Thursday, January 31, 2019

January Books

If you've been around my neck of the InterWebs for any part of the last two years, hopefully you noticed I picked up a new hobby... READING! Truth be told, I was never much of a reader when I was younger (CliffsNotes were my best friend when it came to books), but recently I fell in love. In fact, in 2017 I l had a goal to read 17 books and I ended up capping off the year reading EIGHTY-EIGHT! Last year I had a goal to read 18 books and ended the year with SEVENTY-SEVEN books! Although this year I may not read at the same speed as I did the last two years, I still want to keep the hobby going (and what better form of accountability than to post a list of the books I finished at the end of the month?!). In fact, one of my goals for 2019 is to read at least 19 books. So, without further ado, let's jump into everything I read in January!

  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - When 2018 was coming to a close I saw a few of my friends mentioning some of their favorite reads of the previous year. A couple of them mentioned the same author multiple times - Kristin Hannah. Folks were repeating the titles The Nightingale and The Great Alone, and luck was on my side because both titles were available at my library so I snagged them both. As per usual, I didn't know much about the book before I opened it, other than friends were raving about it, but that has never stopped me before. This novel revolved around two sisters during World War II and their stories of love, strength and bravery. I don't want to give anything away, but let me just say one word... WOW! I flew through this one (and at over 400 pages that isn't an easy feat) and had to do my fair share of reading through tears. I know this was "just" a novel, but it really struck me that there were so many people who actually lived through stories similar to the one in the book. I still have to shake my head at the atrocities that occurred and pray daily that we never let similar travesties repeat themselves. I would give it a 10 out of 10. 

  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah - Like I mentioned, I saw a bunch of my friends saying how much they loved her books, so when I went to the library for the first trip of the year I picked up the two titles that kept repeating on everyone's "must read" lists. As you saw, I really enjoyed The Nightingale and was excited to give this one a read. I'll be honest, I didn't like it as much as the first one I read. Maybe the topic of domestic abuse is too jarring for me (I know, you would think that war and the genocide of millions of Jews would be even more horrific, but maybe in my mind war is an 'out there' type of topic whereas domestic violence seems so real and 'up close'). Don't get me wrong, the story was one I bought hook, line and sinker (although I would say it felt slower to me than the first book), but there weren't as many ugly tears with this one. PS Does it make me crazy if living in Alaska would be an adventure I'd totally be interested in doing?! I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis - I was driving to and from Phoenix by myself for the #RnRArizona Half Marathon and thought it'd be the perfect time for an audio book or two. When I was looking I saw this one was available, the story was centered around a family who lived in Gary, Indiana and Flint, Michigan, and it wasn't too long - so sign me up. I'll be honest, it's for younger readers (I think 4-7 grade level), but hey, I love me some Young Adult books so I figured I'd give it a try. Even still, I really enjoyed it. It touched on prejudice, history, family dynamics, etc. I also appreciated that this was a book focusing on an African American family because I know how impactful it can be for kids to have books they see themselves in (and although this is set in the Great Depression timeframe there are still plenty of relevant topics). This may not be my normal read, but it kept me engaged and inspired on my drive to Arizona. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - Like I mentioned, I needed a couple audio books to keep me entertained on my drive to and from Phoenix for the Rock 'N' Roll Arizona Half and since I already had an 8 hours long one, I needed a shorter one. This one was available and was only 4 hours long so I snagged it. It was just a coincidence that both books were set during the Great Depression (and that the first book referenced the quote the title of this book was borrowed from multiple times - it was like it was planned... but it wasn't ;)). Like most classics you were supposed to read in school, this was one a missed... There's a possibility I read the CliffNotes, but in all honesty I think I just watched the movie. Anywho, I had forgotten the story and wanted to give it another chance. I can see why it won so many awards in its day (although I'll be honest, the racist language was cringeworthy). This book focuses on dreams and aspirations, despite the characters often being in powerless or abusive situations. I definitely wouldn't consider it a feel good book (at times I'd say it is even emotionally draining), but it is touching, tragic and oh so powerful. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Norwich by Karen Crouse - I don't remember how I came across this title, but I thought the premise - a tiny town in Vermont breeding Olympians in a non-conventional way - was interesting and worth the read. I'm so glad I grabbed it. Although I'm not a parent, nor do I plan on becoming one, I still thought it was an interesting take on the ways parents (and a town) can effect the love and passion a child has for a sport. Norwich sounds like an amazing place that doesn't really exist in most of the ultra-driven, helicopter-parent society we live in. The town (and folks who populate it) tend to allow kids to be kids, to roam free and make their own decisions, and some of them turn out to be amazing Olympians. I love the values that the town lives and breathes (although, it does sound like the area is starting to change a bit, but what city isn't?!). The author does a great job telling the story of the individual athletes, but keeping the town as the central character. Whether you are an athlete yourself or a parent with kids who may play sports at some point in their life, I would totally recommend this book (and it's short so it isn't a huge time commitment). I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Everything to Live For by Turia Pitt - When I was grabbing Norwich, I saw this book right next to it and thought it sounded interesting. I don't remember if I heard about Turia's story on a podcast I was listening to or in a running magazine, but I had a brief idea of her story but definitely wanted to learn more about it. This book goes into depth about Turia's life pre-race, what happened during the race, as well as her recovery afterwards. The story is BANANAS! It reminded me of how often we take our personal safety for granted. I show up to races all the time and just expect things to go according to plan... but if they don't, does the organization have a strategy in place to handle an emergency? Do I know what I would do or how I would survive? I'm not trying to freak anyone out, but we live in a scary world and these are things we need to seriously think about. It's always better to pray for the best, but plan for the worst. I am beyond impressed at the determination Turia, Kate and the others in the story had to survive. Thank you for telling your story, for inspiring others and for making an impact on so many lives around the world! I would give it a 9 out of 10.

