Blustering Blizzards

The snow. It's here!

Today is a whopping 0°F but I can't complain. The snow and cold are just a reminder that I do in fact live in northern Minne(snow)ta! I was starting to wonder on those 40 degree November days.

Besides Monday and Tuesday morning last week, the weather has been too cold to play outside with the little ones. We have managed to keep busy and burn their energy while indoors. Our basement is what I call the "rec room". We run, play hockey, have ball wars and run some more. Anything to burn off toddler energy.

We have baked TWO batches of "birthday cookies" for Jesus (you know, because I only have birthday sprinkles in the house!) and the sugar rush is running strong here.

Pinterest rejects on the left. Pretty cookies on the right.

I ran on the treadmill during the blizzard days last week and only made it for one outdoor run. As boring as it may be, I'm thankful to have the treadmill as an alternative to freezing my tail off.

Before I weekly wrap it up, I highly encourage you to stop by my gift guide post and enter to win a $100 Swanson Health gift card! And, don't worry, Swanson ships all over the country, too :)

Have a very Merry Christmas! 

I'm going to be away from the blogosphere for a couple weeks but keep in touch by following me on Instagram. Here's to my last #weeklywrap of 2016 and we'll be in touch next year!

{Weekly Wrap: 12/05-12/11}

12/05 MON: (Treadmill) 5.03 mi, 00:45 @ 08:56 pace. We're all about the Christmas specials in this house. Watched "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" with the kids while running.

12/06 TUES: Runner's Yoga (25:28)

12/07 WED: (Treadmill) 4 mi, 00:32 @ 08:02 pace. Still blizzarding. 400's on the treadmill while watching Veggie Tale's "Little Drummer Boy".

12/08 THURS: Runner's Yoga with Adriene (30:30)

12/09 FRI: 3.11 mi, 00:26 @ 08:13 pace. This was my "frozen 5k" before supper. -2F wasn't terrible but I am not used to the cold yet.

12/10 SAT: Runner's Yoga (25:28)

12/11 SUN: Off.

Do you love or hate the treadmill? Winter running - yay or nay?

Linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday and Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

12 Healthful Stocking Stuffers for Her + $100 Gift Card GIVEAWAY

December is here, snow is flying and the days 'til Christmas are counting down.

Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year! I love making memories with family and friends, reading stories to the kids cozied up by the Christmas tree and remembering to be thankful for these special relationships and for the ultimate gift of all, Jesus Christ. We've been baking "birthday cookies" for Jesus this week and the kids love it!

Maybe you have all of your Christmas shopping finished OR perhaps you're scrambling for a creative gift idea. Wherever you are in that broad spectrum, finding the perfect gift to bless someone special can be a daunting task!

Today I want to share a list of my favorite Swanson Health products to help you on the "perfect gift search". I love Swanson Health's variety of health products and their affordable prices.

Simple, thoughtful and health-minded gift ideas that don't break the bank!

Plus, Swanson Health is spreading the Christmas cheer by generously giving a $100 gift card to one of my readers! Enter at the bottom of this post after checking out this stocking stuffer list.

Gifts To Create An At-Home Spa Experience

1. EPSOM SALT: White Egret Lavender Epsom Salt

The perfect excuse to take time for a bath! This blend of certfified organic lavender essential oils and high quality pharmaceutical epsom salt is the perfect way to sooth sore muscles after a hard workout (or just a really long day!).  Lavender Epsom Salt (30 oz.), $12.99

2. AROMATHERAPY: Swanson Aromatherapy Certified Organic Lavender Essential Oil

In case you couldn't tell, lavender is my favorite aroma! I put a few drops of this Lavender essential oil in my diffuser to fill our home with a soothing, floral scent. This essential oil doesn't give me headaches like most candles or air fresheners do. Organic Lavender Essential Oil (0.5 fl oz ), $9.99

Excuse my bad paint job and beaten up nails. The last two marathons destroyed me!

3. NAIL CARE: Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Remover

Though I rarely get a black toenail, runner's feet generally just aren't pretty. Mineral Fusion's acetone free nail polish remover easily takes off the darkest nail polish and preps for a new coat. Darker colors, like this red, work best for covering up that occasional black and/or missing toenail. Nail Polish Remover, $7.34

4. DEODORANT: Tom's of Maine Naturally Dry Deodorant

Tom's natural powder deodorant holds up on the run and the scent isn't overpowering. A simple product and nice addition to the gym bag! Deodorant - Natural Powder, $4.66

Avalon Organics' lotion to put on after an epsom salt and lavender soak.

