Friday, January 31, 2014

Europe Trip Recap: Gimmelwald to Freiburg, Germany

Sunday, May 27, 2013: Gimmelwald, Switzerland to Freiburg, Germany

Mom and I woke up early and packed up the room we loved staying in. Unfortunately, we never met Liesi, whose house we stayed in.

I started out with a hazelnut type breakfast croissant and looked up at the views of the beautiful Swiss homes.

On our way to the cable car station, we were greeted with a roped off path because the cows were making their way through town. After they passed by, we went around the rope and I hoped that no other cows would stampede us on the way! It was a fun sight to witness.

The cable car down to Stechelberg was foggy and pretty.

Before boarding our train in Lauterbrunnen, we got milch cafes at a local coffee shop and I was able to use their wi-fi, which always made me feel happy and connected to the world. I finally could e-mail Craig and Dad to tell them what we had been up to.

I had to get our tickets straightened out at the train station, as we got sold the wrong ticket for Basel. I asked for the Germany Basel Bad station and got the Swiss SBB one--long story short, I knew my gut told me that the guy sold us the wrong ticket in Lucerne and I was glad I checked. Crisis averted!

We had to change trains in Interlaken and then we had a nice little private area to ourselves all the way to Freiburg.

We were happy to arrive at about 1 p.m. and find a sunny, warmer climate in Germany. We grabbed some sandwiches and were off on our mile walk to the hotel. We soon discovered that our home away from home for the next two nights, Hotel Kreuzblume, was on the most beautiful street in Freiburg. I had read this opinion from other travelers online, but being on the street confirmed it.

The view out our window, facing the street! It smelled amazing. 

We arrived before the check-in time, but luckily I had written the hotel in advance and warned them that our train would arrive around 1 p.m. and that we may be early. We were greeted by a super friendly lady who worked there. I suspected she was the mother of the young woman who co-owns the hotel and she checked us in. I was so pleased to see a modern and clean room facing the gorgeous street we loved so much!

After freshening up, mom and I got our sightseeing adventures in Freiburg started. The city has such a great vibe and both of us warmed to it instantly. Here's the main Munster/church in the town square area. 

It turns out, Freiburg is a sister town of Madison, WI! I knew that before we arrived there. The two towns actually seem a lot alike--they are big University towns with students everywhere.

The beautiful city hall.

I love looking in drugstores in other countries, so we ventured into Mueller, where I found this fabulous wall of Haribos!

I'll end this post with a picture of the Bächle. They are water canals (Bach means stream in German) and were once used to fight fires and served as a water supply. 

More on gorgeous Freiburg to come! The city turned out to be one of my mom's favorites of the whole trip!

Miles walked: 8.55

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wellness Wednesday: Indoor Workouts

I have felt a bit sedentary this winter (who hasn't?), but I am trying to turn that around. Like most people, I don't want to venture out to the gym in below zero temperatures, so I opt to workout at home instead, which never feels quite the same as going to the gym or enjoying a workout outdoors. But, I am proud that I have elevated my heart rate on a number of occasions, thanks to these tools and workout DVDs.

I checked the Happy Herbivore Light & Lean book out from the library recently and love that Lindsay has workouts at the back of the book. I used the book to mix up my routine on Tuesday and enjoyed the workouts very much. I think I might actually purchase the book since the recipes look great as well.

Besides dancing to a Cardio Pandora station in my living room, I did some tricep dips off the couch, some burpees, a plank and some ab moves I learned while in physical therapy.

My colleague just got an iPhone and we have been sharing apps we love. I recommended the Nike Training Club app to her and she told me about one I hadn't heard of before, called Jefit, and it's great for visual learners! It also has routines you can follow. 

The third tool I use is youtube videos. There are so many fitness channels to subscribe to.

What motivates you to workout at home?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Arctic Weather = a productive day off!

Like most of the country, wind chills are below zero in Milwaukee, so my work is closed today. This is the third paid day off I have experienced in 2014 and I jump for joy each time I hear that we are closing. While I'd love to have off when it is warmer out, I also enjoy staying indoors and catching up on things around the house.

Here's how I spent my day!

