Thursday, April 17, 2014

#DrinkUpLinkUp: CK Mondavi | Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

Good morning lovelies! It's been awhile since I did a #DrinkUpLinkUp post, I know. I've been enjoying a lot of my old favorites as of late, so I didn't really have much to share on that front. But when I heard about all the cool things that a US-based winery was doing to support our veterans, I had to share, especially since their work hits me close to home.

Some of you know that I'm the youngest of four children - I've got three older brothers, all of whom went into the US Armed Services after high school. My dad and grandfather were in the Navy - the list goes on. Suffice to say, I've got a lot of family members who have served or are currently serving in the US Armed Services.

Our family has been pretty fortunate in that my relatives have all made it back safely from active duty deployments. Not all families can say the same - lost loved ones, family members who return with serious injury, veterans experiencing difficulties adjusting to civilian life following deployment - even families that can say that their loved ones returned "safe and sound" can't say that their lives weren't forever changed. You're probably wondering what this has to do with wine...

An American family-owned and operated winery in Napa Valley, CK Mondavi is an extremely active supporter of veterans of the US Armed Services - the winery is run by Peter Mondavi Sr, a veteran himself (WWII - he's 99 years young and still involved in the day-to-day operations of the winery)!

CK Mondavi partnered with the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) - an organization that supports the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families - in 2012 and evey year they run a promotion to raise money and awareness of the organization. As such, a percentage of each and every bottle sold between May and August will be donated to the IFHF. How awesome is that? If you're reading this, please go out and buy a bottle. Even if you don't like wine - it makes a great gift, and I'm sure SOMEONE you know likes wine. And priced at under $10 per bottle, it's a bargain for what you get (and give)!

I had the opportunity to try two of the wines offered by CK Mondavi - a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay - and I was pleasantly surprised! As you know, I'm a bit of a wine snob and most red wines in this price point have left me a bit underwhelmed in terms of depth of flavor. Not so with the Cabernet. In the interest of full disclosure, I used my Vinturi Wine Aerator, as I do with all red wines consumed at home, so if you're just pouring directly from bottle to glass, your tasting notes may differ. I highly recommend investing in a Vinturi, but if you don't want to do that, at least let your red wine decant for a bit before drinking.

The Cabernet was not too sweet, but definitely not dry with notes of blackberries and cherries. It finished nicely with a hint of oakiness. An "every day red" wine, I could see this pairing well with anything from burgers on the grill to roasted chicken or fish. It clocked in at 13.6% ABV. I'd definitely pick this one up again if I saw it at the grocery store (which is likely, since CK Mondavi is sold in every single US state)!

I'm not usually one for Chardonnay, since they're usually more buttery and sweet than I prefer, but the CK Mondavi Chardonnay was not bad. It was a little more crisp than most Chardonnays I've had in the past, with hints of lemon, apple and a light oakiness in the finish. It was still more buttery than I tend toward, but that's personal preference. Slightly less potent at 13.4%, I think this wine would be great with fondue or pasta.

Please comment below to share your own story about supporting veterans and/or American-made products. I will select ONE reader to be entered into CK Mondavi’s grand prize drawing by May 15. The grand prize is a $500 donation to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund in the winner’s name!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Just my luck...

Hey friends, it's been awhile! That shouldn't really surprise anyone though, I did tell you my posts would be less frequent... life has been insane, and I haven't had a whole lot to say or a lot of time to say it.

When last I wrote, I had just finished converting our spare bedroom into my home office. I'm happy to report that I love my office - it makes the work day more bearable. Lola loves it too. She thinks that we converted the room just for her. I swear, she never leaves.

But it wouldn't be an adventure in home ownership if we just stopped at the home office, right? So our next task was to spruce up our finished basement. When we moved in, the basement had a nice coat of seafoam green paint on both the walls and the cement floor - and this remained largely unchanged until about two weeks ago when I slapped a couple of coats of Martha Stewart's "Anvil" on the walls and we added a fresh coat of stain to the slats on the ceiling. Add a brand new "bamboo" vinyl floor and it's like a completely different room! So grown up!

Sadly, less than 36 hours after laying the floor - and less than 12 hours after getting the room set up again - our basement flooded thanks to 3.5" of rain in 24 hours and a frozen ground that wasn't equipped to absorb the rain.

We haven't had a drop of water in our basement in over two years since we improved the drainage, but of course, the moment we spend a Saturday laying flooring, *POOF* flood. Just my luck. Thankfully, we were able to salvage the floor and now we're just hoping that we don't get another storm of biblical proportions before we're able to install a heavy duty pump/drain system in the laundry room.

What else... oh, our hot tub broke. And our stereo system in the living room went kaput (just out of warranty, naturally). And then Monday, after hitting up Urgent Care for a serious allergy attack, I sprained my ankle halfway through a 6 mile training run with mom. Back to Urgent Care for the second time in one day... and yes, I had the same nurse.

