Today: DirtyGirl Mud Run 2014 and being a beginner again.

I’m usually partial to good, clean fun.  Mostly because I am lazy and don’t like cleaning up messes.  This weekend, however, was a bit of a departure.  My sister and I ran our first DirtyGirl 5k on Saturday morning and I swear, I am still smiling.  Also: 4 showers later, I am still finding mud in various places.  Like way inside my ear.

I’ve participated in one other mud run before, and it happened to be on the same course at the Amesbury Sports Park.  Nick and I ran together, and by together, I mean that he blazed ahead and I met him at the finish line six hours 30 minutes after he started his celebration beer.  It had rained quite a bit before the event, and the narrow and steep trails felt, welp… super dangerous.  People were falling left and right and on one another.  The obstacles were fun, but it was hard to run between them due to the thick mud.  Basically, I fell from one obstacle to the next.  I was happy I participated, but not eager to sign up for another event.

When the folks at DirtyGirl reached out to me, however, I was starting to run again (this was shortly after Grace was born, but before I broke my toe… I think) and was looking for a race to train for.  I convinced my sister to join me and figured if nothing else, we’d have fun together.  And did we ever.

Before and After (and yes.. that is mud ON MY TEETH.)

I hadn’t run since the whole toe thing, so to say I was undertrained would be an understatement.  At the same time, carrying around a 13 lb. baby in a 35 lb. car seat and practicing inversions while she sleeps has paid off, making those climbing obstacles a breeze.  I tried my best to keep up with my sister (who actually, you know, works out), but if nothing else, those walking breaks served as great motivation to be thoughtful about future goals and training.

Getting back into shape (whatever that means, seeing as I feel like I am a totally different shape) after having Grace has been humbling, which is both challenging and freeing.  The slate is wiped clean, so to speak.  After dropping my sister off, I took a ridiculously long shower and then promptly downloaded the Couch to 5k app.  Having completed two marathons and countless other races, it bruises my ego a bit to think of myself as a beginner, but hey… that’s where I am right now.  I think my new mantra has something to do with meeting myself where I am, not where I was.  Also:  I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay.

Back to the mud: At one point, I was doubled over with laugher when my sister looked at me and yelled “AAAAH!  You have a mustache!”  I had nothing clean to wipe my face with, so on we went.  I swear, I laughed for the full 5k.  Which explains how I got mud on my teeth.  Gross.  I have never been so eager to see the professional photos from an event.

I kept thinking, I wish every workout could be this fun.  While there can’t always be giant inflatable obstacles and tutu-clad competitors alongside me, I bet infusing some of that playfulness into my training or yoga practice would do some good.

DirtyGirl Mud Run 2014: The Highlights

  • The course was the perfect balance of muddy, yet still run-able.  While I had take breaks to walk here and there (those hills are no joke), you really could run this course.  It took us just under 40 minutes to complete the 3.1 mile loop, including obstacles… and two laughing induced asthma attacks.
  • The obstacles were so much fun.  They were challenging, but not impossible and unlike similar events, you can opt-out, if you choose.
  • No offense, dudes, but there’s just something about an all female event…
  • The event had a really positive, supportive vibe.  Fellow runners cheered one another on and staff and volunteers were helpful and friendly.
  • From the parking and shuttle bus to the post-race showers and everything in between, the event was so well managed.

My sister and I are already looking forward to next year’s event (we’ve started recruiting teammates and designing our outfits… there may be sloths involved muhaha). To save on your registration to an upcoming Dirty Girl 5k, use the code BLOGFRIEND.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary entry to this event in exchange for writing articles for the DirtyGirl blog.  All the dirt shared here is my own.  Get it… dirt…?

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your current mantra?

Today: The Weekend According to Instagram XXVIII

We made a quick trip to Maine this weekend to see Nick’s parents, and made it back to the city in time for our niece’s birthday party.  By the time Sunday evening rolled around, I was ready to face plant into bed… but forced myself to do laundry first.  You know, so I would have something to wear come Monday morning.

Oh, and before we dig into my own Instagram feed, I came across something worth sharing this morning: Brendon and Danielle are hosting a fantastic yoga challenge (starting today) that focuses on modifications.  I love that there is room for everyone to practice in yoga, and this challenge reflects that.

Okay.  Let’s look at pictures of my trunk.  And the harbor.  And my dog.