I soaked some dried pinto beans overnight and cooked them up this morning. This was my first time cooking dried beans, which probably seems odd for a vegetarian who eats a whole lot of beans and loves them. From now on, I will only keep a few organic/non-bpa cans on hand for emergencies.

I placed an Amazon order, which included a silpat. I've been wanting to purchase one for at least two years now and when the price dropped to $15, I knew I had to add it to my cart. I also ordered an arm band for my iPhone. It actually works with my Commuter Otterbox case, so I don't have to take my phone out of the case each time I go to the gym or exercise outdoors. I can't wait to get both in the mail!

I am really loving the book Eat Move Sleep by Tom Rath, so I kept plugging along with reading that on my Kindle.

I have been wanting to make lentil soup for a while now, so I finally accomplished that goal too! I used this recipe from to make a vegetarian version. Lentil soup is my favorite, especially with some greek yogurt, avocado and hot sauce on top! It turned out pretty good--just a bit bland, but hot sauce always fixes that!

Days off call for beauty rituals I don't always have time for or forget to do, like applying masks. I tried this sample out and it was quite nice.

I also got caught up on my coursera nutrition class, which I am loving so far! From reading so much nutritional information as a hobby and from studying for the NASM personal training test, I am familiar with a lot of what is being taught. But, I have learned a few knew things about food labels, people's perceptions about their diets, what people eat around the world, etc.

I managed to get a lot of movement in today too. More on my indoor workouts tomorrow!

What a fabulous and unexpected day off! I appreciated having it in the middle of the week like this!

Conscious Box review

I recently purchased a discounted three month subscription to Conscious Box and thought I'd share my review of the service.

I chose a vegan box, since I am a vegetarian and didn't want to risk getting any meat based products. You can pick from three types: Gluten Free, Classic, or Vegan. Each month is $19.95, which includes shipping and 10 bonus points.

I really enjoyed the selection of items in my January box. They're all products I would buy on my own and am enjoying using or eating. I did receive one in December, but it was damaged by a spilled product. Luckily, the customer service at Conscious Box was excellent and I was sent another box at no charge.

The product I was most excited about receiving was this natural sunscreen, which I will definitely use now and in the summer months. I looked it up online and this size bottle is normally $29.99! It's rated pretty highly too, which is sometimes hard to find among natural sunscreens.

I especially liked that I received an e-mail from Conscious Box, prompting me to rate the items and allowing me to buy more if I wanted to. When you rate an item, you earn 10 points and those points can be used to purchase products in the future. 

The only disappointing aspect is that I think because I chose a vegan box, I keep getting the same products each month (mighty leaf tea, soap, good bean dried chickpeas), when I was looking forward to trying more new things.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What I've Been Reading Lately

I've read three books so far in 2014 and my overall goal is to read 30 books this year. I wish I could read more, but I anticipate having less time when I start studying for a health coach certificate.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel

I kept seeing this book everywhere last year and I finally got around to reading it. The story was definitely different, but I really enjoyed it!

The Lean: A Revolutionary (and Simple!) 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss

This was one of the best healthy living books I have read in a while. Kathy broke down habit and diet changes into easy to understand language. It definitely influenced me to drink more water and try to eat an apple a day, which I was really good about doing for a while.


Orphan Train: A Novel

This was another book I kept seeing everywhere last year. I love history (enough to major in it in college) and hadn't heard of orphan trains in the U.S. before this title came out. The story moved along quickly and never got boring.


I like checking out new cookbooks from the library and I've been paging through this one all week. 


What's on your bookshelf/e-reader?

This post includes Amazon Affiliate links, which helps support this blog. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Nutrition Classes through Coursera

Part of living well includes staying informed about the latest trends in health. I typically read at least five-eight news stories a day about health, fitness, wellness, nutrition, etc.

I love nutrition, so I am taking a free online course through Coursera and it starts on Monday, January 20th. I just received my first assignment today (which includes tracking my food for three days this week--I'm using MyFitnessPal to accomplish that task) and I am so excited to begin the class! The committment is only 2-4 hours a week, so I encourage others to fit in their busy schedules and join me in taking the course. 

