Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer TV: What I'm Watching

I have a confession. I'm a TV junkie. So what's a junkie to do during the summer when most shows are in hibernation? Well, in CO that means hiking, learning to play golf, and eating dinner out on the deck... and sneaking in a few summer network shows and some "back burner" shows on Netflix of course. 

Here's what I'm watching:

So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) on Fox, Wed/Thurs 8/7c.

They've really changed it up for season 7. This time around they only took the top 11 (supposed to be top 10 but they added another last minute) from the Vegas auditions and paired them with SYTYCD all-stars. I wasn't sure if I was going to like the new format, but I think I do... mainly because I get to see my past favorites dance again (Lauren, tWitch, Dominic, Ade). The picture above is of this season's contestants. ***SPOILER*** Alexie (the girl on the far right) was the first to be eliminated, and then Christina (1st girl, bottom row) was eliminated last week. Tomorrow the top 9 perform.  I think my favorite contestant this season is Lauren (far left)... and Jose the B-boy, and Alex... or Robert. Hmm. This is one of my favorite shows, and I'm so glad it's back this summer. Actually I wish it'd stay a summer show... I was worried they were not going to have it this summer because Season 6 was last fall.

Friday Night Lights on NBC Fridays 8/7c.

OK. So... I never thought I'd ever be a fan of this show. Back when it came out 4 seasons ago I had zero interest. None. I mean come on... it's about a HS football team in small town Texas (sorry, no offense just wouldn't think it'd be my cup of tea).  Then my sweet younger cousin F convinced me that I needed to give it a try because it was her favorite show, and the characters and story lines were so good. Months later (this past winter) I saw that the first 3 seasons were on Instant Netflix, so I gave it a go. And I got hooked! I fell in love with the characters, and basically Coach Taylor's family. That may have had something to do with the fact that I watched all three seasons back to back in about 6 weeks. Hey, don't judge... it was winter in CO and I was new here, unemployed, didn't know anybody, and sadly didn't have much of a life (i.e. I didn't have anyone to go snowshoeing with... but that's all changed for next winter!). So anyway, I am psyched that this is a summer show! It's Season 4 and I have to admit I miss a lot of the main characters that moved on (graduated from HS) that were in seasons 1-3. I'm slowly getting into the new characters and settling into East Dillon.

The Gates on ABC Sundays 10/9c. 
This is a new show that just premiered a couple of weeks ago.  It's Desperate Housewives meets Vampire Diaries... or something along those lines. It's an entertaining summer show, and I think it's a fun addition to my line-up.

    Losing it with Jillian on NBC Tuesdays 8/7c. 
    What no break from Jillian now that the Biggest Loser season is over? Of course not! She doesn't know it, but she's my personal trainer... well when she's in my DVD player anyway. For this reality show, Jillian moves in with a family for a week, and basically gets their butts in gear. I don't like it as much as the Biggest Loser, but I do like that it shows all the different aspects of a family and how they transform their daily lives. It covers relationships, family hardships, dealing with work, and how to live healthier and and happier. 

    Rookie Blue on ABC Thursdays 9/8c. 
    I just watched the season premiere today on hulu. I'm not sure what I think yet... it didn't seem realistic to me but it was entertaining. It was kinda Grey's Anatomy-ish with the rookies sleeping with the detectives - but not as good Grey's (just to be clear). I added a season pass to my TiVo so I'll think I'll keep watching. Gregory Smith from Everwood (loved that show!) plays Dov... but I had a hard time thinking of him as a cop, even a rookie. They all just seemed really young and too pretty to be cops. With that said, I'm still interested enough to watch a few more episodes and see how it goes.

    Well... that's it for my network TV lineup... pretty light weight! Can you believe it? I guess it helps that we don't have cable/satellite anymore (just over the air HD). 
    But we do have Netflix and instant play on our TiVo... so I've been working through my queue of movies that piled up during the fall/winter when all my regular shows were in full swing. Right now, on instant play we have been catching up with 24. We stopped watching it after season 3, and then a couple of months ago I started watching season 4. Season 6 sucked John back in and now we're on season 7.

    So, what are you watching? Are there any shows that you love that are missing from my list? 