5. BODY LOTION: Avalon Organics Hand and Body Lotion Lavender

Dry winter air and running outside in the freezing temps dries out the skin so fast! Lotion is great but it's important to find one with quality ingredients that do all good and no harm. Apply this lotion after a warm shower or bath to rehydrate dry winter skin (and smell great, too!). Hand and Body Lotion (32 oz.), $13.92

6. AU NATURALE COSMETICS: Honeybee Gardens Pressed Mineral Powder

A light brush of Honeybee Gardens' pressed mineral powder and maybe a dash of natural mascara are all a girl could need! This powder leaves a natural, not caked on look and feels weightless. Pressed Mineral Powder, $9.34

7. MASSAGE: NOW Foods Tranquil Rose Massage Oil

Massage oil is a sweet gift idea! If a massage is included, it's even better. The rose scent is pleasant, oil absorbs quickly and leaves the skin feeling smooth and fresh. Tranquil Rose Massage Oil (8 fl oz), $6.47

Gifts To Fuel Your Runner

8. ON-THE-GO SNACK: Clif Bars Crunchy Peanut Butter

Clif Bars are a protein-filled snack to grab as you run out the door or while craving something midday. The peanut butter bars are a quick source of energy and are made with 70% organic ingredients including rolled oats, toasted oats, milled flaxseed and peanut butter. Clif Crunch PB (12 bars), $15.14

9. RUNNING FUEL: Honey Stinger Ginsting Energy Gel

This is my #1 favorite runner gift - besides a race entry or new shoes. Gels are key to those marathon training long runs. Honey Stinger's gels are made with... surprise... honey rather than other mystery ingredients. Kola nuts are the caffeine source that gives you a much-needed kick during a long effort! Ginsting Energy Gel (24 gels), $25.99

Enjoying Nuun after a hot and humid run over the summer

10. RE-HYDRATION: Nuun Active Effervescent

Nuun tablets make hydration easier and taste better, too! After a hard workout or even on a non-workout day, I add Nuun to my water and it's delicious. Nuun Tri-Berry, $5.45

Gifts for a Perfect Coffee Date

11. COFFEE ON-THE-GO: Mount Hagen Organic Fairtrade Instant Coffee

If we're out of town or even on an early race morning, this quality instant coffee is the way to go. Instant coffee seems to have a bad reputation but Mount Hagen's Organic is a different story. I would choose its bold flavor over a stop at the coffee shop and one jar makes a whopping 60 cups of coffeeMount Hagen Instant Coffee, $8.96

12. SOMETHING SWEET: Lovely Candy Co. Chewy Original Caramels and Endangered Species Chocolate Dark Chocolate Bar

Delicious caramels and chocolate for a good cause. Who can resist! Both of these treats are a the perfect "just because" gift, in moderation of course ;) Chewy Original Caramels (6 oz.), $4.59. Dark Chocolate Bar (3 oz.), $2.67

Be sure to enter below for a chance to win a $100 Swanson Health gift card!

Life to the Full & Swanson Health Products Winter Giveaway The giveaway is open to US and Canada (excluding Quebec) residents, 18 years of age or older and the offer is void where prohibited. This giveaway was sponsored by Swanson Health Products. The giveaway runs through December 19th.

Which stocking stuffer is your favorite?

Linking up with 12 Days of Giveaways.

Tayst Coffee Roasters Review

It's a wonderful surprise when a package shows up on your doorstep. Especially when coffee is involved!

A couple weeks ago I had my first taste of Tayst Coffee.

Tayst Coffee Roaster is a monthly subscription coffee service that offers a wide variety of products for Keurig and Nespresso machines. Check out all of blends they have available here.

What sets Tayst apart is their 100% compostable Purpod100™. I was really impressed! It has a unique look but functions just like the standard k-cup design... only better.

On their website, Tayst states, "Our Mesh is special! Unlike the punch hole most single serve cups use, our mesh filter allows for even water filteration producing fuller flavors and smoother mouth feel."

