Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Seattle/Bainbridge Island 2017 Pt. 1

I've been home for a couple of days now, but my lack of sleep would make you assume I flew home on the red eye this morning. I'll chalk up my exhaustion to having a great trip to the PNW exploring and catching up with family.

The purpose of my trip to Seattle was for my second cousins wedding reception. Since I hadn't taken a vacation since her sister got married in Hawaii last November, I thought what better time to take a long weekend and get out of the Minnesota heat?

Just like Christmas morning as a child, the anticipation of a trip kept me up late and had me springing out of bed hours before my alarm was to go off. I took my time getting ready since I didn't need to call for an Uber until 8:00 AM, but since I was up bright and early with an extra hour to spare, I decided to add a little airport adventure to the mix. I wheeled my suitcase down the street to my bus stop, took the bus downtown to the light rail and hopped on the train to the airport. It might have taken close to an hour, but it was free, no traffic and it brought me right to my terminals security check point.

When I landed in Seattle I was dropped off at my hotel downtown where I dropped my bags and took off walking. I was meeting Kari and Jason for an underground walking tour so I found a nearby bar to pop in to, ordered up some lunch and tried some of Seattle's finest ciders.

Our bartender at The Collin's Pub was so friendly and attentive I wanted to go back every day just to say 'hey!' and grab a drink.

After lunch we walked to Bill Speidel's Underground Tour. Depending on how much you like group tours and how much time you have, I would probably suggest skipping this tour, but it was interesting non-the-less.

Halfway through the tour while we were above ground, we walked past a barber shop, Jason went for a haircut and Kari and I continued on...until we came back above ground and we decided we'd rather have a coffee and watch Jason get his hair cut than finish the tour. So that's what we did.

We walked with coffees in hand and a fresh cut to the Smith Tower. It was the tallest building West of the Mississippi in the 1930's and has an observatory on the 35th floor that you can walk around and take in some stunning views of Seattle and Mt. Rainier. Unfortunately for us it was a typical Seattle day, rainy and overcast so no views of Mt. Rainier for us.

For dinner we decided on The Brooklyn Seafood, Steak and Oyster House. I was in heaven with my steak oscar with scalloped potatoes. If I were to find myself in Seattle looking for a yummy steak, this is the place I would go.

I'll be back with a less wordy, more picture heavy follow up on the rest of the trip. In the mean time, start looking for airfare to Seattle.
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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Memorial Weekend 2017

I love holiday weekends up north, especially when I am able to take an extra day off and extend my weekend on the lake.

I don't think there's a place that makes me as happy as the cabin.

We lucked out with the weather since we were forecasted for storms most of the weekend. We took full advantage of the dry weather and took several boat rides, lounged under the sun, watched the sun set off the dock and Kari and I even did a morning workout.

Every year as you drive through Grantsburg there's a giant 'HI' mowed in to a small hill. 
A little welcome in to Gods Country.

Nothing like starting your holiday weekend with a little coffee and baileys watching your dad continue to putz with the dock. The yard has come a long way thanks to the parents endless work on flattening it back out after the ice heaves basically rolled up the yard like a rug.

Saturday morning A10! My first workout with the torpedo and I'm still sore. 
Guilt free beverages the rest of the day 😉

Storms tend to go around our lake, but we saw the rain coming and decided it was a good time to head to the bar for some live music and fried pickles. 

Post bar and fried pickles, Kari and I teamed up to make dinner. She made the apple/carrot/feta slaw and I made one of my best pork tenderloins to date.

And that folks, is my Memorial weekend in a nut shell.

Thank you to those that have given their lives to allow us the freedom we have today.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Excuse my absence

Ya know how some weeks go by and it's just another ordinary week, well that's kind of how things have been around here. I miss those weeks and I figured you don't really care to hear about how I got caught up on laundry, food prepped like a mofo  and binged five seasons of Veep in less than one month.

But since this is a sort of therapy for my wandering mind, I thought I'd recap just a bit and share any slightly interesting photos I might have taken over the past two weeks.

