Running Belt Review

Does anyone in the world make affordable workout pants with an actual pocket in them big enough for a phone? I used to have yoga pants with a key pocket in them, but I still had to hold my phone if I want to take it to track my runs or just in case of emergency.  Actually, why lie, I just like to track every run, bike ride, and even paddleboarding lately just  because.

Anyways, Level Up VR asked me if I’d like to try a running belt at no cost in exchange for an honest review and I decided it would be fun to try.  I have to admit though, I wasn’t too excited about it because I don’t like wearing anything (besides clothes) I don’t have to, I don’t even wear a watch and only rarely wear jewelry because things on me tend to annoy me. But how are you going to know if you don’t try?  And I COULD use a place to carry things.

I tried it the first time on a run, I just put my phone and a key in the belt. I was a little concerned that the GPS wouldn’t track correct through the water resistant material, but all was good.  As I mentioned, I was concerned about comfort but I actually FORGOT I was wearing it!  That’s just about the definition of comfort if you ask me.

I’ve also worn it hiking and cycling, and although cycling is a completely different  range of movements I again forgot I was wearing it.  That time I tested it’s limits a bit more, I had not only my phone but also a cord and portable charger in the pocket.  I’m not saying I tried playing Pokemon Go with it, I’m just saying if I had it would have worked. And had room to spare.  🙂


One other feature it has that’s pretty nice is a line of lights that you can set to blink slow or fast or just stay on.  I live in an area with a strangely large number of horrible drivers, so an added safety feature like that is always appreciated.

The folks at Level Up were kind enough to give me a 50% off code for anyone interested in purchasing the belt, you can find it on Amazon here and the code is RCE5FGY8. If you try it let me know what you think!




Bourbon & Brew -The Grand Tasting 2015

I was just looking back, and it seems I have not been to a Bourbon & Brew Fest.  Highly strange, I love all of Big City Event’s festivals, but it seems this one always came up after I had committed to something else.  Not this year!

This year instead of the traditional festival they are having a bourbon tasting. There will be over 40 kinds of bourbons to try and it’s all in Tampa this Saturday from 5pm – 10pm.

Now I gotta admit I love a really good bourbon over ice, but also flavors amuse me greatly. There will be Jim Beam Maple Whiskey (hell ya!) and this:


Now, I doubt they will have bourbon cream floats at the tasting, but I will be trying the Brown Jug Bourbon Cream no matter what they mix it with. Or don’t mix it with. Enough said.

Besides the opportunity to taste all kinds of bourbon there will, of course, be some brews AND moonshine.

Oh, and don’t forget the music. All country all the time.

So, to be honest I’m not exactly a good ole country girl. Or anything other kind of country. But I love pretty much all live music, and who doesn’t love this?

I am so going to buy a cowboy hat before Saturday!

Go here for all the important info including prices, what you can and can’t bring and such. The Grand Tasting is at Armature Works on Tampa’s Riverwalk. Have I said enough times yet how much I love Riverwalk?  Probably not.

After you do that, how about a chance to win a pair of General Admission tickets?  Just let me know if you are a year round country fan or a fan of convenience (like me) and if you’ve listened to any of the bands that will be at the tasting!  Also, use the Rafflecopter link so I know who you are:
Enter HERE!!!

I received two VIP tickets to The Bourbon & Brew Grand Tasting 2015 in exchange for writing a review and a giveaway. As always, my opinions are all mine.

Vegan Fine Dining ?!?

I became a vegetarian when I was 17, 28 whole years ago.  Way back then when the dinosaurs were still around the only thing you could find when out to eat was a side salad (iceberg lettuce, 2 cherry tomatoes, croutons, please hold the bacon bits. Um, I said hold the bacon bits…). Fast food joints equaled Taco Bell bean burritos or french fries. They did not do salad.

Back then when I went to McDonald’s and asked for a burger no burger extra veggies 90% of the time I got a blank stare or outright not being nice laughter. Mostly at McDonald’s, still don’t go there anymore. Probably why I still curse too much to this day.

