Saturday, November 30, 2013

Have you tried Minted?

Now that we're all recovering from Thanksgiving dinner and deserts…we're shifting our attention to the next holiday.  Especially the kids.  They can officially talk about Christmas now.  Ward and I took the kids to my in-laws woods across the street this morning and we even cut down our Christmas tree.  I haven't brought it in yet because I need to get into the attic and pull out the tree stand and Christmas tote.  Maybe tomorrow.  I know the kids are chomping at the bit!  To hold them off, I did let them pull out their tiny little silver tree we bought last year.  They already have it decorated in their room.

Speaking of Christmas, do you like to order personalized, photo cards?  We do!  For the past couple of years, we've had our family photos taken in the fall and then use one of our favorites for our Christmas card.  If you haven't gotten your cards yet, I think you need to check out Minted and their Holiday Photo Cards selection.   I am completely in love with the unique selection they have available.  Especially this one.

I haven't seen cut holiday cards like this before.  I really like the tasteful extra touch.  Wouldn't you agree? 

And while you are visiting Minted, you need to check out these awesome wrap address labels.   Which I am in love with.   

Another great idea I saw on Minted was these Ornament cards. They are so unique!  I could definitely see myself keeping these from year to year and putting them on the tree. 

Or, if you are doing some Christmas shopping, there is a great selection of art prints and family trees.  I can see myself buying this print perhaps for my dad.  He would love this filled with pictures of the entire family.

The ideas are endless with Minted.   And if you aren't in the mood for Christmas Cards or gifts and have a party coming up, Minted has the best party packages, decorations, and invitations to choose from.  We have a pretty special birthday coming up in January (she's turning 5!) and I know she'll love these decorations at her party!

And you don't have to purchase the entire package.  You get to choose the items you would like and the quantity.  

So, tell me, do you order your Christmas cards?  Or like to purchase personalized gifts for people on your holiday list?  

Shoe Review: Mizuno Wave Rider 17

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno.  

Last week, I received a call at school from Ward.  He spoke some beautiful words to me - "your shoes are here".   The torture!  I wanted to call off class and head home right away and run.  BUT, I couldn't.  That sort of thing is frowned upon in high schools.  So, instead, I asked him to send me a picture of my new beauties so I could day dream about how my run would be after school.  

he's just jealous...
As soon as I came home, I changed into my running gear as quickly as possible and slipped on my new Mizuno Wave Rider 17s.  It was a gorgeous blue ski day.  But rather chilly.  No worries.  Just bundle up and go for it.  I knew I was going to warm up in about a mile anyway.  And I did.

First impression?  Wow!  There was enough cushion in the heel that the ride just felt so smooth.  The toe box felt a little snug and shallow but it didn't hurt.  I was hoping that after a few runs the shoes would loosen up a bit.  I could feel the shoe hugging my arches and they felt quite supportive.  Great lateral support!

I did not run in the Wave Rider 16s at all, but did run in the 15s.  But at that time I chose men's.  I liked them but I didn't like all of the seams in the upper and did not like the rigidness of the wave plate.  However, the 15s did have a lot of support and were a pretty solid shoe that did get me through that entire winter.  The sole had a lot of grip and I knew I wasn't going to slip around in the snow.

This time, Mizuno opted for a lot less tread action on the bottom, which is okay with me. Also, the uppers do not have all of the seams going on.  So there is a lot less chance of weird rubbing.  The cushioning is also amazing.  Great improvements, Mizuno!  

On Wednesday, I laced up my Wave Rider 17s again and headed to the gym.  We had some pretty major downpour action going and Tucker was home - so I thought it would be best if I had him hang out at the gym while I got my miles in on the treadmill.

This time I noticed the tightness on my right foot more than Monday's run.  When I finished, I did notice a blister on my bunion.  Not an odd place for me to get a blister.  It's happened before.  But when it's happened, I normally stop running in the shoes.  I didn't want that that to happen!

So, for the third run, I loosened the laces and wore my thinner socks.  Not a single issue with rubbing or tightness.  Either the shoes are loosening up or my changes worked.  But it doesn't matter.  I get to wear these shoes!  Which makes me a happy girl because they really are pretty awesome!  I've already run 19 miles in these shoes in a matter of 3 days.  I see many more miles coming with them!

