Alphabetical Grocery Shopping

While I can’t pinpoint anything major that happened today, it was a day filled with a bunch of little thing that kind of made everything a-ok. Lately, I’ve felt pretty edgy. Between winter depression, work changes,  and waiting for Jon to hear something positive on the job front, I’ve had a hard time relaxing. Today was good because I was able to enjoy and appreciate the good bits and pieces.

1. I got up early and got a prime parking spot at work.

2. A friend has offered to help us fix our car.

3. Imperial Garden for lunch and quality friend time is a great combination.

4. Two people told me I inspired them to do something with nothing more than a random post on social media.

5. Jon and I bought actual groceries, and though the initial investment was more than we’re used to spending, we broke it down and did the math and were able to see the money we’ll be saving by not eating out as much.

6. I was able to help my dad with his taxes (now we wait to make sure they’re accepted).

Plus, tomorrow’s Friday…always a bonus.

The title of this blog refers to something kind of silly Jon and I did tonight. The wind in Kansas was super high today, and though the temp itself wasn’t bad, that wind chill was bitter, which meant no outside walk. Though we did have the option to go to the gym, we also knew we needed to pick up groceries. To kill two birds with one stone, we decided to get more steps out of our shopping trip by doing Alphabetical Grocery Shopping.

Basically, I updated my original “by aisle” grocery list to add any last minute things we needed, copied it into an excel file, and sorted alphabetically. Then I transferred that to my Evernote, and we shopped the store by getting the items in alphabetical order. This was seriously hilarious and just as completely inefficient as it sounds. We made several trips back and forth across the store, and only “cheated” twice at the very end by grabbing items on endcaps instead of going to the aisle section where they were located.

Between shopping and checking out, the whole process took us about 45 minutes (which is slightly longer than our normal walks and takes into account stops and starts). It also earned us each about 3,000 more steps, which pushed me over my daily goal. I didn’t do as much hall walking at work today, so doing this on a normal day would have put me well over 10,000 steps.

I don’t know if any other shoppers were paying enough attention to notice how silly we were, but it was actually kind of fun, and a pretty good way to get more activity by doing something we had to do anyway. We spent a lot of time laughing about how ridiculous it was, which just added to the fun factor.

I’m pretty sleepy tonight. I don’t think I cried today, but my eyes have that slight burn-y feeling I get when I do. I think I’m going to call it an early night and lay down to read for a little bit. Also…this images pretty much sums up my thoughts on tomorrow:


Be prepared to get down, my friends.


Adventures in Topeka

The weather was beautiful today, and I’m happy that we got to go out and take advantage of it. Jon hurt his back yesterday and it still wasn’t feeling great this morning, so we were going to hold off on any adventures until tomorrow. Unfortunately, the forecasted temperature for tomorrow is about forty degrees colder than today. Just getting to the car to get to MHK is going to be a challenge.

After taking some ibuprofen, Jon decided he was up to trying to get out and about, even with a sore back. After stopping for a quick breakfast, we rolled along to Topeka.

Our first couple destinations were shopping stops for clothes, first for Jon and then for me. I was in need of a new pair of pants, and I managed to find a pair at Lane Bryant that were the right size and the right length. I probably could have ordered another pair, but I figure one is good for now. I also picked up some frilly, girly items because apparently, I have a girly side sometimes.

We thought about seeing a movie at the second run theater, but there was nothing we wanted to wait around for, so we headed to the zoo. Our original plan was to walk both the zoo and Gage Park, but we ended up just getting through the zoo before Jon’s back needed a rest and some more ibuprofen. The animals were pretty lazy today, but the walk was nice. The highlight was probably the baby orangutan. He was so cute, though his mama didn’t seem too thrilled to be on display.

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Our original plan for lunch was to go to Jersey Mike’s for a sub, but when we got to the one downtown, we found that it was closed. After walking down the street, we found a restaurant and pub that was open…and we were the first patrons of the day.

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Jon’s lunch: “Bangers and Mashed”
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Brisket sandwich and potato soup

Jon’s food was delicious and my soup was really good. I took a chance with the brisket, since I know not everyone makes brisket perfectly. I was a little disappointed. The flavor was good, but the meat was tough. I really need to remember to stick to burgers when I go to a pub. Still, for a serendipitous find, it was a pretty okay meal.

