Training is the Glue

Two summers ago, I decided to do my first triathlon.  I figured if my brother could do it, so could I.  Since I had no idea where to begin, I enlisted an experienced ironman to help me set up a plan for the sprint distance race (1/2 mile swim, ~13 mile bike, 5k run).  I followed it closely and although the weather was dreary, the race was exhilarating.  I finished soaking wet with a smile on my face already preparing for my next tri.

 

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Since then, I have done 3 more triathlons, a marathon, and a handful of other road races and bike rides.  And for the most part, there is always a training calendar hanging on the side of my fridge.  It is a little ‘old school’, especially since everyone uses smart phones to track their workouts, but this just makes me happy.

 

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I have a few different training plans saved on my computer, and there are plenty of online resources, magazines, and books to guide you depending on your skill level and goals.  I believe that everyone’s ‘perfect’ training plan is different and it might take a little bit of time to find the one that works for you.  Then it’s just about modifying it to fit into the schedule of your life.

 

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I joke that I should make a t shirt that reads ‘Will Run for Swag’ because of all of the races that I sign up for.  The truth is, I schedule my workouts according to my upcoming races, and when I don’t have a planned race, I don’t push myself in miles or pace.  What I have learned over these past few years is that I really LIKE pushing myself farther than I think I can go, and that a 2 hour BRICK that leaves my legs quacking as I walk up the stairs is actually energizing and exciting!

 

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The other benefit of following my training plan is that exercise gets to be a higher priority on the life list.  I will leave work on time to make it home for a bike ride before sunset.  My alarm gets set for 5:55AM to meet friends for a BRICK in Barrington before the summer heat.  I am in bed by 10PM on a Friday after only 1 glass of wine and a well-balanced dinner.  I remember that food is meant to fuel my body, and while I am training, I make better food choices eating more real foods and less processed junk. 

 

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I know how sleep, carbs, alcohol, hydration, strength training, and rest impact each mile and ultimately my end goal.  This leads to healthier decisions every day.  And despite spending more time breaking a sweat, I am more energized and less stressed out.  I sleep great at night which puts me in a great mood during my work day.  And although I may miss out on a few late nights with the BOY, his support for my training (even when he is trying to convince me to have that second glass of wine), strengthens our relationship!  As it stands, training really is the glue that holds my healthy lifestyle together.

 

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These thoughts really hit me this spring when I was in a bit of a workout funk.  I realized that during this time I didn’t have an end goal and I wasn’t cross training.  The moment I signed up for my first race of the year and dusted off my bike, everything changed! For this reason, I like to have at least 1 race per month during the summer months, and I have pushed myself to step outside my comfort zone training outdoors in the colder months. 

 

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Now that it is officially summer, I am in full on training mode and loving it.  And although this summer’s race calendar isn’t as impressive as last year, I am just as happy preparing for a sprint triathlon on July 29th (as of today, I am officially signed up) and working towards a half marathon PR.  It is the training (and possible the endorphins) that keep me smiling and hopefully burning off a few calories along the way.

 

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The cross training also prevents boredom and injuries.  My back is feeling so much better allowing June to be a fun month full of activity! 

 

June Goals

Fit comfortably into my summer shorts

     -I have definitely dropped a few LB’s allowing my summer clothes to fit better.  I have a little ways to go but I am back to consistent strength training with the TRAINER, which always helps me rev up my metabolism.

 

Begin triathlon training

    Goal Met!  The BRICK is back!

 

Stay Calm

     -This weekend in Wisconsin definitely helped me put life back in perspective.  It’s amazing what close friends and fresh air can do for your stress levels!  I have also been committed to my yoga classes and appreciating the beauty in my commute.

 

Get Creative with fruits and veggies!

     -There have been a lot of amazing recipes this month.  With my recent TREAT DAY, many of them have been sweet and delicious!  However, with the farmer’s market now open, our house is always stocked with fresh veggies.  And this Blue Breakfast is a new summer favorite!

