Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FiberOne 90 Calorie Brownies! Found 'em & Ate 'em

FiberOne 90 calorie brownies are a new offering from the FiberOne family. Less than $3 a box at Walmart, the new treat comes in two flavors, fudge and chocolate peanut butter. I purchased chocolate peanut butter and enjoyed my first taste today.

I was already a fan of the FiberOne bars, both the original and the 90 Calorie varieties. I reviewed the original FiberOne bars for Helium.com.  Here’s a bit of that review.

The FiberOne bar proves to be a tasty snack choice for those that are health aware. If you are looking to increase the fiber in your diet, this product should be considered. A single Fiber One bar has approximately six more grams of fiber than one medium banana or apple.

Link to read rest of review.

I decided to enjoy my FiberOne 90 calorie brownie with a cup of coffee as a mid-morning sweet treat. Packaged individually, the .89-ounce brownie is easy to toss into a purse or bag. Each wrapper contains the brownie’s nutritional information and ingredient list. The front of the package matches the front of the product’s box, sporting an enticing picture of a brownie.

The brownie’s package is easy and quick to open, revealing a square morsel about 2 inches by 2 inches. The aroma is sweet and chocolate-y but not overpowering. The top of the brownie has a peanut butter drizzle. It is attractive and appealing, but really, I’m more about the tasting! I broke the brownie into four pieces. It was not crumbling, so eating it at my desk was not messy which is always a plus.

The first bite was not too sweet while still being distinctively chocolate. The texture was not as dense as a Little Debbie fudge brownie but it was pleasant. Unfortunately, there was a lack of peanut butter flavor from the drizzle. The picture on the product box and package wrapping shows peanut butter chips dotting the inside of the brownie. When I broke mine into four pieces, I could only see two peanut butter chips. However, upon tasting the second piece, I could taste at least three peanut butter chips. I still would have liked to have a bit more peanut butter taste blending with the chocolate.

Sometimes with low calorie desserts, especially baked items, there is a funky aftertaste. There was not any funny aftertaste with the FiberOne 90 calorie brownie. It went well with a cup of coffee and I plan to try another one with a glass of milk very soon. The brownie does contain three grams of fat, 17 carbs and 110 mgs of sodium. It also contains one gram of protein and no cholesterol. According to the box, each brownie has 20% of the “Daily Value of fiber.”

Overall opinion?

The FiberOne 90 calorie brownie is good. Tasty. It’s a mildly sweet treat that pairs well with coffee and makes a nice mid-morning snack. With only 90 calories and three grams of fat, I feel I can indulge in a brownie without the guilt.

Would I ditch the donut for a FiberOne 90 calorie brownie? Absolutely!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Start of school = a mystery?

Summer has concluded for many of us, our children back in school and our houses disturbingly silent. Well, maybe not so disturbingly. The silence may be a very welcomed time to collect thoughts and have a bit of "mom" time while the wee and not so wee ones are off a-learning.

I love to treat myself during the first week of school to a little extra reading time. I also believe that any time of the year is a good time for reading a mystery, especially a classic Agatha Christie. My favorite Christie book is Death on the Nile. I love the characters, all of them, even the evil ones and I adore how she winds the clues throughout. You can solve the mystery as you read if you pay close enough attention. I've never written a full review of the book because I love it so much and I'm certain what would start out as a 500 word review would turn into a 2500 word essay. This is what I have written on GoodReads.

Death on the NileDeath on the Nile by Agatha Christie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Death on the Nile has it all, diverse characters, exotic locale and Agatha Christie's famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Christie combines intrigue, romance and mystery during a luxurious cruise through Egypt in a classic whodunit? tale that does not disappoint.

Not very much, right? Nonetheless, if you are a lover of mysteries and have not read Death on the Nile, I strongly recommend the book. It is wonderful. I even enjoyed the movie. The 1978 film featured an all-star cast including Peter Ustinov as Christie's dectective Hercule Poroit. Other notable performers include Maggie Smith, Bette Davis, David Niven, George Kennedy, Mia Farrow and Angela Lansbury.

