My internet BFFs.

At the beginning of the year, even prior to COVID being a thing, I set a modest goal to get myself in better shape. I started up a daily yoga practice with Yoga with Adriene sessions on YouTube, a suggestion from Lori that I followed up on, and it quickly became something I look forward to every day. I was a complete newbie to yoga, and I found Adriene’s yoga for beginners videos were great and eased me into it. She also has many 30-day playlists of daily yoga sessions that make it easy to keep you interested for a month at a time.

After about 4 months with Adriene, I started mixing in some other yoga sessions with Yoga with Kassandra, also on YouTube. I found they were less chatty, especially Kassandra’s “minimal prompts” videos. Adriene spends time in each video emphasizing how to properly align your arms, legs, hips, back, etc. to avoid injury. I found Kassandra’s sessions a bit more challenging, which I was looking for, and she has some sessions longer than 30 minutes, which I enjoy rotating in. After about 3 months of doing Kassandra’s more challenging videos, I found that I had hurt my right wrist and left elbow. Sure enough, I was not using proper alignment and must have put too much weight in the wrong places too many times. Shame on me. I should have listened to Adriene.

That left me at the end of August not able to do the yoga poses that put all my weight on my wrists and elbows. So I searched out some other workouts to keep me moving. And… I found Heather! Heather Robertson recorded a free 12-week workout series of YouTube videos at the beginning of the year that mix in high intensity interval training, cardio, and tabata (I had to look that up). There are 5 sessions per week, each 30-40 minutes long. They are challenging (for me), but very doable. You really don’t need much more room than what a yoga mat takes up, so the workouts are great for small spaces.

My space.

I am excited to say that I just completed the entire series! It took me a couple weeks longer than 12 weeks, as I took some time off while aboard Trident. But, even so, I did complete a number of workouts on the boat in the 4 weeks that I was away from home. Lori and I took turns working out in the salon on the boat while the other person did boat chores.

After 3 months of doing Heather, I think I’ll start her 12-week workout plan all over again. My wrist and elbow that I had injured both feel strong and pain-free now, so I plan to mix in some yoga again, with both Adriene and Kassandra.

I also began walking most days, mixing in a little bit of running.

Entering the last few weeks of the year, I’m extremely happy that I have realized my goal from the beginning of the year. I’m in better shape than I have been in a very long time. I feel stronger and more flexible. It’s not easy for me to keep it up, but I hope I do. It’s really all up to me. I am incredibly grateful to the YouTube ladies that inspire me and help me keep moving – certainly a bright spot in the otherwise dull year that is 2020. Thanks Adriene, Kassandra, and Heather!!!

Essentials.

At the beginning of the year, I introduced myself to essential oils. I was curious about them and the purported benefits of aromatherapy. Until then, my only exposure to them was during visits to the day spa. Right before COVID was a thing, a neighbor invited me to attend an introductory session at her house, as she had just signed up to sell for one of the major essential oil multi-level marketing (MLM) companies. I learned the basics of essential oils during that session, and wanted to try some, but I’m not really a multi-level marketing kinda girl. Instead, I found Revive for my first purchase, an on-line retailer of high quality, 100% pure essential oils. No MLM-strings attached, with free shipping, too.

After 6 months of using them, I am a fan! Years ago, Monte made me a wooden box out of mahogany boat scraps. It would be a perfect storage box for my essential oils, as they need to be stored in a dry, dark place to maximize their shelf-life. I drilled out cylindrical voids in a few pieces of wood to create two tiered rows inside the box to hold the bottles of my essential oils. I’m in love with this storage box. It smells amazing every time I open it.

I have found various ways to enjoy my essential oils. I haven’t become a fan of ingesting them. But, I use a diffuser to disperse the oils in the air, especially when I am doing yoga, a workout, or just working in my office/studio at home. Sometimes I use a single oil, sometimes I blend a few together. Revive has their own blend called “Sleep” that I really enjoy diffusing around bedtime.

Please remember that 100% pure essential oils should not be applied to skin undiluted. They should be mixed with a carrier oil or other liquid.

Dabbling with essential oils (pardon the pun) has expanded my repertoire of DIY projects with these that each incorporate several drops of oil:

Yoga-mat de-funking spray

  • small spray bottle (mine holds about 4 ounces)
  • 3 parts distilled H2O
  • 1 part witch hazel
  • 5 drops tea tree oil (note, tea-tree oil may not be pet-friendly, eucalyptus is another option)
  • 5 drops lavender oil

Mix all together in a spray bottle. Just spray on your sweaty yoga mat and wipe off with a dry, clean towel.


Foaming soap

  • foaming soap dispenser (Note, make sure it is for foaming soap, which is different than a regular liquid soap dispenser.)
  • 3/4 cup distilled H2O (Put this in the foaming soap dispenser first to cut down on creating foam inside the bottle while mixing.)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp pure-castile liquid soap
  • 1/2 Tbsp fractionated coconut oil
  • 5-7 drops of your favorite essential oil

My foaming soap dispenser holds 8.5 ounces and the above amounts work for that size dispenser. If yours is a different size, adjust quantities accordingly, but make sure to allow enough room for the foaming mechanism on the spray insert to fit without causing the contents of the bottle to overflow.


