If you follow me on Instagram, you already know I went on vacation to Alaska at the end of June. And if you’ve talked to me in person since then you know that I think it was the trip of a lifetime.
I know there are lots of ways to take an Alaskan vacation, but the trip I went on was perfect for me, my interests, and my comfort level. In fact, it made me learn things about myself that I didn’t even know before!
So, I thought I would revive this here blog to tell you about my trip, my recommendations, and what I learned. Plus, then you get to see pictures of Alaska!
First things first, what did we do? I took this trip with members from my running club and the entire trip was planned mostly by a club member who has been leading trips to Alaska via the Sierra Club for years. And, yes, since we’re runners, many of us started our trip off with a race.
But we did so much more than run. In fact, here’s our agenda:
Thursday, June 21st – Arrive in Anchorage, AK
Friday, June 22nd – Explore Anchorage and pick up race packets
Saturday, June 23rd – Run the Mayor’s Marathon in Anchorage!
Hi there. I know, I know, I haven’t blogged in forever and you probably thought I was gone for good. Well, I had an idea for a post about grocery delivery and when I asked about it on Twitter the response was, yes! Write it!
Would it be weird to revive my blog just to write one post about my thoughts on Jewel grocery delivery vs Mariano’s grocery delivery?
So, here I am! I had some bad luck with cars earlier this year and one of those instances left us with just Jason’s low slung sports car, an alley filled with snow, and no way to get to the grocery store. And while, yes, I could have just ordered pizza or sushi or a million other things you can get delivered in Chicago, I decided to use the opportunity to try out the Jewel-Osco grocery delivery I’d been hearing about.
When I first used this, I was AMAZED. You create an account, you shop for food just like you would any other thing online, you pick a delivery time, and VOILA, your groceries show up! The delivery guy will even bring them into your kitchen for you and they don’t accept tips.
You can also tell them if it’s okay to substitute an item with something of the same brand but different size or same size but different brand and you can put comments on each item if you want.
Delivery is super cheap (usually under $7) and it’s free if you order over $30 and choose a four hour delivery window.
When they deliver your groceries they bring an itemized receipt and go over any substitutions or out of stock items with you. And, yes, you can purchase alcohol this way. You just have to show your ID to the delivery driver.
For most deliveries Jewel uses their own shopping and delivery staff. However, I’ve found that this lead to some inconsistencies, especially when it came to produce.
For example, I ordered a pound of brussels sprouts but the shopper filled up the bag and delivered almost 5 pounds! Another time I ordered 4 tomatoes and got 4 pounds! Allegedly they will refund you the difference if you call them, but my friends and I have had differing experiences with this.
Jewel brings your groceries in the disposal plastic bags that are allegedly banned in Chicago. I don’t know how they get around that. I find this annoying and wish they would bring them in paper.
Also, you don’t know if something is out of stock until the delivery comes and they don’t carry the type of ice cream sandwiches or steak that my husband likes. Mostly for this second reason I decided to try Mariano’s.
Mariano’s delivery is powered by Instacart. I know that Jewel has a two hour or less delivery option also powered by Instacart but I haven’t tried it. Mariano’s only has Instacart.
The main differences? Mariano’s has a mobile app in addition to their website that you can use to make your grocery list. You can also create favorites and save lists in the app. With Jewel you can see your past orders, but you can’t create shortcuts like that.
Another difference is that Instacart allows you to enter a tip for the driver. They auto-calculate it based on your order but you can override it if you want.
Mariano’s offers one hour delivery windows and delivery is always $9.95. The first time I saw that I was shocked since Jewel’s delivery fees are so low comparatively. However, I logged into Jewel, filled my cart with the same or equivalent items, and found out that even with the higher delivery cost Mariano’s was cheaper. Crazy, right?
You get a text when the shopper begins shopping and they also text you if something is out of stock and they make a substitution. Apparently you can decline a substitution but I’ve never done it so I don’t know what happens then. I prefer that they let you know in advance. And so far I haven’t had anything be so out of stock that they couldn’t find something to sub it with.
They also text you when they are on their way for the delivery. I like this feature.
If only they came in this cute little truck!
However, when they drop off the groceries they just hand them to you and leave. I assume this is because they’ve already texted you about what they substituted or what was out of stock. They don’t go over the receipt, though. And because they may substitute items that are slightly different in price or may not be able to the exact poundage of produce or meat that you ordered your receipt might not match the online estimate exactly.
Jason dislikes that they don’t go over the receipt with you. I don’t mind. Honestly, grocery delivery is a sanity saver for me so having to review an email after the fact is better than trying to find the time to actually go to the grocery store some weeks.
