Monday, 27 May 2013

Day 7: Proskins 28 Day Challenge

So, we're a week in to the Proskins challenge and to be honest it has not been the rousing start I was hoping for. I've been wearing my Proskins for the recommended 8+ hours a day - sometimes before and during the gym, sometimes at night, sometimes just round and about the house. Since my holiday my exercise regime has picked up back to normal, commuting 3.5 miles each way to work or to town and back each day, and I made to the gym 5 times over the week, for step, aerobics and tone, a session on the rowing machine, free weights, double aerobics and tone and finally a very tough circuits class on Saturday. I had therefore hoped that at least a couple of pounds of excess holiday weight would drop off quite quickly, but sadly it was not to be. I have just lost a half inch or thereabouts off my thigh, which I guess will be attributable to being back on the bike every day. Let's hope next week is better!

Day 7 measurements:
Waist 31"
Hips 36"
Thigh 21.5" (0.5 inch off)
Calf 14"
Ankle 8.5"

I have enjoyed telling people about my caffeinated leggings this week though and the skin on my legs is definitely softer. They are very comfortable to wear, to the point of me completely forgetting I have them on. And they are lovely and silky shiny, so texturally I'm quite enjoying that. Just hoped to see the signs of being a bit tighter by now. Toight like a toiger.

Here is the Proskins provided FAQ giving you all the baffling sciencey information:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Proskins Slim range?

Improve the appearance of skin in 28 days. Discover the effectiveness of our
patented micro encapsulated compression garments. Independently tested and
guaranteed for 100 washes. Designed to reduce cellulite, firm and moisturise the
skin while you move throughout the day. Containing caffeine to promote fat
destruction; vitamin E to prevent the effects of ageing; ceramides to restore
and maintain the skin’s smoothness; and retinol and aloe vera to moisturise and
increase the firmness of the skin.

Is there any proof that Proskins products will help me?
Yes, there are numerous scientific studies that have been carried out that
demonstrate the benefits of wearing compression clothing before, during and
after activity. Proskins compression technology has been independently tested at
Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute.

In conjunction with Nurel, our international yarn partner, a series of tests have
been carried out that verify the effectiveness of the micro capsules found in
Proskins Slim.

How do Proskins Slim work?
Proskins Slim aide three of the main causes of cellulite by improving
circulation and blood flow, increasing lymphatic drainage and reducing fluid

By using, as a starting point, the technology that we developed for top level
athletes Proskins have, after a lengthy period of research and development,
created a skincare legging that poses a significant challenge to the leading
anti cellulite products in the market today.

Millions of tiny micro capsules embedded into the yarn help smooth and shape
your skin as you move throughout the day. Containing caffeine to promote fat
destruction; vitamin E to prevent the effects of ageing; ceramides to restore
and maintain smoothness; and retinol and aloe vera to moisturise and increase
the firmness of your legs.

For the first time fabric technology has allowed us to create a product that
works alongside your body to pamper and indulge your legs. So comfortable you
wont want to take them off.

What are the ingredients found inside the Proskins Slim micro capsules?
Caffeine – A renowned active slimming agent that activates micro-circulation and
promotes fat destruction.

Retinol – A skin regenerator which stimulates collagen, giving a youthful
appearance to the skin.

Vitamin E – An antioxidant that helps the skin appear young and fresh.

Aloe Vera – A plant extract that makes the skin feel smoother and softer.

What is the 28 Day Challenge?
The 28 Day Challenge is about helping you record your Proskins Slim experience.
The patented technology inside your leggings will help smooth and shape your
legs making them look amazing for summer. Remember the more you wear your
Proskins Slim garments the more chance you'll have of seeing greater results.

Friday, 24 May 2013

REVIEW: Sones Cellars, Santa Cruz, CA

Good grief it's taken me a long time to write this blog post! Well, since returning from California it's been busy, busy back at the office and so blogging has been a little bit on the back burner. No matter! It's now a bank holiday weekend so I have time to blow on writing crazy posts for you lovely people!

So I can reminisce about the lovely afternoon we spent at Sones Cellars tasting room on Ingalls Street, Santa Cruz. It was great to be back after we had such a great time at Bonny Doon's tasting room last summer, just next door.

