SUP – Stand Up Paddle-boarding

Have you tried stand up paddle-boarding (SUP) or know anyone who owns a board?  I’ve noticed more and more stand up paddleboards popping up in magazines over the past few years, usually mentioned by a fit celebrity or cited as a workout.  I had no idea there was a magazine specifically dedicated to SUP and it wasn’t until last year that I saw one with my own two eyes.  I was eating dinner at a restaurant in Seattle and out on the calm water a couple was watching the sunset from their SUP.  I was so envious!  If you’ve ever watched the sunset over the water you know what an amazing view it is, now imagine being on the water while it’s setting. Breathtaking.  Apparently I’m not the only newbie to SUP.  According to the 2013 Outdoor Participation Report, “Stand up paddling had the highest number of new participants in the past year. More than half of stand up paddling participants tried the sport for the first time in 2012.”

Even though I had a lot of interest in SUP, I didn’t get the chance to try it for myself until this past weekend.  My local outdoors store, Townsend Bertram & CO, hosted an event along with BIC (yep, the same people that run the pen game have a big hand in water board sporting equipment) to introduce SUP to those of us who have never tried it.  There’s a large number of lakes and rivers in NC, not to mention the Outer Banks area, so what better place to entice people to get into SUP? At least that’s what I thought when I signed up for the free event.

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K and I headed to the lake on full hoagie-bellies (that’s sub-bellies to you [katie here: haha, Calder and I argue about this all of the time, thanks for the data!])  excited to try something new.  Once we checked-in we were assigned a number.  The friendly folks at Townsend Bertram & CO would periodically call out numbers, which was the cue to step on down to the waterside.  First the paddle was adjusted for height.  You raise your arm straight up into the air, but let your wrist hang limp.  The top of the paddle handle should just touch your palm.  Then the instructors picked a board depending on our height, weight and intended use.  There are different boards for racing, yoga, surfing and just plain paddling around.  K and I both tried standard boards the first time out.  He was on a 10’6” while I was on a 10’4”.  I wasn’t that nervous about the whole thing, but I think K thought it was going to be harder than it was.  I only saw one person out of 70 fall the entire day!  You simply wade out into the water, hoist yourself onto the board and then kneel in the center of it.  After you feel comfortable kneeling and paddling you can stand up and off you go.  K liked it so much that he went out a second time on a slim racing board.

Before I tried SUP I was excited about the idea, but thought it was a bit redundant since I already owned a kayak. Once I was on the board, I fell in love! It’s much different from kayaking and maybe it seems selfish, but I want one of these too.  Unlike kayaking, you’re much higher than the surface of the water so you’re able to see farther.  As a photographer, I really like that about SUP. I also like that you can easily see where you’re going.  Instead of just paddling blindly through the water, the more detailed view allows you to anticipate different currents, depths and passages.  I also love that SUP works your core and more of your upper body than the kayak.  I tire very easily in my kayak because I have a relatively weak chest and shoulders, but my core is solid, which made SUP less challenging and more enjoyable for me.  You can also hop off your SUP when waters get rough and choppy as opposed to flipping over in a kayak, which scares a lot of folks.

I love that SUP doubles as a surfboard and for that matter triples as a floating yoga mat!  You know the Seasoned sisters love yoga and if you don’t, we tried to tell you here and here.  At the event on Sunday I also ran into Allison from LYFSUP. In short, LYFSUP is dedicated to building the SUP community around Jordan Lake and in Chapel Hill, NC and beyond, and they are dedicated to protecting water & natural resources, donating a percentage of their profits to the cause.  Allison has an impressive background in surfing and SUP so it’s no wonder she’s committed to bringing it to the area.  LYFSUP offers  SUP yoga classes, which is what I had the chance to see on Sunday at the lake.  Allison and her stepdaughter Haley went out on the water and demonstrated a mini yoga flow for me!  It looked so relaxing and at the same time more challenging and complex than yoga on solid ground.  After watching the ladies practice side plank, chair, down dog and sun salutations out on the lake, I started calculating a budget to see how quickly I could buy a board!  My family has a home in Virginia, just a few yards from the water, so I could already envision switching my daily yoga practice to SUP yoga.  Imagine how tranquil and relaxing it must be to practice while gently floating along *sigh*.  In the meantime I’ll take a couple of Allison’s SUP yoga classes and hopefully by next year a board will be mine.

I do think the boards are a little bit pricey, but that may be because I’m used to buying boats and equipment with more to it.  Since SUP is a newer concept to me, I think I’m having a hard time justifying such an expensive purchase on just a board (even though I know it’s so much more than that!).  Like I said, it really is a SUP, surf board and yoga mat all in one.  The boards I used on Sunday were top-of-the-line, but I did find some for as low as $600 and even $400, but I can’t attest to the quality.  The ones I saw Allison of LYFSUP using were even more impressive and perfect for practicing yoga so I’m excited to get the opportunity to try one out for myself during her class (the board and anchor rental is only $5 extra).  After perusing the internet and seeing so.many.options. I think it would be a good idea to rent several different kinds and really get a feel for the type of board that’s right for you.  In my family, we often split recreational purchases like this, making it extra important to research the boards to find one board that can fit everyone in the family.

