Category Archives: Running

Just a Summer Weekend!


Last weekend…

I don’t know if I told you that I took up running again. As much as it frustrates me with how slow I go, I just have to remind myself that I am still doing something. I just like the feeling of breathing easier after every run. I love that feeling in my lungs!

This weekend, amidst the heat and humidity, Rob and I ran the Chocolate 5k around Lake Como in St. Paul. We’ve done this track before for the Challenge Obesity 5k {which has since been moved farther north}. However, this trail was a bit different. We didn’t run on the walking trail which is closest to the lake, but the biking trail, farther out. The posted results seem skewed, even though they said they were accounting for the fact that the finish line was really 3.5 miles and they had a separate mat at the 3.1 mile mark. Still my 5k app and Garmin have my 5k right around 45 minutes, while their results are like 8 minutes longer. I don’t get it.

That is soooo incredibly slow, even for slow me! Here’s the steamy after photo:


My worst 5k run was 38:40. So, 45 minutes is a jump.

Here is a list of my 5k race results (the ones I’ve run) for my own personal comparison:

  1. 38:54
  2. 38:20
  3. 38:40
  4. 36:08
  5. 38:27
  6. 37:44
  7. 35:35
  8. 38:13
  9. 37:35

I have to take into account that all of those were in 2012 when I was in the throes of running and before back surgery. And now that I look a bit further, I have only run one in one other 5k race completely since and that was in 2014, about a year after surgery and that one was higher yet at 42:40.

But it was hot; it was humid and I told myself to keep it slow and keep running under a target 5 Heart Rate Zone. I wanted to enjoy the run – the oxygen circulating through my lungs. I didn’t want to feel frustrated or like I was going to pass out or that I had started off too fast like I did when I did a trial 5k run earlier in the week. And truth be told, my only struggle was a small hill.

I would like to say I ran the whole thing, but I did stop to walk for a water break half-way through. I normally don’t hydrate during a 5k, only before and after. But it was just too hot not to so.

And while running, I did not partake in any of the Ghirardelli chocolate that was being passed out on 4 different occasions on the course. It just didn’t sound good to me at the time. {I know! Me and chocolate!} I also didn’t want to take it and just hold it until the end because I knew it would just melt in my palm!

I did, however partake in the Choc-ola after the race!


The night before, I was up from 12:30pm until 4am, too. It wasn’t due to nerves about the race, but first because I was hot, then because Rob was snoring, then because of the dogs keeping me tucked in. I started to read because that usually helps me get back to sleep. It didn’t.

No matter what, I’m glad I did it.

We followed up with brunch at the French Hen and a couple of beers at The Gnome. I followed that up by a 2 1/2 hour nap! Then it was off to dinner with the girls… more on that to come!

Sunday was busy, too… with a 5-hour trip down to Iowa to pick up this pretty little thing:


Meet Phoebe, my friend Kim’s new Shih Tzu! There’ll be more cuteness to follow on a Sophie and Sham Saturday, I’m sure!

How did you fill your weekend?


Waconia Brewing & The Iron Tap


Happy Thirsty Thursday!

Last Saturday, Rob and I walked the Dog Day 5k, which is in conjunction with the Lola’s Half Marathon in Waconia. So as to avoid the chaos with the dogs, we decided to venture out to Waconia the night before to pick up our shirts and packets.

Another reason to do this was that we don’t get out that way too often. There was a new-to-us brewery to try! In fact, Waconia has a couple of breweries, wineries and a distillery, so I had to narrow things down a bit. Eventually, I decided it would be best to park once and walk. Waconia Brewing Company is just a few of blocks from our packet pick-up location.

Also, I found the Driftwood Gin Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout on Waconia Brewing’s online tap list and was just dying to try it! It’s aged in J. Carver gin barrels – the distillery located right in Waconia.

But alas, upon arrival, I found this:


Instead, I settled for the rich Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter:

Tasty! I really liked this taproom – the layout, the tables, the bar. I found a really nice pullover I wanted to buy, but it wasn’t in my size. I could have gone with another color, but since my KonMari-ing of my wardrobe, I have learned that I have to love an item for me to wear it. Otherwise, it’ll just sit in my closet.

{Note: We went back after the race the following day so our friend Terri could try that Chocolate PB Porter, but Steve and I waited outside with the pooches. {There is no patio.} Right as we were about to leave the owners showed up and told us that we could bring our dogs in if they were on leash. Good to know!}


After a pint, we walked a couple blocks back toward our car and decided to stop for dinner at the highly-rated-on-the-interwebs Iron Tap.