The Weekend According to Instagram XXVIII

Follow me on Instagram: @ElizabethEv

  1. This is what “packing light” looks like these days.  After visiting my parents on the Cape over the 4th, we had a pretty good sense of what was necessary and what we could leave home.  I am not sure why I packed 100 diapers for a 36 hour trip, but hey. In addition to the obvious (ye olde Pack ‘N Play), we have a couple baby items that have been great for travel: this Skip Hop outdoor blanket which folds up beautifully and easily wipes clean (bonus points for for detachable insulated bag – we used this for Grace’s rash guard and swim diaper last weekend) and the Puj Flyte infant bath, which also folds up (sensing a theme?) and fits in most sinks.  I was afraid Grace had outgrown the Flyte (we used it for her first few baths at home), but it actually works even better now that she’s, welp… sturdier.
  2. I will never tire of this view. Dusk in Boothbay Harbor is just incredible.  I remember one of my art history professors in college talking about how the light in Maine is magic.  I thought he was high.  Now I think he was just telling the truth (also, he could have been high).
  3. Other magical things in Maine: This aptly named “Little House” nestled just along the harbor.  When I’m old I want to live in a little house (specifically: a tiny house).
  4. I’ve been sharing pages from my sketchbook lately on Instagram.  I’ve always loved to draw, but I’m finding it especially productive as a way to quiet my brain a bit at the end of the day.  I’m the first to admit that I’m tightly wound and the last few months?  On another level.  I’ve been breaking out some paper, a pen and a set of watercolors most nights after Grace goes to sleep (and, inevitably, before she wakes up again).  There were a few Audubon field guides at the cottage (plus, like… real birds outside…), hence the, um... birdoodles.
  5. An old, old wooden ship.
  6. Clark loves heading North.  He also loves pretending to play guard dog behind decorative screen doors.
  7. How I close out the weekend: brewing a pitcher of peppermint tea to sip cold throughout the week.  Super refreshing.  The Yogi Tea quotes help.
  8. New animal obsession: hedgehogs.  I picked up this set of notecards at Target (no surprise there).  More hedgehog cuteness: Biddy the Hedgehog’s Instagram account.  He fits in the palm of your hand, he visits National Parks, he is magnificent.
  9. Aaaaaaand a tiny OOTD: Grace’s party dress for her cousin’s birthday.  Wouldn’t be a party without a bow.

Hope you had a lovely weekend, too.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Today: The Weekend According to Instagram XXVI

It’s been a hundred years several months since I shared a Weekend According to Instagram update. Mostly because I was trying to learn Roman numerals and figure out what came after XXV.  Just kidding.  Or am I?

Regardless, we really packed quite a bit of fun into the past two days.  I wish every day was a summer weekend day.  Except, like, Christmas.  Obviously.

The Weekend According to Instagram XXVI

  1. After Nick got home from CrossFit and I finished a little yoga on the deck and a walk with my lovely friend Alyson, we headed down to my parents’ house for some pool time.  Grace is still too young to wear sunblock (though our pediatrician did say we could test a tiny patch on her arm, she emphasized that our best bet is keeping her out of the sun altogether), so we broke out her ridiculous sun hat and rash guard for quick dip.  She seemed a bit shocked at first and was clearly holding on for deal life, but I have a feeling we’ve got a water baby on our hands.
  2. We spent lots of time outside this weekend, including a little Sunday evening stroll around the neighborhood with the Frenchie.  Earlier in the day, Grace and I met up with our mom/baby friends and JP and then picked up Nick for our baptism prep class and some lunch in the Back Bay.
  3. There is more Black Mass filming being done in our neighborhood this week.  On one hand, it’s rather exciting to have Johnny Depp walking around, but on the other, it was a pretty unnerving to see signs about forced busing at the old Southie High last night.  Sure, the fresh paint on the street is part of a movie set, but the busing crisis was a real and critical time in the city and neighborhood’s history, one with powerful and lasting effects.
  4. On a lighter (only 100 calories and not the least bit depressing) note: I am going to eat 600 Yasso frozen Greek yogurt bars this summer.  2 down, 598 to go.  I received a coupon for a free box a few weeks ago and highly recommend the sea salt caramel flavor (we’re already onto our second box), best enjoyed with your feet up on the deck.  Oh, and save your popsicle sticks.  I’ve got an easy DIY project coming up later this week.
  5. Nick and I had our first date night (5 months in the making!) since becoming parents.  Mom on the loose!  We were able to get last minute tickets to Amaluna and my sister and brother-in-law generously offered to babysit.  It was really nice to get out for a bit, especially knowing Grace (and Clark) were in such good hands.  The pictures my sister took of Zach and Grace together basically melted my heart.  Uncle Z is the coolest.
  6. We were home before dark (and I nearly fell asleep during intermission — I need to step up my game if I want to convince Nick to go on a second post-baby date anytime soon), just in time to catch this beautiful sunset over the city.

