Happy Things

Hi friends! I missed you! I know I was only away for less than a week, but I’ve been way less present to blogging the last 6 weeks as I’ve been way more present to my summer job and soaking up the amazing people I only get to see a few weeks out of the year, but now I’m back home (wahhh, it’s hot) and ready to reunite with my kitchen and you lovely people! So to jump back in, I wanted to share with you some happy things I came home to.

1. A jar of this deliciousness. While I was away, NuttZo sent me a jar of their crunchy chocolate flavor to try, and it is absolutely amazing. One of the first things I did when I got home was open it up, and it is drippy, crunchy, just the right amount of sweet, and totally addictive. I already have to monitor myself to make sure I don’t go through the entire jar in two days. It includes peanuts, cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and hazelnuts. It is better than any chocolate nut spread that I have ever tasted, and I am obsessed with the crunchiness. I must find a way to recreate in my kitchen!

NuttZo

2. A super sweet card from Heather about my upcoming speaking engagement at the Healthy Living Summit! I am beyond excited to be speaking, and really looking forward to meeting some of my favorite people from around the internet. Because that’s a totally normal thing to look forward to, right?

3. These faces. ‘Nuff said.

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Also finally having the sound of puppy nails on the tile again! I missed that!

4. A RUNNER HUSBAND!!! Without a doubt the happiest thing that happened while I was away is that Steve started the couch to 5k program! He’s on week 5, and hasn’t missed a beat since he started. I am unbelievably proud, and it means I need to get my butt in gear with some swim lessons so I can actually announce some exciting future plans. ;)

5. MEAN GREEN!!

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Isn’t she beaaaauuutiful? She needs a new seat because this one is, um, not working for me, but she is everything I dreamed she would be. Also,  road bikes are super sensitive to your movements. No more off in la la land while I ride my bike for me. I actually have to pay attention now. Crap.

6. I was in the Arizona Republic today along with one of my besties! Check it out!

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7. The months of February, March and April, I ran zero miles. In May I ran 24, in June I ran 38, and in July I ran 56. I was feeling a little down on myself that I still haven’t run longer than 5 miles and I am supposed to run a marathon in November, but I know Coach Susan is, like, a billion times smarter than me, and I know she has a plan, but seeing the numbers build up and actually being able to see my progress really lifted my spirits. Slowly, but surely I will get back to where I was last November and December, and really I have my whole life to get faster, so what’s the rush?

8. I really love my bed and my couch. I’m glad to be back to “real life”. Still totally missing Portland and my girls up there, but happy to be in my home with my kitchen and my Kitchenaid and my Vitamix. ;)

Disclosure: The NuttZo was sent to me to review for blog purposes. All opinions are my own.

Reasons To Be Grateful

As my first marathon draws closer (ummm, somehow it became marathon week–YIKES!!), I am finding myself even more emotional than usual. If you know me, you know it’s hard to get more emotional than my natural everyday state, but I promise you it has happened. Yesterday, I spent 15 minutes crying in the car because I felt so proud of what I’ve done. Not just the marathon, but every big goal I’ve set out to conquer, I feel like I have achieved. Not many people can say that, and I have a lot to be proud of.

With this pride comes so much gratitude. I’ve not achieved these things on my own, and beyond that, this experience and trip to New York City gives me so many reasons to be grateful. I’m totally overwhelmed by all of it, but I wanted to try to put some of it into words, so that when all I can think about is how badly my legs hurt, I will have a mental picture of why I’m lucky, why I should suck it up and run faster. ;)

