The Best Waste of $98 EVER!?

  • Who: Alana and Chris
  • What: Hunger
  • When: Dinner time
  • Where: Boulder, Colorado
  • Why: Worked out
  • How: Via the Taurus

(Basically a review of Japango)

What a weird and pointless way to start what I want to say. So it’s Tuesday night, we just did some cardio (I swam 1650 yards, ask for the workout if interested, and she did the elliptical and bike) and then a get-back-into-shape-kinda lower body workout. Now Fred (Alana’s cousin [Megan]’s boyfriend from New Jersey) had mentioned that Japango has an all-you-can-eat-sushi night every Tuesday. Wait. Hold up one second. Did you just say all-you-can-eat SUSHI? Here in Boulder? Landlocked Colorado? Intriguing.

One of my absolute favorite things in the world and my favorite post workout meal… conveniently after our first night back in a real gym. I forced Alana to go (she didn’t put up much of a fight). So we jump in the car in our workout clothes and drive over to Pearl and Broadway, park the car for free since it’s past 7 p.m. and find the restaurant. We enter at about 9:05 and we know that is closes at 10:00, but that won’t be a problem… we’ve never had problems with all you can eat places closing early. (!)

As we’re greeted, relatively quickly for the small staff and decent sized crowd, we ask about the deal. What’s the deal? Well, in fact, it is $29.99…! What?! Thirty bucks? Oh man, have we been spoiled having it for way cheaper in New Jersey, but it’s worth it, or so we tell ourselves. The hostess continues, you can have all these hand rolls, these sushi, these special rolls, and these dishes from the kitchen. Cool. Not that we have ever been to a place that doesn’t include non-sushi items, but we started taking it for granted and to have it taken away now would be really heart-breaking. So we’re seated in a TINY table that we knew would NOT be able to fit all our food, but we didn’t bother to have it changed. The nice waitress comes, we order waters, and look at the menus/checklists. We start tallying stuff off, Alana orders a red wine sangria, we hand in the checklists knowing that we might only get one round’s worth of food because we showed up so late, and we wait for the kitchen stuff to come. (That’s right, I said stuff, so you can replace it with any word you feel is more intelligent because I love being not-intelligent sometimes)

We start with some house salads with ginger dressing. They’re big, and the greens are dark and there’s spinach! But the sauce is weak, tastes more like ranch than ginger. Bummer, I eat it all. So does she. Next, we get tuna salad! A bowl of the same greens… with three pieces of tiny seared tuna on top. But the sauce is amazing and has a nice zing to it, so naturally, I eat it all, and finish hers. Alana ordered me seaweed salad; how nice of her. And they even included three kinds of seaweed. It was good; they didn’t make it too spicy like other places often do! Next is the “tuna steak” or six-or-so pieces of the same tuna in the salad, but in more of a teriyaki sauce and it is lick the plate good! She ordered spicy calamari, which I can’t eat, and it was VERY spicy so she finished it all. She also got mussels, which were like cheesy clams casino and Alana had all three. I love cheese, but when it’s time for sushi night, cheese better stay out of the way. So far, it’s on track to be a good investment, but now the moments of truth are about to begin. (By the way, the sangria was very iced-down, very juiced down, very weak, etc. Didn’t last long but tasted good… but not worth six bucks).

Okay so, here’s my issue. I read in the Boulder Daily (I think that’s what it’s called) that Japango’s all you can eat sushi is world famous! It said the Daily Camera named it best sushi in 2010 and 2011, AND best Asian in 2010. And now I become a food snob. This was garbage. I should post a video rant because I can’t put it in text. Did they only try one place and not require that it had to be good…. or even decent? Best sushi? I’ve had tuna from my college’s cafeteria at 1 a.m., 16 hours after it was delivered from the sushi restaurant in downtown Manhattan, that was fresher than this tuna. And I didn’t just try a few things. I tried EVERYTHING (just about). Even the quail eggs. The squid, octopus, scallops, red clam, tuna, salmon, smoked salmon, white tuna, yellowtail, white fish, halibut, mackerel, etc. And to top it off, their orders are a two-piece minimum, so I got to taste two of everything. We also had eel hand rolls, tuna hand rolls, avocado roll, the Las Vegas roll, the New Orleans roll, and the Boulder roll. You can see for yourself, in the picture, what we ordered. I’m rambling, which is how I present my rants because I don’t like to prepare arguments all the time. Let’s continue.

