Sunscreen experiment #10

After chucking the defective Coppertone Clearly Sheer sunscreen which didn’t keep me from a nice sunburn, I found a coupon for L’Oreal sunscreen in the paper so used it to buy a small bottle of L’Oreal Advanced Suncare Silky Sheer BB Face Lotion SPF 50+ to try. (Yes, I’ve spent a small fortune on sunscreen over the years. It’s ridiculous.) This one is a liquid sunscreen, much like my favorite Clarins and both of the La Roche-Posay Anthelios varieties I’ve reviewed in the past, which I generally prefer because of how light they feel on my skin. So last Saturday I slathered this sunscreen all over my arms, neck, and chest in preparation for a trip to Disneyland. I couldn’t afford another sunburn at the Happiest Place on Earth! In case you’re wondering, yes, I realize that I used a “face lotion” on body parts that aren’t my face (I actually used something completely different on my face), but I don’t put much stock in the face vs. body distinction in the area of sun protection. As expected, the sunscreen liquid didn’t feel heavy or greasy on my skin after I applied it, but it wasn’t quite as nice as others I’ve tried. It didn’t have the same powdery finish as the more expensive liquids. That might be because it’s a chemical sunscreen rather than a mineral one, but I’m not sure. I know I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m not a fan of chemical sunscreens, but I still try them to see if I can find that diamond in the rough. Unfortunately I don’t think this L’Oreal BB Face Lotion is the winner. While it seemed to protect my skin from the sun (no noticeable burn the next day), it was warm in Anaheim that morning and I learned that this sunscreen does not react well to sweat. In spots like the crooks of my elbows I got a white build up that was very annoying. Kinda slimy. Gross. I must admit that I only spent about three hours at Disneyland last Saturday so I didn’t really challenge this sunscreen too much, but based on its performance the anticipated verdict didn’t look promising. I did give it a second chance when I went running this evening. Unfortunately that was the nail in its coffin. I sweat a lot when I run and I discovered that this sunscreen is not very pleasant in that situation. I’m afraid I won’t be using it again. On to the next experiment!

#tbt – My first race

This photo was taken before my first half marathon in October 2011. Of course I was just walking that one, but I still have a medal saying I completed the Long Beach Half Marathon. If you’d asked me back then whether I’d ever consider running a race that distance I’d have laughed in your face. Now I’m a little less than two months out from my first half marathon and my training isn’t going too badly! I’ll write more about that this weekend, but I’m still faithfully following my training program. Some days I can’t believe I’m a runner. I’m really looking forward to sharing a photo of my crossing the finish line of the Disneyland Half Marathon in August!

Belated Foodie Friday – Chocolate chip cookies #45

Chocolate chip cookies #45: Based on Concoctions by Peabody’s Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seed Cookies. Baked on 6/1/14.

I have a new weakness – chocolate covered sunflower seeds from Trader Joe’s. I can seriously eat an entire container in a day without even trying. They’re dangerous. So one day when I was weak and bought some of these tiny, tasty treats I decided to bake them into a batch of cookies instead of just shoveling handfuls into my mouth while watching TV. This way I could share not only the sunflower seeds, but the cookies with my co-workers the next day. Everyone wins! And it helped that I’d bookmarked this recipe for cookies with chocolate covered sunflower seeds a while back. They are basically just chocolate chip cookies with the sunflower seeds taking the place of the chocolate chips, following my favorite recipe almost exactly. So delicious! You get the chocolate flavor as usual, and the sunflower seeds add a wonderful texture to the cookies. I loved them and quite a few of my co-workers agreed. So next time I give into temptation and bring some chocolate covered sunflower seeds home from Trader Joe’s, I am going to whip up another batch of these awesome cookies.

Doing my feet a favor

6/12: I started breaking in my orthotics today. I only wore them in my running shoes for two hours while I was doing chores around the house after work, but that’s just the first step. Unfortunately they make my shoes fit like crap, but we’ll see how they do when they’re completely broken in.

6/13: I have a confession to make. Yesterday I went to dinner and the grocery store in a pair of running tights. I’ve always thought women who go out in public in workout wear (and aren’t going to or from the gym) look ridiculous, but yesterday I joined their ranks. Well, I guess it’s not the first time I’ve worn stretchy pants in public, but the other times were right after my surgeries so I think I should have a pass. My outfit yesterday wasn’t my first choice, but since I had to break in my orthotics for four hours after work I had to change into some pants that at least semi-coordinated with my running shoes. I was only out of the house for about an hour so I didn’t suffer complete humiliation due to my clothing, but tomorrow I need to wear my running shoes for six hours to break in my orthotics. I’m going to have to choose my outfit very carefully in the morning!

6/14: Six hours wearing the orthotics while out at the movies and shopping. Even though they make my shoes fit like crap, my feet feel pretty good. Tomorrow I have to wear them all day (starting with a morning at Disneyland) so we’ll see how they do after that. I wore my stretchy skinny jeans with my running shoes today, but I rolled them up to be more like capris. It probably looked a little silly, but I’ll sacrifice fashion for a day to help my feet in the long run.

6/15: Orthotics worn all morning at Disneyland (with boot cut jeans). I admit that I took my shoes off a little before the 8 hour mark because my feet were killing me, and it’s a good thing too because I was starting to develop blisters on my heels. Blisters could derail my half marathon training and that’s the last thing I want to happen. I think all of the walking in Disneyland was enough to sufficiently break in the orthotics today. Hopefully soon they’ll be ready for some real running.

6/19: I wore my orthotics on a short run this evening with no ill effects. Woohoo! Granted it was only 3 miles, but I think that’s a good sign for my future half marathon training. I have a follow-up appointment with my podiatrist on Tuesday so I definitely wanted to run with the orthotics at least once before then. I wanted to be able to tell him if they function in the role they were made for. Funny enough, I have had almost no ankle pain due to my overpronation since the beginning of May, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need the orthotics. I’m not really a fan of my current running shoes, so maybe the orthotics might allow me to try something else without worrying about pain. I’ll ask the doctor on Tuesday.

I take it back

Remember that rave review I wrote about Coppertone Clearly Sheer Sunny Days SPF 30 sunscreen last week? Well, I take it back! On Sunday morning I slathered my arms, shoulders, and chest with that stuff before going to Disneyland and I thought I’d be in good shape. I was wrong. When I got home in the afternoon I discovered that I’d gotten burned on my chest and shoulders after only four hours. How frustrating! I thought I was doing the right thing, protecting my skin from the sun, but obviously I picked the wrong product to trust with that job. I guess some chemical sunscreens just don’t work for me. I really should stick to titanium dioxide or zinc oxide stuff instead. Lesson learned. So, in conclusion, disregard all of the nice things I said about Coppertone Cleary Sheer. It doesn’t work!

Epic Saturday

I meant to finish writing this post last night, but I was feeling so awful after my run that I went directly to bed when I got home. Fortunately I was mostly recovered by the time I woke up this morning!

I had a pretty epic Saturday, for me at least. It started when I woke up early (earlier than I usually do on weekdays, actually) without the aid of an alarm. I felt so good that I rolled out of bed before 7 AM, got dressed, and went to Corner Bakery for breakfast. I always make sure to eat a substantial breakfast on Saturdays since I run in the evenings. That sounds like a good excuse to eat delicious scrambled eggs with sausage and veggies, right? Yummy. After breakfast I drove to the Block at Orange to finally see “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” It was awesome, and I’m not saying that just because I have a major crush on James McAvoy. I’m not as familiar with the original comic book storyline as I’d like (I’ve actually never read any comic books), but I really enjoyed the movie anyway. I remember going to see the first X-Men movie back in the summer of 2000 with a few other Boeing interns. That was a lot of fun, and this new movie was as well. After I left the theater I walked around the Block for a while, but I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without. Then it was lunchtime. Which ‘Wich would usually be my meal of choice since I was already in Orange, but yesterday I discovered that there’s a new Firehouse Subs that opened in the same area. Eureka! There was no way I was going to pass that up. I haven’t been to Firehouse since I was in DC in March (I ate there twice then) so I was ridiculously excited to get a Hook & Ladder sub for lunch without getting on an airplane. And it was just as delicious as I remembered, especially with a large cherry vanilla Coke on the side. I inhaled them both. I have a feeling I’ll be going there quite often. My entire morning was spent wearing my new orthotics in my running shoes to work on breaking them in. I only had to wear them for six hours yesterday (I’ll write more about the process another time) so I got to take them off when I got home at 1 PM. Phew! Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before I can actually wear them for running. But anyway, I spent most of my afternoon at home, relaxing and preparing myself for my evening run. I’d never run 8 miles before and I was really nervous about it (and rightly so, but I’ll write more about that later), so I went out and bought a small handheld water bottle so I wouldn’t get dehydrated. That turned out to be a good decision, even if holding the thing while running wasn’t that much fun. I survived my run last night, if only barely, and I practically collapsed into bed afterwards. I thought I was going to die. My last thought before falling asleep was, “Please let my body heal overnight!” And it mostly did, thank goodness. So that was how my crazy Saturday ended. Pretty good, if I do say so myself!

Foodie Friday – Grapeseed oil chocolate chip cookies

This is another revisit of a chocolate chip cookie recipe, but an extremely successful and delicious one. Chocolate chip cookies #43 revisited. With some leftover grapeseed oil from my previous batch I figured I’d try making them again, but this time using my personal favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe as a guide. All I did was replace the stick of butter with 1/2 c of grapeseed oil, and I thought the result was awesome! Somehow the cookies had a wonderful buttery flavor without actually including any butter. I don’t know how that happened, but I’m not asking any questions!

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 c grapeseed oil
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl, cream together the grapeseed oil and brown sugar. You can use an electric mixer for this, but I usually just use a wooden spoon and stir vigorously for a couple of minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat/stir until combined. Add the baking powder, salt, and flour and stir until almost combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, which should help incorporate the rest of the flour. Don’t over mix! Press the dough into an 8×8″ pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. This makes of easy removal from the pan when the cookies are cool and less dishes to wash later. Bake at 350 deg F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Based on Cookies and Cups’ Grapeseed Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies and My Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

Habits

I read somewhere that it takes 30 days of doing something to form a habit. Sounds easy enough, but the consistency is the problem for me. I can usually keep something up for a week or two, but then I slide back into my old, comfortable ways. This is the primary reason I haven’t be able to maintain the same workout routine for more than a few months at a time. Even my running, which I’ve been doing for almost a year, has been off and on due to bouts of injury, surgery, holidays, and general malaise. However, training for a half marathon has given me something to work for and a general motivation to keep myself active. At the beginning of the year one of my Facebook friends suggested a 100 Day Challenge which posed an interesting question – how long would take each of us to string together 100 straight days of at least 30 minutes of physical activity? It sounded like a great idea to me, but despite the best of intentions, I never got past six days in a row during January and February. But all of that changed on April 22nd when I got serious about my half marathon training. I’ve been on fire since then – running three days a week, doing some weight training and other exercises three days a week, going to a spinning class once a week, and walking (usually in my neighborhood, but also in Disneyland) whenever I get a chance. It’s been really great, and believe it or not, I am on day 50 of the challenge! Sometimes this challenge is the only thing that gets me up off the couch to exercise in the evenings (except for running days – my fear of collapsing during the Disneyland Half Marathon keeps me sticking to my training program), but I’m not stopping now! 100 days, here I come!