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    I'm a Slacker

    Last weekend I participated in the 2010 Slacker Half Marathon. I say participate because I didn't do it for the race, but the scenery, and also to help condition my body for walking/hiking long distances. The Slacker starts in the beautiful Loveland Ski Area at 10,630 ft of elevation and the course ends downhill in downtown Georgetown at 8,400 ft. Here's a course description:
    "The half marathon/relay begins on a dirt road at Loveland Ski Area and descends five miles to Bakerville. At this point, racers travel a paved road 4.5 miles to Silver Plume. From here, racers travel 3.5 miles of paved bike path and paved/dirt road to downtown Georgetown. The 4M begins at Silver Plume and travels 4 miles on paved bike path and road to the Town of Georgetown. These courses offer a fast race time for the serious runner and a scenic, fun route for the novice!"
    What a great way to spend a Saturday morning! Here are some pictures that I took on my iPhone 4 (heart!) from the day... I should mention that most of these were taken during a quick pause in walking as I didn't want to stop for too long:
    At the start line, waiting for the gun.

    Past the 10 mile marker
    Looking down on part of the Georgetown Loop Railroad
    Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the finish. My husband was there along the route taking pictures with his DSLR but I haven't seen them yet. I'm sure he got some great pictures! Since my friend K and I were walking together we missed out on some of the after party festivities so we had our own party at Beau Jo's in Idaho Springs where we had mountain pies (Yukon is my fav, yum!) and Tommyknockers. That's my Jack Wacker Wheat Ale front and center. Mmm... Since the Tommyknocker Brewery is a couple of doors down from this Beau Jo's they have their beer on tap.

    Perfect ending to a beautiful morning in the mountains! Here are some fun tips on how NOT to train or race a half marathon:
    • Wait until 10 days before the big day to start training (I got sick TWICE in the month before)
    • Stop at every water station and take two cups of water or gatorade (we were paranoid about the altitude and were not carrying water)
    • Use the potties at mile 5 and mile 9
    • Stop along the route to take pictures of the pretty scenery :)
    Haha, this was the SLACKER Half Marathon people!

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    How to remove IcyHot

    It's after 1:30AM and I'm blogging. For some reason I thought applying IcyHot before going to bed (around 10:30 PM) was a good idea... The tendon (not sure what it's called) behind my left knee is sore after walking the Slacker Half Marathon on Saturday (a post is coming soon about that!), so I thought IcyHot may help. Well, apparently that area is highly sensitive - it BURNS! I did some googling and found these instructions on a few different sites (most clearly here):

    Q: How do you wash off icy hot
    A: Remove any excess Icy Hot with a Kleenex. Do not rub it in. Douse a cotton ball in olive oil and use that to cleanse the affected area gently. Then wash it off with water. Pat the skin dry.
    Washing the area with water alone did not help so I washed with soap and water and that seemed to work. But in the time it has taken me to type this up, the burning has come back full force. AUGH! I've used IcyHot "No Mess" before with great results... but after googling this I found that many people have had this burning when using it behind the knee. 

    OK back to google... this did NOT work!

    UPDATE: If my leg wasn't burning I'd be rolling laughing about this... so, IcyHot is made with Capsaicin - the active ingredient in chili peppers! Remember my story about making chili?! AUGH! I found an article about it on for IcyHot PM which I will assume is the same or similar to the "No Mess" version I have... What doesn't make sense is that I've used this product before with no issues, except on my shoulder and not behind my knee. I'm guessing I applied too much. I reapplied olive oil and left it on, the burning seems to be slowly dissipating. It's now 2:30 AM. 

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    AccuTerra App Review

    UPDATE 8/31/2010: I've been disappointed by this app... at first it seemed to work great, but the last 2 times I've used it, it wasn't able to locate me and gave up. The first time I was along a mountain winding path, so it seemed understandable, the second time I was climbing a 14er in plain view of the sky. So... I'm taking back my rave review. It's a nice app, if it works. Maybe it's the fault of the iPhone 4?

    Last week I downloaded the AccuTerra App for the iPhone, and wow... it ROCKS! Hands down, I think it's the best app for hikers or outdoor adventurers. They have a huge catalog of maps you can download directly from the app. Some maps are free (usually parks and rec areas) but others you have to buy, however they are fairly cheap ($2-3 for a large area). The best part is that this app works even when your phone has no service. We were camping/hiking in the Pike National Forest this past weekend and had no cell phone service but it was still able to track us. I love how you can save your "adventure", and even share it by email or on facebook. It keeps your bread crumbs, allows you to take notes, and mark places of interest. You can also take photos while recording so they are geo-tagged and shown on your map where they were taken. LOVE it! 

    The version of AccuTerra I downloaded was free, but now they also have a version called Map Candy where for $2.99 (limited time) you get the app and unlimited map downloads. Since I've already spent $1.99 for one map of southern Colorado... I think it's probably worth it. In case you're wondering, no AccuTerra is not paying me to advertise for them, I just really love their app! :)

    Camping in Pike National Forest

    We went camping this past weekend and had a great time. I felt like a kid again! We didn't do much planning... just found a campsite near a creek, packed up the car, and went for an overnight. We kept the meals simple since we didn't really prepare - hotdogs, s'mores (of course!), and cereal for breakfast.

    We all had our roles - John chopped wood, I made the fire, and Koda guarded our site. Here's a few of my favorite pictures:
    Deer Creek

    Columbine, the CO state flower with wild yellow daisies

    Koda on guard

    Mmm... s'mores!
    The next morning after packing up the car we went to the Mount Evans Wilderness just down the road and hiked along the Tanglewood Trail.

    Crossing Tanglewood Creek

    We didn't hike in very far because we started out later than we hoped. It's a beautiful area, we will be going back!

    In other news, the bee hive we found just beyond our back yard fence was completely gone when we got home. I'm a little sad. I haven't asked around yet, but I'm betting one of our neighbors gave it a new home. I'm sure they're OK!

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    It's a bee hive!

    Look what we found this morning!  I was looking out our back window and noticed a swarm of something... and on closer inspection it's a bee hive just beyond our back yard fence. John took some more pictures with his DSLR... when I get my hands on those I'll post them. 

    I heart bees! Maybe I can harvest honey from it... hmmm...

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    The Pupdog is Clean!

    I realized when I was taking these shots that with my new TX5 camera, I could have taken some while I was giving her a bath. Doh!

    Rinse Ace Pet Shower Deluxe ChromeI bought a Rinse Ace Pet Shower Deluxe Chrome months ago and finally remembered to attach it and USE it this time. What a difference having a spray nozzle makes! I loved how I could turn on the spray by pressing the button. I (and Koda) didn't have to worry about the faucet or water spraying randomly at her and/or around the bathroom - which used to happen when using a detachable shower head. This was quick to install (3 min max) and made bathing easy and less stressful. Hurray!

    Hike: Eagle Peak

    Well, for some reason sleep evaded me last night so I decided to catch up on some posts...

    On Memorial Day we met up with family visiting Colorado Springs and hiked/scrambled up Eagle Peak which has an elevation of 9,368 ft. I have to admit it was a challenge for me - probably the hardest hike I've done here so far... but the views at the top of Pike's Peak and the Air Force Academy below were worth the climb (click picture for full size).

    Including the walk from the parking lot up to the trailhead, it was ~2,000 ft of elevation gain in a little over 1.5 miles. This steep trail is 3 miles round trip (in and out, not a loop) and is mostly loose rock (read material great for slipping and sliding), and includes a nice yet short segment through a meadow of aspens, and scrambling up a boulder field to get to the peak.

    One of the several waterfalls along the trail.
    I loved hearing and seeing the creek and its little waterfalls along the trail. Then of course the views from the top were the best part:
    Pike's Peak
    View of Air Force Academy below - we started from that crescent shaped parking lot.
    Rock formation near Eagle Peak that we scrambled up. Living on the edge I tell you.

    We had fun climbing to the top of that rock formation pictured above... it was scarier getting back down that it was going up for sure. See that tree in the foreground? That is a very tall tree... and this formation is fairly narrow.
    I have a bunch more hikes to blog about... hopefully I'll get them posted soon but it's hard to keep up!

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Please be mine iPhone 4

    UPDATE: I was able to reserve mine through the Apple Store App on my iPhone. YAY! 

    I've been desperately trying to pre-order my iPhone 4 this morning with no luck. Servers are down. Apparently I'm not the only one trying to order... Please Apple, process my order so I can have my very own on June 24th!

    Have you been living under a rock and haven't seen the new iPhone in action yet? Check out this video:

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Shark Love

    Those that know me... know that I love sharks. I can't help but love those beautiful misunderstood creatures. Last summer I took a PADI Shark Awareness Specialty Course, and then went SCUBA diving with at least 13 of them at Stuart's Cove in the Bahamas.

    Photos by Stuart Cove
    That thug looking girl with the crossed arms is me.

    Euro-Pro Shark S3501 Deluxe Steam Pocket Mop
    Anyway.... this post isn't really about my love of sharks. It's really about the new addition to our household. Meet my sharky Shark - the Euro-Pro Shark S3501 Deluxe Steam Pocket Mop. I gave it a whirl yesterday and it worked great... my hardwood floors are so silky smooth clean! I followed the instructions and some tips from online reviews and I'm really happy with the results. Make that double happy because I cleaned my floors without chemicals - only water! I was worried about this method leaving too much water on the floors, but the water evaporated quickly and was a non-issue.