Now, Alana does not like wasabi. Or horseradish. Anything along those lines. I know that a sushi chef does sometime have the tendency to smear some wasabi paste in between the rice and the fish, but in all-you-can-eat? With this horrible quality of fish? Are you trying that hard to mask the not fresh flavor of the fish with something so strong?

I eat sushi like this: I take the piece of sushi and put it right in my mouth. No soy sauce, no wasabi, no ginger. Why? Because that is how it’s supposed to be done. The chef should prepare a fresh piece of fish and properly cook and vinegar his rice, potentially brushing a special mixture of soy sauce and seasonings on top to compliment the flavor of the fish. Not kill it. Now I could care less what you do with your maki, hand rolls, special rolls, sashimi. I put whatever on all of those too. But sushi is sacred, the relationship between the rice and fish is crucial, and Alana doesn’t like wasabi, so don’t assume all fifty pieces of sushi should have it without asking!

I mean, you’re clearly not a real sushi chef if you’re willing to serve fish that bad! I could give you a grade of how fresh each type listed above was, but it’s not worth it. Some was fresh, some was kinda fresh, some wasn’t fresh at all. The hand rolls were okay but obviously someone didn’t rush to get them to us because the nori was soggy by the time I got it. (I always eat the handrolls first to prevent this soggy effect). The avocado rolls were ALL rice and no veggie. The specialty rolls were awful. Now, my number one rule of all-you-can-eat sushi is don’t get specialty rolls. They fill you up so you can’t eat the good stuff. These tasted like nothing. And they had a ton of great ingredients in them, on paper. But they weren’t fresh or prepared right and as a result I soaked it in soy sauce to eat it. Alana had white tuna, some avocado roll and some New Orleans roll. I ate everything else, or tried to.

Bowl of Sushi (Painting by Hiroshige)

Now, getting to the end. We knew that you get charged 50 cents for every piece left on the plate. I have NEVER been charged extra, but there’s a first time for everything. We got charged ten dollars, for 20 extra pieces. It was that bad. I wasn’t even full but I could not punish my stomach, who is so nice to me, by shoveling in more fish that was not fresh. I felt bad and was willing to pay. BUT we had fun! We had fun making fun of the guy behind us that was worshiping everything they put on his plate. Jiro Ono would have whooped that guy bad. The bill came and it was 30 for each of us, 6 for the drink, 6 for tax, and 10 for the extra sushi we did not eat. We gave the waitress, who was very good, a twenty percent tip of 16 dollars, and took our bag of leftovers home. (They let you bring the leftovers home, which they should because you paid for it.) And they sat in the fridge, and we threw them out the next morning. I felt horrible about it, but it was really bad. Now, could it be like this all the time? There’s no way! If it got those awards from the Camera, it must have it’s good days, but we’re never going back. And for me to not go to the only all you can eat sushi place where we live is a huge deal! Why’s that? Here’s why:

I have had sushi in the middle of the Atlantic, in Bermuda, in Peru, in South Korea, on top of a mountain in South Korea, in New York, in Los Angeles, in Miami, and tons of places in between. I’ve had all you can eat in three continents. In our last months in Jersey, we had it AT LEAST once a WEEK! We went to three places usually: Arigato in North Haledon (THE BEST!), Sushi X-1 in Ridgewood (PRETTY COOL!), and Gen in Ridgewood (Not bad!), and they cost us 20/22/20 per person. They offer more kitchen goods and sushi, free desserts, and the fish is fresh, most of the time! (LOOK AT THE PICS AT THE BOTTOM)

It must be that here in Boulder it’s hard and expensive to get fresh fish, which we understand! But if it’s not fresh, DON’T SERVE IT! Are you going to serve a raw filet at a steak house? I would hope not. It could get you in trouble. I wish the all-you-can-eat sushi crew was there to help us out. Dan Liwanag, the first person I had all you can eat sushi with, Scott Reiners, the co-founder of weekly all you can eat night, Allan Wu, aka Master Wusabi, who gets us the freshest fish by talking to waitresses in their native tonguesScott Polhemus, the wind tunnel when it comes to downing Japanese alcohol and food in a way that would please a shogun, and Dr. Capitani for starting the original “sushi night.” (Adam and Aedan, future members of the crew, I salute you!)

Master Wusabi when he’s not eating sushi

Master of Windtunnelling Food

We want to keep this tradition alive, but if Japango is all that Boulder can offer, that tradition will die soon. We will have to try other places and not get all you can eat to see who has the best in Boulder.

