Friday, March 22, 2013

Five for Friday {March 22nd}

1.  It's that time of year when my roommate and I had to decide if we were going to stay in our current apartment or look for something new.  We both decided we still would like to be a little closer to the city.  I really like the area of town we live in now so I still want to be near Ravenswood, but being just a bit more south would make the commute to and from work easier.  After two whirlwind days of walking all over the North side of town, inquiring about 20 different ads, and viewing five apartments I found one!  We just found out yesterday that we were approved and I am so excited!  We will still be on the North side of town, but we will be closer to the store, good restuarants, and will have air conditioning, which is all great.  We move next month, so there is still packing and the actually move to worry about, but we don't have a lot of things so it should be ok.

2.  Several months ago I saw this Noosa Yoghurt at the grocery store and decided to buy it.  I absolutely love it!  They have about five different flavors and so far the strawberry rhubarb and blueberry are my favorite.  It is super creamy and smooth with just the right amount of tang.  The milk used is from happy, hormone free, Colorado cows, and is infused with honey and pureed fresh fruit, so there are no wonky ingredients.  This stuff is awesome, seriously.  Go grab some if you haven't tried it yet!   I've seen them in Whole Foods and Target.  (just a note: I didn't receive any compensation for writing about Noosa Yoghurt. I just really like it and wanted to share what I thought with you.)

3.  Guess what?!  I am going to take a little trip to Denver, Colorado in a couple months and I am sooo looking forward to it.  I've never been there before and can't wait for a mini vacation.  If you have any recommendations of things to do, see, or eat while I'm there please share!

4. I love pancakes!  (Well, who dosen't really?)  But sometimes they can be a lot work to make.  This four ingredient version I found on Pinterest is very easy and delicious.  All you need is a container of Greek yogurt, an egg, flour, and a bit of baking soda. 
It makes four pretty large pancakes.  I have been adding frozen organic blueberries in mine and topping it with just a bit of Trader Joe's Short Stack Pancake Syrup, which takes it over the top!  It's really easy to add any extras like flax seeds, nuts, or other fruit and create lots of different pancakes.  The pancakes are very filling too, which pancakes often aren't.  I have made this several times over the past few weeks - I can't get enough!


5.  This Saturday, March 23rd at 8:30pm is Earth Hour.  I've participated the last few years and it's really easy to join in: you simply turn your lights off for one hour in support of making the planet a better place to live.  You can sign the pledge here and then commit to make a change.  There are tons of "I Will If You Will" challenges up on the Earth Hour Global Channel.  Essentially someone promises to do something, from dying their beard green to donating money to a cause to hosting a free class, if a certain number of people agree to commit something like using a reusable tumbler or stop eating fast food for a month or switch to energy efficient light bulbs, etc.  It's all about raising awareness about climate change and promoting sustainability for the planet.   

What are your favorite type of pancakes?  Are you going to participate in Earth Hour this weekend? Any recommendations for Denver?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Winter Running is Fun!

I absolutely LOVE running outside in the winter.  I was born and raised in the South so I didn't have much experience dealing with freezing temps, ice, and snow before moving to Chicago a couple years ago.  I started running, almost three years ago, in hot and sunny Florida and the difference in the weather here and there is pretty drastic, but I love running in Chicago.  The cooler weather makes me feel energized.  
Last winter I attended the Cold, Colder, Coldest winter running seminar held by Fleet Feet which gave me tons of information on how best to prepare for winter running.  The rest I kind of just figured out on my own through trial and error.  Technically winter is almost over, but here in Chicago we have been having some cold days and quite a bit of snow recently.  

Honestly, you can run in almost any weather if you wear the right gear.  Layers are really important when running in the cold because you don't want to be too cold or too hot.  If it is freezing or below I usually wear my fleece lined running tights or workout tights and running pants over.  On top I wear a long sleeve tech shirt and either my Athleta Interval Jacket, which is awesome (great pockets, ventilation, waterproof, windproof, lightweight) or a Champion's fleece running jacket from Target.  
A hat is also essential to keep my head and ears warm.   If it is very windy or frigid I add a gaiter or balaclava to cover my neck and face.  I also put Vaseline on my face to keep my skin protected from the wind and cold temps.  It helps keep my skin moisturized too.
My hands warm up pretty fast when I start running, so I usually just use the thumb hole extensions on my jacket or wear my Smart Wool Liner Gloves.  Smart Wool also makes my favorite winter running socks because they are comfortable, warm, and super moisture wicking.  I ran through some slush the other day and after an initial shock of cold, wet feet the Smart Wool socks moisture control technology kept my feet dry!  (FYI: I read a little while ago that if your shoes get wet from running in the rain or snow just stick newspaper in them after to help them dry faster - it really works!)

When there is packed snow on my running path or ice patches I have been using Yaktrax so I can run safely outside.  
I bought these last year, but didn't get to use them until the snow this year.  They simply go on the outside of your running shoes.  There are steel coils on the bottom that help you get traction and prevent slipping.  I have the Pro version that I got at Fleet Feet, but they do have a Run version that uses coils and spikes.  I thought they would be weird to run in at first, but after a few minutes I didn't even notice a difference wearing them and they worked great.

Running in the snow is one of my favorite things.  The neighborhood, city, and lakefront look so pretty under a white blanket of snow, so it is a nice change of scenery.  Running through fresh or packed snow is an added challenge; an adventure.  Snowy runs are usually not my fastest, but that's OK with me.  I am still out there getting a good workout in and having fun doing it.  Plus, it's pretty awesome to be able to say I ran in super cold temps while it was snowing.  Snowy runs just make me happy.  I am enjoying every moment out there!
Do you like running outside in the winter?  What are some of your favorite winter running items or tips?