Weekly Running Recap: Back from Vacation

Well, I’m back from Chicago and back from vacation and back in the grind. Which means, back to my normal everyday workouts. Here is a look at my mileage this week:

Some highlights from the week include:

I actually did something other than running! When I was still in Chicago, I did a circuit training workout with my friend Melgar. We did a mileish warmup on the treadmill, and then did a full-body Nike+ workout at the hotel gym. We looked ridiculous but it was so fun to do something other than run AND it was fun to get in a workout with friends.

Saturday I got in a short stroller run/walk to a playground for a picnic with FW and LM. No running photos from that, but instead, pics at the park.

Some questions for you:

  • How many days do you do something other than run?
  • How often do you workout with friends?

I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

A Weekend In Chicago with the Girls

I’m just getting back from a girls weekend. I was able to spend several days with some of my best friends. We have been friends for 20+ years and we try to go on trips together about once every year or other year. This year, we planned a trip to Chicago – just us. No kids, husbands, pets, etc.

What does a girls weekend entail when you’re 30-something and have 2 kids? Well, it was pretty perfect. It included:

Some drinks.

Some delicious dining. Including deep dish pizza (of course!), breakfast sandwiches, homemade bagels and lox and birthday treats.

Some relaxing by the hotel rooftop pool.

Some exercise. We did one run along the lake, and one gym day with circuit training. We also took a rainy walk along the 606.

Some site seeing.

I even was able to sneak in a short visit with my friend Cuoghi who moved from CLE to Chicago last year. I was so happy to get in a quick visit with her! We enjoyed some cupcakes in the park.

I’m feeling so lucky and grateful to have such amazing friends. Despite many miles keeping us apart and many life changes over the past 20+ years of our friendship, we are still able to pick up right where we left off every time.

Some questions for you:

  • Do you have friends that you’ve kept in touch with for many years?
  • Where should we go on our next trip?

Weekly Running Recap: Girls Vacation

I’m currently writing this blog post from Chicago! I took a few days off and headed to the Windy City for a girls weekend with some of my favorite ladies. My bffs from high school, Jane, Melgar and Alisa. So, the beginning of the week was pretty much running/activity as usual – but the end of the week was a little out of the ordinary with travel, etc.Here is a look at my mileage this week:Some highlights from the week include:

Sunday – getting in a family stroller run! This is the second week in a row we were able to do this and it was amazing. I loved running with FW (in the stroller) while B pushed LM in the stroller. I typically run by myself in the morning, so it was nice to be able to run with the whole family.running with the BOB stroller

Monday-I got in a pre-work 10k! I didn’t sleep well Sunday night and woke up at 4 something unable to go back to sleep, so I was able to get out and start running early.Garmin Fenix 5s running 10k

Saturday: I even got in one outdoor run in Chicago! Running on vacation doesn’t always happen, but I’m so happy we made time for a short run during our travels. And since I wasn’t packing for the kids, I had plenty of room in my suitcase for my running clothes and sneakers! I got in a run along the waterfront trail with my friend Alisa on Saturday morning while my friends Melgar and Jane went to a yoga class. I love running outside in a new city and this one was fab!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you bring running clothes on vacation?
  • Do you prefer running alone or with people?

I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

Perk Up Buttercup – Natural Wellness/Beauty Products Review

Over the past few years, I’ve started paying more attention to what I put in AND on my body. I’ve started using more natural, organic products and when I buy things for my kids, I’m looking for products that I feel good about using. I went into a foray of making my own natural body wash and lip balm, and have been buying natural deodorant. So, when I heard that one of my running friends, Pam, had started her own company to sell natural products, I was excited when she asked me if I wanted to try them out.

Perk Up Buttercup Natural Products features natural and hand-crafted products for wellness and beauty. They’re locally made (by Pam!) in Akron, Ohio. And the best part? The products are GREAT. And I love the cute packaging and adorable names.

Here’s some of what I got to try out:

Heal Up Buttercup Hemp Balm – This is made to help soothe aching muscles. This was pretty timely, because my quads were a little sore after running hard (for me) at the Sunset Spring 5k. Pam and her husband are serious runners (and they’re fast — they win awards, have run Boston, etc.), so they know sore muscles!

Pucker Up Buttercup Vanilla Mint Lip Stick – I love this. Unfortunately, so does my 3-year-old. Which means that it is long gone and he has claimed it as his own. But I do feel good knowing that there’s only good stuff in there!

Pucker Up Buttercup Lavender & Vanilla Lip Balm – I love anything lavender-related and this lip balm is great. It’s moisturizing and smells great.