    Here are some tips that I found:
    • If you have hard water, use distilled water (I do and did) to extend the life of your mop and to prevent your floors from looking cloudy.
    • Fill the water tank before it runs out so you get constant good steam when you want it.
    • Put on a new microfiber pocket if it gets super, super dirty so you don't end up smearing around dirt (yeah... my floors were DIRTY... maybe I shouldn't admit that!).
    • Test a hidden area of your floor to make sure it won't be hurt by the steam - inside a closet works great.
    • Don't leave the mop resting on the floor to walk away and do something. I found complaints about water pooling on the floor, but that is from misuse.

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    Nearly Indestructible Cyber-Shot TX5

    We have a new camera! Or well actually... it's supposed to be "my camera". Yay! My husband did the research and we decided this was the one that best met my/our needs.
    Photo by Sony
    My hubs is the photographer of the family with his fancy DSLR and lenses. While it is great to have such nice equipment in the family... I wanted a point and shoot that could fit easily in my purse/pocket. I also wanted a camera that could hold up during hiking/snowshoeing, camping trips, and the occasional water adventure (think white water rafting, snorkeling, being caught in the rain). The Sony Cyber-Short TX5 (aka "the Tyler Swift camera") fits all those needs. This thing is waterproof (to depth of 10ft), shockproof, dust-proof, and freeze-proof. John went to the store to check it out in person (I would have gone but I was out of town). When he asked the salesman about it the guy picked it up and threw it down hard on the tile floor! Then he picked it up off the floor and started showing John the features of the touch screen. Crazy!

    Anyway, I'm really happy with the TX5. My only complaint so far is the touch screen is so large (it's pretty much the entire backside of the camera) that I sometimes hit buttons while just holding the camera and find myself in video mode when I don't want to be... but I think that is something I'll learn to avoid. To play with my new toy, I took some pictures around the yard. My disclaimer is that I haven't opened the instruction manual yet. In case you can't tell, I've been having a great time discovering all the flowers that have been popping up all around our yard.

    A bee busy at work on the forget-me-nots.
    See the bee?
    Yellow Iris
    Peony - getting ready to pop!
    Pink Iris
    Not sure what kind of flower these are..

    We've got some hard working bees - love them!
    Our yard has been humming with bees... I don't think I've ever seen so many in a residential area. In just a few square feet there could easily be more than a hundred bees! We actually have a neighbor a few doors down that has his own hives and harvests the honey (the perk is that we have a jar of this honey we're working on). I'm assuming these bees are from his hives. In case you're wondering they don't bother us, they are too busy working and stay close to the flowers. When I was leaned in close to take pictures they were oblivious to me being in their space.

    I still have pictures from New England and my hikes last week to share... I really need to sit down and look through the TX5 manual ASAP, it'd be nice to know how to make the most of it's features. Though I think it does OK in auto... and iSweep (for panorama shots) was easy to figure out... see, I'm talking myself out of reading it already! AUGH.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Before & After: Front Yard Centerpiece

    We started off our Memorial Day weekend by improving our front yard landscaping... Below is the "before" picture. Notice the lovely empty pot in the middle of the rock garden. This picture is from when we looked at the house before buying it last September. To me, this empty pot looks out of place, too small for the area, and well... empty.

    Before Picture
    We decided to spruce this area up. We went to Home Depot and spent 3 hours getting items on our long shopping list but a good portion of that time was spent selecting a half whiskey barrel (LOVE it!) and choosing flowers to be planted inside. 

    Once we brought home the barrel - still smelling of whiskey - we drilled a couple of drainage holes in the bottom, sanded down the cut edge (after a couple of splinters), treated the wood, and then got to the good part of filling it will soil, tall grass, and flowers!

    After Picture!

    I just love the details of the barrel, and I think it's more size appropriate for the space (hard to tell in these pictures but it is much larger than the original pot). We'd love to replace those rocks with mulch but we decided to wait on that for now. I choose to plant perennials... Feather Reed Grass Overdam, Delphinium Blue Mirror, and Linaria Enchantment but because they are above ground they will probably not survive winter. I chose these because a) they are drought resistant (hard for me to kill), and b) they should bloom through early fall! Now that it's been a couple of weeks, they've really filled out and have many more blooms. I really should post a recent picture... but that would probably delay this post. Ha!

    Oh, and Koda supervised the entire process of course.

    Linking up to: