 105 at the finale which means she weighs 125 now – putting her in the normal weight category for her 5’4” height.

125 is my perfect weight too.  I think the last time I saw that number was sometime in 1980.

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My new bathing suit for our vacation.  The color reminds me of that perfect, perfect Caribbean water.  All the better to blend my chubby self right in!


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Wish me luck, the paint-palooza has begun.  I prepped the room last night after work so I’d be ready to go first thing Saturday. I may have succeeded in guilting Mr. Helen to help a bit - before he left for work this morning he said, "Don't be surprised if I get started on the painting after work today."  You know I'm hoping that will happen!  But if not, I’m going to do it.  It has to be over and done with before I go to bed Sunday night.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bring on April!

March came in like a lion and went out like one too, roaring with 4 straight days of pouring rain. We were under flood watches and I had many, many friends who had to pump their basements. On Monday morning the temperature suddenly dropped and the north and northwest part of the state got sleet that turned to 3 inches of snow in some places.  Car accidents everywhere. Even in the southeastern part of the state where I am ended up getting sleet that eventually turned to big fat snowflakes.  Thankfully it didn't stick around.  Today is sunny but boy it is still pretty cold with overnights being only in the 30s.  Bring on the month of April (and spring, and warmer weather, please Mother Nature)!  I've been wearing this like an amulet.


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Got together with my friend Em for brunch on Sunday.  What a fabulous brunch it was too.  Really nice restaurant and they had a Bloody Mary bar!  You pick your vodka, (or you could do a Virgin Mary with no booze)  tell them if you wanted a salt rim, then they added the tomato juice. You grabbed a straw and then went along and put whatever you wanted in your drink.  I chose Pink Himalayan salt rim, celery and caraway seed, Worcestershire sauce, a pepperoni stick, pickled vegetables, gorgonzola stuffed olives, freshly ground horseradish and a shrimp on top!  I should have taken a photo of the drink but I forgot.  

Here's the bar setup: I chose a bacon-infused vodka (duh!) but if I could have also had a shot of clam juice to make it a Bloody Caesar or a shot of beef broth to make it a Bloody Bull.


So much fun!  Of course the best part of brunch was just sitting and talking with Em for a couple of hours. Based on our conversation, I think we both needed some girl time!

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Mr. Helen and I have been faithful customers of the same furniture store for all the years we've been together.  They sent us an offer of 0% (yes, zero percent) financing for 48 months and if we purchased during a certain time frame, they would pay our sales tax.  We were wanting to buy new things this year but had no idea how we would come up with that amount of money.  Our living room furniture is 18 years old and the family room stuff we inherited with the house nearly 8 years ago so don't know how old it is.  What we do know is that all that furniture is beginning to break down and we needed new or better used stuff. With this offer, we were able to buy new items for both areas!

We had a maximum amount we had agreed on so you can bet I looked at every stick of furniture in that showroom.  When I realized it was going to be easy to spend that money, I had Mr. Helen drag a small end table over to the sofa I wanted.  It is similar to what we currently have and I wanted to see how it would blend.  We liked it and ended up buying only the small table to put next to the love seat, instead of buying all new tables.

The new living room furniture is so different that it is going to require painting and a new carpet as well. That has to be done this weekend because the new stuff is being delivered Monday. I will do before and after photos but here's a sneak peek of the new living room sofa and what I'm thinking of doing for an area carpet.


Now, I just need the weather to cooperate this weekend so we can open the windows while we paint. Have I ever mentioned how much I detest painting?  But we can't afford to pay someone to do it so I'll just have to suffer for the cause. It will be worth it in the end.