Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 2017 Goals + November Goal Recap

Hi Friends - I am back from 10 days in China, but I am far from feeling back to normal. Jet lag hit me hard on the way back home, and I feel like I need a few more days of hard sleep before I feel even remotely like myself again. I think all things considered, for being away 33% of November, I didn't do too shabby.

One circuit style workout per week | A+, on average
You can bet your sweet ass I didn't do a single burpee, squat, push-up or anything while in China. We walked quite a bit each day, and by the end of the day I was beat. I had no illusions that I would do a circuit workout in China. But, I was cranking out 2 a week before I left, so this one is good as gold.

Have a blast in China | I did, but...

I'll be posting more about my China trip, it's kind of an odd thing. I had fun, for sure, but I would also say it was my least favorite 'big trip' so far. I get it, I can't be in love with everywhere, some places just don't speak to us like they do to others. But it's weird, as people ask me to tell them all about the trip, I struggle to talk about all that we did, 'cause I just didn't love it, like other trips. Nothing against China, but probably a one and done for me. How's that for a bummer of a paragraph?

Book Belize | Just need to pack a bag!
We found a package that has us spending 3 nights in the jungle, and 4 nights on the beach. We'll tour Mayan Ruins and snorkel, all in one trip. I am so excited. This will definitely be different than any trip I've taken in the last 10 years. We say we aren't beach people, but I really think that we're not sitting around people, which is what the prevailing activity seems to be on the beach. While I'm sure we'll relax more than usual, we definitely won't be bumming around for 4 days.

Finish making books | Whoaaa we're halfway there...
I surprised Mr. Sass by making a book of our honeymoon, I think it turned out great. It still took a lot of time, but done is better than perfect. Now I need to make one from our wedding. Mr. Sass in turn surprised me, and printed out a panorama from Switzerland and then made a frame from some old reclaimed wood, and even hung it up on our struggling gallery wall while I was away. That man is top notch, and handy to boot. :)

Decide on a holiday tradition | Gonna test a few out
Honestly, I feel like I put a lot of thought into this, and came up blank. Some of the things that appeal to me just don't seem big enough to count. Could drinking hot chocolate while we drive around to look at Christmas lights really be our holiday tradition? Seems like it's missing a certain amount of uniqueness.
- I can't think of a single holiday movie that I feel like I need to watch every year. Or one that I think Mr. Sass would happily watch.
- I don't want us to bake holiday cookies together because #TooManyCooksInTheKitchen // #HeEatsEVERYTHING
- We don't do gifts, so there's not really anything to open.

So what's on tap for December...

I can't be the only one that has holiday parties, and requests to hang out popping up everywhere I turn. Truly, I love that the holiday season brings people together, and makes everyone want to spend time with friends and family, but why not all year long. We seem to stress ourselves out cramming everything into this one month of the year, when we should focus on seeing those we care about all year long. #EndRant

One circuit style workout per week | I want to keep my momentum going - especially through this crazy month of the year. This constant darkness makes it so easy to press the snooze button in the morning and get to the gym late, but these 7-14 minute circuits that I've been doing make it so easy to still get my sweat on in a hurry.

Enjoy my people | Say yes to the last minute happy hour (assuming I actually want to go), say yes to the party, say yes to seeing my people. Even if that means the dishes aren't done, the laundry needs folded, and on and on.

Make good choices | Bring on the office treats, holiday cocktails, edible gifts from vendors, and Christmas cookies galore. I want to focus on making good food choices. Eating lots of veggies. Keeping up with my workouts, and Fitbit steps to meet my 2017 goal. I try to remind myself of a few things during this time...

1. Store bought treats are never (or almost never) worth it. Grocery store cookies? Sooooo not worth it. Homemade cookies from an old school recipe? Worth it.

2. I've said it before, I'll say it again...saying "No" to a cookie now does not mean saying "No" to every cookie forever. Each time you meet a cookie, or candy, or donut, or cheese plate, you meet a choice. You can say yes, or you can say not this time. I try to save my yes's for things that are worth it. See #1.

3. Saying yes to a cookie does not mean I have to say yes to a whole plate of cookies. I can eat just one. I haven't figured out how yet, but people talk about it all the time on the Internet, so it must be possible.

Spend time outside | It is such a bummer during the week to wake up to darkness, leave work & drive home also in darkness. I want to make sure I'm getting at least one outdoor workout in each week. A run, a hike, a walk around the neighborhood, focus on getting some fresh air, and hopefully some sunshine each week.

What are your December goals?
What's one holiday treat that is ALWAYS worth it to you?
What's somewhere you've been that wasn't your favorite?

