Monday, May 30, 2016

Resolution and Goal Update : May

Happy June everyone! It's already time to go over my goals and how I did this month.  Can you believe it's nearly half-way through the year?  I'm going to be changing up a few of my goals after this month, so I'm excited to have some new goals coming up.  This has been an amazing year already!


Each month, I'll go through each goal area and talk about my progress on each resolution.  If there's a "+" by the resolution- that means I was successful that month!  If there's a "-", unfortunately I missed the mark.  Some of my goals are more of a year-long thing, so until I complete the entire goal (for example saving $15,000) I'll have a "-" (which is why none of my fitness goals have a "+").  I'll give you a quick update on my progress though, and hopefully there will be a "+" before the end of 2016!

Enough chatting for now, let's get to my monthly resolution update for May!



Financial Goals

+ Spending freeze until my birthday (June 28)
Only one month to go!  Sokphal and I are both holding strong with our freeze (minus a few exceptions that we agreed on) but I'm ready to start shopping again!


+ Save reward money (Discover, EbatesIbotta) for entire year
I'm loving seeing it add up!  So far, I have $80 for Discover, $15 for Ebates, and $88 for Ibotta!)


- Save $15,000 in my joint account, $6,000 alone
saved $1400 in joint account, $584 in personal account.
for the year, I have $11,519 saved in joint account (76% of the way to my goal!), and $2918 in personal (48% of the way to my goal).


+ No fast food, coffee shops, restaurants, bars
I did great with this in May!  I don't think that I broke at all (except going out with my new team members a few times)


Get a library card


Run commute at least once a week when it's warm


Fitness Goals

- Run 1200 miles
January miles : 95 miles
February miles : 122 miles
March miles : 102 miles
April miles : 60 miles
May miles : 79 miles


+ PR in two distances
15 miles : 2:13:46
Half Marathon : 1:54:34


- Run 20 races
0 races in January
1 race in February (read my recap here)
1 race in March (read my recap here)
1 virtual race in April 
0 races in May


Swim 1,000 yards without stopping
I ended my gym membership in March, so I'm going to put this goal on hold until I get a new gym membership!


- Bike 20 miles without stopping
Went biking this month!  Hoping to get out more in June.


- Try out 4 new workout classes
#1 - Group Core


Health Goals

+ Get regular check-ups


+ Clean up eating habits
I ate really clean this month!  I made sure to meal plan each week which really helps.  I had more snacks than I should, though, so I'll work on fixing that in June!


+ Take vitamins and supplements
Calcium, Vitamin D3, Omega3 Fish Oil


Personal Goals

+ Declutter 10 items each month


+ Set up cleaning schedule
See my post here!  I'll be posting a new one for our house this month!

I also added this to my Bullet Journal which has made the process much easier to stay on track.


+ Monthly cooking challenge
January Whole30

February : 4 Ingredients Gluten Free

March : Share 4 recipes on blog
Spring Rolls
Avocado Egg Salad
Brownie Batter Energy Bites
Turmeric Tea 

April : Spend less than $200 on groceries
Done!  I actually only spent $110 this month- which is WAY less than my average of $400.

May : Cook an international meal
I kind of cheated on this, but I made an Indian meal.  I used a Masala simmer sauce from Trader Joe's (which I recommend!), mixed with sauteed onion and chicken, over top of Jasmine rice, and served with cilantro and a piece of Naan.  It was delicious!

June : I want to start sharing recipes again this month!  I'll make it my goal to share four more recipes in June.


Blogging Goals

+ Improve photography
Working on it!  Here are shots from my energy bites post
and my S'mores post.  I can already see a huge difference!
I'll be working on this in June when I start sharing recipes again!


- Write an e-book
In progress! (almost done!  My goal is to send it out by the end of June)


- Get over 15,000 40,000 views in a month
January views : 12,797 
February views : 36,828
March views : 15,500
April views : 12,800 (whoops!)
May views : 21,078 (one of my best months ever!)


+ Start to earn money
January : $22
February : $31.22
March : $20
April : $26.17
May : $28.86


Start a newsletter
Subscribe here!  I took a few weeks off, but I'm back at it today!  Check it out here



Other accomplishments this month:

+ Got married!  Check out my posts on Belize here!

