Blenders, Blenders Everywhere

When we decided to add smoothie making to our regular routine, Clayton insisted that we needed a new blender first. We have been limping along with our $30 Hamilton Beach Blender for years, but it took about 20 minutes to get anything smooth enough to drink.

Our selection criteria was based on blending power, a container larger enough for 2 smoothies, and personal recommendations.


  • 7 amp motor
  • Various container sizes
  • 3 recommendations
  • S30 – $399


  • 3.0 peak horsepower motor
  • Various container sizes
  • 1 recommendation
  • Classic 560 – $319


  • 2.3 peak horsepower motor
  • Various container sizes
  • 1 recommendation
  • $89.97
Kale, pineapple, and raspberry pre-smoothie in our Vitamix S30 blender.
Kale, pineapple, and raspberry pre-smoothie in our Vitamix S30 blender.

After looking into these blenders specifically, I also read through this consumer report. Vitamix blenders popped up on the list multiple times. I also saw that some of the Nutribullet blenders were on their “Do Not Buy” list for some safety concerns with the blades.

We ultimately decided on the Vitamix S30 Blender. It was the cheaper of the Vitamix options and the container was just large enough for our purposes. It also fits neatly under our cabinets. We have been using it for over a week and I have been very pleased with the performance. It also came with a fun cook book, so I am excited to try some of the recipes. The best part is that it is dishwasher safe!

Are there any other tools that are imperative for smoothie making? Please share your tips in the comments.

Meditation Monday – The End


I am happy to report that I haven’t lost any momentum after completing the initial 66 days of cultivating this habit. Now it’s time to pause and reflect on my progress so far.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 72 consecutive days of meditating for at least 10 minutes a day.
    • 1,194.3 meditation minutes logged (~20 hours).
    • Average 17 minutes a day.
  • DONE – 66 daily photos taken of my meditation locations.
  • DONE – 2 books on meditation read.
  • DONE – 7 people connected with on meditation.
  • DONE – 3 classes on meditation attended.
  • DONE – 5 different meditation techniques attempted.
  • DONE – 10 weekly blog posts on developing my meditation habit written.

Grade: A+

Incentive: I decided against a meditation retreat, and choose to splurge on a spa retreat instead. I will meditate during my massage, manicure, and pedicure. Now that’s an incentive!

Lessons Learned:

“We are the cosmos made conscious and life is the means by which the universe understands itself.” – Dr. Brian Cox

This quote popped into my head today as I was trying to wrap up my meditation experience so far. It’s given me the opportunity to understand myself better, and by extension everything around me.

I continue to see improvements in my ability to focus and in dealing with stress. Morning meditation is especially beneficial in handling whatever comes my way throughout the day. A lot of the guided meditations I listen to also have suggestions for ways to incorporate your practice into your day, so it’s good to start early.

One surprise benefit to my meditation practice was that it made me better at quarters! I seriously wish that I would have practiced meditation when I was playing competitive sports, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a mental edge.

6 Month Goals:

  • Complete 2 Headspace theme packs
  • Read 1 new book on meditation
  • Attend a Tai Chi class

This has been a worthwhile endeavor and an excellent starting point for building future habits. I’m excited to find ways to stay on track and have already started a health theme pack with Headspace that will take me through another 30 days of meditation. Stay tuned for more on the meditation journey in the future!

Smoothie Sunday – The Start

Clayton had the idea that my next habit should focus on something that will improve our diet. We struggled with agreeing on a change that would have a positive impact but wasn’t too much to take on all at once. We finally settled on a habit that addressed the fact that we do not get enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

Habit: Drink a fruit and vegetable smoothie everyday for 66 days.

Start Date: Sunday, 10/18/2015

Projected End Date: Wednesday, 12/23/2015

Action Plan:

  • Prep smoothies for the week on Sundays.
  • Keep a daily photo journal with my smoothie recipes.
  • Read 2 books on food science.
  • Take 2 cooking classes that will help us get more vegetables in our meals.
  • Try vegetarian meals at 3 new restaurants.
  • Track weight weekly to measure benefits of change in diet.
  • Post weekly progress updates on Sundays about developing better eating habits.

Incentive: An excursion on our Mexico Christmas trip!

Lofty Goal: Being healthy

We are planning on incorporating this habit into our morning routine. This should be especially helpful during the week since we often turn to Starbucks for a quick breakfast. We are both excited and ready to incorporate this change into our diet but we do see some risks.

The first 66 days of cultivating this habit will take us through our Thanksgiving holiday in Texas. We’ll have to figure out a way to keep the habit up while we are traveling. We’ll also need to make sure that we plan enough time for food prep and smoothie making. Clayton and I are both committed to this habit and I am sure that will carry us through the first 66 days.

