Memorial Day weekend – eating, boating, reading

Howdy!  This long weekend we made the best of the closing date on our house being pushed back and spending more time at the lakefront rental.  Since I’m not running much and doing fewer intense HIT, lower body workouts, I am very antsy.  The goal for the weekend was to spend time exploring the area—enjoying freedoms we have thanks to those who serve and served our country.  It turned into a food and wine , boating and lots of reading kind of weekend– something much needed!

Friday night we decided to check out Briarcliff Bistro and Bacon Bar.  I knew my food options would be super limited but knew my hubby wanted to check it out…their menu is definitely not my cup of tea and, when we decided to stay for a drink to listen to the local band perform, I settled on a piece of chocolate cake for dinner.  Who can say no to chocolate?!  The band featured a local high school kid and he is definitely talented; check out the Innate Space Youtube channel for a glimpse at this local talent.


Chocolate cake — good but not best dinner choice

Saturday I ventured out for a run and 40 minutes with a couple of steep hill climbs felt good but I am still feeling a constant aching in my glute and hip flexor. 😦  Post-run was the perfect time for a brunch indulgence.  For the past few weeks, I craved a pancake (yes, 1…the size of a plate!) from Pacha Cafe, my favorite restaurant in Austin.  Their food is sourced locally and is almost 100% organic — a rare find!  The 60 minute roundtrip drive and 30 minute wait for food was well worth it.


To die for pancake with scrambled eggs and my hubby’s potato hash

Saturday night we planned on checking out another local place for music but that changed when the owner of our rental knocked on our door and invited us out on his boat.  When invited boating, the answer is always yes!  My only regret was that we did not take our phones or camera–even the walk down the stairs to the boat slip was stunning.  The rain clouds had cleared out making it a gorgeous early evening and he gave us a tour of the area.  I learned a lot about the area and soaked in the sights of the cliffs and gaped at ginormous mansions dotting the cliffs.

Sunday we attended church and went grocery shopping.  I wanted to visit a local winery, Stone House Vineyard, that our host pointed out the night prior since it was only a 15 minute drive.  It’s rare for Austin to have temps only in the 80s in May and it was a perfect time to see more of the area.  After splitting a wine tasting, we got a glass of wine and sat outside enjoying the spectacular views of the water.

Sunday evening we went out for dinner; I wanted something healthy and enjoyed a huge salad at The Grove Wine Bar.  It was a beautiful evening and we sat on the patio and soaked in the view that has yet to get old.


My spinach quinoa salad and hubby’s Asian chicken salad- yummy!

Memorial Day my hubby was in charge of dinner.  We cooked a healthy grilled dinner (well, healthy except for indulging in portion sizes) of wild caught salmon, apple chicken sausage, zucchini, onion, eggplant.  I love finding locally grown organic veggies this time of year at Whole Foods since making it to the farmer’s market does not happen often.  I picked up a bottle of organic white wine sangria and it was the perfect compliment to the meal.


When not exploring the area and eating, I read.  It’s a blessing and a curse that I read novels fast.  I am old-school and prefer the feel of an actual book in my hands as opposed to e-books but we have no space to collect more books.  Luckily, I love the Kindle app so that I can read download free books and check out new authors.  This weekend, I downloaded lots of free ones on Amazon and one free one sucked me into the Dare River series by Ava Miles.  I read three in that series this weekend and look forward to reading more by her since they are easy, summery reads.

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!



Exercising while traveling

Last year I traveled frequently with frequent work trips and personal trips to visit family.  This year, I am revisiting how exercise fits in with travel.

I typically run while traveling but I often skip yoga or other cross training.  Sticking to a plan is hard and I have never accomplished that– even when I thought I would.  One goal for this year is to include cross training when I travel for multiple days.

When I visit my family, I often run but cut back the mileage to spend more time with them or catch up on sleep!   When I was training for big races, I was better about sticking to a plan.  Now that I am not “racing,” I play it by ear.