+ Moved into our new house!

+ Started a new job! (hear more about that on Thursday in the What's New With You linkup!)



How are you doing on resolutions?
Did you have any major achievements in May?
Any big plans for June?


post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support!
linking up with Tuesdays on the Run

Friday, May 27, 2016

Top Five Friday #55

Hello, Friday!  I'm so excited for this weekend, because it's a long one!  I have Monday off for Memorial Day, and I'm going to be spending the weekend hard at work.  My parents are doing some demolition in the dining room, and Dan and I have some projects to work on at our house.  We're going to be really busy!

Linking up with MarCynthia and Court 
as well as Heather and Momfessionals


I hope you all had a great week, and I'll see you next week!

Outfits

Top (Target) x Pants (Limited) x Shoes (Target)


Caribbean Rainbow Salad

photo by Alexa..I couldn't do the recipe justice with my own picture!
I'm always drooling over Alexa's amazing recipes (and her photos...my gosh), and I knew this was a recipe I had to try!  Mango is one of my favorite foods, and I loved the idea of adding it to a salad.  I prepped this on Monday and enjoyed it all week, and I know I'll be having it more in the future!  It was really easy to make ahead, and substitute for what you have on hand.  I tried it with kale and loved it!


Summer Drinks

It started to get really hot this week in Pittsburgh, and I've been loving sipping a summery drink on my deck after work.  There are so many refreshing, fruity drinks coming out and I'm trying them all!  So far, my favorites are Bud Light Watermelon-rita (don't let the Bud Light name fool you- this doesn't taste like a beer but is the perfect amount of sweet!), Trader Joe's Watermelon Cucumber Cooler (so refreshing), Peach Wine (a little fizzy and a great realistic peach taste), and any kind of summer seasonal beer!

SLS3 Plantar Sleeve

I was lucky enough to get to try one of these sleeves, and I'm hooked!  I get a lot of pain and soreness in my foot and ankle, and this provides the perfect amount of targeted compression to those areas.  Sometimes I'll just have a small pain, but will have to put on my long compression socks (which is always annoying and takes a long time).  These are nice and short, so they go on really easily and are comfortable.  I think these would be great for people who are on their feet a lot, or for recovery from long training runs!


Empties


John Frieda 7 Day Volume- 10/10 - This is my favorite hair product!  I've repurchased it so many times and I can't recommend it enough.  Seriously..if you haven't tried it DO IT!

John Frieda Luxurious Volume Shampoo- 7/10 - Since I love the treatment so much I decided to give the shampoo a try.  It did a fine job but I didn't notice any dramatic changes in my hair.

Laneige Multi Cleanser (sample)- 8/10 - I got a Laneige sample pack of a few different products, and loved using them for travel.  This cleanser also helps remove makeup and didn't break me out.  It does leave my skin feeling a bit tight, so I had to follow up with a moisturizer immediately.

Burt's Bees Pink Grapefruit Balm- 9/10 - This was a great lip balm, but I got tired of the scent after a while!

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness- 10/10 - This is the absolute best product that I've ever used to cover up acne or redness.  It looks surprisingly natural, but covers like a boss!  The only downside to this product is that it only comes in one shade, and it's a bit pricy.  A little goes a long way, though, and this lasted me forever.

Stila Kitten Eyeshadow- 8/10 - To be honest, I didn't finish the product.  During my move, I dropped it and it completely smashed and I got sparkly shadow everywhere!  I love the shade and formula though!

Redken Pillow Proof Primer- 9/10 - This is a great product to spray in your hair before blow drying.  It somehow speeds up the drying process and primes your hair to protect it from heat.  I also love the scent!

Herbal Essences Dry Oil Spray- 10/10 - Dry oils are my favorite to use on dry or frizzy hair.  This one has an amazing smell, and isn't too oily for my hair.  I'm not sure how that's possible since it's an oil, but it's pretty great!

Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant- 7/10 - I like to use a dry deodorant occasionally, and this one works pretty well.  It's not strong enough to use on days when I work out, but I like how quick and easy this is to use (plus it doesn't give my shirts white marks!)