I already want this summer to last forever.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • After watching Tiny, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of moving into a tiny house… maybe, like… in 20 years
  • If you have a lot of free time on your hands before the 4th, make these and impress your friends.
  • 10 easy DIYs for the 4th via Buzzfeed (Red, white and blue jorts for everyone!)

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Today: Bet on Better with me.

Shocking news: Grace will be five months old this weekend.  She celebrated early with 6 consecutive hours of sleep last night.  Meanwhile, I got up every 6 minutes to check on her, starring in disbelief as the baby who rarely slept more than 3 hours in a row continued to sleep soundly in her crib.  Is this what the next 20 years will be like?  Me peeking around corners, tiptoeing in the darkness, and spying on my own child to ensure everything’s okay?  I should probably invest in a periscope.  Or maybe some Spy-Tech (coolest 80’s toys, hands down).

Now that Grace’s schedule is starting to level off, I’ve got some catching up to do.

I don’t know why, but I had this ridiculous idea that once I went back to work (12 weeks after Grace was born), I would be sleeping through the night, eating something other than a handful of Fritos and an entire quart of raspberries for dinner (i.e. my sixteenth one-handed meal of the day), working out regularly at the gym, and oh, I don’t know, fitting into non-stretchy pants.  Needless to say: not happening.  Not yet.  Or at least, not all in the same day.

The combination of sheer exhaustion and a desire to spend every second (that I am not working, or like, showering) with our little family has made working out… challenging.  Throw in the broken toe (which is nearly healed, and almost looks like a regular toe again), and you’ve got a recipe for disaster the perfect excuse.  I eat reasonably well and have fit in daily walks and some great spinning and yoga classes over the past few months, but I feel like it’s time to really make a commitment to my health and wellness.  Life is not going to get less busy.  As the months pass, it may not be any easier to eat thoughtful meals, or sleep longer than a few hours in a row, or balance work and family time.  It may not get easier, but judging by how our lives continue to change, especially recently, it will get better and better.  

In an effort to stay accountable and motivated, and to build community around making the best possible choices for ourselves and those we love, I am hosting my first DietBet.  I’ve named it “Bet On Better” because, for me, it’s not simply about losing a few pounds (though I do look forward to fitting into real pants).  It’s about making better choices for myself across the board, choices that will help me honor my commitment to a healthy, happy, and well-lived life.

If you’re new to DietBet, you can read my full run-down here, but essentially each 4-week game includes an initial bet (in this case, $35) which goes into the pot.  Participants who successfully (and safely, please!) lose 4% of their weight during the game split the pot.  You also have the option to donate your winnings to charity, which I find to be great motivation.  I have participated in games before, and really enjoyed the community fostered among players.  As a host, I will be providing a little extra motivation, support, and helpful resources throughout the 4 weeks.  The game begins on July 8th.  I hope you will join me and consider bringing a few friends along (this is definitely one of those the more, the bigger pot merrier cases)!

Click here to join (or learn more about) the Bet On Better DietBet!

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your best source of motivation when it comes to making better choices?

Today: FenwaYoga and taking my OM outdoors.

Shortly after writing up my little Summer Bucket List, I got an incredible invitation from KIND.  Did I want to join them for yoga with Mandy Ingber at Fenway Park?  A thousand percent yes (it didn’t hurt that I read their email while snacking on a Healthy Grains bar in between meetings).  KIND sponsored the 2nd annual FenwaYoga event, which benefitted the Red Sox Foundation’s Red Sox Scholars and RBI Youth Baseball and Softball programs.

I was looking forward to checking off “practice yoga outside” from my bucket list, but never expected to have the chance to roll out my mat on the warning track along the Green Monster.

It was such an awesome experience.  Mandy lead a fun but challenging class (made slightly more challenging by the mid-morning sun) from the pitcher’s mound, while yoga teachers from the area provided additional guidance from the outfield.  I made fast friends with the woman next to me, as we swapped iPhones to grab photos of one another goofing off inside the park.