For dessert, we walked over to Hazel Hill chocolates and picked up a few small treats. Not sure if we can do that more than once very so often. It was pricey. Then we made a quick stop at Walgreens and headed back home.

Our adventures didn’t end there, though. We came home and chilled for a bit. I still have some mystery caches that need solving, so I watched a couple Christmas movies while Jon took a nap. We were going to walk to Subway for dinner, but by the time we got around to it, it was dark and I was worried about hidden ice, so we drove instead. Even though we’d walked the zoo, I hadn’t met my step goal for the day, so I talked Jon into walking a lap with me at the rec center. It wasn’t overly cold, but by the end of the walk, parts of the parking lot had started getting slippery again, so we had to proceed with caution.

The walk and the drive home gave us the chance to finally get some pictures of the pretty Christmas lights that Wamego put up for the holidays. Though I didn’t celebrate Christmas in a huge way this year, I love the park decorations the city rolls out for the season.

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The extra walk helped me hit my step goal, and I got to enjoy a few more hours of the outdoors before tomorrow’s cold hits again.

All in all, it was a good day. I still didn’t get my whole to-do list done, but I’m okay with that. Tomorrow will be organizing and getting ready for the coming week and the new year. Grocery shopping, laundry, and gym are all on the horizon for tomorrow.

Happy Saturday!


Day 5: St. Louis Vacation – Pink Elephants and Geocaching

When today started, we figured it would be our least active day of the week, considering we were taking a side road trip to Peoria. We ended up being really wrong about that. We got up, ate breakfast, and started our trip a couple hours past what I’d originally planned. The first time I woke up, I had a horrible headache. Had that headache stuck around, we would have stayed in the hotel room all day, but a couple ibuprofen and some more sleep got rid of it, so we were Illinois-bound.

We did some geocaching along the way, and one of our first stops was at the Pink Elephant Antique Store. Several months ago when I was planning our Michigan trip, I’d seen this roadside attraction on the Roadtrippers site, but we never ended up stopping there. We made it today to grab the cache and take some pictures of the fun statues on the lawn.

Well, hello there…

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I loved the pink elephant. There was one in my hometown, so I think it’s kind of cool to find another one in another part of the country.

When we finally got to the exit we were looking for, we wanted to grab something to eat. I love eating at little roadside diners, but the one that was there didn’t take credit cards. I know it’s a silly thing to be annoyed by, but come on…it’s almost 2014…how can you not take credit cards?? We ended up going across the street to the Subway, which was kind of dirty and super slow.  My sandwich tasted okay, despite the fact that the kid adding the ingredients didn’t change his nasty plastic gloves after handling Jon’s sandwich, so I got a wrapper covered in Sriracha sauce. I don’t like Sriracha.

At that point, I was in a bit of a crabby mood anyway, but food helped, and I was ready to tackle the geocache we’d gone to look for.

A little background on this geocache: we read about it shortly after we started geocaching and thought it was pretty cool. It’s a difficulty of five (the highest difficulty there is), and it’s only had one logged find. The other two hundred eighty something logs have been DNFs (did not finds). We knew we wanted to give it a shot, and since we were relatively close (way closer than we are in Kansas), we wanted to give it a try.

When traveling or geocaching, we often rely a little too heavily on our auto GPS, but in most cases, we question it and double check where it takes us. I don’t know why we didn’t do that today, but we didn’t. When he got to where the GPS took us, there were gates up, so we couldn’t drive into the park. It didn’t even occur to us that there might be a different entrance. We were just miffed that we’d made the drive and now couldn’t even get into the park.

At the same time we were there, there were two other groups of people going on. Both groups parked in the same area and started walking down the hill, past the closed gate. I almost think that’s why we did it…monkey see, monkey do…even though our phone GPS showed were still a mile away from the geocache. Normally, a mile doesn’t scare me (not anymore). When we walk the rec center, a mile is pretty standard. This mile, though, wasn’t the rec center. It was paved, which was good. It was up and down steep hills. That wasn’t so good. On the way down the first hill, we knew it was going to be a beast coming back up.  At first we thought maybe we’d go down and have flat walking until we got back, but just a short way into the walk, we were confronted with a hill.

