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Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

Look who happily greeted me when I came home from work* yesterday.


Does anyone know what kind of climbing plant this is?

It is one of the most interesting flowers. The pictures show the double layered long spiky looking parts as blue but they are actually bright purple. I picked this guy up at a grocery store plant and flower section; however, I didn’t notice any of these plants blooming so I had no idea of how gorgeous this flower would be once it opened up. There was no tag (even in Swedish) indicating what species it is, but I liked it, so I plopped it into the cart. I like it even more now.

If you know what plant variety this is, please let me know!

*For those folks reading this from my former so called corporate American life: can you believe it’s officially been a whole stinking year since I left my briefcase at the door and suspended all 9-5 activities? But, even though I’m not shuffling into the office after a 20-mile-turned-into-hour-an-a-half-bumper-to-bumper-commute every effen day with my Starbucks cup glued to my paw, taking extra long lunches browsing in Bridgeport Village working diligently through lunch sleeves rolled up with my green visor on in the Lincoln conference room downstairs, organizing happy hour(s) drinking binges for every occasion imaginable, or bugging developing channel marketing strategies with Shiiki in his cube, I do actually work. *smile*

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Some think it’s a pretty freakin’ boring activity that takes too much time for the amount of calories it ultimately burns. However, walking does have some pretty huge benefits. Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah – you’ve heard it a thousand times before, you know walking is good for you, you know you should exercise…..but maybe it’s not so bad to be reminded every so often…..

Walk·ing

Pronunciation: \ˈw-kiŋ\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
1 : the action of one that walks <walking is good exercise>
2 : the condition of a surface for one going on foot <the walking is slippery>

Walking burns calories, strengthens back muscles, slims your waist, is easy on your joints, strengthens your bones, lowers blood pressure, allows time with family and friends, shapes and tones your legs and butt, cuts cholesterol, reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes, & other conditions, reduces stress, helps you sleep better, improves mood and outlook on life, can be done almost anywhere, requires no equipment, AND it’s free.

In addition to going to the gym, I have been trying to get in a decent walk every day. The route I’ve been plugging away on daily loops through the golf course, past two lakes and is a little over 10 km (roughly 6 1/2 miles). It takes me about an hour and a half-ish to complete, gives me some 1:1 time with myself and my iPod, and leaves me feeling sweaty, renewed, and refreshed (how can thirty two degrees Celsius not! Brrr…..).

Honestly, besides the crappy weather some days (I was caught in a graupel storm yesterday – seriously – it’s real – look that one up kids), I have every reason to get my bootie in motion and bust it outside – into the gorgeous crisp air. With the wedding less than three months away I do have an overwhelming desire to look fit and feel healthy for the big day.

I have also been blessed with a pair of perfectly good legs (which I’m forever thankful for) and have sixty eight pairs of running shoes (or ‘trainers’ as they lovingly refer to them in Europe) waiting patiently for their turn to break out of our fourth-bedroom-turned-walk-in-closet.

And yeah, that’s a grip of sneakers. I know.

Cut me some slack here….It’s no secret I cherish shoes and I do come from the ‘land of Nike’ where it’s bordering on an obsessive compulsive disorder cool and hip to own so many pairs of kicks, one to match every possible combination of exercise gear you might slip into.

But most importantly, with copious amounts of time now available to dedicate to a healthy activity like working out – something that was more of a luxury and took a backseat in my past life, I really have no excuses.

I was curious. Just how many calories am I burning on these little ninety minute hikes in the sticks?

And wouldn’t you know it, there are some simple formulas you can use to determine how many calories are being burned according to your weight and how fast you are walking.

3.0 miles/hour (20-minute mile): Burns .027 calories/pound/minute.

3.5 miles/hour (17 minute mile): Burns .033 calories/pound/minute.

4.0 miles/hour (15 minute mile): Burns .042 calories/pound/minute.

4.5 miles/hour (13 minute mile): Burns .047 calories/pound/minute.

Take the number of calories/pound/minute you burn and multiply it by your weight and then by the number of minutes you walk.

For instance, if you weigh 125 pounds and walk a 17-minute mile for 60 minutes, you multiply 125 by .033, then multiple the result (4.125) by 60. You burn a measly 247.5 calories.

So, that’s not a helluva lot, huh? Especially considering one pound of body fat is equal to 3500 calories. Ugh. And one 5 ounce glass of wine contains roughly 125 calories. And seeing I had more than one glass of wine last night, uh, and the night before too….I better step it up.

Here is a fun tool from Body Builder that will calculate how many calories you are burning per specific activity (they even list things such as house cleaning, playing music, standing in line, watching TV, & riding in a car – although I have to imagine the latter three don’t burn much if any at all), you can even discover how many minutes you need to exercise to burn your desired number of calories.

Either way, it’s time for me to lace up the next lucky pair of sneaks, head out, and burn up those nasty calories.

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The air here is filled with the aroma of spring and the landscape is diligently following right along as it loyally does each and every season.

green flower

Apparently, the trusted Swedes inform me, it’s rare to see these gorgeous sights of spring cropping up in these parts of Sweden so early in the year.