I like the rooftop patio, as well as the covered patio in the back. However, we took our usual seat at the small bar inside. For an establishment that most definitely has the best tap selection in Waconia, the interior wasn’t very big, with just six seats at the bar.

{Note: What I can tell you is that dogs are not allowed on the patio here. Knowing that the Waconia Brewing Chocolate PB Porter was on tap here, we inquired after the race if we could have a beer on the patio with our pooches. Regretfully, no. That’s why we went over to the taproom.}

There were several beers on tap that I’ve never had.


This may have been the first time I’ve seen one of Indeed Brewing‘s beers from their Wooden Soul series on tap outside the taproom! Many of the beers at the Iron Tap are local, too. I tried this wonderful collaboration beer by our local Indeed Brewing Company with the nationally-known New Belgium Brewing.


Indeed/New Belgium Come Together Honey Wheat Wine

The menu had items that sounded so fresh and wonderful! The salads intrigued me most, but I thought I should have something a bit more substantial.

SHIITAKE THYME 9 Italian sausage, Shiitake Mushroom, Thyme, Red Sauce

SHIITAKE THYME PIZZA – Italian sausage, Shiitake Mushroom, Thyme, Red Sauce – $9

It looks tasty, right? But, in essence, it was pretty boring. There wasn’t a ton of sauce and there seemed to be barely any sausage because I couldn’t taste it. The only saving grace was the cheese. I ate about half of this pizza really only because I needed some food. As I saw salads coming out of the kitchen, I had ordering remorse! I should have went with my gut.

Rob, on the other hand went absolutely nuts over these nachos!

NACHOS 10 Homemade Tortilla Chips, Chipotle Cheese, Lettuce, Pico de Gallo, Cilantro Lime Sour Cream Add Chicken or Beef 2

NACHOS – Homemade Tortilla Chips, Chipotle Cheese, Lettuce, Pico de Gallo, Cilantro Lime Sour Cream – $10 {Add Chicken or Beef $2}

Now this one photo is the opposite of the last. Neither of us thought the nachos looked tasty, but they truly were! There was so much flavor in here that Rob kept telling me how good they were that he finally offered me a bite! 😉

Yes, if we are in Waconia again, the Iron Tap is where we’ll be stopping. Now we have yet to try Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery, Parley Lake Winery and J. Carver Distillery. But we either need to try them one at a time or take a tour. Unless someone is going to be our chauffeur? Anyone? No?

Do you ever drive further out to check out another city or try a new restaurant?

If so, what has been your great find? 


The No-Excuse 15 Minutes of Cardio


We have all heard that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can be very effective. You could say that I’ve sort of done HIIT during my Couch to 5k days. My husband actually uses that app for this purpose! However, my run pace during the C25k wasn’t my fastest because I was training myself for endurance. The concept of running just one mile back then was scary!

However, I recently found this 15-Minute HIIT Workout that you don’t have any excuse not to do!



The first time I tried it was on my treadmill because I could easily watch the seconds and switch my pace. I was doubtful that I would feel like I did anything after just 15 minutes.

But I was wrong.

After just one circuit, my heartrate was up; I was breathing heavily; I started to sweat and I welcomed that one-minute of walk/rest time!  I felt exhilarated after I was finished. I felt like I did a real workout. It was then that I realized that I had NO EXCUSE not to workout.  Everyone has an extra fifteen minutes in a day. If you can’t do your normal workout, do this.

This is great for all fitness levels.

You can adapt the 30-20-10 technique to any type of workout – walking, rowing, biking, using the elliptical… you name it! Plus, you go at your own pace. My fastest pace may be the “relaxed pace” of another runner. It doesn’t matter. It’s benefiting me!

What if I don’t have a treadmill?

We’ve had some pretty great weather here, so I wanted to try this training outside. However, I didn’t want to have to look at a watch or timer the whole time. I went in search of an app. There are a ton of interval apps out there with great ratings! Most of them are free. I downloaded a handful, but none of them were what I wanted. Some allow you to customize your own interval program. However, I wasn’t finding one that would allow me three levels of intervals. Most would let me enter a timer for only one high and one low interval to be repeated a designated number of times.

Then I found this app.

I was really lucky to find the Intervals App because I didn’t remember seeing it in my iTunes search for one. Instead, I discovered it through AppsGoneFree. This is an app that I already have on my phone that offers up to five free apps every day. These are apps that are normally not free, but have been released as free just for the day. I don’t always look at the offerings because a lot of them are kids games or things I don’t need cluttering my iPhone.

However The Universe must have known that I needed it because that particular day, I checked the AppsGoneFree just to kill some time. There it was, in all its glory – a free intervals app. The ratings for the app aren’t that great – about 3 stars out of 5. So I probably would have never bought it for $2.99 otherwise.