Japango’s ratings!

  • Service: 4/5
  • Decor: 2/5
  • Music: 1/5
  • Kitchen food: 2/5
  • Sushi: 1/5
  • Price value: 2/5
  • X factor: 0/5* (No slices of oranges or pineapple!!!)
  • Overall: 12/30 (Maybe give it a chance… maybe… one time)

UPDATE: My weekly contest! Whoever can submit the best Japanese dining experience will be sent a special prize related to this topic. I don’t care if you’re in Malaysia or Philadelphia, I’ll get it to you for your efforts and dedication!

PREVIEW: I’ll be bashing the Boulder Daily Paper’s review of pizza. Obviously whoever wrote it and compared certain pizza to New York style isn’t from New York!

Thanks for reading! If you made it this far you get to use this free joke I stole from Alana who stole it from Twitter…

How come the T-Rex couldn’t shake hands?

Because it was dead!

(Oh, and here is the appendix, a graveyard of past, and better, all you can eat sushi nights with the individuals listed above and some extras who I apologize for not including, like Brit!)

And this…oh definitely this…is how sushi SHOULD be made. Thank you, New York

Do NOT Touch that Button!

Email, sucks.

Dread

Let’s admit it: in this day and age, most people have smartphones. Even if you don’t have one, this still applies to you. Most of our work is often connected to our email, which is often connected to our phone, which is often on our bodies at ALL TIMES. It can get incredibly stressful even when you’re not at work, to check your email and boop! a few work emails slide in, reminding about all the tasks you need to get done. It sucks. But it’s also addicting, wanting to know everything that’s being sent to you at all times, wanting to be on top of it all.

For example, I wake up in the morning and the very first thing I do is lean over (groggily) and press my email. A few seconds later, I hear the familiar short buzz, notifying me that there’s something (or multiple somethings) in my inbox. I see 18 New Emails, and my stomach does a turn, half out of excitement and half out of dread. I know there are some things that could be great potential offers, but also some that task more things on my to-do list. Is that the feeling I want to get right in the start of the morning? I’m starting to think not.

So, as my attempts to observe myself and my reactions towards things, I tried to listen to my stress patterns more. There are sometimes where I don’t mind checking over everything I have to do, getting bombarded with emails from “Stop Animal Cruelty!” to the latest work I need to complete that day, and such. But sometimes, I want to be happy in the moment and do whatever I’m doing whether it be cuddling with the kitties, doing some writing, or spending time with my loved ones.

Thus, in order to demonstrate my learned lesson of understanding myself, I tried to follow not always checking it. For example, we were in the gym yesterday, doing a cardio and leg workout. One of our better workouts since we actually had a facility. Not to say we aren’t out of shape, but hey we’re getting there again. Anyhow, I was enjoying the workout, getting into it, having fun and I felt this itch every time I was resting from a leg press or calf raise. What the heck is that? Oh yeah, it’s an itch to check my email, see if I need to get anything done, who’s contacting me, etc etc etc. But I didn’t press it once! I was pretty proud and I was also happy to be in the moment enjoying myself.

So here’s a little tip from me, when you don’t need to, don’t check your email. Especially if it’s connected to your work.

Peace!

TOBI REVEALED! SHONEN JUMP RELEASE SUMMARY

Bleach 505 Page 2

For any of our great followers who do not read manga, especially Shonen Jump, I would honestly advise you to stop reading now and wait for one of our normal posts within the next twenty four hours. For anyone else, follower or not, that has an interest in Naruto, Bleach, and/or One Piece, and is currently up to date on the Japanese releases of those mangas, you might want to keep reading.

Naruto 599 Page 15

I had to write about this as I just finished a few pages from this week’s Japanese release of Weekly Shonen Jump (I’m still waiting for Toriko to be scanned and eventually translated). And with that, I am going to start with the biggest news; this was one of the most obvious/anti-climatic missed opportunities in the history of manga. You have a character, Tobi, who is arguably the largest antagonist in one of the largest and most popular series in history. For years, or what has felt like years, Kishimoto has been stringing us behind the identity of this masked villain who has always behaved differently from your typical main bad-guy. Now, as soon as his name was revealed to be Tobi, all of us super-fans immediately tried to figure out the importance of his name, and with the release of the Kakashi Gaiden arc, no one’s name showed more promise than Uchiha Obito. OBITO. TOBI. It might not be a perfect match, but it’s close enough when you have these types of reveals happen all the time, i.e. A Song of Ice and Fire (I won’t say who or when).