Check out this 2-minute YouTube montage from the movie. It's a great introduction to the cast.

Have you read any good mysteries lately?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

As the Dryer Turns...the saga concludes!

The dryer saga is officially over! On Friday, Dryer Repair Dude #3/#4, aka Ken arrived to tackle the dryer that has run intermittently for several weeks. Fortunately all three dryer parts had arrived via UPS and appeared to be unscathed and actually matching the dryer color. Hooray! Ken informed me that in order to replace all three parts he would have to disassemble the dryer. Really? Into pieces? Answer: yes.

I left him to it and after just a few minutes elapsed, he came to me to ask where I would like him to put the pieces since there was no extra space left in my laundry room. It's a small laundry room. Very small laundry room. We arranged some space and he went back to it. In less than 30 minutes this is what was amassed on my floor.

The part in the far back to the right is the dryer drum where the clothes go!

I just hoped he knew how to get it all back together. The silver piece in the foreground of the picture is an area where a lot of lint collects. Ken who has been with me through a huge portion of this saga was super efficient and vacuumed out that part as well as all the other areas of the dryer that had collections of lint bunnies, duckies and buffaloes. After 5 years, a LOT of lint can collect.


My owner's manual recommends having a service technician, aka Repair Dude or Ken, come out at least every 2 years to clean and inspect the unit. Apparently I was 3 years overdue for this, but my minor lint buildup (and Ken assured me mine was very minor compared to others he'd recently cleaned) was NOT the source of my problem.

Quicker than I expected Ken was able to install each of the new parts. After adding the replacement parts and the thorough vacuuming he performed, I felt like I was getting a new dryer! Thank you Ken. He flipped the power switch back on and the moment of truth was upon us. Would the dryer work?


Seriously, he hit the button and nada, nil, zilch, zippo. Sigh. I thought Ken was going to explode. I give him  a lot of credit. Despite what I know was a major level of frustration and anger at the situation, he retained his high-level of professionalism and never cursed or lost control. He emphatically apologized to me and I was quick not to lay any blame upon him. I mean, really this guy has gone above and beyond the call of duty. He really had tried his hardest to get my machine running despite set back after set back that were beyond both of our control.

I suggested we take a little break. Here's the deal. The last two times Ken had worked on the dryer replacing parts, he couldn't get it to run even though everything appeared to be fine. We would make another appointment and he would leave. An hour or two later I would test the dryer out just on a whim and then, voila...it would kick on.

My theory is the computer boards in the dryer (there are 2) need some time to reboot before they work again. I mentioned this to Ken and he shrugged. He'd never heard of that and he'd never come across this particular problem before. We decided to wait it out a few minutes. He busied himself cleaning up the work area and after 15 minutes I suggested he try hitting the button. He did and nothing. But this time, I was watching what he hit. Ah-ha! He had not selected a cycle first. On my dryer, you first select the cycle and then push start. It won't run unless something is selected. He looked at me and hung his head. Well, of course, he knew that but in his hurry to prove that the dryer was finally working he'd forgotten that basic step.

Guess what? After selecting a cycle, it worked. There was great joy and rejoicing! Turns out there was a bad wire that was shorting things out and causing all the grief. With it replaced and all the lint removed, my dryer should run trouble free for a long time. Ken and I parted ways. As much as I appreciate the man and his perseverance, I can honestly say I do not want him to visit any time soon. Sorry, Ken.

Throughout this saga, I had several life lesson reminders. First, a little understanding goes a long way. Not losing my temper or blaming my hard-working repair gentleman actually benefited me in a more than one way. I was able to share a little kindness with someone that takes a lot of grief from cranky customers and in return he took extra care to really make sure I had a machine that worked AND was uber-clean. Kindness for kindness, I wish there was more of it in the world.

