Thursday, February 2, 2012

My January Adventures

Instead of doing a 'Monthly Reads' post for each month, I thought I'd try making a monthly post recapping anything noteworthy that went on in my world such as the books I read, athletic adventures, travel or anything else interesting. Interesting to me, anyway, but hopefully to you, too.

January 2012 was surprisingly jam packed with adventure for me. This post ended up much longer than I expected. Feel free to scroll to the parts that most interest you. ;)

Reading adventures:
I had my all time record low reading month since December 2007 when I didn't read a single book! Last month, I read only THREE books!

1. The Longest Night by Kathleen O'Reilly
You can read my review for this book HERE, which I read for January's TBR Challenge.

2. Tides of Passion by Tracy Sumner
This book had the makings of a great story--interesting characters, a fun premise and a wonderfully unique setting. Unfortunately, I felt the main characters said or did things out of character one too many times and it weakened the credibility of their story.

3. Wife by Wendesday by Catherine Bybee
This book has been on the top of the Amazon Kindle charts for a really long time now. I don't know if the author has any secrets for keeping it up there, but I can tell you this story was really fun and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page! It's a contemporary marriage of convenience turned true love story. Utterly adorable and believable, too! The ebook is only 99 cents!
Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble

I sure hope February is a better reading month for me or I'm never going to get to 101 books by the end of 2012! Good thing February has an extra day this year. ;)

Did you read anything good in January?

Health and fitness adventures:
So what was I doing with all that time that I clearly wasn't spending reading? Detoxing, working out and a bit of traveling, that's what!

As many of you already know, I started following the 28 Day Whole Living Action Plan featured in Whole Living magazine and on their website earlier in January. It's a food based detox-type-mind and body cleanse. It's kept me busy preparing new food dishes, healthy snacks and smoothies and because my caloric intake was naturally so low because of the plan and I wasn't drinking any coffee or tea with caffeine, I admit I napped a lot the first week or two. I have a few more days to go before I'm finished.. but already my diet feels close to normal again, but heavier on the fruits and vegetables. That's always a good thing!

Since the detox-cleanse is meant to be restful and healing, I eased up on my regular workout schedule a bit, which I thought would drive me crazy, but actually felt welcomed in the early weeks of the plan. Giving up coffee for the diet combined with fewer calories overall made me very tired and sleepy this month! I still managed to keep my miles and hours spent exercising at a decent level, though, so I'm happy about that. Here's a look at what I was doing in January to keep my body moving and my heart rate up:

Run ...................... 14.0 miles
Bike ..................... 56.7 miles
Snowshoe .............  3.5 miles

Spin class ................. 2.5 hrs
Kickbox ................... 3.5 hrs
Strength training .....  5.0 hrs
Cardio interval ......... 2.0 hrs

Total fitness challenge 'miles' ..... 77.5 miles
[My typical monthly goal is 100 miles where 1 fitness challenge mile = 15 min cardio or strength = 1 mile run or snowshoed.]

Other highlights:
I ran a 5K Race on New Year's Day hoping to break my 30:02 PR, but ran 30:31 which is still under a 10 minute mile, so that's cool. Maybe next time. :)

I started new small group TRX training classes in January after my gym had TRX Suspension Trainers installed. TRX suspension training is a fully body strength training workout in which you suspend your body weight by straps and do various strength exercises all the while your core is fully engaged.
Want to see a video? Visit or go straight to the video HERE.

I went snowshoeing for the first time when I participated in the Tubbs Snowshoes Romp to Stomp out Breast Cancer Snowshoe event. and loved it! I want my own snowshoes! Thank you again to everyone who supported me and donated to the cause on my behalf! xo

How did your workouts go in January?

A photography adventure:
One last adventure to share with you. After three failed attempts at doing a 365 Project, I started fresh again for the fourth time on January 1 and so far I haven't missed a day! I'm doing this project exclusively using my iPhone 4S and Instagram. I know this is probably a ridiculous way of doing a 365 Project when I have a fantastic digital SLR, but the iPhone is SO convenient and I always have it with me, so I'm hoping the convenience of it will enable me to stick with the project and take a photo every day. Oh wait... I just realized this is a leap year. I guess this is a 366 Project? ; )

Have you ever done a 365 Project? 

Traveling adventures:
My husband, daughters and I took a long weekend getaway to Florida over Martin Luther King Weekend and had a really great time even though it was really cold that weekend! I wanted sunny warm 70s--not chilly, cloudy 50s. I heard it got warm the day after we left. Figures.