TV Shows

The Family : I'm really sad that this show got cancelled, because I thought it was amazing!  The acting was incredible and the story line was so intriguing.  Did anyone else watch this, or am I the only one?

Quantico : On the other hand, I'm thrilled that Quantico was renewed for a second season!  I can't wait to see what the plot line will be, because I loved season one.  I didn't see the ending coming at all, and now I'm excited to see what will happen next.

The Bachelorette : To be honest, I haven't had time to watch the premier of the Bachelorette but I'm excited for the most dramatic season yet!  I'm already hearing about drama with the "winner" and some other contestants, so I'm curious to see what will happen!

Dancing With the Stars : Another season is over, and I'm a little shocked about the winner to be honest!  I thought that Paige was the biggest improvement of the season, and I voted for her to win.  I definitely think that Nyle deserves the win though, and he was my second pick all season long.  Now that he's won two reality shows, I wonder which one he'll go on next?

The Voice : The finale of the Voice also aired, and I'm not surprised at all by the ending.  I feel like from Alisan's blind audition she was a sure winner (and Adam made it known every week that he thought she would win) so I'm not at all surprised.  I definitely think she deserves it and I'm hoping she'll release some music soon!  I also really liked Adam throughout the season and think he'll become a star as well.



What are you doing for the holiday weekend?
What are your favorites of the week?
Any TV Show favorites?  Anyone else watch The Family?
post contains affiliate links

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

WIAW : Work Conference

Hi everyone! Since today is Wednesday, that means it's time to link up with Jenn and share some eats!  Last week I started a new job, so I thought it would be fun to take along in a day in the life.  This particular day was a department conference, which means all of my meals were planned out for me!  It was a lonnnngg day, so I hope you enjoy following along!

5:45 Wake up, shower, get ready.  Our invitation said "smart casual" so I decided on skinny pants, Express Barcelona cami and my Forever 21 blazer.


6:30 Leave to catch bus.

7:15 Get to office, make some coffee and heat up food.  My new go-to breakfast is roasted sweet potatoes, sauteed kale and onions, bacon, re-fried beans, and avocado.  SO good, but really not appetizing to look at.  I'll spare you all a picture, but seriously try that combination.  Amazing.



8:00 I have a few short meetings and emails to catch up on before the conference.  Before I know it, it's time to go!

10:30 Leave to walk across town.  My company owns a few buildings in town, so for some of these conferences we get to go to a new building.

11:00 Arrive, get name badge, find table.  I'm kind of glad we're assigned tables since I don't know anyone yet!  I end up sitting with one of the original members of my group (it started as 12 people and now it's grown to over 70!)  She was really great to talk to and we ended up having a ton in common!

11:15 Lunch!  We had box lunches with a sandwich, apple, chips, orzo salad, and double chocolate chip cookies (so good!)


12:00 Conference starts.  Opening remarks from the head of my department

1:00 Panel discussion

1:50 Break!  Grab a snack and a drink.  There was some trail mix, soft pretzels, and infused water.  So fancy!


2:00 Round table discussions.  There were eight different topics to choose from, ranging from the latest in biometrics and security to upcoming features of our new app.  It was so cool to see what projects different groups were working on!

3:45 Another break..more snacking!  I got some pop this go-around.  I was really craving something fizzy and sweet.

4:00 The head of retail banking comes to talk to us about the company's five year strategic plan.  Luckily, a lot of the plan includes expanding my group's role in the company.  I can tell we're all going to be very busy in the next few years!

5:00 Speed networking!  This was actually a lot of fun.  Everyone got paired up with one person in their group, and spent five minutes talking to another pair.  Once the time was up, everyone rotated and talked with a new pair.  It was basically speed dating, but in suits.

6:30 Dinner time and more networking.  It was nice to meet so many people since it was my first week!  Luckily everyone had on name tags so I didn't have to remember names.  Dinner was delicious, and surprisingly healthy!  I had a salad, steak, grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, mac and cheese, and a big ol' glass of wine.  They were NOT playing around with serving sizes here!


8:00 Head out, and Dan comes to pick me up downtown.

8:30 Home!  Get changed, work on my blog post, get lunch and outfit ready for tomorrow.  Spend time with Dan and Selma watching hockey.

