Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Favorite Fitness DVDs

3 Years later, linking this up with Kenzie & Angie for the September 12 X 30. We have been focusing on getting back into a workout routine in August, so I think that it's great to follow up with focusing on this linkup in September. Thanks for hosting ladies. :) 

Working out is important, but a lot of us are limited in our workout options based on budget, time and even climate.

 Fitness DVDs can be a nice alternative to a pricey gym/class membership, offer an effective and diverse workout and be done despite the temperature.

These are some of my favorite workout DVDs in various categories. I have left a brief review of each along with notes or comments about space and/or equipment needed. 

Yoga:

A.M. & P.M. Yoga with Rodney Yee and Patricia Walden


This was my very first yoga DVD. I love it because it is really easy to follow and good for days when you don't want a workout that feels too intense. 

The A.M. yoga routine is really gentle and helps you wake up in the morning. The subtle stretches are just what I need when I am really tired. Or when my muscles are recovering from a more intense workout.

The P.M. routine is more active than the A.M. routine by quite a bit, but it is pretty slow paced. It allows you to move around in the poses as a beginner and become more comfortable with yoga.

As someone who has been practicing yoga for a while, both in classes and on DVD, I still find this DVD a good workout. It may not be high energy or intensity, but it definitely stretches the right areas. I still see results when using it.

Note: You will want a yoga or Pilates strap, yoga mat strap or a belt for the A.M. routine.

15 Minute Results Yoga with Rodney Yee and Mariel Hemingway


This is probably my go-to favorite for yoga. It has 4 different workout routines which is really good for the price of the DVD. In general this workout is more fast paced and active than the A.M./P.M. DVD. While fast at first the routines on this DVD are very repetitive so that it becomes very easy to follow along with.

Each routine is only 15 minutes long so it is easy to fit in to any part of the day. It is also broken down into routines based on the part of the body you want to work on. For example: upper body, lower body, abdominals and total body.

Because of the quick paced routines and connection between different parts of the body as you do these movements, this DVD really helps to tone target areas in a short period of time, which is great.

Cardio:

Kristi Yamaguchi: Power Workout


I have loved Kristi Yamaguchi since I was a little girl. So when I wanted to break out of the yoga only workout arena I was all for trying out her DVD. I am so glad that I did! 

This workout is fast paced, fun and really effective. It is easy to get into the rhythm of the moves after having done the routines a few times. I am not normally someone who would even try a workout like this... but it ended up being really great!

Note: You need a bit of floor space for this one, more so than yoga. You will also want to purchase/have on hand some hand weights. I have some 3 lb and some 5 lb ones that work well. They were inexpensive and easy to find at Target.

Bellydance:

Dolphina's Goddess Workout (3 DVD set)


I had taken several bellydance classes at the rec center on campus but I had never tried a DVD and was a bit skeptical about picking out something that was fun, but not too eccentric. I got lucky on the first try because I love these DVDs!

So far I have only tried the beginner disk. It is nice because it is broken up into segments where you learn different types of moves that you put together into a mini routine at the end. It also includes a warm up and a cool down. 

Dolphina includes some background on the history of bellydance and some of the mythological information that goes along with it. This is interesting but put into the dialogue as you are practicing the  movements, so you don't become bored. 

Dolphina is also really focused on helping women of every kind feel confident. Which is really great. She's a really encouraging instructor. At times she says funny things that make me laugh, but I always have a good time!

Bellydance starts out a little difficult for most people, mostly because you are learning to move your body in completely new ways. So it takes some practice to get certain moves, but the instruction on these DVDs is really great. A bonus with this is that it typically tones and targets those hard to get areas! Its a really subtle workout because its so fun, but you really see results!

I would highly recommend purchasing a bellydance skirt/scarf if you are able. While not necessary, it makes it more fun if you jingle as you dance! You don't have to go all out if you don't want to, I just throw mine over my yoga pants!

Note: You can buy these DVDs individually rather than as a package if you prefer.

So there you have it! 

My favorite workout DVDs. I might review more yoga DVDs later as I tend to mix and match all of them. I am not a big fan of doing the same thing all of the time.

One thing that I am still looking for? A great non-bellydance dance DVD. Its so hard to know what is going to be good. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! :)

What is your favorite workout DVD?

All for now,

Alexandra 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ham and Cheese Biscuit Pockets {recipe #48}


If you don't know her show, check out the link or look for her listings on your local PBS channel. 

She has the best ideas! I love her show so much!

Remember the orange cherry nut brownies? Her recipe!

Or the Mini Fritatas and Onion Herb Focaccia? Also her recipe!

This recipe, like the ones above does not disappoint!

Its easy and delicious!

Ham and Cheese Biscuit Pockets


I apologize for the slightly blurry picture!

Borrowed, Adapted and Enjoyed from: The Katie Brown Workshop

For the video of the recipe click here.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3/4 cup of cubed cooked ham
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 package of refrigerated biscuits (or your own dough)
1 egg beaten with a little water

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Flatten out biscuits into thinner circles. Lay on cookie sheet.
2) Add the cubed ham and shredded cheese to the middle of each biscuit round. 
3) Pull up the biscuit sides and press the ends together to seal it up. 
4) Brush the beaten egg/water mixture on the outsides of the pockets.
5) Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on outside. You want it to look pretty brown otherwise the inside may be doughy.