Air cast and crutches for a bit, just three weeks before the Newport 10 Miler. I thought these things were supposed to come in 3's?! On the bright side, I did get summoned for Jury Duty. Some of you might consider that another addition to my run of bad luck, but I'm actually kind of excited about it. #lawnerd.

Hope your luck has been better than mine - the only saving grace of this run of bad luck is that it is slated to be 80* on Monday. I kind of wish that weather would come on the weekend, but what can ya do? I'll probably get good and sunburned if I'm able to sneak outside for even a short period of time. This winter has been so long, I'm not sure my skin will know what to do with nice weather.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

SELF Magazine thinks running in tutus is lame? #tutusrock

Wow. Just, wow. I'm sure many of you have already heard about this, but if you haven't, please join me in my outrage. A long time subscriber to SELF Magazine, I am shocked and frankly, disgusted with their ignorance in a recent issue where they essentially made fun of Glam Runner's Monika Allen, cancer survivor, for running in a tutu, after soliciting her business (a business that makes and sells tutus for charity) for permission to use a photo in their issue.


Not cool, SELF, not cool. First of all, they reached out to a business that sells running tutus to raise money for a cause asking them for a picture of women running in tutus so they could turn around and call them lame for doing so. Let me say that again... they reached out to a business that sells running tutus to raise money for a charitable organization... so they could make fun of women running in tutus.

But that wasn't how it was positioned at all - they made it sound like it was an exciting opportunity to be featured in a popular women's magazine! And what fundraising business wouldn't want that exposure? But when they ran the image of Monika Allen running her first marathon after being diagnosed with brain cancer, running as Wonder Woman while undergoing chemotherapy, they categorized it as "lame" under their "BS Meter." Wow.

This hits close to home for me, and some of you already know why. Glam Runner has been a charitable partner and sponsor of Team Tutu Hot to Handle, a relay team that I've run three 200-mile relays with in support of the Alzheimer's Association - Monika & TM outfitted our team with our signature tutus!

Yep, I'm a tutu runner, and I'm damned proud of it. My team of tutus raised over $21,000 in a single year to help fight Alzheimer's disease, one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Nothing lame about that, SELF.

If you've ever run in a tutu, if you've ever run for a cause - join me in supporting Monika and Glam Runner by uploading a photo of yourself (in your tutu) to instagram/twitter with hashtags #TUTUSROCK and #getoveryourSELFmagazine. Show them some love, and if you've never run in a tutu, why not give it a try in your next race - purchase your tutu from Glam Runner today and support the Girls on the Run charity.

From the Glam Runner website:

Tara and Monika founded Glam Runner in 2011 as a way to bring more fun and GLAM to running while raising money for SoleMates, the charity running program for Girls on the Run. Girls on the Run is a life-changing 12 week program for girls 8-13 years old that encourages positive emotional, social, mental, and physical development, all while training the girls for a 5K race. Both original Glam Girls are Girls on the Run Coaches and avid runners who are dedicated to a lifetime of fitness, fun, and sharing their passion for running with others.

 As for SELF Magazine - well, this long-time subscriber will be moving on. I can only hope they'll do the right thing and run a retraction in their next issue, perhaps a feature piece on Glam Runner and Girls on the Run... and maybe make a sizable donation to the charity in an effort to make things right. What do you say, SELF?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fat Tuesday 5k | Manchester NH

Hey lovelies! How are you doing this morning? I could use a few more hours of sleep and/or three more iced coffees, personally. After working an 11 hour day yesterday, I'm having a hard time getting going today. But alas, duty calls.


Before I dive headfirst into hours upon hours of conference calls, I wanted to share my race recap of the first-ever Fat Tuesday 5k that I ran a couple of weeks ago with mom! It was just two days after our Claddagh Pub 4 Miler, but it was right in town and promised free hurricanes at the finish line, so we obviously had to run it. And, well, Fat Tuesday also means fun masks and bright colors, so... win-win!

The race started promptly at 7pm, so we got to Nawlin's (a Louisiana-inspired restaurant in Manchester NH) to pick up our bibs around 6:20pm. We were in and out in no time, so we popped into Portland Pie Co. for a pre-race beer... because why not? But not before a few more pictures in Cat Alley...

I was surprised to see so few people dressed up for this race, but I guess considering it was dark at the start of the race, people didn't go nuts with their costuming. Maybe next year we'll see more masks and feather boas out there!

We started out at a reasonable clip, we were running-not-racing, so we weren't too concerned with time. But something about night races makes it easier to just GO! The course was pretty straight forward, up and around a little loop, then back the way we came. I really liked the course, actually - the volunteers along the course with signs and beads made it even better!

Given that it's March in New Hampshire, we had to dodge some frost heaves and potholes, but nothing we couldn't handle... though one guy did faceplant in front of us at the 2 mile mark. We helped him up and he was off like a shot, so I guess he was okay!

We crossed the finish line at 28:04, faster than we'd planned but there's nothing wrong with that! We grabbed our free hurricane glasses and fleece blankets for finishing before heading to one of the partner bars for our free drinks!