During my last vacation, I was torn between working out and skipping my workouts.  By the end of the vacation, I enjoyed my time on the treadmill; I keep safety in mind when traveling and a treadmill was the safest and easiest way for me to get in my runs.  Since I overindulged in food and drinks, the runs made me feel less bloated.  I took advantage of the huge deck for getting in 10 minute power yoga sessions; I also took advantage of the daily free yoga classes.

When traveling for work, I hit the treadmill or do a HIT workout or similar in the hotel room.  It is hard to wake up at 5am to work out, especially if I travel to different time zones, but I feel much more relaxed and productive.

Do you skip working out while traveling or on vacation?  Do you stick to your normal routine?  Or do you work out if it fits in your schedule?

Moving while not running

I hope y’all are having a great week!  Despite all the craziness going on in mine, I’m having a great one.

Normally not running drives me crazy but I’m coping well right now.  A few weeks ago, I felt an issue in my hip similar to what sidelined me a few years ago; I immediately stopped running and found a place that specializes in treating runners – RunLab.  I continued cross-training (21 day Fix Extreme and PiYo workouts are now a staple) since it did not make me feel more pain.  I was impressed with Doctor Kim Davis and her staff.  She pinpointed things about my body’s structure that could be why I get injured frequently.  I’m now going 2x/week for soft tissue work and strengthening exercise.

Not running is overshadowed by being in the midst of buying our first home.  All the craziness associated with that plus recent travel to Memphis and LA have been great distractions from a forced break from running.


Seeing my nephew graduate made not running that weekend much easier!

We had to move out of our apartment the middle of this month and we are not scheduled to close on our house until May 31st.  I’m thankful it’s been rainy (yay for cooler temps and a full lake) but it’s making finishing the house hard for the builder.

So until our house is done, the majority of our belongings are in storage and the rest are with us in a vacation rental.  I totally lucked out finding a place right on the water for super cheap compared to a short-term apartment rental or a hotel.  Sitting on the patio overlooking the water is not a bad way to spend our evenings.  We are eager to move into our house but beyond thankful for having a place to stay where we have space for me to work, workout, lounge, cook, acclimate to living out in the country.


Weekend Wrapup

Weekends fly by and I try and savor every moment.  This weekend was no exception as I avoiding packing/preparing to move and enjoyed the good weather.

Friday night I took advantage of my hubby getting home late from work to spend minimal time cooking (frozen veggie burger patty to the rescue!) and more time relaxing knitting and watching tv.  I worked a little later than normal for a Friday but ended the week feeling as caught up as possible–that makes for a better Monday morning!  These gluten-free, vegetarian burger patties by Don Lee Farms and purchased from Costco are super tasty served open face on a piece of wheat bread topped with loads of spinach and onion.


Saturday was date day and, after sleeping in until 8am, we ventured to Cedar Park to use our Groupon for the Texas Museum of Science and Technology.  It’s a very small, relatively new museum that plans for a permanent facility to be built by 2020; we wanted a show in the planetarium and enjoyed the hands on exhibits.  Since it was super cheap thanks to Groupon and we had fun, I consider it well worth the cost.  Thanks again Groupon for helping us explore the Austin area!


Near the entrance- I love pi!


Hubby playing with the theremin– he said only a nerd would get excited seeing a thermin (and know how to play it)

Any time we are in the northern Austin area, we make sure we are hungry so that we can eat at our favorite pizza place — Promise Pizza.  The one in Round Rock is better than the other one and we take advantage of their special of purchasing large pizzas and getting a free small one topping pizza.  I get the Nature’s Choice on wheat crust with spinach instead of olives and hubby gets the BBQ chicken and we get a free mushroom on wheat crust.  I love that they use organic ingredients and the pizza has just enough cheese to taste yummy but not to be greasy.


Nature’s Choice— so delish that I could not take time time for a good picture!