Jon kept trying to find the silver lining in the walk, but I was feeling highly annoyed. I knew the silver linings were there. The first was that we were getting our exercise for the day, even though we hadn’t planned for it. The second was that as tough as it was, we were able to take that walk and scale those hills. I eventually got over my mood and tried to enjoy the walk.

After trying two false alarm areas, we finally found the shelter. It was around that time we saw vehicles parked there and realized that there had to in fact be another way in. Duh…it’s a state park. Of course there was. We felt like doofuses, but by then we were just rolling with it. We finally found the search area and spent about two hours poking around, trying to find that darn geocache. As expected, we never did, and so added our names to the almost three hundred other cachers who had no luck.

We were a little nervous on the return walk that we wouldn’t make it back to the car before dark. We also kept hearing noises in the woods. Sometimes they sounded like hunters. Other times they sounded like animals. For awhile, we talked about our game plan if we got attacked by a puma. Luckily, that didn’t happen (our game plane wasn’t great). As expected, that last hill was a challenge. I had to stop a few times, but I didn’t sit down. I just stood to catch my breath and let my legs rest a second from fighting gravity.

The funny thing is, I can see why people run marathons. Once you achieve something you didn’t think you could do, you get a rush and a sense of satisfaction that you want to recreate. I’m not comparing our hike to a marathon, but as a personal achievement, it was pretty huge. We talked about how that walk would have gone three months ago (not as well), six months ago (a lot of crying on my part), and a year ago (it wouldn’t have even happened). The fact that we did the whole hike with minimal rest stops and very quick breathing recovery (I had my breath back within about ten seconds of being on flat ground) was awesome.

Our biggest mistake may have been to follow up that walk with a long drive back without any rest stops. It was late and we wanted to get back to the hotel, but we both knew it was going to catch up with us. Sure enough, when we got out to grab something to eat (just down the road from our hotel), our muscles were stiff and sore, and some of them seized up, making walking tough for a short while.

After dinner, I told Jon I wanted to do some active recovery, and we walked across the street to get some Gatorade and a banana. Part of my whole active recovery thing was that I wanted to hit 15,000 steps for the day on my Fitbit. Though I’ve had one for several years, I’ve never gotten that badge, so I decided that with just over 13,000 steps for the day, I was closer to that goal than I normally get. When we got back to the hotel room, I was about 700 steps shy, so I went for a walk around the hotel parking lot.

I got my badge!

In hindsight, the hike was worth it. I’ll be taking a warm shower, and tomorrow we’ll have to make a few stops on the way back to Kansas so my muscles can stay loose.  Tomorrow will likely be a legitimate rest day, but Monday we’ll be back in the gym and at the rec center, because if this past week has taught us anything, it’s that the almost daily exercise has paid off big time!

On that note, I’d better start getting ready for the shower. I’m really sleepy. I didn’t work on my Nanowrimo any further. I ended up finishing my second story, but only clocked in with that one at about 40,000 words. I was trying to make a go of winning Marissa Meyer’s contest, but I don’t think I did. I didn’t even make 100,000 words. Oh well….I can’t be too upset. I won Nanowrimo and finished two novels. That’s a pretty huge accomplishment.

It’s back to Kansas tomorrow and then back to work on Monday! I’m going to miss vacation, but I’m also really looking forward to getting back into my routine.



Who’s Goin’ Treasure Huntin’?

I’ve been wanting to try geocaching for awhile. I love the thought of going on a techie treasure hunt, but up until recently, I was too afraid to try it since it usually involves walking or hiking. We were going to go to the gym today, but a laundry malfunction threw us off, so we had to bring some wet clothes home to hang up to dry. We decided to go ahead and take a walk, and that just escalated into “Hey, let’s try this geocache thing out.”

WARNING: Apparently, geocache spoilers are a thing, so if you don’t want one, please don’t continue reading this post. Watch this video instead that has nothing to do with geocaching (if you don’t care about spoilers, you can skip the video or continue after you’ve watched it):



The cache we found was fairly easy to get to. It was a virtual one, so no physical log book, and I had to answer a question via email to the local caching crew so I could sign the logbook online.  But answer the question and sign the book I did, thus logging my first cache.