Linking up with :Holly & Tricia for Weekend Highlights

Sunday, November 5, 2017

November 2017 Goals

Look at me two posts in a row - being all goal oriented and shit. Aww yeah! I didn't make a single goal for October - other than to PR my half marathon, which I did! But other than that I just felt like kind of a slug. Mr. Sass and I started watching Schitt's Creek on Netflix - and I can't describe it. It's kind of awful, and weird, but also amazing, and I crack up laughing every. single. episode. We've been binge watching, which is something we never do. I do, but he is not one for plopping down on the couch & watching Netflix straight until it's past our bedtime.

And since I have no goals to recap on this post, let me insert pretty leaf pictures instead. :) Here's my November goals.

One circuit style workout per week | Circuits, which, at least to me means short bursts of mostly bodyweight workouts done quickly is such a different type of fitness than running. I mean, I can run 10+ miles no problem, but 10+ burpees will have me gasping for breath. This is something I want to work on, and is such a great way to build strength too.

Have a blast in China | If you haven't heard, I'm heading to China with my mother & brother - we'll be there for 10 days and I am so excited (albeit a little underprepared) to jet off to visit my 5th continent soon!

Book Belize | Mr. Sass and I have decided we're heading to Belize this winter. Which, is quickly approaching. We've decided we want to get everything booked before I leave for China, so I am doing some serious research - and find myself wildly overwhelmed with all the options. Planning vacations is hard work.

Finish making books | I'm a little ashamed to say that even though we got married in May I haven't printed any of our wedding pictures, or honeymoon pictures. I want to print some for our walls, but also get a book made from our wedding and honeymoon that encompass more than just a few photos, along with some text. I plan to use Shutterfly since I've had good luck with them in the past & have a gift card there as well. It always takes me so much time, but I need to remember a book on the coffee table that's pretty good is better than a book I never make that might be perfect.

Decide on a holiday tradition | Mr. Sass and I don't have the typical situation going on. His job requires he be there evenings, weekends, holidays. And with his schedule constantly changing there's a better chance than not that he'll work Thanksgiving & Christmas day each year. While that's a bummer, it is what it is. And since there's not a damn thing we can do about it I want to establish a tradition that is ours. Something not bound by a specific time or day - something we can do to celebrate the holidays together. Whenever it is that we get a chance. We're not gift people. In fact, I guess we should discuss if we're doing Christmas presents this year. Fingers crossed for no. But an experience we can repeat year after year to spend time together during such a hectic time. I'm all ears for suggestions.

What's your favorite holiday tradition?
Does anyone else have a spouse with a not so traditional work schedule?
Has anyone been to Belize?

Linking up with Holly & Tricia for Weekend Highlights

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Belated Q3 2017 Goal Check-In

Hello? It's me. I was wondering if after all this time people still read. Am I still funny? Don't answer that. Hi. It's been a while. Like two months, or something like that. And on one hand a ton of things have happened, but on the other, I'm still Jessie. I'm still married to Mr. Sass where we live in our same house where we lived before. And I'm friends with the same people. And you'll find me doing the same things each week - 'cause creature of habit.

Mostly I haven't missed checking in here. I see a lot of you over on Instagram, and I got a little wordy with my captions there, so that filled the void for sure. But, I've missed having goals, and an easy place to check in with them. And a place for all the pictures that aren't quite Insta worthy but are oh so important to what's going on.

So, I'm here to share a 3rd quarter goal recap of my 2017 goals (a weeeeee bit late). I plan to be back soon to share my November goals. If I'm being honest, I was laser focused on my half marathon (and nothing else) during October, so I want to take some time to figure out what I want to focus on right now.

Here's how I'm doing on my 2017 goals - I'm combining this update to include my personal, fitness, and blogging goals for 2017. If I've made progress I've listed a + sign next to the goal, if not, I've listed a minus. I'm pleased with my progress so far in 2017.

+ Pay my library fine & read 30+ books  
I've read 31 books so far in 2017, and am tearing through them right now. I love taking my lunch break to unplug and read a book. I won't probably hit my stretch goal of 50 books, but cooler weather makes me want to light a candle & cozy up on the couch to read.

+ Complete a gallery wall in the living room
I feel like since I've made no progress on this since my Q2 update I really shouldn't feel too good about this one. And we REALLY need to get some pics printed. Like from our honeymoon and things.