 

Goals for July

-Commute by bike

     I’d like to find some local places (like the farmer’s market) that I can get to by bike as opposed to driving.

-Avoid white flour and sugar in an attempt to loose a few more LB’s around my middle

-Make veggies the star of my meals (especially the green ones)

-Get moving ever day

     Whether its tennis, a walk, or a yoga class, I have been trying to move more every day

-Enjoy every mile of my 2012 triathlon!

Cake Batter Fudge

You know you have made a good recipe when you are cleaning up in the kitchen and the BOY is texting you from the other room requesting more cake batter fudge!!!  I had to tell him ‘no’ so that there would be enough for TREAT DAY, but I did promise to make another batch this weekend for my girl’s night in the city!

 

Just in case you thought cake batter recipes couldn’t get any better, let me introduce you to Cake Batter Fudge from girl meets life!

 

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This fudge is so rich and tasty, you will never know that it began with a cake mix.

 

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It only takes 2 hours for this fudge to set.

 

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Leaving you plenty of time to lick the bowl clean!

 

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There isn’t much not to like about this sweet treat!

 

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It tastes exactly like cake batter (which everyone loves), and the sprinkles add just the right texture.  Although I have seen the recipe with white chocolate chips added as well, which might we worth trying.

 

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I had to hide the container of fudge in the back of the fridge before the BOY got his sticky fingers on it.

 

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Luckily, batch number 2 is setting in the refrigerator as we speak!

 

 

Cake Batter Fudge

From girl meets life

 

Ingredients

2 cups yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)

2 cups powdered sugar

1 stick butter

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

 

Directions: Place cake mix and powdered sugar in a large bowl and combine. Pour in the milk, top with stick of butter, and microwave for 2 minutes. Immediately begin mixing everything together – the butter may not be fully melted but will as you continue mixing. Lastly, mix in the rainbow sprinkles, then pour fudge into a greased cake pan. Chill for at least 2 hours before cutting. Store in the refrigerator.

 

 

Other Cake Batter Faves…

Cake Batter Bark

Cake Batter Blondies

Cake Batter Puppy Chow

Cake Batter Truffles

Chocolate Cake Batter Popcorn

 

 

 

What is your favorite cake batter recipe???

Tip Toe Pose

The BOY and I had planned for another Friday of outdoor fun today.  However, by the time we got moving (I slept over 10 hours last night), the skies were starting to turn dark.

 

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This is the view from our backyard as the storm rolled by, which was soon followed by large drops of rain.

 

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With the change in plans, I decided to go take a yoga class.  I try to get to a class at least once a week.  Last weekend, we were out of town (although we did do some yoga on the pier), and I won’t be able to go this Sunday because I am spending tomorrow night in the city with some girl friends.  So as the rain began to pour, I headed out to the studio for a noon class.  I was excited to see that the teacher was one of my favorites.  She always does a unique and challenging class and reminds us to stay present throughout (which I often need).  My intention for the hour was to forget any outside worries or stresses and enjoy spending my Friday afternoon at a yoga class as opposed to at work.

 

It’s a good thing the class was only an hour because I was sweating from every pore in my body. I think the last 7 days of exercise caught up with me a bit because my arms and legs were shaking in every pose.  The thunder rumbling above was almost surreal.  But I had a smile on my face and loved the feeling of inner peace I felt during the class.  We tried a new pose today (new to me anyways) called tip toe pose, using blocks to find balance and get into this hard position.

 

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The instructor encouraged us to slowly remove one hand from the block and then the other to meet together at heart center.  She said that sometimes you fall, but that it is okay, we should just try it and see what happens.  I was able to remove my hands, one time for a second, the other for a few.  I wiggled and my ankle wobbled and when my hands returned to the blocks, they held on tight.  I had forgotten how much fun it can be to feel off balance.  I have been feeling stressed out lately (mostly work related), but during this pose, I was reminded that sometimes when in limbo we topple, but other times we learn something new.  It is not always bad to feel off balance (especially when you have blocks to rescue you).  New discoveries can follow these times of unease and opportunity for growth often emerges.

