We only take pictures on Saturdays.

I don’t know what it is about Mondays in the summer, but every Monday mornings lately I seem to wake up and think to myself “I should call in sick today”.

Do you think someone would get suspicious if I started taking off every single Monday?

Luckily I’ve been pretty good about talking myself out of bed and into work most days, but it’s definitely getting harder and harder as the summer goes on! One of these days I’m just going to take a Ferris Bueller day and play hookie! (shhhh, don’t tell me boss!)

This weekend was a lot of fun, but definitely a busy one! So busy in fact, that I hardly took any pictures! Major blogger fail!

Friday

My weekend didn’t exactly start off on the right foot. Unless you count having to stand outside for an extra hour, in the hot and sticky VA summer weather, waiting for the train because a trash train broke down right in front of your commuter train. Not exactly my ideal Friday night. Thankfully despite the long delays, I still managed to make it to the gym at a reasonable time, and got in a quick 45 minute workout (20 minutes elliptical intervals, 25 minutes shoulders, chest and back).

Then, despite being a hot and sweaty mess, I headed over to meet up with the lovely Lindsay for a Costco trip. Even grocery shopping is better with friends!

The rest of the evening was super low key around our house. Leftovers, old TV shows, and an early night in bed. We’re boring.

Saturday

After looking back on my pictures from this weekend, I realized that I basically only took pictures on Saturday. Whoops! Maybe that’s just because Saturday ended up being SOOO packed for us!

It started out bright and early with some house cleaning for me and a farmers market trip for Chris, before we headed up to church for our bi-annual small group leaders meeting. It’s always nice to get together with some of the other group leaders in our church (even though Chris and I are pretty much the youngest!) and talk about some of the future studies people have planned. It’s a great way to get some new ideas!

Next up, Chris and I headed over to my MIL’s for a summer BBQ! We have some Danish family friends who were in town, so we got to show them the wonders of yard games, like cornhole and ladder golf!

I have the world’s most awkward cornhole throw. But whatever works, right?

Cornhole

I tried not to stuff myself too much with smoked chicken, pork, and texas caviar (a bean salad kind of thing) because I knew that we had some food-related dinner plans!

Our friends Charlie and Lindsay (yup, the same Lindsay from my Costco trip!) invited us out to Old House Vineyards in Culpeper to enjoy their summer music series. Wine, picnic food, live music and good friends? Sign me up!

We ended up with quite the spread too (kudos to Lindsay for most of this! I had to stick with bringing fruits, veggies and hummus thanks to my packed Saturday!)

Old House Winery Summer Music SeriesOld House Winery Summer Music Series

Obviously some wine was enjoyed as well.

Old House is absolutely stunning! They have a beautiful outdoor patio area, and a stone bar that I was drooling over!

Old House Winery Summer Music SeriesOld House Winery Summer Music Series

They also have a stunning property that’s just perfect for weddings. We did some exploring before we left, so I only got a few pictures before it got too dark. But how awesome would this walk down the aisle be?

Old House Winery Summer Music Series

They even have this area where you can put locks on the dock with your name and anniversary date like some of the bridges in Europe. How sweet is that?

Old House Winery Summer Music Series

Thanks to Charlie and Lindsay for a great evening! Also, yay for short wives with tall husbands!

Old House Winery Summer Music Series

Once we got home, C and I actually ended up staying up SUPER late (for us, at least) to wait for some friends who were staying with us overnight to get in to town. They were coming home from a concert, and thanks to traffic didn’t get in until like 1:30am. That’s late for this old lady!

Sunday

Despite setting an alarm for 7:30am, we all woke up closer to 9:30. Whoops! I guess we all needed the sleep!

We knew our friends had to get on the road home and didn’t want to take up too much of their time, so we ended made a big brunch at home, including waffles, eggs and scones. They were old friends from college, so we ended up just sitting around chatting for a few hours before saying goodbye.

At this point, I figured that I should probably get something productive done, so I headed out for a super hot and sweaty 4 mile run. I have to admit, it was definitely not the prettiest run ever. Thanks to all the rain lately, I felt like I was running through a swamp it was so muggy! But I got it down, which is worth something!

By the time I got home from my run, I only had one thing on my mind. Lunch! For some reason the whole run I couldn’t get the idea of a BLT out of my mind, so of course I had to give in!

BLT

The rest of the afternoon involved a bunch of stuff around the house (laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, GRE prep, etc. Boring stuff!) before heading off to church and the usual Sunday night dinner with my in-laws.

Pretty chill way to end the weekend, if you ask me!

Overall, it was a pretty awesome weekend (even if I only managed to document Saturday!) I didn’t get nearly enough productive stuff done, though, so I’m definitely going to have to do some thorough house cleaning this week!

So tell me: What did you do this weekend? Are you a fan of yard games? Do you usually clean on the weekends or during the week?

Five Favorites Friday: Life = Ginger Brew

Excuse me while I go do a little happy dance over here – It’s FRIDAYYYYYY!!!!

Even though this week flew by, it was still kind of a doozy. There is lots of stuff going on at work, including an exciting work trip coming up for me to Chicago, so by the time I get home at night, I’m pretty much done with everything. I just want to sit on the couch and veg. This weekend is shaping up to be equally as busy, so I just hope I get a little time to sleep in there before things get TOO crazy!

But since I know that everyone wants to go and enjoy their weekend, why don’t we jump right in to today’s favorites!

