Thursday, March 31, 2016

April Goals + March goal recap

Let's start off with a recap of my March goals. February was a bust on the goal front for me. So I took March as a step back. Took some time to refocus & work on the goals that were most important to me. So how did I do?

| side note | Yes...I know April isn't until tomorrow. But considering I plan to make no progress on anything this evening. I'm calling it. What's done is done. What's not done will just have to wait.

{find & rock a 5K}
Boom. Done. Race recap here.
While in my mind I don't get to cross this off my 2016 goal list yet, I think my March goal is DONE.

{keep my minimalist momentum}
NOPE. I intended to haul some things out of my childhood bedroom but there was just no time. Spending time with friends // family will ALWAYS trump going through old junk in my room.

{go shopping}
I got a cute dress from Kohls that I'll wear to some summer weddings + a purse & some shoes for my Europe trip. During a birthday "shopping spree" with my Mom, that included more eating than shopping, I got a pair of skinny jeans & a hard case for my sunglasses! No more shopping for me for a while!

{read 3+ books}
DONE! I actually read 4. Overachiever. What what.

{3 item to-do list}

What's on tap for April then?

Well, considering I'm going to spend 2 weeks of it abroad, I'm going to keep it simple again.

{finish my green belt}
This work project has been hanging over my head for far too long. I just need to present to the certifying board & I should be all set. I plan to have it to my advisor for review before my trip & if all goes well should present just after I return for my certification.

{host a dinner party}
I love hosting people, mostly because it means guinea pigs for all the recipes I want to try! I'm thinking enchiladas two ways + a dessert or two I've been wanting to try out. & I love making little appetizers or cheese plates. Ooh, I'm excited just thinking about it!!!

{read 3+ books}
I can easily kill two on my trip abroad, this goal should be easy peasy.

{ride bikes}
My bike has just been sitting sad & neglected in the basement since October. It's time to lube up that chain, air up the tires & get out for a ride or two now that the weather is warming up.

{pack for Europe in a carry-on}
Once again, I know my checked bags are free. Still doesn't matter. I like the freedom knowing my luggage will make it there with me & that it's easy to carry, especially if I'll be walking through cobblestone streets & moving in-between cities. 

What are your April goals?
What would you cook for a dinner party?
Who has been to Europe? What should I make sure to pack?

I'm linking up with Amanda today to share.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Adventurous : Wednesday Word

I think everyone has qualities or things they strive to be. Daily, as a person, I strive to be honest, loyal // faithful, committed, hardworking, kind & adventurous.

While I do not ever wish to make others jealous (okay, maybe on Facebook a little bit when it comes to the kids who were mean to me in middle school...) but I do aim to constantly keep myself on top of my game. I am constantly in search of a new challenge or new adventure. Something to keep life interesting.

Adventure to me is pushing my limits. Whether that's running a race as fast as I can or trying something totally out of my comfort zone, like Pilates. A reformed picky eater, green beans  are the only thing truly on my will not eat list. I make an effort to try at least one bite of everything & to always sample the local flavor whenever I travel.

I travel so I can discover new things & new adventures. I'm learning more that "some is better than none" trumps "go big or go home". I used to believe every adventure had to be huge & awe inspiring. Biking across the country or climbing a mountain. Running 2 marathons a mere 2 weeks apart. But I'm learning that's not true.

Adventure is the weekend hikes I take to new trails. It's the 12 miles I run at a faster pace than I thought I could. It's the crazy new recipe I tried. It's the solo Europe trip I'm heading out on. Adventure is facing totally unchartered waters with someone you love, having no idea how this forever business works. Adventure is making new friends in your 20's (because seriously that shit is hard. Anyone need new friends?). Life is an adventure if you do it right, if you constantly push the walls of your comfort zone.

I try to, I strive to. Always. I am adventurous.

What does adventure mean to you?
Tips for making friends in your 20's? - But seriously.
Any foods on your absolutely will not eat list?