+ Try 2 new recipes each month 
I made a delicious sweet potato banana muffin recipe this past week. But otherwise, I can't remember what I've tried. We've definitely added a few new favorite to our arsenal, so I know I've been trying new things. Actually, that cornbread is a spicy jalapeno cheddar cornbread. I totally cheated by using a Jiffy mix as the base, but it turned out damn good. Now, if only I had measured so I would know what I had put in...

Actually - I made a delicious pumpkin spice granola from Pinch of Yum.

And have been loving salads made with brussel sprouts, and making all sorts of creations, including my own dressing, so yeah. I guess I've been nailing this one.

+ Cross 2 items off my 30 before 30 
Ohhhh yeah - I ran HM#10 & traveled my ass all across Switzerland on a train! In a few short weeks I'll be headed to CHINA where I can cross another continent off my quest to visit all 7.

- Go to Kansas 
NOPE. My last remaining vacation days will be used for China, so Kansas is a no-go for 2017.

- Set up a cleaning schedule 
Still a ratty old schedule hanging on our fridge that we don't follow. I would say our house is okay by my standards which means it's a little messier than it should be. Shrugs. It is what it is. The kitchen counter is clean, the bathroom is clean. That's what really matters if you ask me.

- Find a church 
Have been like 3x since our wedding - but mostly only for other weddings. Oops.

+ Travel somewhere new
I've been on top of this one! China is coming up - if you recall from my last update we visited an area called Kinzua Bridge. And in early October Mr. Sass & I took a weekend trip to Harper's Ferry, WV for some great hiking on the Appalachian Trail + some great wineries in near by Winchester, VA. It was such a cute town and I would highly recommend a trip if you're anywhere nearby.

+ Intentional monthly dates 
Our whole weekend getaway to Harper's Ferry was a big ol' date & it was perfect. Hiking. Wineries. Exploring a pedestrian only walk-way and sniffing our way to a good dinner place. Or eating 4+ donuts each on our mini road trip.

+ Take 4,000,000 steps in 2017 
I'm hovering right around where I should be. I've taken over 3M steps this year, but there is no room to slack off in these last few months if I'm going to make the cut. 

+ Track my 2017 running mileage 
I hit my 500 mile goal during October and have been doing great tracking my mileage, even if it's not much. I've run a whopping 1.3 miles since my half marathon 2 weeks ago. But that's alright. I'm trying to do what feels good right now and give my body some time to heal some running niggles. 

+ PR in 2+ distances (HM & 5K)
I haven't run a 5K yet this year, but I did PR my HM big time! A 3 minute PR, with an 8:30 average pace, for a 1:51 finish time - exactly my goal! And exactly what I trained for with Gretchen!

+ Race another TRI 
If you missed my recap then you wouldn't know that I totally nailed it! But that's okay, you can still catch up. :)    

- Give The Sass a facelift
- Consider buying .COM 
- Hit 5,000 monthly pageviews (or 15,000 on blogger) 
- Reach out to 3 brands for collaboration    
My heart just hasn't been in it. As you can tell from my lack of posts around here. And that's okay. I'm giving myself a pass on these, because I've decided that they're not important to me right now. I've been really enjoying Instagram, so that's definitely where you'll find me most right now. I love how quick and easy it is to engage with others. 

+ Grow my Instagram   
Holy Cow! I've been really putting in some effort here and it's showing. By my last count I was hovering right around 1100 followers. Which is some huge progress from the beginning of July! As I mentioned above, I love how quick & easy it is to engage with followers. And I'm even enjoying Insta Stories as a way to share some of the less Insta worthy, more behind the scenes stuff.  

So, that's what's up.
I'm linking up with Gretchen & Kristen.
No questions - just tell me what you're up to.
I have missed you guys! 

Monday, August 28, 2017

September 2017 Goals + August Goal Recap

Hi. Wow. I feel like August was busy. But, I'm not sure I really did anything. I mean, don't get me wrong, I didn't sit around all month. Just that nothing life changing happened. If someone asked me what I was up to, I would tell them same old, same old.

I'm starting to realize that these last few months have seemed odd, because for the near future, change is over. At least big changes, and ones that we plan on. For years there has been moving apartments, then moving again, dating, getting engaged, and then married. And now? Nothing. No babies (at least not right now), no moving (at least not right now), no nothing. At least not right now. Which is fine by me - it's just odd.

There was always something big happening. It made the little things sort of fade away in the sense of - "What have you been up to?", "Oh, just getting ready to move to a new apartment" - versus "Oh, went on another hike this weekend to a place you'll probably never go because you don't actually like to be outside except in the sense of drinking on a patio."