Mother's Day weekend was spent at the cabin doing normal cabin things. Raking the leaves out of the water, taking boat rides, soaking up as much sun as possible and a little SUPing.

We took an early morning boat ride with spiked coffee and mimosas without OJ that was quite chilly but the day quickly warmed up and the lake was extremely quiet since it was MN fishing opener. Absolute perfection.

This year Mother's Day was spent celebrating Sylvie's FIRST birthday! I can't believe she is already one, but it has been so much fun watching her grow. She still continues to be the smiliest little toe-head around who is walking like a pro!

We celebrated two friends birthday's last weekend with a pub golf bar crawl through UpTown. This year's theme was Stripes.

Miley is still trying to find the most comfortable position to nap in. I think she might have found it. The aftermath of having a crawling, walking one year old around for two days ☺

I have an apartment lined up for when my current lease is up! I'm pretty excited about it. I only looked at one unit, but considering there were two others looking at it at the same time I knew I had to act quickly. It's spacious and loaded with large windows. Since I sold all of my living room furniture I'll have to purchase new items which I'm looking forward to. My old furniture had been with me for nearly ten years and almost just as many moves.
Bonus: There's a market in my new building that sells chicken fingers and mozz sticks!

Welp, that's all the updates I have for you. Have a happy, fun and safe Memorial weekend!
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sweaty Beers

This week in health and fitness I've focused on less carbs and sodium and walking to/from my workouts.

Sunday was a big meal prep day. Every day when I get home from the gym, I'm so grateful I put in the time to 'grill' up some chicken with my ol buddy George Foreman, cook a pound of bacon, cut up broccoli, hard boil a dozen eggs, etc. I walk through the door, throw everything in a bowl, toss with dressing and dinner is served. #blessed

I've been struggling to get out of bed early enough to make breakfast before I leave for work so I've been relying on RXBars to get me through breakfast. I love the chocolate sea salt flavor.

For whatever reason I've had a strong hankering for meatballs lately so I made a batch of turkey meatballs with almond flour vs. bread crumbs then tossed them in some Frank's Red Hot after they were cooked.

I paired the buffalo turkey balls with garlic quinoa that was just quinoa cooked with ghee, chicken broth, garlic powder and fresh sauteed garlic.

As described above, my dinners were massive salads. I love a good cobb salad so I make my own version. All the ingredients you can cook and chop ahead of time then throw in a bowl and bing-bang-boom dinner is served and you didn't even have to turn on the oven or dirty a pan.

My gym is adding in some earlier classes at 4:15 which I love since I tend to work through my lunch hour. You know, the one hour in the day that you leave your desk and all hell breaks loose so you decide you better stay put., 4:15 classes are awesome because the next class time is 5:30 and sometimes that just feels sooo late.

I took a 4:15 warrior sculpt which I enjoyed because there were only four of us in the class and it's condensed down to 45 min.

Some girlfriends and I had a 'sweaty beers' night where we hit up an A20 alchemy class that still has my core and shoulders burning followed by drinks and dinner at Jefe's around the corner.

Since the class was at 5:30 I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and walk to the studio.

Walking along the Mississippi River and looking back at Gold Medal Park, and the Mill City Museum will never get old.

I had two 30 minute personal training sessions remaining with my trainer so we found an hour we were both free to wipe those out and talk about goals, etc.

He worked my abs for 45 minutes straight, which I love/hate since I don't do it often on my own, but I love the hurt the next day. Since I didn't get much in for cardio, I walked home through the Kenwood neighborhood that is super hilly and has the most beautiful mansions you've ever seen with some of the best views of the other side of the city.

Ugh! Isn't this city just beautiful!
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Monday, May 8, 2017

Cinco de Derby Fondo

The thing about Minnesota in the Spring and Summer, is that every weekend can be jam packed with block parties, festivals, outdoor concerts, etc. That's exactly what I filled my weekend with.