Hand-sanitizer (or hand-cleaner, whatever)

  • 2 parts rubbing alcohol (99%)
  • 1 part aloe vera gel

Mix together in dispenser of your choice.


Anti-chafe cream:

  • 1 part fractionated coconut oil
  • 1 part corn starch
  • 4-5 drops essential oil of your choosing

I find this helps alleviate chafing on my skin when working out. You may want to tweak the amount of corn starch to create a consistency you prefer. I keep mine in an old face cream jar and rub a little on my arms or my legs if things are experiencing a bit of friction.

All in a day’s work.

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During this prolonged shelter-in-place, when people ask me “what did you do today?” I usually go blank.  But I have been busy!  Aside from the household chores, cooking, and yard work, I have found contentment in these online diversions, which fill my day.

Photography

Nikon is offering their curriculum of 10 online photography classes to be streamed for free until the end of April.  How cool is that?  Link here.

Birding

High Island on the Texas Gulf Coast is one of my very favorite birding destinations during migration in April.  But not only is travel not in line with the current stay-at-home order, but the sanctuaries are also closed.  Thankfully, Houston Audubon, who owns and runs the High Island sanctuaries, is live streaming video footage from their Facebook page at 8AM and 3:30PM every Thursday through Monday.  Their Facebook link here.

Guitar

Fender is offering a 90-day free trial of their online guitar, bass, and ukelele lessons.   I’m a poorly self-taught guitar player of nearly 30 years and I’m learning new things by following their lesson progression, and more importantly, practicing again.  Link here.

Exercise

Lori recommended some beginner yoga sessions on YouTube, from “Yoga with Adriene.” I’m a yoga-newbie and am enjoying them very much.  Link here.

I use an app called “30Days” to help me to do higher and higher reps of traditional strength exercises like plank, situps, pushups, etc.  You pick the exercises, set your starting point, and for 30 days the app will gradually increase the reps, giving you days-off every few days.  I’ve used their app for years, on and off.  I’m 27 days into my latest 30-day stint and am back up to planking for 3 minutes.  🙂   The app isn’t fancy, there are prettier ones out there, but it’s free and it works for me when I use it.  Link here.

Amy recommended an app she used to train herself from couch-surfer to running a 5K over the course of 8 weeks.  They also have a 10K version which takes you from couch to 10K in 14 weeks, which is the one I’m using.  I’m on week 4 and am still enjoying it. They are both free to try for 7 days, and then you have to pay to upgrade to unlimited access.  The provider, Fitness22, actually has an entire collection of fitness apps.  Link here.

After 6 years, I am still wearing my fitbit One tracker every day.  I need to upgrade to a watch soon.  Either way, I use their app daily to track my activity and food.   Link here.

Things to listen to

Amazon Music, one of the perks of Prime membership, has a great selection of music; 2 million songs from their 50 million song library are free to listen to for Prime members.  You can search by song, album, artist, or listen to existing playlists and curated stations for something that floats your boat.  Keeto enjoys George Winston.  Link here.

Amazon Music has a channel on twitch.tv where they are hosting live-streamed webcasts.  Look for #togetherathome hashtag.  I listened to Hayes Carll play live for an hour on his patio last night.  The audio was very well done.  Link here.

I’ve gone overboard subscribing to and listening to podcasts, true crime is my addiction.  I have new content to listen to each day.  I use the Stitcher app to listen.   Link here.

Foreign Language Learning

I still use the free app Duolingo to practice my Spanish every day or so.  Link here.

Things to watch

The British National Theatre is streaming previously recorded theater performances every Thursday in April, on their YouTube channel.  We watched the first one, a comedy called One Man, Two Guvnors, last week and really enjoyed it.  Link here.

The Metropolitan Opera is streaming videos of previously recorded opera performances, a new one every day.  Link here.

Acorn.tv is offering a 30-day free trial of their British TV shows’ episodes (which we enjoy very much) for new subscribers, instead of their normal 7-day free trial.  Use the code FREE30 when signing up.  Link here.

Videochat

Ok, hands down, I’ve adopted Zoom for video chat.  The free version allows unlimited video meetings with a 40-minute time limit on each, which works for me.   Link here.

Online multiplayer games

We have spent many hours playing online games with friends and family.  I think that trickstercards.com and boardgamearena.com are both well done for this.  We combine them with a zoom video chat.

Food & Drink

Virtual wine tasting from Becker Vineyards.  What’s a virtual wine tasting?  Well, Becker is selling different 3 pack bottles of different varietals each week, which you can order to be shipped to your home.  And then a few days later, you tune into their Facebook Live sessions to participate in a group tasting of each bottle with experts from the vineyard.  I just bought the 3rd tasting pack.  It should be good!  Link here.

I posted previously about my ongoing on-line grocery shopping adventures for delivery and/or curbside pickup.  I’ve been pretty good at keeping an order scheduled a week to 10 days ahead of time, to keep fresh food in the house.  Let me say, again, HEB is awesome!  Link to my previous post here.