Super Simple Guacamole

April 30, 2015

With today being the last day of April, that can only mean one thing. Cinco de Mayo is in only 5 days! With the 5th of May comes plenty of coronas, margaritas, tequila, and of course, chips and guacamole! Guac is one of those appetizers that can be made so many different ways, but I find the simple, tried and true recipes are the best. Here is my favorite, super simple way to make guacamole:

Guacamole

Ingredients

2 avocados, ripe

1 cup of quartered cherry tomatoes

1 tsp of lemon juice

1 TBSP of hot sauce

1 tsp of garlic powder

1/4 cup of chopped cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Cut the avocado out of the skin and smash until semi smooth. Add all other ingredients and stir until combined. Place in your favorite serving dish and voila! You have the perfect appetizer or addition to your Mexican inspired entree!

Guacamole

I paired my guacamole with Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips, which the company was nice enough to send me to try. The chips are gluten free (like most tortilla chips) and are made in non-GMO ingredients. I’ve tried a couple of different flavors – cantina, blue corn, guacamole and lime. They all tasted great, but the lime chips were hands down the best! I could eat them without anything to even dip in!

Food Should Be Good Chips

I received these chips to try, but as always, all thought and opinions are my own.

3 Kettlebell Exercises To Add To Your Workout

April 28, 2015

One of the issues with large gym settings is the complete multitude of workout gadgets. There are treadmills, stair climbers, bosu balls, free weights – you name it and most gyms have it! One of the amazing  tools is a pretty simple one – the kettle bell.

Kettlebells are cast iron or cast steel weights in the shape of a bowling bowl (but smaller) and with a handle. Most exercises with kettlebells use swinging or ballistic movements to achieve results. Just the nature of the moves use a 3 pronged approach – cardio, strength, and flexibility. Add these exercises to your next workout, all of which use a kettle bell.

Kettlebell Goblet Squats

These get tougher and tougher as you go – as they very well should! Hold the kettlebell in front of your chest, elbows bent and close to your body. Place your feet a little wider than shoulder width a part. Keeping your weight in your heels and your back straight, lower down into a deep squat, while keeping good form. If you can’t get all the way down yet, no worries. Work up to it.

Kettlebell Swings

Grab your kettlebell with both hands and stand up straight, with your feet a bit wider than hip width apart. Lower your body and the kettlebell while pushing your hips back. Then, in an easy but intentional motion, push your hips forward, keep your core tight and bring your arms up, while keeping your arms straight. Continue this motion time and time again, so you are actually swinging the kettlebell. You should be using your hips, not your arms, to drive the kettlebell forward. Check out the video below to make sure your form looks like the trainer performing the exercise.

Kettlebell Twists

This is a pretty standard core exercise but as soon as you put the kettlebell into the mix, it gets that much tougher. Sit on the floor with your legs bent, holding the kettlebell in front of your chest, with your elbows close to your body. Lean back to a 45 degree angle, raise your feet off the ground and keep your core engaged the entire time. Rotate from side to side, twisting only at the waist. The slower you do this exercise, the more difficult it becomes.

Do you add any kettlebell exercises to your workout?

 

Ryan’s Run Tampa 2015 Race Recap

April 20, 2015

First off, happy Marathon Monday! I hope everyone running the Boston Marathon today has an amazing time, despite the forecasted rainy weather. It is still the best marathon I have ever had the opportunity to run and would definitely like to run again someday.

Local races can be some of the most fun, as well as some of the most surprising. I signed up for a 4 mile race, Ryan’s Run, which supports a scholarship fund for a former University of Tampa cross country and track runner who was killed 6 years ago. The university really rallies around the cause, which is an amazing thing to see.

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_1

The race started and finished in Ybor City, which is only 10 minutes or so from where we live. Over 400 people signed up for the race, including many people running the 4×1 mile relay and the 2×2 mile relay. We all started the race together, so pacing was somewhat tough. With runners only running 1 to 2 miles, they really went out fast  I had no goal going into the race, other than knowing I wanted to push myself a bit. I haven’t ever run a 4 mile race. The only thing I could really relate this to was a 5k race, so I pretty much treated it as such.

Grant, Marcus, my dad, as well as two of our best friends, Chris and Allison came to the race too. Instead of running, they all opted for the 2 mile walk. They all completed their two miles while I was running my 4 miles.

The first mile went by crazy fast, and I crossed through around the 6:30 mark. I haven’t seen a mile in the 6’s for years and years, so I did get a little bit nervous. I didn’t think I’d be able to hold on to that pace for a heck of a lot longer. I was definitely right! Mile 2 creeped up fast as well, and when I looked down at my watch, I saw 6:57, which was much more in my comfort zone. Right after the 2 mile mark, I really started to feel the heat. The humidity is back in full force now in Florida, and the feels like temperature was well into the 80’s by then. It was a mental struggle for sure!

Ryan's Run Course Map

Mile 2-3 absolutely dragged on, and I really wanted to be done. Treating the race as a 5k came back to bite me here – because well, it wasn’t a 5k. That extra mile really made a difference! There were a couple of little out and backs on the course, so I was able to see the other runners coming up behind me. I knew I had to keep up my current pace if I wasn’t going to get passed on the last half a mile or so.

I was able to get through the last part of the race without being passed, and good thing! One of the race volunteers came up to me as soon as I finished to get my name, age and time. I won the race!