Now, as the series developed it seemed far too obvious that it was Obito to a point that everyone figured Kishimoto would never let the fans easily figure out who it was. Some other clues, the Sharingan was the opposite of Kakashi’s, the ability to know and use Uchiha abilities, and the motive. Sure, Obito wasn’t evil, he wasn’t overly ambitious, but he was mysterious. The Kakashi gaiden arc was short and fans could make up their own opinions about Obito. Although it might have seemed like he was jealous of Kakashi because of Rin’s feelings for him, he asked Rin to transplate his eye into Kakashi. Was Obito plotting some project to take over the world as a small child? I don’t think so but Kishimoto might prove me wrong in the upcoming weeks. There was no way Obito could have expected to survive the cave in that crushed half his body when he was really only capable of using basic Sharingan techniques and fire-based jutsu. We saw him die, or at least we thought we did. Somehow, perhaps with the help of a random Orochimaru or someone else that could corrupt his mind and use his body as a surviving member of the Uchiha clan, as they would later be slaughtered, helped him get to where he is now.

As the flashbacks in this week’s issue show, it seems Obito was a weaker willed Naruto that had a bad break with the cave-in. Team Minato mirrored Team 7, and Obito mirrored Naruto with the exception of that hidden fire and will to overcome everything and be confident even if the abilities aren’t there. Surely, the impact of the Third Shinobi World War, led Obito who was crushed (mentally and physically) to develop Project Tsuki no me, in order to create a peaceful world void of the ability to truly live and be yourself in order to preserve life. Having witnessed and suffered from such a horrible event at a young age could have that sort of impact, and it seems his feelings for Kakashi have somewhat changed judging by the anger he has shown him recently. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking Obito’s side. He has obviously been corrupted and like many others before him, has created an evil plan no matter how he justifies it. I’m just curious how a weak genin could become so powerful, before having acquired the Rinnegan. Shame on Kishimoto to let us all be right and make it the obvious choice, although it leaves for many questions to be answered and will end up being better than making it a no name character from the war that witnessed the Kannabi Bridge destruction and picked Obito’s eye off of him after he was crushed. I personally cannot wait to see how he survived and if Rin, a medical ninja, had anything to do with it since she went missing after the war… Heck, maybe he’s just pissed Kakashi didn’t take care of Rin, which was his dying wish and now he has come back to wreak havoc for the girl he completely was in love with…

For a quick note, One Piece was more or less a filler. The most exciting event was Vergo’s confidence in his ability to crush the Mugiwara crew, Law, Smoker, the Samurai, etc… good luck to him….

One Piece 679 Page 8

And Bleach continues to be getting back to being amazing, despite Kenpachi getting destroyed in a fight we didn’t get to see…. no surprise there.

Bleach 505 Page 16

Captain Commander is pissed off and the troops are getting amped up so let’s see what happens in this huge clash of the titans. Hopefully, it won’t be like Yamamoto v Aizen.

Bleach 505 Page 20

Leave comments if you want to discuss anything in these issues or series. I’d be more than happy to do so.

P.S. I want to know how Tobi grew up so quickly…

Home-Made [EASY] Chips & Guac

Let’s be honest. Has anyone ever in the HISTORY OF THE WORLD ever said no to an offer of chips and guacamole? No, I don’t think so.

I had two avocados hiding in our cabinet. And a tomato in the fridge. Hmmm…what could I POSSIBLY do with these two ingredients? I think you know the answer. However, we didn’t have any tortilla chips (I know, a travesty), and they just go so well with guacamole. But…we did have some tortillas that were going to get old soon. Aha! It’s all coming together now!

Okay so first, let’s get out these corn tortillas. I use Mission Corn Tortillas (see below). I’m not even going to post an “Ingredients” section for the chips because it’s literally tortillas, olive oil, and salt. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Now, go have fun and rip them into little pieces. I used only about five tortillas. Think of how many chips you can actually make if you used the WHOLE bag (30). Put olive oil on the baking sheet before you plop dem tortilla pieces on. Then sprinkle salt all over.

Now let them cook for however long you like. 10 minutes, they’ll be a little soft. I left them in for around 15 minutes to get a nice crunch. Okay, we’ll get back to these when they’re ready from the oven. Let’s get to the important matter…the guac. 

Get your ingredients ready!