  • I’m grateful I can run. Not everyone can. I see people every day who are physically less fortunate than me, and it breaks my heart that not everyone can experience the same joy, release, and freedom that I find in running. I could have a disability, or worse, I could not care enough about myself to make the choice to try. I’m grateful for the ability to run: mentally and physically.
  • I’m grateful for Susan LokenWhen I tell people about Susan, they either know exactly who she is, or are quickly impressed when I spew off her list of accomplishments that I’ve memorized through all my internet stalking. She has given me everything: my plan, tough love, an ear to listen, and most importantly, the belief that I can do this. The other day she told me that I’ve come a long way and shown a lot of improvement. She probably doesn’t know how much that meant to me, or how much I needed to hear it, but it made my month. I couldn’t have done this without her.
  • I’m grateful for my team. I’ve made so many great friendships through this process, and they have shown me tremendous support, love, and encouragement. There really is nothing like training with a team. I would highly suggest it for anyone training for their first marathon. I LOVE these guys!
  • I’m grateful for my parents. They are flying to New York to see me cross the finish line. My dad can’t afford it, but he insists on going to be there for me. My mom hates to fly, but her ticket is booked. Talk about support–flying across the country to watch your kid run a marathon. Yes, I’m still a kid. They are the best.
  • I’m grateful for my friends who are coming out to support me. Some of them live in New York, some of them live here, some of them live in the surrounding areas, but many of them are making special arrangements to be there for to share this moment with me. I will probably have my first marathon lined with some of my very favorites cheering my name. I don’t know what they heck I’ve done to deserve that, but I’ll take it!
  • I’m especially grateful I get to spend time with this friend. Mac is one of my best friends in the entire world. He lives across the country, and I see him more often than some of my friends that live in Arizona. Our friendship was just kind of meant to be, and so we make it work, and find ways to see each other. He is a life-long friend, and has been an undying source of support through this whole process. I cannot freaking wait to celebrate with him!!!
  • I’m grateful for the world’s most supportive husband. The other day we had an argument, and then “surprised” each other with coffee (at the same time), then he showed me he loved me by turning on every single light in the entire house because we always playfully bicker about the lights (I turn on all the lights, never turn them off, then he turns them all off). He is perfect, and I absolutely could not have done this without him.
  • I’m grateful for YOU PEOPLE. With the support of many of you, I have almost reached my goal of raising $5,000. So many people showed incredible generosity, and I am beyond grateful. I know those donations will be put to good use, and I cannot wait until I can attend an event to see kids reaping the benefits of our efforts!
  • I’m just grateful to be. To be alive. To be healthy. To be where I am today. I am beyond lucky. I wish everyone out there could feel a little bit of what it’s like to feel like you have it all. Just for a second. It feels amazing.
  • Oh, and I’m grateful for MARATHON TOES!!! Had to include that ;)
So tell me, what are you grateful for?

Skull Valley Challenge

Last weekend was a super special weekend! It was the first time Steve and I got to switch places, as I went to cheer him on for his first “race”. I call it a race, but it was untimed and they called it a “ride”. Well, he goes for a “ride” like, umm, every day so that doesn’t sound quite fancy enough for me. There was a starting line, and a finish line, so in my mind it was a race. Steve left for Prescott to get acclimated with the elevation on Wednesday. Remember how us Phoenix folk do with mile high elevation? I had to work, so I left with Jason on Saturday afternoon. On the way up, we decided to get married.

Sorry Steve. I know I’m supposed to be coming to see you, but Jason and I are in ring pop love.

We arrived just in time to head over to the bib pick up with the boys.

HE HAS A BIB!!!

Cycling besties. They’re in like, straight man friend love.

After bib pick up, we headed to The Raven Cafe for dinner.

Raven Cafe  is a super cute restaurant in downtown Prescott with a unique menu, coffee bar, and big beer and wine selection. Jason and I ordered a couple of beers to start.

Mine: Nut brown mmmmmm

Jason got this super intense Black Butte with a bunch of roman numerals after. It was DARK, and definitely a sipping beer, but we were both fans.

Look! It also comes in a fancy glass. Sorry bar tender lady, you’re on the blog, but it’s just your hand. Apparently I couldn’t wait until we sat down to start photographing. I’m a little impatient ;)

They have a really cool outdoor upstairs patio, and the weather was perfect, so we enjoyed dinner up there.

I’m a proud wife. And that lady in the background is apparently REAL freaked out by us taking a picture. CALM DOWN WOMAN!!!

I ordered a turkey sandwich that came with cranberry sauce, cream cheese, avocado and tomato–ohhhhh my gosh, it was so delicious! I got tortilla soup for my side which was also good, but the sandwich was definitely my favorite part!

After dinner, we went back to Dan’s and turned in early so the boys could get some sleep before the race ride. The next morning, Steve and Dan rode their bikes down to the start while Jason and I ran down to meet them.

Before we knew it, they were off, and I was pretty much the only person yelling and cheering like a crazy fool. Once they were out of site, Jason and I finished our run and ended out 3.5 miles at breakfast at The Sweet Potato Cafe. After breakfast we walked around, got coffee, and went back to work on a big obnoxious sign to hold at the finish.

Unfortunately, Steve didn’t end up having the best ride. The course was ridiculously tough and had about 4,000 ft of elevation gain over 54 miles. Around mile 37, the constant uphill just got to be too much, and he had to drop out. Bike races are serious business, man. If I get tired during a race, I just walk, but what do you do on your bike? You can’t walk it up the hill. I mean, I guess you can, but if you don’t do it all on the bike, does it really count? Anyway, he did the best he could at this point in his training, and I was still a proud lady! It just means next year he’s going to kill it!

Steve actually had a really great attitude about the whole thing. Of course he was disappointed, but he truly knew that he had done the best he could on that day. I really admire that about him. I spend a lot of time beating myself up and crying in the car after not performing the way I had hoped, and he just understood where he was that day, made some goals moving forward, and moved on. I absolutely feel like he still succeeded, and I feel beyond proud that he set out for such a challenging course on his first race ride!