FFFold

If you haven’t been around here before, on Friday I like to share 5 totally random things that I’ve been loving this week. Emphasis on the random!

Linking up with Clare for Five on Friday

1. Favorite New Wegmans Find: Ginger Brew

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Chris found about about this stuff from a coworker of his, and told me that given my intense love of all things ginger, I needed to try it.

And boy was he right!

It’s like pickled ginger in a drink. Except that doesn’t sound very appetizing… I promise you it is! It’s got the spicy taste of real ginger, that’s almost bordering on too strong, but stops right at the edge. After you try it, you’ll never be able to go back to regular ginger ale again! Plus it’s in a really sweet lime green bottle!

2. Favorite New Workout Tune: Come With Me Now

I don’t know about you guys, but I go through total song phases. I’ll become completely obsessed with a tune for like 2 weeks, listen to it nonstop, and then move on to something else. Maybe I’m just weird.

But right now, I’ve been obsessed with this song by Kongos lately. It’s got the perfect workout, grind-your-teeth-and-push-through-this-last-set kind of beat, which I absolutely love. Plus anything with a driving base line always amps me up for my workouts.

Sorry, I had a band nerd moment there for a second.

3. Favorite Way to Veg Out: Marathoning Old TV Shows

(source)

I really hope I’m not the only one out there, but sometimes I really love to go back and marathon old TV shows. It’s like a nice mix of nonstalgia and surprise, since half the time I don’t remember exactly what happened in the show!

Recently Chris and I have been watching Friday Night Lights, which is new to us but old school to most people. Anyone else out there a fan? (Team Riggins for life!) We’re almost done with the last season, and I’m really sad to see it end! Maybe I’ll just have to start all over again… again… :)

4. Favorite Grocery Store Find: Chobani Oats

Chobani Oats - Five Favorites Friday

I have an awesome coworker who shares my love of Chobani, so when she saw these new Chobani Oats at her local grocery store (why can’t I find them at mine???) she was nice enough to bring one in for me. These suckers are delicious!

The texture kind of reminded of overnight oats, if they haven’t had time to sit overnight. Like if you were to make overnight oats but only leave them in the fridge for an hour. The mixture is still pretty liquidy (there aren’t any chia seeds like in overnight oats to make it set), and the steel cut oats still have a little bit of a denser texture to them. But I loved everything about it, and think it would make a great afternoon snack. Which is exactly how I ate it!

5. Favorite New Brand: Life=

Life= Vitamins - Five Favorites Friday

I was sent this product for free to try through my ambassadorship with Bulu Box, and after reading the story behind their products, I was pretty much hooked before I even opened the bottle. Life= is a “one-for-one vitamin company. One-for-one? Meaning for every vitamin you buy, we give another children’s multivitamin to undernourished children in 44 countries worldwide and 33 states here in america.

Seriously, how cool is that? I LOVE companies that use their power and connections to help better the world.

But back to the product – I received the Omega 3s to try, which I loved because I wasn’t in love with my last omega 3 supplement and have been looking for a good replacement. Life=, you read my mind!

According to the website:

Omega-3 is sourced 100% from wild anchovies and anchovies harvested in pristine deep-sea waters. Smaller fish are more sustainable for the ocean ecosystem and are a more direct source of omega-3 fatty acids. Cold-pressed processing and state-of-the-art molecular distillation provide maximum levels of DHA and EPA – more than double the industry standards. LIFE= Omega-3 also has a special enteric coating to preserve digestion until the small intestine where it is better absorbed and prevents a fishy aftertaste.

My thoughts after trying them? Really easy to get down for an omega-3 pill. They don’t taste or smell fishy (I HATE when pills smell bad… ), and are small enough to swallow without any trouble. You have to take 2 a day, but I just take one in the morning and one at night, and I’m good to go!

Life= has a TON of other vitamin and supplement options that I’m really interested in trying out next. Especially their Probiotic and their Focus & Energy pill. I’m really intrigued to see how they compare to some of the Advocare stuff!

If you’re in the market for some new supplements, I’d highly suggest checking them out!

So tell me: What are you loving this week? What are some old TV shows you love rewatching? What supplements do you take?

Caprese Quinoa Salad

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts about summer is the chance to get together with friends for a great, big summer BBQ!

I mean come on – you’ve got the sun that stays out until 9pm, weather that is warm enough to enjoy out on the deck, but cool enough to be a relief from the hot summer day, lots of vacation days… nothing screams summer quite like beer, cornhole and BBQs.

And Chris and I have been attending our fair share of them so far this summer. I don’t know what it is, but we seem to be booked (and occasionally even OVER booked) for this entire summer! Which is nice, but it’s also kind of exhausting! I feel like I’ve been behind on sleep since May…

But the one downside to barbeques is that the eating selections aren’t always the greatest. Lots of pasta salads, burgers, dogs, wings, chips… nothing that typically screams “healthy” or even “not entirely from a bag in the grocery store that’s been sitting there for weeks”. So I’ve been on a quest this summer to come up with a great go-to summer BBQ recipe that not only will please the crowd of chip-and-burger lovin’ friends, but that will also provide me with a healthier option at any summer event.

And guys? I think I’ve finally found it!

Thanks to some suggestions from my lovely coworkers (should out to Steph and Sara), I’ve become slightly obsessed with this dish. It’s super simple, super filling, and super delicious!

