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kohl’s trip

At the end of November, right after Thanksgiving, I received a message from Kohl’s inviting me to be part of a photo shoot for athletic and athleisure looks as part of a social media campaign.  Um, YES PLEASE.  Six weeks later, in mid January, I was flying to Milwaukee!  I was so excited and nervous going in to the trip – nervous about what to expect, how to “model”, being on video, etc.  It just felt like a very intimidating experience.  But I was also so excited for a getaway and a new opportunity!

Right after I arrived in Milwaukee I had dinner with some of the Kohl’s staff and met the two other women who would be part of the shoot.  It immediately helped put me at ease.  Everyone was friendly, funny, down to earth, and so kind.  I knew that even though the next day might feel a little weird, it would also be tons of fun.  And ohmygosh I didn’t even know how fun it would be!

The next morning we met in the lobby at 6:45am.  The film crew got us all set up with our mics – in addition to the photo shoot they’d be shooting the whole day to create short commercials – and we headed out to the studio!  The studio was unreal – just getting a glimpse at all the work that goes in to a one-day photo shoot.  They had a living room area set up for some of our chats, a changing room, another area where we’d look at the clothes with the stylist, another area for the photo shoot, hair and makeup, and a huge table full of delicious, homemade snacks (they changed regularly).  There were so. many. people.  Producers, directors, assistants, stylists, photographers, videographers, audio people… there were probably at least 35 people all moving around and taking care of small details and making everything perfect.  And yet everyone was also so incredibly sweet – chatting with us, offering us anything we needed, showing us pictures of their kids, telling us about themselves.  I could not get over how friendly everyone was.  It could have been such an intimidating and awkward experience and it quickly felt just FUN – like hanging out with friends.  I immediately knew I could trust everyone – that they only wanted to show me in the best possible way.  They wouldn’t try to make me look silly or dumb; they wanted me to be encouraged and to enjoy everything.  (Spoiler: they succeeded.  Big time.)

The whole day took about 11 hours – at the end they were in a big rush to try to get pictures before daylight disappeared.  Then everything was edited down and these two beauties were created!

I cannot say enough good things about the staff of Kohl’s and how generous and kind and sweet they were.  They are professional, creative, passionate, and smart.  I loved seeing the heart and authenticity of such a big brand.  I also can’t say enough good things about Rachael and Porsha!  They are funny, bright, motivated women.  I loved getting to hang out with them and we quickly became friends.  I was so excited to see them in their clothes and to cheer them on during their pictures.  I loved seeing them get pampered and knew how deserving they were of this experience.  I loved getting to talk and laugh with them in between things.  It’s been so great to keep in touch with them afterwards – I know we’ll stay friends (and Rachael will also continue to impress the heck out of me with her insane moves of the day – girl is strong).  

At the end of our shoot we got to take home two complete outfits and I am loving what I chose!  It’s been an awesome revamp to my wardrobe.  And Maggie’s suggestions to us really helped me to look at my closet from a new perspective, which has also been super helpful!

So that was my once in a lifetime experience.  It was amazing.  Thank you, Kohl’s!

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maple holistics

Recently Maple Holistics asked if they could send me something to try.  I chose the Hand Cream for Dry Skin because my hands are awful in the winter – they crack and bleed and generally feel like sandpaper. I’ve had a really hard time finding a lotion that makes any difference, especially one that’s made with quality ingredients.  I’ve tried straight shea butter and bag balm, which haven’t helped and are really greasy.

hand-cream-1

I really like this hand cream.  A lot.  It smells awesome (seriously so good – I think it’s the geranium and lavender) and it’s really thick and moisturizing without being greasy.  It soaks in fast (or at least my dry hands suck it up) and feels great.  It definitely has helped my skin – my skin looks more even and less rough and dry – but I’ve still had some cracking and bleeding on my fingertips.  However, I feel like they’ve cracked and bled less, so that’s something still!  The one drawback is the price – at $45 it’s a pretty expensive tube of lotion, at least for me.  And I’ve used it a lot, which means that it’s disappeared fast, too.

If you’re interested in a trying a free sample product from Maple Holistics, click here!

Do you have problems with dry skin?  What’s your best recommendation?  

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.

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politics and podcasts

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been greatly discouraged and unsettled by recent current events in the political arena.  It’s not often that I’ll speak of politics here and I really only want to talk about it on a public forum when I feel like it’s useful and contributing in a positive way to the crushing mass of voices out there.  I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of all my thoughts or all the many ways I disagree with President Trump but I will say this: I recently found two podcasts that have provided positive and informative (and entertaining) perspective, which I very much appreciate.  I haven’t listened to all these have to offer, but I’m excited to dig into them.

Pantsuit Politics: Two women – one conservative, one liberal – discuss various issues and current events in the political landscape.  I love that I’m hearing both sides of an issue, but in a non-aggressive way.  They’re not angry, they’re not one-upping, they’re not fear-mongering or attacking.  It’s facts and dialogue and information and it’s modeling a productive way for us to talk and listen to each other.  It’s also helping me to hear about issues outside the scope of media coverage.  I love it.

Presidential: Journalist Lillian Cunningham dedicates one episode to each of our 45 presidents.  I’ve only listened to one of these so far – Donald Trump – but it was so well done.  She speaks with researchers, threads how the past informs the present, and overall affirmed that America is really resilient and has survived tumultuous and controversial presidents in the past.  I’m really excited to go back through and listen to each one of these!  It’s not just a history lesson on each president, but also looking at their character traits, their personal lives, etc.

I’m feeling more than ever that it’s important for me to be an informed and passionate citizen, and I’m grateful for how these podcasts might serve to educate and provide perspective.  Check them out!

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monday things

A few random things to share this Monday:

  • I’ve been loving this workout when I need a running break but still want to move.  The instructor isn’t annoying at all which is a huge perk.
  • Two soups we’ve liked recently:vegan sweet potato chowder and roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower soup.  Both were so delicious and immediately got moved to my “eat again” pinboard.
  • I ran 9 miles on Saturday which I think is the most I’ve run since the marathon in November.  February 13 kicks off ultra training, so I’m gearing myself up for even earlier mornings and longer miles.  I’m both ready to get into it and glad I still have a few more weeks.
  • A couple weeks ago I said I needed to fix something and Molly walked over, opened the kitchen drawer, got out a screwdriver, and handed it to me.  At 18 months old.  She’s crazy aware of what’s going on and also prone to tantrums right now.  But in between just wants eye contact, hugs, and to be wrestled.
  • Dave and I have decided what animal each of our kids remind us of: Leo is a dog – he likes to play but also to relax and be alone.  He’s social but needs time to just chill.  Katie is a cat – she likes affection on her terms, she sleeps hard and long, she can be moody but also so charming.  Molly is a puppy – social and just wants to play and be around people and get into things.  Do any of your kids remind you of animals?
recipes

eggplant pesto

Today I had an eggplant that was starting to look a little worse for wear.  I’m not a huge eggplant fan – I like it in certain dishes, mostly hidden – but I didn’t want to throw it out either.  My sister suggested making baba ganoush.  I don’t have tahini right now, but I have pesto (even better!) and so eggplant pesto was born!  This is delicious and hides the eggplant, while giving your pesto a nutritional boost.  Bonus: it whips up super fast and easily.

Eggplant Pesto

  • 1 eggplant, sliced in 1/4-1/2″ rounds
  • olive oil
  • 1/2t. salt
  • 1/4c. pesto
  • 2T. lemon juice
  • 1/4c. nutritional yeast (optional)

Lay the eggplant rounds out on a cookie sheet and spray both sides with olive oil.  Roast at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until starting to brown.  Remove and let cool.  Add to a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.  Blend until smooth (you might still see some pieces of purple eggplant rind in the spread, but that’s okay).  Serve on top of toast, eggs, potatoes, veggies, whatever!

