Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Funny

Oh the good 'ol days...

big wheel fun - growing up in the 70s
Big Wheel fun - growing up in the 70's
source
Happy Friday!
Any fun plans for the weekend?

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Three for Thursday

We have been having some amazing dinners out, thanks to Kovas and 50 States of Wine!  Here are the latest three:

Roka Akor, Chicago - Contemporary Robatayaki Japanese Cuisine 

Roka Akor, voted one of the Top 10 Sushi Spots in the United States by Bon App├ętit magazine, is a stylish Prime steak and sushi restaurant that features Robatayaki style "open charcoal" cuisine (rokaakor.com).


Course 2 (of 6):  Salmon and Big Eye Tuna Sashimi and Golden Beets with Daikon,
paired with a Georg Breuer Riesling
Our dinner was, in a word, inspired. To pick wines that matched my veganish courses while also complementing Laima’s meat and seafood dishes is downright extraordinary (50 States of Wine).

An extraordinary meal from start to finish!


Pinstripes, Oakbrook Terrace - Bowling, Bocce and Bistro

Kovas and I spent Friday evening bowling, noshing and wining at the Friends and Family soft opening of Pinstripes in Oakbrook Terrace.  We really enjoyed our full dining experience at the Pinstripes South Barrington location - glad we have one closer to home!


Whether shopping at the mall or looking for brunch, lunch, or dinner in the western suburbs, head over to this new restaurant for food, drinks, and fun (50 States of Wine).

Epic, Chicago - Contemporary American Cuisine

Industrial and refined, contemporary and traditional. Epic merges these elements with subtlety and spirit. Filling a void in Chicago's Food and Beverage scene, EPIC is a single venue where guests can enjoy outstanding food in a dramatic dining room or relax on a roof terrace with great views of the city, and hang-out late into the evening in a hip and energetic lounge (epicrestaurantchicago.com).



From the ambiance, to the amazing food and wine pairing, topped with the friendly knowledgeable staff, we had a truly amazing dining experience! 

Head over to 50 States of Wine to read the full reviews!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Brooks Gear Review

How do you say de-groovy, how do you say de-gorgeous...

Can't help thinking of the 90's group Dee Lite while wearing and writing about my summer Brooks gear:).  Functional and stylish, the Women's Versatile 3.5" Low Rise Woven short and Women's D'lite Mesh Skort Flower Check are a great addition to my summer running wardrobe.

Brooks Versatile 3.5" Low Rise Woven Short and D'lite Mesh Skort
The Versatile 3.5" Low Rise Woven Short is comfortable and lightweight. Inspired by the Versatile Short, the outer pockets with contrast piping give the shorts a fresh look.  The flattering semi-fitted, low-riders have a 3 1/2" inseam which allow for unrestricted movement.  They do run a bit smaller/snugger than the other Brooks running shorts I own.



The vibrant D’lite Mesh Skort is made from a combination of soft ultra-lightweight meshes.   It's semi-fitted with a wide comfort waistband and 12" outseam.  The inner short has a 3 1/2 " inseam and silicone gripper at the internal leg opening to prevent riding up.  A hidden pocket with velcro closure is the ideal size to stash small items like a chomp or key.

Brooks D'lite Mesh Skort and Pure Cadence
Both the shorts and skort are super cute and especially comfortable for hot weather running.  They pair perfectly with the D'Lite Micro Mesh Racerback:)  Brooks makes quality, comfortable and stylish running gear, backed by their True Blue Guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied, return them within 30 days, no questions asked.



For more info or to buy products, go to the Brooks website.  You can also find them on Facebook, follow on Twitter, or read the Brooks blog.

(Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Brooks Running. 
I did not pay for the items, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. 
Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Training and What's Next?

Have a fabulous day! (from the ZOOMA FB page)
I had every intention to get out for a run soon after my North Face Endurance Challenge half (which was a week ago), but because of a darn head cold (and other excuses), I have not.  Not a huge deal, the week off has been nice.  Luckily my knees feel great, and with my previous half marathon training, I feel ready for the next one.


So what's next?  ZOOMA Great Lakes in Fontana, WI!  With less than 4 weeks to go until the event, I will be repeating the last 4 weeks of my FIRST training.  This consists of 3 key runs (track repeats, tempo and long) and 2 days of cross-training (cycling for me).  The North Face was a great race to prepare me for the hilly course around Geneva Lake...

