I can’t believe I never noticed before!

I was left to my own devices last night when my husband went out to play some cards (the WoW collectible card game, not poker) with his geek crew, so I fired up the DVR and finally watched Brokeback Mountain for the first time whilst roasting a chicken, balancing my accounts in MS Money, and hoovering the carpet, not necessarily all at the same time.

Plenty has been said about the film, so I will just say that I found it really well acted, very emotionally engaging, and worthy of a few leaked tears at the end.

However, amidst all the blubbering I still noticed something really funny. Funny for me, anyway. Maybe not so much for my husband given the origin of my discovery.

MyHeritage: Celebrity MorphGeneology Family history

We could save a whole lot of money on Halloween this year if Chris would just get some black hair dye and a black cowboy hat, don’t you think?

Cute Workout Shoe Alert: 25% Off $39.99 Ryka Mary Janes

Update: A NEW 30% off coupon code with no minimum purchase is available from July 24-27! Use code: EMCP8LLK during checkout.

Foot Locker has a 25% off coupon code (EM218LM3)with no minimum purchase requirement that expires tonight at 11:59 PM CT. Best of all, with this magical coupon, you can score one of these insanely cute pairs of Ryka women’s Mary Jane-style trainers for about half the suggested retail price of $59.99.

All of these Ryka shoes are already on sale for $39.99, so the coupon knocks another $10 off the price, which means that you can have ’em for $29.99 + 6.99 s/h + sales tax.

Guess what I’ll be wearing to the gym next week on lifting days? W00t!

Reviews and multi-views of both the Versa and Ramble style Mary Janes can be found at Zappos. Both averaged 5 out of 5 stars from customers.

Ryka Ramble

Ryka Ramble

Description of the Ramble:

  • Stylish enough to go from around town to around the gym.
  • Hook and loop closure provides stability with easy on/off accessibility.
  • Open mesh upper offers breathable comfort.
  • Low Profile EVA midsole offers modern, stylish comfort.
  • Nitracel heel and forfoot cushioning absorbs impact and provides toe spring.
  • 8.00 oz.

Ryka Versa

Ryka Versa

Description of the Versa:

  • Open, lightweight in-gym trainer with fullfoot cushioning and midfoot stability.
  • Textured synthetic upper with mesh accents for lightweight support and detailing.
  • Full forefoot Nitracel Engage® provides superior forefoot cushioning.
  • Rearfoot Cushioning Cartridge for rear stability shock absortion.
  • TPU shank offers midfoot stability.
  • Hook and loop closure strap for easy on/off and an adjustable, snug fit.
  • Shoe weighs 9.4 oz.

Temporary Site Snafus

7/3/08 Update: The upgrade was successful, but I had to remove the Recent Comments block from the sidebar because it was using too much of my server’s CPU resources. Comments are active again, though, so post away!

Regular blog visitors might have noticed some downtime since Sunday as well as a switch to a pretty basic WordPress default theme today. Apparently one of my WordPress plugins recently went a bit bonkers, and my web host’s bots have been automatically taking the site offline because lil’ old Caustic Musings was using more than its share of the server’s CPU time.


Anyway, I’ll be troubleshooting the issues and upgrading my scripts Thursday and generally bringing the various bits and pieces of the blog back up to speed as soon as I can. I am disabling comments until I get everything working properly again. Thanks for hanging around, and please excuse the temporary mess!

$10 BP Gas Card & Insulated Tote for Donating Blood (Central Florida)

If you live in the central Florida area, why not stop by a branch of Florida’s Blood Center and donate a pint of blood as your good deed for the July 4th holiday?

The blood center is giving away a $10 BP gas card and a spiffy insulated red lunch tote through July 6, and you will also be enrolled in their Darden Restaurant Club Red program which gives you a $10 gift card valid for Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze or any other Darden Restaurant for every 2 donations.

Hey, a frugal fitness geek can never have too many insulated food carriers, and $10 for gas definitely won’t be taken amiss in my house.