With that, January has come to a close. My reading may not be as crazy quick as the past two years, but I definitely hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list!

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What was the best book you read this year?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

REVIEW: PupSocks

The majority of the reviews I do on here are for products that the brand has either reached out to me about or ones that I have contacted the company for. This is neither. In fact, the brand doesn't know I am sharing my thoughts at all.

I received a gift card to PupSocks as a Christmas gift and thought it was a FAN-FREAKIN'-TASTIC idea. I am normally not one who enjoys receiving gifts (I truly believe giving is better than receiving), but this was one I was stoked about.


Now, although I think the idea of the product (personalized prints on socks) is AMAZEBALLS the price tag is something I was a little leery of (the normal cost per pair of socks is $34.95, which seems a bit high for a novelty type gift) so I figured I'd share my thoughts on the product in case you are like me and want to make sure it is worth the money.


As I mentioned, I received a gift card so I was able to order my own pair of custom socks (they offer a plethora options including custom CatSocks, FaceSocksBunnySocks, etc) - obviously I was going to pick the original PupSocks!

There really is a custom sock option for just about anyone!

The hardest part was deciding on the picture of Walt to use. After much deliberation I narrowed it down. I love how his ears are at attention, his tongue's out and it looks like he's smiling (since most of the time he always seems so serious ;)).

Isn't he just the cutest pup you ever did see?!

Other than uploading the image to the website, the remaining decision I had to make was the color of the sock I wanted.

Color choices are blue, pink, green, purple, red or white.

The process really was as simple as one, two, three. It doesn't take more than 5 minutes if you have your image ready.


When I was going through the ordering process I noticed a couple things. First, I saw that they offered a bundle - which meant I could get a deal on TWO pairs. Next, I saw they were having a sale if you could hold off on receiving the socks until after Christmas. (I assume they were getting an influx of orders as holiday gifts so if you were willing to wait on receiving your order you could save some cash and alleviate some of their work load.) With the discount (the bundle normally costs $69.95 but the site was showing them marked down already to $49.95, plus the 35% off discount for a January delivery), the two pairs of socks would be $32.47 plus a $3 flat shipping fee brought the total to $35.47. My $30 gift card meant I'd only have to spend $5.47 of my own money and both the hubby and I could get a pair of Walty socks!


