Thursday, June 25, 2009

My love for these isn't a Croc!

Here's shameless pitch for Crocs. These shoes are not only comfortable, versatile and environmentally friendly, but they now come in many styles and colors.

The first pair of Crocs I ever saw was in the summer of 2004, when my sister and I were on a white-water rafting trip on the Nantahala River in North Carolina, and our guide was wearing a pair of the clunky original clogs. She raved about them, saying every one of her colleagues wore them, too. (They were all basically college kids on a fun summer fling -- er, job! -- so fashion wasn't exactly high on their list!)

I didn't care for the style, however, so I held off on buying a pair -- until the cuter Mary Jane style came along. I bought a pair in pink, and got much use out of them. They're still a staple in my wardrobe, especially during the cooler months here in South Florida.

Last spring, I came across a display of Crocs in store that featured the Cleo slide, and I fell in love! So, I bought a pair of the celery green ones and proceeded to live in them all last summer -- they REALLY come in handy if you spend any time on a boat. I loved them so much, I bought a second pair in turquoise.

And recently, a friend of mine was sporting the new Cypress high-heel sandal -- adorable!

So, if you're looking for a hardy, affordable new pair of summer sandals, or two: Check out these links!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What I'm up to

I've been busy this past week or so trying to get my new gig as the West Palm Beach Health and Happiness Examiner up and running smoothly.

My most recent posts there have involved green tea's possible benefits on prostate cancer; learning how to let go of something; and the raw/organic food movement. That's kept me pretty busy, let me tell you!

Otherwise, we've settled into the typical summer here in SoFla. Which means: hot, muggy, hot, hot, muggy, and hot -- interspersed with nasty weather. Wanted to get to the beach and swim this morning; HAH! The thunderstorms hit here in force around 7 a.m., and it's still cloudy-rainy out with a forecast for all-day storminess. Oh well; hopefully it will cool things off again -- and bring my lawn back to being green!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

'The Hangover' stays with you

The movie The Hangover has been getting a ton of buzz; so I HAD to check it out last night.

Went with a good friend of mine -- two Middle-Age Sexy ladies in a theater full of youngish couples and groups. But once the film got rolling, the "differences" faded as we all became engrossed in this wonderful little film about the misadventures (and that's putting it mildly!) of four thirtysomething guys at a Las Vegas bachelor party.

HY-STER-I-CAL!!! I laughed so hard my throat hurt. Especially the scene where the guys wake up the next morning in their wreck of a hotel room, which screams: The Wildest Party -- EVER!! The bridegroom is missing, and the fellows have not one idea of what happened during the last 12 hours.

The movie isn't perfect, of course. It drags a little in the middle, and there were a couple of characters that didn't do it for me -- such as a gay Chinese gang leader -- but overall, I'd give this gem of a film an A-.

So go see it: This is one Hangover you don't want to miss!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A call to arms

I was surfing around various places, looking for fodder for this blog as well as articles for my new role as the West Palm Beach Health and Happiness Examiner (please check it out -- often!!), when I stumbled across this call for volunteers for the Army of Women breast-cancer research project.

These are ongoing studies involving real women aimed at eradicating this major health issue for women. They are looking for women of all ages, races, sizes and health backgrounds. (For instance, current studies include looking at the effects of yoga on breast-cancer recovery, and looking at whether examining breast milk will be useful in predicting cancer probabilities.)

It's a completely voluntary program. You can sign up to participate in any study that you like; and if you're a good "fit," they'll accept you. So, please go on the site and register. The more participants there are, the faster researchers will be able to find the secrets to not only a cure -- but also prevention. What have you got to lose? -- except the fear of having breast cancer impact your life!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bugs Bunny knows best!

Finally! A health story that actually helps you save money!

Apparently, carrots that are cooked whole are better for you than those that are sliced beforehand, according to a story in The Independent. Apparently, a study found that whole boiled carrots contained 25 per cent more of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol than those that were chopped up first.

Says the story: "'Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are being cooked,' said researcher Kirstin Brandt. 'By cooking them whole and chopping them up afterwards, you are locking in both taste and nutrients.'"

