February 25, 2013



I am on vacation in Hawai'i, visiting the sites and sounds of the Big Island.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram while I am away.


February 24, 2013

Holy moly booty workout!

I have been looking for more alternative types of workouts lately to complement the 20 or more miles I run weekly. I found this booty workout online from someone I follow via Twitter...a spin off of the Brazil Butt Lift home exercise program from Leandro Carvalho. Rather than paying anywhere from $60 - $180 for Leandro's at home exercise program, I thought I would give this workout at try. Let me tell you, my behind was still feeling the effects days later.

Try this workout to tighten, tone and lift your booty! 

20 Squats

20 Pile Squats
20 Donkey Kicks per side
This will help tighten your butt while getting rid of the fat on top of the waist.
20 Fire Hydrants per side
20 Circling Donkey Kick per side
20 Frog Jumps
20 Side Lunges per side
30 Alternating Split Jumps
Follow for more Fitness Gifs 4 U
30 Alternating Sliders
30 Hips Lifts
20 Lunges Kicks per side

Do this workout three times through for an awesome workout. Your buns will be burning by the end of the series.


February 23, 2013

Barrow, Alaska [part II]

In January, I traveled to Barrow, Alaska for a trip for work. This is the second part of my experience in Barrow. You can read Part I of the post by clicking here.

Anchorage to Barrow is 725 air miles, which is roughly the same amount of air miles as from Anchorage to Ketchikan.

One of the greatest things about my work is the fact that I get to experience the culture of various parts of Alaska - specifically the Alaska Native culture. I had the opportunity to learn first handily about the culture of the North Slope region.

The Inupiaq People are a hunting and gathering society. They still continue to subsist on the land and sea of northern Alaska and their lives still evolve around the whale, walrus, seal, polar bear, caribou and fish.

Although the land and sea of north and northwest Alaska are vast and harsh, the people of this area are not barred by the extreme climates. Rather, the people strive on the natural aspects of the region - the variety of mammals, birds, and fish gathered by the people for survival.

The traditional Inupiaq tool kit had a variety of stone, wood, bone and ivory tools made for butchering, tanning, carving, drilling, inscribing, sharpening and flaking. One of these tools, which is still used, is the ulu knife. The ulu was traditionally used by Inupiaq women for everything from skinning a seal to cutting a child's hair. The ulu was made with a caribou antler, muskox horn or walrus ivory handle and slate cutting surface. The handle could also be carved from bone and when available, wood was used.

Today the ulu is still often made with a caribou antler but the blade is made of steel. While I was in Barrow, I purchased an ulu from a carver. The handle of this ulu is made with walrus ivory and the cutting surface is made of steel.

According to the man from whom I purchased my ulu, the shape of the ulu ensures that the force is centered more over the middle of the blade - making the ulu easier to use when cutting hard objects such as bone. Although I do not plan on cutting bone with my ulu, the curved blade will be advantageous in cutting food. The rocking motion pins down the food being cut, allowing items to be cut with one hand, where a typical steak knife requires a fork to pin down the food.

As mentioned in my previous post, working for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium allows me to travel to these places in Alaska where traditional culture is still very much valued. Barrow was no different.

Much of the work I did while in Barrow was working with the North Slope Borough Health Department, which just received grant funding from the State of Alaska Tobacco Program to enhance and establish policies in the community to reduce the use of tobacco. According to the 2010 North Slope Borough census, almost 49% of people in the North Slope region (compared to 22% of adults statewide) and 59% of North Slope Inupiats (compared to 43% of Alaska Native People statewide) smoke cigarettes. Although smokeless tobacco use is much less common, 2-7% of people in the North Slope use smokeless tobacco, where 5% of Alaskans use smokeless tobacco statewide. According to data from a NSB survey in 2004, 66% of high school students reported smoking cigarettes once or more in the past 30 days and 31% of high school students reported using smokeless tobacco once or more in the past 12 months.

The North Slope Borough Health Department serves eight communities in the North Slope region, including Barrow.

One of the health department buildings is named after Ose Matsutani, who I actually know and goes to my church here in Anchorage. Ose is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who practiced in Barrow before he moved to Anchorage.