The app design and function might be very basic for what you need; but it was perfect for me because I could program these intervals:

  • 30 Seconds – Comfortable Pace
  • 20 Seconds – Run Fast
  • 10 Seconds – Sprint

I put those in there five times followed by a one-minute walk break with two cycles. With my warm-up and cool-down (which the app also prompts), it’s a 15-minute workout! The app also counts down 5-4-3-2-1, which I find encouraging during the sprint portion.

Truly, whether home or away, there is no excuse for me not to do this workout.

What are your favorite workout apps?


Cooking, Running & Things I’m Lovin’


What is this blog coming to?!

Most of my posts lately have been about the imbibing I’ve done this summer. Well, that’s not all I’ve been doing! This blog has kind of evolved into a record of where we eat, drink and travel. It really helps us remember what we loved {or hated} and what we’d like to try or do next time when we return.

Yet, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking of beef or pork dishes from our Recipe Arsenal during the week.

In addition, if you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you may remember that when my husband goes out of town, I start to cook up a storm! And most often, I’m making all of the dishes that Rob cannot have!

I had two long weekends back-to-back when Rob was gone and had a lot of dishes I wanted to action!


What I’m Loving Right Now!

First off, I need to give a shout out to my new favorite brew. No, it’s not beer. It’s cold press coffee! I’m a little late to the cold press game. A few years ago I tried an Iced Americano. Despite my love of the original, I learned that I did not like cold coffee at all, which is what I thought cold press was!

It is not the same.

To make cold press coffee, grounds are steeped in cold water for at least twelve hours. After filtering the result is something much smoother than regular coffee!

I discovered Chameleon Cold-Brew on my ibotta app: 


The ibotta app offers rebates on specific items {including items you already buy like milk, bread, eggs and produce}! The rebate was $2 for the Chameleon Cold-Brew and the item was on sale at Target. Not only was that a win; but I also fell in love with it. It did wonders on the those humid weekend mornings we had a few weeks back!

Something else I fell in love with over those weekends? This Roasted Garlic Parmesan Shrimp {now in my recipe arsenal!} aka Death Row Shrimp. After making these shrimp, I decided that there must be a bag of shrimp in my freezer at all times.

My life has been changed.



On those Saturday mornings while the cat was away, I got some long runs in. I haven’t talked a lot about running lately on my blog. That’s because I haven’t been doing races or working toward any particular running goals. I’d like to think I’m practicing Intuitive Running. I think I just made that up.

What I mean is that after my back surgery, it took me a lot longer than expected to run comfortably again. So instead of trying to achieve a goal or new PR, I just run the way it feels right on that particular day. I generally stick to shorter, faster {for me!} runs during the week and do a 5k on Saturdays. If something is feeling off, I walk instead. I don’t want anything to set me back like that back pain and back surgery. I am grateful I can run now and know that I’m still benefiting if I stop to walk!



After my Saturday morning 5k during those weekends Rob was out of town, I’d walk down to the local Farmers Market and get a haul of goodies:


I just might start munching on those cucumbers right away…


And my pooches just might beg for those cucumbers right away while I’m munching!


All that zucchini had me desperate to try to make this Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup. After some chopping, into the pot it went.IMG_3918 (1)

It came out a little less silky then I’d hoped; but maybe I can just use less water next time.

IMG_3921 (1)

There is a really nice hint of spice here. But it still had me questioning how Melissa can possibly eat it for breakfast. I decided to give it a shot one morning with my other array of beverages!


Magic Green Smoothie, Ice Water, Hot Lemon Water, Chameleon Cold Press Coffee, Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup

It really did work! And it’s very filling, despite the little calories a small bowl contains.

Another morning, I attempted to make Cloud Bread for the first time. This is a “bread” made of eggs, cream cheese and cream of tartar. I was warned that it’s not exactly like real bread.


I also read that it could be crumbly if you eat them the same day, even after cooling. The trick is to put them in a ziplock bag and they will stiffen up overnight. It did look like nice toasted bread, though. {Note: I added chives!}


However, it did taste pretty egg-y. This might matter if you are using cloud bread as hamburger buns. This didn’t matter so much with my morning eggs!

The next morning, I made one of my favorite 90 Second Egg Sandwiches with the Cloud Bread. Still tasted Just Fine.


I did freeze one piece of Cloud Bread and tried to toast it the following weekend; but I wasn’t paying attention and it sort of burned. For the effort, I’m not sure I’d make Cloud Bread again.

