Kayaking adventure… in Vegas

(Actually nearest to Boulder City, NV or Willow Beach, AZ if you want to be real technical about it) but an amazing adventure while on a recent trip to Vegas nonetheless.

This is probably one of the last things you would expect or even plan to do while visiting the 9th island but I have gone to LV so many times, and realized I never took the time to see the Hoover Dam.  It’s a sight I remember my Uncle Bobo always took the time to visit whenever we made a trip to Vegas, even when no one was interested in going with him, he’d go all by himself!  (I miss you uncle, happy early birthday!)

Now that he’s gone, I thought about all the opportunities I missed and decided, what the heck – one day away from the casino will save money and my lungs from the second-hand smoke and would be a great opportunity for our group to do something active together between all the indulging and drinking.

This was definitely a day of adventure and new experiences – Looking back, I still can’t believe we got to do all of this!

Stop 1 Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge – a Lookout-type spot, there was a parking area from where you walk up a few flights of steps (or ramps) to the pedestrian bridge.  For the best view, we walked about half-way down the bridge and got a view of the Hoover Dam that was previously only seen by helicopter.  This is also where you can “straddle” the Nevada/Arizona state line, the Colorado River is its border.

Next, we stopped briefly at the checkpoint just before being led down the access road to the base of the Dam to have our id’s checked, receive a safety briefing, life vests and of course, super soakers!

At the base of the Dam, we got into our kayaks, practiced a little while everyone was getting situated (our group was just 10 people – 4 tandems, 2 singles and our guide Eric) and off we went!  The river was super calm, almost like a lake without much current or breeze and the sun was blaring.  A gorgeous day to be playing in a 50-something degree body of water (thus the super-soakers)!

Our first stop was relatively close, the Sauna Cave.  Honestly, I didn’t even stop to think or imagine what I was about to walk in to but let me tell you, I was not prepared for this!  Our guide Eric offered small flashlights just in case any of us were scared of the dark – we laughed and accepted one.  climbing up a few rocks toward the mouth of the cave and stepping in the narrow entrance, you’re hit in the face with humid steam and stepping into a pool of hot water.  The cave extended  pretty far into the mountainside and was like a narrow tunnel with water up to your thighs.  Except for the light from our flashlights it was pitch-black.  I’m not claustrophobic but I admit I got a little freaked out!  Not as freaked out as the people at the front of the group (my sister and her bf) who got a glimpse of a nude hippie relaxing in the back of the cave with his junk out! muahahahaaa!  Ok needless to say we booked it out of there!

After that we stopped again to see some of the hot spring pools a little further down-river.  I’m still tripped-out over how HOT those pools were!  Our guide and a couple of others on the tour had no problem just immersing themselves in the pool but I swear my feet were burning just touching the water!


The next stop made me wish a little for the hot-springs action… we jumped off of a cliff (not sure how tall it was but it seemed like it was a tower!) into the freezing water!  It was definitely a thrilling experience!









In all, we kayaked 12 miles down the Colorado River from the base of the Hoover Dam and ending at Willow Beach, Arizona.  It was one of the greatest adventures I’ve had and I’m so glad I got to do it with the people I love! 🙂

If you have a free day on your next trip to Vegas, please check it out!  The company we used was Grand Adventures  , they were GREAT!  Here’s my Yelp review as well : http://www.yelp.com/biz/grand-adventures-las-vegas#hrid:PoMKm0hzIBHMpwFuvr2I_Q

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Special Delivery

After reading Sara’s (Nubcakes) post last month about the package she received from her “Foodie Penpal”, I was intrigued. Receiving random hand-picked goodies from a complete stranger somewhere across the ocean?! Sign me up!

After some quick reading, I discovered the idea originated and was perpetuated through Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean just over a year ago and currently has over 1000 blogger and reader participants!

The guidelines are simple, at the beginning of the month, Lindsay assigns the pals (the giver and recipients are different), your price limit is $15 total per package and it must be sent by the 15th of the month.  Ready, set, shop!