Wash Up Buttercup Eucalyptus & Aloe Soap – This is great soap for the morning – it leaves you energized and the smell wakes you up!

Do you want to try out any of the products yourself? I have GREAT news – you can use the discount code MELISSA for 50% off your order!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you buy all-natural or organic wellness/beauty products?
  • What’s your favorite scent?

Disclosure: I received a selection of Perk Up Buttercup products to review. As always, views are my own.

A Race, Shower and Birthday Brunch

What a busy, fun weekend! It felt nonstop with tons of activities packed into the 2 days. Which means that it was of course another weekend that went too fast.

The weekend started with a 5k race on Friday evening. The Sunset Sprint 5k is  a fundraiser for a board that B is on, and I decided semi-last minute to run it.

It takes place right next to the beach, so we had a little picnic and spent some time on the beach after the race.

And caught the gorgeous sunset.

Saturday morning I did an easy run and then it was time for my future-sister-in-law’s shower!

There were so many treats, including these amazing miniature wedding cakes that my mother-in-law made.

It was fun showering the bride-to-be and I can’t believe the wedding is just 2 months away!

I didn’t get home from the shower until late afternoon, so we really only had time for a little excursion with the kids. We walked to the nearby playground and had some fun while they ran around.

Saturday night, after the kids went to bed, B and I watched a movie. I stayed up for a WHOLE movie and really enjoyed it! We watched About Time – have you seen it?

Sunday morning started with a run – this time with the whole family. B pushed LM and I pushed FW in the stroller.

After the run, it was time to spend the later morning/afternoon with B’s family. This week is two of my brother-in-laws’ birthdays, so we spent some time celebrating with the family and enjoying an amazing brunch.

look how gorgeous this salad is!

FW and LM had a great time playing with their cousins and chowing down.

The rest of the evening was spent low-key – we did some meal prep, yard work, shopping and NAPTIME. Any day both of the kids nap at the same time is amazing.

Some questions for you:

  • What’s your favorite brunch food?
  • Have you ever done a nighttime race?

The Week I Did a Nighttime Race

I’m not a nighttime runner. I pretty much always start my day with runs. I don’t even like running after work. So, when B told me that there was a 5k race on a Friday night that was a fundraiser for a board he is on, I was hesitant. I had run the race last year for fun after LM was born. But, I was home on maternity leave. This year, I’d be working all day and well – as I said – I’m not a fan of nighttime running.

But who doesn’t love a good 5k fundraiser? So, I signed up on Wednesday and ran it Friday. Here’s how the week looked:

Some highlights:

The race of course! Strollers weren’t allowed (dogs and walkers were…), so B watched the kids while I ran. I admittedly start the race with a cramp but felt like I was flying the first mile.

The second mile included a big uphill, and the last mile had a downhill. I ended the race with an official time of 25:43. The race was along the beach, so we had a great view. And we got some beach time afterwards.

Was it a PR? No. Was it the fastest I’ve run in a while? YES. Was I glad I ran it? Of course!

Questions for you:

  • Do you notice a connection between how much rest you get and the quality of your runs?
  • What are you training for?

I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

Crockpot Chicken, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Curry

I love easy slow cooker meals that can be prepped ahead of time, are healthy, delicious and don’t take a lot of preparation. Slow cooker meals that require no cooking ahead of time (what’s the point of that?!) or browning of meat. Kid-friendly slow cooker meals. And, slow cooker meals that are just as good in the summer as they are in the winter.

That is why I love this dish. My husband, baby girl and I all love it. (Confession my picky toddler won’t eat any of it but the sweet potatoes) I can make it ahead of time AND it tastes good 1-2 days later! If you’re looking for an easy, healthy weeknight crockpot meal, here it is.

Crockpot Chicken, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Curry

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 15 oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth low sodium
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 whole cauliflower, chopped (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • Optional; for serving: Rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa

Here’s what you do:

  • Combine coconut milk, chicken broth and curry powder and add to the bottom of your slow cooker.
  • Add chicken breasts, cauliflower, onion, chickpeas, canned tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Gently toss together to make sure everything is coated with coconut milk/broth/curry.
  • Cook on Low for 7 to 8 hours or High for 4 hours.
  • OPTIONAL: Depending how much broth/juice you have after cooking, you can take out 1-2 cups of broth mixed with cauliflower and sweet potato and blend until mushy (yes that’s the technical term) before putting back in. I love doing this as it adds a nice thick sauce.
  • Stir in peas 5 minutes before serving. I like to serve mine over cauliflower rice for even more cauliflower goodness. But, you may enjoy it over regular rice, quinoa or even just with a side of naan.

Some questions:

  • What’s your go-to slow cooker meal?
  • Do you like curry?