This time I chanced it all and went for the women's wide.  This is a pretty large gamble for me.  I know Mizuno's run narrow.  I also have to share that Mizuno does not make a lot of their women's shoes in wides.  Which is rather disappointing to me.  That's why I normally wear men's Mizunos, but I am not really liking the color options in men's shoes lately.

Now, for the technical details of the Wave Rider 17 from the Mizuno website.
- they weigh in at 7.4 ounces
- U4ic midsole - to provide lightweight and resilient cushioning
- a new sock liner emphasizing increased resiliency and responsiveness 
- lateral forefoot sculpting for a smooth touchdown and transition
- blown rubber forefront with deep flex grooves for optimal flexibility and cushioning
- dissolving upper fit with new DMF execution and soft, supple mesh materials

By the way.  Be ready. 
 These beauties will officially launch in stores on December 5th!  

Are you excited yet?  

Jost Running Giveaway!!!!

As the holiday season gets underway…time for races gets trickier.  For me anyway.  My weekends are completely packed.  I am going to be involved in the opening of a local running store.  YES!  That's right.  I'm going to be working in a running store.  And the name of the store is Rail Trail Run Shop.   To say I'm excited is an understatement.   Then the same weekend, I have both of my nieces's birthdays to get to on the same day.   After that, each weekend only gets crazier.  I want to do a December race, BUT, unless a race director wants to go around my schedule, it probably won't happen.  

Woah, wait.  I know a race director that allows you to go around your own schedule…..  JOST Running!  AND, you get to choose your distance - 5k, 10k, 13.1, or 26.2.  Oh and you get a great medal as well!    Oh, okay!  I guess I can do a December race.  On my time!  Woohoo!  

I just need to decide which "race" I want to do.  And guess what?  One of you gets to choose too!  The ladies at Jost Running have offered my readers a chance to win a virtual race with Jost Running.  Yay!  

The 5k and 10k dates are below...

Or you could do the Half or Full Marathon and get this medal…

Enter below for your chance!  I'll announce my winner on December 2nd.   A little late….but if you want to do the 5k, you will still have time!  

Friday, November 29, 2013

Product Review: FLEXR Sports Bottle

The following post is sponsored by 180 Communications on behalf of FLEXR Sports.   I am receiving no further compensation for this post.  As always, all opinions expressed on my blog are 100% my own.  

I am a runner who really likes to be well hydrated on my runs.   I've tried a variety of different methods in staying hydrated on my runs.  In the beginning, I used to stash water bottles along my route.  But that really just took too much time.  Having to go out just before and drive along the route, hiding a bottle and then hoping it was going to be there when I got to the hiding spot.  It really just drove me crazy and caused a bit too much anxiety on my part.  Then there was a period of time I would run with money, so I could just stop at a store and buy a bottled water.  That plan was okay until the only store along my route was closed on one of those long runs…and the girls and I had to go into a bar and beg for water.  

Then I started running with a hydration backpack.  I liked it a lot, but didn't like the rubbing I would sometimes get from the straps…depending on what I wore.  So then I tried out the hydration belt.  I didn't even get 1 mile into my run with a hydration belt before that thing was off and stashed in the bottom of the jogger.  Ugh!  

Then I started trying out handhelds.  I liked them a lot because of the convenience of having my water already in my hand, but I hated the sloshing.  I tried telling myself it didn't bother me, but it really did bother me at times. 

Then I got to try out the FLEXR Sport Bottle.  I didn't expect it to be terribly different from the other hand held water bottles I tried.  Boy I was wrong!  This bottle is very different from the bottles I've tried before!

First of all, the bottle is incredibly flexible.  And it's more of an oval shape.  It came with a black, neoprene cover with a adjustable velcro strap, and small pocket to hold small items - like gum, keys, a little bit of fuel.  The strap is very comfortable around my hand and very easy to adjust.    

The cap is a little different.  It's a twist cap and not one that you need to pry open with your teeth when you run.  It was rather easy to open and didn't get me soaked when I tried to get a drink.  

