Foodie Pen Pal Reveal: June

This month' was a little hectic, as I moved at the beginning of June and had a busy few weeks in which I was moving boxes, picking stuff up from the old place, buying things and getting used to the new place. So having a foodie pen pal box come from "out of the blue" was awesome. I didn't have to think too much about what to buy, food-wise!

This month, my foodie pen pal / snack angel was Melissa from Treats With a Twist. I think she and I would be great friends in real life, since she likes to take her favorite treats and give them a healthy twist, which I like to do as well. She is also very friendly and positive and she picks great snacks!

 Food included: Maple Vanilla Coffee, Justin's Nut Butter, Dried Tropical Fruit Mix, Clif Bar Gary's Panforte, Dinstuhl's Assorted Truffles, Peanut Butter Oatmeal Square and Blueberry Covered Pretzels

My favorite? The dried tropical fruit and nut mix.
Kiwi, Mango, Papaya, Coconut, Pineapple, Macadamia nuts and Cashews. 
It is SO GOOD. Much better than candy!

I had a good time trying all the snacks. The coffee was just flavored enough without being overpowering. The Gary's Panforte was a new Clif flavor for me, even though they are made only a few miles away from my house. The blueberry pretzels were surprisingly great. Mr. Lovely tried to eat them all so I had to hide them from him (yes, I do that sometimes). 

Thanks to Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean for hosting. If anyone wants to do it, and it's a great way to discover new treats, go and check out her blog

Have you ever done a food swap? Have you ever tried the dried tropical fruit and nut mix?


Oregon in a Nutshell

Today as you read this, I will be flying back from Oregon. I did not have internet the entire time, so I will spend tomorrow catching up on things, blogs, news etc! Until then, here is a list of what we did in Oregon -- in a nutshell.

- Running: I had a great time exploring the running trails and roads, including a nice loop around the neighborhood as well as running in the Peterson Ridge Trail System. More on this later.

- Eating: We went to Costco and Trader Joes and Rays and Food For Less and bought SO MUCH food. I traveled with my friend and her daughter and her mom. You wouldn't think 4 ladies could eat so much, but our fridge was stocked! The good thing about being with ladies? The items mostly included vegetables, fruit, fish and SNACKS! It was my kind of party. 

- Hiking: Every day we took a walk around the neighborhood, and some days we hiked to the tops of small mountains in order to see the surrounding mountains. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and the mountains were hiding some days, but we had a few days of clear views and they were spectacular.

- Mountains: As you may know, the Cascade Range was formed by volcanoes, and it is beautiful! We spent lots of time enjoying the view! (not this one; we were closer to the ground)

- Relaxing: Many a book was read, many a magazine was perused. Many a movie was watched. Many a conversation was had. It was good times.

- Biking: It was about 8 miles RT to town and I had a great time biking along the highway (eeek) to get to town for some fun. "Town" is one main street and 2000 people and reminds me a lot of the "town" I grew up in.

I hope everyone else also had a great week and that you all have a great weekend as well! I can't wait to hear all about what everyone has been up to!! Good luck if you are racing this weekend!

What is your favorite relaxing activity? If you are with a group of ladies only, what does the menu look like?


Finish This: June

A couple of great blogger friends did this, and I think it's fun (plus I am a copycat), so here goes!