The North Face Endurance Challenge Trail Half Marathon, Madison, WI

ZOOMA Half Marathon, Fontana, WI
I'm really looking forward to ZOOMA - beautiful location, running along the waterfront, fun pre and post race activities and half marathon finishers will receive a ZOOMA Great Lakes commemorative jewelry from Satya Jewelry!  For more information and to register, check out the ZOOMA homepage.  Enter Enter GLAMB6 when registering to receive $10 off the half or $5 off the 5k entry fee.

After ZOOMA we have our local Bonfield 5k - a Thanksgiving morning run in town, and not much else...maybe a race in a nice warm location when it gets cold:)

What are your race plans for the rest of the year?

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Meatless Monday - Purple Slaw with Toasted Pecans

Here's another great, simple recipe from Kovas, of 50 States of Wine...

Purple Slaw with Toasted Pecans
Ingredients:
  • Purple cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 C coarsely grated raw beet
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 garlic glove, minced
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 Tsp agave nectar
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 C silken tofu
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 C chopped toasted pecans
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced thinly
This recipe is chopping, blending, and mixing, very simple. I completely forgot the raw beet, thus had to forgo it, not sure I missed the sweetness, but perhaps it would have added another component I'm overlooking. Beyond the cabbage, beet, pecans, and apples, the remaining ingredients are placed in a blender together to create the dressing. Bryant suggests layering the cabbage with thin slices of apple, creating a vertical salad. I chopped the apples rather than slicing. I then put everything together in a bowl, massaged for 3-5 minutes, then served. Really yummy!


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Friday, September 21, 2012

Handful Bra Winner




A uniquely versatile garment, the handful bra offers fashion, function, and feel as an everyday bra while also providing excellent support for the smaller-chested fitness enthusiasts among us. 
The handful bra is an approved mastectomy bra with generously cut pockets that can accommodate extra pads or prosthetics.

“Look your best, feel your best, perform your best.”



 Chosen using random.org, the lucky winner of the 
new adjustable handful is:

Jen of Running with the Girls 
Congrats Jen!  
Please email me with your choice of color and size 
and your mailing address.

Thanks to everyone who entered and to Handful for sponsoring!!


You're active. You're versatile. You're one of a kind. You're a Handful.....

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

RV Camping at Ottawa Lake, WI

This past weekend we packed up our kids and gear and headed up to the beautiful Ottawa Lake, Kettle Moraine Forest in Wisconsin for the North Face Endurance Challenge.  The whole family (minus Little A Bomb) participated in some sort of race - Kovas took on his first ultra, me - my first trail half, and Tazer, Gaigai and Munchkin - the kids' races.  In order to be well better rested and close to the event, we opted to camp in an RV at Ottawa Lake Campground where the races both started and finished.

Ottawa Lake Campground - collage courtesy of MML
For our first RV experience, we rented a RV from DeHaan RV Rentals, LLC in Elkhorn, WI which was conveniently located along the way to our final destination (less miles on the RV= less $$).  We left Kovas at DeHaan's for an "intro hour" during which the technician went into great detail explaining how everything worked, and even had Kovas take the RV out for a spin.

Meanwhile, the kiddos and I drove to the main forest headquarters, checked out the little museum and headed on to Ottawa Lake to check in.  At check-in we bought park permits for both vehicles and got our campsite location.  We had reserved our site some time in advance, but there are some non-reservable, first come, first served sites.  In addition to RV sites that have electric hook-ups, there are tent-only sites also.  The campground allows leashed pets in most areas.

We drove to our campsite and waited for Kovas and the RV...

RV camping
Our home for the weekend...
We were all excited to see our home for the weekend -- clean, pet and smoke free (thankfully!) and modern.  There was plenty of space for our family of 6, especially with the slide-out extended.     Unpacked and plugged in, we realized there was no water hook-up at our campsite (or at any campsite at Ottawa Lake), so we used the onboard water tank exclusively for washing dishes and toilet needs.  This was a good water conservation lesson, and the kids enjoyed going to the pump to fill up our drinking water jug.  We took advantage of the shower building for hot showers and washing up, but it was definitely a nice convenience having a working toilet in the RV (especially for middle of the night needs).