Oh, also, Mariano’s brings the groceries in paper bags which is perfect for us! We can use them to take recycling out to the bin in our alley.
So far I love grocery delivery no matter who I get it from. However, there are some downsides. The biggest one is that you can’t use coupons. If the item is on sale at the store, great! But otherwise you’re stuck with the regular price.
Also, if you’re a fan of Ibotta you can’t currently use this with grocery delivery, either.
Finally, it’s not always clear on either site how much of something you’re ordering when it comes to produce or meat. Am I ordering one shallot or one pound of shallots? I’ve started putting in comments and so far that helps with Mariano’s, at least.
Although Jason prefers the itemized receipt from Jewel, I prefer the prices, options and, so far, the better shoppers at Mariano’s. The Mariano’s/Instacart interface is a little easier to use, too.
In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter which one I use. I LOVE grocery delivery. I love being able to build my list throughout the week and have it delivered when I need it. It saves me from dreading a post-weekend trip grocery run. It saves me time if I need to get groceries during the week. And it keeps both of us from impulse shopping!
If you have grocery delivery in your area and haven’t tried it, what are you waiting for?
Last fall I started getting really, really bad acne on my chin and on my jawbone. I think it was partly from resting my chin in my hand at my desk at work, partly because I don’t always wash my face after I workout on lunch, and partly because my skin has just changed as I’ve gotten older.
In the past, I’ve also gotten one or two really bad pimples when it’s “that time of the month.” However, I’d basically been using the same face products that I started using when I was in my 20s.
Well, now that I’m closer to 40 than I am to 20 I figured it was time to try something new.
Last November a woman I work with at the F^3 Half Marathon offered to let me try Rodan + Fields at a slight discount. I wanted to blog about it then but I was in the thick of marathon training, ended up taking a month or more off blogging, and honestly, I wanted to see if it really worked for me.
Turns out, that, yes, their Unblemish line works great! I’ve been using it since November and I even re-ordered when my initial batch ran out. Over time, though, I’ve learned that my skin really responds to a mix and match of products.
I initially received the St. Ives oil scrub for free from Influenster and wasn’t sure how I felt about it. However, I started using it earlier this year when my skin felt really dry and it turns out I love it. When I ran out of the bottle I got for free I bought it with my own money. I use it in the mornings in the shower since it’s easy to rinse off.
After I shower, I use the Rodan + Fields clarifying toner followed by the acne treatment. Then, after letting that soak in, I apply the L’Oreal Revitalift moisturizer, which I also got from Influenster and that I will most likely be buying with my own money when it runs out!
At night, I wash my face with the Rodan + Fields sulfur wash and apply the Revitalift cream, although I don’t apply the cream every night. More like every other night.
Since starting this regime, I rarely get pimples, I no longer have acne on my chin or jawbone, and my the lines around my mouth and on my forehead aren’t nearly as pronounced. I still get dry skin around my eyes from time to time but the Revitalift seems to help with that as well.
I’m really happy that I’ve found products that work for me. The last time I went to get my eyebrows waxed the aesthetician asked me what products I use. She got a weird judge-y look on her face when I told her and she said, “You don’t need all that stuff. You have great skin.”
Uh, yeah, that’s because I use all that stuff!
Anyway, if you’re on the fence about buying any of these items, I definitely recommend them. And, no, this post is not sponsored. Unless you count it being sponsored by my bank account.
Thing 2: I was invited to attend an event called “Artistry in Motion” being put on by lululemon but, honestly, I wasn’t sure what it was all about other than showing off lululemon’s latest offerings. Since I wasn’t planning to purchase anything I passed on the event. But then I had major FOMO when I read that several of my blogger buddies went. You’ll just have to read Susie’s blog to find out more. Also, I’m bummed I couldn’t make the SHAPE magazine event she talks about. Darn me having a regular 8-5 job!
Thing 3: We took Chewie to another patio last night. Actually, we took him to Cone which is dog-friendly so we were actually able to take him into the shop while ordering. Then we sat on the patio and ate our ice cream. Cone is one of the first patios we ever took him to when he was a puppy and he was way too anxious to stay in one place. Last night he laid down on his own and was really well behaved!
I took this picture at Nellcote, but you get the idea
Thing 4: When I ran the Super Sunny 5K we all got packages of sunflower seeds. I planted mine in some pots on my balcony. Not all of them survived the summer but several of them managed and are now blooming!