Second, when a big company is responsible for poor customer service, it is important to focus on the specific problem. My repair people were not responsible for the used/dirty parts that were shipped. When speaking to customer service, they were appreciative that I gave them clear details on what happened without being emotional or losing my temper. I'm not saying I did not express my displeasure, but there is a way to do it without being a jerk. The old saying you catch more flies with honey is very true. After that phone call, Sears called me twice to follow up and make sure that all was going as it should.

Third, sometimes you simply have to let things roll off your back. Yes, I had to give up 5 different afternoons to be there for a repair person. However, it wasn't a major inconvenience. My dryer did work sporadically, so I was not completely without a modern convenience for weeks. It really could have been worse. It could have been the air conditioning, the refrigerator or a burst water pipe. THAT would have been really bad. Broken dryer? Annoying but an appliance I can live without for a while. It could have been worse, and for that I am grateful.

In the meantime, life went on. School started, I've continued my 31 days of working out and yesterday we purchased the Teen's first car. But that is a story for another post......

Friday, August 12, 2011

As the Dryer Turns...the saga continues

When a major appliance decides to stop working it is really frustrating, especially when said appliance is only 5 years old. Quick recap...my dryer suddenly ceased running a few weeks ago. Simply stopped. No lights, no nothing. The warranty had expired one month prior so I had to purchase a new one through Sears in order to get the best deal on a technician and parts. The warranty covers $500 worth of parts AND labor. If we exceed the $500 then they will give us a voucher for $500 to put towards a new dryer purchased through Sears. Except, I don't want a new one. I want mine. I like mine. When it works.

Repair Dude #1 couldn't replicate the problem because the night before he arrived, the dryer miraculously kicked on. He replaced the door latch and left. Repair Dude #2 pissed me off. He insisted that there was no electricity coming in to the outlet and said he couldn't do anything until an electrician took care of that problem. He left. The light still came on inside the dryer so I was pretty sure there was electricity. Repair Dude #3 came. He worked his butt off, argued with tech guys on the phone and actually replaced a circuit board but couldn't get the dryer to turn on. He ordered a new computer board and we made ANOTHER appointment.

When the Hubs came home after Repair Dude #3 he flipped the circuit breaker switch back on and the dryer miraculously worked. Again. (and no, Repair Dude #3 had tried it with the power on.) That was a week ago.

Yesterday was the fourth dryer repair appointment I sat home for. I know I work from home and I'm grateful my work-at-home status allows me flexibility but seriously, this was the FOURTH time my work day was interrupted. And this has become stressful. I just want it fixed and running. It was running but we knew it may stop at any time because nobody seems to know why it broke in the first place or why it kicked back on.

Repair Dude #4 turned out to be Repair Dude #3. His name is Ken and he seems a decent guy. He has exhibited a high level of professionalism and has gone out of his way to try and make me, the customer, happy. As nice of a guy as Ken seems to be, I'm sure if he knew what the afternoon had in store, he would have run screaming from my home.

He was there only moments, when having unwrapped the part that was supposed to make it all better, I hear him say..."oh you are NOT going to be happy."

"Really, Ken. That's not good. What's wrong?"

"They sent the wrong color part." .........well, crap. The computer board that needed to be replaced is behind the buttons and such so the outside of the part is a visible part of the dryer. It's the command center. I have a white dryer. The part was bisque. (actually looked more egg shell but Ken said bisque.) He decides to put it in so we can at least see if that will make not broke any longer. Upon installation he discovers that not only are some of the integral pieces of it crimped and dirty looking, but there is lint in it. Lint! They shipped me a USED part. Seriously?!

Ken gets on the phone and has it out with someone. Explaining all that has gone wrong including the fact that this "new" part doesn't even work as the dryer won't run again. After much debate, a trusted tech that Ken finally gets on the phone tells him it's the wiring harness. Hmmm. I guess that means more parts to order? Remember when I said our warranty only covered parts and labor up to $500? Yep, you got it, we were now officially over. Sigh. I really don't want a new dryer. I just want this one to work. I want it to work and I don't want to have to deal with this anymore.