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Plenty of salt n peppa

First, let’s tackle the avocados. Now I wish I took a picture of this, but the best technique I’ve found is to put the knife you’re using on the avocado, press down til you hit the core (the pit), and circle it all around the avocado until you’ve made it full-circle. Then grab each half of the avocado and pull! If they are the proper ripeness, they should pull a part easily, making it really easy to scoop the goods out.

Now that you’ve scooped it all into a bowlmash it up!! And have some fun with it! Next, cut up the lovely in-season tomato (small pieces), the garlic, and constantly put pepper and (especially) salt. Once you feel everything is properly seasoned, cut open a lemon, and squeeze that baby out. The lemon (I know people normally use lime–use whatever you want) will give it that nice zesty taste, but also it will preserve it if you want to keep it in the fridge for a bit. Avocados have a tendency to brown fairly easily.

Now that the guac is all mixed up, GO BACK AND TASTE IT! Make sure it has enough salt, guacamole can be notorious for not being salty enough to fill that need. Did you hear something? DING! Chips are ready! (Just kidding, I still don’t have an oven timer). Pull them out of the oven and let them sit for a few minutes so you don’t burn your tongue (like I did after being over-eager and piggish).

They are goooood. So that’s pretty much it. We loved it so much, we made another batch of chips to finish off the guacamole. One of the best things about home cooking is that you know what’s in the food you’re cooking so you have no reason to feel guilty about it, which is an awesome feeling.

Maybe you have a party coming up (Labor Day is right around the corner) and want some awesome snacks that will impress the neighbors (or friends), but won’t cut a hole out of your wallet. Get this:

A bag of Mission Yellow Corn Tortillas (which contain 30) costs under $3. Avocados are still in season (hurry before fall ends!), so you can get them for $1 a piece. All you need are tomatoes, which can be found for roughly 59 cents each. Now you do the math. I had a whole pan-full of chips from FIVE tortillas. Imagine you did THIRTY? You’re going to have a ton of chips and if you get 4-5 avocados and 2-3 tomatoes, you’re going to have a TON of chips and guacamole, for a huge price of under $10. And trust me, your friends will love you. And invite me too, because I will do anything for a scoop of guac.

Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies [GUILT-FREE!]

So I’m craving some Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Good thing we have a huge thing of Quaker Oatmeal (a five pound jar and at least ten more pounds packed away in bags in the pantry). Baking always brings me back to college years (also back to days at home) when I would walk up to my best friend’s apartment almost every night (rain or snow) to bake or cook something, drink some tea, and watch a great series like Modern Family or Beyonce Concerts.

If you’ve baked oatmeal raisin cookies, you know it’s pretty simple. It’s basically measure, pour, mix, and heat. And we only have whole wheat flour in the kitchen, so we’re making Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. There’s no crap in these, so you don’t have to worry about that. I pulled the recipe off of here and altered it slightly. So, my fellow bakers, get your ingredients ready!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of butter (I use whipped)
  • 3/4 cup of sugar (I used white because we don’t have any brown at the moment)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup of oatmeal (I use Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats, yumm)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • a splash of vanilla extract

Pretty basic. I have faith you can all do it. Remember to always grease your baking sheet first so that you don’t have to scramble at the last minute. I like to use wax paper and butter to grease up the sheet, just dip the wax paper in and rub around, a tip my mum taught me. If you don’t have either, then you can just use PAM or whatever you’ve got. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Alright, so pour in the butter, sugar, and egg in before anything else. Mix that up real well. You’d think it’d be hard to bake things without a mixer, or even a whisk, but we have neither and everything comes out just fine. I simply use a wooden spoon. And high-powered arms. 😉 After you beat those first three ingredients, pour in the rest and stir it up. If it’s too dry to stir everything in, pour a little milk in (that’s what I did).

Now if anyone here knows me, then you know I have to literally be dragged away from the cookie dough in order to not eat it all. It was tough, but I held myself back (slightly). So after everything is mixed up, use a spoon (or your hands) and plop ’em down on your already greased up baking sheet in nice rows like below.

And now we wait 10-15 minutes, depending on how thick you made the cookies and what your oven is like. And now you get to see what my kitchen looks like when I cook/bake! (yikes)

Ding! (just kidding I don’t have an oven timer) Cookies are ready! Pull them cookies out (with an oven mitt, of course) and let sit for a little bit and then DIG IN! 

Voila. Here we have a healthy guilt-free batch of cookies, easily stored in tupperware if you can’t eat them all in one night (shame). Enjoy! 