Fast forward to today and I can eat pretty much anywhere besides Cracker Barrel (bacon in the green beans!) or Apple Bees. But as a person who hasn’t ate (eaten? I can’t decide) meat in so long that if I do on accident it’s the equivalent of food poisoning, I sometimes have to ask if there is some kind of meat broth or lard (I love Mexican food) in things and I hate to do it because I don’t want to be a pain.

So you cannot even imagine how excited I was that there were enough vegan restaurants in Asheville to eat at a different one every night of the week.  Not even just vegetarian, vegan!

By far one of the best dining out experiences I have had was at Plant. I decided since I was living large and all that I would go all in and try the raw Lasagna Cruda. I haven’t really tried raw meals before, but all the more reason to try it when someone else is not cooking, right? I only tried it because it was in my I’m-on-vacation-screw-it-I’ll-try-anything mood, but it was one of he most amazing restaurant meals I can even remember. Live herbed almond cheese and kale & pecan pesto almost kept me from trying this, but they ended up being the best part. My definition of restaurant food worth the drive /  money is something that would take me all day to make myself (and still wouldn’t taste as good) and this definitely fit the bill.

Bad picture but it was the kind of place where taking pictures at all seemed kind of over the top. Just trust me.

20151023_201836My partner in crime had the Seitan Chile Co Queso and that was pretty dang amazing too. We actually started the whole thing off with fried plantains drizzled in some undefinable not too hot hot sauce that made me want to eat there every day.

The second night we went to the Laughing Seed Cafe. This was the night after hiking over 8 hours, and in all honesty I think I was leaning against the wall eating half asleep. I took no pictures, ate part of the East West Quesadilla, and basically zombied through what was probably a great meal. All I really remember was they had an amazing bar drink with ginger in it and my partner in crime had a dinner with tofu (neither of our favorites) that was absolutely amazing. Low Country Rollups which was a BBQ sauced wrap that has inspired me to try making something somewhat similar. We shall see.

I don’t know of any restaurants near me like these. There is The Cider Press Cafe out in St. Pete, but it’s fairly far from me so I haven’t tried it yet. Probably eventually.

Do you have any great vegan or vegetarian / vegan restaurants near you? If so where are you, I want to go!

Breakfast(ish) at the Winery

I mentioned yesterday that I am going to be writing all week about my trip to North Carolina last week.  Ya, it was just a weekend trip but lots happened.

As seems to be our way (in spite of not being at ALL morning people) we were up and out before it was officially morning.  Of course the mandatory stop was made for coffee, then we hit the road.  Which happened to be a dark road at that hour so we didn’t see much.

Anyways, about the time we hit Georgia it started to be light enough to read the billboards.  Holy crap, Georgia has a lot of billboards.  Just saying.  And apparently, though there are pictures of peaches everywhere they have NO PEACHES. I don’t care what time of year it is, the one time I’ve ever been in Georgia shouldn’t they have been selling peaches by the roadside?  It could have been canned peaches, I would have been ok with that if they also had can openers. But no.  Then, the welcome center that they had been advertising for about a million miles that I was so looking forward to being welcomed at was closed.  Really?  That’s not very southern hospitable is it?

Sorry, squirrel moment.  Back to the billboards.  Many of them were advertising wineries.  I love wineries!  Too bad it was 9am.  The frog winery (that’s not the exact name, but there was something about a frog in it) didn’t open ’till like 11.  Dang! We saw another billboard for Horse Creek Bistro and Winery and decided to stop whether they were open or not. After all, doesn’t bistro mean food?  And it was breakfast time.


Sadly, it was also closed.  How could it be so hard to find an open winery at 9am? Didn’t anyone care we were on vacation?  Actually, someone did.  A gentleman pulled into the parking lot and invited us in, although they were not officially open for a while.  Since they weren’t open there was no food, but you know what he did offer us?  A wine tasting. Score!  And one of the wines, Traveler, was peach flavored!  Not cloying juicy peach, just a hint and it was wonderful. That man single handedly saved our drive through Georgia.

So, if you happen to be driving up the I75 past exit 41 be certain to stop in and try a sampling.  It was only $5 for 5 samples and a very nice, thick wine glass.  I’ll still break it but it may last a couple of months. Try Traveler and Jockey, they were both wonderful.

We did finally stop and eat actual food in Georgia, at some Mexican food restaurant.  I don’t believe I will ever eat Mexican food in Georgia again.  They didn’t even have peach salsa, which I was just certain they would.  So sad.

So Much Good Stuff!

I haven’t been writing much (at all) lately, and I haven’t been running much (at all) lately but I have been doing lots of cool stuff I can’t wait to write about. Everything from indoor rock climbing to the beach at night to just exploring new places. You know what I haven’t been doing? I mean besides what I already said?  I haven’t been taking any pictures of all the cool!  Lame, I know.  So I’m on a mission to find some good pictures that other people took of some of the cool places around Tampa I’ve been exploring.

And also to stop being so amused with what I’m doing that I forget that I’ll want to write about it later and so forget to take pictures.  In my defense, Bert would be proud.  (Don’t tell him but I always liked Ernie better. And Grover. Also, I have no idea who that guy singing is. Don’t tell that guy either.)

Anyways, Happy New Years and all that. Now go outside and play.  But also, take pictures.  🙂

Planning for Thanksgiving

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it here, but I have a crap-ton of family.  Yes, that’s the scientific term.  And going back they are Italian, which basically means we all hang out in the kitchen, eating a lot, and throwing our hands around while talking in a way that is dangerous to all. We get together fairly often, and it’s always for a meal.  Breakfast at the sister’s, dinner at wherever; I don’t know why but lunch is never officially a thing. My slightly off kilter family calls it dinner after 12 and breakfast before, and since noon is only one minute long it doesn’t count.

We never meet up at my house because everyone else’s house is bigger with more sitting space. I’m not allowed to cook because I’m a vegetarian and enough said.  They always tell me to bring the salad or the veggy tray, apparently I am not to be trusted around anything that must be heated.

We have experimented with using a private Facebook group (my idea but not everyone would play along) but we usually just use a group email and edit the menu part. My silly family put me in charge of the email a few years ago, I think for Easter.  Maybe Thanksgiving, I don’t remember. I changed everyone’s answer to Dr. Seuss answers (Roast Beast, etc.) and was never allowed to coordinate again. Sad but true.

Apparently they forgot because they put me in charge of the emails again this year.  (Insert evil laugh here) this time I decided to go all high tech on them and use a site called  I found out about it when a co-worker used it for a work potluck.  It is very cool!

Basically you tell it how many you want of each item (side dishes, desserts, plates, utensils), jot down a note, type in all of your recipient’s email addresses and off you go.  They click a link in the email you receive and enter whatever they’d like to contribute. It’s pretty cool and super easy.

This is our first family event we used this for and I just sent out the invites but I’m pretty sure based on how well it worked at work that it’ll be out easiest arranged potluck yet.

How does your family do Thanksgiving? Does one person do everything or do you potluck it like we do?



The Running Addiction – Seems to be Back!

Well, tonight I ran outside for the first time I can remember.  I had stopped running completely for probably 4 months, until last week I started running just a mile on the treadmill after tae kwon do classes.  When I was running last I was running on the treadmill for months – it just appealed to me for a while.

All I ran was a mile and a quarter before class tonight, but that’s all it took. I feel the addiction starting again…

I have to say, as not-common-sense as it may sound I think running barefoot outside is so much better for my feet than running on the treadmill.  On the treadmill my toes get sore from rubbing on the tread, outside my feet feel fine.  I did see a lot of little broken glass in 2 places tonight, but that’s pretty easy to see reflecting the street lights.

Anyways, the long and short of it is I do believe it’s time to get back on the running horse and start working on getting some mileage going!

So no photo today.  The prompt was landmark, I really didn’t have anything older to fit that prompt and I didn’t even get outside today on my lunch so I had no chance of getting a photo today.  All good though – it’s been a great day.

Have you ever tried barefoot running?  If you like running and you haven’t tried it barefoot, what’s stopping you?  Give it a try!



The photo prompt today was streets.   I love pictures of streets, trails, and rivers; they look inviting and always make me wonder what is just around the next bend.  If you ever were to look through my pictures on my computer there is a disproportional amount of them of rivers and trails.

It just so happens I took the picture below on on my way home from work right before I got the photo prompt.  I love this picture, the trees and windmill behind a busy street full of cars is exactly how it is where I live. I was sitting at one of the last lights before my neighborhood, within walking distance of home.