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If you are new to SUP like myself, you should do a quick google search and see if any sporting good stores, outlets or parks in your area rent out boards.  I was surprised to find out that there are several rental venues in my area and near the Outer Banks too.  It’s a great way to explore, and who doesn’t love a new adventure?

I feel like I’ve become mildly obsessed with SUP in a matter of a few days.  I promise this post isn’t sponsored by anyone (although I wish it was, helllllo free SUP).  I tend to bounce around from one expensive hobby (backpacking to rock climbing and always photography) to the next so I’m really trying to reign myself in on this one.  I can already see myself buying a board during end-of-the-summer clearance sales.  So be it.  All the better to photograph the sunset with, am I right? [katie again : you have me convinced!]

If any of you are in my area, Chapel Hill, NC, let’s take a SUP yoga class together!  I’m doing it either way so why not join me?  Back to daydreaming about SUP in tropical locations for me…

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Cold Oat Noodle Salad {Gluten Free}

If you’re willing to experiment in the kitchen, there’s nothing more fun that moving out of your comfort and cultural zones for ingredients.  Have you visited any of the many Chinatowns in the US? That’s where I had my first bubble tea (over 14 years ago now!) and some delicious meals, but when I want to really go shopping, I search out the large grocery stores. My exploration started when I discovered a large Asian grocery store in Philadelphia and then Ming’s Supermarket in Boston. Leaving behind the large markets was one of the urban luxuries that I mourned when moving to central PA, but, as luck would have it, our little town has a number of Asian markets! While they aren’t as big as their city counterparts, they have a surprising amount of variety in a small space.

Side note – did you hear the This American Life episode on Coincidences? The Asian grocery stores in Philadelphia and Boston were both on Washington Ave. When still finding my way around Boston, that little coincidence was a sign to me that everything would be ok! Silly? yes.

What do I buy when I go to the markets? Anything that catches my eye! I went shopping a couple of weeks ago and took a few pictures to show you both what I buy and why I love the markets.

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Monday Inspiration Vol. 3

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Just a simple yet important reminder for the week ahead of you.  Isn’t it lovely when someone pays you a compliment, tells you you’re doing great or encourages you in some way?  Why shouldn’t you provide your own encouragement as well?  Only you know why you’re headed in the direction you are and that is enough to know it is correct and good.  Maybe you are unsure of your path and that’s ok too!  Just keep moving and encouraging yourself every step of the way, sooner or later you’ll realize everything you did was for a reason and a good one at that.  Remember to encourage others as well.  Tell family, friends and even strangers, words that will boost their spirits and empower them to live a happier and healthier life today and every day.

We’re encouraging you to focus on self-love this week. Christian Nestell Bovee said it best, “our first and last love is self love.” So why not start today?  Realize when you’re being too hard on yourself and simply let it go, exhale and tell yourself something encouraging.  Something you’d say to your sister, partner or coworker to make them feel a bit better about their efforts.  Simply realizing when I’m battering myself has helped me have a more positive mindset in many faucets of my life, everything from self-employment to traveling to eating.  Hear your worries and woes as if they’re coming from a loved one and respond accordingly.  I promise you it will feel great.  Happy Monday!

If you’re in the mood for more Monday Inspiration look here and here.
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Indoor Herb Gardening 101

If you haven’t grown your own food yet, we think herbs provide one of the easiest ways to begin gardening.  Herbs can be grown indoors or outside, whichever you prefer.  Once they get growing, they’re relatively low maintenance, and you can begin harvesting almost immediately.  I recently moved to an apartment with no yard so I began an indoor herb garden.  This post contains a few things I’ve learned about growing herbs indoors, and that terra-cotta pot painting tutorial we promised is at the end of the post!

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We Saw Stripes!

We know, we know, we told you that there was going to be a photography tutorial today, but we couldn’t help ourselves, we had to update you on Alex’s stripe party!  The little guy is turning one on Friday so we gathered the family together for a stripe celebration.

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Baby A looks great in stripes, which is how we came up with the theme.   We also asked all of our family to dig through their drawers and play the part as well.  Katie, Calder and Alex all matched in striped Old Navy shirts (Kate and Alex’s colors are now sold out).  The rest of the gang looked great in their various striped outfits.  The Easter bunny even dropped off party-appropriate footwear for all the guests!  All the guests received goodie bags filled with striped candy, striped kazoos, stunna shades and a party hat.  The instruments, shades and hats were an easy way to add to the stripe theme and the over all goofiness of the party.  They also worked as great props for our photo wall.  Katie simply hung strips of yellow crepe paper on a white wall, which I then encouraged everyone to pose in front of throughout the party.