I served mine with a simple spinach and cherry tomato salad with ranch dressing! Kyle loved them! :)

Enjoy! 

What is your favorite super easy dinner?

All for now,

Alexandra

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Perfect. Plum. Polish

For what feels like a very long time I have been looking for a plum nail polish. Doesn't sound too hard.. but it is!

I have bought 4 different polishes hoping that they would be plum like the color swatch. Most turn out to be burgundy or almost black... 

Finally, I have found the perfect plum polish!


OPI's Vampsterdam

Here is how it looks! (without touch-ups!)


I am SO excited!


Bonus: OPI has removed most of the really nasty chemicals that are often found in nail polish. So its greener and cleaner!

What is your favorite polish?

All for now,
Alexandra

Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Remove Glitter Nail Polish

I really really love nail polish.

I especially love glittery nail polish.

The one bad thing about glitter polish is that it is so hard to get off!

I found a tutorial on Pinterest, and it worked!

Here we go!


1) Glittery toes {color: Nicole by OPI Rainbow in the S-Kylie* with a silver base}
2) Cut cotton squares into 4 pieces. Soak in nail polish remover. Place one on each nail.


3) Wrap toes in Aluminum foil strips to hold cotton squares in place.


4) Let sit for 5 minutes. I left mine on for longer as I use non-acetone polish remover. 
5) Remove foil and cotton squares, wiping away excess polish as you do it. 
6) You may need a new cotton square to remove the excess. This takes very little effort! 

There you have it! Easy as can be, glitter free nails!

*I am not a Kardashian fan*

What is your favorite glitter polish? 

All for now,

Alexandra

Does it make anyone else chuckle that polish and Polish are spelled the same? :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Alternative Essentials Mix

For those of you who read my entry about DIY grad gifts and were wondering about the Alternative Essentials Mix that Kyle and I gave my cousin Mallory with her graduation gift... wait no longer! 

We are both very into alternative music and wanted to compile some of our favorites for her. Song list below.

Alternative Essentials Mix


1) I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor - The Arctic Monkeys
2) A Bad Dream - Keane
3) Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve
4) Level - Raconteurs
5) Simple Song - The Shins
6) Wine Red - The Hush Sound
7) Caring is Creepy - The Shins
8) Buildings and Mountains - The Republic Tigers
9) Young Blood - The Naked and Famous
10) Life in Technicolor - Coldplay
11) Blister in the Sun - The Violent Femmes
12) Show Me What I'm Looking For - Carolina Liar
13) 99 Problems - Hugo
14) Daylight - Matt and Kim
15) Chocolate - Snow Patrol 
16) Chop and Change - The Black Keys
17) Old Enough - The Raconteurs
18) Gold on the Ceiling - The Black Keys
19) Atlas - Fanfarlo
20) Creeps Me Out - Ima Robot
21) Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap

It was really hard for us to pick just 21 songs... we have SO many we love.. but this is a pretty good idea of our taste in alternative music. We would have added Mumford and Sons, but we knew she already had it :).


What are some of your favorite alternative songs?

All for now,

Alexandra

Monday, July 16, 2012

Jerk Pork Chops with Chipotle Mashed Potatoes {recipes #46 & 47}

Pork is not a meat that we eat a lot. So once I tried to switch it up a little by looking specifically for pork recipes.

I stumbled upon this pork chop and mashed potato recipe and it was pretty good! 

Jerk Pork Chops & Chipotle Mashed Potatoes


Ingredients:

Pork Chops
4 green onions
2 jalepeno peppers
2 cloves garlic
2 T. fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 thick cut pork chops

Mashed Potatoes:

2 lbs russet potatoes (4-5)
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
salt and pepper (found in the ethnic or Mexican section of your supermarket)


Pork Chops:

1) Thinly slice the green onions (both parts). Halve and seed the jalepenos. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Put the onions, jalepenos, garlic, lemon juice, salt, allspice, and cinnamon in a bowl, stir until combined. 
2) Spread the mixture over both sides of the pork chops and put them in a baking dish. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
3) Preaheat a grill or grill pan on high heat. Put the pork chops on the grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until the middle is no longer pink.

Chipotle Mashed Potatoes:

1) Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Put the potato chunks in a large sauce pan of salted water. Add the garlic and cook over medium high heat for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
2) Drain off the water and return the pan to the stove. Add the butter and milk to the pan and cook over medium heat until the milk comes to a boil. Smash the potatoes and garlic with a fork or potato masher until fairly smooth. Finely dice the chipotle pepper and stir it into the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Serve together and Enjoy!

*to make it prettier, I would suggest setting aside some of the green topping to put back on in the end!*

What is your favorite way to spice up pork chops or mashed potatoes?

All for now,

Alexandra

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bierocks {Recipe #45)

For those of you who have never had a beirock or "runza" you are missing out.