The hardest part left to do was wait... Thankfully we were pretty busy over the holiday season so we weren't stuck focusing on the days ticking by - not to mention, we received an email on January 9th that they were on their way! 


The hubby and I were stoked to see the socks. He had gone with the green color (his favorite) and I decided on the blue. When we opened the package we both had a good chuckle. They were cute and hilarious at the same time!

For reference, I wear a shoe size 6.5 and ordered the small and hubby wears a size 12 and got the large.

Now let me be upfront about them. I wouldn't say that the quality of the sock is amazing. They are a 60% Polyester, 10% Acrylic, 25% Nylon, 5% Spandex blend. Their site claims if you care for them properly (washing them inside out with a mild detergent in like colors) they should remain vibrant and last through several washes and wears. Obviously when I ordered them I did not expect them to be a sock that I wore every day and would last forever, so keep this in mind when deciding if these are right for you (or your gift recipient). The art itself is sublimated, which means the product is dyed (this prevents cracking or peeling of the artwork). The socks are crew-style and come up to mid-shin on the average adult.

A close up of the details.

I would say the hubby and I were pleased with our socks for what they are and what we paid for them. They're an awesome personalized gift, but I'd suggest going in knowing they're more of a novelty item than one for daily use.

Why so serious?!

Can you tell Ryan's favorite color is green?! He was the one who picked out Walt's harness ;) 

PS In case you're interested in more than just the socks (I like to know about the brand I'm buying from and supporting), I'm happy to report that the socks are made in the USA and the company helps to provide meals to animals in need!


You can’t always take your dog everywhere, but you can wear PupSocks all the time.

Would you ever order a pair of custom socks (either for yourself or for a loved one)?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Workout Recap - Week 4

Sunday, January 20th – Rock 'N' Roll Arizona Half Marathon

Monday, January 21st – 3 mile hike with the hubby and pup, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Tuesday, January 22nd – 4 mile run

Wednesday, January 23rd – 8 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Thursday, January 24th – 6 mile hilly run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, January 25th  90 minutes on the stationary bike, 25 minute yoga class, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Saturday, January 26th – 20 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

51.1 miles for the week?! I'll take it. I have been slacking on my foam rolling and stretching this week because by the end of the day (I normally do it before I lay down for bed in the evenings) I have been spent and have decided to hit the hay instead of rolling it out. Next week I am going to make it a priority again... and maybe I'll switch it up and do it once I get home from my run/ workout. My body always feels much happier with me when I prioritize my recovery.

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, January 25, 2019

Friday Favorites

It's everybody's favorite day of the week... CHIPS AND SALSA DAY... Oh, wait, is that just our tradition?! Well, then I guess you guys are all missing out ;) But in all seriousness, it's time for me to share some of my recent favorite finds.

Love Shouldn't Hurt

As per usual, I am coming at you with another share about The Mitten State. But this time it isn't necessarily about a product per say, but a way that they are using their products to help survivors of domestic abuse. They've partnered with The Mitten Brewing Co. to make sure those who have experienced domestic abuse are safe and warm this winter. They're almost at their goal of raising $10,000! With that said, they're trying to raise the final few dollars so they've decided to make... ALL MITTEN STATE LOVE DESIGNS 25% OFF!. This is your last chance to snag this design. Once they are gone - they're being retired! The sale of these items will support Safe Haven Ministries: a Grand Rapids organization dedicated to serving women and children who have suffered domestic abuse.
LOVE Apparel: $10 back to Safe Haven
LOVE Glass Can: $5 back to Safe Haven
LOVE IPA (Visit Mitten Brewery): $1 from every pour back to Safe Haven
or Donate Directly - Every Dollar Helps!
Plus a lucky donor gets a chance to be a Brewer-for-a-Day at Mitten Brewing! [Doing one of the above gets you an entry.]



Race Entry Giveaways

Let's be real, I love WINNING them even more, but that hasn't been my luck recently... Even still, you better believe I throw my name in the hat every opportunity I get. And two of the most recent ones I've entered are still open! If either interest you, you better get your name in - because if I don't win, at least I want one of my friends to win instead ;)

Run Eugene - Enter to win a free trip to Eugene, plus a free entry into the 2019 Eugene Marathon and gear. (I ran this race in 2015 and would LOVE the chance to go back and do it again! Someone's gotta win, why not me?!)