Hubby wanted a smoothie so we stopped by Whole Foods on our way home and that’s when I made a major mistake of getting a coffee drink at 4pm.  Sunday I was supposed to do the 2nd race in the Rogue Trail Series and that meant needing to wake up by 5am.  My hip and glute had been acting up all week and I already had my mind set on seeing if I could drop to the 10K instead of the 30K.  Thanks to the late coffee drink I never really fell asleep.  Since I did not feel comfortable driving to the middle of nowhere at 5am seeing if I could drop to the 10K, I decided to skip the race;  my glute was hurting and tossing and turning all night made me feel crappy so I decided a DNS (do nothing stupid) was my best bet; I suck at running on rocks when well rested and I had thoughts going through my head of what could happen with being sleep deprived and with glute discomfort.

We went to church at Lake Hills Church like we normally do on Sunday mornings and then I did an easy 10K on roads since my glute seemed better– tomorrow will show if I need to find a good sports massage therapist or if rolling around on my therapy ball is sufficient.  I took care of a few tasks for work and chilled on the patio for a lazy Sunday end to the weekend.

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Five Things I’m Loving Friday

This week has been crazy and I’m so happy it’s Friday!  Looking forward to relaxing tonight and this weekend made me think of some of my recent faves.

  • Blue bonnets blooming all around Austin

Apparently stopping along busy highways/roads to take pictures in fields of flowers is an Austin thing.  I could not resist taking part in that annual tradition!  It is so pretty to see the blue flowers in bloom.


  • Peach wine

This may be a TX thing since I never heard of it before we moved here; when it’s hot outside, a cold glass of peach wine is super refreshing.


  • Seeing the moon set and the sun rise over the trees as I start a run

While I miss the mountains and hilly trails I lived near in CA, I love the Austin hill country.


  • Knitting

I took a class a couple years ago and never made anything.  Around Christmas last year, I went on a knitting spree and made several scarves and beanies.  Last weekend I decided it was time to start making a blanket.


My progress after 1 day 


I’m almost done!!!

  • Sweet potato hash for dinner/brunch

We got exposed to potato hash for brunch at Pacha Cafe and 24 Diner and I am hooked on adapting their versions for healthy, easy brunches and dinners.  I love sweet potatoes, so this is another way to make them a main part of an easy, cheap meal.


Sweet potato hash with black beans, yellow peppers,  onions over a bed of spinach

Costa Rica – Nayara Hotel, Spa and Gardens

After staying at the Nayara Hotel, Spa and Gardens near La Fortuna, Costa Rica twice in the past three years, I decided it was worthy of a blog post.  I rave about our experiences there to anyone who asks about our trip; if we go back to Costa Rica for a third visit, I hope we can stay there or at the adjacent sister resort Nayara Springs.

We loved our stay there in 2013 and the resort has won accolades since then.  I used Tripadvisor to find it the first time and I looked at the reviews to see if it still lived up to our last visit; since it did, I booked the all inclusive package for 4 nights.  Last time, I learned that they will allow you to swap out the activities and pay the difference if you select more expensive activities.

The all inclusive package comes with breakfast and a three course dinner; it is more food that I typically eat and a great value.  For breakfast, you can do the buffet (huge selection of food) or the ala carte at the restaurant on the Springs side; for dinner, you can eat at 3 different restaurants.

We rented a car and drove from the San Jose airport in 2013.  This time, we flew into Liberia and used the hotel transportation —not badly priced considering it is a van with a driver who will stop if you want him to stop places along the way.  It made our trip more relaxing since the roads there are tricky to navigate.

There are many reasons why I rave about this place but I narrowed this post down to highlight the top 6 reasons.

1.  Friendly, accommodating staff

From the drivers to the actual resort staff, we felt welcomed.  The staff greet you every time you see them and, if anything “goes wrong,” they quickly rectify it to make sure your experience is as good as possible.  At dinner, they are not over bearing and they give you “space” and time to enjoy your meals and drinks.  While some people may feel they are not attentive enough, I felt it was perfect; we never felt rushed to eat or leave our table and they plan reservations at dinner so that you can linger and savor your dinner and evening.