I had a really good time putting together the box for my penpal recipient although I must say, food dollars stretch MUCH further on the  mainland than it does here.  My penpal had gluten and dairy allergies, which made making the box a bit more challenging, but it was like a scavenger hunt!

When I checked my mailbox and found that my box had arrived from my Penpal, Becky at This Bountiful Backyard I was beyond excited to tear it open and see what she chose for me from Chicago!


The requisite popcorn!  I visited Chicago last year and when I tell you these people know their popcorn, it is serious!  The bag she sent me was from a vendor that sells at her local farmer’s market and was a delicious treat while watching The Hunger Games this weekend.


She also included other local finds – Honey from a local beekeeper, some great goodies from my favorite place, Trader Joe’s (Gum and pink Himalayan Salt), and best of all – some delicious treats from her own kitchen:

Homemade Raisins and Peanuts Granola


This was SO DELICIOUS. After seeing her recipe, I think I could actually make it – but it always tastes better when someone else makes it for you, right?

Her homemade Peach Pie Jam


Are you as amazed as I am that this woman just had a baby, is also caring for a toddler, blogs frequently about all of the growing, gardening, preserving, cooking and DIY-ing she does and still found time to put together such a thoughtful package to send to me?  I feel so special.

Thanks again Becky and I look forward to next month’s special delivery!

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where IS circle island anyway?

There's that mythical Circle Island!

It’s surprising how many of us whom are lucky enough to live on this beautiful island and haven’t seen, learned or experienced much of what the average tourists will discover just by doing something like the Roberts Hawaii (@robertshawaii on twitter) Grand Circle Island Tour.

I will readily admit, as I was going over the description of what we’d see and do on the tour I thought there would be very few things on the list I would experience that I hadn’t before.  Much to my surprise almost the entire time I was entertained by our driver Mark’s stories and facts about all of the things we saw… here are some highlights…

Stop 1 Diamond Head Lookout

I’ve run past here dozens of times and have really only enjoyed the view while huffing and puffing on my run up, lest I pause to enjoy the beauty and never get my legs moving again in a forward direction.  This morning I was pleasantly shuttled there all the while learning…  Diamond Head is called Diamond Head because the people whom originally found the crater thought its walls were covered in diamonds!  Unfortunately they were actually just worthless shiny calcite crystals.

On the way to our next stop we drove through the Kahala neighborhood and got to peek into the yards of Hawaii’s fortunate and wealthy, It sure is a different perspective from a seat on a tall bus than from the ground running.

Stop 2 Hanauma Bay

Gorgeous postcard-worthy view as always.  Did you know if you’re desperately thirsty enough, there is a guy there who’ll sell you a soda for $4?!!!!! Ahhh, smart guy.  This was my plan for the top of the Koko Crater Railway hike.  But this guy is making money much more easily.  It pays to plan ahead folks.  BYO refreshments.

Stop 3 Halona Blowhole

Believe it or not, i’ve NEVER stopped at this lookout before (or at least not in recent memory) – It was pretty neat!  Did you also know just on the other side of the blowhole lookout there’s a view of “Eternity” beach – where the famous love scene from the movie From here to Eternity was filmed.

Stop 4 somewhere in Waimanalo near a shell store (where all the tourists went) and close enough to sprint to Jack-in-the-Box (if you’re the french fry and bacon-lover) or a mad dash across Kalanianaole to the 7-11 to score musubis..mmMMMmm!

Stop 5 Pali Lookout

While Mark was busy educating us on cool facts about the area and the origin of the names of the places we were visiting (i.e. – Pali means cliff.  When you add Na to something it means a lot, thus Napali = many cliffs) I wanted him to tell us the legend of Morgan’s Corner! He was really good-spirited and obliged my silly request.

Stop 6 Byodo Inn Temple

This place is awesome.  The best part about visiting this hidden jewel is swinging the big log to ring the humongous Bon-sho (5 ft, 3 ton brass bell!)

Besides the beautiful temple itself, you’ll also see some of the biggest koi you can imagine, turtles, ducks, peacocks … If you’re in the vicinity, it is definitely worth the short visit.