As for sleeping arrangements, our 3 oldest rotated sleeping above the cab, on the reclining couch and in the convertible dining area.  Kovas and I shared the queen-sized bed in the back with Little A Bomb.  We cooked most of our meals in the RV galley, but also made campfires for hot dogs and s'mores.  RV camping was the perfect combination of ease and roughing it, especially with little kids and plans for running long distances.  It was also nice to turn on the fan in the RV and not hear the noise from other campers outside (the campground was full up for the races).

S'mores!
In addition to the picturesque forest, other attractions at Ottawa Lake are a man made beach (in which Kovas and I "iced" our knees after the races), playgrounds and many hiking, running, cross country skiing and equestrian trails.  We also had the pleasure to listen to a lecture about wildlife rehabilitation - and to meet "Waldo the Woodchuck".

Waldo the Woodchuck
Waldo the Woodchuck
Heading out Monday morning we stopped at the dump station - luckily Kovas listened attentively how to properly empty the black and grey water tanks, but as we stood and watched, we kept thinking of the RV movie with Robin Williams:)

What a great weekend!  If you have children and/or want to camp before a big race, an RV is the way to go!  We would definitely rent again from DeHaan and stay at Ottawa Lake, especially for the North Face Endurance Challenge!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon Race Recap

This past weekend we packed up our kids and gear and headed out near Madison, WI to run some races in The North Face Endurance Challenge.   The 50 mile, 50k, marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k, and relays took place on the beautiful hilly Kettle Moraine State Forest trails.

tnfecs madison half
Half marathon course, before the start and at the finish
After a great night's rest in our RV, I ate a typical pre-run breakfast - sunflower butter and bananas on bread (while Kovas made raspberry pancakes for himself and the kids).  About 10 minutes to 7, everyone accompanied me to the race start -- so nice to be so close!  And then I was off.  The race started on the road, but quickly entered the forest and hills.  The beautiful scenery helped me get through the hilly terrain and miles, as did my family's encouraging cheers along the course!  Much better prepared this time than for my half last year, I still was wary of my knees and decided to take it easy on the hills.  To my pleasant surprise - no sore knees at the finish or after:).  

It was fun to hang around after the races and take in the whole race atmosphere.  Both on Saturday and Sunday the kiddos ran the kids' races, complete with Dean Karnazes, Sponge Bob and other characters, plus finishers' medals - a nice family bonus!

video courtesy of Kovas - check out Dean at 0:43 - such a great sport!


All in all a wonderful experience for the whole family - we'll definitely be participating in future North Face Endurance Challenge races!


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Monday, September 17, 2012

Meatless Monday: BBQ Sunflower Tofu

Here's a great vegan substitute for a barbeque sandwich...

BBQ Sunflower Tofu

Ingredients:

1/2 TBSP sunflower seed butter
2 TBSP ketchup
1 TBSP tamari
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 TSP maple syrup
1/2 TSP dried oregano
1/4 TSP paprika
(12 oz) package extra-firm tofu

Preheat oven to 375. (I actually did 425, as I was baking sweet potato fries at the same time.)

Whisk together all ingredients except tofu in a 9x12 baking dish. Slice or dice tofu and place in baking dish, flipping to coat tofu with sauce.

Bake covered for 20 minutes, flipping or stirring at 10 minutes. Bake 10 minutes more uncovered. Done!

BBQ Sunflower Tofu

This simple recipe comes from Let Them Eat Vegan!, is quick to make and tastes great. We doubled the recipe and I froze the tofu to remove excess moisture and sliced it for ease of serving. Next time I'll dice or smash it to make it more like sloppy joe topping, and add vegetables for more texture. We served this on toasted pretzel bread buns, with sweet potato fries and broccoli slaw for a classic home comfort meal. The entire family really enjoyed it, so it will probably make a reappearance, with the planned modifications.

Guest post by Kovas.  Thanks!

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Handful Bra Review and Giveaway

hand-ful (noun) – A strong, confident, determined, active, compassionate, and/or adventurous woman. Sense of humor REQUIRED.

I think my husband would call me a handful - maybe not the exact definition as above:)


Awhile ago, when I saw reviews for the Handful bra, I thought, how cute - but what a bummer I couldn't wear it, at least not as a sports bra.  But after 4 children and 4 years of breastfeeding, my body has changed.  Before, I wore the super support bras when running, and even now I like feeling supported - Handful bras give me that support!  They flatter, not flatten, yet provide ample support, even for high impact activities such as running.  Handful is truly an "everyday bra that takes you from workout to weekend, looking great by itself or fantastic as a layering piece underneath."