Maybe I should go to the conversational Spanish meetup at the local library.
I love living near the ocean.
People would say that I’m brutally honest.
I don’t understand people who are late, flaky or don't follow through with things.
When I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is start a pot of coffee.
I lost my way when I tried running on a new trail (and do almost every time)!
Life is full of difficult decisions.
My past is full of
carefree days at the beach, good memories and great experiences!
I get annoyed when
things don't go my way.
Parties are something I don't really go to/have very much anymore.
I wish I had more patience.
Dogs are
slobbery and stinky and hairy.
Cats are snide and snooty.
Tomorrow I’m
going back to CA (I'm in OR)!
I have low tolerance for people who try to strike up random conversations in public places.
I’m totally terrified of
I wonder why I
have such high expectations (of others and myself!)
Never in my life have I
been to Yellowstone.
High school was
a fun and easy time of my life.
When I’m nervous
my sweat is really stinky. (**and I put my fingers in my armpits and I smell them like this. That's gross**)
One time at a family gathering
we had a food fight. My uncle started it. Or maybe it was my Dad. Bad!
Take my advice:
Making my bed
is a must every day as soon as I get out of bed.
I’m almost always
on time or early to meetings, parties and events.
I’m addicted to
coffee, the internet and running.
I want someone to
take care of any and all car issues for me. I hate dealing with them. I would rather do dishes every day for the rest of my life.

What do you wish you had more of? What are you terrified of? Finish a few yourself in the comments below!


A New Place (2)

Remember I talked about some of the things I look for when moving to a new place? So far, I am having a great time trying to find them! One of the main things I have worked on from my list is places to run.

I have gone for several different runs near my new house. I am still exploring, but I have found a few nearby which are worth mentioning.

Star = My House, 1 = West Cliff, 2 = Wilder Ranch, 3 = East Cliff, 4 = Pogonip

Run 1: West Cliff Drive: This is a great path on the cliff side of the ocean. It's paved and runs from the Boardwalk to Natural Bridges State Park, which is about 4 miles one way. I have run this section several times. The only downfall for this one is that if you run it on Saturday any time after 9, it is pretty busy. However, I normally run this one on the weekdays, earlier in the morning.

Run 2: For my longer run, I ran along West Cliff, but added a few extra miles. I ran the bike path on Highway 1, as well as running the final loop through Wilder Ranch State Park (where I saw the snake eating the mouse!) The Highway portion is a few miles on a paved path and then the WRSP section is about a 2 mile loop along a dirt trail, which is partially along the cliffs and partially a bit more inland. 

Run 3: I went on a nice 17 mile run a couple of Sundays ago along the East Cliff Drive, which is a road which goes near the ocean most of the time. It veers off a little, but tends to have a good view of the waves and the beach and the cliffs most of the time.

Run 4: Pogonip and UCSC. This one is uphill, on trails most of the way. It goes through the Pogonip, and if you want, you can continue to Henry Cowell Redwood State Park and/or Wilder Ranch State Park. 

I am still having fun exploring, and think my next one will be through Pogonip and then around to Wilder Ranch and back home.  Or maybe I will run farther along East Cliff. Who knows? It's fun trying new routes and seeing new scenery each day!

Do you prefer the mountains or the coast? Do you like the river, the ocean or lakes better? Do you like to explore new places or once you find a good spot, you stick with it?


Looking Forward

June is almost over and that means it's time for another Looking Forward post.

Today I am looking forward to going hiking! Here is where I am planning to go! There are dozens of choices for where to go and we haven't figured it out just yet, but I am sure that no matter where we go, it will be fun!

This week I am looking forward to a fun weekend back in Santa Cruz, including a long run of 19 miles. I love mapping out where I am going to go, as well as finding new, cool places with each extra mile I go. Last time I ended up here.

Where will I end up this time? Who knows. Also, Mr. Lovely and I are kind of establishing a weekend tradition of going out to eat at a new restaurant and then watching the Euro cup. So far, it's been fun. We have tried Chinese, a few different burritos and a Hawaiian place. What's in store for this weekend?

This month I am looking forward to many things! In July, we have plans to see some friends from Madison, WI who will be here for a wedding (hi S&R!) Also, beach days with Bay Area friends are in the works. Also, Mr. Lovely's brother may come for a visit. To top it off, it's my Mom and Aunt's birthday, 4th of July, my friend's birthday and much more! July is a busy month! I am also considering signing up for a longer trail run in July to find out if I am ready for a 50k in August.