races · running

my first ultra

Last week I signed up for my first ultra, a 50k in Ohio.  The was following Kimberly, who had just signed up, and I’m so excited!  Running an ultra has always been on my bucket list and doing it with Kimberly just makes it the best.  So June 3 you will find us at the Another Dam 50k.  The course is some trails, some road and very flat.  It’s not too technical or hilly, which is perfect for our first ultra and also perfect for the terrain we’ll both be training on.  I asked Kimberly what training plan she was going to use and I think we’re both going to be basing our training on this one.  It’s 16 weeks long, so right now I’m just keeping my running consistent.  Most days I do 5-6 miles and then I try to do one run a week that’s a little more, although lately it’s only 7 or so.  I’m so excited!!

whole30

whole30

January 1 I started my second round of Whole30 (eating plan that eschews sugar, carbs, and dairy).  I first did Whole30 back in May.  It was really hard at the beginning and I wanted to sell my children for crackers, chips, and sugar, but then it got easier and I started to get in the routine and I really loved it.  When I finished I was so happy with it.  Here are some of the reflections I had:

D31: I made it through and I’m so glad I did it.  It’s been really eye-opening and habit-changing for me.  My goals going in to this were to change WHAT I was eating and WHY I was eating.  I think both of these were accomplished, although probably moreso the WHAT than the WHY.  Some reflections:

1) Centering my meals on veggies is really not that hard and the meals are still really delicious.  Bonus: I feel better after eating them, both because they’re not as heavy and because I know I ate something more nutritious.

2) After these 30 days I feel more empowered to make choices, especially for snacks, that aren’t centered around crackers.

3) I (hopefully) have broken the habit of getting a snack for myself whenever I get one for the kids.

4) I lost 8 pounds, which is awesome, especially since normally I really struggle to lose any weight while I’m nursing.  I’m back at the weight I was pre-Molly, which feels good as her first birthday approaches.

5) More importantly, I feel way more comfortable in my body.  I feel leaner and lighter.  My energy is more consistent throughout the day.  I’m not bloated.  My clothes fit better.

6) Peanut butter probably isn’t the best choice for me as it tends to make my stomach feel off and gives me gas.  And I think that’s my emotional-eat food in the absence of sugar or carbs.  I’m having such a hard time quitting it!  Almond butter is good, but it’s no peanut butter.

I could probably keep going but in summary: I’m so glad I did this.  I’m planning on keeping going with this (a second round, if you will), to really ingrain these new habits in myself.  I might “cheat” here and there, but overall want to remain close to this eating plan.  I’m also hoping to break my peanut butter addiction.

I kept it up for awhile and then slowly let old habits creep back in.  I was marathon training, so carbs were necessary!  Deserved!  Then it was the holidays so cookies and snacks and everything else.  By the end of November I was already feeling blah and I knew it was because my carb and sugar intake had increased a lot.  But I didn’t change anything in December.  So January 1 I decided to do my second round of Whole30.  It was less because of January 1 and more because it was a good opportunity – special occasions were all past and it was a good window of time for me to try it again.  I also have a trip coming up later this month that I knew I wanted to look and feel my best for.

Technically I’m not really doing Whole30 since I’m eating beans and tofu and sometimes quinoa.  I’m doing a vegetarian version (and beans, tofu, and quinoa are good proteins for me).  But I am cutting out sugar and carbs, especially processed ones, and dairy.  I’m centering my meals on veggies and fruit and protein.

I’m currently on day 5 and it’s been easier this round.  The cravings haven’t been as bad, although some of the crankiness is still there.  But I’m already feeling better – less bloated, more energetic, empowered to make healthier eating choices.  (If you want to follow I post on @snacksmierau on instagram.)

I’ll post about this again at the end, with reflections from a round 2.

Sidenote: to me this is not a diet or a detox.  It’s creating healthier eating patterns and habits in myself.  I know I have a habit of making carbs and sugar the staple of my diet and I’d rather veggies, fruit, and protein were the foundation (and from experience I know I feel better when this is the case).

Have you ever done Whole30?  What was your experience?