"I am alive and kicking"

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hair tie distress

A new home for my ponytail holder


Ah, Pinterest. I find the weirdest stuff when I'm scrolling through search results.
I often put my elastic ponytail holders on my wrist. What girl with long hair doesn't?
In the process, my circulation is cut off and it leaves an unsightly impression around my wrist.
Today, I found a pin for this:

The Bittersweet hair tie bracelet is something I need.
(photo courtesy of thegrommet.com)
Oh. My. Goodness. 
Love it. Want one. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Look for this great article

Floating is going viral!

Okay. So I'd LOVE it if my article and blog posts about floating went viral, but hey. The attention the two are raising about a great experience is awesome!
The article I wrote for The Daily Republic in Mitchell ran today, and it's gained some serious attention for Mitchell's Float Spa!
Between my original blog about Float Spa and this article, the place is gonna be hoppin' just in time for Easter weekend!
Angie says she's set to do an interview for TV this weekend. 
Congratulations Angie and Tim!
Anyway, check out the article -- Mitchell's new business: Floating the weight away -- it's worth a read and then it's worth a float!

Tim and Angie Moon own Float Spa in Mitchell. (Photo by Anna Jauhola)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Embrace your weirdness

As I was working on projects this morning, I came across this saying:

(Photo by Anna Jauhola)

And I thought, "This applies to my closest friends."
Shortly after finding this quote, a blog popped up in my search results about the creative benefits of being weird.
I clicked on it and found some fascinating insight.
In one portion of the blog, the author spoke of leveraging your weird background in order to stimulate creativity.
I identified with this. I wasn't raised in a weird environment, per se, but I did have a very different upbringing from most of my classmates and friends.
Having no mom at home led to me being mothered by my grandmother, who gave me a much different view of how life should be and how to act, among other virtues.
While many of my friends are glued to their iPhones, tablets and so on, I feel like I unplug a lot more often (despite the fact I'm keeping up a blog.) Grandma taught me it was important to get outside and away from the TV or computer, even if it's just for a short while.
I've always embraced this "weirdness" and enjoy face time (not to be confused with FaceTime) with my friends and relatives. I've never been one to spend a lot of time on the phone unless it's necessary.
If that makes me weird, then so be it.
As a part-time cook at a small cafe, I often see couples, groups of friends, even older people stop by for lunch and instead of talking to each other, they literally sit down and stare at their phones.
It's sickening.
But I digress.
Then I got curious about what others wrote about being weird, and found another blog post giving 10 reasons why it's okay to be weird.
I really enjoy this one, because it's simple and gets to the point.
The whole trying-to-fit-in thing was something most people try at least once in life. I know I did and I failed miserably. There was no place for this girl to fit in.
At one point, number 6 on the list defined me -- Resisting your weirdness makes you dark.
I could be in a pretty dark place at times, trying to fit in. I often beat myself up for not being skinny, or pretty, or generally accepted.
But, when I stopped caring about the ridicule from others for laughing hysterically at seemingly ridiculous things, I felt lighter.
So. Take some time and think about yourself. How are you weird? How does your weirdness make you special, or creative, or a better person?
Because, guess what?
Everyone is weird.
And it can make you awesome.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Last night, Jacob insisted he had to write notes to the leprechaun that was going to visit our house.
So he wrote a couple notes that said, "Thanks for coming to our house" and "See you next March."
We left them on the table for the leprechaun to see over night and went to bed.
They mysteriously disappeared and were replaced with a note from Lenny the Leprechaun.
"Jacob, Thanks for the nice notes. I hope you like your mop. I hear you like chores. Love, Lenny the Leprechaun."
We were astonished!
Jacob couldn't find any footprints left by Lenny.
I told him the leprechaun must have used the mop to clean up his footprints before he left.
At any rate, Jacob was pretty impressed by his new mop and is super excited to use it.
I will employ that enthusiasm this weekend as the floors in our house need a good mopping.