This year I am looking forward to figuring out the future a little. Things have been kind of up in the air for the past year or so. Mr. Lovely decided to go back to school to get his Structural Engineering License (PE). I have been wondering about my future, both professionally and personally. Hopefully after this summer, I will have more of a handle on where we will be, as well as what we will be doing, at least for the next year or two. We have many decisions to make, but many of them are reliant on what happens now, in order to figure out what happens later. I hate waiting and will be glad when the future is a little clearer.

What are you looking forward to? Have you been watching the Euro Cup? What will you be doing in July? (want to come visit for a beach day?)


With My Body

A middle aged woman finds herself stuck in a rut of laundry, kids and marriage that she doesn't know how to get out of. She feels trapped, and wonders what happened to the fresh young girl that she used to be, the one who was adventurous and erotic, the one who had dreams of becoming something. 

She finds herself remembering her teenage years in Australia, where she was an uncouth bush girl. She remembers her first sexual experience with an older man, where she learned everything there is to know about sex and love and reciprocity. She thinks about the present, and her sexless marriage with her husband, and longs for that feeling of first love again. This feeling takes her back to Australia to find the man who she lost. From her journey, comes a new understanding of herself.

This book was quite graphic. I won't say that it was a bodice ripper, but there was plenty of sex. However,  it was really raw, emotionally. She is a young girl, and she wants to learn everything. In trying to learn about sex, she also learns a lot about life. It really kept me reading. I wanted to put it down because at times it was a little overwhelming emotionally, but at the same time, I couldn't, because I had to find out what happened next. It really made me remember those days of young love and that carefree, give-it-your-all feeling. Relationships now seem very complicated comparatively.

The only thing I did not like about this book was that there are over 200 "chapters". Each one is only a few pages long and there is a quote at the start of each one. I found that the quotes distracted the flow of the story, as did the short chapters.  However, they didn't stop me from reading this book in one day.

If you are looking for a book that is a little bit racy but also poignantly honest, you should give this book a go. I may not have immediately chosen this one off the shelf, but after finishing it, I am glad that I gave it a chance!

You can find the rest of the tour info and other reviews here. Here's the author's websiteFacebook page, and the Facebook page for With My Body. Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by TLC Booktours in return for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.  

Do you remember your first love? How have things changed for you, relationship-wise, since then?


Active Vacation

Next week, I will be in Oregon, spending some time at a friend's house near Bend. I am really looking forward to this, as it will not only be spent with friends and family, but from the house, within walking distance, there are several running and hiking trails. So this will not be a rest and relaxation vacation, although I am sure there will be plenty of time in the evenings for reading and other relaxing pursuits. This will be an active vacation, with lots of fun and physical stuff going on!

As you know, where I grew up is in a National Forest, so I am kind of assuming the part of Oregon we are in will look similar. Here is a photo of where I grew up.

Bald Eagle Mountain

Here is a photo I found online about the area we will be in.

The Three Sisters (source)

Okay, so maybe it's a little different. But there are mountains, and trees and water!

Where we will be staying is not actually in Bend, but in a cute little town (Population: 2,000, Elevation: 3,100) nearby. Besides hiking, the 15 Must Do Activities list says that I should also do these things:

- Eat an ice cream (I think I can handle that!)
- Go fly fishing (I LOVE fly fishing)
- See some live music
- Enjoy a coffee drink (naturally!)
- Bike around the area
- Paddle on one of the local lakes

I want to do all of those things! Also, I looked around a bit and I may also see many animals, including Elk and an animal called the Water Ouzel, which is a bird that flies underwater. I think I am going to have lots of fun and I won't be short of things to see and do! 

I have been to Oregon before and I loved it. I had a great time in Portland, eating my way around the neighborhoods (and I found some GREAT food!) I did some hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, which is beautiful. I also went to the coast and ate cheese and stared at water and fog and houses and rocks. I loved my trip last time and so I have high hopes for this one as well!

Have you ever been to Oregon? Do you normally stay active or try to relax on your vacations? 