Until more changes come along, I'm feeling a little wayward. A little unmotivated. And it shows. I have things I want to do, but haven't quite mustered up the determination or grit to actually get them done. Maybe because I feel like I have tons of time? With nothing earth shattering looming in the distance I feel like I can get things done at whatever pace I feel, which right now is a snails crawl. Which isn't like me at all.

After that bummer of an introduction, let's check out how well I didn't do on my August goals.

Bust out thank you notes | Done-zo
Now if people could stop sending us gifts after the fact, then we would stay done. We busted them out, then a new wave of a few gifts came rolling in.

Waste no food | Not quite perfect
We wasted a few things. Like a few slices of a beautifully medium rare grilled venison backstrap. And a few other odds and ends. A jar of applesauce that somehow went moldy? I digress. Another good month. We made lots of salsa, some pasta sauce, and I got my bake on making at least 5 loaves of bread.

Make fall race plans | Let's run a HM she said...
I'm registered for Buffalo Creek Half Marathon & just committed to running Ragnar DC. I'm also considering Hell on Hills which I ran last year, and enjoyed!

80,000 steps weekly | NOPE.
I accomplished this a grand total of zero times in August. WTF. I had some seriously active days, including one with 30,000+ steps (the day before my tri) but somehow still didn't crest 80,000 thanks to some lazy days early in the week.

Keep on tri-training | I won, it's a major award.
While my performance wasn't earth shattering, as I knew it wouldn't be, it was good enough to land me a 3rd place AG finish. So, I'll take it. It was a really strong reminder how much I love tri's (for all 2 that I've raced) and how I want to race many more next year. I think it'll the summer I "tri".

Get my groove back | TBD
Like, so far so good on dragging my ass out of bed to go for a run. But, still not sure I'm back in the groove 100% yet. I was so encouraged by my lack of pain during the bike portion of my tri, but I still need more time on the bike before I am comfortable again.

So, what's up for my wayward soul in September? I just realized it's a fairly busy month. Lots of birthdays to celebrate - odd factoid, my dad, my MIL, FIL & SIL were all born in September, and their birthdays are 4 days in a row. What are the odds? I'll run Ragnar DC, attend to weddings (both {in}conveniently on the same day), and bake everything pumpkin. Wasssup almost fall?!

30 days of yoga | I found a site (Do You Yoga) with a free 30 day challenge. Each video is between 10-15 minutes long, which is great, 'cause considering I do no minutes of yoga now, even 10 seems like quite the commitment. I already know I won't be able to commit to every day, due to some of the travel I have planned, if I can get through 20 of the videos I'll consider this one a rousing success

No missed workouts | Now that I'm officially signed up for the Buffalo Creek half, I want to make this training cycle another success. Which means no missed workouts. I can switch up days, or times, or whatever, but getting the miles in is important.

Plan Mr. Sass' birthday surprise | Guys, shitty wife of the year award. I'll be in China when Mr. Sass turns 30! He's not big on birthdays, so it didn't cross my mind, but considering it was the first thing he mentioned once I told him I had booked the trip, I'd say it's a BFD. Trying to figure out a great way to celebrate him. Some folks suggested having a small surprise party one month before his real birthday. But still thinking out other options. HALP. PLEASE.

Make good choices | I've definitely noticed my body composition changing in the past few months. While my weight has stayed about the same I am definitely noticing less muscle and more fat. Which has led me to feel uncomfortable more than once. So, back to focusing on good choices to reverse that trend.

What should I do for simpleton Mr. Sass for his b-day?
Any sites with great quick yoga videos besides YouTube? 
How early is too early for pumpkin everything?

Linking up with Gretchen + Kristen + Holly & Tricia for Weekend Highlights

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Keystone Triathlon 2017 Race Recap

If you remember way back in January, I talked about my fitness goals for 2017. And one of them was to race another triathlon. I did my first way back in 2015, and I loved the training, and I loved the race. 2016 was crazy busy and I didn't get a chance to race another, so I vowed that 2017 would be the year.

In June, I hit a little setback, when I fell off my bike, broke my hand, and cracked a rib. And, after 5 weeks in a splint, plus additional pain afterwards, I knew this race wasn't going to be earth shattering.

Let's briefly recap my training, shall we?
1 swim
0 rides on a bike that moves (I did do some work on the spin bike at the gym)
18 runs - totalling a whopping 62.5 miles

All to say, I was wildly underprepared and undertrained for this race. In fact, I hadn't even managed to ride my bike post accident. So, I wasn't even sure I could ride pain free. Let's mark that down in the #DumbShitJessieDoes category.