Jacob is super excited about the mop he received
from Lenny the Leprechaun. (Photo by Anna Jauhola)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Blogging Success, thanks to relaxing

Determining a niche

For the last 10 years, I've been a reporter.
And it seems, from my most recent post, that incorporating that experience into my blog is exactly the type of niche on which I need to focus.
Thanks to the hundreds of people who viewed my blog post about Mitchell's Float Spa.
It was an amazing experience and fun to write about it in first person.
And thanks to these two, Tim and Angie Moon, who opened the Float Spa in January!
Tim and Angie Moon, owners of Mitchell's Float Spa. (Photo by Anna Jauhola)
I've now made it my goal to seek out more opportunities like this in the community and surrounding area.
I've always loved writing about local businesses, unique opportunities and other feature-worthy people, places and events.
AND, it's amazing how much of those types of people, places and events are in South Dakota.
I suppose reporting is simply in my blood and I need to keep an element of that in my writing, but not lose my love for accuracy, truth and proper grammar.
I've never been one to teach people, therefore I believe most of my posts have been fairly useless.
Most posts have an average of 40 visits.
The post about Mitchell's Float Spa alone has so far received 470-plus views.
SO. Back to basics -- reporting fun experiences with facts and entertainment, and photos, wrapped up into one.
If you have any suggestions, please pass them my way. I'm always looking for something to write about that I've never experienced!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Floating for headache relief

Tension headaches are the worst, and I get them often.
I've searched out remedies for this problem, which have rarely worked and I just end up taking some aspirin or ibuprofen.
Then, a month ago, I noticed a new business in Mitchell that could possibly relieve my problems.
This is what a pod looks like. It is 9 feet long by 6 feet wide by
5 feet tall. So the pod is really roomy. (Photo by Anna Jauhola) 

Angie and Tim Moon opened up Float Spa on Mitchell's Main Street on Jan. 31 to a full roster of clients. For the last month, they've averaged 12 clients a day and weekends are booked solid.
Monday through Saturday, they can takes as many as 16 clients.
What is Float Spa, you ask?
Try a float. It's amazing!
(photo by Anna Jauhola)
Well. Let me tell you. It's heaven on earth. Seriously.
I experienced floating Thursday afternoon (which would be why I didn't post a blog yesterday) complete with headache before entering the pod. It was a surreal experience. At first, it was awkward because my toes or fingertips kept bumping the sides of the pod. But after a bit, I found my spot and completely mellowed out. The tension in my shoulders and neck melted away.
It was hard to calm my mind down in tandem with my body, I had so much to think about. But I finally did and enjoyed my experience.
The pod is 9 feet long, and 6 feet wide. It is shaped like an egg and you enter through a hatch door, which is on hydralics to it opens and closes easily. Before getting in, you take a quick shower with soap and shampoo only to wash away any oils. Also, you wear ear plugs in the pod.
Inside, the water is 10 inches deep with 1,000 pounds of natural epsom salts. The 93.5 degree water matches your skin temperature, making it seem like you are floating in space.
Angie recommends you turn off all the lights in the room and the light in the pod while you float. It helps bring you into a heightened state of awareness. Throughout your hour-long float, soothing music plays in the pod. If you don't like it, you are in control of whether it plays and how loud it plays.
Also, she recommends - but does not require - that clients float in the nude. It frees the body of all restrictions and allows you to be more at peace. However, if a client is uncomfortable going nude, they can wear a swim suit.
Angie warns, though, that swimsuits can contaminate the pod's water for that client's session. But, after the session is over, the pod's water is filtered through four times completely clearing it of any contamination.
Angie said she's also had claustrophobic clients who have no problem inside the pods. Some have left the pod door a crack open, others have found it okay to leave the door closed.
Privacy is also important at Float Spa, as the pod rooms each have a shower and a lock on the door.
I'll be frank. I went nude. And it was wonderful. I couldn't imagine floating for so long (60 minutes) wearing a constrictive swimming suit.
At one point, I actually felt like I was floating in space.
One reason for floating noted on the Float Spa website is heightened visualizations. One day, I hope to experience that ... perhaps it would be something like hallucinating, but without the drugs!
After you float, you take another shower to wash away the epsom salts, and let me tell you! The soap and shampoo Angie offers is amazing. The citrus scents are invigorating. AND you can bring home a bit of the spa with you with epsom salts, shampoo, lotion and hand soap.
The soap, shampoo and lotion at Float Spa are available to
take home with you! (Photo by Anna Jauhola)
After you're done with your float and have had some oxygen, there is a spot for yoga or to do some stretching. The oxygen revitalizes you, considering your float is the equivalent of four hours of sleep.
Angie says, after you float, any inflammation you may have experienced will be lessened and it would be the perfect time to stretch out tired muscles.
Remember the headaches I mentioned? After I got out the pod, showered and enjoyed some time at the oxygen bar (Yeah, that's right. Oxygen bar), I realized my headache was still lingering.
I hopped in my car, picked up Jacob from school, and started my drive home. Before leaving town, I noticed my head stopped hurting and my shoulders weren't tense any more.
I'm excited about this new experience, right here in Mitchell!
Check out the new business at 121 N. Main St., and visit the website at Mitchellfloatspa.com to see prices and options. It's well worth the visit!