10:00 Decide to get another shower because I feel gross, and that's one of my favorite ways to relax at the end of a long day!

10:15 Head to bed, read some of my book and finish up this post.  Turn off the lights and pretty much pass out right away!



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Belize Part 2 : The Caves

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Today I'm going to be sharing the second part of my Belize recap.  In part one, I talked about San Pedro and the beach, and today we're going to go to the "underworld" and talk about caves!

This was actually my first experience, but Dan used to be in the caving club at Penn State!  He was really excited to explore some of the caves in Central America, particularly the ATM (which is the top-rated activity in Belize!). 

We visited three very different caves and had three very different adventures, so today I'm going to be talking about each of them!  I hope you enjoy!


Rio Frio Cave

Facts: 
65 foot arched entrance
Man-made paths and steps take visitors through cave
During dry season, there is a small sandy beach in the middle of the cave
The entire cave is about 1/2 mile long


The first cave that we visited was the largest opening, and shortest in length.  It was basically a huge room where tons of tourists walked around and explored.  There are man-made paths and steps that go around the cave to help you get around easily.



Rio Frio is a beautiful cave, and if you have a fear of small spaces or the thought of being underground freaks you out, this is the cave for you!




Barton Creek

Facts:
Located on the Bogaert family farm in the Cayo District
Recently named one of the world's most beautiful and unusual caves
Mayan artifacts found in first kilometer of cave
One of the longest subterranean sites in the country of Belize

Next, we saw Barton Creek Cave.  This cave is accessible by canoe, and is really interesting.  Since we went during the dry season, the creek was relatively low and we could get pretty far in the cave.  Most of the cave is wide open, with a few smaller spaces.


It was really interesting to paddle around inside, with just a handheld lamp to guide our way.  Inside, there are tons of bats flying around, as well as ledges where the Mayans left pottery and other artifacts.  If caving isn't your thing, zip lining is also offered at this farm!



ATM Cave

Facts: 
Stands for Actun Tunichil Muknal (Mayan for Cave Rock Tomb)
Famous for several human sacrifice remains, including the Crystal Maiden
Due to several incidents during tours, the cave is now protected and no cameras are allowed inside
Cave is approximately 3 miles long, and has a river and a dry chamber

source
This was the final tour that we went on during our trip, and was definitely the highlight.  I have to admit that I was terrified before we went because I heard there were some small spaces, and it was more physically demanding than any other excursion we went on.  I couldn't even eat breakfast because I was so nervous!

source

This ended up being one of the coolest things that I ever experienced.  Since we weren't allowed to bring cameras, we were all able to completely immerse ourselves in the experience and really enjoy it.  The experience starts with a hike through the jungle, including crossing a river three times.  Then, you jump into a large body of water and swim into the cave.  Once inside, there are areas where we had to swim, walk, climb, crawl, and squeeze.  My fear quickly went away and was replaced with lots of excitement- the cave was incredible and it was so different than anything I've ever experienced before.

source

If you're thinking about going on the ATM Cave tour (or any other cave tour), I would highly recommend doing it. I almost let my fear hold me back from going on these, but it ended up being some of the best experiences of my life!  The things that you see in caves are unlike anything you'll see in your life.  You won't regret going- I promise!



Have you ever been in a cave before?
What's the scariest/coolest adventure you've had?
What's the best trip that you've ever been on?

linking up with Momfessionals
linking up with Amanda

Friday, May 20, 2016

Top Five Friday #54

Hi and Happy Friday everyone!  Did you all have a good week?  Mine was absolutely crazy-  we're getting settled into our new house now that we're all moved in, and I started a new job!  I'll be talking more about it in the next "What's New With You" linkup (make sure you join us on June 2), but needless to say this week has been hard.  I think I'm ready for some wine and relaxing this weekend!

Linking up with MarCynthia and Court 
as well as Heather and Momfessionals

I have some favorites from the week to share with you today.  I hope you enjoy, and have a fantastic weekend.  See you on Monday!


Shark Clothes Steamer

I actually borrowed this tool from my sister to steam my living room curtains after I washed them.  After seeing how amazingly it worked (and using it multiple times on my clothes this week) I need to get one for myself!