Stop 7 Kualoa Ranch

Did you know they have a cafe that serves giant delicious GRASS FED BEEF burgers?  They do!  After lunch you can pet the horses or peruse the gift shop, even pick up a dashboard Obama doll.

Stop 8 (dessert) Tropical Farms Mac Nut Outlet

We backtracked a few minutes to get to the free samples of mac nuts and free Kona coffee, a welcome treat although all the food from this point on induced a long nap (otherwise known as KTFO) and I didn’t wake up until ….

Stop 9 Sunset Beach

There was a SUP competition going on which made the stop pretty awesome, not only did we get to enjoy the beauty and sunshine but we also got to watch them catch some pretty mean waves.

Here and on the rest of the drive along the shore I didn’t realize how many lunch trucks i’ve never heard of post up out there!  Logan mentioned we should take a road trip sometime and try to visit as many of the trucks as we can!  Sounds like a plan.  I vote for Roberts to drive 🙂

Unfortunately time constraints and parking difficulties didn’t allow us to make any more stops along the North Shore (Haleiwa Town would have been awesome! ah well…) but everyone enjoyed the treats at our last stop:

Stop 10 Dole Plantation

Pineapple soft serve!  Did you know they have a crazy humongous sundae for $20??  Someone ordered it.  Unfortunately it wasn’t us.

In a nutshell, I would recommend this tour to anyone and everyone, locals and tourists alike!  At a cost of just over $50, you can’t beat it for being chauffeured around the island in comfort and entertained by the most knowledgeable and friendly driver you could imagine.

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I had an amazing time – thank you Roberts Hawaii for putting together such a great tour. A great time was had by all!

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Every year we poke fun and dread early January at the gym when it will be crowded with the “resolution exercisers” … a sudden influx of people whom have decided, “this year I’m gonna lose weight and get fit!”  For most this new-found inspiration to work out doesn’t last too long and we’re left with the old faithfuls.  This has always left me a bit hesitant to set my own resolution… how hypocritical to not follow through!

A prime example, I googled “resolution” and one of the first articles to pop up came with the preview:

Postmedia News December 29, 2011: Nearly half of all Canadian women who make New Year’s resolutions give up on their goals by February,

So, instead of “resolution”, I’ll call this my goal – something measurable and attainable. I’ve been contemplating it for some time – get back into run-racing shape.  In my mind, this means being able to come close to and to possibly best my 5k, 10k, 15k and half-marathon times.  No better way to set a measurable goal than with cold, hard numbers…

Distance Time Race
13.1 miles 1:47:57 Rock N Roll Seattle Marathon And Half Marathon  (6/26/2010)
10k 48.21 Wahiawa Pineapple Run 10k  (5/1/2010)
15k 1:18:38 2009 Norman Tamanaha Memorial 15K  (8/16/2009)
20k 1:44:25 Runners Hi 20K (9/6/2009)
25k 2:15:59 Starn, O’Toole, Marcus & Fisher 25K (9/26/2009)
30k 2:58:40 P.F. Chang’s 30K (10/25/2009)
8.1 miles 1:06:50 Kaiser Permanente Great Aloha Run 8.1Mi Run (2/15/2010)
26.2 miles 3:59:01 Honolulu Marathon (12/13/2009)

This goal has been increasingly at the forefront of my mind ever since people began working themselves into a frenzy over getting the Honolulu Marathon special (…still going until January 3rd i’m told) $26.10 to register for the 2012 race.

For now, I’m still in the mindset that one marathon was enough for my lifetime – I met my time goal there and don’t think I want to discipline myself enough to beat that time, but I do admit all the talk about the Marathon has really left the running bug eating at me…

My excuse has been, I don’t want to compete if I can’t best myself and I’m simply not in the condition I was. Well, if I don’t TRAIN to get there again, It will never happen. I simply cannot expect to pick up where I left off speed or endurance-wise, so I started where I could, a treadmill interval workout an Ironman friend told me about years ago and it is a gem!I call it the ladder.