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_2

I’m sure you are thinking I should have known that I was the first one to cross the line well before I actually did. With the relay race, there were a couple of other women who crossed first, and I really wasn’t sure which runner was running which race. I honestly thought I had come in 2nd, which was amazing too. But hey – 1st place is even better!

There was a great after party at a bar right down the street from the start and finish line. There was a decent breakfast, live band, and beer – lots of beer! I’ve never been one for post race beers, but there were plenty of people who were!

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_3

Not too long after we finished eating, the awards ceremony started. I was called as the overall female winner and went to grab my award. Grant was nice enough to assist me with getting my award, and he did an amazing job! Batons were given out as the top prizes. The person who the run is in memory of, Ryan, was on the relay team when he ran for the University of Tampa. This is definitely one of the coolest awards I’ve ever received from a race!

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_4

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_7

 

The race was a great way to start the weekend and I really enjoyed running a distance I am not usually accustomed to racing. Thanks for a great race – I’ll be sure to be back next year!

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_5

 

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_6

Orlando Marriott World Center’s Running Track

April 13, 2015
Marriott World Center Running Trail

Marcus and I have always made it a point to get out-of-town for our anniversary. Since it lands in March, we pushed back our celebration a few months last year and went out of town in July, given Grant was still a newborn. This year, we went ahead and celebrated a month after our actual anniversary in favor of warmer weather, perfectly suited for pool side relaxation!

We ended up in Orlando at the Marriott World Center. It is an amazing, resort style hotel with absolutely everything you could need. There really is no reason to even leave the hotel grounds since everything is on site – Starbucks, multiple different restaurants, a golf course, a spa, a ridiculous pool (with slides!), and of course, an awesome fitness center.

Aside from having one of the largest hotel fitness centers of any hotel I’ve stayed in, they also have a track that runs around the perimeter of the property (not including the golf course). I woke up Saturday morning and asked the concierge if he knew of a good place to run, and he pointed me to the track. It is a 1.5 mile loop, taking you throughout all parts of the resort. Per the concierge’s directions, I quickly found the beginning of the trail, and I was on my way!

Marriott World Center Running Trail

 

I’ve probably stayed at 5 or 6 different hotels with distinct places for runners to get in a safe run, and I was definitely the most impressed with the Marriott’s attention to detail. Every quarter-mile, there was a mile marker so there was no question as to how far you had gone (I am pretty certain the last one was a bit off though!). There was also no guessing as to where the trail was. If there was a break in the sidewalk, there was always a sign to direct the runner, or even a mark on the pavement.

Marriott World Center Running Trail 2

 

I thought I was going to get bored, given the distance was only 1.5 miles around, but it was actually perfect. Just long enough so you are not having to loop 5 or 6 times, but also short enough so you can easily get back to your room if needed. If you needed to, you could stop at any point and have direct access to get back into the hotel, which I thought was great. I will say, the only downer was there were no water fountains directly on the trail. You could access a fountain by going into the lobby or over by the pool since the trail goes by both places. However, it think it would be a nice addition to put something directly on the trail for those running.

Marriott World Center Running Trail 3

 

I ended up running a total of 5 miles on the track and it went by in a flash! There was plenty to look at and the best part – it was extremely safe. There were no busy roads to cross and I never felt like I was coming up on any sort of area that was secluded or desolate.

After getting in my run, we ate breakfast, grabbed some coffee, and headed to the pool! All we really wanted out of the weekend was relaxation, and a day at the pool was the perfect prescription. Rain was forecasted for the afternoon, but the morning was perfect! We ended up hanging by the pool for 5 hours, which for me, is kind of crazy. We were right next to a big umbrella, so as soon as an hour went by, up it went!

Marriott World Center PoolI’m so thankful to have a place like Orlando so close to home. It’s just far enough to get out of Tampa, but close enough to get back to Grant in no time. Since Marcus and I both went to college in Orlando at UCF, it feels more like a staycation when we go back there. Usually, we don’t end up at Disney and just keep it low key – its a win win!

 

The Florida Aquarium Splash Park

April 9, 2015

There are so many activities to do with a baby, it really is hard to even think of where to start. When we got to looking into what things we wanted to take Grant to, we noticed a pretty common theme. It makes far more sense to get a year pass to most places than to just pay for a day. For a lot of fun activities, going just 2-3 times pays for an entire year’s worth of admission! It’s a pretty easy decision to me!

My sister gifted Grant a pass to the aquarium for his birthday (well she really gifted it to us since Grant gets in for free!) so we went and took advantage of it last weekend. He loves seeing the fish and the other animals. Lucky for us, there were some extra special animals in the tanks on Sunday since it was Easter.

Grant Aquarium Splash Park

Not many people can say they played peek-a-boo with an underwater Easter bunny! Or get wished a Happy Easter by a festive carrot ;)

Grant Aquarium Splash Park

The Florida Aquarium, located here in Tampa, also has an amazing splash park! The last time we were at the aquarium, we didn’t bring Grant’s bathing suit. This time, we came prepared!

Grant Aquarium Splash Park

 

Grant Aquarium Splash Park

This was the first time he had ever been in fountains and it was such a big hit!

Grant Aquarium Splash Park

He loved watching the other kids run around. I’m pretty sure Grant would have stayed and played in the water all day if we would have let him.

Grant Aquarium Splash ParkI have a feeling this just one of many, many times Grant spends a Saturday afternoon in the fountains at the aquarium!

Grant Aquarium Splash Park