I love how quickly this removes wrinkles from my clothes and is pretty much fool proof.  I usually iron my clothes each morning, and this makes that process so much faster, and I'm not ruining clothes by ironing creases in them or burning holes through thin shirts.  I'm thinking about buying this one for myself!



Micellar Water wipes

I actually bought these wipes for my trip to Belize, but I'm in love with them!  I'm stil not wearing much makeup on an every day basis, so lately I've just been using one of these after work to clean my skin.  They're so gentle and don't irritate my skin at all, but they also help to remove makeup.  These aren't as heavy duty as a real makeup remover, but for natural days I highly recommend checking out this line!



John Frieda Salon Shape 1.5 Inch Hot Air Brush

I mentioned last week that I got a hair cut, and I've rediscovered my love for the hot air brush!  I got this last year and stopped using it for a while, and decided to give it a try with my new hair cut.  I absolutely love how full it makes my hair look- almost like getting a blow out at home!  If you're looking for an inexpensive tool that will give you some major volume quickly- check this out.



French Open

Any other tennis fans out there? It's time for another Grand Slam tournament! I get so excited when these roll around, and I'm really pulling for Djokovic to get his career slam! On the women's side there are quite a few players that I'm cheering for, so I'm excited to see how the draw goes and will be watching as many rounds as I can!


Just like most runners, I try really hard to work on injury prevention and recovery. So, I was really excited when a local business reached out to me to try their product, which are all about recovery. I decided to try the Recovery Wrap, which is really easy and comfortable to use. The ice pack can either be frozen or warmed up, so it's great for dealing with all kinds of pain! I can't wait to use this more once I start training for my next big race, but if you're looking for a new recovery tool make sure you check out Spand-Ice!


What are your favorites this week?
Any other tennis fans out there?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Outdoor Gear Review

Hi everyone!  Today I have a fun post to share- a review of my most-used gear during my trip to Belize!  We had a lot of excursions planned during our vacation, so I had to pick up a few things before we left.  After getting a ton of use out of them, I feel like I can give these products the GretchRuns seal of approval!  They stood up to the jungles of Belize, so I can definitely stand behind these.



Whether you're planning an afternoon hike or about to go on a similar vacation, I hope you'll find these reviews helpful.  Let's get into the products!



LL Bean Stowaway Day Pack

LL Bean Stowaway Day Pack review

This bookbag was actually the very last thing that I bought for the trip, but I ended up getting the most use out it!  I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a brand new bag that would get wet and dirty, and that I might not use a lot after the trip, so I was excited to find this one for under $40 at LL Bean.  I ended up using this bag every day during our trip, and I'm absolutely in love with it!

The bag is incredibly lightweight (only weighs 14 ounces) but holds a ton!  There are two zippered pockets on the outside, along with a big open pouch, and one zippered pocket on the inside.  The bag actually is able to fold up into the inner pocket which makes it a great choice for travel!

The pack is really comfortable to wear thanks to cushions on the back and arms, and it snaps in the front as well.  When I hiked with this, I didn't even notice I was wearing it!  I also made great use out of the two bottle holders, which can be cinched to make sure the bottles don't fall out.  Overall, I'm really glad that I ended up getting this bag and will be using it a ton in the future.



Salomon Techamphibian 3 Water Shoe

Salomon Techamphibian 3 Water Shoe review

I knew that I needed to get a pair of water shoes for a few of the trips we were going on, and I chose the Salomons after doing some research.  I like the fact that these have mesh panels on the side to protect your feet rather than being completey open, and the hard sole on the bottom gives amazing traction.  I walked in a river with these on, and didn't slip on any wet rocks at all!

These are also completey adjustable in the heel as well as the foot.  There's a bungie shoe lace which can be folded into a pocket in the tongue to stay out of the way.  They also dried surprisingly quickly- I set them out at night completely soaking wet and woke up to a dry pair of shoes!

The shoes were a bit of an investment (they cost more than any other shoe that I've ever owned, besides my running shoes!) but I think they're worth it!  I used them in the water, hiking in the woods, and to slip on for errands.