Caprese Quinoa Salad - The perfect summer side dish!

 

Caprese Quinoa Salad
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Prep Time
5 hr
Cook Time
30 hr
Prep Time
5 hr
Cook Time
30 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  2. 2 cups chicken stock (you could also use vegetable stock or just plain water)
  3. 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  4. 1/2 cup ciliegine-sized mozzarella balls (any size will work, or you can cut a larger ball into chunks)
  5. handful of basil, julienned
  6. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  7. Olive Oil
  8. Sea Salt
Instructions
  1. 1. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions, using the chicken stock or water.
  2. 2. Mix cooked quinoa, basil, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.
  3. 3. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  4. 4. Serve chilled!
My Freckled Life http://www.myfreckledlife.com/
 

Caprese Quinoa Salad - the perfect summer side dish!

 

So tell me: What is your favorite BBQ dish?

 

WIAW: Strike Edition!

Happy Wednesday! I can’t believe we’re halfway through this week already. For some reason this week is just flying by (which is A-OK with me! Bring on the weekend!)

Captain Insomnia has struck again, and I just can’t seem to get any sleep lately! I’ve even tried to start taking melatonin, which helps me fall asleep for about an hour. Then I’m awake again, and up all night! Grrr!

It’s times like these that this no-caffeine thing seems like a bad life decision…

Anyway, let’s focus on the positive, shall we? Which obviously means food! Because it’s WIAW, of course!

For anyone not familiar with WIAW, please head over to Jenn’s blog to get a great description of what WIAW is all about, and to see what other awesome bloggers have been eating!

Breakfast

oatmeal breakfast

Same old, same old (but I finally got a new picture of it!) – plain oats topped with frozen mixed berries, peanut butter, a touch of natural strawberry jam, cinnamon and ground flax seed. Never gets old!

Side note – it looks much prettier before I mix it up into one giant pink-brown clump! haha.

Snack

almonds snack

Unfortunately I still had a grumbly tummy by about 10am, so I snacked on a few handfuls of almonds. I had this x2!

Lunch

salad lunch

I’m still on a total salad kick! Normally I need a salad break after awhile, but for whatever reason I haven’t gotten sick of it yet, so I’m just riding this train as long as I can. Can’t complain about all the yummy veggies!

Snack #2

snack chobani

For some reason I’ve really been craving greek yogurt lately, so I picked up some of the Chobani 100 at the store this week, and topped it with some homemade granola.

Dinner

Buffalo chicken pizza

We ended up meeting up with a bunch of our friends from bible study for Tuesday night bowling. Our bowling alley is pretty fancy and has quite the extensive menu (not your usual gross bowling alley food!), but unfortunately are a little limited on their healthy options. But I figured, what the heck? It’s ok to indulge every once and awhile, as long as you balance it out! So Chris and I split this buffalo chicken pizza and it was totally worth it.

To our credit, we did ask for it on whole wheat crust, and traded out the typical fried chicken on top for grilled chicken strips. We also tried to ask for spinach or something on top, but they were all out. Oh well, at least I got in my greens at lunch!

Splitsville Fredericksburg

Workout

I didn’t get in a real workout, because I was too busy hanging out with these lovely people! Although boy is my right arm feeling it after several rounds of bowling!

So tell me: What did you eat today? Are you a good bowler? I’m absolutely terrible!

5 Summer Workout Safety Tips

 Now that we’re in the heart of summer, we’re getting to that point where nearly every day is topping the temperature charts and it’s getting a little painful to go outside. I’m not sure what the weather is like where you are, but here in Virginia the only thing that seems to break up the 90+ degree days is the occasional intense thunderstorm.

Not exactly ideal running or outdoor workout weather. 

But the reality is, most of us will go out in it anyway. Rain, shine, humidity be damned, we’re still getting our workout in! 

And that’s all fine and dandy, as long as you’re making a point to be safe. Working out outside in the summer might seem harmless, but the reality is that it poses a lot of dangers that we “dedicated fitness people” aren’t always so good at paying attention to!

So whether you’re an avid outdoor runner or are new  to working out in the summer, I thought I’d give you a few important tips to remember to keep yourself safe while getting your sweat on this summer!

summer safety

 1. Always bring your cell phone

I know, I know, carrying a cell phone while running can be a pain in the butt. Believe me, I feel your pain. Especially considering that cell phones are gigantic now, they aren’t exactly convenient to hold or tuck away (hello giant Samsung Galaxy S4!) But it is seriously important, especially in the summer, to make sure that you have one on you.

The reality is, you never know what the weather might bring. 100+ degree temps, flash thunderstorms, lightning storms… you never want to get caught unaware in bad weather with no one who can come pick you up. Similarly, heaven forbid you start to feel sick or light headed in the middle of a long run. The last thing you want to do is to have to make the long trek home when you’re already at risk.

So take a cell phone, and call a loved one if you need help. And if you’re one of those people who is convinced that it’ll never be you, take it with you in case you see another runner in need! 

2.  Wear sweat-wicking workout clothes

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I am notoriously bad about this one, because I despise doing laundry. However I can absolutely tell the difference when I’m wearing an old college tshirt versus an actual workout top. As minute as it seems, it really is important during the summer to choose workout clothes that can breathe and wick sweat away from your body.