 

As the class wound down and we rolled back for shivasana, I was feeling more relaxed than I had all week.  The instructor reminded us that stress is temporary, the unease will pass, and that our essence will live on forever.  It was a beautiful lesson after a lovely yoga practice.  I felt thankful for being able to make it to class this week and spend some time dedicated to my mind and spirit.  My body got quite a workout too as I was still sweating when I got home!

 

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Post workout, I was starving and I made a smoothie the moment I walked in the door.

 

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In this mix:

1 handful spinach

1 cup coconut water

1 frozen banana

2 tbsp cacao powder

2 tbsp almond butter

Ice

 

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This chocolaty combination of nut butter and banana is perfect for a refreshing and sweet smoothie!  If you haven’t tried cacao in your smoothies, I highly recommend it.  By this time, the sky was starting to clear and the BOY and I headed out for lunch and to do some errands in town, including the Farmer’s Market.  We picked up some fresh veggies for a grilled fajita dinner.

Trail Mix Krispy Treats

OMG!  This trail mix must have been invented by a PMSing woman because it has ALL the goodies!

 

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What else could you need???

 

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I’m not sure that I ever would have discovered this mix at the grocery store except that I spotted it on Cookies&CupsShelly created one of the best looking Krispy treats that I have ever seen, and I was eager to make it for my TREAT DAY!

 

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The only problem is that I couldn’t find the Kraft caramel bits that I use for melting.  They didn’t have them at any of the stores that I visited, and I didn’t make it to Target where I always seem to find them.  Instead, I discovered these caramel chips at Woodman’s and figured that they would be better than nothing.

 

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Sadly, they didn’t melt as well as typical chips and not nearly as good as my caramel bits. This made it challenging to spread the salted caramel throughout the bars.

 

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In retrospect (and I share this incase you don’t find the caramel bits because I know you will want to make these bars immediately and may not have time to search 5 stores), I would have added the chips to the melted mallows OR just thrown them in with the trail mix.

 

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Whatever you do, don’t leave out the caramel.  It is a necessary part of these complex tasting bars!

 

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I loved the combination of sweet and salty in these Krispy treats. However, I could have used A LOT more salted caramel!

 

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But then again, who doesn’t want more caramel in their life?

 

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I know they disappeared quickly from this plate when I brought them to work on Tuesday!  Lesson learned…I’ve added caramel bits to my shopping list (and two more bags of M&M Trail Mix) to make another (more perfect) batch of these amazing Krispy treats!

 

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Thanks to Shelly for creating these inspiring bars!  Doesn’t it make you want to get crazy creative with your Krispy treats?!

 

 

What is your favorite Rice Krispy treat recipe? 

Share your links below!

 

 

 

Trail Mix Krispie Treats with Salted Caramel Swirl

From Cookies&Cups

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter

1 (10.5 oz) bag mini marshmallows

3 cups trail mix (2 bags of the M&M mix)

3 cups krispie rice cereal

1/2 cup chopped soft caramel candies or caramel bits

1 tsp milk

1 tsp coarse sea salt

 

Directions

Lightly spray a 9×9 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large pot on low heat melt butter.

When butter is melted add marshmallows, stirring until melted. Set aside just while you melt caramels in microwave for 1 minutes. (You want the marshmallow to cool slightly before you add your trail mix in, because if there are chocolate pieces in the trail mix they will melt if the marshmallow is too hot) .

Immediately pour in you krispie rice cereal and trail mix, stirring until evenly coated in marshmallow mixture.

Stir in coarse sea salt into caramel and drop my the spoonful into the marshmallow/trail mix.

Without stirring the caramel in, pour mixture into prepared pan and press evenly into pan.

Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares.

 

Notes: If you use the M&M snack mix, like I did, you will need 2 bags, as 1 bag yields about 1 1/2 cups mix.