We have very close friends who moved to the Orlando area several years ago and who were always inviting us to come down to visit them, trying to lure us with all of the theme parks in the area. [We are more of a National Park kind of family--not the amusement park kind, but it was still really fun.] We really enjoyed visiting our friends the whole weekend in their lovely home. It was so relaxing staying with them!

 Harry Potter World in Universal Studios
Orlando, FL
The first day we went to Universal Studios and pretty much beelined for Harry Potter World which was SO COOL!!! It really felt like you were walking through Hogsmeade and into Hogwarts castle. The ride in Hogwarts is a simulated broomstick ride and omg it felt so real! I admit I screamed when the dragon ... well, I don't want to give anything away. We went into Honeydukes, Ollivanders wand shop and of course, Zonko's! And we ate lunch at Three Broomsticks. We even had Butterbeer!
How cool is that? :)

From 'My Neighborhood Totoro'
The second day we went to Epcot. We had fun walking around, doing some of the attractions, visiting the international pavilions, but I don't know... it didn't seem so amazing. Even the fireworks were just okay. We ate lunch in 'Japan' and got giddy over the souvenirs from our favorite Hayao Miyazaki films.

The third day we went to an Indian Kite Festival with our friends. I had no idea kite flying was so competitive! We arrived with numerous kites in our arsenal. You'd think it's challenging enough to just get your kite up and flying, but no! All the other kite fliers will start maneuvering their kite to cross yours and with the right tension and direction, their kite string--which is actually finely coated with glass--cuts your string and your kite falls to the ground! So you have no choice but to be both an offensive and defensive kite flier to keep your kite in the air. On a side note, I ate some amazing Palak Pakoras [spinach-chickpea fritters] there. I had forgotten how much I LOVE Indian food. Mmmm I want some right now!  photo to come... maybe.

The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)
Kennedy Space Center
[photo taken from tour bus]
The fourth and last day, we went to Kennedy Space center. We spent time walking around the visitors center and then took the up-close tour of the space center and Vehicle Assembly Building. We actually got to walk inside the VAB and see the orbiter Endeavor up-close! Then bus took us around to the launch pad. Afterwards we spent an hour or two in the Apollo Saturn V Exhibit.

I loved the up-close tour! I think it was especially meaningful for me because after college [I had just earned my B.S. in Electrical Engineering] I worked for an aerospace company that was a subcontractor of a subcontractor of NASA, updating and writing new test software for two electrical devices we built for the space shuttle program. So I was familiar with the very basic picture of preparing the space shuttle for launch and then the retrieval of the solid rocket boosters after each launch. Anyway, visiting the Kennedy Space Center was definitely a highlight of this trip for me!

Did you go anywhere special in January? 

Thanks for taking the time to read about my January adventures. I assure you January was unusually adventurous for me and future monthly posts will be much shorter!

Wishing you all a fantastic February! xo


  1. What a great month! Hope February is just as fun.

  2. Thanks Linda!
    I have the feeling February isn't going to be quite as adventurous. Well, hopefully in the reading department, it will be! Can you believe I only read THREE books?

  3. I saw His Wife by Wednesday, too, and bought it. Haven't read it yet. Glad to know you liked it. I have a bunch of library books due over the next week, so it'll be a while until I read it.

    I doubt I have the staying power for a 365 thing, but one day I'd like to do a month-long photo or sewing thing. Have to decide on something. Too many distractions!!

  4. You've had quite the busy month! Congratulations on maintaining such a good workout ratio! Harry Potter World sounds awesome. We've been to the Kennedy Space Center. It was interesting seeing how big everything actually was in person.
    Thanks for explaining what TXR was, I think it was featured on some tv show early last week.

    Hope your week is going well!

  5. Sounds like an amazing January! I so want to go to Harry Potter world!

    And fingers crossed for a good reading month this month :)

  6. If you are just starting out with these abdominal exercises, be sure that you simply do not overdo them. Let your body be your guide when performing these exercises. Remember to continuously breathing whilst performing the exercises.

  7. I haven't done a 365 project, I find I just don't have the the commitment gene for it, but I did do One Weekend Two Shots in 2010 and it was really great. That was easier for me to be dedicated to and I got some really awesome shots! The whole thing is documented on my other blog, I found my photo skills got a bit better too.

    Any reading is good : ) there is no such thing as a bad reading month!