Two Games: Pixel vs. Turf

So, I am nowhere near as eloquent as Alana the Poet, but I will try to remember how to write so that it is enjoyable for the reader to get through the text. Recently, very recently in fact, I had the pleasure of playing (in) and finishing two games. One was more physically challenging and naturally, the other stimulated the mind. For anyone who thinks that video games cannot be a learning experience in a beneficial way, I think you might be wrong. Granted, some games encourage illegal and unhealthy activity, but how often are those issues raised with a Nintendo Game; let alone one that was worked on by Koji Kondo and Shigeru Miyamoto.

Shigeru Miyamoto

A Video Gaming Legend

The game that I just completed for the first time in a long time, was The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening, which was released in 1993, re-released for the DX in 1998 and re-re-released on the Nintendo E-Store for 3DS very recently, somewhat in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of arguably the greatest video game franchise of all time. (My favorite Nintendo based franchise, but Final Fantasy and the Elder Scrolls put up some serious competition.)

The version, which is six dollars, is well worth it. The graphics and game-play were cutting edge at the time, the music was nostalgic to the previous three major releases, and the story was clever and captivating. The replay value was still there, especially on the new handheld. I didn’t upgrade my sword to level 2 by collecting enough secret seashells or max out my health (13/14 hearts) but it was a relatively complete and smooth run.

Now, for the not so smooth run, which was more or less a series of short sprints tied with wheezing and a burning chest as the result of either altitude (no) or my being very much so out of shape (yes). We stopped by the Boulder Indoor Soccer “arena” last week to watch Ben Powell play in a very physical 6 v 6 game of indoor soccer. It is not too different from your typical soccer game but it is very fast paced with hockey substitutions. I am so grateful for those substitutions because this week, actually a few hours ago, Ben asked me to help fill out the roster. I came completely unprepared, with no indoor shoes, no shin guards, and no cardio based endurance. The third was the most painful. I had no idea there were two 22 minute and 30 second halves, but I am so happy there were not four.

Indoor soccer fields, Starfire Sports Complex,...

Indoor Soccer Arena

It was physical, I was slipping, my legs were filling with lactic acid, and my chest was about to burst, but my technique was there and I played smart enough to not make any mistakes. In all of my sporting experience, which is pretty extensive for someone my age, my best piece of advice and the lesson learned from this post for anyone who is still reading, is that the most important role players in a team sport (and an essential quality for individual sports) and the players that determine whether you win or lose do not make mistakes.

Indoor soccer at the Phanzone in Hampstead, NH

Bam!

Now, let me make it clear that I am not saying that Lebron is the worst player in the NBA because of his turnovers; all I am saying is that there is a +/- way of looking at competition, and if you do not make ANY – moves, then you are in good shape to help yourself or your team. Honestly, you do not need the raw talent of Michael Jordan, you do not need the brute force of Babe Ruth, and you do not need any gift from whoever you believe in, all you really need is knowledge and composure. Your goal is to use your knowledge of the game to make the smart safe moves, and prevent the opponent from capitalizing on your mistakes, so that you can capitalize on their mistakes. 1-0 is a win. No real competition between two great opponents should ever be a blowout.

The first person to comment on what two pieces of advice I’m trying to give out in this post will receive…a random special give-away! It can be anywhere in the world, just leave your email address.

15-Min Abs MIX ‘N MATCH, BABY!

Hey ya’ll! (awkward…sorry for the accent, we’re watching Chopped Southern Style) Anywayyyys, so you want to get some abs in? Who doesn’t! They’re fun, quick, and it’s an enjoyable burn. It’s also fun to work on your mid-section, which bother most people weight or fat-wise. When you do an ab workout (or core–even better), you’re building the muscle there. It’s not necessarily targeting just belly fat, but you will burn calories as you do these workouts, and as discussed earlier, will continue to burn calories afterwards. You’ll start off with some wash-board abs, then move onto certain “packs.” It just matters how hard you work.

So we’ve put together for you an easy routine that can be swapped around. It consists of 3 exercises–you get to choose from the list below. In this fast workout, we want to work all parts of your abdomen including upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. Yes, those aren’t the scientific names, but it’s how we all know them by.  So choose one from each category and put them together. We want to do 30 reps of each and 3 sets  of all of it.

Upper Abs

Lowers Abs

Obliques

Again, this is a home workout. If you had a facility like a gym, you could obviously incorporate more exercises, using cables, more weights, bars, medicine ball, roman chair, etc.