I first received the original handful (with the crisscross straps) and wore it almost exclusively.  It looks great as a layering piece, and works beautifully as a running bra.  Plus the removable pads shape and conceal.  I wouldn't have thought there could be a better all-around bra...then I received the new adjustable handful.  Just as great as the original -- but even more versatile.  Not only can you wear it with the straps crossed in back, it is also adjustable and can be worn with straight straps - perfect for strappy tanks!



handful was started by fitness enthusiast, Jennifer Ferguson, in Portland, Oregon. After years spent searching in vain for a good sports bra, Jennifer decided to channel her frustration creatively. She designed and manufactured what she (and a lot of other female athletes) had been waiting for...that one sports bra that does it all! It has become much more than a sports bra for its admirers. The handful bra gives you options no matter what life throws your way. A uniquely versatile garment, the handful bra offers fashion, function, and feel as an everyday bra while also providing excellent support for the smaller-chested fitness enthusiasts among us. The handful bra is an approved mastectomy bra with generously cut pockets that can accommodate extra pads or prosthetics.

“Look your best, feel your best, perform your best.”

 
What do you do in a handful bra?

In addition Handful has a partnership with Save the Ta-tas - a portion of each purchase goes towards the fight against breast cancer.  For more information check out their website, Facebook page, and follow on Twitter.





...and for one lucky reader - your choice of color in the new adjustable handful.

For a chance to win - 

tell me what you do/would do in your handful

For additional entries, tweet, blog or share on facebook (leave a comment for each)

Winner will be chosen Friday, September 21 - GOOD LUCK!!



You're active. You're versatile. You're one of a kind. You're a Handful.....

(Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Handful. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website. )


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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Kovas was mentioned in Outside Magazine for his favorite gear!  He writes,

So many pieces of gear could have been my favorite. Ultimately however, the one that came to the forefront the strongest was our Kelty Backpack Carrier, which allowed us not only to continue heading outside, but also allowed us to bring our kids along. Here's the excerpt from Outside:
"It's been with us through four children. It has acted as a high chair, a napping station, a backpack, and so much more."
Read all about it at Midwest Multisport Life
.
Outside Magazine - Midwest Multisport Life




A couple nights ago, Kovas and I had the pleasure of dining at Untitled, a restaurant in Chicago's River North that "pays homage to the vibrancy of supper club and speakeasy establishments of the Prohibition Era." We thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance, craft cocktails and wine and bubbly from around the world and the delicious American tapas style cuisine.

Untitled is really a unique experience, in the very most positive sense of the word. The entry, the look and feel, and the food all have a one of a kind approach, resulting in an experience that can not be replicated elsewhere. Definitely search out this hidden gem (Kovas).


Check out Kovas' full review over at 50 States of Wine.


Untitled Chicago - 50 States of Wine Review


Finally, get some great deals with the hottest coupons.  Check out the Coupons By Answers advertisement in the right side bar of this blog. 





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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

Running's on my mind since we're gearing up for the North Face Endurance Challenge this weekend... here are some running related tidbits...


The number of people who've finished a half-marathon (13.1 miles) has more than tripled since 2000, and a whopping 59 percent of finishers are the sports-bra—wearing gender, according to Running USA's 2012 State of the Sport report. Read more at Women's Health.


Looking for a fun activity for your kids that good for their health and the planet?  Check out National Geographic Kids "Run for the Planet".  The goal is to break two Guinness World Records:  most people running 100 meters in 24 hours (Oct. 26-27) and the longest chain of shoes (which will be recycled into athletic surfaces).

Find a new trail...
Doing something different may prevent Alzheimer's disease.  Regularly doing everyday tasks a bit differently - like brushing your teeth with your non dominant hand or taking a new route to work- encourages new pathways to form in the brain.  Runners who switch things up are doubly protected, as exercise is know to slow mental decline as well (Runner's World).

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Funny: Meditation, Relaxation, Wine

Friday Funny: Meditation, Relaxation, Wine,

When meditation and relaxation are not enough, there will always be wine...

Have a great weekend!

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