Columbia Sun Goddess Shirt and REI Sahara Roll-Up Pants

Columbia Sun Goddess Shirt REI Sahara Roll Up Pant review

Since we were going to be in a hot and humid climate that was full of bugs, I wanted some long sleeves and pants that would be comfortable, protect me, and keep my cool.  Luckily, I found a line that checked off all of those boxes, and I think they look pretty cute!

The Sun Goddess tops are my new favorite shirts.  They're really thin and lightweight so I never overheated in them (even during 90 degree day-long hikes!), but also help to protect from sunrays and bugs.  There are also panels in the back that keep air flowing, and the sleeves are easily adjustable.  I got this shirt in a few colors, and wore them constantly during our trip!

The Sahara pants are equally amazing.  They're made of a lightweight, stretchy material, so they're as comfortable as yoga pants but look more dressed up.  They have plenty of pockets, both zippered and not, so I could store my room key and some money!  These also roll up in case I ever got too hot.


Now that I have all of these amazing products, I'm excited to get more into hiking!  One of my goals this summer is to be more active outdoors, and now I have the gear to make it happen!


What are some of your hiking essentials?
Do you usually shop before going on a trip?
linking up with Amanda

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

San Pedro, Belize

Happy Tuesday!  Today I'm excited to share some photos and information about the first part of our trip to Belize!  We spent the first three days on the beach, then followed that up with six days in the jungle.  I hope you enjoy this look at our trip!


We stayed at Xanandu Island Resort, which is located in San Pedro, Belize, a town on the southern part of the island of Ambergris Caye.  To get there, we flew into the Belize International Airport, then took a short 30-minute flight over to the island.  There are also water taxis that you can take for cheaper, but it takes longer.  If you ask, the pilot will even let you sit in the co-captain seat on the plane!


The island is really safe- Dan and I walked around at all hours of the day and never felt in danger.  There is one main street that everyone drives on, and lots of side streets.  I didn't notice any street signs, so if you're looking for a particular address, I would look for what buildings are around it!



The currency in Belize is the Belize dollar.  The conversion to US Dollar is always 2 to 1, so all places accept US money and give change back in Belizean money.  It's also interesting that the official language of Belize is English!  We learned that most families teach their kids Spanish at home, and some more traditional families also speak Mayan at home. (More on the Mayan culture in my post on the Cayo district!)

Xanadu is right on the beach, and offers free kayaks, paddle boards, bikes, and snorkeling gear.  They also rent golf carts (the main mode of transportation on the island).  There's also a big swimming pool that's open 24/7, a beach BBQ that's free to rent, TONS of hammocks (including a private one on each patio) and a beach bar.  Our room also had a full kitchen (including a blender..what?!) which was a great bonus, since there's no restaurant at the resort. 



The food on the island was amazing!  There are a lot of influence on Belize's cuisine, and wikipedia describes it as Mexican/Central American/Jamaican/Anglo-Caribbean cuisine.  Since we're right on the water, fresh fish was served everywhere.  My favorite dish was a fish coconut curry from El Fogon, served with shrimp ceviche.  So good!



We also made a stop at Robin's Kitchen, which is the top-rated place to eat on the island.  This is a little road-side shop with a tiny kitchen and some picnic tables outside.  The specialty is Jamaican Jerked chicken, served with rice and beans and cole slaw.  The meat was so flavorful and not at all dry- and the spice really snuck up on me!



Dan and I went snorkeling for the first time as well!  A boat came to pick us up on the private dock, and we sailed out to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley.  The water was so clear, and we got to see turtles, coral, sting rays, flounder, barracuda, and millions of other fish that I've never seen before.  And yes- we also got to swim with sharks!  At Shark Ray Alley, the nurse sharks and sting rays come right up to the boat to be fed, and we were just told to jump right in.  The sharks completely ignored us and swam all around us.  It was SO cool!



We made a stop in Caye Caulker during our snorkeling trip.  Our tour guides told us that this island is what San Pedro used to be like before it got touristy.  The beaches were beautiful, and it was a lot more quiet than on the main island.  Everyone drove on golf carts and bicycles here as well, and the roads were all sand and dirt.  We were told the motto of the island- "No shirt, No shoes, No problem.  No money- BIG problem!"




I hope you enjoyed this look at our trip!  Next up will be the first part of our stay in the Cayo district!