Other momentous events from my trip to Barrow...  

Upon arriving in Barrow and checking into the hotel, the time was getting late. With temperatures around negative 35 degrees, we were craving a hot plate of food.  We headed to Sam & Lee's Restaurant, which is open until 2:00 AM (lucky for us). I ordered a delicious bowl of hot and sour soup with tofu.

This is a staircase behind the Matsutani Community Resource Center...with a heck of a lot of snow.

I took this photo for my dad...a flier for the Rotary Club of Barrow - Nuvuk. The "Farthest North Club in the World."

For more information about the Inupiaq way of life, "The Whales, They Give Themselves" is an outstanding read about the 

"intimate life history of Harry Brower, Sr. (1924-1992), an Inupiaq whaling captain, artisan, and community leader from Barrow, Alaska. In a life that spanned the profound cultural and economic changes of the twentieth century, Brower's vast knowledge of the natural world made him an essential contributor to the Native and scientific communities of the North. His desire to share his insights with future generations resulted in a series of conversations with friend and oral historian Karen Brewster, who weaves Harry's stories with cultural and historical background into this innovative and collaborative oral biography."

The book can be purchased on amazon.com.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of the culture of Barrow...and a little bit more about my experience traveling to the farthest north community in North America.

Happy weekend!

February 16, 2013

Barrow, Alaska [part I]

At the end of January, I had the privilege of traveling to Barrow, Alaska. There to assist with a few projects for work, this was my second ever visit to Barrow. My first visit was in the summer of 2011. I didn't blog about that trip, but will be sharing that experience in the near future.

With 4,212 residents (according to the 2010 census), Barrow is the largest community in the North Slope Borough. It is the 9th northern most city in the world and is the northernmost city in the United States. Nearby Point Barrow is the northernmost point in the United States.

A little bit about Barrow...

The name "Barrow" is derived from Point Barrow, which was named by Frederick William Beechey in 1825 after Sir John Barrow of the British Admiralty, who was a strong supporter of Arctic voyages of discovery. Barrow and the surrounding north slope region has been home to Inupiat People "Real People" for over 1,000 years. Ukpeagvik, or "place where snowy owls are hunted," is the native word for the community of Barrow (more details about the culture of Barrow will be shared in my next post).

The temperature when I was in Barrow was around negative 15 degrees. Including the wind chill, temperatures dipped down to negative 40 degrees. Typically, temperatures remain below freezing from early October through late May. The high temperature is above freezing on an average of only 120 days per year and there are temperatures at or below0 °F on an average of 160 days per year.  Usually in June the average temperature rises above freezing (to about 36 degrees), and average daily temperatures remain above freezing until mid September.

Barrow is roughly 1,300 miles south of the North Pole and 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle. According to NOAA weather data, only 5.3% of the Earth's surface lies as far from the Equator as Barrow. 

While I was in Barrow, the city had just experienced the sun rising above the horizon for the first time in about 65 days. When the sun sets for good around November 19th or 20th, a polar night is created, which is when the night lasts for more than 24 hours. During the first half of the polar night, there is a decreasing amount of twilight each day, which is when the sun is below the horizon but light is still observed. On the winter solstice (December 21-22), civil twilight in Barrow lasts for just three hours.

Beginning on or around May 11 or 12 the sun remains above the horizon for the entire day, and there is an increasing amount of twilight each day. Around June 21 or June 22, on the summer solstice, civil twilight in Barrow lasts for more than 3 hours and the midnight sun is observed. The sun does not set again for about 80 days - around July 31 or August 1. 

The roads in Barrow are unpaved due to the permafrost and like many rural communities in Alaska, there are no roads that connect the city to the rest of Alaska.

Therefore, air transportation is the main means of getting in and out of Barrow and outlying cities. Barrow is served by Alaska Airlines and a number of small airlines have daily flight services to and from Barrow from nearby villages. Interestingly, the airport in Barrow is called the Wiley Post - Will Rogers Memorial Airport. The airport was named to commemorate the famous pilot and American humorist who in 1935, died in an airplane crash just 15 miles south of Barrow. Across from the airport is the Will Rogers and Wiley Post Monument.