The yoga community in Boston was out in full force and everyone, especially the folks from KIND, made me feel so welcome and grateful to be a part of such an incredible day.

I really thought I’d be itching to get back to CrossFit once Grace was born, but lately I’ve been craving yoga even more.  I appreciate balance of gentleness and strength that yoga gives me, and love that Grace can squirm around beside me on her activity mat while I practice at the beginning or end of the day.  Now that she’s discovered her toes and is holding onto them for dear life, I can’t help but fit in happy baby pose whenever possible.

If you’re looking to take your om outdoors, here are a few ongoing opportunities in the area:

Also On Tap for Today:

What sort of workout have you been craving lately?

 

Today: Feeding the giraffes and stalking the sloths.

Shortly after Nick and I started dating, we made plans to visit the Roger Williams Park Zoo.  He’s always loved animals, whereas I’ve always been a little whatever.  (This was after a feral cat specifically chose the underside of my car as its final resting place… but years before I met Clark.  I think that timeline goes a long way in explaining my ambivalence towards non-humans.)

I think I was probably Googling something like, “Great… but do you have any baby hippos?” a few days before our trip to the zoo when I came across an announcement for a giraffe naming contest.  We spent the better part of a week going back and forth with name suggestions before submitting our top choices.  Nick tried to get the little leggy fellow named after one of his clients from Romania (I just made my husband sound way more mysterious than he actually he is), while I was certain I had hit it out of the park with Thomas Girafferson.  I mean, come on! USA! USA! Likely not a spoiler alert: neither of us won the contest.

The visit to the zoo, however, was lovely.  I’m not an animal communicator (despite trying to read my dog’s mind on the daily), but they all seemed well cared for and maybe even happy.

When I was trying to come up with something fun to do for Father’s Day (something more fun than breaking a toe, which is how I celebrated my first Mother’s Day), I came up with some pretty bad ideas.  One involved buying a used kite surfing board from one of our old neighbors.  I love surprises (for other people, not so much for me), so the key was finding something unexpected… but ideally, not super dangerous.

And then I found out you can sign up to feed the giraffes at Roger Williams (for a small donation, which is a nice way of saying straight cash, homey).

Question:  What new dad wakes up on Father’s Day thinking, Hey!  I wonder if I will get to feed a giraffe today? Answer: A very psychic one.  In other words, it was the perfect surprise.

Nick got to get up close and personal with Jaffa (who will always be Thomas Girafferson to me) while I snapped photos from the other side of the fence.  It was really fun to watch.  From a safe distance.  Which is how I like my animal encounters.

Actually… there is one animal I would like very much to be dangerously close to.  The sloths.  I can’t get enough of them.  When I was little, I though my sister (an infant at the time) looked like the baby sloth in my National Geographic Zoo Babies book (which was published in 1978 and is currently available for a mere one cent on Amazon… act now!).  In hindsight, I could see how that comparison could be misinterpreted (what, with the gnarly nails and overwhelming body odor), but I thought sloths were cute and I knew my sister was cute, end of story.

After Nick fed Thomas G., we started making our way back to the car (Grace was about 30 seconds away from a melt down and also, I wanted snacks) when we were about to pass the rain forest exhibit.  Strollers weren’t allowed in building, but I saw a sign for sloths, so I quicky abandoned my family took Nick up on his offer to stay outside with the baby while I checked things out.  I was about to make my way back to them, when a woman pointed above me.  I nearly fainted with joy.  A real, live sloth was hanging from a branch directly over my head.  I don’t think sloths fall from things very often (or ever?) but if he did, he would have totally landed in my handbag.  And I would have kept him.

I have no idea where this post is going… but I just admitted to wanting to steal a sloth, so my guess is: nowhere good. I’ll stop myself here.

Also On Tap for Today:

If you could steal, but then responsibly care for (obvi) any zoo creature, which would you choose?

Today: Summer Bucket List and some sweet shades.

Let’s start with a question: Where did the expression bucket list come from? (Please pause while I Google…)  Hmm.  Not a fruitful search.  Ohhhhh….. it must have something to do with kicking the bucket, and like… things you want to do before that fateful day.  One thing that is not on my summer bucket list: kicking the bucket.

Morbidity (and flaky inner monologue) aside, here are a few things I am hoping to accomplish before Labor Day rolls around.

The coolest bro ever.