Why? Because while fabrics like cotton soak up sweat (which is your body’s way of trying to cool itself down), they tend to keep the moisture trapped in the fabric. This can not only make it difficult for your body to properly cool itself, which is super important in the hot summer, but it can also lead to chafing and general discomfort. And nobody has time for that. 

So suck it up and spend a few extra bucks on some athletic apparel to wear on your outside workouts. Your body will thank you later!

3. Make sure you properly hydrate

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It’s pretty much ingrained in us to make sure that we’re drinking water while we’re working out or take it with us on a long run, but what is just as important (and is often forgotten) is to make sure you’re properly hydrating all day long! If you go into a long run dehydrated, it’s not going to be long before you start feeling the effects, and things are just going to go down hill from there.

So if you know that you have a workout scheduled, make sure that you are getting in plenty of water throughout the day to set yourself up for success (and safety!)

If you’re not a water drinker, I highly encourage you to try adding some fruits or flavors into your water to make it taste a little less boring. Oranges, cucumbers and lemons are some of my favorites, but you really could add just about any fruit. Or there are plenty of flavorings out there now, just try to pay attention to the ingredient list – most are full of chemicals and fake sugars. I’m personally a big fan of the True Lemon brand! (<– affiliate link, FYI)

4. Always let someone know where you are

This should be important when you’re training all year round, but it’s especially important in the summer months. I know that it feels silly, but it is vital that you let someone know where you are going (i.e. your general planned route or neighborhood) and an estimate when you think you’ll be back. That way you’ve got someone that can come look for you, or call for help, if heaven forbid something happens.

If you don’t have anyone that lives with or near you, you can still call a family member or friend and let them know. Any awareness is better than no awareness! And that way they can check in with you (on your cell phone, which you should be carrying, HA!) to make sure that you’re ok.

You also might want to consider switching up your route during the summer, especially if you’re a trail runner. I know it’s not nearly as fun, but if something DOES happen to you, you’re much more likely to be seen out in a neighborhood or park than on a scarcely populated trail.

5. Don’t forget to refuel & rehydrate!

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Just as important as hydrating before a run, is making sure that you refuel and rehydrate after your run is over. Especially if you’ve just finished a long run or a hard workout, you want to make sure that you’re putting some electrolytes back into your body! I know that there are a ton of “post-workout” drinks out there on the market, but the reality is that a lot of the cheap, big name brands that you find at the convenience store are really full of crap or are pretty much just sugar water (not to call anyone out… but it rhymes with “raterade”).

I’m personally a huge fan of the Ignite Naturals INRefresh brand. I love that there ingredient list is not full of chemicals, it’s non-GMO and 100% plant based, AND it’s gluten-free and vegan for all of my friends out there who are looking for those products. 

But whatever brand you choose, just make sure that you’re replenishing your body after your workout, otherwise you’re body is going to let you know really quickly that it’s struggling!

(Ignite Naturals didn’t ask me at all for this review – I just really love their products and I think you would to! So I got a nice little 10% off coupon for anyone who is interested in trying them out (dragonfruit lemon-lime is my personal favorite). Just enter IN00374 at checkout!)

 

So there you have it – 5 tips to make sure that you’re staying safe during your summer workouts! But most importantly, make sure that you’re listening to your body! Heat and humidity depletes the body much faster than we’re used to, so while you might be tempted to push through the discomfort, just be aware that you’re body can quickly go from uncomfortable to dangerous!

So tell me: What are your tips for working out in the summer? What do you carry with you on long runs/bike rides to make sure you’re staying safe?

The Perfect Low Key Summer Weekend

Coming at you a little late this morning! Unfortunately I have been dealing with a severe bout of insomnia lately, and was up ALL last night tossing and turning. Not exactly the ideal way to start a new week!

So I decided to take a sick day and attempt to get some more sleep… although that mostly just ended up with me laying around in bed until 10am. Bummer. I’m sure it’ll catch up with my by this afternoon though, so a solid nap might be in order!

Even though this week isn’t starting off well, this past weekend ended up being the perfect low key summer weekend. I seriously couldn’t have asked for anything more! It was both relaxing and productive, and I got to spend a ton of time soaking up the beautiful sunshine. I wish every summer weekend could end up like this!

Friday

Chris and I actually both ended up getting out of work early on Friday, which was perfect because we hadplans to take Wild to the vet to get checked out. But not before we met up for lunch first at our favorite sushi restaurant in Old Town Fredericksburg, Umi!

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Wild did really well at the vet, but it was definitely a 2 person job. The poor thing was so petrified, that she literally shook and cowered through the entire appointment. Thankfully her health looked pretty good, minus some exposure to Lyme Disease. We’re still trying to figure out whether we’re going to keep her or not, but at least we know that she is in good health (and now has her rabies shot!)

How precious are these two together? They don’t really play together yet (Wild is still scared of Laney), but they do like hanging out together!

Carolina Dogs

Chris had his softball championships Friday night, while I had to hold down the fort at home for our usual Friday night bible study, so by the time he got home at 11:30pm, I literally was passed out. #oldladystatus

Saturday

I had grand intentions of getting up early on Saturday to get some stuff down around the house. Ummm, yea. That didn’t happen. I manage to sleep through both of my alarms, and woke up at 10:30am! Whoops! Obviously my body needed the sleep!

Since it was so late, I decided to throw together a brunch meal that would get me through to the afternoon, and ended up with this egg sandwich. It was just 2 fried eggs, 1 slice of colby jack cheese and sriracha on toasted whole wheat bread, but boy did it hit the spot! Paired with decaf coffee, of course!