Monday, March 7, 2016

3 Kickass Peanut Butter Recipes

It's National Peanut Month!
Aside from those who may be allergic, who doesn't love peanut products?
I particularly love peanut butter.
It's great on it's own, with celery, on bread with some jelly, and particularly hilarious when you feed it to a dog.
SO... to celebrate this delicious and healthy food, here are three recipes featuring peanut butter.
FUN FACT: PB dates back centuries to the Incas and Aztecs. But modern peanut butter was created by George Washington Carver, who was known as the father of the peanut industry, according to peanutbutterlovers.com. The Kellogg brothers first patented the tasty treat with steamed peanuts. Later patents used roasted peanuts, making peanut butter much more delicious.

1. Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce. The next time you are in the mood for Asian cuisine, try a side of peanut butter dipping sauce. It's easy to make and takes about 10 minutes.
I can imagine dipping grilled chicken in this sauce and pairing it with a simple bowl of rice or noodles. Mmm ...
A peanut butter dipping sauce for an Asian cuisine night.

Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups of sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
1 cup of unsweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Over low heat, stir all ingredients together for 10 minutes. You must stir constantly to prevent burning. Serve warm.

2. Grilled PB&J. Eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich brings me back to my childhood. It was a staple at our house, usually served on white bread. As I grew older, I preferred wheat over white and started to realize sandwiches are often better when grilled or toasted.
Drag out the old George Foreman grill, everyone, and spread some PB&J on your favorite bread.
Heat up your favorite childhood sandwich - Grill a PB&J!

Ingredients:
2 slices of your favorite bread
Peanut butter
Your choice of jelly

Place PB&J on your bread. Put sandwich on grill or in pan and heat to your desired crispiness.

3. Peanut Butter-Sweet Potato stew. For me, this is completely off the wall. I'm typically a red-meat-and-red-potatoes kinda girl. But this recipe sounds TOO fantastic to pass up.
I personally would use a large cooking pot (remember, I hate the crockpot) and perhaps speed up the process.
But for the crockpot lovers, I found this great recipe at myrecipes.com.
This peanut butter-sweet potato stew looks delicious
(myrecipes.com)

Ingredients:
6 small sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
3 red onions, slice thinly
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
5 sprigs plus 1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
salt and pepper
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Stir together everything but the peanut butter and parsley, and add 2 cups of water.
Cover. Cook on high for 4-5 hours.
Add peanut butter and parsley to the mix just before serving.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

