Highlights from the Weekend – September 26th, 2016

highlights-from-weekend-9-26-16

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Even though our weekend was busy, I woke up this morning feeling rested and refreshed.  I thought it’d be fun to share some highlights from our weekend with you guys to start off the week.

Celebrating – On Saturday I made the 2-hour drive to West Chester, Pennsylvania to celebrate my friend Colleen’s upcoming nuptials.  One of my college sorority sisters, Colleen and her fiance live and work in Atlanta but his West Chester based family hosted a lovely backyard wedding shower for her. Since I can’t make it down to Atlanta for the wedding weekend,  the time we spent together on Saturday was very special.  We were able to spend some quality time together, laughing and catching up in between enjoying a lovely lunch spread with her friends and family.

Smoothies – Since Bo and I are both loving smoothies these days, I whipped up large batches of smoothies Friday, Saturday and Sunday. While I love our Magic Bullet for making individual smoothies, it was so much easier to make the larger batch in our VitaMix. This weekend’s flavors were pumpkin spice, strawberry peach and cherry vanilla.

Fall Flavors – The Farmer’s Market was overflowing with produce yesterday as the tables featured both the final bits of Summer tomatoes, squash and corn along with the first Fall flavors of the season. Inspired by the tables of local apples, we decided to make a Fall themed dinner last night. We started things off with a small cheese plate, including my favorite Cowgirl cheese followed by a dinner of smashed sweet potatoes served alongside pan-roasted pork chops topped with caramelized onions and apples.

Running – Sunday morning I laced up my shoes for ten miles, my longest run since the NYC Half Marathon in March.  As you guys know, I’ve been increasing my long run mileage by two miles each week in preparation for the RNR Brooklyn Half Marathon. Luckily I had friends to motivate and keep me company along the way, making yesterday’s 10 miles fly by! Zoe, Nicole and I ran the entire ten miles together while Katie joined us at the halfway point.  If you ever have a hard time finding the motivation to log your miles, call a friend for company as I swear logging miles with friends, especially those who are faster than you, is the best way to crush your training!

Decorating – Even though we’ve lived in our apartment for over a year, we still have decorating and final touches that we want to do. This month’s project is our master bedroom. In addition to painting the crown and bay window moldings bright white, we also moved one of our rugs into the bedroom and are going to mount the television on the wall next weekend. This morning we ordered the finishing touches from One King’s Lane  (<– Save $15 with that link) – a chair for the bay window as well as flowers and coasters for the bedside tables.

Follow:

What to Pack for 10 Days in Banff and Jasper

 

what-to-pack-for-10-days-in-banff

As promised guys, I want to share our packing list for our 10 day trip to Banff and Jasper which we took in August. We did quite a bit of research ahead of the trip to ensure that we would have clothing for their typical August weather – cool mornings and evenings but warm days. In hindsight, I did not over pack and was prepared for all of our day trips and activities. The one area I didn’t pack properly for the evenings as it was in the 40s most nights. I packed Summer evening attire, such as dresses as well as flowy tank tops with jeans when in reality I should have packed jeans, silk blouses and a light wrap or sweater.

Otherwise, here is the packing list we used and would recommend to others who decide to make this trip.

Shoes:

  • Hiking Boots (his/her)
  • Trail Shoes (his/her)
  • Sandals for evenings/driving between cities  (his/her)

Accessories

Active Clothing:

Other:

  • Four outfits for dinners and exploring towns
  • Pajamas
  • Toiletries
  • Kindle, iPad or books for evening reading

Your turn: Any other questions regarding gear before I focus the rest of the recaps on the activities and lodging? 

 

 

 

 

Follow:

Taking A Breath for A Better Day

Thank you, Spire for sponsoring this post. Discover calm and live a more mindful life by checking out the Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker, available in Apple Retail stores nationwide and online here.