Please share your favorite smoothie recipe in the comments! I’m sure I’ll have time to try them all. Cheers!

2 cups spinach, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup blackberries, 1/4 POM juice, 1 1/2 cup water
2 cups spinach, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup blackberries, 1/4 cup POM juice, 1 1/2 cup water

Book Breakdown: Wherever You Go There You Are

This book has been on my to-read shelf for 2 years and I am glad that taking on this habit has finally motivated me to read it.

Kabat-Zinn’s best selling book is broken down into 3 parts focused on defining meditation, practical applications, and the spirit of the practice. The chapters are short and often accompanied by quotes and passages from other works on meditation.

It seemed like every time I picked up this book, I was able to apply the teachings immediately. I read the chapter Patience when I was experiencing a lot of anger and it helped me to detach from the storm of emotions.

This is also the third source that has touted the benefits of early morning meditation. I have been trying to sit first thing in the morning, but it has not been happening with any consistency. The chapter Early Morning has reaffirmed my intent and I will be waking up 15 minutes earlier everyday to listen to a Headspace guided meditation.

Not every idea or anecdote resonated with me. I am not a big fan of chapters ending with the phrase “Get the idea?” especially when my answer is no. But the topics are so varied and brief that the goal must be to get a better sense of meditation rather than to present a step by step guide.

Wherever You Go, There You Are does an excellent job of making the abstract concept of mindfulness accessible. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning the basic principles of meditation.

Would you like your own copy of Wherever You Go, There You Are? Simply leave a comment to be entered into a drawing to win a copy of the book.

Writing Wednesday – The End


Yesterday was day 66! I am excited to review my progress, so let’s start with the stats!

Action Plan Recap:

  • DONE – 66 consecutive days of working on my blog for at least 1 hour.
  • DONE – 2 books on writing read.
  • DONE – 2 people interviewed about blogging.
  • DONE – completed the Journalism Skills for Engaged Citizens Coursera course.
  • DONE – 10 weekly blog posts on developing my blogging habit completed.

Grade: A

Blogging Stats:

  • 22 posts
  • 126 visitors

Incentive: This afternoon I upgraded from a Free to a Premium account!

Lessons Learned:

I am proud of myself for sticking with this habit for 66 consecutive days. There were definitely some days it was hard to put in the time. One day I didn’t start working on the blog until 11 pm. My action plan helped me the most over the last few months, especially on the days where my motivation was lacking. It was good to have a reference list of ideas that all kept pushing closer to achieving my goal.

Making this blog public and sharing my goals with friends and family has also helped me to reach this milestone. Having people around me ask about my progress, and sharing excited conversations about the blog kept me inspired.

I am not going to track daily progress anymore, but I would like to implement some maintenance goals to stay on track with my newly formed habit.

6 Month Goals:

  • Improve my blogging stats
  • Blog about 4 new habits
  • Read 1 new book on writing

I am excited to carry this momentum forward in maintaining this habit and creating new ones! Do you have any new habits you’d like to build? Please share your goals in the comments.

Fancy Floating

A few weeks ago a friend told me about the Fadeaway Floatation Center in Des Moines, IA.  I was excited to learn about an alternative meditation technique and after reading through their website I had to find a place to float! The Wellness Center in Minneapolis offered a 90 minute float session for $70 plus tax and fees, and they had excellent online reviews.

FloatTankThe staff at The Wellness Center was very friendly and accommodating. I showed up 10 minutes early for my appointment to fill out the required paper work. There is a special release for the float tank and a lot of dos and don’ts. They walked me through the facility and float process.

I started by inserting the wax earplugs. They stick better if you put them in before you shower, and will keep the water out of your ears once you are submerged in the tank. Then I showered with fragrance free shampoo and body wash (no conditioner) before entering the tank. I entered facing out, and closed the door behind me.

I was very nervous at first. It’s an eerie feeling to not be able to see, hear, and slosh about in an enclosed space. When I felt some air bubbles by my leg I thought, “what if it’s an alligator?!” That made me laugh and relax. I experimented with different positions and felt most comfortable with my arms above my head.

Eventually, my shoulders started to feel itchy. When meditating it is normal for me to feel areas of discomfort, but once I focus on it the feeling fades. This sensation was not going away. A combination of the water temperature and salt caused a heat rash. It got to be so uncomfortable that I ended my session 30 minutes early. The staff said they could lower the temperature of the water, but only by .1 degree, which probably wouldn’t help me.

Even though I will not be floating again, I thought it was a great experience. If you don’t have any skin sensitivity issues, I would recommend giving it a try. There was a guest book outside the room, and all the messages I read were very positive. My favorite comment stated it like astral projection!

Have you ever floated? Please share your experience in the comments!