Monday, October 26, 2015

Forest Bathing... It's a Real Thing

About a month ago, I found an article in Vegetarian Times (October 2015 issue) about shinrin-yoku or forest bathing.  No, it doesn't mean stripping down to nothing and running around in the woods naked.  It means "taking in the forest atmosphere".  We all know being outside gives us a vitamin D boost, but according to this article, being in the forest can also reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and boost your immune system.

Me- Forest Bathing

Fast forward to this past week.  It was probably the worst week at the hospital in a long time.  Just busy, understaffed,  it wasn't one big thing, just a million little things.  Two of my girlfriends and I had been planning for weeks to go to Copper Falls State Park on Saturday, but by Friday night, I was at my wit's end and almost texted to back out, but by the time it slowed down enough at work to do that, it was already after 10pm. 

Saturday morning was drizzly and looked miserable.  I called my mom and was telling her about all the little things that were going on, and they were so crazy- like hunting the hospital for chocolate pudding after the kitchen was closed because a patient insisted on chocolate- not vanilla, not yogurt, only chocolate pudding.  I just started laughing at the ridiculousness of it, and then I started crying because it's just all so crazy.  After I got off the phone, I texted my friend to be sure we were still on.  She thought the rain was going to clear off, so she thought we should give it a shot.

Well, we did.  On the two hour drive to Copper Falls we discovered that all three of us had had yucky weeks and we just vented a little and talked about life.  By the time we got to the park, it was chilly, but not raining and we were ready to give it a go.

Copper Falls

It was beautiful.  We hiked for hours.  We got off the main trail and went on the backpacking trail.  We didn't see another soul, and it was so peaceful.  The trail was yellow from falling leaves that covered it, and when we got to the bottom of the gorge we just sat by the river and watched the water.  We didn't even talk much.  We just walked.  And watched leaves fall from the trees.  And listened to the water.

Bad River- Seriously, that's it's name.
By the time we were done, my mind felt just as relaxed as it does after a massage.  My legs ached from walking, but it was a good ache.  I felt like I was going to make it.  Even if I had to go back to work on Monday and it was just as crazy as Friday, it was going to be okay.  So, that's when I became a convert of forest bathing.  I realized you don't get the same feelings from just being outside.  It's something about being deep in the woods.  Not hearing any traffic, not seeing any other people, just you and the trees.

So, if you're stressed out, and can't get in for a massage, get to the woods.  Find the nearest state park or county park and just get out.  Bring some water, some granola bars, and just start walking.  Make sure you know where you're going though.  Getting lost will probably just add to your stress, so try to avoid that.  :)

To see what everyone else is up, check out A Cute Angle's Monday Link Up!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Green Superfood Review

I've really been trying to eat healthy lately, working at cutting out sugar and adding more fruits and veggies.  I got the opportunity to try out Amazing Grass' Green Superfoods in three different flavors and was excited to try it.  Adding powdered greens to your diet is a good way to get additional vitamins and minerals and is supposed to be great for your digestive system and energy levels.

The greens come in cute little packets so you just have to add them to the beverage of your choice.  I was sent three different flavors: Original, Lemon-Lime Energy Blend, and Goji and Acai Berry Infusion.  So I decided to try them three different ways.

First, I tried the Lemon-Lime energy blend in just water.  It really did taste like grass, but it almost felt like it was fizzy.  I don't know if it was the citrus, or if my taste buds are so warped that it assumes anthing lemon lime should be carbonated.  It wasn't very tasty, and I had to practically chug it and hold my breath to get it down.

Next I tried Original, and added it to a green smoothie.  The fact that it was mixed with almond milk, blueberries, pineaple, and other greens helped, but it was still pretty grassy tasting.

Finally, I tried Goji and Acai Berry Infusion with apple juice.  It was drinkable, but tasted really sweet and still like grass.  I still found myself chugging it to get it down.