I tried a few different blends and the Bold & Brazen and Medium & Magnificent were my top picks.

Could I "Tayst" the difference with this mesh design? Yes. The Tayst coffee has a deep, full flavor and makes Keurig coffee quite magnificent indeed.

Try Tayst for yourself! For 50% OFF your first Tayst order, use the code "tryus50". 

I was sent these products for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

I'm a 2017 BibRave Pro!

I have some exciting news for the upcoming year: I have been selected to be a 2017 BibRave Pro Ambassador!

What's BibRave all about?

"BibRave is a running community that connects runners with the best races!

 It's the place to research races you’re considering signing up for, and a place to leave feedback on races you’ve completed.

BibRave is also a way for races and running brands to connect with socially savvy runners - through our popular weekly Twitter chat, #BibChat, and our large ambassador network - BibRave Pros."

The BibRave Pros are a team of “socially-savvy individuals who LOVE to race!” Be sure to stop by to share your own reviews and check out my reviews by clicking here.

A few perks of being on this team are the community, the FREE race entries and the FREE running gear! For 2017, I will be sharing my usual training log and race reports along with new gear/product reviews and great discounts as a BibRave Pro.

It's going to be an exciting year!

{WeeklyWrap: 11/28-12/04}

11/28 MON: Easy Effort - (Treadmill) 4 mi, 00:34 @ 08:23 pace.

11/29 TUES: Runner's Yoga (25:28)

11/30 WED: 4.3 mi, 00:37 @ 08:33 pace. Outdoor ice "fartlek" intervals. 2 minutes increased pace, 1 minute jog x 10

12/01 THURS: Off.

12/02 FRI: 8.02 mi, 01:01 @ 07:32 pace.

12/03 SAT: Out of town for a funeral.

12/04 SUN: Off.

Do you read reviews before signing up for a race?

 Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Friday Five: Missing Acorns & What Not

The week after Thanksgiving has been a blur! I still don't feel caught up but we have jumped back into a "normal" routine again. Monday was a shock to the kids' system after 5 days at Grandma and Grandpa's farm!

Here are a FIVE highlights from this (actually the past two) week:

What We Did

"Qwirkle" went from a boardgame gathering dust in our game closet to a new favorite, thanks to Leah's Qwirkle preschool learning ideas! She has great suggestions for sorting and other fun activities with the Quirkle game squares. (Sorry, I don't have any pictures!) A little clothespin reindeer project turned out really cute and I will share more next week - see picture above :)

We spent time outdoors searching for Oak trees, the Outdoor Hour Challenge's topic of the week, and building forts in the woods over the past two weeks. Though we couldn't find a single acorn (fat squirrels!!!), we DID find oak leaves and some other treasures!

A photo posted by Amy W (@creativeaim87) on

What We Learned

Where squirrels are plenty, acorns are few!

E has been learning about the letters A and B this week. He does tracing and coloring worksheets for each letter but I am really laxed with that at his age. Mostly we read a lot of books and identify our fridge magnet letters.

What We're Reading

We checked out a few of Max Lucado's Hermie books from the library and they have been really cute. I have read "Flo The Lyin' Fly" more times than I care to admit! E loves that one.

Karma Wilson's books were a new discovery this week as well. Christmas in the Barn is another great book for the Christmas season and I love Anna Dewdney's artwork! Recognize her from the Llama Llama books?

What's New

Snow comes and it goes and it comes and it goes around here. The Christmas decorations are up and Christmas cards are in progress.

Little brother is 18 months old now and the rowdiness an rough housing in our house has greatly increased. Outdoors is the best place for us to be!

What's Mom Doing

I am reading Alive in the Spirit by A.W. Tozer and compiled/edited by James L. Snyder.  I have learned so much about the Holy Spirit himself, living each day in step with the Spirit, and how this looks in the church and our individual lives from Tozer's writing.

"If you can understand it and explain it, it is probably not the Holy Spirit working." (p. 30)

God has used this book to change my life and to help me better understand my relationship with the Holy Spirit. I highly recommend it! You can find Alive in the Spirit on

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Tell me about your Friday 5!

Joining up with Preschool & Kindergarten Community Weekly Link-Up, Homeschool Blog and Tell, and Mommy Moments.