Our welcome– every day, we got a different towel animal


2.  Quiet, secluded casistas

We stayed in casita 30 which was a distance from the restaurant and amenities; we stayed in last time and requested it this time.  We did not mind the walk “up the hill” and it made our casita very quiet.  The casitas closer to the front of the property (ie. near the restaurant or pool) may be noisier; however, the set up of the casistas gives you privacy.


Outdoor shower — there is also a gigantic indoor shower


3.  Gorgeous grounds

The grounds are well manicured but it is very apparent you are in the rain forest — turkeys, birds, sloths can be found on the grounds.

Doing yoga on the casita’s balcony surrounded by beautiful plants

Walkway to the Springs side of the property




Turkeys wandering the property — near swim up bar


3.  Amazing views of Arenal Volcano


View from our room — it was cloudy but last time, we saw the volcano clearly



4.  Delicious food (well priced for a resort)

We were very pleased with all the food; though it was included in our package, the prices for food were very good for a resort.  We had lots of seafood and more food than I want to admit!


Lunch served poolside


Part of the seafood night selection- cooked to order entree


Steak at Amor Loco — Delicious grass fed steak (and I rarely eat meat)





Creme brulee


Flambed banana desert (takes bananas foster to a new level)



5.  For the money, a fantastic deal

‘Nuff said.

6. Free yoga class daily

Every morning, you can drop in for a yoga class in the outdoor (covered) yoga pavilion; the instructor was more knowledgeable than others and gave personalized instruction to us during the class.



My only complaint is that the gym is tiny and the machines are old; however, the hotel management is aware of that and they are in the middle of building a larger, better equipped gym.  The current gym view’s is amazing however and that made up for the bad treadmill; it did not stop me from getting in a few runs (20 minutes and two 5 milers) and looking out into the serene, lush greenery made the miles pass quickly.  There are plenty of outdoor activities that enable you to get in a good workout off the hotel grounds.


Questions — What is your favorite hotel?  Do you work out while on vacation?

***I am posting this review without any type of compensation from the resort.

5 Things I’m loving


Hi ya’ll!  It has been a fantastic week and I’m looking forward to the weekend!  As I think of all that I’m grateful for, I wanted to share 5 things that I’m loving now.
I bought mine after moving to Austin last year and it is amazing!!!  I actually took a checked piece of luggage on one of my longer work trips so that I could have it with me.  I got lazy about using it and my glute/hamstring is acting up…so now I’m back to spending time with it daily.  I have significant back and neck issues and it is painfully good at getting knots under control.
2. Massage balls
My husband’s coworker’s wife bought me these and I love it!  It is the perfect marriage of a lacrosse ball and a tennis ball.  It is fantastic for working on my hamstring (rolling under my leg while seated on a wooden chair) and glute (pressing it in my glute against a wall).
3.  Iced, cold brew coffee
I gave up coffee at the end of last year and, when I resumed drinking it, I was hooked on drinking cold brew coffee cold (even when it’s a “cold” Austin day).  I prefer Whole Foods and Chameleon Cold Brew since they are organic and the cold brew is less acidic.  I water mine down and add a splash of Whole Foods organic unsweetened soy milk— yummmy!  I found a huge container of Chameleon at Costco for a great deal– under $22 for 32 servings!
Post run coffee
These are fantastic when I’m craving chocolate– low in calories and fat and healthier than many other cookies.  
Their daily emails delivered before I wake are a fantastic way to start my morning.  I committed to getting in quiet time each morning and before I go to bed; it makes a difference in my mindset as I start my workdays.

House hunting realities

Who is addicted to HGTV shows like “Property Virgins” and “House Hunters?”  I love those shows and, despite knowing they are not reality, I expected more of what you see on tv to be reality.