Friday evening I met a group of girlfriends at 4 Bells who was throwing a Cinco de Derby/rooftop opening party. They had a menu that merged the two events with tequila juleps, chips and salsa, etc. We were able to get a table right inside from the rooftop which worked out perfectly since they were blasting A/C so the outside air helped warm us up, and once the sun went down, they turned down the A/C and shut some of the doors.

I still continue to have very mixed feelings about this restaurant. Service isn't really up to par and it can be quite pricey for the food you get. One thing they do very well is their fried chicken, so if you decide to give them a chance, get the chicken and make sure you get some lavender honey butter to go along with it.

On Saturday a few of us went to brunch at Psycho Suzies and were able to snag a table on the patio. Our server was absolutely great and had no problem cracking a few jokes with us. We took brunch at a leisurely pace as friends trickled in before we settled up and walked over to the Fulton brewery production warehouse for Gran Fondo.

Gran Fondo is a 100 mile bike ride that finishes with a block party/festival. There were food trucks, Fulton beer of course, live music and a few vendors. It was such a great day to spend outside, under the sun, enjoying good beer and hanging out with friends.

When our stomachs started growling, we knew it was time to find some food so we walked to Stanley's NorthEast. They must have been under staffed or something because we waited close to an hour for our appetizers that came out after our entrees, and two of us got our entrees after everyone else ate.

On the bright side, I threw the $3 I had left over from the Gran Fondo towards some pull tabs, two $1 winners, replayed those two for $104! I'm usually a pull tab loser, that brightened my day.

Our last stop of the night was Betty Dangers. It was mostly cleared out from the derby party they had earlier so we ordered drinks and took a spin on the ferris wheel before calling it a night.

Sunday was an extremely lazy morning. I watched three movies in bed before forcing myself in to the shower and out the door. I decided I'd turn on the Uber app and got a request to pick someone up near by and bring them to the airport. As I was leaving one terminal, I got a request to pick someone up at the other terminal and bring them to Woodbury. Those are the best fares because you make more than the shorter distances. $30 an hour? I'll take that!

After my two quick Uber trips I hit up Trader Joe's to pick up some food to prep for the week. This week's menu is pretty tasty, buffalo turkey meatballs, garlic quinoa, cobb salads, fruit, banana protein muffins and RX bars. After food prepping for about three hours, I relaxed on the couch with a frozen pizza and a movie and called it a weekend.
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Monday, May 1, 2017

Productivity for the win

I love having a nice and productive weekend. Usually that means waking up at my usual time and getting the day started, this weekend, I actually slept in and was able to accomplish a lot!

Friday I went to happy hour with the roommates. We walked to Coup d'etat and enjoyed $5 bubbles and a a few appetizers. Friday happy hours usually continue on in to the night so when their happy hour ended at 7:00 PM we continued on with our journey to Nightingale.

Since our mode of transportation was on foot, we made one quick restroom/beer stop at Bryant Lake Bowl before bellying up to the bar at Nightingale. The bar tender we had was great! He was informative, friendly and made sure our glasses were always full. They have a late night happy hour that starts at 11:00 so we decided to stay for another round before calling it a night.

I've only been to Nightingale for their bottomless mimosa brunch, but I will definitely be back for their late night happy hour!

Saturday I slept in which is very rare for me. I took my time waking up before mustering up the strength to battle the crowds at IKEA. I'm sure most IKEA's are total chaos at noon on a Saturday, but since ours is across the street from the Mall Of America, I feel like it's just that much more crazy with all the out-of-towners.

I knew exactly where I needed to go so I briskly walked through living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms before finding the kids section, which I realized while typing this, I could have bypassed all that fun and just cut through the cafe. Oye!

Anywhoo! I picked up a couple items, snapped a picture of the isle to pick up my nieces birthday gift, and proceeded to stand in line for the same amount of time that I was in the store. Gotta love IKEA.