I raced the Sprint version of this race, which consisted of a .45 mile swim, 15.1 mile bike ride & 5K run. The "benefit" I believe I have in the tri world is that I'm pretty average at all 3 things. I swam in middle // high school, biked cross country, and have 10+ HM's under my belt. While I wouldn't say I'm fast at any of the disciplines, I'm far from being bad at any of them, which seems to mean I can hold my own.

I picked up my packet day of, and while my maps app took us to the totally wrong place, we made it with plenty of time to pick up my packet, get marked, and set up my transition area.

The fog on Sunday morning was super thick, so much so that the buoys on the swim course were 100% not visible from shore. They had to push back the adventure (kayak) race, because the kayakers couldn't see the buoys, and so the sprint race started right at 9AM.

SWIM // .45 miles
Despite the water being wetsuit legal, I didn't wear one. They set off everyone doing the sprint distance in a massive start, with a few kayakers in the water to help guide us in the right direction. I couldn't see a damn thing, and so did my best to stay with the other bobbing heads I could see, hoping someone actually knew where we were headed. Results aren't live as I'm writing this, but Mr. Sass tells me I definitely finished in the first half of people. Which, as I take a closer look at this picture, all the white bobbing heads in the water make me think he was right.

BIKE // 15.1 miles
I was nervous going into this leg for several reasons. Not only was I not sure if I could ride without pain, but I was afraid I would forget how to ride my bike. Luckily I did not forget how to ride my bike, but holy moly have I lost some strength. The bike course was not easy by any means, and it didn't help that 2 sections had fresh tar & chip. One included a downhill stretch with a sharp right onto tar & chip, eventually leading into a hill. And the other had a steep downhill section on tar & chip with a turn onto a main road at the end - which, honestly, I hopped off and walked down that steep descent.

To say I was riding scared was an understatement. There were dozens of hills on the course, and while none were truly big, because I didn't know the course well beforehand it was hard to know how sharp some of the turns would be. I braked hard more than once and slowed to a crawl in order to be sure I could make the turn. I definitely need some more easy miles on roads I know before I'm ready to be back out again.

RUN // 3.1 miles
T2 was quick. Tossed off my cleats, slipped into my running shoes & I was off. Said a few words to Mr. Sass in between. I ran out of water on the bike course, so I was grateful there was an aid station almost immediately on the run. I passed a few people, and was shocked to see my first 2 miles both come in at 8:XX.  Before I knew it, I was rounding the corner and could see the finish line. I pushed it for the last little bit, and Mr. Sass was standing there right as I crossed.

I downed a bottle of water before grabbing a taco with all the fixings & a Mike's Hard Lemonade from the post race spread. Mr. Sass thought there was a chance I had won an award, and said not too many people finished before I did. So we stuck around for a few minutes. Turns out, I won 3rd in my age group! A welcome surprise!

Overall, I thought the race was run well, and I liked the small field, it made for an uncrowded course. I paid $20 to register with a coupon code wayyyy back on Valentine's Day + another $15 for a 1 day USAT membership, so $35 total, and I more than got my money back.

Also, Mr. Sass coming to a race with me was pretty much the best thing ever. Personal photographer, shit holder, confidence booster, and DD once I got ahold of a Mike's Hard. His work schedule doesn't often work out for him to come to my races, which makes this one even sweeter.

What is your favorite post race food - what race is it from so I can sign up?
What's your favorite race award?
{This mug I got is pretty cool}

Linking up with :Holly & Tricia for Weekend Highlights + Marcia x Patty x Erika for Tuesdays on the Run + Steff

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Five #70

Friends, it has been a week. After skipping out on my fair share of Friday Fives, here I am. This week held wonderfully cool mornings, with a few even in the 50's. Cue the heart eyes. It pretty much sent me into *I want pumpkin everything* mode. And I've been trying hard to reel myself in, but there is no guarantee that the bread I make tonight won't have some pumpkin in it.

one // Since I'm heading to China in November I need to send in my Visa application. Which, while not exactly complicated - does require lots of very specific things. Filling out a form with basically every place you plan to be while you're there, a passport photo taken within the last month, with no shadows (so hard) + mailing in your actual passport. I have to say, it makes me a Nervous Nellie to be mailing my passport off somewhere.

two // Though in my opinion Blue Apron is too time consuming & too expensive to use regularly, I did love this meal we made a few weeks ago, with salmon, cilantro lime rice and a spicy peach & corn salsa. We'll definitely be recreating this salsa at home since it was a great addition to the meal.

three // Can't resist sharing how well Mr. Sass & I clean-up. Though next time I'll make sure to match my arm brace to my outfit. #AmateurMove P.S. This is actually from a wedding we went to at the beginning of July, and my arm brace is off now, though my hand doesn't quite feel 100%.

four // Okay, JK, I looked up pumpkin zucchini bread recipes and they all sound amazing, so, you bet your sweet ass Imma make some tonight. We had zucchini from our garden needing to be used up, and I've been hoarding a few cans of pumpkin since last winter in case of an emergency, like this one. Ta-da!

five // Funnies...

linking up with Heather, Amanda, AndreaTifDella & Katie & Friday Five 

What are you up to this weekend?
What's your favorite baked good?
Too early for pumpkin or nah?