I have used other powdered greens and other Amazing Grass products, but I don't think I'd buy these again.  On the plus side, it really did make me feel more energetic, and awake, but getting them down was a pain.  The green color is not very appetizing, but they are truly healthy, and made from plants, gluten free, vegan and raw.  If you are interested in trying them, I'd recommend mixing them in with a smoothie or adding them to a little juice and just downing it as fast as you can.

I received these free samples from SocialNature in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts are my own.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday- Writing Duos Edition

The Broke and the Bookish hosts an awesome top ten every Tuesday, with a different theme.  This week's theme is Top Ten Writing Duos you'd like to see.  Which two authors could write a beautiful book together?  I decided to try to pair a deceased author with a modern author, and managed to come up with five pairs so ten authors total.  Here's my pairings:

  1.  Margaret Atwood and George Orwell- Imagine if the author of The Handmaid's Tale and 1984 could get together?  The resulting dystopian work would probably make us shutter.
  2. Diane Setterfield and Emily Bronte- These two ladies could cook up one awesome Gothic mystery!  Diane Setterfield wrote The Thirteenth Tale and Emily Bronte was the author of Wuthering Heights.
  3. Audrey Niffenegger and Victor Hugo- Yeah, I know Audrey's books tend to have a fantasy element to them, but both write books with powerful characters who are flawed and both books usually involve lots of tears for the readers.  I picture The Hunchback of Notre Dame meets The Time Traveler's Wife.
  4.  Tana French and Thomas Hardy- Both love to make characters that are mess ups.  If you compare In The Woods to The Mayor of Casterbridge, you can see how their characters pasts come back to haunt them.  I think that together they would make a very flawed character who you still love and want to see succeed.
  5.  Kathryn Stockett and Jane Austen- Both wrote books centered on domestic life- Stockett with The Help and pretty much everything Jane Austen wrote.  Skeeter even seems a little like Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice or Emma.  So together they could cook up a female protagonist who we see a little of ourselves in and who acts in a way we could aspire to act.
What do you think?  Who would you love to see write a book together?   And click on the picture to be taken to the link up and see everyone's writing duo dream teams.

Friday, October 9, 2015

8 Years of Marriage and a Field Trip

Tuesday was my husband and my anniversary.  We have been married for 8 years now.  That seems impossible, and then other times it seems like we've always been married.  Like having my own place and living on my own seems as if it was eons ago.  I think that's good.  We're in that comfy groove where we say what's on our minds for the most part and harass each other but still hold hands and send each other goofy texts that are pretty much just pictures of our cats doing weird things.

Usually we go somewhere for the weekend around our anniversary, but this year we didn't really plan anything.  I had Tuesday and Wednesday off from work so about a week before our anniversary we really started talking about it.  We finally decided to take a train ride up north with the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad, and then just go out for supper.  I booked the tickets.  It was $12 a person, so not a big financial commitment, and we thought it'd be fun.

We weren't really sure what to expect but when we got there, the depot was very nice and has a large gift shop with snacks.  We were promptly boarded into a refurbished 1913 interurban train car, and off we went.  It's only a 45 minute ride, and the fall colors weren't at their peak yet, but it was still fun.  The interior of the car is pretty with stained glass a neat light fixtures, the view was still pretty, and it was something fun to do.

Left- Train Car; Top Right- Interior of Train Car; Bottom Right- View Outside

After the train ride, we stopped back in the gift shop to get a Christmas ornament.  We try to buy one every time we're on an anniversary trip, so when we decorate the tree each Christmas we have a souvenir to remember past trips by.

Then we continued on north to Minong, which is about an hour south of Duluth, Minneosta (and only about five minutes north of the train depot).  We didn't really have anywhere in mind to eat, but I pulled up TripAdvisor on my cell phone and we decided to try Longbranch Smokehouse and Grille.  It's the number one restaurateur in Minong.  (To be fair, there's only like six to choose from.)  When we saw the outside, we had our doubts.  It either had massive amounts of character, or was going to turn out to be a dive.