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Monday Inspiration Vol. 2

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This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to   the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites usall. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

A quick internet search revealed the source of these words as Chief Seattle, but after a little digging and this article, that wide-spread assumption is most likely false.  Even so, I think the sentiment is beautiful and one that I wished many humans believed in.  Tomorrow is earth day and Friday is arbor day so I challenge you to carry these sentences with you this week and the rest of the year.  Pass them on and share them when appropriate and feel great when you do something beneficial for mother nature.  She deserves it and so do you.

Rather than follow our regular schedule, this week we have some really great Earth and Arbor Day-inspired posts for you cats.  Tuesday we’re featuring artist, Benjamin Gazsi, who creates impressive large-scale eco-sculptures that we think you’ll love.  Wednesday’s post will be an easy to follow nature photography tutorial.  You’ll learn about aperture, shutter speed and other functions of your point-and-shoot or DSLR so that you can stop shooting on auto settings and start taking better photos.  Thursday we’re sharing a terracotta pot painting tutorial.  We’ll also highlight some common herbs and tips on how to grow and use them in your home!  And Friday we’re going to skip our usual In Season post and introduce a new series we’re calling In the Field. This week we’ll be talking to Sara Fitzsimmons, a scientist working to breed and reintroduce blight-resistant Chestnut trees to the forests of the eastern US.

We hope you’re gearing up for a week full of earth-inspired posts and living every day like earth day.  Ok, time to take the pup on a hike. Happy Monday!

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In Season: Amazing A-frames

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This weekend I’ll be making the trip north to visit family in Pennsylvania.  Whenever I think family holidays, friend gatherings or vacations, I start day dreaming about the magical spaces where they take place.  When I was younger, I’d picture enormous mansions and vacation rental homes, but as I’ve grown up, my daydreams have wandered into the woods and specifically under the amazing roofs of a-frames.

I love all the windows in this one.

This tiny a-frame is so quaint! Somehow there’s room for a wood stove.

The Allandale house is so much more than a simple a-frame. I suggest you scroll through the album and fall in love like I did.

Great news, this red a-frame and this modern a-frame are for rent.  They’re both located in the Sierra National Forest near Yosemite, um, yes please!

Instead of renting, you could always build one yourself.

That siding? That sliding door? This looks like the artist retreat for me…

When I’m finished with my residency, I’ll just drive a few hours across Oregon and move into this modern a-frame. I imagine the conversation will go something like this, *knock knock* “Oh, hi Jonya, Brandon and Julian!  Your new housemate is here. Don’t mind me, I’ll cook and clean, you guys just do your thing…”

If they reject me, I’ll seek out this home.  The photos on Heath’s flickr stream are really inspiring BTW.

As much as I love homes meant for large families and entertaining, I love simple, tiny a-frames.  I imagine a blissful little summer of solitude or a cozy winter where I spend my time reading books and sipping tea.

Lastly, this blue guy. Sadly, I couldn’t locate a source no matter how hard I tried.

Here are more a-frames and  some simple space inspiration if you need something to draw from for your daydreams.

Have you ever stayed in an a-frame?  Was it yours or a friend’s?  Did you rent it?  I must know every detail.  Happy daydreaming!

 

 Image property of the Library of Congress archive.
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Five Minute Abdominal Cycle

Maintaining a strong core is not just important for bikinis and belly shirts, it’s about protecting and strengthening your posture throughout all your actions.  Your core enhances your balance and stability and acts as the central link between your upper and lower body.  A strong and flexible core means a more stabilized upper and lower body and virtually an overall stronger body.  This abdominal flow targets upper, lower and side abdominal muscles while minimizing potential strain on one’s neck.

Start on your hands and knees with a neutral spine, slowly inhale into cow and exhale into cat.  Repeat five times while focusing on the breath and continue through the workout. Each movement should be done with proper form and purpose.  Remember to keep your breath even, deep and slow.  If you cannot maintain deep breathing and proper form, you’re not doing yourself any favors.  Most of these exercises have variations, feel free to utilize them!  Don’t overdue it, you want to strengthen not strain your abdominals.

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Carrot Cake

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Last week I experimented with making a cake for Alex’s upcoming first birthday. If you caught this post, you know we’re planning a striped affair for the little guy. I was trying to come up with an idea for the cake when a neighbor, whose son’s birthday is on Easter this year, told me that she’s doing something like this. You bake a cake in two circular pans, one becomes the bunny’s face, the other is cut in such a way that you make two ears and a bow tie. With a striped bow tie, the bunny would fit our theme!

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Where’d You Go Bernadette?

Today we’ll be chatting about our spring book pick, Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple.  We both flew through this book and enjoyed every minute of it! Did you?

We each wrote our thoughts below, just thinking about what stood out to us when reading the book and commenting on each other’s posting. We hope this format isn’t too difficult to read and respond to, as we would like to continue the discussion in the comments throughout the day.

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Fair warning, this discussion (and probably many of the comments) will have *SPOILERS* so please don’t read this post if you haven’t finished the book yet.  After you’re done, feel free to revisit this post and share your thoughts with us.

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