Thing 5: My goal 5K is tomorrow!! I had anxiety dreams about it last night. This is why I try not to have time goals for races. Although, speaking of race goals, I just signed up for the Miami Marathon. Yep. A full marathon. I haven’t run a full since 2013. But, Live Grit has put together a compelling race, training and travel package AND you can get $75 off the package if you use the code MIAMIRUN (good until 9/25/16). I’m really looking forward to training with my Live Grit crew this winter.
Monday 9/12 – Leg strength workout
Tuesday 9/13 – Upper body strength and 3 mile run
Wednesday 9/14 – 8×400 run with warm-up and cool-down
Can you believe we’re already talking about goals for September? And that it’s practically a week into the month and I’m just now posting them? Yeah. Fun times! Like I said yesterday, I was busy in August!
Anyway, let’s do a quick refresher of what I wanted to accomplish in last month and whether or not I did it.
Complete another sprint distance triathlon – Yes! I did the Iron Girl sprint triathlon in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. Recap here.
Finish in the top three in the fitness competition at my gym (I’m currently in second place) – And second place was where I stayed! However, I found out I only lost to the woman who came in first by two points and that the third place person was definitely more than two points behind me. So, basically, it was neck-and-neck for first and second. If only I’d been able to bench more weight I would have won!
Try the new Umami Burger that opened in our neighborhood – Yes, and Jason even ordered the speciality Monte Cristo burger. It was amazing.
Start an 8 week training program to try and PR at a 5K at the end of September – As evidenced by the training recaps I’ve been putting up on Fridays, I’m sticking to my training plan as best as I can. I’m struggling a bit with hitting my goal speedwork times but I blame that on the heat
See the new Ghostbusters movie – Did not happen and I fully admit I didn’t even try to make it happen. I suppose now I’ll just wait until it shows up on Netflix.
And what do I want to do in September?
Break 23 minutes in a 5K
Take Chewie to one more patio
Revive my NSCA studying
Finish writing and developing the online training course I’m building at work
Clean out my closet and go to the consignment shop
What about you? Any plans or goals for September?
Monday 8/29 – Leg strength workout
Tuesday 8/30 – 3 mile run & upper body strength workout
First, let’s talk about last month. What were my goals for July?
Have lunch at 3 Greens Market and then show Jason my office at work. – Totally did not happen. Jason raced his car quite a bit in July and when he wasn’t racing I was either working or volunteering at races of my own. Two different kinds of racing, though. Anyway, this could still happen in August but our weekends are already filling up!
Do one open water swim. – YES! I did it AND I swam an entire mile, which is my longest open water swim to date. In fact, I’m now planning to do one more sprint triathlon this summer and then next summer I’ll go up in distance and do at least one Olympic/International distance tri instead of just sticking to Sprint distances.
Get a boozy sno cone at Expat. – Our dishwasher broke last week and the silver lining was that I had to take the dog to daycare and stay home to wait for the repair guy to come over. Once Jason got home after work we walked to pick up Chewie from daycare and stopped at Expat on the way. I not only got a boozy snowcone but I also tried their boozy freeze pops.
Read In the Unlikely Event for book club – Yep! And I enjoyed it quite a bit. I recommend it if you like a good story filled with lots of interesting characters.
Take Chewie to the dog beach – This didn’t happen, either. My main issue with the dog beach is that the traffic to get there and back is usually horrible and I HATE sitting in traffic.
So, I suppose three out of five isn’t bad! This exercise of doing five small goals a month, though, is starting to give me the confidence to lay out some bigger goals, especially for 2017 and beyond. But let’s start with August:
Complete another sprint distance triathlon
Finish in the top three in the fitness competition at my gym (I’m currently in second place)
I think some of my favorite comments I get from you guys are when you tell me I inspired you to try something. Whether it’s a new restaurant, a new pattern, a new silhouette, or a new store, I love it all. So today I’m hoping I can inspire you try something else: giving back to your community. Yeah, yeah, I know, what does this have to do with my blog? Well, as you guys probably know, I like to volunteer. I’ve done dog shelters and food banks and races. And, yes, I donate money to causes, too. I’ve done all sorts of volunteering over the years so I though it would be fun to share with you some tips and tricks I’ve learned.
Such as don’t forget the bug spray if you’re going to be standing in the woods directing runners.
But, if you want, here are my tips for giving back to your community.
1. Choose something you can do even if none of your friends are interested in doing it with you. While it’s usually more fun to do things with friends, sometimes it can be difficult to get a group together. Don’t let doing something on your own hold you back!
Besides, if you’re doing something like volunteering at a water station at a race you’ll find you’re never really alone.
2. Remember that it’s not all glitz and glamour. Sure, walking puppies is fun, but animal shelters also need people to wash dog dishes, fold clean blankets, and organize all the food and toy donations. Food depositories need people to look at expiration dates and check for mold. Remember that even if you’re not out there on the front lines you’re still giving back.