Big Red Bag

Origami Seed Packets

For the crafty gardeners out there, I’ve scanned and posted two pages from my old Origami-A-Day calendar that feature instructions on how to fold your own origami seed packets. Way cooler than your typical cut and glue versions, and a nice way to while away a LOT of time if you want to make these for wedding favor seed packets.



(Click the thumbnails to load up the full-size pics.)

Origami seed packet #1Origami seed packet #2

NROL Fat Loss II W1D3: BBQ Blow-up

Meal 6 and my workout were thrown off tonight by a visit to my parents’ house after work. I had a helping of my dad’s superior beef noodles and stayed until 10 PM chatting with my mom and watching So You Think You Can Dance. This pushed my calories up to 1640 or so and delayed my NROL workout by 2 hours. I still wound up with a deficit of over 400 calories, but it fell short of my target of 884 calories per day.

Anyhow, this is where things got really ugly.

I got home a bit after 10 o’clock and discovered that DH had NOT switched the slow cooker to Warm as I had asked him to do before I left for work that morning, and the delicious 2 lb Chinese BBQ pork I had prepped was now a crusty, blackened meat-eor half its starting size. This was bad enough, but what really set me off was finding DH at his computer playing World of Warcraft.


It’s true that my anger was out of proportion to the cost of the meal in question ($3.50 for 2 lbs of lean pork loin on sale), but it was more about the fact that Chris was blithely playing the motivation-draining, time-sucking, responsibility-squashing Warcrack when I walked into the house (which, I must tell you, was FULL of the aroma of slow-cooked Chinese BBQ pork) and claimed that he not only forgot — even though he had gone into the kitchen to feed the cats and get himself some dinner — but that he had somehow failed to notice that the entire house smelled like an Asian Smokey Bones BBQ joint.

The roast may have only cost us $3.50, but the thought of my TEN WHOLE SERVINGS of carefully-marinated, quality protein at $0.35/serving turning into a charred contribution to the local landfill was just infuriating to my frugal foodie soul. How dare my normally wonderful husband turn my triumph of culinary tightwaddery into a bona fide Waste of Hard-Earned Money simply because he couldn’t wait to hop online and thwack and zap faux polygon enemies in a faux polygon world?




After sarcastically and pointedly expressing my extreme displeasure, I went back to the kitchen and performed the angriest Flylady sink scrub in recent history, then stomped directly to our patio gym set up and brought in enough weights to do a truly inspiring PMS- and BBQ pork rage-fueled workout.

Lucky for him the inside of the roast wasn’t as bad as I had feared, or I’d still be holding a grudge on our anniversary next week. 😉

(I did forgive the poor guy in the end. And I can guarantee that he’ll never forget to turn off the slow cooker again.)

– Swim (30 min)
– Walk (13 min)
– NROL Fat Loss II Workout B (half of workout)

M1: 1 cup Frosted Mini Wheats, 1/3 c. light soy milk, 1 T. ketchup, 3 egg whites, jalapeno pepper slices
M2: 15 g walnuts, 17 g raisins, 1 small banana
M3: 1 serving Chinese beef noodles (3.5 oz. lean beef, 2 oz. dry weight noodles, 3/4 c. chopped spinach)
M4: 3 slices roast beef, 1 slice pepper jack cheese, 7 baby carrots
M5: 1.5 servings Chinese been noodles (Dad’s version!)
M6: 2 granola choco chip cookies

NROL Fat Loss II W1D2: New and Improved Fat Loss Miracle Plan!

Haha…Just messing with you all.

There’s no miracle plan here. In fact, there is no miracle plan anywhere.