Remember, you’re doing 30 reps (which means number of times you perform an exercise) of each exercise out of the three categories for 3 sets. Let me show you an example:

Example Mix ‘n Match Abs Workout

FIRST SET

  • 30 indian crunches
  • 30 slow bicycles
  • 30 side crunches

SECOND SET

  • 30 indian crunches
  • 30 slow bicycles 
  • 30 side crunches

THIRD SET

  • 30 indian crunches
  • 30 slow bicycles 
  • 30 side crunches

And that’s 270 reps of abs exercises. So you get the idea. And if you don’t want to just do the same ones, add in some more for your different sets. Also, I normally do ten sets, but three is a great place to start out.

Let me know how this works for you and what abs exercises you love!

Get crazy, Sparta style

Salad, Pesto, and a Kitten

Weird combo? Maybe. I guess that’s just how we do things here in our kitty-filled yummy home now. Worked for us as we came out with a full-belly of nutritional ingredients and a couple of curious kittens.

Anyhow, this one’s a simple recipe for those craving fresh ingredients and tastes.

Salad:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Salt n Pepper
  • Lemon juice

Pretty standard, right? Before I jump into prep, let me tell you the story of how we got this big fat cucumber. So, Chris is doing some dog-walking up in the hills of Boulder and a kid around six years old wearing cowboy boots waves him over. Chris replies, “Sorry, I got no cash.”  The kid says, “You don’t need cash! Take this cucumber, it’s the last one!” So Chris takes it and the boy finishes up the conversation with, “Next time, bring some money and head over to that red roof over there. That’s my garden!”

Scary how six-year-olds now have business sense of offering a free sample of their product in order to gain more business for the next time around. Anyways, back to the food already!!

So you have those wonderful ingredients chopped up (except I didn’t chop the spinach). I started with the cucumber and tomatoes, kind of sliced n diced ’em.

I always remember how good tomatoes were with salt were when I was a kid so I was following that craving. I grind some black pepper over them as well as some salt. These get put in a bowl along with some lemon juice and tossed around to get the flavor soaked in. As I finished chopping the veggies, I look to my left to see a tiny black blob on the floor. Oh yeah, that’s Nymeria.

She can watch all she wants, she ain’t getting any of this. Sometimes, I think she thinks she’s a dog…which I LOVE. As I finish up the salad and Chris is stirring the penne al dente in the pot, I toss some olive oil and balsamic nectar my cousin invented (check it out). Things are looking goooood.

Meanwhile, Chris is cooking some penne al dente. I’m surprised there’s any left to cook due to his love for raw pasta.

As he’s straining the pasta, there’s a scatter in the corner. Hmmm…suspicious.

CAUGHT RED-HANDED! 

Nymeria continues to find places to view us, though I hope her curiosity doesn’t get the better of her one day. She’s quite the rambunctious one. Oops, back to the food.

So we strain the pasta, add in some pesto (we don’t have a blender yet so it’s sadly store bought–but still good) and Chris adds in some protein. Tuna from the can. Sound unappetizing? Sure does. But it really adds a good meaty texture and flavor to the dish. And satisfied my hungry belly pretty darn quickly.

Cheers. 

15-Minute Triceps Workout

Finding it hard to squeeze a workout in? 

In this life of ridiculous busy-ness, it’s hard to get a chance to stop, put on your workout clothes (which for some reason feel tight, perhaps because they haven’t been used in a week and a half), and get into the mode. Let alone actually drive/walk/bike/bus to a gym! Big breath, you don’t need to do huge workouts every day to stay in fit. Remember that it’s exercise AND nutrition. They’ve got to walk side by side if you want results.

And another thing before I show you some exercises, is to remember how important strength and resistance training is. This means working out your muscles. No, it’s not just for boys. It’s for us big girls too. And it’s really important for your health! Think cardio is the only way to burn calories? Think again. When you rip up those muscle fibers while pushing yourself during any muscle workout (let’s take leg press), your body has to work hard after the workout as well in order to repair those fibers. Which means your body is burning calories after the workout to try and repair those fibers as quick as possible. Quads burn after that leg press the next day? Fibers are torn so it makes it sore to walk around. So muscle workouts = more calories burned afterwards. 