It is an efficient workout 30 minutes total and best of all, It can be adapted to any level of fitness start at your own speed whether walking, jogging or running and every week be sure to challenge yourself by increasing your speed! Here’s the basic structure:

Duration (minutes) Speed (mph)
5 6 warm-up pace
5 6.5 speed up
1 6.2 recover
4 6.7 speed up
1 6.2 recover
3 7 speed up
1 6.2 recover
2 7.5 speed up
1 6.2 recover
1 8 speed up
1 6.2 recover
5 6 cool-down

Let me know your thoughts or if you’d like to join me for any training runs (the longer weekend ones especially), I’m open to new ideas!

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pizza! pizza!

The idea of making pizza from scratch has been something i’ve wanted to do for months, after hearing my coworkers rave about it being “foolproof” and “so easy!”.

They even sent me the recipe to use, which does look so simple huh?

That’s what I thought too.  In retrospect, it wasn’t necessarily difficult… It would have just been great to know a few more details I’ll be sure to keep in mind the next time I do this – then i’ll be the one telling you – it’s so EASY! It’s Kyleepuu-proof!

1.  Making the dough

Batch 1- It looked perfect when I left it to rise, I was so excited!

My first attempt at making the dough, I followed the directions in the recipe to a T.  Therefore, when the ingredient list asked for 1 cup of HOT water, that’s exactly what I added.  In fact, to ensure the water was HOT, I microwaved it.  Bad idea. 

After further research the next morning (as I tried to figure out why my dough did not rise) I discovered…

From the site Homemade Pizza Made Easy

“When activating yeast it is important that the correct water temperature is used!! The yeast can be destroyed if the water is too cold or too hot. The water temperature should be between 105 degrees F. and 115 degrees F. Use and instant read thermometer if you have one, if not, test the water against the inside of your wrist by holding it under the faucet…it should feel very warm but not hot”

So as you can deduce, I am a murderer.  I killed the hell out of that yeast. 

Batch 2 - after rising

So attempt #2 (in the spare 15 minutes I usually reserve for making myself presentable for work I chose to make a second batch of dough instead because I was that hell-bent on eating pizza for dinner)… Voila, ugly but perfectly-risen dough later in the day.

2.  Rolling out the dough

Using this recipe I would have definitely spread the dough much thinner as the crust rose quite a bit.  I typically enjoy thin and crispy pizza crust so this is purely preference. 

This first attempt I’d say the dough was about 1/3″ thick or so before baking.  Vainly, I just wanted a pretty round pizza so about half the dough recipe yielded two approximately 8″ pizzas for me whereas they probably could have been stretched to about 10″ or more. 

3. Toppings – Go Crazy!!  … I did!

Pizza #1 was a BBQ sauce base with half grilled chicken and just before topping I realized we had some leftover kalua pig from Thanksgiving so that went on the other half.  Whatever veggies I had on hand also got thrown on (sweet mini peppers, red onion, fresh corn) and some feta I found on sale.

Pizza #2 was a pesto base with chicken and basically the same toppings as the first pizza sans corn.  On this pie, I brushed the crust with a little olive oil before baking which resulted in a pretty golden crust.  I’ll be sure to do that again next time.

4. Grind!

There were hardly any leftovers so I can’t wait to experiment again now that I have made the recipe kyleepuu-proof! 

Got any topping combo ideas for me to try?

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(not so) perfect ten

10 days into the 30 day Top Shape Challenge and i’ll freely admit that though i’ve been absolutely committed to the daily workouts (what can I say, I love group exercise classes!) I have not stuck to the nutritional guideline we have been given. 

I'm pretty positive nothing this delicious was recommended by the program for dinner but it was a celebration! hhmmmph!!

Over the weekend, I managed to abstain from most of the delicious baked goods I learned to make in the KCC Brekkie Breads class (write up to follow) but inevitable temptation at birthday celebrations, and just general bad food choices won.

See, I didn't eat ALL of the delicious goods I baked!