I'm linking up with Deb for Wednesday Word.
Deb Runs

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fairfield Food Pantry 5K Race Recap

If you are too lazy to read, let me summarize...
Did I meet my sub-25 goal -- sort of.
Am I pleased with myself -- sort of.
Am I disappointed with myself -- sort of.
Is my 5K goal for 2016 met -- nope.
^Helpful, aren't I? But seriously. Just keep reading. It's easier that way.

I raced the 1st annual Fairfield Food Pantry 5K benefiting the Fairfield Food Pantry, in a suburb of Cincinnati. Prior to registering I had emailed the RD to get answers to a few questions that the website did not address. One was about course measurement. The other about timing. After I received satisfactory answers about both questions I registered.

Packet pick-up was easy peasy & I hung out in my car until about 15 minutes before start time. I'm told there were 187 total participants, so I ended up one of the first across the start line. Immediately I was passed by two women. One kept gaining distance, but I stuck with the second. The course began on a park road before leading to a paved trail through a small wooded area & the turn-around point.

Mile Splits : 7:28, 8:00, 7:29

I started out fast, held on during the middle & spent the last .30 feeling like I might puke. Which was really not my plan at all. Pacing has never been my strong suite.

Unfortunately when I finished the race, my Garmin read 2.94 miles. & others showed similarly short courses. I did do a rockin' job of running the tangents, but not a .16 good job, as the course should be measured via tangents. So, I ran sub 25. In fact, I finished in 22:58.54, with a 7:48 average pace. Could I have held that for another .16 miles. Probably. Which would still have me cross the finish line in under 25 minutes. BUT, did I technically run a whole 5K? Nope. 

I crossed the finish line as the 3rd female, & decided to stick around for the awards knowing that there were 1-3 place awards for male & female finishers. Awards were held after everyone was off the course. When they called the 3rd place female, I expected to hear my name, but I didn't. After the awards were given out I wandered over to see the results & saw a name of the 3rd place woman, she had finished .09 seconds ahead of me. That bitch. She didn't even stick around for the awards. 

I didn't walk in with the goal of placing at this race, my goal was sub25. But then, I saw the small field of people mostly intending to walk & thought maybe I could do both. So I added placing to my goal list for the day. When I came up short of 3.1 & in 4th place I felt like I failed on both accounts. The BF tried to reason with me. I did run sub25 & if the course was really 3.1 I definitely could have run .16 in 2 minutes or less. So, somehow, instead of celebrating & feeling accomplished I just felt double disappointed.

So, I took this sad selfie. Had a brief pity party in my car before driving home for an early birthday // Easter dinner & a post-run Bourbon slush (someone, KY people, please tell me you know of Bourbon Slushes & it's not just something my Mom made up)

Linking up with  Marcia x Patty x Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.

Would you be disappointed?
How do you handle short races? 
Do you bother counting the time?
Did anyone race this weekend?

Monday, March 28, 2016

25 things I've learned about life

So,  I've officially been on the planet for 26 years. I celebrated my 26th birthday yesterday. I don't claim to know it all, but, in celebration, I wanted to share 25 things I've learned so far that are important lessons. I hope you'll chime in with a lesson or two in the comments. :)

1. Don't be afraid to say yes.
You'll do some pretty cool stuff you wouldn't have otherwise.

2. But also don't be afraid to say no.
Seriously. It's your life. If you genuinely don't want to do something, just say no.

3. Save $.
Every paycheck you can save SOMETHING. Seriously. In 10 years, will you remember the cute washi tape you bought from the Dollar Spot, or the amazing vacations you went on, or time spent with friends?

4. Eat good food.
Eat food that tastes good. Eat food that makes you feel good. Figure out how to make those two overlap most of the time.

5. Friendship isn't always forever.
People change. That's both a good thing & a bad thing. You may not always change the same amount, or at the same time, or evolve to be a good friendship match. It's okay to not be friends anymore.

6. Learning what you DON'T want is just as important as learning what you DO want.
Okay, so your terrible ex-boyfriend may not be a shining example of what you're looking for in your next boyfriend, but, you did learn what you don't want. Someone like your ex. Haha.