Alexander Hamilton's Guide to Life {Book Review}

W wore a "man bun" while reading about Mr. Hamilton (must have been the style back then!).

Besides being the face of the $10 bill, I knew very little about Alexander Hamilton until reviewing Jeff Wilser's book, Alexander Hamilton's Guide to Life.

This book is a comedic biography that gives the reader a look into the personality, personal life, and attitudes of our first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Each chapter is broken into topics from self-improvement and career advancement to romance and leisure.

Alexander Hamilton's Guide to Life paints a picture of this arrogant, assertive, and brilliant man's life and puts the fun back into biography reading. He sounds like a pompous jerk but he knew his stuff. And, no, he wasn't one of our Presidents ;)

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own. 

Hello, Goodbye Snow

Our first snow finally showed up!

I made the first footprints down the sidewalk on an early morning rainy and snowy run. The roads were slick and slushy but it was a refreshing change of season. I like snow in November and am quite sick of it by March.

Christmas lights are here and there around town and I'm definitely listening to Christmas music every day. Our lights and mini tree are going up this week, too!

The kids and I made a snowman and enjoyed the fresh snow "crunch" under our boots but soon after...

Our snow was gone. The happy little snowman is now a lonely single snowball surrounded by green grass.

The time with my family was wonderful and my mom even managed to herd our entire group for family pictures. My husband and I took a rare picture together as just the two of us. It was like engagement pictures all over again. We're just 5 years older, that's all ;)

I ate too many slices of pumpkin pie but 'tis the season. I snuck in a few run and yoga sessions this week as keeping a routine helps to work through the holiday season.

Winter has been oddly warm so far but I'm still dreaming of a white Christmas. The snow and ice will arrive soon enough and then it will be time to break out the ice skates! E said he is going to play hockey by himself this year.

My Workout #WeeklyWrap:

11/21 MON: (Treadmill) 4 mi, 00:34 @ 08:24 pace.

11/22 TUES: Runner's Yoga (25:28)

11/23 WED: 5.01 mi, 00:43 @ 08:33 pace. I increased my pace between light posts but kept it relatively easy. Too icy for speedwork outside!

11/24 THURS: Happy Thanksgiving!

11/25 FRI: 5.17 mi, 00:46 @ 08:48 pace. My sister-in-law and I "ran off" some of the Thanksgiving treats and enjoyed our visiting time :) We are both quality time people and that run and a coffee date later that day were the best!

11/26 SAT: Runner's Yoga.

11/27 SUN: Off.

Did you run a "Turkey Trot" race this week?
What was a highlight of your Thanksgiving?

 Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Finding the Non-Training Rhythm

Parts of Minnesota were nailed by snow last Friday (2 feet in some areas!) but we ended up with nothing. Not even an inch!

I'm thankful we missed the big stuff and didn't lose power — I feel for those who are still without — but secretly I am excited for our first snow of the winter. Looks like it's coming tonight and just in time for Thanksgiving.

A non-training routine has formed in my running/cross training and finding a rhythm again feels awesome. That first month after the marathons made me feel like a chicken with my head cut off.

Do I want to workout (Um, no)? How far should I run? What pace? An easy run again? AHHH Where is the training plan?!

Transitioning from the training plan to "free running" feels awkward. It's a process.

For the sake of fitness, and without anything of the competitive sort in the near future, here's the rhythm I'm sticking to:
  • Easy Run (30 to 60 minutes)
  • Yoga/XT
  • Speed or Hill Intervals (30 minutes)
  • Yoga/XT
  • Long Run (60 minutes)
  • Optional Run or XT Day

The plan is laid back with enough structure to motivate me.

If I said I didn't have the urge to run another marathon in the Spring, I would be lying. That 3:15 is calling my name but it will take time and higher mileage than my past 40-mile training weeks to get there. My gut feeling says that now's not the time.

For everything there is a season, as Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 3:1. While I'm sure he wasn't talking about running, there are seasons when you are able to do less and when you are able to do more.

When I feel antsy — I am turning 30 in 6 months! — I am comforted by the words of a wise, green little philosopher... ;)

Image Source

Patience, indeed! As I count my blessings this week, these two Yoda-sized people are at the top of my list. I am ecstatic for this "short" week, upcoming time with family and hopefully a large portion of pumpkin pie.