Jarrko emphasized the importance of taking our measurements and pictures on this milestone in the challenge as it will help us assess our progress (or lack thereof). I have definitely tightened my core and lost about 1 1/2″ according to the waist measurement and I credit that to one of the key elements ingrained upon us daily – tighten your core and straighten your back!  I try to remind myself of this all day – it’s amazing to realize just how much I slouch.  Jarkko says that even if you don’t lose any weight or fat, your waist will shrink reguardless if you practice holing your core in – it’s true!

Some of the new moves he’s incorporated are a real challenge and I feel the effect of them the next day – DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness – it’s a bad, but GOOD feeling!) no pain, no gain!

Moving forward I am going to try to stick to the nutritional guidlines more strictly – I am proud to say that at the very least, I have been successful at abstaining from alcohol! If you know me, that’s a HUGE win! Especially with kickball season in full-swing, it is a feat in itself.  Jarkko  even gave Jenn and I some tips on using our core strength for power in kicking the ball – we can’t wait to use the new techniques in our game tonight!

Gonna use our newfound core strength for a KOC Team WIN!


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fuel for fitness

We’ve just completed day 5 of the Top Shape Challenge (and it’s Friday WOOOOOOOOHOOOOO! <- just a tad excited) and I have to admit that thought the workouts have amped up tremendously from day 1, the toughest part of the whole process has been making the right food choices. 

I'd really love to have this for breakfast!


Instead I had this (museli)

Jarkko’s program has definitely influenced me to begin thinking of food as fuel – for instance, instead of referring to the amount of calories in a particular food, he calls it “energy”. 

I can tell a huge difference in the way I feel throughout the day – I have more energy and  I’m more satiated from the foods i’m eating because they’re more nutritionally sound:

slow-digesting carbs – I just tried museli for breakfast this morning, I picked up my mix from the foodland loose grains aisle, it looked like an oatmeal mix with several different cerals, flax seeds, almonds and dried apples and raisins.

high fiber and vitamins from fruit and vegetables and high protien from food like greek yogurt.  I was thrilled to find that the nutritional guide highly suggests yogurt for breakfast and snack because it’s something I’ve already incorporated into my daily routine and have come to really enjoy.

I must admit it took some getting used-to but adding splenda (is that a sin?), fruit and granola makes it awesome!

Now that the weekend is here, I know i’ll find myself in challenging circumstances, there will be lots of temptation …

Baking class,  party and a big birthday to celebrate…

But that’s the great part about being a part of this program – It wouldn’t be called a “challenge” if it was easy right?  Wish me luck!

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day 3 and from 0-60


After the first day of the Top Shape challenge I thought, I didn’t think I really got enough of a workout so the next day we had the genius idea to show up early for some cardio before class.  Little did I know our trainer Jarkko was going to amp up the program so quickly!  If I get a body like his though, it’s all worth it! 

Jarkko Kortelainen - the "Finnish Warrior"

Unfortunately, I look more like this….


But… that is why i’m in the challenge!  My goals are fat loss and muscle gain – ideally visible abs – between lifestyle and genetic makeup, i’m not sure how possible that is but i’m certainly willing to try!

The workouts for Day 2 and 3 of the Top Shape challenge have been intense.  Now that we have the hang of the basic moves the sequence of exercises are perfomed more quickly and combining weights with cardio intervals it now feels like a thorough full-body workout. 

The methods Jarkko is employing in this challenge are based off of the program he runs in Sweden called the Fustra method, which uses three core components to balance the mind and body for optimal fitness.

It’s really beneficial to have the program assist not only with the functional training workouts abut also with nutrition.  The blog is so helpful – I spotted a delicious-looking taco recipe I can’t wait to try and also found a great suggestion to assist with ensuring you keep track of your calorie (or as Jarkko says, “energy”) consumption.  He suggested an app for smartphones called My Fitness Calorie Counter . So far, this is the best app of its’ kind i’ve tried.  Best of all, it’s free!

With a couple of minor (personal) set-backs yesterday, I think the incorporation of weights and healthier eating, however brief so far has helped me find the strength to push through some of the obstacles and keep a strong mind-frame. 27 days and counting….