7. If you don't love you when you're single a relationship won't make it better.
A relationship can't fix your feelings towards yourself. If you don't like you that's some shit you have to deal with on the inside.

8. Go places. 
Go overseas if you can afford it. Go away for the weekend anywhere you please if you can't. Or do both. But go somewhere. Somewhere you've never been, try something new, taste something new.

9. Get outside.
Take a walk, or drink margaritas on the patio or read a book on your lawn. Whatever.

10. Do shit that scares you.

11. There are lots of things for which the time will never be 'right'. 
You have to make it right. Open the doors you want to walk through.

12. If you don't ask, the answer is always NO.

13. Find your signature dish.
If you can't cook, make it something simple. Write down the recipe & make it for every potluck you're ever invited to. If you're a great cook, explore. Have your signature dish, but use all the potluck guests as your recipe guinea pigs.

14. Get to know your parents as people, not just Mom & Dad.
Trust me. They've done some cool stuff you have no idea about. They're not as tame as you think & they had a life before they made you. Find out more about it.

15. Go grocery shopping.
See #3 & #4. It's not hard. It will save you $$$ & you'll eat better. You don't have to be a restaurant chef to make tasty food. Figure out some staples. Save your waistline & your wallet. You'll thank me when you're 40. Pounds always go on easier than they come off.

16. Find a workout you enjoy & then do it.
There is something you enjoy that also counts as working out. It could be dancing, it could be lifting weights, it could literally be as simple as walking. Find it. Do it a few times a week (at least). Your heart will thank you.

17. Work hard.
Someone, eventually, will notice. It may not be instant. But it does not go unnoticed. You'll set yourself up for success later.

18. Figure out how you de-stress best.
Running or lifting some heavy weights really helps me to de-stress. Some people like bubble baths. Whatever. Find your thing. Do that thing when you are stressed & then enjoy being slightly less stressed.

19. Talk to people about your feelings.
Feelings are hard. I admit it. Sometimes I don't even know what feeling I'm having. It's double hard to talk about your feelings if you don't even know what they are. If someone hurt your feelings, tell them. Be specific so they can avoid doing it again.

20. Quality over Quantity.
Applies to friends, booze, boyfriends & clothing 99% of the time.

21. There will come a hangover where you realize you can't hang like you used to.
Accept that. It is not a one off fluke. This is now your life, forever. You can't drink like you did in college. Congrats on being 'old'. In the meantime, 1 McDouble + 1 McChicken, all housed between one set of buns will cure any hangover. Promise.

22. Learn how to be okay being alone
Everyone needs some me-time now & again. I have no problem going to dinner alone, concerts alone, movies alone. And sometimes it's my preference. Be okay with riding solo, you never know when you just might have to.

23. Don't put things on FB // the Internet you wouldn't want to talk about in a job interview
Seriously. I look everyone up on Facebook before they waltz into this office for an interview. It started with the interns a few years back & now I'm the resident Internet stalker for our floor (I think that came out wrong). If you have a LinkedIn I will find it. Same goes for Twitter & Pinterest & whatever weird social media you have. And then we will ask you questions about that thing you drunk tweeted after the Kenny Chesney concert last summer. Don't be dumb.

24. Learn the difference between your // you're, too // to // two & their // they're // there
If you don't you just look like an idiot. Congrats on securing my lack of respect for you. But just in case you need a refresher...

25. Social media is only a GLIMPSE into another humans life
No one with a brain is posting about the big fight they just had with their spouse, or the fact that they only have abs because they eat nothing but boiled chicken breast & plain broccoli. It's hard, but remember, you're only seeing their highlight reel. You can't compare yourself to that.

What do you wish you could tell your former self?
What's one piece of advise everyone should know?

I'm linking up with  Holly x Tricia x Carylee x Jenna x Erin x Katie x A Little R&R x SewCrafty x Emily x Margo

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday Five #14

My birthday is SUNDAY! Just 2 more days, because today doesn't count. I think birthdays rock & I have plans to celebrate mine all weekend. I even have today off of work, not because of my birthday, technically, but I'm gonna roll with that instead.