Summer Bucket List

  1. A little road trip with my little family - I’m toying with Montreal, would love to see Niagra Falls again, and have also been keeping an eye on the new Nova Star.  Oh, and I read about a library in Vermont that sits directly on the border and does not yet have a copy of Bobby Orr’s autobiography.  I feel like that’s a problem I can remedy with my dogeared copy.   Apparently, I’m feeling the call of Canada.
  2. Hiking in the Blue Hills - and by hiking, I likely mean the family friendly paved path… and a peek at the otters at the Trailside Museum.
  3. Yoga outside - and lots of it.
  4. SUP – Bonus points for SUP yoga.  Side bar:  I am convinced my sister, our cousin and I invented SUP.  We used to take our families’ ocean kayaks out on the Cape, stand up, and think we were incredibly cool (we were).  We called it “stand upon kayaking”… but maybe if we had abbreviated it to SUK it would have caught on?  No.
  5. See Wait Wait in person – Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is going to be at Tanglewood in late August.  I want to be there. Badly.
  6. Run a new race – my broken toe is nearly unbroken, so I think it’s time to set my sights on a new goal and get training.  Also, can I just say, broken toes are no joke.  I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance (hello, labor and delivery), but maaaaaaan.  You know when you stub your toe, and you get that feeling of I might throw up or I might pee?  And then the feeling goes away and you’re fine (and hopefully you neither threw up nor peed)?  It doesn’t go away when your toe is broken.  And you have to wear an ugly boot.  And suddenly this bucket list became a pity party.
  7. Tackle unfinished (or in some cases, un-started) home projects – I have grand plans for our pantry and a few art projects in mind for Grace’s nursery.  I’m looking forward to spending a few Summer Fridays getting crafty.
  8. Go to a hot air balloon festival - according to the Internet, there are a bunch in New England this summer.  This might be a reach, but I think it would be so cool to see a sky full of balloons.  There used to be a few that would float over our house when I was growing up.  It always felt like we were witnessing something magical (real magic… not the creepy, weird magician kind..).
  9. Volunteer - Clark and I took some time off from our pet therapy visits in the weeks leading up to, and following, Grace’s arrival.  I am looking forward to getting back in the swing of things at the hospital, and finding other ways to support our community.
  10. Track 12 weeks of food and fitness – I’ve only ever successfully tracked my food intake for more than a day, like, once.  It was back in my food allergy/elimination diet/what is wrong with my stomach days, and honestly… it was not fun.  At the same time, it helped me see the choices I was making and the patterns I had fallen into, and how food affects my overall wellbeing.  I think a bit of accountability and self-awareness will go a long way, especially as I try to make the best possible choices for me and Grace.

Welp, there you have it folks: my I hope I go to a ballon festival before kicking the bucket list.

P.S. I recently received a complimentary pair of Nectar sunnies.  They’re fun and a bit flashy and very reasonably priced ($30 for a polarized pair, $20 for non-polarized).  In other words, they’re the perfect accessory for checking off summer bucket list items.  They were a bit big on Clark, but fit me perfectly. Looking for a pair of your own?  Click here and use the code ‘lovenectar’ for 10% off

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Planting a few more herbs for our little deck garden
  • My new obsession: produce bouquets
  • Packing for a day trip to DC

What’s on your summer bucket list?

 

Today: How to spoil your dog and a giveaway from Milk-Bone

GIVEAWAY CLOSED — Congratulations Kim, and many thanks to Wish Bone and all who entered.

When we first brought Clark home, I had no idea what I was doing.  He was my first non-hamster pet, and the first dog I wasn’t mostly terrified of.  I probably should have read a book about dogs, or something… but instead our relationship was forged by a lot of trial and error, several panicked calls to the vet (they all started with “Is it normal for dogs to…”) and lots of Googling.  And the fun stuff, like playing “Can you find me if I am hidden beneath all your half-destroyed stuffed animals?”

You get comfy, I’ll track down the meat flavored toothpaste.

When Clark didn’t eat right away, I would sit on the floor with him, garnishing his dry food with organic apple sauce, sliced carrots and shredded cheese, and attempt to feed him by hand.   When he didn’t, like, do his business… I’d stay outside with him for hours, making up encouraging songs about bodily functions.  I bought him a little toothbrush and meat flavored toothpaste (which smelled like a dead squirrel and made me want to cry) and tried my best to keep his K-9 canines nice and clean.  He was more interested in eating the toothbrush.  I thought he needed a bath before bed time each night (that was short lived, turns out that’s really not a good nor healthy idea), and wondered if there was some sort of Frenchie cuticle oil I should invest in.