Ken understands my plight and after much haggling and telling the powers that be on the other end of his cell phone that I was a crazed customer who was now threatening him with a baseball bat, he got everything ordered despite the limit. Thank you, Ken. He is coming back next week to install these new parts. He left the power off and when the Hubs came home he flipped the switch. Guess what?

The dryer kicked on. Sigh. I am not canceling the appointment. Something is not right and maybe after the new parts all the glitches and gremlins will be gone. Keep your fingers crossed for me, please?

***My dryer woes have not derailed my 31 days of Fitness Fun. I'm still working out each day & it's going well. I have alternated running on the treadmill and using the elliptical this week. Tomorrow is a treadmill run while watching "Pride & Prejudice" on DVD. I will run anywhere for Mr. Darcy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Move it! Move it!

I have been asked how I stay motivated to keep up with daily workouts. When I first began my fitness journey years ago, my motivation was a smaller, stronger, healthier ME. I didn't want to be out of breath playing with my child at the park. I really, really was determined to be fit and keeping up with the daily workouts was not overly difficult.. Don't get me wrong, I had days when I didn't feel like exercising but my Hubs was extremely supportive and always helped me stay on track.

After going through a difficult patch, it was hard to find motivation to keep working out daily. For a while (when we still had a Wii) I did the Wii fit and compared scores daily with a good friend. It was great having a partner to motivate and challenge me. I am extremely competitive so this really worked. Then the Teen traded in his Wii for a Playstation3. Sigh. It was back to the treadmill for me.

One day I was watching the Ellen Show while working my hand weights. She had on one of my favorite actresses, Marisa Tomei. I just love her! Anyway, they were talking about Ms. Tomei's nude scenes in the movie The Wrestler and how she got in shape for them. It was amazing. Check out the segment from the show.

Doesn't that look like fun?! I thought so, and motivated by the segment, I got myself  hoop and tried it out. I never invested in a larger, weighted hoop which is really what you should use if you are going to follow an actual hula hooping fitness routine. Yes, there are special hoops, they are larger than the ones we used to play with when we were kids and they are weighted. I became quite interested in this whole different sort of exercise I researched and wrote an article for Helium.com about Hula Hooping for Fitness.

If you'd like to read more about where to find the weighted hoops and such, here is the link...Hula Hoop Fitness

Motivation for daily workouts can come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and from unexpected places. I've learned over the years that the best thing you can do is to simply keep moving. With that thought, I'm going to leave you today with a fun little ditty....

Monday, August 8, 2011

31 Days of Fitness Fun

A friend of mine challenged herself recently to work out every day for 40 days. She did this for the season of Lent and successfully completed her personal challenge. I greatly admire her determination and dedication to her quest for personal fitness. It is not easy when you are the mother of two young children living a very full and busy life. Many of us can relate to that.

My child is not little any more, but the demands on my time because of motherhood have not lessened. Teenagers too young to drive often require hours of Mom-taxi time.

14 years ago, I began my own personal fitness quest. It took me two years, but I lost 60 pounds and worked my body into the best shape it had ever been. I did it for me and for my family because I wanted to be healthy. I managed to keep the weight off and maintain my fitness level for 10 years.

Around the 10-year mark, many things happened. We moved, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and then passed a year later, my husband lost his job and life was a roller coaster. Through all the ups and downs, I managed to maintain my fitness, mostly, but it was hard and eventually some of the weight crept back on. A latte here, some French fries there and soon I was carrying an extra 15 to 20 pounds.  I suppose writing several food reviews for various candies didn’t help either…but it sure was tasty!

In addition, I was simply not as active without a toddler or younger child to chase. When the boy was little, we played…….. a lot. Catch, hopscotch, soccer, tag and every other kind of run around game you might think of. We’d spend a couple of hours after dinner playing badminton in the backyard. All that fun, play activity was in addition to the regular workouts I did each day. It was much easier to keep the pounds off being that active.

Enter my new career as a writer. Now instead of spending 2 or 3 hours running around after the kid, I was spending 5 or 6 sitting at the computer. No wonder I was struggling. I know I’m not the only work-from-home mom that has gone through or is going through this. I continued to work out but with all the things that went on, I went from 5 workouts a week to 2 or 3. It simply was not enough.