I'm back in Kentucky with family for Easter weekend and I'm packing as much friends // family time in as I can.

So, this one's gonna be short & sweet folks. Happy Weekend!

I'm running a 5K on Saturday as an early birthday celebration. If all goes well, I'll run a sub 25 race, a big goal of mine for 2016 & can eat my corned beef birthday dinner as a post-victory meal! Look for a race recap on Tuesday!

If you missed it, I posted 26 random facts about me yesterday, you can find it here.

I've got this song stuck in my head. 

Also, ain't nobody got time for that.
Pretty much the soundtrack when someone asks me to do something at 5PM on a Friday.
This remix has me rolling.

 I've run Ragnar DC for the past 2 years. It's a 200+ mile relay race. This specific one runs from Cumberland, MD to DC proper. My team is getting formed again, but, we're a few shy of a 12 person team. So, if you're interested, we're super low key & all sorts of ages // paces, let me know. Maybe you can join us.

Our 2015 Ragnar DC team, Back to the Ragnar
Chipotle mailed out a coupon for a free burrito a week or two back. I finally used mine yesterday and it was glorious. The threat of a little salmonella or whatever rogue food-born illness was last going around there can't manage to keep me away.

What are you up to this weekend?
Anyone ever run Ragnar? Which one?
Chipotle fan or nah?

Linking up with MarCynthia, CourtneyHeather, Happy Fit MamaAmandaGraceandLoveBlogErika, AndreaKarli & Amy

Thursday, March 24, 2016

26 for my 26th : Facts about me

 My birthday is Sunday. Yay for birthdays! I enjoy getting to know other bloggers & feel like fun fact posts are a great way to do it.

I thought I would share 26 facts about me in honor of turning 26. I would love for you all to play along in the comments & share a random tidbit about yourself!

1. I cannot handle green beans. Like, the smell grosses me out. I always try one when they're served in hopes I'll have an a-ha moment & they'll be delicious. NOPE. They still make me want to gag, every time.

2. Really not a fan of even #'s. Wish I knew why.

3. To go along with #2, you'll see me setting my alarm for like 611AM, not 610 or 615. That would be too easy.

4. If I could eat one food every day for the rest of my life it might be soft pretzels with cheese. Beer cheese, super fake-y nacho cheese. Whatever. I love it all.

Soft pretzel stuffed with cheese & bacon. Life does not get better than this.
5. I don't carry a purse. It makes it too easy to be a hoarder. All of a sudden I've got like a box of granola bars, 2 bottles of water, a pair of (clean) socks, Tums, my planner, a pen & a library book in there. Trust me. It has happened.

6. I always end my gas purchases on the same cent value. My Dad always told me to do that when I was younger & it stuck. Not sure if it makes any difference, but it would be very easy to spot a gas purchase I did not make.

7. I ran 2 full marathons in 2011, but didn't run my first 5K until 2015.

8. I've owned 2 cars, both have been manual transmission. The first by force, the second by choice. I call it my built in anti-theft protection.

9. A D1 rowing scholarship is what brought me to college in Pittsburgh.

10. My first job was as an attendant at a combination laundromat // tanning salon, called the Wash & Tan. My second job was re-shelving books at the local library. I got to wear jeans + t-shirts, & listen to my iPod all day, it was pretty much perfect.

11. I picked my college major, Supply Chain Management, because I saw a house built out of shipping containers that I thought was neat. & I knew SCM could maybe help me get my hands on some old shipping containers. Bless my crazy brain because I'm so glad I picked it.

12. I was named after my great-grandfather. No, that's not a typo. Yes, my parents knew I was going to be a girl.

13. I've been to 48 states. It was my parents goal to get my brother & I to all 50.

14. I biked across the country (Jacksonville, FL to Monterey, CA in 2012, all 4,199 miles of it). And I have the grainy old cell phone picture of my tan lines to prove it.