3 Reasons to Camp in a State Park

Some of my fondest memories stem from camping in Minnesota state parks.
Our family trips consisted of weekends camping at Zippel Bay State Park on the shore of Lake of the Woods on the very northern tip of the state.
Although the trips were always great, my brothers, dad and I mostly sat in a boat all day. And by all day I mean all day -- 5 a.m. to dusk, which was usually 8:30 p.m. or so. On a side note, we did go ashore from time to time for bathroom breaks, but there was little exploring.
Now, I've always known that state parks have hiking trails and interesting wildlife, but I've never really taken advantage of those aspects of the parks.
For example, I grew up only about 20 miles from Lake Bronson State Park, home of the tallest Jack Pine in the U.S. Have I ever taken the time to hike to the middle of the wildest part of the park to see this tree? NO. Why? Well, dozens of reasons, mainly mosquitoes. Not a good reason.
Lake Bronson State Park also is home to several miles of hiking trails. I never hiked these trails because I was terribly afraid of being attacked by a bear and of falling in a patch of poison ivy -- both reasonable fears as black bears do live in the wilder parts of the park and poison ivy is EVERYWHERE.
I have, however, visited the many structures built through the Works Progress Administration during The Great Depression.
In the future, as my husband and son enjoy camping, I plan to enjoy some of those features on our trips.
Here are my top three reasons to camp in a state park.

Moose, bald eagles and Timber wolves can be seen
at many Minnesota State Parks. 
1. WILDERNESS. Lake Bronson State Park may be small, but it's actually larger than Zippel Bay State Park. With 4,375 acres, LBSP has several camping sites in a few different locations, great fishing, lots of activities that are either free or at minimal cost. The park features more than 20 miles of trails, which for the winter enthusiast also includes snowmobile trails.
Zippel Bay has 3,054 acres and is much more wild than LBSP. Zippel Bay has only 6 miles of hiking trails and 3 miles of snowmobile trails.
Birders will have a heyday in both parks, which are ripe with fascinating species. In LBSP, you can see ducks, falcons, grouse, hawks and owls. Bald eagles have made a great comeback in recent years at LBSP as well, and can be seen pretty often in both winter and summer.
At Zippel Bay, birders can see a variety of water fowl including Sandhill cranes and the endangered piping plover.
Both parks, of course, are host to a variety of wildlife like deer, bears, elk and moose -- the latter two are more rare. Becoming less rare than in recent years is reports of Timber Wolves at both parks.
On top of the wildlife, there is also beautiful plantlife, including the state flower, the Showy Ladyslipper. You CANNOT pick this flower. Please just enjoy it and take pictures.

At left, the Lake Bronson State Park water tower is a point of pride the park.
At right, this lighthouse welcomed my family and me each time we puttered
back to Zippel Bay State Park after a long day of fishing on Lake of the Woods.
2. HISTORY. As mentioned above, all state parks in Minnesota have pretty fascinating histories. For me, LBSP and Zippel Bay's histories are pretty cool. LBSP's history actually influenced the renaming of the town of Lake Bronson. And the good people who run the Kittson County Historical Society have greatly helped preserve the history, giving nerds like me a chance to learn more about it.
Zippel Bay's history is just as interesting, the area having been first inhabited by various American Indian tribes and later settled by French Canadian fur traders. A feature I didn't know about until recently is the original homestead site of Wilhelm Zippel is preserved in the park. Despite only ghosts of the structures remain, it would be interesting to see the site.
I hope to convince my husband to systematically visit different state parks throughout Minnesota and gain a better grasp on my home state's history.


Most state parks in Minnesota have modern facilities like toilets and showers.
3. MODERN FACILITIES. Okay. So I'm not an entirely pure camper. I like to have a shower facility nearby, and in LBSP, the campgrounds have modern facilities, including toilets. There are also outhouses if needed, but I'll take the toilets over the outhouse. Who knows what's hiding in the vaults below. I can go a day or two without a shower, but for the most part, I like a shower once a day.
Even Zippel Bay has modern facilities, although they are far removed from the campsites compared to LBSP. The last time was was at Zippel Bay, the campground we stayed in did not have a shower facility and it only had a vault toilet (outhouse). I made sure I peed right before bed AND didn't drink anything. I wasn't about to venture to the toilet at the edge of the woods in the middle of the night to encounter God only knows what.

While camping may not be for everybody, it's pretty common these days for people to own or rent campers with the comforts of home.
So although you may not be the tent-popping type, I encourge everyone to take a trip to a state park - whether that's in Minnesota or your own state - this summer. It's totally worth it.