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

McConnells Mill State Park : Slippery Rock Gorge Trail

Hey friends, I'm back with another hike post, so those of you in Western PA area are in luck. This past Sunday I was all set to go for an early morning trail run, but my buddy (I'll leave out names to protect the guilty...) had a little too much fun Saturday night and couldn't meet me. I was left bumming around the house, slowly enjoying my coffee, when our friends Ryan & Rachael called to see if we wanted to join them for a hike. Mr.Sass was stuck putting in a new front door that took longer than expected, but I happily downed my coffee, changed my clothes & headed for a hike.

Getting There : McConnells Mill State Park is about 40 minutes to 1 hour from the city of Pittsburgh depending on what part of the city you're in, and is easily accessible from I-79N.

{Tip} - Aim to end your hike hungry & head the extra 15 - 20 minutes north to North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock. It has quickly become my favorite restaurant. They brew their own beer, have tons of local wines available, and even make some of their own soft drinks. Their food is excellent also, especially their deep fried pretzels with cheese and homemade spicy mustard (splurge the $.75 for both dips!) And their interior, booths, bar, tables, etc are all hand carved from wood. Double bonus, they have an outdoor seating area!

Hike : Slippery Rock Gorge Trail (DCNR website here)
This is where things get interesting - the Gorge trail is a one-way trail, which means, if you hike it all the way through, you will end up nowhere near where you started. So, what are the options?

1. Hike out as far as you please, turn around, come back (Lots of distance options)
2. Hike all the way to the end, and then come back (12.4 miles total)
3. Set up a "shuttle" - this requires 2 cars, which I'll talk about below (6.2 miles)

Parking : We parked here (we'll call this Parking A), in this gravel lot - while there is  parking further down this road, it fills up quickly on the weekends and it is difficult to turn around if you get down there & find no parking. Take your chances.

If you'd like to start the trail from the other end, or if you're setting up a shuttle, you'll want to park here - at Hell's Hollow - we'll call this Parking B.

Above I mentioned that if you're interested in hiking the trail all the way through (6.2 miles) you'll need to set up a shuttle, this involves 2 cars, one parked at each end point, which is how we completed the trail on Sunday. I parked at the gravel lot, the first lot mentioned, hopped in with Ryan & Rachael & we drove to the Hell's Hollow parking lot, which is where we started our hike. Post hike, I drove them back to their car. While this option takes a little more planning it's a nice way to see the whole trail without walking 12.4 miles.

Trailhead : If you're starting the trail at Parking A, take a right out of the gravel lot, walk down the "road" and stay right until you cross a bridge, with Slippery Rock Creek underneath, once you cross the bridge, the trail head will be immediately on your left. There will be a sign, with a blue blaze.

If you're starting at Parking B, head away from the road, along the tree line, towards the middle of the gravel lot there is an opening to the trail. Very wide and well marked. It includes a picnic bench as well as a map. If you miss it, this hike is too difficult for you. ;)

Round Trip : The trail from end to end is 6.2 miles, if you set up a shuttle. If you hike the full trail, out & back to return to your start point, you'll hike 12.4 miles. If that's not your jam, hike out a few miles, then turn around, this is an easy way to make a hike any distance you please.

Difficulty : Intermediate.
This trail is not suitable for young children (in my opinion, maybe yours are rockstars) I would recommend a hiking shoe or boot. There is no water along the trail, nor at the trailheads, so you'll definitely need to bring your own. The trail is not difficult to follow, it is very well blazed, and has signage throughout. The difficulty comes from the elevation changes, and uneven footing.

Hike Time : For the 6.2 mile end to end version I would say it took us about 3 hours.
Elevation Gain : There's lots of elevation changes on this hike, both up and down. Believe me, you'll get your heart pumping on this hike.
Restrooms : None at Parking A, one port-o-potty of questionable cleanliness is available at Parking B.

This is definitely a park worth visiting. There are several other shorter loop type trails within the park that start from the Old Mill if 6.2 miles isn't your style. The Kildoo Parking lot has a nice picnic area and makes it easy to reach the Mill.