Breakfast egg sandwich

After showering and getting a few things done around the house, I braved the Saturday morning traffic and headed down to Richmond for the VA Bloggers Meet up at Blue Bee Cider (you might remember the first time Chris and I went!)

There were probably another 10ish bloggers there, so we spent some time hanging out and trying a bunch of the ciders before we headed on a tour of the facility.

Blue Bee Cider VA Bloggers MeetupBlue Bee Cider VA Bloggers Meetup

The Hopsap Shandy was my favorite, and I ended up buying a bottle to take home! It’ll be perfect for a summer afternoon BBQ!

Blue Bee Cider VA Bloggers Meetup

It’s amazing to see how much Blue Bee has grown since we were there in March. The owner said they experienced 100% growth in the first year. That’s just insane!

Blue Bee Cider VA Bloggers Meetup

I also got to hang out with the lovely Samantha from Designer in Teal again. She’s a fellow Hokie too, so we obviously became fast friends!

Blue Bee Cider VA Bloggers Meetup

By the time I got home after running a few errands (Hello giant Target trip!), I had to throw together a quick dinner before Chris headed out to a Bachelor party. I have been eyeing the salmon burgers that Julie makes, and thought this would be the perfect time to try them out. Thankfully, they did not disappoint!

Salmon Burger

Since they had a slight Italian feel with the mozzarella cheese, I decided to top mine with some leftover bruschetta. Best decision ever! These burgers was so delicious, and seriously tasted like Italian crab cakes. I highly recommend this recipe if you’re a seafood fan!

Salmon Burger

Once Chris left for his bachelor party, I decided to get a workout in and headed out on a run (with my new Pro Compression socks!) Sadly I apparently did not give myself enough time to digest, and ended up with a terrible side stitch after about a mile. So I headed back home and did some strength training instead.

ProCompression socks

Sunday

Sunday was all about productivity around our house. We were up early for church, and went straight from there to run some errands. (Side note – we also stopped at Panera for lunch and I got one of the new flatbread sandwiches. AMAZING!!!!)

After running home to quickly change into gym clothes, I also hit up the gym and did 30 minutes of elliptical intervals and 25 minutes of biceps & triceps. I’m trying to get into a better strength training routine so I can make sure to hit all of my muscles groups, as I have a horrible tendency to skip my least favorite muscle groups (arms). So I need to work on that…

I also spent some time cleaning the house, including FINALLY going through all of my FitBloggin swag. I have been picking snacks out of the bags for the last few weeks, so this is sans some of the Chia and Quest bars, but you get the idea. SO. MUCH. STUFF!

FitBloggin 2014 swag

In the late afternoon, Lindsay and her husband came over for the evening. Chris and Charlie have started brewing beer together, so they hung out downstairs and started work on their second batch, while Lindsay and I hung out on the deck drinking wine and snacking on goat cheese.

Eventually we got around to making dinner, and Chris grilled up some chicken for us, which we paired with grilled veggies and roasted rosemary potatoes. Pretty much the perfect ending to a lazy Sunday!

 

Even though this week has not gotten off to the best start, I’m hoping that things will turn around. It’s hard to believe that we’re more than halfway through the summer, so I better soak it all up while I can!

So tell me: What did you do this weekend?

Five Favorites Friday: Getting Weird and Wild!

Thank goodness it is Friday! Phew! This has been one crazy week, and I for one am totally happy to say “good riddance!” Bring on the weekend!

Even though I have a bunch of plans coming together for this weekend already, most of all I’m just excited to have the chance to relax a little bit! This week has been all go-go-go, so I could use a break. I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot this summer already… Isn’t summer supposed to be for relaxing?

FFFold

But it’s nearly the weekend, which means that it’s time for Five Favorites Friday! Today I’m talking about 5 completely random things that I’ve been loving this week. This week seems to be even more random than usual, if that’s even possible! 

I’m also linking up with Clare for Five on Friday and Kate for Friday Favorites!

Favorite Current Scent: Black Cherry Merlot

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I know that this might seem like a  random thing to include in a favorites post, but seriously guys – I’m obsessed. This black cherry merlot soap from Bath and Body Works may have officially become my favorite B&BW scent EVER. I don’t know what it is about it, but it’s just perfect in every way! Go smell this. Immediately.

I need to repurchase this scent in every form possible. 

Favorite New Entertainment: Weird Al’s “Word Crimes”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gv0H-vPoDc

If you have not seen this video yet, you need to go check it out immediately. I used to love Weird Al growing up (I mean, who doesn’t love song parodies?), but he’s pretty much disappeared for the last 10-15 years. He seems to have resurfaced recently though, and has put out 3 new and totally hilarious songs: Word Crimes (to Blurred Lines), Tacky (to Happy) and Foil (to Royals). 

Go check them out immediately. Any song that talks about proper grammar is A-OK in my book!

Favorite New Snack: Banana Nut Chia Bar

Health warrior chia bar

Ever since I met the Health Warrior team at FitBloggin, I’ve become a little bit a lot obsessed with these chia bars, especially the banana nut flavor. I mean, you all know how much I love bananas, and this bar is just full of banana-y (yes that’s a word) goodness.

I’ve also found out that my local Wegmans just started selling these, so you should definitely check it out. Plus they are a local Richmond, VA company (represent!), so it’s even better!