In March of most previous years, the lake would still be completely frozen over (as in frozen solid – thick enough to drive your car on – oh, you can probably only imagine the fun Fattie and his brothers have skidding around the lake with their ‘ice cars’ – can’t wait for that adventure), it would be minus some stinking temperature that is synonymous with ‘bitterly freakin’ bone chilling cold’, and there could easily be a meter plus (that’s 3.28 feet for my friends in the US or those of us challenged with the metric system) of snow packed high outside.

So, what’s the deal this season?

We barely had a winter at all here; just a touch of snow 2 or 3 times that melted within days of falling. I mean – don’t get me wrong – I’m certainly not complaining. Whatever the reason – I love it. Spring is coming and I can almost taste it.

Out on my walk this morning, I snapped a few photos.

boat

 

forest trees

It’s almost as if it’s teasing us – just peaking out around the corner to give us a glimpse of what delights are heading our way.

flowers

Even the golf course is looking green green-ish.

stream

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Wow….What an amazing trip!

Italy for Valentines Day? Yup. A ski holiday I would have only dreamt about last year. Truly a one of a kind gift. Thanks Fattie!

Obviously, one of the great benefits of living in Europe is how easily you can hop from country to country. So a quick flight to Milan along with a 2 hour drive and we were sipping Italian wine in the snowy Alps. We stayed in the small quaint village of Champoluc, close to the Swiss and French borders. Spending most of our time up in those gorgeous mountains with the sun shining down on us was….D-I-V-I-N-E.

Everyone knows I’m a beginning skier and don’t particularly like to be out in the cold so initially I was just jacked to be ‘going away’ for holiday – spending my birthday and Valentines in Italy sounded perfect. But after a week of hitting the slopes every stinking day, bruises and all, I was equally excited about the skiing. The snow was perfect for a newbie like me, the pistes were all trimmed and fresh, and gazing at the Matterhorn everyday was incredible.

The main chair lift is conveniently located smack dab in the middle of town. Every morning after downing an espresso we sauntered 10 minutes over to the gondolas and were off. We skied the majority of the day and by 5 in the afternoon, beer in hand, we were firmly planted on our bums warming up in one of the after ski joints watching the mountains turn pink from the setting sun.

Words fail me. I’m at a loss on how to convey the pure beauty of the scene.

I would highly recommend Italy’s largest skiing region Monterosa Ski to those looking for an Italian winter ski/snow board holiday. Beautiful, low key, family friendly, and affordable. You can hit the lifts (38 of them!) and manage to ski several valleys throughout the day before making your way back into town. Fantastic and surprisingly undiscovered. At times, it felt as if we were the only ones there.

We even mustered up the guts to tackle an adventure course high up in the trees. Cable walks, zip lines, and suspension bridges – 22 courses in all. It was a little nerve racking but a grip of fun. Parco Avventura is definitely a must do if you make it to Champoluc, Italy.

I can’t wait for Valentines 2009.

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How lucky am I? A trip to Italy!

Italy 1

It was supposed to be a surprise combo Valentines/birthday gift from Fattie but he just couldn’t keep his lips sealed. He spilled it. And I’m thrilled. What a good boy.

(more…)

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I adore the LocalHarvest website and the concept behind it….

LocalHarvest was founded in 1988 and they say they are America’s #1 organic and local food website. By maintaining a definitive and reliable “living” public nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources they have become the main informational resource for the buy local movement and the top place on the internet where people find information on direct marketing family farms.

LocalHarvest is located in Santa Cruz, California, and was founded by Guillermo Payet, a software engineer and activist dedicated to generating positive social change through the internet.

Check out their revealing US map where you can quickly locate farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

map

How cool would it be to subscribe for a weekly delivery of locally grown fresh organic produce! I mean who wouldn’t love that? Well, that’s precisely what you can do.

(more…)

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I dashed out for a quick walk and was lucky enough to capture some gorgeous pictures of the sun setting over the water. We live on a such a beautiful lake in Sweden. Gratitude overwhelms me everyday. I am truly blessed.

……………………………………….

Day 8 on the master cleanse brings feelings of determination.

There are only 2 1/2 days left and there is no question if I can execute to the original plan.

I can and I will. No hesitation.

The question darting around my tiny biscuit is this: since I’m already through the most challenging part of this fast (which for me was those pesky little days called one, two & three) why not persist for just an itty bitty bit longer…? Maybe 12 days? Maybe 15 days? Why stop at 10?

Amazing. Day two into this fast I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage through the next ten minutes and six days later I’m feeling like I could swallow this peppery lemon mixture for another week. Oh, yeah, of course I have cravings of Fattie and I sitting down to the table with a giant dish of chorizo & sun dried tomato laced penne pasta loaded with Parmesan cheese, a fresh pear, walnut & Gorgonzola salad and bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape…….But those silly cravings will just have to wait……

More lemonade please!

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