Sunscreen experiment #9

A 6 AM alarm doesn’t usually make sense on a Sunday, but yesterday I was headed to Disneyland. Summer has arrived, which means big crowds at the Happiest Place on Earth, so I wanted to be at the gates right when the parks opened in the morning. And since it was too warm for a jacket (it’s way to warm for this early in the year, as far as I’m concerned) that meant I needed sunscreen. Based on a good review I read in a magazine recently I bought some Coppertone Clearly Sheer Sunny Days SPF 30 lotion to try, and a morning at Disneyland seemed like the perfect test. Based on the number of sunscreen experiments I’ve conducted over the last year or so it should be pretty obvious that I’m still searching for a sunscreen that doesn’t make my skin feel really gross. Some of the ones I’ve tried have been good for different reasons, but the holy grail of sunscreens still eludes me. Like the Moby Dick of SPF. But I digress. As promised, the Coppertone Clearly Sheer sunscreen felt nice and light when I applied it, a lot like moisturizer, and it smelled pretty good too. A sunscreen that doesn’t smell like sunscreen is a major plus. I ended up spending four hours at Disneyland yesterday morning and I got plenty of sun exposure because the clouds cleared out around 9 AM. So much for June gloom! In general I was very happy with this sunscreen. Only two instances were less than ideal – 1) When the temperature rose and I got a little sweaty on the insides of my elbows, and 2) When my arm got splashed by a little water on the Matterhorn. Other than that I loved the Coppertone Clearly Sheer! And it seemed to do a good job protecting my skin. It’s not a mineral sunscreen, which is my weapon of choice, but when it comes to comfort (and water is no where in sight) this stuff is the way to go. I will definitely be using it again on future Disneyland trips.

Writing prompt – Blogiversary

NaBloPoMo writing prompt from March 10, 2014:
How has blogging changed your life? Tell us one thing that is different now than from before you started blogging.

On May 19, 1999 I started my first blog. (This was also the release date of “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” Coincidence?) I can hardly believe it’s been fifteen years! To answer the question posed by this writing prompt – what’s NOT different now than it was back then? When I wrote my very first webpage post I was a twenty year old college student, attending summer classes at the University of Florida, with more free time than I knew what to do with. Even though my two classes were pretty intense, considering they each crammed a whole semester’s worth of information into just six weeks, I still had far fewer demands on my time without the rest of the college experience (my sorority, AIAA events, etc.) going on. University campuses are very quiet in the summer, and that was even more pronounced in an otherwise sleepy little town like Gainesville. There were things I liked about it (no crowds and plenty of parking), but I didn’t know what to do with myself in my time off. So I started writing. I’d kept a few paper diaries and journals when I was younger, but they were all short-lived and fairly satisfying. Scribbling away in a notebook that no one was ever going to read seemed like a futile pursuit to me. (But if I ever get ahold of those things again I’m sure I will bust a gut laughing.) Fortunately in the late 90’s the Internet came to my rescue! I’d been dabbling in simple webpage design since starting college, but when my best friend Käthe started an online diary to tell everyone about her exciting life, I had to follow suit (although my life wasn’t nearly as interesting). Publishing my ramblings on the web for anyone to read was exhilarating (although I could count my readers on one hand). I felt free to share my thoughts, uncensored, and let everyone know exactly how I felt about topics and situations I encountered. This is a familiar concept these days with the ever-present nature of Facebook and Twitter, but it was much less common back then. (Maybe I was ahead of my time? Why didn’t I invent a social network?) Fifteen years later, blogging is still my main form of self expression, and even thought I’ve taken breaks every now and then, I’ve really enjoyed it. I definitely won’t be stopping anytime soon.

“In the past I don’t think I have expressed my opinions as freely as I should have. Before now I have felt intimidated by opinionated people and rarely did I oppose them for that reason. Everyone should be able to say what they think, but in a way that does not degrade any particular person for their beliefs.”
5/19/99 diary entry