During those first few weeks, Nick would often come home to find dog toys strewn about our condo, and me and Clark covered in food, bathing supplies, and fur.  Five years later, I’ve learned a few lessons (a monthly bath will suffice; if he’s hungry, he’ll eat), but I’ve yet to master the tooth brushing thing.

I think he’s trying to show you his molars.

When Milk-Bone offered to send me their new Brushing Chews, I thought…. finally.  No more dead squirrel paste. Clark seems to think they’re treats, which works for me.

Bonus points for the stand-up, resealable bag! #easilyimpressed

Milk-Bone Brushing Chews have been clinically proven to reduce tartar build-up and freshen dog’s breath.  They look like sweet little bones, but their brushing nubs and 75 degree twist were designed to reach down to the dog’s gum line, and those hard-to-reach back teeth.  They’ve earned the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s seal of approval, and the highly sought after “two paws up” from Clark.

Just casually brushing his own chompers.

The Frenchie is hooked, and I am happy to put away our little toothbrush.

A giveaway from Milk-Bone

The lovely folks at Milk-Bone have offered to give one On Tap for Today reader (US residents only, please… sorry, Canadians!  And French people.) their own Milk-Bone Brushing Chews kit, along with a $25 VISA gift card.  To enter, please comment below.

While your dog is busy cleaning his own teeth, you might think about how you’ll put that gift card to good use, spoiling your fur ball.

Little dude is famous. Kind of.

How to spoil your dog for $25 or less:

  • Do a little research about dog-friendly locations in your area.  I’m partial to the newly released Ruff Guide to the United States (pictured above)… and not just because Clark made his modeling debut in the Massachusetts section.  One of the best ways I can think of to spoil your dog is to spend good ol’ fashioned quality time with him or her.  C-A-R is one of Clark’s favorite words.  He loves adventures, but more than anything, I think he just likes to be along for the ride.  With summer approaching, we’re looking forward to a few dog-friendly weekends away.
  • Treat your pal to a new collar or leash.  A new collar or leash is an inexpensive but practical treat for your little guy.  We have a great waterproof, stink-proof collar from Dublin Dog that is perfect for summer.  Clark’s able to jump in the ocean (or the Swan Pond…) without getting his collar soggy.
  • Speaking of swimming, you might invest in some water safety gear.  Safety first, summer fun second.
  • Pamper those paws.  For less than $25, we can get Clark nice and clean (read: not smelling like Fritos… why does that happen?!) at our local groomer.  We also love B.Y.O.D., a local dog spa and retail shop where we can drop Clark into one of their industrial sinks and bathe him ourselves.  It’s a lot of fun… and a lot less messy than bathing him at home.  You could also stock up on your pup’s favorite grooming supplies.  We use Bag-Balm for Clark’s nose, oatmeal and aloe shampoo in the tub, a Zoom Groom for brushing (perfect for his short coat), and Musher’s Secret for paw protection in the winter.
  • Make a contribution to your local dog park. Living in the city, we really appreciate having a safe, enclosed space to let Clark roam free and stretch his short legs a bit.  We’re lucky to live close to the South Boston Bark Park, which is always really well maintained.  I noticed the other day that you can become a member and support volunteer efforts to keep the park clean and safe.  Seems like  good way to ensure our little guy can continue to enjoy his trips to the park!

Disclaimer: The Milk Bone dog products, information, and VISA gift cards (for this post and giveaway) have been provided by the Milk-Bone brand.  I received a complimentary Brushing Chews kit and a $25 gift card.  All opinions shared are my own (welp, and Clark’s… sort of), and I grateful to be sharing this giveaway with you and your pups.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite way to spoil your dog?  Share below for a chance to win your own Milk-Bone Brushing Chews and a $25 VISA giftcard.  Entries will be accepted until the end of the day on Wednesday, May 28th.  A random winner will be selected and notified by email.

 

Today: Watermelon agua fresca on the deck.

When we moved into our condo last year, the weather was just starting to turn cool.  I’d slip out onto the deck in the morning with a hot cup of tea, grateful to have a little outdoor space of our own.  On winter days when I was feeling especially brave, I’d take my coffee out there, watching the snow fall along the water.  Now that warmer days have (finally) arrived, it’s time to switch up our deck drinks.