Another part that makes this bottle unique is that it comes with biodegradable liners.  I thought that was weird at first and maybe not the most economical.  But honestly, I haven't tossed my first liner yet.  I try to be frugal with my gear, so I've been washing it out and air drying the liner.  What's great about the liner is that it is the reason why there is very minimal sloshing of water.  As you drink from the bottle, the liner collapses.  It's a pretty cool concept and it works!   I have to mention, the liners are rather inexpensive, so when I do run out, I can get another 25 for $2.95.  That's not bad at all!  Or, if I do run out, I was given this little plug that will keep the water from leaking (because there is a small hole on the side of the water bottle, with does allow for you to squeeze out the air).  Pretty awesome!

I've taken my FLEXR water bottle out for a few mid distance (6-ish mile runs) as I'm not training for a marathon right now and I came back well hydrated and pretty pleased with the bottle.   I've even brought my FLEXR with me for treadmill runs and elliptical workouts.  I love to be able to drink and not spill water all over me on equipment and this works!  

I also received a FLEXR Sports Neo Running Pouch.  At first, I really didn't want to try it out.  I've tried a few pouches before and usually only ran in them once before they were given away or just tossed aside never to be used again.  I could never get used to the idea of something around my waist/hips/wherever while I ran.  The pouches always moved around and drove my CRAZY.  But, not this one.  I even loaded it up by putting my phone in there.  And ran  a 5 miler, then a 6 miler with it and it didn't move once.  I didn't want to take it off and toss it in the stream or the field.  Have I found a pouch for me, finally?  I think so!  

The pouch also comes with bib # holders.  Which I have to admit is pretty cool.  I don't enjoy pinning bib #s onto my shirt.  

Tell me, would you try this bottle or pouch?  Both items are very different than other products I've tried before.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Virtual 5ks & Thanksgiving!

Today was crazy windy and cold.  Ward left at 7:30 for his run with Wade….which really meant I had about an hour decide inside or outside….how long?  Ugh.  I don't know.  Looking outside there were beautiful blue skies but the trees were swaying like mad.  ugh.  The temperature read 29 and according to the real feel was about 19.  Okay, fine.  I'll run outside.  Although the treadmill in a warm gym was rather tempting.  

When Ward came home, I asked, as I always do, how it was.  He said windy but fine.  He said he and Wade ran 5 miles.  Then he asked how far I was going to run…and I said 4 ish.  He said 'you know, the more you run, the more you can eat…'.  At that point the goal turned into 'run more than Ward'.  

I set out, no Garmin, no app started on my phone.  No idea how fast I was going.  Who really cares?  I know the distance for just about every single mailbox on my road.  Sad.  I know.  But that is what happens over the course of several years.  I passed by two hunters, who didn't look too happy to see me out running.  Then I reached the 2.5 mile mark, turned around and felt fantastic.  Striding at an easy pace.  Gorgeous blue skies.  Windy.  When I was nearing my house, I knew I had more in me.  So I decided to run past my house for a 1/2 mile, and then turn around.  It still felt easy and pretty much awesome!  I did a little more, to the point where I knew that when I returned to my house my total mileage would be 6.2 miles for the day.  

Today I opted to be as bright as possible knowing there were going to be a few hunters out on my road.  My Reebok Ones paired with my Zensah compression socks, Spandits Skull Capris, Sugoi jacket and Janji hat, and Pearl Izumi gloves kept me toasty and bright!   

Thank you Kiley at Daily Vitamin F for hosting today's Thankgiving Virtual 5k….  You gave me the motivation to get out there….and Ward, you gave me the motivation to run future than you did!  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am grateful for family……

and for being healthy…..  

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Running Lately and a New Look

Now that I've accomplished the Spartan goal, which was pretty huge for me, I've taken a little step back to a rest/recovery mode.  I am still running, but nothing really set.  It's kind of like "I feel like running xxx miles today."   It's actually quite liberating as heck too!  I have it engrained in my brain that I will work out at least 5 times a week, so having a workout schedule really isn't necessary for me right now.  