It was another clear and hot beautiful day in Santa Cruz and so it was delightful to begin our tasting with the light and sweet Cancion del Mar white wine blend. At $21 a bottle, this is a delicious easy drinking blended wine with both floral and citrus notes on the nose, in particularly I got tangy lemon. The pale straw colour reflected the light, sweet taste that was crisp without being sharp. It was absolutely perfect Summer drinking with a satisfying low level of acidity. We discussed how it could be paired nicely with shellfish or even spicey dishes like a Thai green curry. Perhaps reflecting Michael Sones' British heritage, this wine is like a pleasant walk through an English country garden on a summer's day. But without the pollen. Or the rain.

Award Winning!
One of the reasons that we had such a lovely time at Sones (besides the wines of course) was the easy going tasting room staff, who were really friendly. It was a fun environment with the reggae from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery wafting in over the light breeze. That whole area of town, the Westside is such a chilled out and fun place to hang out. Of course once we were done tasting we just had to nip to Mountain Brewery to say hi!

Back to the wine... Next we tasted a Zinfandel from the Santa Cruz mountains.  As with my Storr's wine tasting, I was still getting to know Zins and this one was a real winner for me. Full of fruit, plummy flavours but slightly more acidic that the Storr's this wine was very well balanced, great if you like your reds sweet! I didn't get the hint of spice that was suggested in our tasting notes, but possibly a hint of red grape! Why is it so few red wines actually taste of red grape? Anyway, we thought in particular that this wine would be an incredible match with barbeque charred chicken. Delicious!

The next wine was the one I was really interested to taste - the Hedgehog Lot #12.This wine is really Sones' USP and I daresay a real winner in an environmentally conscious town like Santa Cruz. The deal is that you pay a $5 fee on the bottle and then $12 each time you want the bottle refilled. The bottle is filled direct from the barrel (which of course you get to taste in advance). They use different blends of grapes in each barrel, so you get a different wine each time and each barrel apparently takes them about three months to get through.

The current blend, "A Prickly Pair" was 75% petite sirah and 25% zinfandel. For the first time in my life, I got a slight whiff of rabbit hutch on the nose. Don't ask me what that was about, it was not unpleasant and there is of course the possibility that I went slightly mental momentarily. So, I found that the earthiness of the petite sirah was balanced and neatly lifted by the zinfandel, but overall the wine still had a nice heavy savouriness of the sort that I really favour in a red wine. It didn't linger on the finish, nice and clean with no sticky, jammy aftertaste. It was a very smooth wine and a really nice one for the price. Apparently air can get in to the bottle because they are not as well sealed as a traditional bottle, hence why they recommend not storing this wine - also the bottle is clear so does not protect as well as a dark glass bottle.
The Boy in his element

Next up was the 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains Syrah, which I was informed is characteristically different from its usual blend stereotypes. Only 55 cases were made and half of these go out to members - a good warning that if you love Sones, like many small wineries in California, you should join their wine club! Short runs of great wines. And as advertised, this syrah is slightly different to the stereotype - it's a lot lighter than usual, low on tannins but still has a nice smoky nose, making it an easy drink for syrah beginners who aren't ready for big oak and heavy tannins.

The 2009 petit syrah from the Central Coast was the penultimate wine we tried - a robust, powerful nose, which had flavours of almost creamy vanilla on the back, some strawberry and all in light, summery flavours, despite still having a robust, slightly tanniny taste. I thought it would pair well with a steak. We were able to compare this with the 2009 Santa Cruz Mountains Savaria Vineyard petit syrah, which was a really interesting peppery taste - with smells almost like rubber in the sunshine and a white pepper-dusty type smell - which again was not altogether unpleasant. It was a lot more full bodied and smoky than the Central Coast, but also had a light finish. It would be excellent with a sharp cheese to cut through the flavour. This one was the Boy's favourite and most delicious it was too.

It was a pleasure to visit Sones and try all of these really good, reasonably priced wines. Excellent examples of locally grown grapes in small runs which would be well worth a membership to get the wines for a tasty 15% off. The three dollar tasting session also represented great value compared to the $7 for less attitude over at Storrs. Admittedly, Ingalls Street is a considerably more competitive area, but it really did feel clear to us how out of touch Storrs were out on a limb in the north of the city.