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fresh start

I’ve been on a hiatus of sorts from many things, one of which you may (or may not!) have noticed, this blog.  It’s been so long, and there are so many things I want to share, like my STELLAR weekend in the Big Island where yesterday I experienced the most beautiful hike of my life at Pololu Valley…. I’ll share some pictures instead because what this post is really about is – getting back into TOP SHAPE!! 

Hiking down the Pololu Trail to the black sand beach was amazing!

I was talking with a friend this morning about how quickly things can slip away from you but when you look back, the progression of that loss is a slow, building process that you only fully realize in reflection.

Some of the things i’d find routine suddenly seem so foreign in my current day to day life!  Most notably lacking are simple things, such as a mostly healthy diet, weight training … I’m usually a person of routine so getting back into a balanced, healthy lifestyle I knew would require a regimen, guidance and support. 

A couple of weeks ago someone on Yelp posted the 30 Day Top Shape Challenge at the Honolulu Club.  Immediately intrigued, I looked into the program a bit more and decided to give it a go – my morning workout buddy Jenn is joining me in the challenge as well so I knew we would both motivate each other to see this thing through!

So far, i’m only familiar with a few of the program basics (today was day one) which entail:

-a daily class (one hour) – we chose the 6 am class, which takes place at the Honolulu Club.  This was my first time visiting their facility and let me tell you, a HUGE departure from some of my regular gyms.  So nice and clean!

– a nutritional guideline – this gives you a basic outline of four nutrition groups (protien, good fat, minerals & vitamins and slow carbs) and which combination and times you should consume them.  For women, the approximate calorie consumption is 1500 per day.

This morning’s class involved a series of exercises focused on posture, form and core-strength with a bit of cardio toward the end.  Overall, I found the routine to be on the fairly simple side but there are people in the program at all different levels of fitness so I think this introductory session was geared toward gauging the ability and format for our particular group (there are two other groups each day- one at noon and one at 6 pm).

I already feel like a naughty student, my homework was to take measurements and pictures before today’s class (I’ll do it tonight, I promise!) – a good suggestion was to blog daily about my experience in the challenge, which Jenn and I will attempt to do as well… we’ll keep you posted! 


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banana ice cream!

Yes, home-made … as in: made by me! You know it’s got to be easy if I did it.  So quick and delicious I just had to tell you about it.

I was craving ice cream – I’m the type to like creamy, sinful stuff.  In an effort to stay toward the healthy end (also I was too lazy to leave the house and too cheap to spend money)  I made homemade banana ice cream in less than five minutes!

Keep in mind there are tons of variations, edit to your liking!  Here’s what I did:

Start with frozen bananas:

These frozen portions are great to blend in your smoothie along with your ice!

I buy the bunch from Costco for $1.98, peel, slice in half and freeze in a zip loc bag.  I have these on hand because I use them every morning in my shakeology.

Gather your ingredients!  I used a splash of orange juice and coconut extract just to get the frozen bananas going in the food processor, just a small amount of liquid works. I’m bad about exact measurements (this is probably why my baking experiments are iffy!)… but i’d say about one tablespoon of oj per banana.

I also made another batch using mango lemonade and coconut extract - it turned out great!

This is the worst part – it isn’t hard it’s just mind numbing and loud – maybe you have a great less-noisy contraption but mine sounds like i’m processing silverware.

This thing must have some power, it is noisy!

Just push start and blend away until you achieve a smooth consistency. You may have to stop once or twice to moosh the banana chunks down or help them out a bit to break them up but it takes just a few minutes.

I'm so lazy I remove the blade and eat it right outta this container - it even has a handle!

Since this batch was for company, I restrained myself from eating it right away and popped it in the freezer to firm up a bit.  After about 30 minutes, it was perfect!  It has a creamy consistency and is dairy-free!

Jenn tried to help me with food styling - it's not the prettiest ice cream but it is delicious!

Try your own additions and variations!  If you do or have your own recipes, tell me about them!

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