How do you handle not living up to your expectations on race day? Ever done a bike race? What do you do if you can’t pedal up the stupid hill anymore?!?!?!

Maui Part 1

I didn’t say much about my honeymoon. I’ve mostly been waiting for pictures, but truth be told, there’s not a whole lot to say. It was AWESOME. I loved almost every second. Instead, I just wanted to show you some of the highlights :)

We spent the extra $20 a day and got a stupid touristy red convertible. Totally worth it.

Napili Bay

I have an ice cream problem.

My favorite. On our sunset dinner cruise.

DOLPHINS!!!! Near Lanai, on our snorkeling trip.

On top of the clouds @ Haleakala

More to come, as well as lots of Hawaii inspired recipes. I took notes….on my honeymoon. Don’t judge me.

 

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Hello from Ashland, OR! Tons of exciting things happening right now! Yesterday, I left Phoenix for the next 7 weeks. I’m on a little bit of a vacation for the next few days visiting my friend Mandie, then teaching/directing/choreographing in Portland, then off to Maui for my (late) honeymoon. Whew. Can you imagine packing for that many things at once? It was a little ridiculous. Even Clementine thought so.

“Mom. I think you’re forgetting something. If you don’t pack me, who will run circles around your neck and nibble on your nose all summer? Huhhhh???”

It’s definitely going to be a challenge to be away from Steve for the next 6 weeks. Before I left, he took me on the best date ever. This guy. He is amazing. It started out with my first trip ever to the baking supply store!

Then dinner at Bandera.

They have the bessssst cornbread!

Yummmmm.

Baking store and bread? Clearly, he know the way to my heart. ;)

I arrived in Ashland late last night, and pretty much went straight to bed. I can’t stay with Mandie because she has a cat, but she put me up in a super cute hotel down town! It kind of reminds me of a fancier hostel. There’s a shared bathroom, but private rooms, and the rooms are super cute and homey looking.

I woke up bright and early this morning. Of course. Why would my body ever possibly let me sleep in? Actually, it wasn’t bad, though. I looked at my phone, and it read 52 degrees, and I looked outside and saw clouds, and felt a beautiful breeze. I couldn’t wait to get outside, get my workout in, and explore the city! Today is the first official day of my marathon training. I had high hopes that my body would be like “OMG marathon training!! ALL BETTER!! Run all you want, Ari!” You can call me silly, but I prefer idealistic ;)

The truth is, running still hurts. Almost immediately. But it’s okay. I had surgery less than 2 weeks ago, and as much as I would love to wear a cape and stuff, I’m not super woman. The good news is it’s so early that this won’t set me back, and the mileage is really low, so I can walk my training plan until I’m back to normal. I actually forgot how great walking can be! I walked around downtown Ashland before finding Lithia Park that Mandie had mentioned to me when we drove in last night.

This park was absolutely gorgeous!! I really wished I had brought my camera with me, and not just my phone. I will definitely have to go back before I leave. I did manage to capture a bit of it on the android, though.

This beautiful creek runs all the way through the park, and there are tons of benches, and places to sit, as well as little paths down to the water. If I lived here, I would be here every day. The road started off paved, then turned into a trail.

I just kept walking, and let myself kind of get lost in there. I had been so excited to get out this morning, I hadn’t even thought to grab my ipod, and I ended up being really glad to be out there without it, and just be with nature. I saw lots of other walkers, a few runners (jealous face), and even some people doing yoga! Everyone was super friendly. In fact, I am kind of obsessed with this town. If I never make it back to Phoenix, you know why…

I have this thing for water. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the desert.

And the coolest part? I saw DEER!!!!!

I was walking by, and I heard rustling. The next thing I knew I was 3 feet away from these deer, staring them in the face. They weren’t the least bit frightened of me. How cool!!! Speaking of, I don’t know if I ever mentioned the time Nicole and I went on a driving adventure in Tempe, and saw a zebra in someone’s back yard?

Not quite as cool as the deer, but definitely interesting, haha. Can you imagine owning a zebra? Anyway, now I’m sitting at Starbucks enjoying some hot coffee.

Ohhh, how I’ve missed you. Grande bold coffee, 2 pumps sf mocha, 1 pump sf caramel, steamed soy.

Also, I have some really exciting news! A couple of weeks ago, I finally did something that I’ve wanted to do for quite some time, and I applied to be a FitFluential ambassador. I never thought in a million years that I would be accepted, but last night I received an email inviting me to join the team, and I am BEYOND thrilled!!! What an amazing opportunity to be a part of a community I value so highly with other bloggers that I admire. I am a lucky gal!