Favorite Salad Combo: Bruchetta Chicken

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 Our garden has pretty much had a tomato explosion over the last few weeks, and I feel like I’m up to my eyeballs in cherry and roma tomatoes. So when my office had a potluck earlier this week, I decided to whip up some quick bruchetta to bring in. Well, I clearly overestimated and ended up making about twice as much as needed, which means that I have bruchetta for days. 

I decided to get creative with it, and tossed it over some romaine, paired with some grilled chicken and mozzarella balls. Holy cow, guys, this is amazing! It’s so fresh and summery, but SO flavorful at the same time! No dressing needed. 

Favorite Way to Stay Busy: Working with our new pup!

Carolina Dog

While we haven’t officially decided whether we’re going to keep Wild yet, it’s been a lot of fun getting the chance to work with her. She is basically a wild dog, so she’s really, REALLY shy around people and we’ve had to work just to get her to trust us without cowering (or submissively flipping over on her back, for all you dog people out there). Thankfully she does love to have her ears rubbed, as long as you’re moving slow.

Even if we don’t decide to keep her, it has definitely been fun to work with her. Chris and I have definitely been enjoying the challenge, even if she unexpectedly went into heat and freaked the both of us out! 

Carolina Dog

 

 

Well I hope you all have a terrific weekend! We just have to make it through one more work day… 

So tell me: What are you loving this week? Do you have a favorite scent?

 

 

My Writing Process

So I wanted to talk about something a little different today: Blog writing!

There is currently a “blog tour” going around the healthy living blog world where bloggers get the chance to talk a little bit about their writing process, how they come up with blog posts, and why they do what they do. After reading a couple of them, I found it really interesting to see some of the similarities and differences between my own blog writing style and that of other bloggers!

So when Leslie from Life Begins at 30 invited me to participate, I jumped at the chance to join in. I hope you guys find these as interesting to read as I do!

1. What am I working on?

 I always have a million ideas going on, so I tend to write them down in my handly little notebook that I keep in my purse. That way when I’m sitting at my computer wondering what to write, I can pull it out and get some inspiration!Especially after FitBloggin, I feel like I have so many ideas of things that I want to talk to you guys about!

I am currently full of a bunch of recipe ideas and random streams of thought that I’m trying to work out so that I can share with you all. I am also thinking about starting a new series here on MFL that is going to take a deeper look into how busy 20-somethings find a healthy balance in their lives. I haven’t figured out all the details yet, but I’m definitely excited to start that project soon. Hopefully that sounds interesting to you all?

PS – If there are certain topics that you all love hearing about, please let me know! I’m always open!

2. How does my work differ from others of its type/genre?

“Healthy Living” is such a broad genre that I feel like every healthy living blog out there covers slightly different things. What I really try and emphasize here on My Freckled Life is a realistic look at what healthy living looks like for a busy, working 20-something.

I don’t always eat perfectly, sometimes I skip workouts, and I still try to retain some kind of social life, and I want you guys to see that! I know that I personally am always turned off by bloggers who seem to have everything together 100% of the time, and only every post about their perfect eats or workouts. We all know that sometimes you just need a little froyo in your life, and that’s OK! 

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So what I talk about here is how I personally find that healthy balance, in between all of my activities, crazy work schedule, social life, travel, and time with my husband. I talk about my struggles, my favorite workouts, my go-to healthy recipes, and my dog (obviously the highlight of my blog) – my real life and what my healthy journey REALLY looks like. It’s not always easy, but I hope that by seeing that it IS possible to find balance, and watching and learning from my struggles and triumphs, it might inspire others to make some healthier changes in their lives too!

3. Why do I write what I do?

When I first started my healthy living journey back in 2009, I had no clue what I was doing. There is SO much information out there on what “healthy” means, that I was totally overwhelmed. Am I supposed to eat carbs, or avoid them? Cardio or strength training? Splenda or Sugar? 

That’s when I discovered the world of healthy living blogs. Real people who were talking about their real lives and real struggles with living a healthy life? That’s exactly what I needed at that time to learn about what healthy living really meant in the real world, and it gave me the confidence to change my own life for the better.

That has always been my hope with My Freckled Life. That it can not only be used as a way for me to keep accountable to myself in my healthy living journey, but also that it might inspire others or give them the confidence to live a healthier life. I wanted it to be (and hope that it is!) a genuine and honest place where people can view my struggles and experiences, and be inspired to take some or all of that into their own lives! I’m not perfect, and I want people to see that being healthy doesnt mean being perfect all the time, despite what a lot of “fitspiration” may tell you! 

4. How does your writing process work?

I actually don’t prep too many blog posts in advance. In general, I typically write out all my posts the night before they are posted (which sometimes gets pushed to the morning if I have a ton of stuff going on). That works well for me because I can keep them as honest and authentic as possible, and can bump a planned post if something more important in my life comes up!

In terms of scheduling, I do try to schedule out my posts a week or two in advance and write them into my calendar so I least have a vague idea of what I’m going to talk about. There are obviously some linkups and traditions that I (mostly) keep with every week – weekend recap, WIAW, and Five Favorites Friday – and then I just try and fill in Tuesday/Thursday posts with whatever I feel like talking about that week.

