Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's That Time Again

It's that time again.

Time to pack up and see the world.

We're checking the final 'to-do' items off our list.

We're finalizing any outstanding work.

We've stopped the mail.

We've confirmed the dog's 'hotel' reservation.

We've confirmed our own hotel reservation(s) - as well as the flights.

We're emptying the fridge.

We're making our last phone calls, before we're off the grid.

It's that time.

Time for Morocco!

Yours in exploiting life!

Monday, July 29, 2013

How Did We End Up at Trask River?

My wife and I decided to take advantage of another nice weekend.

With our budget in mind, we grabbed our tents and sleeping bags and took off from Portland.

We headed out Friday night with friends to Saddle Mountain; a campground off of Highway 26 that we heard has great hikes. We planned on staying there for two nights to explore as much as possible.

Turns out fate had other plans - which we didn't know about.

Too Late

When we arrived at Saddle Mountain, all of the spots were already taken!

We knew this was a possibility (it was a first-come, first-serve campsite) but we thought that by coming up Friday night, we would beat the system.

We were wrong.

At 9 p.m., tired from our week and with no backup plan, we went through our options.

We could go home and try somewhere new tomorrow.

Or, we could continue heading west toward the coast and find another campground - maybe spend the weekend at the beach!

Let's go, Adventure!

Since it was already late and we wanted to relax, we decided to stop at every campground we came across on our drive west.

9 p.m. turned in to 10 p.m., which turned in to 11 p.m., then 12 a.m.


To be fair, not all of them were completely full. But the ones that were not full, did not accept tent campers! (This one blows my mind but I won't digress...)

We had traveled the rest of the way to the coast and then went south on Highway 101.

We hit Tillamook at 12 a.m., out of our coffee (brought for the entire weekend) that we pulled out in Cannon Beach, and decided that we may need to call the trip off at this point.

Highway 6 goes from Tillamook back up to Highway 26 - and was an easy route back to Portland.

Having driven more than originally expected, we needed to stop for gas (and now some Red Bull).

Lucky us! The attendants at the gas station were curious about why we were up so late. We told them our story/curse and to our surprise...they knew of a place that is usually half empty!

It was back to the mountains!

About 20 miles east of Tillamook, and along the Trask River, is the Trask River County Campground.

We pulled in around 1 a.m. and found an empty campsite...finally...

We weighed the cost of staying in the campground to that of driving back to Portland, plus (if we went back to Portland) the cost of trying to go somewhere the next day (hey, this was still only Friday night!).

Stay it was.

We were exhausted but still not done, unless we wanted to sleep in the cars!

Tents went up, we mumbled our goodnights to our friends, and then crashed in our sleeping bags.

What a start to our weekend!

What did you do this last weekend to exploit life? Any adventures?

Yours in exploiting life!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mini Goal - Vegan Challenge - COMPLETE!

What a challenge!

My wife and I went vegan for seven days this last week - I learned a lot about the pains of having a restricted diet and a lot about being vegan.

I could have made the challenge somewhat easier. We could have just eaten raw vegetables all week. We would have met the goal of my vegan challenge, but where's the fun in that!

Instead we took the opportunity to try some vegan dishes and see what options are available to the vegan eater.

We tried Tofurkey for sandwiches - probably won't make it to our regular weekly menu.

We tried meatless, ground beef - we used this in chili and it was actually good! I was a bit surprised and I wondered how my wife would like it. Turns out it was pretty tasty! (I messed this dish up all on my own - added way too much chili and cayenne pepper!)

Ate canned (actually boxed) vegan soups for lunch - eh...

Ate oatmeal and cereal with almond milk for breakfast - turned out pretty good with lots of berries and nuts!

Even had our coffee with soy creamer!

We definitely didn't starve! I was probably more full during the challenge week then normal.

For the challenge we planned three meals a day (plus snacks), normally I only eat two meals a day (plus snacks)...

Overall it was a pretty great week.

Taking the time to read labels (and look for vegan symbols) reminded us that we want to eat more natural foods. There are so many unreadable ingredients found in our food (which then enter our bodies)!

We definitely didn't miss too many of our staple foods (the treat area was a bit of a struggle about halfway through the week) and we're discussing if there are ways to bring some of our new found foods to our regular diet.