My next stop was Target to pick up a few items. Since Saturday was the nice day of the weekend, Target was empty and I was able to lazily shuffle up and down the aisles, freely backtracking as I remembered different items I had forgot to toss in my cart.

As my champagne and rosé hangover wore off, hunger started to strike. I drove over to my Whole Foods that just so happens to share a parking lot with Chipotle so I ordered a burrito and sat for a bit before continuing on with my day of productivity!

With a full belly I was able to tackle Whole Foods with a clear mind. I picked up some essentials, like deli turkey and 2 for $5 chocolate bars before finally heading home.

Since I was on a role, I decided to assemble the toy kitchen I picked up at IKEA. Three hours and a sore hand later, she was complete! Not without taking her apart at minimum three different times.

I knew that if I sat down I would be stuck to my couch for the remainder of the night so I slid on my flip flops and turned on my Uber app. The evening was a lot more tame than the last time I drove, but it was a lot of back and forth from suburbs which I prefer over shorter downtown/uptown requests.

I shut off the app around 11:30 PM and decided to finally call it a day.

Sunday was another welcomed sleep in morning. Since my Saturday was so productive, my Sunday plans were to not leave the house, and not take off my PJ's except to shower, and that's exactly what I did.

I started by making a ham, broccoli and onion frittata for breakfast that turned out perfect!

While enjoying my breakfast I hunkered down to a couple hours of the Food Network. I love Sunday morning Food Network, it brings me a strange amount of joy in the morning.

Throughout the day I would prep food for my snacks for the week, watch a little tv, wash my sheets, catch up on Dateline, organize my desk and closet, and then finally end the night with the Kardashians and a bowl of chicken with zucchini and red lentil pasta avocado pesto (I like to add one spiralized zucchini with a serving of pasta to add veggies and cut down on my pasta intake).

And that concludes my ultra productive weekend!

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Health & Fitness: What's working for me

Health and fitness are funny things, aren't they? I've come to this space quite often to share what challenge I'm doing or what routine I'm following and nothing has seemed to be the right fit for me.

There's so much information out there about both topics that it has stressed me out to the point of throwing my hands up and saying 'I don't care'. Even though I do care, I really truly care.

I want to be healthy and fit for my future so I can freely continue to move around as I get older and not have to worry about regulating blood pressure or cholesterol (not that I do now), joint pains, or not even being able to bend over to tie my shoes.

I've talked with a lot of people about what they do to stay healthy. I've met with personal trainers and nutritionists about how I can become healthier and more fit, and you know what I've found out? There's no one right way to live a healthy and fit lifestyle.

From intuitive eating, to counting macros, to just limiting carbs.

Cutting cardio to just one to two days a week and a lot of resistance/weight training, to cardio three to five days with just a couple days of resistance/weight training.

When I broke up with my trainer because he didn't want me drinking anymore, ever, I said I wanted to try things my way for a while and see what happens. He gave me some advice as far as my workouts should look, and I've taken those in to consideration since the last trainer I saw had me doing cardio just once a week and that didn't jive for me.

Leading up to the TIU Bikini Challenge, I started to track my food so I could see every day where my carbs are coming from, how much protein I'm getting, and is the reason my rings don't fit in the morning because I slept funny and I can't feel my hands, or am I eating just that much sodium?

I've adjusted my macros to 1,400-1,700 calories a day; 20% carbs, 40% fat, 40% protein and ya know what? It's been working for me.

This includes sitting around a bon fire with wine and putting down a couple ciders while putting the decking on the dock on a warm sunny Spring day.

This includes pasta with garlic hamburger buns for dinner and a Chinese feast for Administrative Professionals Day with my team at work.

For me and the life I want to live, it's all about balance.

To find balance and lessen my stress, I've found that grocery shopping and food prepping are two very important pieces of my puzzle.

My plan includes eating more throughout the day, making smaller meals for dinner and limiting carbs as the day goes on. A week and a half in and this has proven successful so far for me.

Breakfast: Sprouted bread with salty crunchy peanut butter with flax and chia seeds (both from TJ's), and a side of fruit

Mid-Morning Snack: Prosciutto and cantaloupe or half cup of cottage cheese.

Lunch: Turkey chili with cauliflower (just dump that frozen riced cauliflower in there and you won't even know you're getting some extra veggies). Or when time and money are really tight, canned soup.

Afternoon Snack: Carrot sticks with garlic hummus and a couple slices of deli turkey.

I absolutely love this hummus
Dinner: Turkey taco salad, chicken caesar salad, baked chicken and veggies, etc.

Bedtime Treat: Godiva dark chocolate with sea salt.

When it comes to the fitness side of things, I'm even more committed and consistent with going to the gym than I was when I was seeing a trainer three times a week. Mentally, I thought that's all I needed, three thirty minute sessions and I'd hit my goals. Not so much.

Just two days a week are cardio free where I follow the TIU plan and just do their daily workout. Every other day I aim to get in a solid 60 minute session in a spin class or on the treadmill, whether that be jogging to stay in my fat burning heart rate zones or walking at an incline.

I've learned to be happy and comfortable in the body that I am in, but if I can make that body even better by fueling it with smart, healthy foods, lots of water and good sweat sessions, then all the better ☺

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Weekend Under The Sun

I don't know about where you live, but here in Minnesota, once the snow melts and the temps stay above freezing for a couple of days, every piece of asphalt or concrete becomes covered in orange cones. Yup, Winter is officially over, there is no Spring, there is no Summer, it's just Construction season until the next snow fall.

Due to Construction season affecting almost every major interstate or highway in the metro area (gotta get those roads nice and purdy for the Super Bowl!), I left early on Friday to avoid delaying my weekend at the cabin.

Not long after I arrived, some friends came over to pick me and the parents up to go to dinner. We ventured to Webb Lake to go to the Lumberjack Saloon and Eatery. The restaurant is right on Big Bear Lake and the views were spectacular.

This place is apparently known for having great homemade spaghetti so a few folks ordered that, mean while I went for the fried chicken and baked potato

It was fun to try a new to me restaurant Up North.

Saturday morning started with breakfast of eggs, bacon and LaMarca. Is there any better way to start a warm sunny day on the lake? I don't think so!

Since the ice heaves did some damage to our yard and boat lift, mom and dad had been up working on getting things back to the way they were. Half of the beach was flat again, and most of the dock was in the water.

As the dock pieces became secured in their places for the Summer I brought out the decking. It sounds easy when you think of it, but these are wooden 4'x4' heavy pieces of decking. No easy way to carry them and the gusts of wind didn't help much either. My arms are bruised, my wrists and fingers are sore, but it's worth it.

In between putting the decking on, I took a lovely nap under the sun with my little side kick. It was one of the most glorious naps I've had in quite some time, and it allowed me to get some color besides just the purple bruises.

When we woke up on Sunday morning it was cloudy, cold and sleeting. I didn't waste much time before packing up and heading back to the cities. The closer to home I drove, the nicer it became. I did some grocery stops along the way, prepped my food for the week, then felt extremely guilty I wasn't embracing the beautiful day and instead just watched some Hallmark movies. Eh, it's all about balance right?

Monday was the first day of the TIU Bikini Series and so far I've smashed it! I finally got into a spin class that I've been wanting to try ever since I signed up for my gym and I'm so glad I did. These classes usually fill up a week in advance. The guy that does the #AMP classes in my gym is the instructor who is training it out nationally, so you know it's going to be a great class.

I've taken other group classes at my gym, but something about the people in this class was so different than anything I've experienced before. From the two guys who helped me find my bike and cheerfully introduced themselves, to the two girls on either side of me giving me encouragement that it's a tough class, but super fun, to the instructor who calls out the new kids in class (in a good way), and has a big welcome introduction to the group! It was an incredibly welcoming and supportive group of people, all in for a good time and a sweaty ride. Looking forward to my next class!

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