15. I climbed (and summited) Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2015, find those posts here & here.

16. I'm not a lefty, but you'll usually find me eating left handed, or using my mouse left handed. Which I didn't notice until someone asked me about it a few years back.

17. I have a younger brother, who, proud big sister moment, hiked the WHOLE Appalachian Trail last summer. From Georgia to Maine. Crazy runs in the family.

18. In 2012, right after college graduation I chopped off all my hair & donated it. It's finally back past the length it was, 3.5 years later & I'm considering doing it all over again. Sans faux hawk of course.

19. I've never dyed my hair.

20. My parents are the king & queen of unique vacations. In 2011 we went to Minnesota & drove old retired war tanks. I got to use one to crush a car, which was pretty damn neat.

21. I found out I was allergic to Penicillin AFTER it was given to me following wisdom teeth surgery.

22. I'm living in my 5th house since 2012. I'm pretty much over moving.

23. I've spent several seasons coaching local rowing programs here in Pittsburgh. I loved every second of it. I hope to one day return, but right now my schedule just will not allow it.

24. My random roommate assignment for my freshman year of college was already a friend of mine from back home. We had originally decided not to room together, but student housing had a different plan. It worked out great.

25. I got locked in the zoo as a kid because my babysitter didn't pay attention to the announcements that the zoo was closing. Luckily it only lasted a few minutes before they unlocked the gates & let us out.

26. My 21st birthday consisted of going gambling & drinking strawberry daiquiris with my Mom at midnight. She's pretty much the best.

Share a random fact about yourself.
Can you relate to any of my tidbits?
Any former rowers // coxswains out there? 

I'm linking up with Amanda today to share.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Springtime Bucket List

I'm here today to share my springtime bucket list. It's short & sweet & perfect for the things that I know I want to prioritize over the next month or so. I want to focus on getting outside & enjoying the weather, even if that just means curling up with a good book on the back porch. I also want to focus on spending time with friends. Oftentimes summer means crazy schedules, vacations & weekend trips which can make it hard to get together & catch up. With those things in mind I created my springtime bucket list.

I hope you'll share in the comments what's on your spring bucket list!

1. Sip coffee outdoors & people watch

2. Head to the dog park

3. Explore a new trail

4. Hit up the dairy bar for some homemade ice cream

5. Picnic in the park

6. Perfect my mint julep & mojito recipes

7. Host a casual dinner party

8. Read a book outside on the porch

9. Plant the garden

10. Register for summer races

11. Go to the drive-in

12. Have a campfire

13. Refocus on resolutions // goals

14. Purge my closet

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Back to Basics : How to get back in the workout groove

The past few weeks have been a little crazy for my workout routine. At first my excuse was that I was getting back in the groove following vacation. Then a weekend visit to a friend meant no long run. Then it was DST & back to dark in the mornings. I quickly felt myself slipping into a funk of sorts.

I've been there before & it's a little spiral of half marathon doom. One day you've done all your workouts & just a few days later you skipped your speed workout, made a halfhearted promise to yourself that you would make it up this week. Now the streak is broken & it's downhill from there. Before I let myself get out of control & miss too many workouts I got back to basics, as I like to say, to get myself off the fast track to a workout funk & back to my usual self.

Here are my "Back to Basics", I would love to hear yours, what reminders or tips you have for snapping out of a workout slump before it gets serious.

{do what you love}
I love to run & I love to lift weights. When I am feeling a funk coming on I'll slow down on the cross training & get outside for a run with no purpose other than enjoyment. Or I'll head to the weight room with no plan in mind & I'll do whatever exercises strike me. While it never ends up being the most efficient use of my time, I always enjoy myself. Which is why I workout in the first place.

{no time commitment}
It's easy to get bogged down when you have a 6 mile run here, an hour of spinning there, etc. When I feel myself slipping into a funk I forget the plan. My goal is to get myself to the gym, or out on the road with my shoes laced up. If I run all my miles, great. If I don't, well, I got out there. Which brings me to my next point..