The challenge definitely met my goal of experiencing what it's like to be vegan!

If you're interested in going (or trying) vegan, then do it. I can only see it getting easier after the first week.

Yours in exploiting life!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Part Way Through My Vegan Week

Day 3, 4 and 5 have been a little more difficult!

We're still going strong, but it was touch and go there for a bit.

I don't think it was having to take twice as long to shop for groceries (having to read every label, looking for a 'vegan' word or sign), not having 'real' desserts, or the fact that I dropped my first homemade vegan lunch on the office floor.

No, the issue was that I can't cook!

I have some great recipes from my online research, and we can tell that they would be very tasty...if only I hadn't done something wrong...whatever that something was.

I did learn that with enough berries, apples, and nuts, oatmeal can (sort of) taste good.

I've also learned that some items which I thought would not be vegan are indeed vegan (Oreos), and items I wouldn't have thought twice about being vegan are not (a lot of wines)!

Did you know there is a vegan debate on whether honey is considered vegan? I didn't. Not until our first day of shopping, when reading a list of ingredients in a loaf of bread. I asked my wife her thoughts on honey being vegan and we couldn't decide. So we turned to Google!

Turns out that both of the arguments that we had discussed were the main arguments for and against honey being considered vegan! So instead of worrying about picking a side (hey, this is only for seven days!), we decided to not eat honey during our challenge.

Note Regarding Shopping:

I definitely know the pain that anyone with a restricted diet, allergies, or who chooses a restricted food habit (vegan, gluten-free) has to go through while shopping!

Half of the items are not marked and those that are marked range widely on where and how they're labeled.

For example, some products are definitely advertising to the vegan eater. They say right on the front of the packaging - "Vegan".

Others, not so obvious...

At Trader Joe's, (some of) the products are marked with a "V", symbolizing vegan. Whereas, at Wholefoods, a "V" means vegetarian - here you want to find the products with "V+" if you're shopping vegan.

Then there is the 'accidental vegan' category of goods. We stumbled upon this group when we nearly had a panic attack on day 3, from the lack of treats and sugar. Turns out Oreos, Sour Patch Kids, and Swedish Fish are all vegan! Yay!

Shopping was definitely an experience - a few more weeks of learning the correct brands and having a better idea of what to look for and it would be much easier. But I think I'll stop at seven days!

Any surprises when you went vegan?

Yours in exploiting life!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Set Your Goals

Set goals. Set tough goals.

Use tough goals to exploit life.

Push yourself and you will be amazed.

Don't sit back and let life fly by.

Exploit it!

Challenge yourself everyday, maybe it's seeing something new, maybe it's learning a new skill, maybe it's spending quality (and quiet - no TV) time with your loved ones.

Make a plan and do your best to stick with it. Share your plan with others. Hold yourself accountable. You can do it!!

"A goal without a plan is but a daydream." - Author Unknown

Are you just daydreaming?

Yours in exploiting life!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mini Goal - Vegan Challenge

Reading archived blog posts on ZenHabits, I came across Leo's 7-Day Vegan Challenge.

Not necessarily looking to go vegan full-time, I was curious what it would feel like to only be able to eat vegan dishes.

So I'm taking the challenge!! (Or my version of it anyways...)


My wife and I have kicked around the idea of going vegetarian (maybe 99% vegetarian, I still love a great steak!) but we haven't taken the leap yet. I'm not sure I could completely remove milk, cheese, and eggs from my diet (especially eggs), so trying vegan is definitely a temporary endeavor.

Our love for meat has dwindled in the past several years.

While growing up in Wyoming, the staple food was fresh meat (beef, pork, chicken, deer, elk, etc.) with a big side of potatoes and a small side of vegetables. Eating meat was like drinking water. You have it with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Snack on jerky. Yum!

When we moved to Hawaii, we started dropping the red meat (mostly for the cost and low quality) and adding seafood (an island, go figure). We also learned how to cook several Asian vegetarian dishes - we had no idea vegetables could taste so good.

Then came Portland, Oregon. The home of the rebellious. Where there are more vegetarian and vegan restaurants (and food carts) then in all of Wyoming and Hawaii combined (I'm making this up but I would still bet on it). Here we took cooking classes (learning even more veggie only dishes), met friends who are very diligent about knowing what they eat, and ate from vegetarian food carts.  We also took a trip to Thailand - eating only vegetarian dishes for three days straight at an elephant refuge.

Our phase out of meat has led to recent discussions about going (99%) vegetarian, since we practically already are!

The Challenge

I asked my wife if she was interested in doing the challenge with me and she said 'yes'. It would have been extremely difficult if she would have said 'no', so thank goodness!

We decided to try for six days (maybe seven?) in a row, kicking off on Saturday, July 20th.

Since this was my idea, and the fact that I'm still thankful my wife said 'yes', I planned the menu for the six days. Planning was a 'must do', this way there is no worry about what we can and cannot eat, not having the right food in the house, or whether a specific restaurant has a vegan option.  We can just cook and eat!

The menu building was easy - there are lots of great resources out there, starting with Leo's 7-Day Vegan Challenge site.

Next came the shopping list. Broken out in to two buying trips - so everything would stay fresh.

And lastly, preparing the house for the 'new' food. Since this was a limited time event, we just moved all of our 'bad' food into the corner of the pantry and refrigerator. The hope is 'out of sight, out of mind'. (I did the same today with all of my office snacks - stuck them in the bottom drawer.)

Two Days In

So far, so good...

Are you vegan or trying to be? What has been the hardest change?

Yours in exploiting life!

Friday, July 19, 2013

What is Unexploited Life?

Unexploited Life is the journey of my aspirations to live life to its fullest.

I waste time (life) and I need to hold myself accountable to change my habits. Unexploited Life is my means of doing so, a record of the voyage.

Defining what a time waster is and what is considered an exploited life will come with time. For now, I need a constant reminder – a reminder of what I’ve done, what I haven’t done, and what my goals are.

Gaining personal insight in to what drives me – what is my motivation and where does it come from?

Gaining personal insight of my bad habits – what are my time wasters and why? Can I eliminate them?

Apply this insight in to my daily life. Change my routines.

I want to love what I do!

Do you live life to its fullest?  What does that mean to you?

Yours in exploiting life!

Current Life Goals

Putting my goals in writing is difficult. Not because I have a lack of goals (I probably have too many), but this means that I will actually need to focus on them.

I’ll no longer be able to tell myself (or my wife) that I have a goal of doing [insert incomplete goal] and then not following through - with no repercussions.

With Unexploited Life, maybe I’ll at least feel guilty. Guilty – knowing I am accountable to myself and I’ve let myself down (and now the world knows it...whether they care or not in another story).

I realize my goals are only tools to help me exploit life – to push myself to experience more, seek enjoyment. Missing my goal or taking longer than expected to meet my goal will not stop everything. I may even change my goals (especially once they’re met). I hope to reflect and determine where I could have improved (or if I couldn’t have), then move on.

This is not a comprehensive list, just items to focus on.  I will periodically share other goals – ones meant to test myself and try new things (mini-goals such as eliminating coffee for two weeks, eating vegan for a week, and trying a new restaurant every night for a week).

Within 2 Months

1) Determine my time (life) wasters. Eliminate them.
2) Workout regularly. ½ hour, 5 days a week.
3) Meditate regularly. 5 minutes a day. Every day.

Within 6 Months

1) Gain a feeling of exploiting life.
2) Workout regularly. 1 hour, 6 days a week.
3) Meditate regularly. 15 minutes a day. Every day.
4) Practice Spanish regularly. 30 minutes every other day.
5) Complete 4 ‘mini-goals’ (more to come on this).
6) Bring Paper Plane Financial (my company) to a profit.
7) Volunteer with a non-profit.

Within 1-2 Years

1) All goals above, plus…
2) Proficient in Spanish.
3) Prepare for a year living abroad.
4) All loans paid off.

Within 3-5 Years

1) Fully self-employed by Paper Plane Financial.
2) Choice of how I structure my life (travel, life abroad, gap years).

I realize how broad some of these goals are.  As I practice defining my goals and putting them in writing, I will share more.

Yours in exploiting life!