We moved to the Austin area with the hopes of buying a house.  Houses here are not cheap but they are much cheaper than southern CA.  The housing market is hot and we learned that bidding wars happen here like they do in Cali.  Our apartment is in the ‘burbs about 20 minutes from the heart of Austin and we fell in love with this area.  Naturally, we wanted to find a house near where we currently live.  
When we started browsing earlier this year, we got a reality check as to what we could buy in this competitive market.  We met a fantastic realtor at an open house and she offered to show us around the area.  During that 6 hour tour (did I mention she is fabulous?!), we discovered little pockets of the area that we did not know existed.  We also realized we could get more bang for our buck by moving even farther from the city….hello, country living!
Our neighbors….far cry from Orange County / Los Angeles
Our realtor told us that prices skyrocket spring through fall and we decided to start looking seriously sooner than anticipated.  The neighborhood that caught our eye the most is a small community and few houses come on on the market in our price range; we knew we would have to jump on any that we liked.  At the end of February, we looked at several homes and fell in love with one and put an offer on it.  That experience was nothing like what we see on HGTV!  A bidding war developed and we lost the house (possibly to an all cash offer) and it stung.  
We kept looking and settled on a new build that appeared to be a great investment.  Our offer was accepted two days before we left for Costa Rica.  Note: It is not recommended to try and buy a home when you know you are traveling out of the country! We returned to a load of tasks to complete for the underwriter/mortgage company and we prepped for an April 15th close.
This past week, a series of events occurred in which we wondered if a body was buried on the lot next to ours and the outside inspector we hired wrote up a 30 page inspection report and flagged numerous code violations.

When I was driving the area a couple weeks ago, I saw something strange on the lot next door; I showed it to my husband and told our realtor about it the day of the inspection.  We dug to get to the bottom of the creepy sign mystery and (thankfully) learned it is not a grave marker!

Seeing this on the lot next door was just a little freaky!

We quickly backed out of the contract (whew!) and revisited a house under construction that had never left my mind.  In the course of 24 hours, we backed out of a contract due to discovering fraud and put a contract on a different house!  Fingers crossed that it will be our home in a couple of months!

We still have to vacate our apartment since we had ended our lease early but we got an extension of a few weeks.  Since there is a gap between when we move out of it until the house closes, I had to find us a place to live.  VRBO to the rescue!  I think I found a place to rent for a month.  

How do I cope with all this crazy, stressful stuff?  I run and workout!!!  Running and other forms of exercise I do (pilates, barre, yoga, kettlebell) I feel are are gifts from God during the trials of life.  I am grateful to have an outlet for relieving stress during weeks like this.

Next big decision— What treadmill to buy!

The Maze 30K Race Report – Free Ice Baths!

Hi y’all!  I hope you had a fantastic week.  I am catching up on writing about last weekend’s fun running “The Maze 30K.”

We are in the middle of buying a house and last Saturday was spent running errands and sofa shopping; Saturday night and at 5am Sunday when I woke up, I felt I had a million things to do and I felt guilty for spending Sunday morning running and almost bailed on the race. Running is my way of dealing with stress and  I am glad I got the mental break I needed by doing the race.

In December I signed up for Austin’s Rogue Running Trail Series.  I planned on training and building my long run up to at least 18-20 miles.  That did not happen as I hoped since other things (ie. shopping for a house and sleeping) took priority.  In California, trails near my house did not have trees and many did not have rocks but they had climbs of 500-2000 feet; here trails are flat but have rocks and tree roots.  After destroying my ankle and dislocating a finger on a rocky course several years ago, I am not a fan of rock or other tripping hazards (including my own feet!).  So, I know I need to spend more time on TX trails to adapt.

Since my trail running has been limited, I knew the race and distance would be tough. My other recent long run, a 15 miler, was my 2nd 15 miler since taking a forced break for about half of last year; I was nervous about running 30K since I knew I had to pick up my feet (instead of slogging along….) for longer than that.

I set one big goal for The Maze at Walnut Creek Park– to finish without getting injured!  My plan was to run slowly and focus on lifting my feet.  The race director’s email mentioned water crossings, so I was prepared for that and mud.  I looked forward to exploring more of Austin’s trails.

I love the T-shirt! And no, I did not wear it during the race.