Onto the 15-min workout. It could be even less. It depends on the number of reps, sets, and exercises you do. I chose to do three. I actually did them watching “The Help,” figuring it was a movie I should watch and always looked good (it was). Here’s the three I did:

1. One-Arm Triceps Extension

Pretty simple. Get a weight you’re comfortable with (I started with 12 lbs and moved up to 18 lbs for my last set) and either sit or stand. Extend the weight with one arm over your head and then lower it down (with control) towards your back. Keep everything slow and controlled until your form is good. Now do the other arm. 

Reps: 12, Sets: 4

2. Two-Arm Triceps Extension

So it’s basically the same thing (read above) but with two arms holding the weight. This allows you to use a heavier weight than the single-arm. I started with 15 lbs and ended my last set with 21 lbs. 

Sets: 4, Reps: 12

3. Skull Crushers 

English: an exercise of triceps

English: an exercise of triceps

You can either do this with a bar or weights. I chose to do it with weights (dumbbells) simply because I don’t have a bar here at the apartment. Start lying down with your weights or bar extended in front of your chest and then slowly lower until your hands are right at your forehead. Then push out again. That’s one rep. Get why it’s called a skull crusher? I went around 15 lbs for this one.

Reps: 10, Sets: 4

So there you have it. A three-exercise workout that left my triceps feeling tired. You will too if you do them properly with the right number of reps and sets. Your core will also be worked if you keep it tight and do the exercises correctly. Do what feels good for you. Never push it to the point of injury, but push yourself to get that last rep. Comment below if you have any questions. Enjoy!

PS– If you are interested in getting a free training plan and/or consultation or just have some questions, please email us at alana.ppowell@gmail.com

KITTIES!

So we don’t exactly have full-time jobs yet…but we went ahead and did the right thing. Which was adopting two kittens (2 month old and a 3 month old) from the Boulder Humane Society. It was a tough decision and up to this point, I was wary about having cats (let alone kittens) in the apartment.

I thought…Maybe they’ll cost too much money! We don’t have the apartment set up yet! We should have jobs! Blah blah blah

Chris wanted cats badly. He was never allowed to have pets growing up and now was his shining chance of glory to snuggle big time with some kitties. So, he set to work whenever I had an obstacle that made me uncomfortable about getting cats.

I’d like to get all of our furniture first. He went on Craigslist and we ended up with a lot of great free furniture (some were prizes from the dumpster). We know how to play it cheap 😉

I want everything scrubbed down first. So Friday morning, we went to town, cleaning all the floors, vacuuming, making sure everything looked great! 

And jobs… Hey, we’ve both almost got ’em. And we have lots of savings from smart living.

So Friday, after a long morning of cleaning and chores, we head to the Boulder Humane Society. Even Chris had some doubts about whether it was really time. So we went just to take a look. Now, I’m normally a dog lover, but in our apartment, we can only have cats. But hey, I like ’em too. All animals = love.

Oops. They have a kitten room. WITH SEVEN KITTENS ALL ROLLING AROUND AND PLAYING! It was too much. We were shown in after drooling all over the viewing window. We first fell in love with a small black kitten named Sizzle who was a rambunctious little thing playing with whoever would have her. And she ended up jumping in my lap. Then there were a few others that we were debating…some were on hold…and some we just couldn’t decide.

I, however, quickly decided on Sizzle (who would later be changed to Nymeria–a little Song of Ice and Fire lore for you–and yes, nerd alert). Chris was debating between three others…one playful grey and white, another playful one (ginger), and a calm, sleepy one who was a mix of Siamese and lynx. After thirty minutes of debating, he decided on the Siamese-Lynx mix named Misty and we kept the name.

Nymeria — 2 months old

Nymeria came home with roundworm–a parasite that makes her (unfortunately) poop a lot. She’s freaking adorable and a crazy-awesome snuggler who likes to go right under your neck and nuzzle. But she needs a diaper and I don’t know how many times we’ve had to clean the floor already. But she’s trying.

Misty — 3 months old

This one came under-socialized, meaning she was born feral. The first day, she escaped to any hiding space possible. However, just the second day she warmed up a great deal, didn’t hide, played with toys, and cuddled with her adopted sister. She did, however, give us a horrible scare and–as you can see in the picture above–hid under the dishwasher and we thought she ran away. Phew.

So, as you can probably tell, we’re completely in love. Sometimes I feel like a newborn’s parent and it’s exhausting. Even though it’s a lot of work, it’s worth it when Misty snuggles into your arm, or when you can feel Nymeria’s baby paws on your skin.

Meow.

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