*Don't forget to stop by Jills for some more Fitness Friday posts!*


Living and Learning

As you know, I have an interesting relationship situation. Let me quickly remind you, in case you forgot. 

Boy from MA. Girl from CA. Meet while working together in New Orleans. The situation is interesting, as in, neither are "in their element". Living out of a hotel does not give you a very good chance of learning who someone is completely (aka. are they messy? are they a hoarder? do they make their bed/wash their dishes/clean their toilet?) And yes, this matters.

2 months later Girl goes to South America for a year of travel. You would think this would be the end, but it's not. They keep in touch. Boy comes to visit a few times. When girl comes home, she goes to work in Iowa. Boy is still in New Orleans. They try to see each other when they can, which is usually once a month, in a city in the middle, where they are tourists, living in a hotel (aka. not real life). 

After several months of this, Girl gets a job in New Orleans again. For about a year, they both live in the same city. Sometimes in a hotel, sometimes in an apartment, but still, it is a temporary thing. After this, Boy and Girl decide to travel the world for a year, once again living in hostels, hotels, campervans and even a tent (that was an interesting situation). 

Boy and Girl get back home from traveling and go to their separate corners, him to MA, her to CA, where they have been ever since. They see each other every couple of months. 

BUT NOW: Boy and Girl are both in CA. Living together. In a house. Once again, it's temporary. It's strange to be together for more than a couple of days, and for more than once a month or once every couple of months. 

We are very different, but so far are making it work. How are we different? 

- He is not a good sleeper. I sleep like the dead. 
- He doesn't care where things are placed. I am a type A organizational freak. 
- He is spontaneous. I am a planner.
- He would rather pay for dinner out than cook and clean up. I let him. :)
- He splurges. I am frugal. 
- He is always hot. I am always cold. 
- He likes beer. I like water. 

We are also the same in many ways. 

- We both prefer savory over sweet. 
- We love taking after dinner walks.
- We both love photography. 
- We like looking at houses for sale even though we can't afford them.
- We both love exploring new places. 
- Food is important to both of us. 

I know that even though we have been together for almost 5 years, we still have a lot to learn about each other, not only the little things, like what is someone's favorite cake flavor, but also bigger things. We haven't really had the chance to go over all of our life goals, since we are always on the move. We are not going to figure it all out here either. We still have a ways to go, but I am looking forward to it! 

Have you ever had a long distance relationship? Would you rather pay for dinner out or cook it and clean it up yourself? 

** also, I have a guest post up over at Her Sunday today! Go check it out when you get a chance!**


Food Firsts (4)

On Sunday, Mr. Lovely and I had pizza. I made the dough (my first attempt) and it didn't even suck!

The recipe was adapted from here.

4 1/2 cups  whole wheat flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting

I am not going to go into the making of the dough in detail; if you want more information, you can go to the original site. Basically, add together all the dry ingredients. Then add the oil and water and stir, using a metal spoon kept cold, or your hands, which you should keep dipping in ice water. Once the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl (about 5 mins), split it into 6 equal portions. Each portion should make about a 9 inch pizza.

I kept two portions in the fridge and put the rest in the freezer to pull out later. When you are ready to use the dough, take it out of the fridge about 2 hours beforehand. Flatten out the ball and cover loosely with a piece of saran wrap until it's time to cook. When you are ready with all your toppings, you can throw the crust or you can just roll it with a pie roller. I put cornmeal on my baking sheet and placed my crust on it, then poked holes in it with a knife to keep it from rising.  Put your toppings on and then cook on your oven's highest setting (mine is 550) for about 6-10 minutes (mine took 7).

The Topping Bar

Serve and enjoy! We had a ton of fun and this is a great idea for if you are having people over, because each person can make their own pizza with whatever they want on it!  As you can see, some people like to heap stuff on theirs and some people take a more simple approach. You can try to guess whose is whose.