Nine Trails - Nine Trails is a 35 mile ultramarathon in Santa Barbara's brutally steep Santa Ynez mountains. Cancelled in 2018 due to the devastating Thomas Fire, Nine Trails is back in 2019 and is looking to host the winner for an amazing weekend of racing and camaraderie in their Pacific playground. (OH HECK TO THE YES, SIGN ME UP!)


Insight Timer App

If you remember my 19 goals for 2019 post, one of them was to try and meditate 3-5 minutes a day. Originally I was using a YouTube video I found, but when I put the call out on my IG stories as to what meditation app people liked most I found out about Insight Timer. I have been using it for the last week or so and have really liked it thus far. You can select the meditation you'd like based on type (i.e. stress, sleep, music, workplace, etc) and then sort based on length (along with other filters). If you are looking for an easy (and FREE) meditation tool, this might be one worth checking out.


Mental Training Workbook for Runners

If you don't follow @runfargirl on Instagram (you are missing out), then you may not have seen her announcement yesterday that she is releasing a runner's workbook to help with the mental side of training. After having a few races where her fear and doubt got in the way of her performance she came up with some ideas and ways to work through how to NOT let that happen in the future. If you know me, you know I will preach it from the mountain tops that the mental side of running is just as important (if not more so) than the physical side, so this is right up my alley. So, if you struggle with overthinking races or training, you may want to consider this. She is hoping to make it available as an ebook (in a downloadable format) from her website, but in the meantime, if this is something that sounds like it could help you in your running adventure, email her at (or DM her through Instagram).

What are you loving lately?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Food Prep / Meal Prep

I post pictures on my social media every couple weeks from my kitchen, whether it's a shot of our fridge or maybe process pictures while I'm doing food prep / meal prep, and I always get a ton of questions. Seeing as many of them are repetitive, I thought it'd be beneficial to put all the information in a single post I could refer folks to when they had similar inquiries.

WARNING: I am NOT a food blogger, so I'll warn you that the pictures will not be gorgeously styled or well lit... As long as the food's yummy and {somewhat} healthy, that's enough for me. With that said, hopefully you won't judge me too harshly. 

Like I mentioned, I am not a food blogger, nor am I a nutritionist or a dietician. This post is not meant to lecture you on what you should or shouldn't eat, it's simply what I do on a regular basis. Take what might work for you, leave what wouldn't. I'm just doing my best to make sure the hubby and I have good tasting and good for us food in the house to eat. 
The majority of what I do I would actually consider 'food prep', not necessarily 'meal prep'. I'll mention some of the meals I do put together later in the post, but the majority of what I do is getting our fruits, veggies and grains ready for eating or cooking (that way there is one less barrier to eating healthy if it's already prepped and ready to go). 

What our fridge looks like on a standard day. Like I said, nothing
fancy here... lots of tupperware with fresh fruits and veggies, some
prepped meals and other "essentials". 

As soon as I get home from the grocery store I get into my prepping mode (after I put away anything I won't be using). I pull out all the tupperware I think I'll need, grab a cutting board and knife, throw the fruit in the sink and get ready to go.
Normally I will buy at least two containers of strawberries and two containers of blueberries (one of the many perks of living in sunny SoCal). After I rinse them, I dump the blueberries into an extra large tupperware and then cut the strawberries in quarters and add them in the same container. If the fruit isn't super ripe I may add a little extra sugar to sweeten them. We use this fruit mixture throughout the week for a snack, added to cereal/ granola or thrown into smoothies. It could last anywhere from two to five days depending on the week and what else we have on hand. 

Nature's candy!

I also love red grapes so will grab a bunch whenever they are looking good. (Don't tell, but I have been known to munch on a few dirty grapes while finishing up my shopping or in the car on the way home.) Depending on the tupperware I have available and the fridge space, sometimes I will pull the grapes off the vine and put them in a tupperware and other times I will just put them in a large bowl on the top shelf (easy to grab a few whenever you open the door). 