The course was three loops of the 10K course.  I am typically not a fan of repeating loops but I enjoyed it because I learned the course hazards and it helped me pace myself.  It was cold for Austin at the start and my fingers were number for the first 1.5 loops.

Near the start of the race

The ice cold water crossings (2 per loop) became short ice baths for me; my feet were number afterwards and it took a lot of concentration to avoid tripping and falling.  I joked with another runner that the course had free ice baths.  The course was EXTREMELY well marked, which was much needed since it was constantly winding and no trails were marked in the park.

All smiles on loop 1

Still smiling on loop 2

I paced myself well and each loop took about 65 minutes — slow for me but the water crossings and being super cautious to avoid tripping over rocks and roots made better safe than sorry totally fine with me.   I forgot my camera so I did not capture any pictures during the race but that was probably for the best since snapping pictures while running can be a recipe for face planting.

The finish line was very low key– cross the finish line, take off the timing chip and have the opportunity to grab tacos under the pavilion.  The next race in the series is in a couple weeks and I know I will not be running much the next two weekends, so it will be interesting to see how well I survive it.  No matter what, I love spending hours on trails!

I forgot to get a post-race picture but this will suffice.

Easter at Pace Bend Park

I hope you had a fabulous Happy Easter!  Since our church had service on Friday, we attended that evening and that meant I could get out for a run early on Sunday (ie. no excuses!).  For me, trail running is a way to connect with God and it gives me time to clear my head and be grateful for being able to run.

Continuing my exploration of the Austin area trails, I went to Pace Bend Park in Spicewood, TX.  Thankfully I had read others’ comments that the trails were not well marked and that getting turned around was easy.  I did not even spot the trailhead while looking for a place to park!  That combined with wondering if I was going to be ticketed since I did not have a parking decal (no one at park entrance when I arrived) made me feel very “off” starting my run.  
I had printed a trail map at home and it immediately seemed off when the “bulk water station” location did not match the map.  When I started running trails, I learned that trail running requires being adventurous and in this park,  I knew that even if I got lost, I would not be far from a park road. 
I parked at a camping area near one of the coves off Lake Travis and soaked in the sights — just what I needed this Easter.  I ran down the road towards the park entrance for about a mile before finally finding a trail entrance.   Along the way, I battled myself over how far I would run.  Mentally, I was not convinced I could run 15 miles– the distance I needed prior to next week’s 30K.  I’ve struggled with getting the confidence to run longer distances this year.
Once I hit the trails, I still doubted myself but basked in the joy of being on trails.  There were times when I was unsure if I was going the correct direction and I pulled out my phone to take pictures with hand signals to help me find my way back; based on the maps, an out and back was the only way I could get in my mileage.  
Gorgeous view of Lake Travis
I decided to run out 4-5 miles and turn around since I doubted my legs could do 15 on the rocky terrain; I was super cautious on the rocks and tree roots and I remembered that training on rocky terrain makes it easier! 
Beautiful windy trails through the woods
I turned around close to being 5 miles out and thankfully the return trip was not confusing to me.  I made it back to my car and decided to go back out for a couple of miles and call it at 12 miles.  I convinced myself that I could not do 15 miles since my legs felt like they were dragging.
I ran out the same path along the road and spotted a trailhead that I somehow missed previously.  I decided to run it out and turn around after about a mile….somehow I got turned around at one of the junctions, ran the wrong way (recognized it from the out/back from the other trailhead) and then just decided to go back the way from my prior out and back. I heard cars on the park road and knew I was not truly lost— thankfully! Since I was at 14.60 when I got back to my car, I ran past it on the road and back to make it 15 miles.  I guess my body decided that it could do the mileage and got lost to force me to do it!
Negative split run!
I made it!  
The only negatives about the park are that the trails are not well marked and they are relatively flat; the trail markers have numbers on them and the map online names the trails and does not give numbers (odd!!!).  I hoped for some hills during the run but it was barely any up/down.  Overall, I loved the park and the seclusion of the trails and see running them frequently since they are nearby.