Do you ever make your own crust? Or add your own toppings? What is your favorite pizza topping?


Tuesday Training (2)

Well, it's time for my monthly training post. The post about training week 1-4 can be found here. For those of you who get bored by these training posts, feel free to check out some posts that are more interesting but little read, due to the fact that I wrote these back when I was but a wee blogger, like a post I wrote about The Latte Factor, or maybe you would prefer one where I ask, "Why Weight?"

Training is still going strong. I have had fun exploring new places as well as getting to run in a coastal city in the summer, which beats running in Missouri in the summer (which is what I did last year)! 

Week 5: May 21 - 28: 41 miles

For week five I ran a couple of fast and flat runs around the lake and then I did the group trail run, where I got to wear test the Brooks Connect. After that, I decided to explore the BA Ridge Trail and ended up doing a 17 mile trail run just for fun. I saw a few snakes, stopped and took dozens of photos, got lost, got rained on and had a great time! I wish all long runs were like that. I experimented with fuel: I tried Nuun (on the uphills) and a mocha Gu, which I took half at 1 hr and half at 2 hrs and they both seemed to settle pretty well.

Week 6: May 29 - June 3: 42 miles

In keeping with my exploration of the BA Ridge trail, for week six, I decided to run on the trail to meet a friend for a walk and I got lost again, so this one became an 11 mile trail run. I really didn't mind, except the next day's 3 mile run was pretty lead legged! I also did some 800s with an average pace of 7:40 for the entire run. My long run (13.1 miles at 7:26 pace)for the week was the See Jane Half Marathon. I did not use any fuel for the race.

Week 7: June 4 - June 10: 45 miles

Week seven was the week of the broken down car, and therefore I was stuck without my Garmin for a few days. I actually enjoyed not knowing what my pace was, although I missed having the data to analyze later. My average pace was around an 8:30 without it. My long run this week (16 miles at 8:52 pace) was in Santa Cruz along the West cliffs. The highlight was a snake eating a mouse. I also experimented with Gu Chomps, which are okay, but not great.

Week 8: June 11 - June 17: 47.5 miles

I was sick for the majority of week 8, which was a bummer. It's hard to run and breathe through your mouth the whole time. It's also a pain to have any extra reason to spit. However, I rested for the first couple of days and then made myself get back outside (it was beautiful in Santa Cruz this week -- weather in the 60s and low 70s) and just do it. I did a quick tempo run in the Kinvaras, which was like running on air. I also did a hill run, which was a 10 mile trail run uphill most of the way (I took the bus back down the hill). My long run (17 miles at 8:51 pace) was on the East Cliffs. I got a little lost but had another beautiful view (albeit a bit foggy).

Aside from the running, I have been walking approximately 2 miles (or more) a day, just to do normal things like walk to the bus stop, the grocery store, or just a leisurely after dinner photo walk. I have not done any strength/cross training, aside from carrying boxes, moving things, gardening and cleaning the house.

Are you training for any races? Do you do any strength training? How do you feel about working out in the summer time? (**Do you like to mess around with Excel?)


Last Week (3)

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend. I had a good one, and also last week was pretty eventful as well!

I went to the Dollar Store. Yes, I did. 
You may wonder how they can sell these wipes for a dollar!
I did too, until I noticed...there are only 24 in the container, which is the same size as the 75 count Clorox version.
I am onto them!

My friend Richard was on Chopped
I am going to shamelessly plug his place. 
If you get the chance and you like BBQ, go to: 
CatHead's BBQ in San Francisco!
Here is the Yelp Review. It's good. I wouldn't recommend it otherwise. 
They even have vegetarian food!

You know you are living in a hippie town when...

As seen on our weekly after dinner walk.

As seen on my bean plant.

I tried Kombucha. I did not like it. 
I do like the warning: 
Due to natural fermentation, this product may contain a trace amount of alcohol.