On occasion I may eat a whole bag of grapes in the first day or two.

Depending on what's in season I may also grab a container or two of blackberries, raspberries or something else. Prepping them simply consists of rinsing them off and throwing them in a tupperware (and trying not to eat them all). 

Srum-didly-umptious! In the perfect world I would have fruit trees and berry bushes
(or however they all grow) covering my sunshine filled yard! 

Now veggies are normally what takes me the longest to prep. The hubby likes to eat stir-fry a few times a week and I always love big salads, so having prepped vegetables are a must in our fridge. We usually have broccoli, cauliflower, carrots (I usually buy the ones pre-cut into chips, but will cut my own if they are out of stock), red onions and bell peppers all chopped and in their own tupperware. If I am making a stir-fry container for the hubby, I will throw some of those veggies, along with fresh chopped jalapeño and Anaheim chilies in the mix. We also always have a container or two of spinach or some other greens (but I normally buy the pre-washed so don't have to do any prep work for it).

If there is a veggie on sale, I will normally grab it and throw it in the mix as well.

With the hubby's stir-fry, I normally make a couple servings of quinoa (and put them in their own individual tupperware). I have been buying the boil-in-bag quinoa because it is easy, but have been wanting to look at other options to cut down on the packaging waste. (Sometimes I make an extra serving or two and use it for an easy sweet 'n' sour "chicken".)

Each bag has two servings, so I split them into individual containers.

The meal prep that I do is normally the hubby's lunches. He likes spaghetti and "meatballs" so I make a batch for the week - which consists of a box of whole wheat spaghetti noodles (split into four containers), two packages of "meatballs" (each lunch gets 6 "meatballs") and covered in pasta sauce. The hubby can grab a tupperware on the way out the door to take with him to work, throw it in the microwave and have a "home cooked meal" in two to three minutes.

We use the Gardein Classic Meatless Meatballs - hubby loves them.

Similarly, I make normally make myself some pasta for the week, but it's a little different. I normally use a box of whole wheat penne (split into six containers), two packages of "chicken" strips (each meal getting 12-16 strips) and sautéed mushrooms (I normally buy a pound or two and then just sauté them with a little garlic and split it into the individual containers). I don't use sauce, but top it with some Everything But The Bagel seasoning and Nutritional Yeast.

I use the Morningstar Chick'n Strips. It may sound boring but I think it's DELISH!

The hubby's also been making his own pizza dough and normally preps a few crusts (that way the dough has time to rise) - but that's all him. All I know is the recipe calls for yeast, flour, salt, olive oil and water (much better than the preservative-filled pre-made crusts, and he enjoys making it, so I try to ignore the fact that he eats pizza multiple times a week ;)).

Other than that I will sometimes prep some taco "meat" so that it's easy to heat up for tacos, nachos, etc, throw in batch of chili in the crock pot and divid it into individual portions or make a 9x13 pan of baked pasta (either a Mexican bake or your standard baked spaghetti). I normally don't do those every week (just depends on what we have in the cupboard, when I am able to use the car {because we are currently sharing a single vehicle since we sold the AdventureMobile and haven't bought a replacement yet} and get groceries, etc), but they're some standards I can prep when push comes to shove.

Our pasta meals for the week are prepped and ready to reheat and eat!

Like I elude to at the beginning, I am no master chef or even decent cook... but since folks often ask about I do for food prep / meal prep, I thought I'd share my 'secrets' with the world. But in all honesty, the only secret is figuring out what works best for you and making it happen. If you and your family want to eat more veggies, buy some and prep them so they're ready to eat or cook up whenever the mood strikes. If you want to get better about portion control when it comes to nuts, grab some small tupperware and divvy up a serving size per container so you don't eat six servings without realizing it {speaking from experience}. If you want the family to munch on healthier snacks, grab a bag of clementine oranges, berries, etc and have them readily accessible. If you want to drink more water, buy yourself a cute, reusable bottle and make sure to bring it with you wherever you go. And remember, these changes don't have to be all or nothing. Do what you can, when you can - if that means taking a couple hours once a week to clean and chop fresh food, then do it.


Do you food or meal prep?