All in all, a solid race, especially for the first year! I look forward to this one next year - and hope to see more costumes out there! Because who WOULDN'T want to run masked as a mysterious stranger?!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Extreme Home Makeover: Spare Bedroom Edition!

Hey loves! How are you this fine Friday? I'm doing well - it's been a very long week of work and home improvements... but I'm happy to say that I'm writing this post from my NEW HOME OFFICE!!!

I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am about having a dedicated space to work in - when you work from home, it's hard to separate home life from work life. It has a way of taking over and then you start to resent being at home because it always feels like work if you're not careful!

Last Wednesday (yes, a mere week and a half ago), I said to Aaron that I wanted to convert our unused guest bedroom into an office. The guest bedroom was small, uninviting and painted a horrible shade of yellow that I would describe as a mix betwen celery and puke.

He agreed that it would be a better use of space - we have overnight guests *maybe* twice a year - we basically threw our clean laundy in there when we were too lazy busy to put it away. With that, I was off and running!

I ordered a desk, chair, rug and futon from, painted myself a canvas for the wall above the futon and scored all of the other decor (including the lamps) at Hobby Lobby and Target! A half gallon of Cement Grey paint later, and what a transformation. For the first time since we bought the house in 2009, I actually like the spare room (and apparently so does Lola)!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Claddagh Pub 4-Miler 2014!

Good morning friends! How's your week going? Mine is going alright - slowly, but alright nonetheless. Work's been... work. And it's only Tuesday. This weekend can't come soon enough.

Late Friday afternoon, I got word from my project team that I had to work on Sunday. I had already submitted my timesheet for the week (zero hours for the weekend, since my job is typically M-F unless it's a project deployment) and I already had plans to run The Claddagh Pub 4 Miler on Sunday with my mom. I was NOT happy, to say the least.

Thankfully, my meeting was after the race, so I wasn't out the registration fee - though it did throw a monkeywrench into my post-race party enjoyment of the Gobshites. I missed my favorite Irish Pub song while sitting in the car to take my conference call. Gah.

I went into this race with the mindset of "running, not racing" - I'm not in racing shape right now, and having done this race twice before (2012 and 2013), I knew that I was definitely not in "hill racing shape" - or hill running shape for that matter. I told mom from the get-go that chances were better than likely that I'd be walking on the large hill during mile two.

We arrived at The Claddagh Pub in Lawrence around 10:15am for the 11:00am race. Bib pickup was a breeze (I always enjoy the Wild Rover Series of races as they're usually well organized and a lot of fun) - we had received our numbers via email earlier in the week and quickly picked up our personalized bibs, long sleeve tees and our participant medals. This was new this year, as in previous years, the medals were given out at the finish line. One less thing to worry about as we caught our breath at the finish though, so that was nice!

As with previous years, the race started right on time - mom and I ran into quite a few people we knew while waiting for the start which was nice! With over 1,000 participants, it was great seeing some familiar faces! We quickly fell into place once we passed the start line and before we knew it, we were passing the 1-mile mark (as with previous years, each mile had a clock with gun-time splits).

We had been aiming for a 10:00 minute per mile pace on average and were right on target. Our splits were as follows - 9:22, 11:07 (mom ran up the entire hill and I met her at the water stop - I decided that if I could walk faster than I could shuffle up the hill, there was no sense in shuffling), 8:56 and 9:10 for an overall average pace of 9:44.

Upon finishing, we quickly made our way to the car to change into clothes that were not soaked with sweat so that we could enjoy the post-race food, beverage and band comfortably. We met up with my uncle Chris and opted to order a pizza rather than partake in the complimentary pasta and salad provided by the race.

I have to say, the pizza at The Claddagh Pub was *surprisingly* good! Not what I would have expected from an Irish pub, it was downright delicious! It didn't hurt that they also had Strongbow on tap to wash it down - the perfect combination (I know that for an Irish themed race, I could have/should have stuck with Magners Irish Cider but I prefer Strongbow, so sue me).

I have another race tonight (Millennium Running's Fat Tuesday 5k) and fully plan to once again "run not race" - which is good because ever since Sunday, I've been hobbling around and ridiculously sore. We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Something Shiny & New from Jillian Michaels

I swear to Christ, I'm a marketer's dream. I own so many workout DVDs, most of which never get touched. I have a few favorites that I go back to time and time again (30 Day Shred, Ripped in 30 and Supreme 90 Day), but I can't resist the lure of something shiny and new from Jillian Michaels. The only time I've been able to resist the temptation was with Body Revolution and that was hard - but I just couldn't justify the expense given how many of her DVDs I already owned (and didn't use). But then today I saw the One Week Shred on Amazon (affiliate link). And I want it.


It's stupid really. I *know* I'm not going to lose 7lbs in 7 days. I mean, not only does the cover say "up to" 7lbs... it also has an asterix next to it which more than likely leads to a disclaimer of "results not typical" - I know that. And I have a ton of other DVDs I don't touch, so why buy another? Because it's new. And it's shiny. And it's Jillian. I know her workouts will kick my ass. Damnit, I really am a marketer's dream.