{some is better than none}
AKA fake it til you make it
Some running is better than no running when you're in a funk. If I enjoy myself for 3 miles, then I'll run 3 miles. Part of getting back to basics is snapping out of it so I can get to a place where I want to do it all, run all the miles, lift all the weights, etc.

{workout with friends}
I love to meet up with a local running group on Saturday mornings for my long run. Pace groups help keep me in check & there's always someone to chat with to make the miles fly by. I was dreading running 12 miles this past Saturday, I wasn't even sure I could do it. Instead, I did 13 & had a blast chit chatting with everyone. I always meet someone knew & run a route through the city I wouldn't have on my own.

{tell someone your plan}
As someone who thrives on outward success it can seem easy to skip a workout if no one would know. But I don't want to appear like a failure. For me this usually means telling the BF or another friend that I am getting up early to go to the gym. I don't want to have to explain later that I didn't go, so you best believe my ass will be out of bed in the morning.

{schedule a reward}
 I work well with goals in mind. Sometimes a goal of a half marathon several months away is too far off to keep me motivated every week. I like to have small rewards to keep myself on track each week. While many people disagree with using food as a reward, we are people, not dogs afterall. I disagree. If promising myself Chipotle after my long run (because I know it's near our start // finish) is going to help me complete all my workouts that week then so be it. I am not above bribing myself.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Weekend Highlights : It's a tough job, but someone has got to do it

Really hard to believe it's Sunday afternoon already as I sit down to type this. I feel like the weekend FLEW by. I got not nearly enough accomplished around the house & somehow it's already almost Monday again.

Luckily this coming week is a short week for me. We get Friday off of work. So I've got my eye on that 3 day weekend prize!

Friday night was a delicious fish fry, that I inhaled & managed to capture no pictures of...
But picture clam chowder, fried fish, mac & cheese, homemade coleslaw, bread & butter & a dixie cup full of Franzia...because no church fish fry is complete without room temperature Franzia.

Saturday morning was a nice long 13 mile run. I had 12 on the schedule, but the group run route was set for 13, so I went a little further than needed. It's always worth it. Though I'm definitely feeling it today, thanks to a serious hill or two in the first 3 miles.

After my run I had the terribly hard job of stand-in fiance for a friend who had a wedding cake tasting scheduled. We headed to a local Pittsburgh bakery to test out the options. Unfortunately neither of us were impressed. But, I guess that's just one more option to take of the table. We headed back to her favorite bakery so far, Grandview Bakery & snagged a cupcake to share.

And then proceeded to snag a few pictures of the pup all "dressed" up for a belated St. Patrick's Day, before he rebelled & said NO MORE.

This morning I set out to make these Mint Chip Oreos from Your Cup of Cake. They are absolutely delicious & were so simple since they used a boxed cake mix for the cookie portion. I added much more mint extract that the recipe called for since it wasn't minty enough for my liking, but other than that, I followed the recipe as written. Unfortunately, the recipe only made 15 or so. I probably could have eeked a few more out, but I made my last set of cookies a bit larger than I realized.

I'll just be busy trying to distract myself to avoid eating these for the next few hours since I made them to take to a house warming party later tonight. MUST. BE. STRONG.

How was your weekend?
Anyone else with a short work week on the horizon?
What's your favorite kind of cake? 

I'm linking up with  Holly,Tricia, Erin & Katie. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Five #13

Thanks to DST, I felt behind pretty much all week. And was a total klutz. Like, I closed my HAIR in the car door. I can't decide if it was the lack of sleep or the wake-up call that I finally need a haircut. I digress.

I've got an action packed weekend lined up, a wedding cake tasting with a friend (not for me!), a house warming party to attend + a long run & hopefully some sleeping in! case you missed it. I posted my 5 reasons to travel with Groupon yesterday. For those of you wondering if I would recommend to a friend.
Spoiler Alert : I would!

How I feel about this time change...5 days later...

This nonsense...

There are two rules of microwaving.
1. Don't ever leave popcorn unattended. That shit goes from 100% kernels to burn your house down in 10 seconds or less.
2. Don't ever leave oatmeal unattended. It's guaranteed to bubble over & leave a sloppy, sticky mess. No matter how big a bowl you're using.