***I used a bigger baking dish for more bars, which was great!

Woodman’s

Have you ever been to Woodman’s???

 

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This employee owned grocery store is typically found in Wisconsin, but we have a few popping up in Illinois too.  Someone recently asked me what makes Woodman’s so special?  Well, I will tell you that the whole shopping experience is really fun.  And it’s not just their creative decorations (although I always do enjoy them)!

 

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Woodman’s has reasonably priced produce and a large bread and bakery section.  The BOY is a huge fan of the meat and claims that his new favorite hot dogs are ONLY sold here.  My favorite thing, besides the fact that the place is huge and the prices are incredible, is the baking aisle!!!

 

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Have you ever seen so many chocolate (and other) chip options???  You should see how many flavors of pudding them have!!!

 

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The BOY’s favorite place to get lost in the store???

 

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You guessed it…it’s the cheese section!  They have plenty of unique cheeses from local Wisconsin farms, including cheese curds!

 

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We left with a full cart of food for a seriously low price.  If you happen to find yourself driving by one of these super stores, go check it out.  But remember your cash (or debit card), they don’t take credit!

 

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I had serious motivation for getting to Woodman’s this weekend…do you know what all of these goodies mean???

 

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Yup…Tuesday was my TREAT DAY!!!  Which means, there are some mouth watering recipes to come…

 

 

 

Have you ever been to Woodman’s?  What did you think?

Until Next Time

Take a look at my Wisconsin Weekend and Wisconsin Weekend Part II posts!

 

We enjoyed a spectacular weekend in Wisconsin, and I woke up Sunday morning feeling rejuvenated, yet slightly sad to be returning back to my work week.  Although I really do luv what I do, my days are busy and work can be exhausting (this doesn’t even include my workouts or commute), so I always appreciate a quiet weekend away to build my relationships and get active outdoors, especially when it involves the water!

 

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I was one of the first to wake up on Sunday, but my Mom was not far behind.  We made some warm tea and headed down to the dock for 30 minutes of yoga.  The view was breath taking, not because it was any different than the day before, but more because of the calm, serene feeling the lake gave off as we moved through our poses focusing inward on our breath.  When we returned to the house, it seemed that there was some more activity.  The neighbor had found two baby raccoons causing quite a commotion with the dogs.

 

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Throughout the weekend, there was a lot of discussion about healthy green smoothies for breakfast.  As everyone started to make their way downstairs, I was nominated to make a new smoothie recipe for whoever was brave enough to try it.  We had some awesome options for the smoothie (I love the maca!), and some old standbys (like kale and flax).

 

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There was plenty of fresh fruit to add in too!

 

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The smoothies turned out really tasty!  I was a huge fan!

 

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And apparently they have all the nutrients that one needs for an entire day.  I will have to work on getting that recipe for you.

 

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My Mom and I had planned on walking, but I was able to convince my biking buddy to hit the roads with me for one last hilly run before I left.  We ran 4 miles together, pushing hard the last 1/2 mile.  I ran up 3 brutal hills and my legs were tired and strong when I finished.  I slowly jogged back for my cool down where I found my Mom jogging in the last of her run.  She had a nice stride and looked strong as she pushed up the last hill.  Very impressive!

 

The BOY was back in his big chair reading, and I spent my last 20 minutes out on the lake for one last boat ride.  We packed up our belongings and hit the road for home.  I was trying to take some pictures of the ginormous hills that we had biked, but this proved hard to do in a moving vehicle!  Can you tell how steep they are?

 

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I was excited to make one stop at Woodman’s before we finally pulled into our driveway back home.

 

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I am already looking forward to my next weekend in Wisconsin (the BOY and I make it up that direction a few times every summer) to battle the hills, enjoy the tastes, spend time with friends, and ride the waves.  Until next time…

 

 

Where is your favorite weekend destination?