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of family, friends, and food!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. PSALM 107:1

My Workout #WeeklyWrap:

11/14 MON: (Treadmill) 5 mi, 00:40 @ 08:00 pace.

 As weird as it sounds, I have really been enjoying the treadmill lately!

11/15 TUES: Runner's Yoga (25:28) while the kids napped AT THE SAME TIME. It was a miracle!

11/16 WED: (Treadmill) 3.61 mi, 00:30 @ 08:19 pace.

Speed and hill intervals of 400m with 400m jog after. I plan to work in one low mileage speed or hill session each week now.

11/17 THURS: Runner's Yoga.

11/18 FRI: Off.

11/19 SAT: 8 mi, 01:02 @ 07:42 pace.

11/20 SUN: Off.

What are YOU thankful for?
What goal are you chasing these days?

 Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Maple Leaves & Helicopter Seeds + Academics' Choice Review

We were on the hunt for Maple leaves and their helicopter seeds (or "samaras") for this week's Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Maple by Lori Nichols was our book of the week. This is one of our favorites about a little girl named Maple and her baby sister, Willow.

We collected leaves of many different colors on our Fall walk two weeks ago:

When we went out on another walk last week to check our leaves, the soft and colorful leaves are now mostly brown and very crunchy. And it was quite cold and windy! Finally it feels like November.

We had a great time searching for these leafy treasures and will be on the lookout for Oaks and Acorns in the upcoming week. The kids love going "hunting" for the perfect leaves!

This week I also reviewed three learning resources for Academics' Choice. Here are my thoughts on these products by Rock N' Learn, Heidi Songs and Oceanhouse Media:

Rock N' Learn Letter Sounds Silly Sentences

Learning the alphabet letters and sounds is right up our alley in this almost-four-year-old stage. E loves this book's "game show" style and asks to read this book many times a day. The sentences are indeed silly and the accompanying pictures prove to be entertaining. This is a board book which is great when you have little siblings around trying to destroy everything.

Along with the Letter Sounds Silly Sentences board book, Rock N' Learn has many other resources from Pre-K to 5th Grade & Up. I haven't checked out their DVDs yet but I would be interested in exploring their "Learn a Language" resources. The website also has some printable freebies.

Rock N' Learn's Letter Sounds Silly Sentences board book is a great resource for developing pre-literacy skills. We give it a thumbs up.

Sing & Spell the Sight Words DVDs

The kids and I tested out Volumes 1,2 and 4 of Heidi Songs' Sing & Spell Animated DVDs. Through singing, simple movements and repetition, these songs are designed to help children memorize the words and jumpstart their reading and writing skills.

Each volume that I review covers the words listed:

Volume One: and, are, can, for, go, have, he, here, is, like, me, my, of, on, play, said, see, she, that, the, they, to, was, with, you and I'm Done (the Period Song.)

Volume Two: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, white, gray, pink, an, at, big, do, down, has, in, it, no/yes, not, small, this, too, up, we, what, who.

Volume Four: A (word), all, am, as, be, by, came, dear, did, friend, from, good, had, his, I (word), if, love, made, nice, now, out, over, put, some, then, very, will, and your.

E and even W were enthralled by all the action on the screen but they preferred to just watch rather than imitate the motions for each song. I thought the Sing & Spell DVDs were very busy, certainly repetitious - and quite annoying. They were fine to review but I would not buy them myself.

One Fish Two Fish Read & Learn App

This was one of my favorite Dr. Seuss' books as a kid and I still love reading Dr. Seuss to my kids. As I mentioned in my review of The Lorax app, I am not a fan of putting cell phones or iPads in front of my children. Children enjoy working through this interactive book (doesn't every kid obsess over smart phones?!) but it doesn't compare to reading the actual book with your child.

The One Fish Two Fish Read & Learn App is well-designed but we prefer the real book reading experience. I'll pass on the Read & Learn apps.

(Screenshot Source)

Have you gone on any nature adventures this week?

Joining up with Preschool & Kindergarten Community Weekly Link-Up, Homeschool Blog and Tell, and Mommy Moments.

Disclaimer: As an Academics' Choice Advocate, I was sent these products free of charge for my honest review. All opinions are my own.