There has been much cabbage salad in my life lately.
Top with Vietnamese dressing (ginger, rice wine, Sriracha, a dash of brown sugar) and it's a delicious and cool way to have a nice treat!
I also added peanuts and basil.Yum!

We've been doing some exploring. 
Yup. Redwoods.  It's like the Return of the Jedi.
(actually that was filmed here)

We went for a swim in the San Lorenzo river. 

Another after dinner beach walk. 

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? Have you ever been to the Redwoods?


My Bucket is Half Full

It's funny, if you asked me what was on my fitness bucket list a year ago, my main one would have been:

To run a marathon.

Period. A marathon. It seemed like something that I would do...in the future...in a long time...later...when I was faster or stronger.  Little did the me of June 2011 know, but that marathon was closer than I realized. I am not going to say it was an easy journey to get there, but I definitely underestimated myself. Running my first marathon made me realize that I was stronger, more determined and could do more than I give myself credit for.

So now my list of hopefuls fitness-wise is a lot longer. I may not get to all of them, but it's fun to dream, and I know I will do many of them! The list keeps growing as I find out about new, fun things, so there will always be things on it that I am wishing for, striving for, working toward and checking off!

1. A Marathon: The goal to run "a marathon" has become a new thing entirely. The new goals are to:

Source: google.com via Kyria on Pinterest

- BQ (and run Boston, of course)
- Run a destination marathon -- Paris, The Great Wall, The Inca Trail
- Run a marathon in every state

2. Trail Running: I have found that I like running trails more than I like road running. I have been a hiker all my life, so trail running, and racing, combines two of my favorite things...and gummy bears!

Source: google.com via Kyria on Pinterest

- Run a 50k
- Run a 30k
- Run the Rim to Rim to Rim
- Run the Western States 100

3. Hiking: Like I said, hiking has always been a part of my life and some of these things have been on my list for a while. Others are new. There will always be another trail I want to hike!

- Hike the Milford Track (New Zealand)
- Thru Hike the Pacific Crest Trail
- Thru Hike the Continental Divide Trail
- Thru Hike the Appalachian Trail
- Hike Mt. Washington (NH)
- Hike the 7 Summits
- Hike in Colorado (I am not sure where yet -- any tips?)
- Continue to hike the US High Points (so far, I've hiked to the top of 4 out of 50

4. Other: There are always non-running and hiking things as well!

Source: google.com via Kyria on Pinterest

- Learn to Surf
- Do a handstand for 30 seconds
- Do a plank for 5 minutes
- Learn to Kite Surf
- Compete in a triathlon
- Buy a bike and ride it

There are many, many more on my list, and I could go on forever, but I want to hear from you guys. What is on your fitness bucket list? What have you already done that you think I should add to mine? 

You can find more of my fitness bucket list on Pinterest. Also, don't forget to go cver to Jill's  for more Fitness Friday inspiration!


Bay Area Ridge Trail

Recently, I found out about a gem in my own back yard. Literally, it's about 3 miles from my house (in Oakland). In my book, that is walking distance (in case it's not, there is a bus). It's called the Bay Area Ridge Trail. It's 325 miles of trails around the San Francisco Bay, with a proposed future distance of 550 miles, as you can see from the map below. I think this is great, since I grew up living ON the Pacific Crest Trail (2,663 miles from Mexico to Canada, through CA, OR and WA) and hiking, hikers and trails have always been a big part of my life.

I decided then and there that I was going to try to hike, walk, or run as much of it as I can. I found a trail tracker, where you can track your miles.