Over the past few months, I’ve shared my struggles in balancing life with you guys. I found myself getting caught in the whirlwind and swirl of leading a “busy” life and not making time for the things that mattered most.  Last week, I wrote a raw, honest post sharing the steps I’ve taken to make space in my life so I can prioritize the things that matter.

spire-pic-2

What I didn’t share in that post is that there are other steps I’ve taken over the past few months to bring more calm into my daily life. During late July, I started to notice that my shoulders and body were more tense than normal, I was having a hard time going to sleep at night, not sleeping well, and experiencing anxiety. There were a number of external factors within my personal and professional life causing this stress, but what I also realized was that I wasn’t doing anything to help minimize it.

It’s amazing what one app or stone can do to help you focus on certain aspects of your life.  

spire-picture

spire4

When the team at Spire sent me their new wearable device, Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker, I used this as a catalyst to begin focusing on improving my mindfulness and daily stress levels. Even before I started making changes to my calendar and schedule, I started looking at the areas that were a bit easier to control.  Have you ever found yourself forgetting to breathe during a stressful meeting or clenching your jaw when you are stressed?

Being mindful isn’t always easy, especially when life gets busy but luckily it is something that we have full control over.

spire-stone

The small device, which is about the size of my thumb, tracks and creates patterns from your breath.  Unlike other wearables, this can be worn on your bra or waist, making it invisible to others. When the Spire determines that you are stressed or tense, it reminds you to breathe with a simple vibration, signaling that you should take a minute to calm down through breathing exercises or a short meditation.  The device will also vibrate if you have been sedentary for too long, reminding you that even a quick walk around the office can help relax you.

spire-home-screen

In addition to taking breathing and focus breaks, prompted by the Spire, here are three other things that I’ve incorporated into each of my days.

  • Reading – While we love shows like “Night Of” just as much as the next person, Bo and I have both found that we sleep better and go to sleep more relaxed if we spend 30 minutes reading before bed. By 10pm each night we switch off our television, put our iPhones and iPads away, and spend 30 minutes reading. This new habit has helped me led to me finishing seven books during August and September, more than I read the previous six months.
  • Meditation –  The Spire app features more than 15 different boosts or short audio sessions which guide you through meditation or breathing exercises. Some are as short as 30 seconds while others are up to 60 minutes. I begin my day with the guided meditation boost, relax during the day with the 30 second calm boost and clear my mind around 3pm with the energize 3 minute boost.  They include experts such as Dr. Deepak Chopra and meditation teacher Kim Nicol. These boosts have helped me realize that you don’t need much to bring space and calm into even the busiest of days.
  • Yoga – I have recommitted to practicing yoga at least once per week in a formal class and at least once per week at home. The yoga I practice at home is often a shorter, more restorative class, complete with my favorite candle and some calming music. This time on the mat allows me to set aside the stress of the day and focus on how my muscles and body are feeling.

As you guys know, these reviews are always honest and my own opinion. Therefore, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the areas where I think Spire can improve.

  • I wish it incorporated everything. In the future, I hope this wearable becomes one which tracks sleep, activity, breathing and more as I believe that combining all these items will truly help make this a best in class tracker. I know that they are working to make constant improvements and can only imagine what version 2.0 will be like!
  • Their customer service has some opportunities. During the test we sent a few questions to their customer service after receiving the form email following set up. Two weeks later, we still haven’t received a response. I did however receive a quick response when I asked something on a social media channel so maybe it’s more about ensuring that they are in touch with their consumers across every touch point they provide.
  • It is a little bulky. Both my husband and I felt that the wearable was a bit bulky. I found myself needing to remove it during yoga as it pressed into my chest bone during certain moves and we both found it  uncomfortable to wear inside non-elastic pants, i.e suit pants vs workout shorts. Hopefully the next version is slimmer.

Regardless of these few flaws, I believe this is a great tool to use if you are finding yourself stressed and anxious and I look forward to continuing to use it, especially during the work day.

Click here to learn more about the Spire?

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

Follow: