Saturday, April 19, 2014

Guest Post: Travel to Thailand and get the best Muay Thai training experience

So you have finally decided to start with Muay Thai training and the only thing that you need to figure out is which gym to visit. Why don’t you look outside of the box and get more than a second rate Muay Thai training? How about a real life changing experience in an exotic country like Thailand? Although it might sound a little bit extreme, once you get familiar about the facts around Thailand and Muay Thai training camps there you will be sure that this is the right choice for you.

First of all, there are literally millions of people who travel to Thailand each year. There is a reason why the number of visitors is increasing every year. Thailand has invested a lot in the tourism and they are using the beauty of their nature to the maximum. Every year you can find new attractions in addition to the old ones that are already attracting travelers from around the globe. Whether you like visiting shopping malls that are offering products with cheap prices, markets where you can make a good bargain or you simply want to enjoy the exotic nature you can be sure that Thailand is the right place for you.

Now back to Muay Thai training. Since lots of foreigners are interested in this combat sport, local Muay Thai camps have evolved and they are now offering some great packages for all the foreigners that like to spend some time in Thailand in order to get in shape lose weight and learn some Muay Thai techniques. There are a lot of Muay Thai camps that are offering accommodation too which is very convenient for those who want to spend more time at the gym. 

Suwit Muay Thai training camp is one of those camps that is following the trends and with its long tradition it can help you understand how real Muay Thai training session feel like. This training camp has its own accommodation for very low price. We recommend staying in this camp for at least two weeks so you can see the results of your Muay Thai training sessions and explore the beauties of Phuket Island. 

-By Kit Nelson

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Chicago Steak Company Review

Chicago Steak Company Calls their product the Ultimate Experience. I'm trying their wet and dry aged beef to see if that's true:

Oh, to bite into a juicy, well marinated, flavorful steak. It's a favorite among many. Usually the best place to find one is a steak house. You can buy them at your local grocers but they are never quite the same, are they? Today I'm going to go over with you what makes a great one great, how you can spot the best, and where you can purchase the best of the best online...Chicago Steak Company. I decided on my own to place an order and see what I thought. I was not compensated for this review. I wish they would send me free products to review! This has been a favorite of products I've reviewed thus far.

What makes a great steak?

There are two factors in a quality cut of steak. Marbeling and aging. That can be wet or dry aged beef. Let's talk about marbeling first. The more that is visible, the more quality product you are going to get. To explain this further, let's talk about the three grades of USDA meat. 

 USDA Select is basically the bottom of the barrel. I've even seen some meat marked with "USDA inspected". The message there is that it's been inspected and is acceptable for consumption, but it's not necessarily great quality. There are a few levels of USDA Select. The lowest has almost no marbeling, as you go up the levels you can see some.

 Here's a picture I took of some ribeyes that are USDA select. Not much marbeling, see? I chose ribeyes because the first cut of meat I cooked up was a ribeye, so I was comparing cut -to- cut. 

The next grade is USDA choice. Like select, it also has several levels within the grade of meat. As you go up the levels of choice, the more marbeling you are going to get. The packages aren't marked with what level you are getting. You just want to look for the most marbeling. Here's a picture of USDA choice ribeyes.

 You can really see the difference in the marbeling and the packaging. There's a big bright sticker on the package letting you know this is a better cut of meat. I'm going to guess this is the mid level of choice as the marbeling looks pretty good, but not as good as the top level.

The highest grade of meat is USDA prime. Now, I couldn't find any meat in my local stores that is USDA prime, because it's rare to never that they offer it for sale. Prime accounts for only about two percent of beef in the United States. USDA prime has the most marbeling. 

 The photo is a bit fuzzy (I can't believe I only took one shot before I marinated these. It didn't look fuzzy in the camera lens.) These are my Chicago Steak Company ribeyes. As you can see, these have the most marbeling of all, and are a prime cut of meat. Chicago Steak Company only sells USDA Prime and the top level of USDA Choice meat. 

So, lets talk about aging for a minute. After slaughter, beef is aged to get rid of the bloody taste (gross) and to allow the meat to develop a mature flavor. There are two ways to age meat. Wet and dry. Each method of aging will result in a different flavor and texture of the meat. Dry aged beef is what you will find in most fine dining restaurants, because it is considered the superior aging method that results in the best flavor. Wet aging results in cheaper meat and accounts for about ninety percent of the beef sold commercially.

To wet age beef, it is vacuum packed in plastic within 2 hours of slaughter and allowed to sit at least a week. Dry aging is done by hanging the beef in a refrigerated cooler for at least two weeks. The beef will shrink, therefore concentrating it's delicious flavor. This is also why it costs quite a bit more, because with it shrinking it presents a loss to the company if they don't charge more. (Thanks to for the info on wet and dry aged beef.) 

Chicago Steak Company offers both wet and dry aged beef, and uses six weeks for their process on both, not one or two. Now, honestly, I have no idea if the meat I got was wet or dry aged, because I got a gift pack with a sampling of different meats and it didn't say. There are several options that state clearly whether the meat you are purchasing is wet or dry aged, and you can choose wet or dry aged from the left menu bar as well.

First Impressions

When I marinate a steak, I poke it with a fork first. I was very impressed with how tender the meat already was as I started to prepare it for the marinade. By the way, I've got a magnificent marinade recipe that I posted earlier. I used a grill pan on the stove to cook mine to avoid having to clean and prepare the outdoor grill.

So, was it the Ultimate Experience?

There are three adults in my household (We didn't share with the kids, but not because we're stingy. They didn't want it). When we cook steaks we usually make two and split them between the three people. When we tried the ribeyes we all felt that they were definitely superior in quality to a grocery store version and comparable to a great steak house meat. As far a ultimate...we didn't know if we could exactly say that. When we pulled out the sirloins, that changed. When I ate that sirloin I was overwhelmed. We were all "fighting" for extra pieces and trying to get more. For that cut, I can definitely say it was the ultimate steak experience. I'm wondering now that I know more about wet and dry aged if the ribeyes we got were wet aged and the sirloins were dry aged. As I said, the ribeyes were great, and certainly superior to what you can get at your local grocer...but the sirloins were the ultimate.

For my order I "added on" six lemon herb chicken breasts. There are certain items that are "add on only" and that is one. I pulled those out one night, flattened them out, and cooked them up in that same grill pan. It was so nice to have an easy already flavored chicken ready to go for dinner. I thought they were very tasty. Not overpowering with flavors but a nice even mix of lemon and herbs.

I haven't tried my burgers yet, but when I do, I'll update to let you know how those go as well.

Promotional Codes

If you'd like to try it out for yourself, there are some deals you can get. When you log onto Chicago Steak Company to place your order, you can choose from the following promotional codes. Some expire soon and others are "while supplies last". You can only use one promotional code per order, so make sure to choose the one that will get you the best deal on what you want.

FREEGIFTS - free shipping, 12 steak burgers, and a bottle of seasoning with your order of $100 or more.

FREEFILET  - 4 free six ounce filet mignons with your order of $129 or more.

FSBMAR14 - 24 free steak burgers with your order of $89 or more. Ends March 31.

STEAKTIPS - 3 lbs of filet mignon tips free with your order of $99 or more.

GIFT100 - free steak seasoning plus free shipping on any order over $75

LOBSTER - two free cold water lobster tails with your order over $99.

6SIRLOINs - six free six ounce top sirloins with your order of $99 or more.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Don't Come Around Here No More

This year of chemo is almost complete. I hardly have words to express how happy we are.

Today is March tenth. Last year on March tenth I was completely oblivious to the turn my life was about to take. I'd have two more days until I found out something was wrong. On the 12th, I got a call from Anna's school that she wouldn't turn her head. After an E.R. trip we knew that she had a knot in her neck. The E.R. doctor suspected a sinus infection that had drained backward. We gave her antibiotics and as long as she was on them she seemed to improve. However, when they were gone she slipped back into high fevers and misery. I took her to her regular doctor who was getting ready to send her to an ear nose and throat specialist. My friend had told me a story about a girl who'd had a knot in her neck that needed to have  it surgically drained. I was concerned, but not worried.

April 8th is a day I will never forget. My Anna got off the school bus on a seemingly normal day at school. She ran a high fever again and I started to freak out. I drove her an hour and a half to the children's hospital rather than chancing the E.R. doctor who had told us it was a sinus infection again. Into the wee hours of the night I was awoken by the E.R. doctor thinking surely he was going to say we needed a surgical procedure to drain the nodes. He had told me previously that he needed to rule out lymphoma, and I immediately put that out of my head. "It's not lymphoma", I thought. His news was that the swollen lymph nodes had spread into the chest. At first that news didn't register. Then he followed with, "I've spoken to the oncologist here." That registered. Oncologist? He was trying to tell me that it was likely my daughter did in fact have lymphoma.

The hour and a half drive home I didn't know what to think. Lymphoma. Lymphoma. It just kept running through my mind. I got Anna home and got her into bed. I went to my room and kneeled by my bedside. "Please don't take her", I cried to the Lord. "Please don't take her." It was the most desperate moment of my life. I managed to crawl in the bed and actually sleep a few hours. In the morning we took Anna to her doctor to be referred right back to the hospital and admitted. She wasn't eating or drinking, so she needed to be in-patient. A biopsy was scheduled and Anna was absolutely miserable with fever, pain and fear. She didn't understand what was going on, but she was upset about the doctors and nurses coming in touching and poking her constantly.

Two days later a doctor came in and told us the news. It was lymphoma. How could this happen? How does a nine year old who already deals with special needs get cancer on top of that? You'd think I'd be angry at God, but I wasn't. I thought of the verse, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer! I have overcome the world." I knew that the only one to turn to was my overcomer. Anna's overcomer. Still, it was a shock, and it took a long time to sink in.

Over the next few months, we got into the chemo groove. We were away from Essie for so long. With her spunky spirit it was too much for me to handle having both girls and trying to be there for Anna's emotional plus physical needs. She went to Florida to stay with her grandparents and dad while I took care of Anna. Her absence was as difficult as Anna's need of care. Thankfully we were reunited with her after about six months of figuring it all out. 

Family was not what I expected. I was attacked by some (for not doing what they thought I should be doing or doing what they thought I shouldn't be doing), others just couldn't handle seeing Anna so sick so they didn't come around. I had a minimum amount of help. Not what you would expect at all. I spoke to other people who had a family member go through cancer, and they said it was the same with them. 

The doctors told us to expect to have hospital visits from time to time. Any time she ran a fever we had to take her to the E.R. This resulted in three additional hospital stays over the year, and two additional trips to the E.R. to get antibiotics and tests.

Now, to have to go through cancer...we were so glad it was lymphoma. Even though her type of lymphoma was not one of the ones considered "curable" unfortunately...chemo is a year long treatment and the prognosis is really positive. Children in particular respond well to the treatment. There are kids with leukemia that have two and three years of treatment. As long as this year has been, I can't imagine having to do it all over again. Then all over again for the three year patients. 

Chemo was six weeks of induction, then 15 cycles of every three week chemo. Here I sit. Chemo cycle 14 ended last night. One more. Just one more. I know that the end of chemo doesn't mean the end of treatment as a whole. We will have to do labs, scans, and have her port removed. Check ups will continue for years; but, the chemo was the hardest part. The chemo is almost over. Can this be real? Can this be true? How does a parent feel sitting where I'm sitting? Relieved. And nervous. Now that we've gotten through this part, what if the cancer comes back? What if we have to go through this all again? This is where faith is needed.

The word of God tells us that when we ask God for something we need to believe that he will give it to us. I do. I cannot deny that the thoughts try to creep in, but I push them away. Though it is common for cancer to return, it doesn't always. I have asked my God to get rid of that lymphoma and all other cancers forever. Cancer is not allowed in Anna's body. Or Essies! That's another thought you think. I got this one kid through this...what if it happens to the other kid?

When we went to the clinic to receive chemotherapy, we were shocked at how rare childhood cancer is not. It's not as rare as you hope. The clinic was full five days a week of kids getting chemo. Soon after Anna's diagnosis we found out that some friends of ours we hadn't spoken to in a while have a daughter that was diagnosed with leukemia. That precious girl will have to endure at least two years of this treatment, and she will have to be in-patient at the hospital for her chemo. (Anna got to go to the clinic and get the rest of her chemo at home. Of course it fell on me to administer it, which isn't fun. Yet, better than being in the hospital.)

Again, with the thought of Essie I push the thoughts away. I cling to faith. I trust God. I believe in my overcomer. I believe we are overcomers in him. As with all things in my life as a parent, I experience this with mixed emotion. So grateful the Lord has seen us through. So happy chemo is almost over. So painful when I think of what we have been through. Such a need to cling to faith when worry tries to creep in. 

I am reminded of the title lyrics of the Tom Petty song..."Don't Come Around Here No More".  Even though I hate poor grammar, that's what I say to lymphoma. "Hey! Don't come around here no more. Whatever you're looking for...don't come around here no more."  Goodbye lymphoma. Goodbye chemo. We won't miss you. Ever.