Watermelon agua fresca

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Optional: agave nectar, tacky purple string lights

Super obvious directions:

  1. Add watermelon, water and lime juice to the blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Sweeten with agave, if desired (I prefer it without, but… different strokes for different folks).
  4. Garnish with a lime slice and your favorite straw.
  5. Hit the deck.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your weekend?

 

Today: Blog Tour – My Writing Process

My pal Molly recently invited me to join the My Writing Process blog tour.  It’s sort of like a blogger’s chain letter (speaking of, did anyone ever participate in a middle school chain letter that actually worked?), where we talk about… well, our writing process, but also shine a light on some of our favorite blogs.  I’ve never done something like this before, so when Molly shared her post, I found myself clicking through to read posts from others on the tour, fascinated by reading about what inspires other bloggers, how their styles and content varies, and what they most enjoy writing about.

Sometimes I pay Clark to edit for me. So, um, if you catch a typo… blame him.

I first started blogging in 2006-ish when I felt like I desperately needed a creative outlet.  I was still having flashbacks from my senior year drawing class and the time our professor served as a live model, so sketching didn’t seem like a safe option.  I barely knew how to knit (hence the collection of 1/4 scarves I tried to pass off as potholders).  I probably could have taken up cooking, but I lived with my parents and welp… I liked eating what they made.  Having always loved to write, a free blogspot address seemed like a natural fit for a recently graduated, rather poor, semi-bored non-profit employee such as myself.  Because blogging has always been somewhere in the neighborhood of third or fourth or eleventh on my list of priorities, I’ve posted when inspiration struck, and rarely a minute sooner.

Those are sparks of inspiration… or whatever.

Lately, however, I feel like I’ve been posting even when that inspiration has gone on strike, I’ve been posting more sponsored content than usual, and I’ve even been tempted to outright delete content I’ve shared.  Having the chance to reflect on and answer the questions posed and answered by Molly (and our chain letter predecessors, like Bianca and Meghan) has been tremendously helpful.  It’s sort of like when you go to leadership camp and on the ride home you’re all, “I love student council! This is going to be the best year evvvvaaarrrr!”  Oh.  You didn’t go to leadership camp because you were doing normal things?  Right.  Well.

I’m grateful to Molly for including me in this tour, and for the great content she shares week after week.  We first met at a Whole Foods event, but I had been reading her restaurant picks (you can find her full list of Dining Out reviews here – from Boston to LA, Las Vegas to Miami, and seemingly everywhere in between, this is the place to go if you’re looking for a solid restaurant recommendation), shopping tips, local event coverage and book reviews for quite some time before that.  She has impeccable taste (supporting evidence: her Instagram account) and after seeing her Oscar party photos, I decided I need her to plan every party and event in my life hence forward.

I rarely talk blog shop here, but I am hoping you might find this peek behind the curtain even a little interesting, and perhaps it will get you thinking about your creative process, as well.  Here goes.

My Writing Process

Haaaaaaay.

What am I working on?

For the first time (maybe ever?) I am craving some sort of established process or plan for On Tap for Today.  I have quite the list of posts I want to start (or finish… or translate from a late night iPhone note to something actually readable, and not written entirely in emoji), but find myself spread a bit thin lately.  My old “when inspiration strikes” method isn’t working quite as well now that I am trying to navigate being a wife, a mother, a career person, and a cool/sort of interesting/regular person.  When I do have free time, I am sure you can understand that I’d rather spend it with Nick and Grace and Clark and not my MacBook.  And yet, there’s a reason I keep paying my hosting fee each month.  I love this little corner of the Internet I’ve carved out for myself.

So I guess you could say I am working on time management and transitioning to something a bit more organized and a bit less spontaneous.  I’ve been kicking around a few ideas about fostering creativity, and have a few projects I’ve been working on around the condo (as the saying goes, Sleep Craft when the baby sleeps) that I am excited to share.  I’m also planning to share more wellness focused posts, as I feel like how I care for my body (and brain, and spirit) is especially important these days.  Did I mention I broke my toe this weekend?  I’ll probably tell you about that too. (Cliffhanger!)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

They’re not like other bananas. They’re marathon bananas.