    You're doing great with your fitness keep up,the good work, I look to you for inspiration. Florida sounds like it was fun. I've never been : )


  8. Wow Christine! No wonder you didn't read much, you were so busy!! I think that as long as you read something, then it's good :) I've never heard of the novella you talked about, but I think I'll be checking it out :) Me, I've read mostly historicals and some of them stood out like the new Victoria Alexander, Anne Gracie and Lorraine Heath. Loved the new Karen Rose!! :) And Heather Webber has a new series under Heather Blake... Great start :)

    Ohhh, you're doing a 365 project again! :) Can you provide the link again please? And is Maria doing it as well?

    Wow, sounds like you had fun in Floria! Totoro!! My friends love Totoro :) And kite flying... I've heard about it (on the Big Bang Theory LOL), but never seen it... how did it go? :)

  9. I was completely unimpressed with Epcot 12 years ago. The only thing I loved was the parade. Did I already say this?

  10. Those Totoros are ADORABLE! I need to go there and buy one!! LOL
    I'm trying to convince my dad to take us to FL for the whole Disney experience, we have only been to Disneyland and California Adventure parks. LOL.

    Anyway, you seem to have had a ton of adventures in January!! :D That's so awesome.

  11. @Phyl, I hope you get to Wife by Wednesday soon. It's really a fun read.. and a quick one too at 233 pages, I think. Plus the author has two more books coming out following the same vein as this one. Should be fun!

    So far so good with the 365, but there were two nights that I was wandering my house looking for something of interest to photograph at 11:45 pm! I usually zero in on the cats at that point, but they don't always cooperate! ; )

    A month long sewing challenge would be a neat idea! I'd love to watch the daily progress on a project like that. No pressure. ;)

    @Brandy, you would LOVE Harry Potter World. It's very atmospheric, but it isn't very big either. We were finished in about 3-4 hours, I think. We didn't go on the dueling dragons roller coaster. We're not big on amusement park rides--we're a queasy-post-ride-headache lot. :/

    I know what you mean about seeing how big everything is at Kennedy Space Center. The crawlers that transport the shuttle to the launch pad are AMAZING! The road or path from the VAB to the launch pad... SO wide! Wow. I was in awe, really.

    Sorry I didn't respond to you directly about the TRX when you asked me, but I'm glad you read my answer here! ;)

  12. @orannia You will have to go to Harry Potter World someday. It's kind of magical for fans, I think.

    @Suzie Thomas Thanks for the comment. If you're not a spammer, that is.. I'm afraid your comment comes across like spam to me, but do correct me if I'm wrong.

    If you read my post carefully, you would know that the only 'new to me' abdominal exercise in my workout regime is the TRX suspension training which isn't even discussed on your website. At least I couldn't find it.

    Also, Let your body be your guide when performing these exercises. What does this even mean?? It's not helpful advice I would expect to hear from a professional trainer. Yes, continuous breathing is important during any exercise. Holding your core muscles tight throughout any workout is also very important. I'm surprised you didn't mention that because while important, it's not what most people's body would naturally guide them to do. It requires a conscious effort.

    @Paula, oh, One Weekend Two Shots sounds like a good challenge, too. That probably would have been a good one for me to do, because every day is sometimes just TOO challenging! I will check out your challenge.

    There is no such thing as a bad reading month!
    You are so right! Thanks for reminding me.

    Maybe someday you'll go to FL. I highly recommend Kennedy Space Center. It's fascinating and an important part of our innovative and progressive history.

  13. @nath Thanks for understanding why I only read three books! haha! I think I could have read more, but when I had down time I was either mentally distracted by everything else going on or I was napping! I was SO sleepy in the first week of the detox! No coffee and I was really hungry too. lol

    I promise I am going to read Karen Rose! I think I will even host a challenge for 2013. Yes. I just decided. Game on.

    Maria successfully finished her 365 project last June. She did an amazing job and really improved as a photographer. She's not doing another one, but she's always taking pictures. The thing with my 365 project is that I'm doing it exclusively with my iphone 4s and exclusively on Instagram which is an iphone based app. I don't know how to show it to you unless you have an iphone, too. I could give links to each photo I guess. Hmm. I need to look into this. I'm very new to Instagram as I just started using in on January 1. I'll get back to you! :)

    Aw, so nice to hear your friends love Totoro. Don't you? Funny thing: one of Maria's friends came over to hang out and watch a movie and the friend... brought her Totoro movie! I'm not kidding!

    The kite flying was fun. I took pictures with my digital SLR but haven't downloaded them yet. oops! Our friend was very good at it! It was so fun watching her get excited about it--smiling and laughing. I think she had more fun than her kids! ;o)

    1. Hey Christine! :)

      Oh, I knew you were taking the pictures from your phone, but had not realized you wouldn't be uploading them to Flicker or something. Well perhaps you can post some pictures from time to time :)

      LOL, you think that in 2013, you'll be all caught up with the In Death series? :P

      I haven't actually seen the movie ^_^; I've seen others by the same producer, but not Totoro...