The only plan that consistently works, time after time, is one that consists of:

– Eating nutritious meals within or slightly below your caloric needs consisting of lean proteins, whole grains, and lots of fruits and veggies. Even better if you can divide the meals up over 5-6 servings per day.
– Chugging down enough water (and green tea if you want to get fancy) to float your eyeballs.
– Lifting *challenging* weights on the program of your choice 3 times a week. (Note on effective weight selection: If you don’t look like an enraged gorilla when performing the final 2-3 reps of your sets, then you are not lifting enough weight.)
– Performing some form of cardiovascular exercise, whether it is interval, steady-state, or some mix of the two, at least 3 times a week; more if you are trying to get your body fat down past the average set point for your gender.
– Changing your workout programs every 4-8 weeks to avoid adaptation.
– Doing all of the above CONSISTENTLY for at least 8 weeks before you start tweaking things and feeling sorry for yourself because your best friend, husband, or next door neighbor managed to drop 20 pounds by just giving up soda.

But wait! you say. Don’t those points sound like they could come from 90% of the diet and fitness books on the bookshelves and Internet today?

Ka-pow! You’ve figured it out.

There is NOTHING new about any of the fat loss plans on the market. All of them pretty much result in the same thing, calorically-speaking: a caloric deficit and an overall improvement in the nutritional make-up of foods consumed. And nearly all of them recommend (surprise, surprise) a regular exercise regimen to complement your diet.

I’ve declared an unofficial moratorium on additional spending on fitness- and nutrition-related reading materials for 2008. This includes workout programs and cookbooks in both paper and ebook format. I’m sure that as soon as this post hits the net half a dozen of my favorite fitness authors will release brand new programs that I will be dying to order, but I’m standing firm on this. I have more than enough workouts to keep me amused at the gym and at home for years, and on the diet front, the only things you really need are two or three healthy cookbooks (this is so you don’t default to chicken breast and broccoli every day and wind up giving up in under a week from boredom), a basic knowledge of portion size, and a willingness to plan and prepare your meals.

I’m all for increasing knowledge and learning new things, mind you, but I’m also a fan of smart spending. At this point, if you are primarily a fitness hobbyist or someone who just wants to get into shape–basically, if you aren’t a fitness pro–and you own four or more diet and exercise books or program manuals, you probably have more than enough information at your fingertips to get good results. This is especially true if said collection includes titles like Body for Life, New Rules of Lifting, New Rules of Lifting for Women, Turbulence Training, Afterburn, Eating for Life, Precision Nutrition, Burn the Fat/Feed the Muscle, Leanness Lifestyle, the South Beach Diet, or the like.

Take a good look at your collection and ask yourself: “What were my results on any of these plans? Have I really given a whole-hearted effort to following and *finishing* any of them? Do I secretly believe that there IS a miracle fat loss plan in some book I haven’t bought yet even though all of the ones I already own just say the same thing over and over (with slight macronutrient differences)?”

When I asked myself these questions recently as part of my Total Money Makeover vow to cut spending on redundant things, I didn’t like the answers. I think it’s time for me to cut myself off from new programs like I cut myself off from buying new off-the-rack clothing for the past year. I sewed myself clothing from my stash of fabric and patterns for a year with a lot of success, and now I’m going to work out and plan meals from my stash, too.

– YF Cardio (31 min)
– Walk (13 min)
– Interval Run (22 min; 60 second sprints = 9.2, 9.5, 9.7, and 10.0 mph; rest = 3.0 mph)

M1: 1 cup Frosted Mini Wheats, 1/3 c. light soy milk, 1 T. ketchup, 1 whole egg, 3 egg whites, 1/2 cup strawberries
M2: 15 g walnuts, 17 g raisins, 1/2 c. strawberries
M3: 3 oz. jalapeno pulled pork, 1 T. jalapeno jelly sauce, 3 c. Romaine and iceberg lettuce, 1 Gala apple, 1/2 c. five-flavor eggplant
M4: 4 slices roast beef, 1 slice pepper jack cheese, 7 baby carrots
M5: 1.5 c. shrimp with broccoli, 1/2 c. five-flavor eggplant
M6: 2 granola choco chip cookies