So, right now, since I am was living in Oakland, I started out with a few sections near my house. It was beautiful. The first day, I went for a 17 mile out and back trail run, which included sections of redwood forests and open grassland and had views of the bay area, including San Francisco and the headlands beyond. It was great. The only downside was that I took a wrong turn around mile 4 and ended up running through a grassland area (for about 8 miles. Oops). I only realized I was lost when I wasn't arriving at my destination when I thought I was supposed to.  Day 1: Skyline Gate to Robert Sibley, including sections of Redwood Regional ParkHuckleberry Botanical Garden Preserve and Robert Sibley Volcanic Preserve. (4.3 miles)

Tilden Regional Park

The next day I took a walk with my friend and then ran back to the house via the trail I was supposed to have used the day before instead of getting a ride back with her. The walk was on a nice flat path and the run was a lot of ups and downs on a single track with some really good views of the Bay. I got lost once but followed, stalked was helped by an older gentleman with a 100 miler shirt on. Day 2: Nimitz Way to Robert Sibley, including sections of Robert Sibley and Tilden Regional Park. (5 miles)

Robert Sibley

On the third day, I was going to meet up with my friend for a walk at 9 a.m. I decided to run from my house to meet her. From what I could tell, it was about 9 miles. I left at 7, which should have given me plenty of time. However, you may have guessed this already, but I got lost. I ended up doing an extra 2 miles, rounding out this run at 11 miles (but only 9 of it was on the BA Ridge Trail) Day 3: MacDonald Staging Area to Procter Staging Area, including Redwood Regional Park and Anthony Chabot Regional Park. (9.1 miles)

Chabot Regional Park

Total to date: 18.4 miles**

**I will have to do a more through calculation later, because I have also been on some additional portions of this trail without even knowing it (see stars on map above).

So, the general theme of the Bay Area Ridge Trail Exploration Project (that is the official name and has been approved by the FDA and the USDA) is my getting lost. I am not sure if it's my map reading skills or my navigation skills, or their lack of signage/good maps. Or all four maybe? I have had a lot of fun finding out the routes and making a point to try a new route, rather than the same one that I always do and am comfortable with.

I think it's a great way to see new areas near my home as well as to push my boundaries a little bit. I also feel that it keeps running FUN (or hiking/walking). And the views have been fabulous! I also love the fact that within the city there are such beautiful green spaces. It's like you are all alone running along a trail. I barely saw any other people and there are rarely even commercial structures in view. I can't wait to try some of the other sections!

Do you have any hiking trails near your house? Have you ever done any hiking on the PCT, Appalachian or Continental Divide Trails? Do you like to try new running/hiking/walking routes or do you stick to the tried and true?


Getaway For a Day

I travel a lot. I live out of hotels for anywhere between 150 - 350 days a year, mostly for work. I would like to say that all hotels are equal, but that is definitely not the case. Some of them are nice; some of them are not so nice. I am a bit spoiled; I admit it. It's amazing how you tend to start choosing hotels based on the bed, the breakfast buffet, the soap, the front desk staff...the list goes on. Here is my usual criteria. 

1) Location: Is it good? Can you walk around easily? Is there a good place for dinner nearby? 2) Staff: First impressions are everything. When I walk up to the check-in desk, I judge the staff right away based on how the front desk person acts. 3) Room: Is the bed comfortable? Is the room bright enough? Are the sheets soft (this is the one that really makes me keep coming back.)? Is there enough room for two people or do you feel like two sardines in the room? How's the view?  4) Amenities: This includes pool, gym, free breakfast, happy hour, welcome gift etc. 5) The Hotel: Is there a hang out area in the main lobby? How are the bars and restaurants?

Mr. Lovely and I took a trip to San Jose last weekend to stay at the Hotel Valencia Santana Row. The Hotel, as the name states, is located on Santana Row, which is home to more than 100 restaurants (like LB Steak and Maggiano's Little Italy) and stores (such as Anthropologie and Lululemon Athletica). I had never been to Santana Row before; in fact I have only been to San Jose a couple of times and Mr. Lovely has never been, so it was a fun way for both of us to explore a new area.