Every “how to” I’ve ever read about blogging has said this: Find a niche and stick to it.  Normally I’m a rule follower, but I like the freedom to write about finding shells in Mexico one day, and seeing a fart on my dog’s x-ray the next.  I am as passionate about fitness and I am about spending the day in bed reading.  Two of my most popular (it feels sort of Mean Girls to use that word, but hey) posts are about marathon running and why you shouldn’t get your eyebrows waxed when you’re sad.  Breaking the niche rule works for me, and so I am not sure On Tap for Today fits into any one category or genre.  Lifestyle, maybe?  Healthy Living, sort of?

The posts I’m most proud of, and I suppose the ones that differentiate me even a tiny bit, are those where I’ve taken a risk and been more personal and vulnerable.  Writing about being afraid is more difficult than sharing a chili recipe, but it’s also more rewarding for me (trust me, though, the chili is worth making) and, I hope, maybe more helpful for others.

Why do I write what I do?

Writing is often how I do my best processing (I’d choose writing over talking about a challenge any day.).  So when I’m sharing something more substantial than, say, a Frenchie photo montage, my motivation is often selfish.  I always appreciate, though, when a post resonates with someone else.  It’s a privilege to be part of this community and be able to build connections with words.

Who needs school when you have a fence?

More often, though, I write because something strange or funny (both funny haha and funny um… okay) has happened and I think it warrants documenting (like the time there was a skunk trapped in a stairwell near my office, and someone took the time to print up a sign, but didn’t bother to call animal control).  Or because I just enjoyed the most amazing agua fresca on the deck and I feel it would be unjust to deny my mom humanity the recipe.  Or because I feel like I’m back in the running game (that was before the broken toe, obvi) and I want to hold myself accountable.

Above all, I try to be genuine and authentic in my writing.  I’m not an expert at much (I think I’m a semi-expert at my real job, but no one wants to hear about that stuff), and hope my vibe comes across as accessible, approachable, and thoughtful.  No one needs a lecture.  Except for people that need a lecture.  Also, why did I just talk about “my vibe?”  

How does my writing process work?

I was that kid who never bothered with outlines (they drove me mental).  In fact, I often wrote my outline after the fact, so as to not lose points on pre-writing exercises.  Were I presently 11 instead of 32, I don’t think I would fare well on the MCAS exams.  Or in middle school, in general.

In this case, the word “daily” is pronounced “erratic.” But thank you, Whole Foods!

When it comes to posts, I almost always write and publish them in one sitting.  Sometimes this takes 10 minutes, other times 60.  Despite lacking in the bowhunting photography skills department, images are an important component for me.  It’s often a photo that drives or inspires the narrative, but sometimes I dig through the 9.3 million unorganized photos in my DropBox for something that fits after writing.

I often read my posts aloud before clicking publish in an effort to catch typos and other embarrassing things… like references to leadership camp (I use this trick at work, too).

And that’s that.  Nothing exciting.

And now for the next round of the My Writing Process blog tour…

I do. It’s true.

I’m thrilled that the following three ladies have agreed to share their writing process with us next Monday.  I consider each to be the Diana Barry to my Anne Shirley (which is to say, we’re kindred spirits, duh).  Please be sure to keep an eye out for their posts, which will be live next Monday, May 19th.

Michelle of Hit the Bricks We technically first met at a blogging event in Boston, but I was a total boob (shocking) and super socially awkward.  Fortunately, Michelle is charitable, and didn’t write me off altogether.  When we had our first real friend date, I think both of our husbands put lo-jack in our handbags, worried about what happens when one meets an “internet friend” for tea.  In the years since, she’s become a true and trusted friend.  She likes Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart and office supplies as much as I do, so basically, our friendship was written in the stars (with a mint green fine point Sharpie).

Heather of Then Heather Said I’ve learned a great deal from Heather during the years I’ve been lucky enough to know her.  From practical information (the best apps, tips for staying organized, random Presidential facts) to even more important things (specifically, how to be a good friend), I’m so grateful our paths have crossed.  Aaaand I get excited every Tuesday, because I love her Twosday posts.

Kristi of Life Sprinkles  I first met Kristi at the 2011 Healthy Living Summit cocktail party in Philadelphia.  I’ve loved catching up with her at this annual event, but wish I got to see her in person more often (no offense to all the states in between Arizona and Massachusetts, but, like… you’re all kind of in the way).  I love her honest, inspiring, and joyful posts.  Oh, and if you haven’t already, sign up for her Sprinkle a Day in May series.  There are still plenty of May days left to be inspired by this lovely lady.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you working on?  Got any exciting projects on the horizon?