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Most importantly, I try to keep this blog in balance with the rest of my life. Sometimes things come up that keep me from posting. Sometimes I just want to spend time cuddling on the couch with my husband. And that’s OK. It’s been hard for a Type-A person like me to try and let things go sometimes in order to find balance, but it’s something that I’m working on. If I don’t take time to live life, then what am I going to have to write about, after all?

 

Well I hope you enjoyed hearing a little about my blog writing process. I’m sorry that it ended up being a little bit of a brain dump, but I found it really fun to be able to share with you guys some behind-the-scenes stuff about how I write and why I write. Is it probably the most effective and efficient way to go about blogging? No. Do I have a fancy blogging calendar like some people? No. But does it work for me? Yes. 

And that’s what My Freckled Life is all about anyway – telling you about what works (or doesnt) for me, in the hopes that you can use that knowledge to inspire your own journey!

If you have any questions about my writing process, about my journey, or any topics that you’d love to hear about, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

And because I want to share the love, check out some of these ladies that are going to continue the Blog Tour! They are some of my favorite bloggers, so I know you’ll love them too!

Julie @ My Sweet & Healthy Life

 

So tell me: If you’re a blogger, what does your writing process look like? Do you schedule posts or write them on the fly? If you’re not a blogger, how’d you get into reading healthy living blogs? What topics do you like to read about?

WIAW: Summer Rain Edition

Happy Wednesday! 

I’m quite thankful this week is going by quickly, because it’s turning out to be quite busy! We have some crazy stuff going on at work to prep for some office travel through the rest of summer, so everyone is running around like busy little worker bees trying to get everything done. There may have been some few nasty words spoken towards the copy machine yesterday when it decided it didn’t want to take any more papers. 

It’s amazing how much we rely on technology nowadays! We can’t function when a stupid copier goes down! 

Anyway, this week has been pretty busy between work, prepping for my GRE in August (Math, yuck!), working on some research for a local professor, and getting Wild used to our house. No wonder I’m running super low on sleep right now!

But since it’s Wednesday, we should focus on something fun. Like food! Right? 

If you’re not familiar with WIAW, I highly encourage you to check out Jenn’s blog and learn what it’s all about. Plus you can check out what a ton of other awesome bloggers are eating!Thanks for the linkup Jenn!

Breakfast

breakfast

 My usual. Pretty boring, I know. I just never get tired of this combo, even in the hot summer months! Plain oats, topped with a scoop of natural peanut butter, frozen berries, a bit of strawberry jam and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Simple and delicious. Although I do have some empty PB jars that are sitting in my cabinet… so maybe I’ll get fancy with my oats soon!

Lunch

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 Ok, definitely not the most appetizing meal, I know. But it tasted much better than it looked, I promise! Chris made this black bean pasta primavera last week and I wanted to finish up the rest of it before it went bad. You can’t let all those delicious veggies go to waste! It was literally just black bean pasta topped with marinara, sauteed summer squash, zucchini and mushrooms. (<– affiliate link, FYI)

Snack

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 This has become my new favorite combo lately! A brown rice cake topped with a bit of peanut butter and a banana. You get a little sweet, a little salty and a little crunch! 

Dinner

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 Dinner was literally thrown together in about 2 minutes, so it wasn’t my best meal creation of all time. Thanks to the massive thunder storms that rolled through, my train was like 30 minutes late coming home, which meant that I had about 10 minutes to make and eat dinner before I had to head out again. With some quick thinking I threw together a buffalo chicken sandwich (leftover grilled chicken, buffalo sauce, a touch of ranch, lettuce and tomato) and a 1/2 of a sweet potato with buffalo sauce.I wasn’t a huge fan of the white bun (leftover from the BBQ this weekend), but it’s all I could come up with in 10 seconds!

Workout

Sadly I didn’t get a workout in like I’d hoped. Plan A had been to run during my lunch break, but thanks to the  summer rain I wasn’t able to get out there. Plan B was to workout when I got home before we had to leave for Chris’ softball game, but thanks to the late train that didn’t happen either.

After scarfing down dinner and seeing that Chris’ game STILL wasn’t cancelled, we hoped in the car to head up to the fields. We got about halfway there before we got the email that they were cancelled and had to turn back around. At that point I had already scarfed food, and the idea of trying to workout without digesting didn’t sound good, so I ended up just skipping my workout all together. Boooo. 

 

Overall it wasn’t the best day of eats and workouts for me, but sometimes those days just happen. That’s real life people! I am very much a control freak and I hate when my plans dont work out like they’re supposed to, but I’m working to be a little bit better about going with the flow – so I just let it go (cue Frozen singalong). Here’s to a better tomorrow!

PS – Dont forget that today is the last day to enter my Pure Via Summer Fit Kit Giveaway! Go check it out!

So tell me: What did you eat today? Did you get a workout in? Are you a control freak or a go-with-the-flow kind of person?

5 Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

 Now that I’ve had a few weeks to fully digest all that I took in at FitBloggin (or at least to the point that I feel like my head isn’t spinning in a thousand directions anymore!) I thought it might be good to take some time to reflect on all that I learned. And I’m not just talking about all the informative blogging and monetizing sessions I attended. 

I’m talking about what I learned about blog conferences as a whole!

As I’ve mentioned before, this was my first ever blog conference and I was WAY out of my element. I’m typically fairly shy in crowds of people that I don’t know, and I’m pretty terrible at putting myself out there when I’m feeling uncomfortable. The first night of FitBloggin I was so overwhelmed, I honestly called Chris and said “I dont know what I’m doing here…”

Thankfully by day 2 that fear was (mostly) erased and the rest of the weekend just flew by! 

Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

But I thought I’d take some time this morning to give a few tips for those who are preparing for their first ever blog conference, or are on the fence about attending out of fear!

5 Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

1. It’s Ok to be your introverted self… so try to “make friends” with other introverts!

 I went in to FitBloggin basically knowing no one. Erin and I had met once before and talked via email a few times, but otherwise I was stuck in a hotel with several hundred people I didn’t know. Which was kind of terrifying! 

I would have loved to be able to switch off that inner introverted person and just jump into a group and say hi, but the reality is, that’s just not me. And by the time the second day rolled around, I realized that that was ok! There are going to be loud, boisterous, extroverted people at any conference you go to, but that doesn’t mean you have to be one of them if that’s not you! There are also going to be introverted people, just like you, hiding in the corners as well.

Find them. Bond. Make friends. It’s so much easier when you can find other people who need some quiet time too!

Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

 Throughout the event, Erin and I kept saying that we were going to go work on “Making friends”. Networking, Mingling, or Exchanging cards with other bloggers just sounded so formal and intimidating to me, so I kept trying to remind myself that all I was doing was making friends. Much less scary! Especially when these friends were just as new and scared as I was!

 2. Sponsors actually want to talk to you!

When I first walked by the sponsors tables, I figured they just wanted to present me with their product, hand me their business card, and wait for me to walk away so they could talk to the next person. Why would they be interested in what I have to say?

I quickly learned that that couldn’t be farther from the truth!

Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

Unlike an expo or event where vendors are pimping their products, the sponsors at blog conferences are there to get your information just as much as you’re getting theirs. They specifically chose this conference because they knew that it would be full of people who could help their business and share their products with readers. They need your help! 

So don’t be afraid to actually talk to them when they ask “so what’s your blog about?” Tell them who you are and what you talk about. Give them your business card. I was shocked at how many sponsors actually reached out to my after the event just because I gave them my card!

3. Bring a notebook… and then actually take notes!

This one sounds like a “duh”, but when you’re running around from session to workout to your room to lunch (with your hands full of swag, of course) a notebook is an easy thing to forget. But let me tell you, it’s probably one of your most important tools at a blog conference. 

Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

 Over the course of a weekend (or even just a day), you’re going to get so much information that your brain is going to feel like it’s about to explode. I’m not kidding. You’re going to have a million ideas buzzing through your head: post titles, project ideas, key words, tips, tricks… the list goes on. 

And if you don’t write them down, you’re going to promptly forget that brilliant idea you just had as soon as you walk into the next session and get bombarded with more information. 

So write it all down, like you’re taking notes for a final exam. That way later in the afternoon, the next week, or months later, you can go back and reflect on your thoughts and ideas without straining to try and remember it from a weekend full of information!

4. Bloggers are people too (even the big name ones)!

I’m not going to lie, when I saw the attendance list for FitBloggin and noticed that a few of the names were big name bloggers that I love to read, I may have done a little happy dance. I was actually going to get to meet some of my blogging idols??? Awesome!

Then I actually saw them in person and promptly forgot how to use my words. “…Hello? Hi… person… blogger… like your… yea… hi…”

I’m cool. 

What I learned after several awkward encounters is that bloggers, even the big ones, are people too. They are here to learn and grow and connect, just like you are (no matter how big or small your blog is). In fact, they may be just as introverted and awkward as you are – they are regular people, after all!

So go say hi! Or, as in my case, have an awesome friend (Erin) who will go over to your favorite blogger and tell them that this random girl over in the corner really wants to meet them but is too chicken to say Hi. 

Tips for a Blog Conference Newbie

 

You may even get a selfie out of the deal! (Thanks Lindsay for being totally cool with my complete awkwardness!)

5. Bring an extra bag. Or 2. Or 5.

I’m totally not joking on this one. Every “what to pack for a blog conference” post I read before FitBloggin offered this advice, but I still went in thinking “yea, yea, I’m an expert packer, I’ll be fine.”

So foolish. So Naive. 

Seriously, there is so much stuff, I dont even have words for it. Every where you look people are just handing you stuff, and then more stuff, until your little arms just can’t hold it anymore! I think my biceps got more of a workout from lugging my swag bags around than from the actual workouts (Ok, that’s a lie, Bootcamp and PiYo totally killed my biceps all on their own, but you get my point!)

Especially if you are flying, plan on having an entire suitcase dedicated to your swag. No matter what you think, you’re NOT going to be able to put it in your carry-on bag with the rest of your clothes. Even if you sit on it. 

I see you thinking about it. Don’t do it. Seriously. 

You want that swag. Trust me on that one! 

 

Overall, I found my first blogging conference to be an awesome experience! It really made me step out of my comfort zone, but in an environment full of like-minded people with the same interests and passions as me, which was slightly less intimidating. I also learned a TON of valuable information about blogging, fitness, healthy living, and the blogging community in general. If you haven’t been to one, or are on the fence about going, I HIGHLY recommend it. Even check out some local conferences if you can – many major cities are doing 1 day conferences! 

Check it out, enjoy some swag, and learn a ton! You won’t regret it!

So tell me: Have you ever been to a blogging conference before? Considered going to one? If so, what tips do you have for newbie conference attendees?