Wisconsin Weekend Part II

Let’s get back to the weekend!  I think I left off with the group heading up to the house to make dinner after a fun and exciting day of biking and boating!

 

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While everyone was getting cleaned off and pitching in to make dinner, the BOY and I decided to introduce the gang to our favorite appetizer, Grilled Feta!

 

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Nobody had ever heard of it, but they were more than willing to try it out.  We put a plate on the table, and people moved in and out of the room, stopping for bites of this warm gooey cheese.  They were very impressed, and by the time dinner was ready, there were only a few crumbles remaining!

 

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Our friends are doing a CSA this year and they brought up this week’s share.  It included these sweet and delicious strawberries that I just had to snap a picture of!

 

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My Mom and I were in charge of the dinner veggies.  Quite possibly, I spent more time eating berries and cheese, but I did manage to wash and cut a few veggies as well.  We made a huge fresh salad with the lettuce from the CSA.

 

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Meanwhile, the men were in charge of the grill, with some assistance from this furry friend (most likely looking for handouts)!

 

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I must say, there was a lot of excitement and chatter going on near the grill area.

 

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Our dinner turned out fantastic…especially this basket of stirfry CSA vegetables!  And the teriyaki salmon was mouth watering perfection.  I told the BOY to take notes because cedar plank salmon is my FAVORITE grilled fish!

 

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After dinner, we headed outside for some wine and the sunset…two things that you know I LOVE!

 

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It looked like it was going to be a promising evening!

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We all gathered around the pier to watch the sun setting and my dad play with this fun new toy!

 

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Which he almost lost under the pier, but DID loose under the aqua patio!

 

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The rescue mission provided us with some much needed entertainment as the sky was cloudier than I realized and the sunset was a little bland.

 

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I did manage to take a few pretty photos, but the conversations and laughter were the highlight of our night!

 

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That is until we all loaded back into the boat for some ice cream!

 

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There is an adorable little ice cream parlor on the other side of the lake, and we eagerly trekked in excited to try all of their unique flavors!

 

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Everyone loved their ice cream (and the chocolate turtle that we purchased)!  The BOY ordered a caramel sundae, which I must have eaten half of, and my Mom got this cotton candy ice cream that tasted EXACTLY like cotton candy.  I was a bigger fan of the chocolate fudge ice cream hiding underneath.

 

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We all piled back into the house exhausted after our long day of eating and activity.  I happily flung myself up onto the top bunk above the BOY were I crashed immediately.  I was so happy and relaxed after a fun day in Wisconsin and feeling so grateful for the close friends and family that I have.  I was looking forward to our next morning together before the BOY and I had to return home to the real world.

 

Did you miss it???

Here is the first Wisconsin Weekend post!

 

And you can read about our 4th of July trip to Green Lake last year too!

Wisconsin Weekend

It seems like I haven’t opened my laptop in forever, when really it has just been two action-packed days.  The BOY and I headed up to Wisconsin to spend the weekend with my parents at our close friend’s home on Green Lake.  We drove up Friday afternoon, and the skies were clear and the roads not too crowded.

 

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The moment we crossed the border into Wisconsin, the BOY and I were already feeling more relaxed!

 

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It was perfect driving weather, and the view of the open fields, timeless farm houses, and sun setting was beautiful as we chatted throughout the 3 hour drive.

 

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We were the first to arrive, so we found a local pub with outdoor seating on the lake to grab some dinner and the last of the sunset.

 

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Don’t we just look more relaxed???

 

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I think the Spotted Cow beer definitely helped!

 

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The BOY was thrilled to find cheese curds on the menu (this is Wisconsin after all), which he quickly inhaled!  We split the Haddock and Perch Friday Fish Fry, which we really enjoyed!

 

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As the sun was setting, we made our way back to the house to meet up with everyone else as they arrived.  The BOY and I opened a bottle of wine (this is a new one that I found at Trader Joe’s) before heading out for a late night boat ride.  Under the star-studded sky we caught up on life, listened to music, and appreciated our natural surroundings.