The layers I wore to the dog shelter this winter. Because you never know what you’ll be doing.
One of the best times I had was at a food depository sorting and stacking bread into crates while checking for mold. It was like a giant game of Tetris!
3. If you can’t give time, give money. While, yes, many organizations need volunteer hours they also need funds. Right now I’m not really in a spot to volunteer at all the dog shelters, but I can donate my money. Buy tickets to fundraisers and party it up while giving back!
And speaking of money, remember that $2 million donation that Jewelers Mutual is making? Well, you can help decide how that record-making donation gets dispersed. Just go to their Band Together page to vote for your charity of choice: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, and Feeding America or Food Banks Canada. The charity that gets the most votes by the end of July will get $1 million! Second place gets $700,000 and third place gets $300,00.
In addition, each time you vote you will be entered for a chance to win weekly jewelry prizes from STACKED New York. Each week, one voter will receive a set of 3 stacking bands ($450 retail value). Plus you can vote daily to increase your chances of winning! So, let’s band together and give back to the community at large!
Do you volunteer? What’s been your favorite experience?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
It’s that time again to talk about what I want to accomplish this month. Actually, I’m pretty impressed that I’ve been keeping this up since February! Setting goals is weird for me in that I tend to get intimidated and not set them. But, small ones seem to be working.
Run a mile in under 7 minutes. – Oh, you guys. I got SO CLOSE. So, so close. I did a free timed run at a local park but because it was free we had to defer to some construction equipment that blocked the path for a few seconds. My official time was 7:06 but my watch said 6:55 (it auto-paused during the path blockage). HOWEVER, my watch also measured the course at .96 instead of 1 mile. So, I KNOW I can do a sub-7:00 minute mile in the right conditions. Either way, I’m pretty sure 7:06 is a personal record.
Have weekly date nights with my husband. – We decided that Thursdays were going to be our nights to turn off the tv after one episode of something and play a game or do something else. We stuck to it pretty well. We didn’t do anything too spectacular, but we did have a game night with friends one week and last week when I had to run an errand in the ‘burbs we took the opportunity to go out to dinner and then get ice cream in our old neighborhood (Brown Cow forever!) And one Thursday night we even accomplished goal #3! Which was…
Go to Mario’s Italian Lemonade. – We took Chewie and walked over to Mario’s one night after dinner. I admit, I wasn’t that impressed but maybe it’s because it wasn’t super hot outside. I hope to try again when they have peach because I’m told that’s the best flavor to get.
Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. – I downloaded the iPhone app “Waterlogged” and started tracking how much water I drink a day. I discovered pretty quickly that I was already drinking almost a gallon of water every day….and that didn’t include any coffee, tea, or sports drinks. Well okay then! So, this goal ended up being super easy to accomplish. However, I noticed I drink less during the weekends so I need to get better about that.
Go on either one bike ride or one swim with Live Grit. – Well, I technically did a swim with them since I did the Esprit de She triathlon and there were a lot of other Live Grit people there. And I did do the first part of my ride to Joliet with them, too. So, I’d say mission accomplished here as well.
I also finished Pretty Girls (definitely recommended if you like mysteries and don’t mind some disturbing stuff) and plan to start In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume since I got invited to a book club for it at the end of the month.
I’ve never been one to have long, thick flowing locks of hair. I’ve never even been a wash-and-go kind of gal. In fact, I’ve struggled for years with what I’ve been told is a lot of thin hair that alternates between straight and curly. Plus, I have this feeling that the older I get the thinner and more unruly it will be. Hair thinning is not uncommon. Up to 42% of women will notice some hair loss in her lifetime. (Source: 2014 Gallup). Which is why I was happy to get the chance to interview celebrity stylist and Women’s ROGAINE® Brand Ambassador, Jill Crosby so I could understand how to tackle this issue as soon as possible.
[Me]: How can you tell if your hair is thinning or going to thin? Is it something you can tell by looking at your parents’ hair?
[Jill]: The average amount of hair loss in a day is anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs a day. More than that is considered above average and could mean thinning hair. Your parents hair loss can be a telling sign, especially for hereditary hair loss– but not always. Keeping track of our loss is important and identifying the type of loss you are experiencing and working with professionals to develop a treatment plan you begin early is key.
I don’t know, you guys. Maybe I should have started as early as possible?
My current beauty routine involves using a cleansing conditioner on my hair in the shower each morning and then adding a curl cream and an oil before blow drying it with a diffuser. I alternate between wanting to chop off all my hair and just letting it grow out.