    2. I figured it out! This is the link to my Instagram photos on the web:

      I realized recently that instagram doesn't date the photos... I assure you that I've taken at least one photo every day this year so far even if the 'days ago' attached to each picture don't quite indicate as such.

      Yes! I am hoping to be caught up in the In Death series sometime in 2013. Hopefully before I get so sick of the series I don't want to read it anymore. I'm getting pickier with the quality of the stories, I think..

      Aw, you should watch Totoro. It's a sweet story.

  14. @Lisa I'm glad to hear it isn't just me who was unimpressed with Epcot. I could say the same for Universal Studios, aside from the Harry Potter World part, that is. And HP world is a very small part of the park at that!

    There was no parade at Epcot when we were there and we stayed the whole long day because we were told the fireworks at the end were worth it. Meh. It was okay.

    Are you doing your own 365 project on Instagram, too?

    @Alex I bet you could buy a Totoro online. Have you seen the movie? If you've already been to Disneyland and California Adventures parks... I don't know how much more you'd see and do at the FL theme parks. I guess if you are a fan of rides... Did you go to Universal Studios in CA? But who am I to discourage you from exploring the world! You should go. : )

  15. Wife by Wednesday keeps showing up on my Amazon page and I’ve been weary of reading it because of all the 5 stars reviews that say nothing! Can you believe that?! And authors get upset when they get less than 5 stars, but I felt like maybe the author had lots of friend and a huge family. I was curious about it, though, and now finally a believable source says it’s good, so I’m getting it ;-)

  16. Wow I was just in Florida las December and I loved it hoping to get back there this Springtime. Hope to see you soon!

  17. I love the idea of a monthly adventures sure was fun to read! I'm slowly working on fitting exercise back into my life and it is very inspiring to see how far you have come with it! Thanks for sharing :)

  18. What a fantastic month you had! So you only read 3 books, so what? You had amazing adventures outside of that. Great job with the detox. I envy your drive in staying healthy! Kudos to you! And I too would have wanted warmer weather in Florida but Harry Potter world? Come on, how cool!!

  19. Ms. Christine, you had a very busy January, so low reading numbers? Totally understandable and hmm... okay... real life takes precedence, right? Congrats on your fitness numbers! And it looks like you had a lovely time off with your family.

    You know what's interesting? My brother lives in Orlando and I've been there countless times, but I've never visited Disney World! I went to Disneyland so many times when I lived in LA (and my daughter was small) that I think I overdosed, lol!

  20. @Brie I hope you like Wife by Wednesday! It's not knock-your-socks-off-spectacular but I really can't think of anything negative to say about it. It's a nice, well written, entertaining and romantic story and only 99 cents!

    @Natalie You were ALL over the place last December! I'd go back too... mostly since our friends are there. Next time I'd like to go to Everglades National Park!

    @samantha I'm glad you enjoyed reading about my adventures and I'm SO happy to hear I am inspiring you to get exercise back into your life. Believe me, I know how hard it is to make time for exercise or ANYTHING for yourself when you have a young family. It gets easier when they don't need you as much... and when they sleep so late on weekends.

    @Michelle Harry Potter World was very cool. :)

    @Hilcia Yes, you're right. Living life with my family takes precedence over keeping up with reading. Or sleeping. lol

    I don't think it's odd at all that you've never visited Disney World when visiting your brother in Orlando. We went to Disneyland years ago when were vacationing in CA and really have no desire to go to Disney World in FL. Now that we hit Universal Studios and Epcot, we're done. Like I mentioned above to Natalie, I'd much rather go to the Everglades or maybe bike through the Keys! Wouldn't that be wonderful?

  21. I think I have the Catherine Bybee book...I'll need to look. I've been in a reading funk lately, so maybe it'll be the one that gets me out of it :-)

  22. @Dev If you already have the Bybee book, definitely give it a try. It's an easy read--likeable characters, fun plot, quick paced, a little sexy.. nothing particularly amazing about it, but completely enjoyable. Might be the right recipe to pull you out of a reading funk. :)

  23. Oh wow! So jealous of your trip to see NASA! Sounds awesome. And thanks for the rec for Wife by Wednesday. I'm going to have to check that out. :P

    I didn't do my January recap yet either, now that I think about it. But I did read some good books.

  24. It remember me my trip at Kennedy Space Center !
    Best regards from France,



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