Wheat grass
I’ve made a decision. I will take a cue from my girlfriend who worked out for 40 days straight. I will do the same, sort of. I am going to work out every day in August. That gives me 31 straight days of workouts. So far, so good as I’ve not missed a day yet. I feel good. I have also upped my fruit and veggie intake and decreased the amount of processed foods in my diet. The Hubs purchased a new juicer and we have embarked on the strange frontier of juicing. Wheat grass is much sweeter than I expected and I’m not so hip to kale.

Project Me!
I am officially 8 days into this project. I think I shall call it Project Me. It’s going well and I would like to invite anybody else along for the ride who wants to give it a whirl. Of course your Project Me will be about you. (Did that make sense?)

I did clear everything with my doctor and that is something I recommend to anyone before attempting any sort of fitness program. I’m not doing anything special. I run on my treadmill, use the elliptical and am trying to get some arm definition with my free weights. Tomorrow I will post some fun fitness stuff I’ve gathered. I will also share some tips and tricks that I used when I first lost all the weight way back when.  Until then, I wish you Good Health!

**note: I realize I'm already 8 days into this routine, but there is no reason why you can't jump in and get in 23 days of consecutive workouts? Or even wait until the 11th and go for 20 in a row. Just saying...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

As the Dryer Turns (or not!)

Almost two weeks ago I wrote my 5 year old high efficiency dryer had stopped running. Kaput. No lights, no nothing. And the warranty had expired one month prior. Of course. Two days before the first Sears repair guy came out, the dryer miraculously began running again. I kept the appointment anyway. Repair Dude  #1 came out, ran a diagnostic which said that there was nothing wrong with the machine. Then as he was hitting buttons, it died. Yahoo!!! This was actually a GOOD thing as we needed him to see what had happened to us. A few more minutes of tinkering and it was running again. Hooray!

I was able to run the dryer that night, the next day and then the day after KAPUT. Again.


I called customer service explained my problem and lo and behold she actually was able to fit me in that afternoon. Fabulous. Repair Dude #2 shows up and the first thing he does is to pull the dryer out and test the outlet to make sure we have power. Hmmmm....like I would have noticed if there wasn't power, right? Anyhoo...he says his little meter thingy is not reading any power to the outlet. He checks the fuse box etc, etc and within 15 minutes tells me that he can't do a thing because there is no power to the outlet and I will have to call an electrician.


I nod and show him out. Good riddance (and don't expect to get 5s on your performance survey Dude.) I know the Hubs can handle anything electrical so I am not concerned. When Hubs gets home I tell him all and he proceeds to pull dryer out and check outlet. What he discovers is that the little probe things on the voltage meter do not extend to where they need to be to get a good reading. Hmmmm......So....that means Repair Dude #2 didn't really do his job? Really?

The Hubs is able to check the power running to the dryer by removing a panel off the back of the machine and guess what? Can you guess it? ........if you guessed that there is indeed POWER to the dryer then you get a prize! Well, actually I don't have a prize but I am clapping most vigorously for your powers of intuition. Anyway, so the Hubs calls Sears and expresses his extreme displeasure. They are apologetic and we schedule a THIRD appointment after they ensure me that Repair Dude #2 will never be back.

That brings us to today. Repair Dude #3 arrives. He takes dryer apart, runs diagnostic, talks to tech team who says it is one of the computer boards. Crap. But wait! Repair Dude #3 says he may have one on his truck, he looks and voila! After a few minutes said computer board is installed, power turned back on and the moment of truth is upon us. Will is work? Do you want to guess? Go on, I dare ya.

Sigh.....of COURSE it didn't work. Silly reader, why would it be that easy? Apparently the broken part is the other computer board, the one Hubs said was most likely the problem when the damn thing first died on us. So our saga is continues. This computer board had to be ordered (not on the truck) and it won't be in for at least a week.

I'll keep you updated on what happens with Repair Dude #4.