We arrived in the afternoon and checked in. The front desk staff was very nice. Our room was very large and had a really nice balcony with a view of Santana Row. You know me, the first thing I went and checked out was the pool and the gym! I knew I was going to have an indulgent night and wanted to get my run in early. The gym was fantastic. It had french doors that you could open up to a balcony, so you could see the view while you were running. It also had 4 treadmills and a few elliptical, as well as weights, exercise balls and other assorted items. There were towels and cold water and oranges for after. 

Our room (source)

After I finished my run, we started off our stay by relaxing and having a couple of glasses of wine, which was our welcome gift from the hotel. After that, we wandered around the Row, which was quite busy. It seems to be the place to be, to see and to been seen on a Friday night! 

For dinner, we walked to the nearby White Shallot, which is a French Vietnamese restaurant. Everything was delicious, but the best thing was the dessert! We had a the Cafe Gormand, which was a trio of desserts, featuring chocolate cake, an almond tart, and a vanilla bean panna cotta. I am a sucker for a good panna cotta, and this one was no disappointment! We also had the tofu custard with coconut creme, which I loved but Mr. Lovely was so-so about. I think if he wouldn't have known about the tofu, he may have liked it more. 

We went back to the hotel and went to sleep on the (very comfortable with the softest sheets EVER) king sized bed (heaven). The next morning we had a complimentary continental breakfast at Citrus, one of the the hotel's restaurants. Sometimes when you get a  continental breakfast, it is just some bread and jam and coffee, but this was a great spread. There were pancakes, oatmeal, omelets, tons of pastries and fresh fruit and a cured meat plate with tons of meats and cheeses! I have to admit, I only tried the fruit and an omelet, but thanks to Mr. Lovely, we tried one of everything and the verdict was that everything was great! 

After breakfast, we wandered around the shared spaces of the hotel. The main level had a great outdoor sitting area with fountains. The pool and hot tub were up on the 5th floor and had a great view. After finishing our self tour, we settled down in our room to watch the Euro cup before heading home. This rounded out our stay nicely (except that Portugal lost). My only regret was that we didn't have more time. We could have easily stayed longer! 

The outdoor courtyard (source)
Do you ever take a day to get away from home, even if the getaway is close to home? What criteria do you look for in a hotel? 

*Disclaimer: I received this room for free in return for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Currently: June

Current Book - The Night Circus -- Erin Morgenstern  (so far, I am LOVING it) 

Current Celebrity Crush - Ibrahim Afellay from the Dutch National team. I know, he looks young, but he is 26, so I am not rocking the cradle too badly. He's a great athlete. I find that very attractive.

Current Drink -  Coffee w/ vanilla creamer.

Current Excitement -  I found a thrift store near my house with 50% off. You would think that would mean they just double the price and then give you "half off" but it's really cheap. I got an REI dry wicking hiking shirt for $1.50! 

Current fashion trend - For my birthday, I received some new running shorts. I am not sure if they are fashionable. You decide. 

Current Favorite Blog/Website - I am really loving Nilsa's blog lately. She brings up so many great points and backs them up with great writing. Also check out her list of trends that she "missed out" on

Current Favorite Film -  Spaceballs. Another classic. 

Curent Food - Cherries. I ate about a pound of them today. 

Current Guilty Pleasure - Ice cream. 2 times in one day on Sunday. 

Current Indulgence - Going to the beach. I went twice yesterday. Not to sunbathe but just for a walk. It was great. 

Current Mood - sick, blah, bleh

Current New Find - Running on East Cliff Drive

Current Outfit - Jeans, sweater and sneakers (yes, I put on pants today!) 

Current Peeve - People who leave trash on the beach. Really, people? 

Current Song - It's an old one, but this She Wants Revenge song really gets me going. 

Current Triumph - Under a 7:30 pace for my last half marathon. 

Current TV Show - Nothing. (See above re guilty pleasure)

Current Wish-List - A new car (mine is back in the shop...again)

Currently Delaying - Running. I don't feel good. I want to run, but I don't want to at the same time. 

What's currently going on in your life? Are you fashionable? Have you watched any of the Euro cup?