Thanks to Sones Cellars for welcoming us, I am sure the Hedgehog Red will continue to be a great local favourite!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

REVIEW: Proskins Slim Leggings 28 day challenge

Situation Critical!
You may all have noticed by the total absence of weight loss/weight maintenance posts for the last few weeks that my life has been far too busy of late to care how much I weigh. Which has been awesome. However, three weeks in America and celebrating my 30th birthday was bound to take its toll eventually.

And I know it has. So I come to you with a new goal, looking fabulous in time for my sister in law's wedding, at which I will be doing the readings. The wedding is on the 29th of June, which means I have just under 6 weeks.

Happily, this gives me plenty of time to try out the Proskins 28 Day Challenge. I got in touch with Proskins via Twitter and I was really interested to try their leggings. As you may have seen, I have done numerous reviews of Zaggora products, which as also leggings which claim to improve your shape (but through sweat in the case of HotPants) but I pretty much stopped using Zaggora products after the first couple of months because the darn things were like a wet suit and that is not practical (or desirable!) for day to day use. Proskins are totally different, I have a pair of the classic black full length 'Slim' leggings and they are just like leggings you would expect from any high street store. No unecessary thickness, no discomfort, no weird swooshy noise. So far, so good.

Proskins sent me a pair of their leggings and have asked me to undertake the 28 Day Challenge - wearing the leggings for at least 8 hours a day, ever day for 28 days. This is possible because you can wear them any time, any where - in bed, at the gym, doing housework, under a dress to go out in. As you can see from my 'before' photos below, however, do wear something over your arse area. The rule of the universe that no-one over 10 should wear just leggings still stands. Skirt, dress, tunic over the top, no worries, but do not expose you be-legginged arsal area to the world. No one wants to see that.

Here follows a horrifically candid selection of before photos that the Boy laughingly took. He wasn't laughing at me particularly, he seems to have selective blindness when it comes to my fat belly, thank goodness, but I do think he enjoyed the posing and he encouraged more. So this is my starting point. Today I did a little cycling, a little gardening and a little housework, but come tomorrow I will be back to my cycle commute and gym visits so hopefully that in combination with the Proskins will get the fat belly in check.

My Day 1 measurements are:
Waist 31"
Hips 36"
Thigh 22"
Calf 14"
Ankle 8.5"

I have no idea what I expect to happen to my ankles, but you never know. Proskins sent me a measuring tape so I thought I might as well use it. Plus, my Wii Fit board is broken (sad face) so I can't weigh myself, so we'll have to measure success purely in inches in this case.

Let's hope the fat belly is gone by the time of the wedding.

Edit: I've been wearing my Proskins for the first 4 hours now so I thought I'd feed back on how they are feeling. They are extremely comfortable and sort of silky to the touch (as opposed to a cottony legging). They are not making me sweat or giving me weird sticky legs like HotPants do, so that's bonus. I was a bit worried about wearing these for 8 hours a day, every day, but actually they're extremely comfortable.

They are very long, so they cover the fat belly and go well down over my feet. Let's hope they work their magic on the entire area!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Me and your Money are 30!

I turned 30 this week and instead of writing a big ranty post about time moving quickly and aspirations and such nonsense, I thought I'd share this infographic from, since they pointed out to me that the pound coin shares my birthday.

Happy 30th Birthday to The Quid!

(Click here to see the original infographic in larger size and interactive!)

Friday, 3 May 2013

REVIEW: Storrs Winery

We visited the Storrs Winery tasting room in the Old Sash Mill on Potrero Street, Santa Cruz, CA. We took advantage of their $7 tasting (4.50 in pounds - where is the damn pound sign?). It is a small but neat tasting room, with some nice local art on the walls, as is de rigeur in Santa Cruz tasting rooms but do be warned they have no chairs so you will be stood throughout your tasting.

Our server was a friendly and welcoming young girl who had a friend in doing a tasting while we were there. She was knowledgeable about the wines on offer and made us feel welcome.

2011 Chardonnay
THe first wine was a creamy 2011 Chardonnay with the grapes being grown  in a series of vineyards in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was a lovely, extremely pale straw colour and had a floral and very sweet flavour. The 2010 retails for $24.00.