Last week we had quite the range of weather.  Last Monday it was 60 degrees and gorgeous - so I ran in a light top and Spandits shorts.  

But by Friday, it was 27 degrees and I was running in a long sleeve shirt, Brooks Vest, Spandits long tights, and my new Janji hat.  I actually won the Janji hat from Erica Finds and I love it.  I just need to keep it far away from Ward.  

I definitely do not want to get shot during hunting season!  I am pretty sure this is bright enough so hunters cannot mistaken me for a deer!!  Wouldn't you agree?  

Something I did notice about my Spandits long tights was that they do not have those annoying zippers that a lot of tights have.  I've had bad luck with the zippers rubbing my leg raw during long runs.  Yet another bonus when it comes to my Spandits!  

On Monday, it was even colder, real feel of 18.  Brutally windy.  But I was nice and toasty with my Janji hat and Sugoi jacket.  

And then today, 57 degrees but crazy downpours and winds.  So, I went to the gym instead and enjoyed a great treadmill run with my new Wave Rider 17s.  

This wasn't my first run in the Wave Riders.  I went out on Monday for 6.2 miles in them and they were great!  Today they felt awesome too.  I did notice they felt a little tight around my crazy bunion, but didn't think anything of it.  Then later on today I noticed a blister.  Not sure if it was the shoe, the sock or what.  I've been wearing these Balegas quite a bit, so I'm going to try a different pair of socks and loosen the laces and see how it goes the next time I run in them.  But so far, I am really enjoying the soft, yet supported run.  My arches also feel quite happy in these shoes too. 

I also have a new look.  Last weekend the kids and I all went for haircuts.  Tucker was in desperate need of a trim.  His bangs were incredibly long and Izzy, believe it or not, hasn't had her hair cut professionally until this weekend.  She's been happy with me trimming her hair, but I am definitely not a hair stylist and I know my skills are rather weak in the area - so she agreed to have her hair trimmed.  

And then I had my hair cut.  Not once, but twice.  Yep.  I wasn't pleased with the first time, so I went to a different place on Sunday and had my hair cut again.  And now I love it!  

No more ponytails for me for awhile and that is completely okay!  I love shorter hair.  It's so much easier for me to take care of and style in the morning.  

Have you ever had your hair cut one day, gone home, decided you hated it and go to another place the next day?  Or even back to the same place (I would have if they were open on Sundays) and had them fix it?  

Before I forget…I need to announce my Spartan Winner!  Congratulations……

I've already emailed her and she's already responded.  I wish I had more entries to give away.  Speaking of that….I won a Spartan entry (thanks, Carrie!)….so guess who's doing another one!!!!  ;)  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

4 Weeks Later on Grain Brain

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Grain Brain.  

Since I've chosen to be a healthier person in terms of fitness and food, I have been much more conscientious about my foods.  But I never really stopped to think about gluten and the affects it has on people and their bodies.  

Then I was given the opportunity to read Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter and participate in a 4-week challenge.  In the beginning chapters of this book, Dr. Perlmutter reveals some pretty amazing data linking gluten and other damaging carbohydrates to a long list of medical conditions.  Here are just a few of those medical conditions:
- chronic headaches
- insomnia
- anxiety
- depression
- diabetes
- epilepsy
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

For me, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder stood out on that list.  I have (quite a bit) of anxiety and my son was recently diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive type).  I've been noticing in myself a very cloudy/unfocused brain as well.  Sometimes I feel so completely overwhelmed, I'm not really sure where to start.   I had high hopes that Dr. Perlmutter's book would provide us with some answers and suggestions in improving my anxiety and reducing Tucker's ADHD symptoms.  

There were four key components of the Grain Brain program:
- move away from carbohydrates and add in healthy brain supplements
- establish a fitness routine
- get consistent, restful sleep seven days/week
- establish a rhythm in maintaining the healthy habits

How did I do?  

Moving away from carbohydrates and using brain healthy supplements.

Dr. Perlmutter recommends adding coconut oil, DHA derived from fish, fish oil or algae, probiotics, resveratrol, turmeric, and vitamin D.  