Side View of Longbranch
We decided to live a little and give it a shot.  We walked in and were immediately greeted.  Our waitress was really friendly, answered any questions and was very nice.  We got chips and queso cheese sauce for an appetizer and then Jim had a bacon cheeseburger and I got a pulled pork sandwich.  It was soooo good!  I'm not even a big barbecue lover, but the meat was super tender and the sauce was just the right amount of sweet and smokey.  We loved it!  If we're ever in Minong again, I'm betting we'll be back.

We would have probably never stopped if we were just driving through, but thanks to TripAdvisor we decided to give it a shot and were really glad we did.  So, it was a good anniversary- nice weather, trying new things, good food, and a nice ride home on the back roads.  And if you're ever driving through Minong, Wisconsin and craving good barbecue, now you know where to go. :)

Monday, October 5, 2015

October Reading List

Well, here's hoping October is a better reading month than September!  Not that I've had a lot of time to be reading lately- between school, craziness at work, and just life.  I still have two books I started last month that I'm hoping to finish this month, and now here are four more that I'm adding to the mix.

The One True Ocean by Sarah Beth Martin- This one caught my attention because it's a mystery, and takes place in Maine.  It's one of those stories where the main character is drawn back home for some reason or another and decides it's time to solve some mystery of their families past.  It sounds like it's in the same vein as Drowning Ruth.

An Ordinary Man by Paul Ruseabagina with Tom Zoellner- This is an autobiography of the man Hotel Rwanda is based on.  Since I love the movie, I snapped this one up when I found it at a thrift shop.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson- This book came from Just Bee when I won a giveaway she was hosting.  She and her husband love this series and it looks like it'll be an interesting read.  It's book one in the series Wingfeather series.  

Faithful Place by Tana French- I know I've only said it about a hundred times, but I LOVE Tana French.  I was super excited when this one came  in the mail from A Book Olive and I can't wait to read it.

So that's what I'm hoping to read this month.  What are you planning on reading?

Friday, October 2, 2015

September Book Recap

Well, I didn't get as much reading done as I had hoped in September, but here's the recap:

  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell was really interesting, and provided lots of case studies, but it just felt was missing something.  I don't know.  It's not the type of book I normally read, so maybe it was just that.  I'm not sure.  Don't let my review dissuade you from reading it, I guess just don't expect it to keep you up late waiting to find out more.
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan was really highly recommended to me by the lady at the bookstore I bought it from, but I gotta say, I kept waiting for their to be some suspense, some frightening moments or something.  It was basically about attempts to use technology to crack a hundreds of year old code.  It was a let down.
  • Life Sentences by Laura Lippman was the worst of the three books I read this month though.  It was just hard to slog through.  I didn't really care about any of the characters.  They were all pretty selfish.  You couldn't understand why any of them were friends or what had made them friends to start with, and I really didn't care what happened to them.  You keep thinking there's going to be a deeper mystery, or some twist at the end, or some sort of big reconciliation, but it's all pretty shallow- just like the characters.
  • The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman was only 50 cents at the thrift shop, so I picked it up.  It's a World War II story that takes place in Poland supposedly based on actual events.
  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel was given to me by my mom.  She thought it looked like something I'd like.  I think I saw the movie Chocolat, which I believe this is based on, years ago, but it should be an interesting read.
  • Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs was acquired via Bookmooch.  I've never read any of Burroughs books before, and am not entirely sure what to expect, but it should be interesting.
  • And finally, Faithful Place by Tana French, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, and Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which were all given to my by the lovely A Book Olive for the last Chaotic Goddess' Books and Bloggers swap.  You can read my recap about them here.
I expected big things from what I read in September but was kind of let down.  So, here's hoping for better things in October readings. 

2015 Totals:
Read- 33
Acquired- 48