Ever been to McConnells Mill?
Let me know if you head up & try out the trail! :)
What is a comfortable hiking distance for you?
Is 6 miles too long of a hike?

If you all enjoyed this post I would love to see you PIN IT!

Linking up with Amanda.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August 2017 Goals + July Goal Update

Hiiiiii, I'm baaaaack! Did you miss me, Internet Friends? It has certainly been weird not logging in here a few times each week to catch up with you all, but sometimes a break is nice.

I hope you'll catch me up on a little bit of what you've been up to these past few weeks in the comments! I've missed you!

^3 months running for this intro. New goal. How many months in a row can I reuse the same intro? Hopefully none more, 'cause it's kind of a bummer.

I'm not sure where July went. It felt like it went by at 1.5 speed this year. Seriously. Needless to say, I feel like I probably didn't rock my July goals, but I'm not even sure, because for the first month ever, I can't remember what they were. That's how quickly things flew.

85,000 steps weekly | FAIL
I hit this one week out of the 4. No excuses. I just still haven't been running much, or hiking as much as I assumed I would. Derp.

More outdoor time | I drank a lot of margaritas in the kiddie pool
And mojitos, and ciders, and beers. We had several groups of friends over & enjoyed our back porch and flat back yard (a unicorn in Pittsburgh). Did several hikes, an outdoor wedding, and a weekend spent relaxing lakeside for a friends bachelorette party.

Start (modified) TRI training | Ehhhh
I did some more bike rides on the spin bikes at the gym. I hopped in the pool to swim for the first time in a while (and knocked out at least 2100yds), But my running has still been on the struggle bus and wildly inconsistent to boot. I think this is my fancy way of saying, holy shit, my TRI is on August 20th, and while I know I can finish it, I don't think this will be my triumphant comeback after my bike injury.

Waste no food | B-
I'd say we did pretty okay at this. Some noodles got pitched. And a sad cabbage remnant that sat in the fridge too long. But other than that, we ate it all. I hedge my bets a bit this time of year. Our garden is producing some, but it's anyone's guess when I got shopping on a Saturday what we'll have by Wednesday. But so far I've guessed well. Mr. Sass and I are getting into a groove with prepping lunches and things. He eats differently depending on what shift he's working at work. This month, I've been prepping him a lunch just like I do for me. But, when he works evenings next month he thinks he'd prefer a huge breakfast, no lunch, a normal dinner and some late night snacks. Alright...Mrs. Sass is on it!

Make a budget | We STILL need a budget
We opened a join checking account, which, so far has proved to just be annoying. And our checks haven't arrived yet, so I can't switch over my direct deposit. NVM, just did it, even though it's the hardest thing I've done all day. Up next, budget. Though, with 2 sets of plane tickets, and a few weekend trips to celebrate with friends, I can tell you it's already blown. Oops.

In summation, I didn't seem to get much done during July. Honestly, my motivation to do anything besides sit in the pool & chat with friends has been low. Even running. I love the feeling when I'm out there, usually, but getting out there is the problem.

So, what's on tap for August!?

Bust out thank you notes | It still hurts a bit to write, but I just want these done. I can do one or two at a time, but definitely not 7 or 8 like I was before. So, slow and steady wins the race.

Waste no food | I want to keep rocking this trend. Making sure we're using all our garden produce - and not buying groceries we don't need.

Make fall race plans | My motivation has been low. I really want to run Buffalo Creek Half Marathon (& rock it), but my desire to jump into a training plan doesn't seem to be there just yet. Not sure if registering will force me to buckle down, or if I just shouldn't sweat it.

80,000 steps weekly | Considering I only hit this marker 1/4 weeks in July, let's tone it down here.

Keep on tri-training | I've (semi) accepted that this tri isn't going to be an earth shattering finish. But that doesn't meant I can't come in strong and embrace where I am now. But like, also, let's get my ass back on a bike one that actually moves when you pedal it.

Get my groove back | I really don't know what it is. I've been in this weird little exercise funk. I enjoy it when I'm out there, but getting out there is the hard part. Maybe I just need some cooler temps, or a bike ride, since those are my favorite. Shrugs.

What are your August goals?
What's one thing you're looking forward too in August?
Swim, Bike, Run - which one would be your strongest? Your weakest?