In other breakfast news…

I also learned that this Gluten-Free Breakfast Casserole freezes really, really well. I made it a few weeks ago when I was having the girls over for brunch. I had so much leftover that I attempted to freeze it. It worked! It was an easy go-to breakfast during the work week. I would totally bring this dish for a work lunch, too!

Speaking of lunches…

My farmers market hauls aided me in using up other items in my freezer and pantry to make some scrumptious salads, like my fave Big Mac Salad and this random chicken salad:


Another day, for lunch, I made a double batch of a favorite of mine – Mini Salsa Turkey Meatloaves –  so that I could freeze a few for future lunches!


That side of green beans was made with this seasoning that I once received from a Foodie Penpal:


Yum! is the verdict on that one. I made a few other random things, too, like these Hot Fudge Brownie Larabars.

Yes, the mix looked like fertilizer:


And I’ll spare you the photo of what they looked like after I formed them into bars {or, with my talent, oblong shapes}. I’m sure you can picture that one for yourself.

I also made a few of my own spice blends. I was out of Italian Seasoning, which was needed to make my Homemade Italian Breadcrumbs, which were needed in my Mini Salsa Turkey Meatloaves, so I made an easy version.

Which got me to thinking, I really needed to somehow replace the Pampered Chef Rosemary Herb Seasoning I like to put on my popcorn, now that it is discontinued. I found a few recipes online and tried this version. Verdict? Not exactly the same, but still very good. It’ll do!

Rosemary Herb Seasoning

  • 2 tbsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. dried grated lemon peel
  • 1 tsp. dried leaf oregano crushed
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

I omitted the dried grated lemon peel because I didn’t have it.

And lastly, after another Farmers Market haul the following weekend…


I made my first ever Homemade Vegetable Broth based on this and this recipe.

I now have several cups of low-sodium frozen vegetable broth in my freezer! In fact, this past weekend, I’ve filled up our entire freezer with lots of meats and crockpot-ready meals for this fall.

What I didn’t have time for, but wish I did was to make a batch of this flavorful homemade chorizo {it has been a while!}. I also want to take a shot at making this homemade merguez.

What are your favorite things to cook when you have extra time?

What things do you like to cook for yourself when you don’t have to worry about anyone else’s likes or dietary constraints?

What do you stock in your freezer?







Excuse me readers, for I have not penned.

It’s been almost a month since my last Impression…

Restaurant Impression that is…

There are several restaurants we’ve tried over the past few months; but I haven’t written a single word. I’d like to say that’s because I’m busy enjoying summer. But, truthfully, I think I’ve had a case of the summertime blues. And because I was feeling that way, I was angry because I wasn’t appreciating summer like I told myself to this past winter. Being angry about being sad was a vicious cycle!

But I think I’ve discovered the root roots from which these feelings have stemmed. And I have plans in place to turn them around… Because I have nothing really serious to be sad about when I’ve got beautiful summer weather, day lilies smiling back and me…

photo 5

… not to mention a trip to Australia to look forward to this fall!

The #100HappyDays Challenge has helped me with this, too.

Part of the downer, is my running progress. I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating it is to have so much trouble getting back to the point where I was pre-back surgery a year and a half ago. I was slow then. I’m even slower now. Urgh.

Rob and I did the Bacon Chase 5k this weekend.

photo 1(6)

It was a cool theme, but far too many people for Rob (2200). And while it was a fun, casual event and the course was pretty easy and flat, I couldn’t run the entire thing. I know most of it was in my head. Because the crowd was so huge, Rob stayed back to run it with me. He could have injured himself running so much more slowly than his ability. And while I appreciated his gesture, I just felt guilty holding him back. And there were times I felt he was crowding me. It wasn’t his fault. It was all inside my own head.

This was an untimed race and we left our iPhones behind. I learned that part of the reward of finishing a race is learning your time.

Then there’s the re-occuring back pain. I’m in the process of taking my doctor’s 3x3x3 approach.

Get over it, Carrie. Better days are ahead!

And now it’s time for…




  • MondayGrilled Pork Chops with Mushrooms and side salad
  • Tuesday – Cooking for the girls. I think I’m going to make this Ground Turkey Zucchini Skillet, based on what I have on hand. But it sounds a little boring. Any other ideas out there?
  • Wednesday Angel Hair Pasta with San Marzano Meat Sauce
  • Thursday – leftovers
  • Friday – TBD
  • Saturday – Dinner out with the Girls
  • Sunday – TBD




Rob and I are starting a Run Streak! Starting Wednesday, we are going to run 1-mile per day, no matter what,every day up until we leave for Australia this fall. It’s how we decided to make ourselves accountable to continue to run when we don’t have a race scheduled! We may increase the amount on some days or add other cardio or strength training, but we have to do at least one mile and keep improving on our individual times. There’s no way we can’t fit a mile in!