 

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The next morning, I was up early and full of energy.  I was looking forward to hitting the hills on my bike, but first…a boat ride around the lake.  What an amazing way to start the day!

 

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I was able to recruit a friend to brave the 26 mile loop around the lake.  This is the same route we took last year, except I stopped for some lake view shots.

 

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The hills were rough and at one point, I looked down and saw that I was riding downhill at 31mph. Man, I love biking in Wisconsin!!!

 

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After our 25 mile bike ride, we decided to tack on a short 2 mile run.  My legs felt like Jello, but it was easy to cool off with the drizzling rain that  started just as we were heading out.  We made great time on our ride and run, finishing the BRICK in a little over 2 hours.  When I returned home, I found the BOY reading by the water.  I was super sweaty and ready to hang out on the pier.

 

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The afternoon got even more exciting when my parents arrived just as the sun was beginning to peak out from behind the clouds. 

 

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We all piled onto the boat for some water fun!

 

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On a whim, I decided that I wanted to try out my rusty water ski skills.  I haven’t skied in at least 2 years, and my legs were crazy tired, but I really wanted to get into the cool water.   I figured, why not give skiing another try?!

 

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And…I popped up on my first attempt!

 

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Woohoo!  I skied around for a few minutes, even surviving some choppy waters.  I attempted to cross the wake, made it out before toppling over.  With a smile on my face, I called it quits, hanging my hat on my one successful run.  Maybe water skiing is a little like riding a bike!

 

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After some skiing and wakeboarding, we headed back to the dock to pick up refreshments.

 

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And then rode around the lake chatting, sipping on some wine, and taking in the gorgeous homes and spectacular views.

 

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By the time, we pulled back into the dock, it was time for dinner.  After a long day, we were all pretty hungry, so we walked up to the house to get started on dinner prep.  We had some fresh organic produce and tons of hands to help in the kitchen.  First, I just needed a shower.

 

To Be Continued…

More Wisconsin Weekend Fun to Come!

ReMatch

Another summer Friday and another date day with the BOY!  He is already trying to convince me to keep Fridays off for the rest of the year, and I must say that it is tempting!  We headed back out to the courts for another round of tennis.

 

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It was a gorgeous 70 degree morning…perfect for tennis!

 

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One of the tougher things for me on the court is my backhand.  I did ask one of my patient’s 5 year old siblings for some tips, and the BOY helped me with my backhand today.  By the end of the hour, it was looking much stronger.  My serve, on the other hand, has plenty of room for improvements.  That can me next week’s lesson!

 

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The blue sky was picturesque with puffy white clouds, and it was great to be outdoors!

 

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Afterwards, we headed off to the pool.  We wanted to try to beat the summer camp crowd, and I was eager to get in another swim.

 

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Sadly, the slides weren’t open yet, but the BOY and I will definitely be back to try them out.

 

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I had some serious issues with my goggles this morning.  No matter what I tried, they kept leaking.  It was really frustrating.  I’d get a lap or two done before they would start to leak, causing my eyes to itch, and my contacts to blur.  I even tried borrowing a pair from the pool, but they were way too tight on my face.  In the end, I ended up doing some drills with the kickboard and my face above water before finally getting into the hot tub.  It was a disappointing swim workout, but still a fun day with the BOY.  The goggles may have won this round, but I am hoping to be able to get in some open water swims in Wisconsin this weekend, so there will be a rematch!

 

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We made one quick stop at the grocery store before picking up Mediterranean for lunch.  I had a fattoush salad with falafel, which totally hit the spot after an active morning.

 

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Now the game plan is to get all packed up and hit the road for our weekend in Wisconsin.  I am looking forward to some relaxing time spent on the water, catching up with friends, stargazing, and biking the hills.  There will be lots to share when we return.

 

What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Any tips or suggestions for goggles?

 

I currently use the Speedo Vanquishers, which have been highly recommended yet I tend to struggle with them!