As part of the challenge, I was actually sent 3 of the recommended supplements.  
  • GNC Preventative Nutrition resVida
  • Spring Valley Omega-3 Fish Oil Soft Gels
  • BrainStrong Adult DHA Supplement 

I already had vitamin D and coconut oil and the purchased the turmeric.  Below you'll see my morning supplement routine.  

resVida, fish oil, turmeric, DHA

Actually, I did have the kids start an Omega -3/DHA supplement routine as well.  But I found some child ones instead.  There was no way they would be able to take these larger pills.  Taking these supplements was actually the easiest piece to the challenge.  I kept them in the kitchen where I prepped my lunch/breakfast for the day, so it was quite easy to take them and not forget them.  

Part of the Grain Brain, challenge was to be gluten free for 10 days.  I am sad to report I didn't quite make it.  I had some really great days and then some not so awesome days.  However, what I did notice is on the days I stayed 100% true to the plan, I didn't feel snacky hungry.  I felt completely satisfied with my meals.  And to be honest, on the other days that I wasn't truly gluten free, it's not like I was eating every single gluten-based food.  I mean, at a birthday party, I ate some Nilla wafers (like 5).  In my defense, my friend made her pumpkin dip and I wanted it….and it only tastes great with the Nilla wafers that were sitting next to the dip.  Darn.  The rest of that day, I stayed on track.  I did have a girls night out, and I did have regular pizza dough instead of the gluten free dough.   

However, I did clear out the bleached, all purpose flour, and did stock up on gluten free flours.  Thanks to my dad and Barb, I have two awesome large bags of gluten free all purpose flour and more coconut oil - from there last trip to Costco. - Since there isn't a Costco in Maine, I need to rely on my dad and Barb to stock me on those goodies! I am very appreciative!  This family does love it's baked goods, and not having pancakes, muffins, scones would be detrimental to our winter living in Maine.   

I experimented with some recipes and found some great ones Dr. Perlmutter's site and Pinterest.  

Eggs, Kale, Onions, local/nitrate free bacon

quinoa, onion, kale, zucchini, local pork

salmon topped with fresh mango salsa

Boudreau raised chicken, onion, spinach

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Dough, mushrooms, spinach, cheese

It wasn't that hard at all.  For me anyway.  The kids were not going to eat some of the things above.  But they did enjoy Bob's Red Mill GF Pizza Dough, eggs, chicken, bacon, sausage.  The green stuff above?  Nope.  Not them.  I am working on them though!!!

Establish a Fitness Routine

This was the easiest part for me.  Already done.  I work out 5-6x a week.  If I don't work out, it shows. Even the kids ask "did you work out today?" If I'm not in the best of moods.  And because they are awesome, they will always give me time to work out or join me!  


Yes.  This is one thing I am not usually very good at.  I made sure to power down and be in bed by 9:30 and was usually asleep by 10.  I get up at 5:30 every morning, so 7.5 hours is pretty darn good for me.  I felt like I had tons of rest!  

Establish a Rhythm  With My New Healthy Habits

I'm not sure if we will ever be 100% gluten free.  I am confident we can be reduced gluten for sure.  As a family, we are making more conscientious choices in flours, snacks.  Tucker's been taking Larabars to school instead of the Nutter Bars he was taking before.     

Soooo….did I notice anything?  

Oh my goodness, yes!  It's almost like I have a new/clearer brain.  I am so much more focused (at work anyway).  I have been more on top of all of the paperwork associated with being a Special Educator.   I don't think I have felt as anxious lately.  There were definitely some stressors in my life in the past 4 weeks that made me feel incredible anxious, but being GF doesn't mean no stress.  Right?    

Any changes in Tucker.  This boy has made some great improvements in the past four weeks.  He comes home from school, starts his homework (without fighting/arguing/whining), sits at the table and focuses on his work.  He has been bringing his home/school folder home much more consistently as well.   Prior to this, he was forgetting it at school at least 2x a week.  In addition to the reduced gluten lifestyle and taking supplements, Tucker is also seeing a chiropractor.  He was seeing her 2-3x a week.  Just this past week she reduced him to 1x a week due to his progress!  Woohoo!  As for school, his spelling test grades have jumped back up.  (He did start off the year with some really low spelling grades).  The rest of his grades have gone up as well.  