20141103_173359This afternoon while I took a walk on my lunch break I took a couple of other pictures of streets.  These are different angles of the same street, Linebaugh Ave. As seen from walking on the street, from walking below, and walking directly below.

AvenueIf I’d had time I would have liked to add some pictures of the streets in my neighborhood.  They are all curved enough to make pulling out a a driveway a challenge and most of them have either water on one side, trees on one side, or both.  The ones that have both I avoid like the plague when I run outside at night.  Which I haven’t done in way too long….


In addition to #NaBloPoMo I also signed up for Photography 101 this month.  All or nothing, right?  The photo theme of the day is ‘home’.  That’s a word that means different things to different people and which has meant very different things to me at different times.

I’ve lived in Arizona most of my life, and a few years in California as well.  I felt at home in those places, or I thought I did. I was perfectly fine with either one of them really.

But then I moved to Florida and I found that home isn’t just where the heart is as so many people say. Home is the place that when you get there you find you don’t want to leave.  I’ve only been here 8 years but after the first year I was already hooked.  Visiting other places is fun and I’d love to go back and visit the desert and the mountains, but Florida is home to me.

Home Florida



Overwhelmed – food choices

I don’t seem to be able to get back into running OR writing ever since I stopped when I was sick.  It’s not because I don’t have time or anything logical like that, I just got out of the habit and haven’t got back in yet.  To help me get back in the habit of writing (since I do, after all, enjoy it!) I joined a Writing 101 class.  It’s not exactly a class, but that’s a close enough description for me.

The first assignment?  Just to write freely for 20 minutes.   And then post it. I am taking the fact that it is an assignment as an excuse to simply write for 20 minutes without worrying about wrapping up the subject, giving an  answer to the problem, or looking for a picture to go with it. One neat thing about this assignment is that when I was done I had all kinds of other things that I wanted to write about.  I do believe this class may work to get me back into writing!

So here is assignment 1, free writing.  It’s kind of funny because writing the first paragraph I wasn’t even planning to write about food.  🙂



Am I the only one who sometimes looks around and feels overwhelmed by everything there is to do and everything there is to accomplish? I want to do so many things, but I just don’t. I’d like to say there isn’t enough time, and there really isn’t sometimes but most of the time I simply don’t know how to get started or after I have started I don’t know what to do next.

One of my big challenges right now is eating right, and making certain that my kids start eating better. One big challenge is that the boys and I have tae kwon do classes three or four nights a week and that doesn’t leave a lot of time for cooking dinner, especially since we don’t want to eat right before we leave for class. Running around with a just filled stomach is not the most fun thing ever.

I know that prepping food on the weekends, planning easy things like sandwiches, and using the crockpot all would help. Knowing this and doing it are two very different things! Of course it doesn’t help that my kids see any food that’s not what they usually eat as something to run from. Frozen pizza, burritos, or chicken nuggets are their idea of the perfect dinner. It should be as easy as not buying the things I don’t want them to eat and I do that often enough, but then there’s the little part where I have to supply healthy food as an alternative. Curses!

One thing I never learned at home was how to cook. My mom always did a meat, a veggy and a starch and we always sat at the table together and ate. But us kids had nothing to do with the actual cooking. I think the most I ever did in the kitchen was make kool aid. Of course it didn’t help that I became a vegetarian and moved out when I was 17, I didn’t even know what vegetarians where supposed to eat let alone how to cook whatever it was.

I bought the book Lauren’s Kitchen and started making my own breads, sprouting, and all the interesting things that were in the book. Not bad for someone who was known for burning water. But then I had kids, and baking bread and sprouting was replaced with walking around and around the house or neighborhood with a colicky baby, reading stores, taking day trips to the library for story time, all the things that moms of little ones find consuming all of their time. Food was the last thing on my mind, I ate at work or grabbed a cheese sandwich, whatever was quick and easy.

All of that seemed fine and good and I really didn’t worry about what I was feeding myself or my family much. But with the advent of social media a person really can’t ignore or say they didn’t know about just how bad some of the food is that we eat every day. Chemicals in the food, hormones in the dairy and meat, and now GMOs to worry about. How is a person not to be overwhelmed?