[Me]: Which is better for thinning hair: keeping it long and wearing it up or cutting it short? What difference does it make if you have curly hair?
[Jill]: Every women has different styling needs because each woman has not only different amounts of thinning, but different textures and qualities to their own hair. Some may look better short while others longer, work with stylist to help determine what will look right for you.
Okay, but what about color? As you may recall, I’ve dyed my hair red in the past. I also had what I refer to as the “blond incident” in college. Not a huge fan of blonde on myself.
[Me]: If you do have thin hair, which colors are better? I’ve heard that highlights can help hide thin hair but as a brunette I don’t want to necessarily have to become a blonde!
[Jill]: I have had my journey with thinning hair. I am a blonde and yes, you have heard correct that color can hide the issue of thinning hair, but no …you don’t need to be a blonde to do this. The point of using color as a camouflage is to stay in close range of your skin tone and your natural color palette. For example, if you are very light skin and you have thinning hair and you choose to color your hair very dark there will be a huge contrast and typically you’ll be able to see the light pass right through your hair, straight to the scalp. Keeping away from extreme contrast is the point.
Yeah, that might have been too many highlights….
So, even though I’m only 36 it’s pretty clear that I’ve struggled with my hair my whole life. Among women who experience hair thinning, 76% of women start to notice after the age of 30. (Source: 2014 Gallup) What, if anything, can I do now?
[Me]: What, if any, lifestyle changes can women make to arrest hair loss?
[Jill]: Take an inventory of what is working and not working in your life, do the best you can to change the obvious contributors which could be contributing to the deterioration to your wellbeing. From there, some of it may have nothing to do with what you are doing and could be a result of heredity—hereditary hair loss is real and it can be passed down from your mother or father’s side of the family. If this is the case, starting a treatment program with Women’s ROGAINE® foam as soon as possible will be the best course of action you can take.
Thanks, jill! I’ll keep that in mind. In fact, adding Women’s ROGAINE® to my nighttime routine might be something I start in the near future since for best results, Rogaine should be used at the first sign of thinning or hair loss (vs. last resort), as part of a proactive anti-aging regimen. It’s simple since you don’t have to do anything other than squirt some on your scalp and let it dry and it’s compatible with hair color and other styling products. I can totally add it before I wash my face and brush my teeth and read play Criminal Case in bed.
What about you? Do you think you’ll struggle with thinning hair? Are you already? Do you think you’d ever try Women’s ROGAINE®? If you do, you can find a coupon here. Why not try it? What do you have to lose? Hopefully less hair!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Maybe one of my goals should be to get more than 20 people to vote in my monthly outfit poll. If you want to help me out, go here!
It’s time once again to talk about the goals I made for last month and the goals I’m making for June. As I mentioned yesterday, May was a rough month for me. Normally when I say I’m going to do something I make sure I do it. But this past month I wasn’t feeling particularly appreciated in a lot of areas of my life and I think it made me a bit depressed. And, as you probably know, when you’re depressed it can be tough to find the motivation to do stuff.
So, in the interest of honesty and disclosure, here’s are my goals from May and how I did with them.
Complete at least two more chapters in my NSCA book. – Ha. Ha ha ha. This did NOT happen. Honestly, I’m just not feeling it. The more I learn the less I want to learn. I LOVE working out but I also like having someone else tell me what to do. Trying to learn the science behind it actually takes some of the fun out of it for me. So, uh, anyone want a $400 book? Plus, the trainer I’d been working with at the gym who was my main cheerleader left for an office gig so that didn’t really help my motivation there, either.
Play one of the new board games I just bought – This actually happened! Jason and I played a few games of Castle Panic and started a game of Red November. So far I would say Castle Panic is easier to learn and play.
Go to dinner at a new-to-me restaurant in my neighborhood. – YES! And I made it to MAD Social. We didn’t get to sit outside (May was a special month, weather-wise) but I was happy to get out and try a new place.
Run a mile in under 7 minutes. – Nope. This didn’t happen either. I did manage .6 of a mile with the treadmill set to 9.0 MPH. I’m pretty sure I can do this and the Chicago Area Runners Association is doing free timed mile events throughout the summer so I’m not giving up on this goal yet!
Read another book. – I started Pretty Girls and so far I’m really enjoying it! Actually, I’m enjoying it so much that I don’t want it to end! So, I’m dragging it out a bit.
And, you know what, looking at that list I actually completed more than I thought! I’m still torn about what to do with the whole NSCA certification, though. Any thoughts?
Anyway, moving on to my June goals!
Run a mile in under 7 minutes. (yes, this one is staying on the list)