These pocket sandwiches are super hearty, tasty and surprisingly EASY to make!

Beirocks


{borrowed, adapted and enjoyed from Country Woman magazine}
It said it yeilds 12 servings... but we cut it in half and it made 9! So .. proceed with caution! ... or hunger. :)

Ingredients:
Dough:
4 1/2 cups of flour divided
1/4 cup sugar
2 pkg (1/4oz each) active dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs

Filling:
2 lbs lean ground beef (90% lean)
2 medium onions chopped
4 cups chopped cabbage
2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. pepper

1) Put 1 3/4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Heat the milk, water and shortening to 120 - 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour heated liquid mixture over flour mixture; add the eggs and beat with an electric mixer on low until blended. Change setting to high and beat for an additional 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining flour and knead the mixture until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. 
2) Grease a bowl and place the dough in it. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. {if using rapid rise yeast, let rise for 30 minutes}
3) While dough rises: Brown beef and onions in a large skillet over medium heat. Drain once it is all free of pink. Add the cabbage, seasoned salt, garlic powder and pepper; cook until cabbage is wilted.
4) Punch dough down (fun!) and divide into 12 portions and cover with plastic wrap. Work with one piece at a time roll into a 6 inch square and place a 3/4 cup of filling in the center of the dough. Fold over the dough and pinch edges tightly shut to seal.
5) Place filled pockets on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot!

Enjoy!

Overall this recipe was delicious and really easy! Great for a chilly day! The true challenge will be figuring out what to do with the leftover cabbage... :)

What is your favorite bierock recipe?

All for now,

Alexandra 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Daily Feats: Helping People Do Good

One day while I was shopping on Gaiam.com I stumbled across an add for Daily Feats. I didn't know what it was but I signed up.. and haven't looked back since.


Daily Feats allows you to log your daily "good" activities and earn points on their website. You can check in and say that you took the stairs, spent time outside, read a book, volunteered, ate leafy greens etc. And earn points which you can save up to redeem for online gift cards from places like Starbucks, Fandango, iTunes and Barnes and Noble {just to name a few!}. 

Not only can you redeem online gift cards but you can also donate your points to worthy charities! 

I have found that this website keeps me accountable to do good things in my daily life and keep me on track with my goal setting! I will start logging and see something that makes me think "hmm I should really do yoga today" or "I should really make a menu for the week!". It definitely keeps me on track with healthy habits and goals. But it also rewards you for doing fun things too! Reading, Dancing, Singing, Hosting a Gathering etc. It is both a health and social reward system.


As you may have noticed using Daily Feats consistently is actually one of my 2012 resolutions! Summer was the perfect time to get on track! I log my feats every weekday now!


The first time I used my daily feats points I donated $10 to Millennium Promise and ~$50 to Companions for Heroes. Millennium Promise is a global organization that is working to reduce and eradicate hunger and poverty around the world. Companions for Heroes is an organization that works to pair shelter/rescue animals with veterans who need service or companion animals. 

The second time I redeemed my points I received a $10 gift card to Gaiam.com.

The third time I redeemed my points I received a $10 Starbucks gift card.

The fourth time I redeemed my points I donated $165 to Companions for Heroes


This website is doing so many great things for the world!

1) Its helping people to achieve their goals.
2) Its encouraging people to do good things in their daily lives.
3) Its rewarding people for their good deeds.
4) Its allowing people to pass on their reward for doing good to do more good through charity donations.

This website is amazing. I would highly recommend it to everyone. It can help you achieve your goals, earn some gift cards and make donations to excellent charities!

Sign up for Daily Feats today!

Also for those lucky smart phone users out there, they do have an app! It makes it really easy for you to log as you go! 

Please send me your feedback or stories about using Daily Feats as well as your questions!

All For Now,

Alexandra 

The Day after I posted this I came across a Companions for Heroes Video. After watching this video I decided to donate another $100 to the cause with my Daily Feats points! It is such a wonderful organization! :) Check out the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdJKkw50z5Y

*NOTE* I do not work for Daily Feats, nor am I being commissioned to write this post by them. I am blogging about it because it is something that I truly believe in. {wouldn't it be cool to work for them though?? :)}

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monster Bars {recipe #44}

If you've ever had a monster bar... you probably LOVE them. I had my first monster bar recently. It was bliss! So thank you ladies for the monster bars as well as the good times and encouragement!

Monster Bars





Ingredients:


1/2 c. butter 
1 c. white sugar 
1 c. brown sugar 
3 eggs 
1 1/2 c. peanut butter 
1 tsp. vanilla 
2 tsp. baking soda 
4 1/2 c. oatmeal 
2 c. chocolate chips 
2 c. M & M’s 





1)  Preheat oven to 350ยบ F.  
2) Cream the butter and sugars together. 
Add eggs and peanut butter and mix.  
3) Stir in vanilla, baking soda and oatmeal. 
4) Stir in chocolate chips and M & M’s.  
5) Put in an ungreased jellyroll pan. 
Bake for 15 minutes. 



Do not over bake.



Share them & Enjoy!





What is your favorite dessert to share?





All for now,




Alexandra