Other than that? Everything else goes. I mean, wipe it out if your food went everywhere...but this?
Why did this happen? Oh, because last week someone violated rule #1, made the smoke detector go off, which in turn made the fire alarm go off, which in turn made 4 floors of people rush out of the building & the fire dept. show up. Come on people.

When someone says something stupid in a meeting...


Song I've got on repeat...

It's just so upbeat. Sorry co-workers. Can't stop, won't stop. 

Favorite new find...
So maybe this is new to you, maybe not. But while in Michigan last weekend I spotted a single serve bottle of this Fairlife chocolate milk at Krogers & I snagged it. The bottle had 19 grams of protein! It was absolutely delicious & thick & chocolaty & exactly what chocolate milk should be. So I got myself a big bottle today at the grocery store & I can't wait to enjoy some chocolate milk after workouts or maybe even in my coffee.

So, Happy Friday people. Enjoy the weekend. See you back here on Monday. :)

Share something you're loving this week in the comments.

Linking up with MarCynthia, CourtneyHeather,Momfessionals, Happy Fit MamaAmandaGraceandLoveBlogErika, AndreaKarli & Amy

Thursday, March 17, 2016

5 Reasons to Travel with Groupon

The BF & I recently returned from a 10 day // 7 night trip to New Zealand. We booked through Groupon and our package included flight from LAX, hotel, rental car & several excursions.

I'm in no way affiliated or sponsored by Groupon & would even wager a guess that they don't know I exist. I truly feel that for those of us trying to see the world on a budget that Groupon can be a great resource. This is by no means the only way to do it, but here are my top 5 reasons to travel with Groupon.

Have you ever traveled with Groupon?
Let me know about your experience in the comments! 

1. The best of the best
While we definitely Googled the hotels mentioned within the Groupon, we were confident they were nice & we were not proven wrong. Always double check, read the fine print & Google for yourself, but this is not Motel 6 here people. These are nice hotels that would rather sell their extra space at a discount than sit empty.

2. No need to sweat the small stuff
Most of the international Groupon packages include flights, hotels & often times even a rental car. While I chose to NOT have the travel agent book our flights from PGH --> LAX, because I could do it for cheaper, they were more than willing. This made prep so easy. Our flights, hotels & car were booked with nothing more than ONE phone call from me to the agent + one follow up email to confirm passport information (since our flights were international). A google search & a few minutes on the American website locked in our flights from PGH --> LAX. Easy peasy.

3. One hell of a deal
It crossed my mind that perhaps this was all a scam somehow. Were we overpaying when we could book ourselves for cheaper? NOPE. I priced everything out alone, per person from LAX to Christchurch were $1700 per person. Our hotels were booking for $189 - $250 per night as we traveled during peak summer season. We stayed 7 nights.

So, some math here...
2 x 1700 = $3400 for flights
7 x 189 (we'll just use the lowest cost here) = $1323 for hotels
$550 (little on the low side from what I understand, but we'll roll with it) = rental car
$5273 for flights, hotels & rental car for the two of us.
Additional excursions were also included. I haven't bothered to price any of those. I already know we got a great deal. We paid ~$4200 between the two of us.

4. Groupon Guarantee
They take these things seriously. We had a fantastic experience & our trip dates were available. But automatically Groupon will refund you if your dates are not available when you go to book. They also welcome any feedback, positive or negative about the trip.

5. Options
I want to go everywhere. Seriously, there are very few places on this earth I wouldn't love to visit. So having a bucket list doesn't make much sense. I have some priorities & some places I would rather see than others. But in general, I want to see it all. The good news is that (sometimes) makes it easier deciding where to go on vacation. I peruse sites like Groupon Getaways & look for deals that work with my budget // timeline. In 2015 & 2016 I enjoyed taking a winter time vacation & heading south of the Equator, meaning I was getting all the benefits of a summer vacation, but escaping cold, dreary Pittsburgh winters.