  • Monday – REST
  • Tuesday REST
  • Wednesday – 1-mile run
  • Thursday – 1-mile run
  • Friday – 1-mile run
  • Saturday – 1-mile run
  • Sunday – 1-mile run

Cheers to moving forward!


Chicken Thighs – What’s Your Best Recipe?


It’s always difficult coming back from a week long summer getaway. Especially when you are busy at work catching up, you didn’t exactly follow do any of the the running program you had planned, and your dining options and choices weren’t very healthy.

On second thought, maybe it doesmake it easier. I feel gross. I want fresh vegetables. I am sick of sugar. I want to get moving again. I don’t want to feel so sluggish.

When we got back to Minnesota, I knew that I had to formulate a plan for the week quickly. I had to pick some easy dishes that I could put together quickly to make that first hectic week back go smoothly. It’s time to take a look at that Recipe Arsenal!  Rob and I have also decided to try our own thing this week and only eat together once this week. This gives me the opportunity to make myself some fish and chicken. I’m so out of practice and may need your help…




  • MondayGrilled Kielbasa with Sauerkraut and side salad
  • Tuesday – Shrimp with Zucchini & Tomatoes
  • Wednesday Angel Hair Pasta with San Marzano Meat Sauce
  • Thursday – Chicken Thighs with Grilled Asparagus – What’s your favorite easy recipe using chicken thighs? I have about 2 lbs. I could make 1 lb, or cook them all up for leftovers for salads, etc.
  • Friday – TBD
  • Saturday – St. Paul Farmer’s Market & Unplug Day!
  • Sunday – TBD


  • Poorman’s Caprese
  • Leftovers
  • Snacks – fruit, nuts or string cheese and dark chocolate



  • Monday – 2-mile run
  • Tuesday walk/yoga
  • Wednesday – 2.5-mile run
  • Thursday – REST
  • Friday – 1.5-mile race-pace run
  • Saturday – Unplug Day and Long Walk!
  • Sunday – 3-mile run

What is your favorite way to make chicken thighs?

Looking for an easy, no fail tasty recipe!

I am hoping to round up a bunch of favorites into one simple post.



Mexican Power Bowl


I’m no where sick of the Mediterranean Power Bowls I’ve been eating three times a week. But I’m out of goat cheese medallions. So it’s time to start using other items in my pantry and fridge. This week, I’ll be making some of these instead:

Quick Mexican Power Bowl

(makes 3 bowls)


  • 3 handfuls spinach
  • 1 cup precooked rice
  • 1 – 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), julienned or chopped.
  • 1 – 15 oz can seasoned diced tomatoes, including juices (You can substitute fresh tomatoes, of course. But for my quick-and-easy-pulling-from-the-pantry purposes here, the canned ones are quick, readily available and already seasoned!)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese
  • My favorite Salsa-Ranch Dressing a la Biz


Divide ingredients among three containers and refrigerate. If you’d rather use the salsa-ranch as a cold dressing, rather than a sauce, be sure to put the dressing in a separate container. At lunchtime, heat your bowl (slightly covered) in the microwave for 1 and 1/2 to 2 minutes. Stir. Add dressing if you didn’t include it. Optional, but not required for a tasy bowl: Add a dollop of sour cream or guacamole.

Easy Alternative: Convert this into an easy cold taco salad by substituting the spinach for iceberg, romaine or other lettuce and disregard the heating instructions.


Now it’s time for:




  • MondayMediterranean Pork Chops with Garlic Green Beans and Best Oven Fries
  • Tuesday – Beef Stir-Fry with carrots, asparagus, onion and mushrooms
  • Wednesday Grilled Kielbasa with Sauerkraut and Best Oven Fries
  • Thursday – Leftovers
  • Friday – Dinner out at Peninsula Malaysian. What would you order here?
  • Saturday – Three-Course Dinner with Wine Pairings at Basil’s.
  • Sunday – Treating my Pupper Dawgs’ daddy {bna Rob} to a walk of his choice in Minneapolis with food truck eats and Izzy’s Ice Cream.


  • Mexican Power Bowls (see above!)
  • Leftovers
  • Snacks – fruit, nuts or string cheese and dark chocolate



  • Monday – Walk, yoga or recumbent bike
  • Tuesday 2-mile run
  • Wednesday – cross trainYoga
  • Thursday – 1.5 mile race pace run
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – 3-mile run
  • Sunday – walk

What are you eating this week?