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The place where this was located is a place we’ve walked by many times, usually deciding against going up the stairs. The stairs aren’t bad really. They’re a bit uneven and stony, but we only avoided them before because they seemed so daunting.  I was still tired by the time I got to the top, but that could also have something to do with the fact that the tier is right there in the sun, and things have started to heat up again after our three days of cool and rain.

We were going to try another one but decided to wait. In finding the cache, we walked across a lot of grassy terrain. Most of my walking as been on level surfaces. Man, they are not lying when they tell you changing up the terrain will pose a challenge.  We wandered around the park a little longer, passing by the museum there. It was closed, but we got the info on when it’s open and it might be something we do this weekend since we altered our original plans a bit.

Other than that, it was a fairly uneventful day. I put away all the laundry when we got home, which is a pretty big achievement since I usually procrastinate a day or two on that.  I fluffed around online, watched some of the Crossfit Games replays, talked to my nephew, then finished this blog.

And with that…I’m off to shower and sleep.




The Day My FitBit Died

My FitBit stopped working last Saturday.

I’m pretty bummed about it, probably moreso than one should be over a small piece of plastic. But seriously…I had it less than a year, and somehow it had strange motivating powers that made me want to walk more.

For those who are unfamiliar with this gadget, it’s a glorified pedometer that syncs to your computer and tracks steps, miles, flights of stairs, calories burned, and activity levels. You can also use it to track sleep, and if you’re a food tracker type person, you can use the online tools to log what you eat. It also has things for weight loss tracking, and it allows you to unlock badges for daily goals.

I’ve been logging my step numbers, but I haven’t tried to go to the next level. I guess technically you could argue it wasn’t doing a whole lot for me, but I loved using it, and I loved seeing those days when I did more than usual. And I did have days where I would just walk around the apartment in order to break a certain number. Plus, it was going to be fun this coming August when I got to see just how much walking was going to happen at GenCon.

But on Saturday it started glitching out and then just stopped completely. The display no longer showed and it stopped syncing.

I’d like to say I was able to roll with it and continue on with my day, but with the death of my tracker came a mission to find a new one. To the internet I went, first to troubleshoot, then to email the folks at FitBit, then to start looking around for something else.  Because if I have to buy something  new, I’m going to try something new. While I loved the FB, I’m not going to buy a new one every eight months if I can find something that lasts longer.

There are a few on the market that have really good reviews. The best one was probably the Nike+ Fuelband, which you wear like a watch. It tracks everything the FB does and has some other goal setting things. It also links to, and that’s one of those things I’m having fun doing because I like to get rewarded for my points.

There was also the Jawbone UP, which was going to be my first choice since the price was right, but come to find out, they aren’t even selling them right now. I think there were some kinks in the first round of product that they’re trying to work out, but that does me no good right now.

The third choice is one called the Striiv (pronounced “strive”) which is a little bigger than the other ones, but tracks all the same things and includes games and automatic charitable donations for getting so many steps. It tracks other activity too, not just steps, and it offers challenges you can do at any given time. It was the same price as the UP, and it definitely sounds like the most fun, but I’m not sure how user friendly it’s going to be. Wearing the other two on my wrist would make things easy. The FitBit was nice because I could wear it on my bra and it still tracked. I think I read that you could do the same thing with the Striiv, but I’m not sure.  I’d hate to get it and then have a hard time using it because I have nowhere to put it.*

At the moment, I haven’t made a final decision. I’ve sent an email to FB support to see what I can do about getting a new one, because if they’ll replace this one, I don’t have to worry about a new one just yet. But if it doesn’t pan out, I’ll have to sit down and figure something out, because even though this kind of thing isn’t a need, I really do find it helps me stay motivated to have something helping me keep track of any sort of exercise I fit into my day.

If anyone has any suggestions or comments, please let me know. The more  information I have to make my decision, the better.

UPDATE:  The groovy people at FitBit came through for me and are sending a replacement device! So for now, I don’t have to worry about buying anything new. However, there will come a point in the future where I’ll be looking again, so I’m still open to suggestions.