So, instead of buying those expensive bags of prepared carrots, grab a plain-old bag of whole carrots and get cooking!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The sea season

Ahhh! Summer in Florida.

Yes, it's hotter than roll of quarters in a frying pan and muggier than a wool sweater in the dryer; but these are the days when we can slow down, take some time off, and enjoy the slower pace.

It's also much easier to indulge in some of your favorite activities without having to battle the long lines, waits, and parking hassles that come with the crowds during tourist season.

I personally love the summertime ocean: Before about 11 a.m., it's usually clear, calm -- and best of all, flat. I've been trying to get down there once or twice a week to do some swimming (I'm up to about a mile, woo-hoo!). Plus, I've been doing some snorkeling with one of my Meetup groups (a GREAT way to meet other like-minded folks and make friends, btw!).

On Sunday, we went to a walk-on reef off Fort Lauderdale and snorkeled for about an hour and a half. In my little group of snorkelers, we saw lots of cool sealife, including angelfish, sea urchins, a sea turtle, and a hatchery with about 10,000 baby fish. (It's easy to get into snorkeling; you can buy a basic snorkel set for about $40 -- or less.)

Next weekend, I plan on an easygoing bicycling adventure along A1A. And then after that, perhaps some more snorkeling; and then a pool barbecue and picnic; and then a free outdoor concert; and then some more biking; and then snorkeling ....

'Tis the season. Rejoice!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Away" I went

Caught a free screening of the new Focus Features film Away We Go last night. It stars John Krasinski (The Office) and Maya Rudolph (formerly of SNL) as a rootless, pregnant couple who travel to several destinations, visiting relatives and friends, in search of a place to settle down and raise their child.

I wasn't expecting much, to be honest. Entertainment Weekly gave it a middling B- rating, calling it a "comedy of quirkiness" -- which, indeed, it is. The couple (Burt and Verona) encounter several quirky-to-the-extreme characters in their journey, with some pretty over-the-top perfomances to go with the broad characterizations.

Still, I was pleasantly surprised overall. It turned out to be a touching, amusing and involving study of thirtysomething angst with good performances by the leads, nice cinematography, and a great soundtrack. It certainly was worth the gas and time -- which is all I spent! I'd be more generous than EW and give it a B+. It's a film suited for chicks, of course -- as well as men who can handle films about relationships and life!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The importance of sleep, continued

A new study reports yet another health risk associated with a lack of sleep: high blood pressure.

According to a story by Bloomberg, the adults participating in the study who got the least sleep were most apt to have higher blood pressure. For every hour less than eight of missed sleep, odds of developing the condition rose an average 37 percent over five years, said Kristen Knutson, the lead author. Skipping two hours sleep raised the blood pressure risk 86 percent.

The researchers said that sleeplessness may have a long-term effect on the cardiovascular system, increasing high blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney failure, according to the American Heart Association.

Just chalk it up as one more reason to make sure you get enough shuteye every night. (Sleep problems are also related to obesity and diabetes, affecting overall heart health, Knutson said.)

Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic of healthy and natural habits for better sleep (check out the Mayo article for more details and the complete list):

1. Be consistent in your bedtime and rising time.

2. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol in the evening.

3. Limit daytime naps to a half-hour or less.

4. Exercise regularly.

5. Make sure your room is dark and quiet, and your bed and pillow are comfortable.

6. Develop a relaxing nighttime routine to signal your body it’s time to sleep.

Monday, June 8, 2009

How to de-claw the stress monster

Stress. We all know the harm it can cause to your life -- including health problems, a shortened lifespan, relationship woes, etc. Now add: Looking older. Yikes! According to an article in Real Age, stress can help cause wrinkles by "increasing the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that also stymies collagen production, one of the natural substances skin needs in order to plump itself, repair itself, and keep wrinkles at bay."

"Oh great," you may well mutter to yourself. I mean, it's not as if many of us have any control over the amount of stress in our lives today -- what, with lost jobs, foreclosures, mounting bills, killer workloads, battling spouses, troubled kids, you name it.