Linking up with Amanda +  AngeGretchen + Kristen

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pacific Mountain Outdoor

Honestly, this review (yeah, this is a review - disclaimer alert!) took me a while to write. Not because I didn't love the boots, but because I couldn't quite find my voice. I kept feeling like I sounded less than authentic. I found a hiking boot review on another blog, and set out to make mine pretty, and fancy like theirs. And then I thought - whaaaat? Why would I do that!? I'm not fancy. I don't have a $5,000 camera, and I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to snapping pics. I'm a self proclaimed frugal-ista, and hate spending money that I don't have to. But, what I do know is hiking.

If you've been around here for more than 5 minutes, you know hiking is my jam. You know it's one of Mr. Sass and I's favorite things to do, and our preferred method of exploring new places - obviously followed by eating.

But - serious confession. For as much as I hike, and as many big hikes as I've done, I'm a big baby when it comes to crossing creeks. My confidence is pretty low when it comes to hopping over rocks quickly to make it across creeks. Which, makes my life twice as hard because rocks tend to shift and sink the longer your weight is on them. My fear stems from the totally unrealistic vision that I might fall, hit both my front teeth on a rock and require serious dental work. Far from likely, but a strong enough fear to mean more often than not my feet get wet when I attempt to cross a creek.

In the summer, it's no big deal. Actually - I usually relish a chance to get my feet wet. In the winter though? It's a totally different story. Rarely on our winter hikes is the water frozen enough to WALK on. Instead the rocks are just more slippery, which accelerates my fear that I'll fall & bust all my teeth out. I have big, clunky, serious winter hiking boots. And they definitely have their purpose. Hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro? Yeah. Get out those heavy winter boots. But what about when there is little to no snow on the ground - no need to wear a boot meant for trekking through snow. All you'll be doing is lugging around weight you don't need.

What I've lacked for a while was a middle ground. I have my clunky hiking boots for crazy winter weather, and I've got my lightweight hiking shoes for easy summertime hikes. But I was missing something in-between, something with ankle support, but lightweight if I was going to lug it around on my feet all day and something waterproof.

Cue Pacific Mountain Outdoor.

| side note | When I first went to write this review I was alarmed that there was mud all over my boots. Wait, what? Yeah. You read that right. Trying to be like other bloggers, all fancy, and clean. Like, of course there is mud on my boots, I hiked in them. Like actual hikes. Where there was dirt, and mud, and sticks, and trees I climbed over. Like in the woods. Where there are hiking trails.

When Pacific Mountain reached out to me on Instagram, I did a little research & decided that we would be a great fit. I was offered a pair of boots at no charge - in exchange for my honest review.

I instantly picked out the Moraine. It's waterproof, fairly lightweight - especially compared to a big hiking boot, and well priced. While 5 years ago I would have scoffed at the price, one pair of bad shoes will quickly change your mind. One of the worst things that can happen to a hiker is to be miles away from the car, or your destination, only to feel a blister forming. I will gladly pay for quality shoes to save my feet.

The bed of the boot is made of memory foam, which feels a little rigid when you first put your foot in, but instantly warms from the heat of your foot, and then forms to it. I loved that these didn't feel like they would need to be broken in. They were ready to wear right away.

I know a lot of you are newer to hiking - or even total novices, but are interested in learning more. So here's a few things to know when buying boots.

1. Think of hiking boots like you would running shoes, or other specialty shoes. While you could hike many trails in regular old tennis shoes they lack the stability and grip that hiking specific boots will have. They also lack ankle support and rigid bottoms which can be nice on uneven or rocky terrain. 

2. In that same vein, hiking boots are not a one size fits all. What works for my foot may not work for your foot. This is why boot brands have different styles and cuts of boot. Don't be afraid to try several different styles or sizes if you're unsure what will fit best. Pacific Mountain Outdoor has free shipping both ways! Which, truly, is my criteria for buying shoes // clothing online. Buy a pair! And worst case, if they don't fit, you're able to return them, no problem.

The first few (okay, first 5 months...) were pretty much all consumed with wedding planning. Or going places for wedding related events. And while I don't regret one second of it (okay, I do regret the amount of time spent stressing about wrinkly tablecloths) I feel like I haven't soaked up nearly enough sunshine and fresh air yet this year.

You know one of my July goals was to spend more time outside. So bring on the hiking! There are lots of new to me trails on The Sass' must hike list. Not to mention, anytime someone hikes a new trail, they make sure to ask if we've been there yet. And if we haven't? It goes on the list. Needless to say, we are not short on places to explore this summer.

I'll have posts up in the next few weeks about what's in my daypack when I'm out hiking, some hiking basics, and some of my favorite Pittsburgh area trails for you local folks! Starting with my Mill Creek MetroPark review!

What's a fairly unrealistic fear of yours?
When was the last time you bought new hiking boots?

Linking up with Amanda to share.