2010 Sauvignon blanc
Made from grapes grown at Monterey County, this wine retails for $18. We were both really taken aback by this wine because the overwhelming flavour is green pepper! That makes this a really crisp white, and I would imagine your guests would find it quite surprising. Lots of fun and something really different to anything I have tried before.

2009 Pinot Noir
 Made with a blend of 8 different Pinot grapes, this wine is really light on the nose with hints of vanilla. It is a medium bodied flavour with a touch of strawberry fruit and extremely light acidity.  There is also a element of black pepper in the flavour, but not particularly strong. This is quite a typical pinot of the Santa Cruz mountain region.

2009 Grenache
By far the most disappointing wine I have tasted recently, this grenache was light bodied to the point of being almost watery in flavour. THere was a hint of black pepper and possibly even raspberry fruit, but overall the flavour was disappointing and unremarkable. There was no real punch or direction. One to avoid - although I should say that The Boy liked it more than I did so I guess it depends on your palette.

2010 Merlot San Ysidro
Grown south of Santa Cruz in an area we actually drove through a couple of days ago, where the artichoke fields spread out as far as the eye can see (12 for $1 - bargain). It has a fruity nose and the flavour is quite bright, soft fruit. There is a little taste of red apple in the finish which is very pleasant. The tasting notes described it has having a hint of granite. I have no idea what that means and the server was a bit confused by it as well #wankywinedescriptionalert.

2009 Zinfandel
This $22 wine is pretty easy drinking. We don't get a lot of red Zinfandel at home, so this is not particularly a flavour I am used to, although it's definitely something I enjoy.Grown on the central coast, this wine has the typical jammy flavour of a Zin and is very full on the nose. It's a really full, sweet flavour, luscious to the point of almost being sticky with plum and a smidge of apple flavour. In fact I felt it was sweet to the point of tasting almost like fruit sweets - gummy bears anyone?

2008 Petite Sirah
This is quite a full bodied rich and slightly savoury flavoured wine, with a ripe blackberry flavour that is rich and quite full on the tannins but still smooth with a low acidity for easy drinking. It has several months of oak barrel aging which shows in the flavour. A great example of the sorts of sunshiney, fresh wines you can get from the Santa Cruz mountains.

So a fair tasting overall. The wines were enjoyable (except the grenache) but none of them really blew me away. This winery is in a very different district to the large cluster of tasting rooms on the West side and this shows. Their $7 tasting fee is too much, especially when you will pretty much have to make a special journey out just to taste at Storrs. Personally, I'd be inclined not to bother and just head to Ingalls Street. A pleasant but ultimately disappointing 6 out of 10 Extreme Points for Storrs.

We went to Sones Cellars for a tasting today so look out for the review of that coming soon!

Dare to Pair

Not long to go now, and there aren't many tickets left, but I wanted to flag up this great little event around the wineries on the west side of Santa Cruz, CA this Sunday.

Eleven wineries are pairing up with a small group of culinary students to pair a food dish with a wine. For $60 advance tickets, you can pop along and try all 11 food and wine pairings, vote for your favourites and then attend a stonking after party. 

Now in its fourth year, this event is getting more and more popular and I can see why. It supports the students and participation makes up a significant part of their gradings for the term. Food, wine and other things to support the end have been donated by generous sponsors and there are even some amazing raffle prizes on offer that have been donated.

Sadly, I think we're going to be at Big Sur on Sunday so I won't be able to represent. I would love to go though and if any of you guys snap up some of the last tickets check back in and let me know how it goes!

Donated RAFFLE items:
Shadowbrook Gift card
Johnny's Gift card
Chaminade spa gift
SV Hilton one night stay + dinner
Sunrise Cleaning two certificates of 3 hours of cleaning
Tracy Taylor Kilauea Rainforest Retreat - 3 nights' stay
Buttery gift card
Boardwalk passes

Donated SILENT AUCTION items
Wine tasting tour for 12 at Silver Mountain Vineyards
Surf City Vintners - featured wines
Dinner for 8 at the Sesnon - prepared by the chef instructors

Josie Cowden Good Times
Anne Parker Sentinel
Sheri Moise Johnny's Harborside
Leslie Fellows, CSW, Sommelier Artesana Winery
Byron Gravell Cafe Carbonara
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