The "baggage claim" in Barrow is much different than your typical baggage claim in larger aiports. This is similar to how many aiports in rural Alaska operate their baggage claims - the door is opened and the luggage is thrown from the cargo holder onto the bag slide - classy, fast and efficient.

The plane I traveled on was a combi aircraft, which is a jet that can transport either passengers or freight, and often times in Alaska, transports both passengers and freight. The freight is loaded into the front of the plane and passengers sit in the back of the plane. The two areas are separated by a bulkhead, with no first class seating. 

Barrow is the economic center of the North Slope Borough. The regional hospital, health department, school, state and federal agencies and a number of businesses provide employment and support services to oil field operations.

One of the buildings that is a focal point in the community is the Inupiat Heritage Center.

Dedicated in 1999 by the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Center recognizes the contributions of the Alaska Native People to the history of whaling.

Another point of interest in Barrow is Ilisagvik College. A two year tribal college, Ilisagvik College originated in 1986 as an opportunity for Alaska Native People and geographically isolated people who would have no other means to access higher education beyond high school. In 2003, Ilisagvik was accredited to offer Associate's Degrees and one year certificates.

(photo courtesy of campus explorer.com)

The school is located on a site previously used by the United States Naval Arctic Research Laboratory.

I could continue to write on and on about the history of Barrow and the North Slope region but will save that for a future post...


February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 

1 Corinthians 13:4

See a previous Valentine's Day post:

February 13, 2013

Perfect Guacamole

Who doesn't like a little guacamole? 

Easy to make and super delicious, guacamole can be one of the healthiest items on a snack table at a party. Using a recipe from my sister, I modified the recipe to add some heat to the guacamole by adding jalapeños to the mix. Plus, I am a big fan of chunky, which is one reason why I love this guacamole.


3 ripe avocados
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion 
1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced (more or less, to taste)
1 clove garlic, minced (more or less, to taste)
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp lime juice (or juice from one lime)
1-2 Roma tomatoes, diced

Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit. Spoon the flesh of the avocados into a mixing bowl. Add the onion, jalapeño, garlic and salt. Combine. Add the lime juice and stir gently, just until ingredients are mixed. Stir in diced Roma tomatoes.

Keep the pits of the avocados in the guacamole until served to prevent the guacamole from turning brown.


February 10, 2013

Dessert Hummus

Have you ever wanted to indulge in a dip that was slightly sweet but healthy? A dip that you could lick completely clean and not feel guilty? 

I have been making this dessert hummus for a few months and am hooked. I often make a double or triple batch at a time during the weekend...and keep the hummus in my fridge until gone. The great thing about this hummus is that it gets better with time, so you can justify making large batches. :-)

Katie from chocolatecoveredkatie.com posted a version of this dip on her website. I eliminated a number of the ingredients in the recipe, keeping just the items needed for the consistency and flavor I enjoy most.

Dessert Hummus

8 dates (pitted), soaked (I buy mine at Costco)
Soaking water
15 oz. can white beans
1/4 cup nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, walnut, mixed nut...anything works...and feel free to add more nut butter if you want more of a nutty flavor)
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp chocolate chips (optional) 
Press the dates down into a bowl or cup and cover them with water until they are JUST covered (it is ok if a tiny bit of the dates peak out through the water).  Soak the dates in the water for 15-30 minutes (the longer the better).

Once the dates have soaked, place all of the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) in the food processor and process for 1-2 minutes.  Stop and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.  Repeat this process until the hummus is very smooth. The hummus will be relatively thin because of the heat from the food processor; however, once the hummus is put in the refrigerator, the hummus will become firm. 

Pour the hummus into a bowl and mix in the chocolate chips if desired. I prefer to make the hummus without the chocolate chips but the chocolate chips definitely add a sweetness that some people may enjoy.
That's it. Hummus complete. You are done. Place the completed hummus in the fridge to firm-up.  A bowl of goodness awaits you. I enjoy eating the hummus with bananas or apple slices. 

Enjoy and indulge. 

February 09, 2013

So fresh

Nothing better than waking up to a fresh layer of snow...