Here's a link to the course! 

Nutrition, Health, and Lifestyle: Issues and Insights
This seven week course will explore nutrition concepts that take center stage in mainstream media outlets and become conversation topics among consumers interested in food choice as it relates to optimal health and physical performance.
Separate fact from fiction and fads as you learn about core nutrition concepts and how to evaluate not only personal food choices and overall dietary patterns, but nutrition related content in the media and in advertising. Such topics include fundamentals of a healthful eating pattern, nutrition labeling, dietary supplements, fortified and “super” foods, plant-based nutrition, and nutrition and fitness. The course will also include an overview of nutrition fundamentals as they relate to human health.

·         Analyze and evaluate your own food and beverage intake using a recommended online or cell phone app nutrient database.
·         Research of a dietary supplement of your choosing using credible informational websites as well as evidence-based medical literature.
·         Personally examine the concept of energy balance through determination of your calorie needs, intake and expenditure.

During this course you will have the opportunity to:

Week One: Just What is a Healthy Diet? A Balancing Act
Week Two: Nutrition Labeling: Facts, Claims, and Challenges
Week Three: Dietary Supplements: Evaluating the Evidence
Week Four: Functional and “Super” Foods: Their Role in Optimal Nutrition
Week Five: Plant-based Nutrition: Controversies and Considerations
Week Six: Nutrition and Fitness: Facts, Food, and Fuel
Week Seven:  Food Allergies and Intolerances:  Separating Fact from Fiction

The other Coursera class I am taking begins in February and here's the link for that. It's called "Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention." This course covers the basics of normal nutrition for optimal health outcomes and evidence-based diets for a variety of diseases.

Both classes offer certificates, which requires a very small fee. 

I'll try to blog about my experience with the classes and share some of what I learned, if the teacher allows us to do that. 

Let me know if you sign up!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Never-ending Winter Break

I was supposed to have nine total days off of work, but I got two bonus days because of the extremely cold temperatures here in Wisconsin! I don't think my workplace has ever closed down for two days like this! Hooray for a three day work week ahead of me!!

I have really enjoyed my "winter break." I normally don't take vacation days around the holidays, but with the way New Years fell this year, I just felt like being off for a whole week. 

I started out my vacation using a new sleep app, Sleepbot. I placed my phone under my pillow to keep it in place. I found it fascinating to see that I moved around a lot in my sleep all night long. The 6 a.m. movement and sounds are us yelling at Tanzi to be quiet and then me getting up to chase him!

I picked up a few new snacks at the store and found these ridiculously good pita chips.

They were perfect to dip into the new spicy hummus I bought.

I read a lot all week, but mostly got through a lot of magazines and didn't focus a lot of time on books. I did finish David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell and I started The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I resolve to try to read only one book at a time in 2014, but I think I will fail at that attempt! I sign up for books I want to borrow from the library and they always come in when I'm reading something else I own or have borrowed.

Craig downloaded the new Dr. Luigi game and I finally found a video game I can beat him at! I was pretty addicted to Dr. Mario on my Gameboy when I was about 10-13 years old. The game just came back to me and I managed to kick Craig's butt! 

The refrigerator really needed to be cleaned out, so I threw out old items and took out all the shelving to wash it by hand. The result was this, which makes it so much easier to see what we have and finish up food! Craig was amazed at the transformation.

I was thankful that I got to spend so much time with the kittens and Tanzi. Shiva loves to plop on his side and get belly rubs.

My gym was holding a blood drive, so I signed up the week prior and was happy to see that my iron levels were high enough to donate. I was actually credited with "higher than normal" iron levels for a woman. Hooray for all of the spinach, garbanzo beans and eggs that I eat doing their job!

I consumed this Riesling wine most nights and it was really tasty.

I also used the immersion blender to make protein smoothies a couple of times, which kept me full post-workouts. By the way, immersion blenders rule!

Craig and I went to the library mid-week and I finally glanced through an edible Milwaukee magazine. There were some great articles to read through and the pictures were gorgeous!

Other than that, I wrote some blog posts, went shopping with my mom and read lots of blogs!