So, yes.  Making these changes in our lives has definitely been positive and worth while.  I know that in time and creativity,  I am going to be making so many more awesome Grain Brain friendly recipes based on the successes we experienced in this challenge.  I also know for sure we are going to continue with the supplements, especially since I've already purchased more.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

November Bestowed Box & Discount Code

Sponsored:  I was provided a Bestowed Box to review.  As always, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own.  

Yippie!  My November Bestowed Box came and I get to share with you what was in there!

Bestowed is is a monthly subscription box packed full of healthy snacks and foods chosen by nutritionist Heather Bauer.  The cost to have Bestowed delivered to your house each month is $19.  BUT if you sign up now and use the promo code "HELLOTEN105" when you checkout, you'll save $9….making your 1st month of Bestowed $10!!!  You do have to hurry.  The code expires on 11/30/13.

As always, when I opened my Bestowed box, I was NOT disappointed. So, you ask, what WAS in my box? It's almost like the November box was prepared just for me. It's packed full of products to help you kid out workout regimen into gear. I didn't need that much help. But I do love products that are geared toward working out!

I've tried Skratch before and LOVE this stuff.  It's packed full of electrolytes and makes for an excellent pre or post workout drink.  It's a light flavor that is actually made from freeze-dried fruit.  It's not one of those overpowering sugary drinks (although it does have some sugar in it - but we still need sugar!).  

Peanut butter and chocolate is my absolute favorite flavor combination of all time.  Fortunately for me, I   had the pleasure of inhaling this bar for breakfast one more.  Unfortunately for you, there are no pictures.  Oops.  But trust me, this bar is the best.  If you haven't tried Quest Bars yet, you are missing out.  This bar had 20 grams of protein, 17 grams of fiber.  They are low carb, gluten free and yummy!  

LifeIce came in two little trays and just looked cute.  I popped them in the freezer immediately and later on that night I was sharing my first tray with my little helper.  These were chocolate coconut flavored and were delicious.  Only 30 calories for the entire tray.  They are completely GMO free, gluten free and are fun to eat!  

Hummus to go?  Oh yes please!  I've been guilty of bringing the entire tub of hummus with me and eating the entire thing.  Or worse, getting sand or dirt in it and then not being able to eat it anymore.  Having a little travel hummus is genius!  And, of course, it has a great taste as well!  

These crackers are amazing!  They are a blend of quinoa, sesame seeds, and amaranth and are gluten free!  I loved pairing them up with the Wild Garden Hummus and just eating alone.  I will now be on the hunt to get some!  

I am not a fan of processed sugars.  I love pure sources of sweetener - like honey.  So when I get a few packets of these, my day is made.  I'm pretty easy to please like that.   Lately I've been loving a warm tea at night, so adding in some Nektar Honey Crystals to my tea has been the perfect addition!  

Coconut Water is a great source of potassium and electrolytes.  I'm not a huge fan of plain coconut water, but when it's paired with chocolate and it's ice cold, this stuff is amazing!   And again, blogger fail.  I drank the entire thing too quickly and never too pictures.  Darn!

Chia seeds are amazing.  But sometimes I find I put too many in.  Having a little pre measured packet from Salba helped me to not have too many little black seeds stuck in my teeth after I finish my smoothie.  Even better, Salba has a ground chia packet too….so no seeds ever!  Awesome.  Chia seeds are packed with Omega 3s - which are fantastic for you.  

Dark chocolate is delicious and is so good for you. This little piece of dark chocolate packed with ginseng is such a great idea. I find it's a perfect little treat for myself after a long day. And 1 is all I really need. Very satisfying.

Green tea is packed full of benefits - tons of antioxidants. The benefit of eating tea leaves is that it has 100x more antioxidants than the brewed version. I was not a fan of eating the leaves alone. Rather bitter. BUT adding them to my smoothie was the perfect move!

Do you purchase subscription boxes? I love the convenience of them and trying out new products. Bestowed offers one of the greatest values and best selections!