But the folks at Real Age aren't just interested in disseminating bad news about harmful elements in our lives; they're also out to help us combat the negative effects of these elements. Thus, the site also provides some hints at how to stave off wrinkles. To wit:

Tactic No. 1: Do some quick deep-breathing exercises (close your eyes, sit up straight with uncrossed legs, and then breathe in deeply and release it slowly for a few rounds). Ahhhh! Feel yourself relaxing? That's good! Now, get back to work -- but do these exercises again, as often as you can!

Tactic No. 2: Hum! Yes, hum! Apparently, humming has been scientifically proved to boost nitric oxide (NO), a body gas that has a stress-reducing effect in small doses.

Tactic No. 3: Practice meditation (for as little as 5 minutes a day) to calm yourself and help gain a better perspective on your life. For tips on how to meditate, see the handy Real Age page on the subject.

So, to the stress monster, I say: Take that, you unrepentant bully!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A thief in the night

Well, they say bad things come in threes.

First, my relationship fell apart (though I do realize that it was for the best -- in the long run!). Then, my freelance opportunity disintegrated before my eyes (though that didn't stop me from setting this direction as a course for my little biz start-up). And then, last night, my house was burgled -- WHILE I WAS SLEEPING! The thief took my 37-inch LCD flat-screen TV, some cash from my purse, and my new cell phone. (Though, thank God, he left my credit cards and IDs, and did not venture further than the family room and kitchen.)

Of course, it could have been much, much worse. I shudder to think what might have befallen me as I slept soundly in my bed. Luckily, this thief was just after quick cash. And he took things that are easily replaceable (though I can hardly afford to do so at the moment!).

I'm starting to feel like: ENOUGH, already! I'm due for some good luck, some good news -- something to break my way. And I'm losing a bit of heart, to be perfectly honest.

Still, I won't let this bring me down. I'm keeping my chin up (though it's admittedly a bit shaky at the moment), and anticipating that lucky break is just around the corner. ... I may have been broken into, but I'm not broken!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sit back and enjoy the show!

Discovered this fun little list on Twenty little-known facts about movies.

Here are a few that really made my eyebrows rise:

No. 4: Some of the first film loops shown to the public "included one showing 'cooch' dancers; another reenacted the decapitation of Mary, Queen of Scots—arguably the first horror flick."

No. 7: Sound-effects crews sure get creative. For instance: Crunchy snow: ice layered with cornstarch. Birds in flight: leather gloves flapping. Heads getting squished: frozen heads of lettuce … getting squished.

No. 8: Walla is a term for the murmur of a crowd. It came from the fact that several people saying “walla, walla, walla, walla” sounds like a large group talking.

No. 12: Egads! A large popcorn with butter can pack 1,600 calories.

No. 15: "One of the most famous mechanical stunt actors—the shark in Jaws—was famously balky. Its hydraulics corroded in salt water, forcing Stephen Spielberg to substitute scenes shot from the shark’s point of view."

No. 18: "An IMAX projector weighs as much as a male hippo, costs $5 million, and has a bulb so bright that, if pointed upward, it could be seen by astronauts on the International Space Station."

Sorry if I've ruined the "magic" of the movies a little bit for you ... but: Happy viewing, anyway!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

See the Grand Canyon -- for free!

This just in: The National Park Service is waiving entrance fees to 147 parks for three weekends this summer (June 20-21, July 18-19, and Aug. 15-16), according to the Associated Press.

“During these tough economic times, our national parks provide opportunities for affordable vacations for families," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

As an avid fan of this big, beautiful country, I say: Go for it! Plan a trip to several park destinations, and treat your family to an adventure in the great outdoors that you will never forget. It's not too late to put together a vacation; in fact, the airfares and hotel rates seem to be pretty low right now, so that's a bonus!

I'd highly recommend the parks in Utah, such as Arches, Canyonlands, Zion and Bryce (my fave).

And of course, there's the grand-poobah of U.S. parks: the Grand Canyon. I've been lucky enough to visit it twice (both times on the South Rim) and I'm hoping to see it several more times in my lifetime. It's more than spectacular, more than awe-inspiring. To say it's downright spiritual may sound like a cliche, but that hits closest to the experience of being there. The picture above is one I took at sunset one evening during my last visit in 2006. (Yes, it truly WAS that gorgeous!)

Happy trails!

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