Ever traveled with Groupon?
What sites do you look at when planning a vacation?
Where are you headed next? 

Linking up with Amanda x A Little R&R x Mar x Cynthia x Courtney

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

WIAW #7 : It has been a while

It has been a while since I checked in with a WIAW post. My eating has changed quite a bit since the end of my Whole30 in January. I'm still not certain I've found what works for me 100%, but I do know I'm going to keep searching & trying things until I find the balance I'm looking for.

My end goal is a rotation of meals that I know make me feel my best & keep me full until the next one, all while getting me the right balance of micros & macros. Is that too much to ask?

For breakfast, oh, for the past year and a half, maybe two, has been overnight oats.
Sometimes a smoothie if I'm lazy & sometimes a random bagel from the freezer, but usually overnight oats. I think it's time to mix it up, because I'm finally starting to get bored. Here's my attempt at muesli // mixing it up.

Lunch? That's anyone's guess. Wildcard I suppose. This week it was a big bowl of chili with beef & beans, topped with plain Greek yogurt, sprinkle of cheese, jalapenos & some crushed up tortilla chips. I could have eaten this 2 more times. Not because I was hungry, but it just really hit the spot.

Dinners around here? Well it depends on who is cooking.
Does anyone else have a BF // partner // spouse who just seems clueless as to what to eat?
The BF, he's a great cook. He can make pretty much anything you ask for, but he's always lost as to WHAT to cook. So he'll text & ask me. I'll make a suggestion, only to find out he has none of the ingredients. Sigh. Anyone else? Just me? Okay.

So sometimes, he cooks & I eat delicious tacos.

And other times I "cook" for one & eat a little more like this.

Wheat thins + goat cheese, bell pepper & mandarin

So, still trying to find that balance. Wheat thins & goat cheese for dinner probably isn't it. Who knows.

What's your go to breakfast?
Does breakfast keep you full 'til lunch or do you eat a snack too?
What's your favorite type of cheese? 
I LOVE honey goat cheese. Mmm.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Workout Recap & the hardest part about running

I was going to be back in force this week with my workout recap & fancy graphic & then I'm not. No real reason for why, just don't feel like I had much to share on the workout front. & can't really remember what I did. I've sort of fallen off the tracking wagon. I usually log my workouts on SparkPeople or MyFitnessPal & have done neither of those since before I left for New Zealand. Sigh. Does a workout even count if you don't track it?

Anyways, I'm linking up today with MarciaPatty & Erika for Tuesdays on the Run to chat about the hardest part of running.

The hardest part of running for me is balance. I don't mean in the keeping myself from falling over way, but more in the keeping things in equilibrium way.

How do I balance running with cross training?
How do I balance fuel in with fuel out?
How do I balance time spent with friends vs time spent training?

At first it seems simple. Run 5 days a week, or however many days feels good. But you soon find out that comes at the cost of cross training & strength training. Does ignoring those things make you a better runner since it means you run more? Unfortunately, nope.

And okay, I ran 10 miles today. I can eat whatever I want. I earned it. Also nope. Sure, you could eat that whole pepperoni pizza. And trust me, I've been known to do that. But the balance is in recognizing that the pizza will affect you negatively later & balancing your desire to fall in face first, with your desire to feel good & fuel well to make your next run a success.

The balance between training & friends // family may sound simple. If you run in the morning, what's the big deal. Just hang out with your people after work. Slow down there, skippy. Okay, I do run in the mornings. But if I'm up at 6, you can believe I'll want to be in bed by 10. While my friends are still going strong. So, do I stay up late & enjoy the quality time, or do I head to bed & wake up bright eyed the next morning.

I've been running for 6 years now & I still don't have the balance. Some weeks I am social & well fed & cross trained. Managing all of that makes me feel like I am on top of the world. Then there are other weeks where I barely make it out for my 3 scheduled runs, eat like shit & hole up in my house like a hermit.

What's the hardest part of running // working out for you?
Do you schedule your training around others schedules?
Do you feel like you have balance?