Reflections on Summer 2016

Now that fall is officially here, it’s time to reflect on the summer.  It was quite the packed summer and I wouldn’t change anything about it.   I learned a few things this summer and thought I’d share them with you.


I was in Boston last week and saw this amazing reflection in an office building.  This picture does not do the reflection any justice.

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Vacation Time: Aruba

Enough with the vacation prep already, right?  How about the vacation itself?

Boyfriend D, his parents, his sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and I spent a week in Aruba.  Island time is real and it is glorious.  We were finally able to relax and take a break from the stressful hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.  We had family time shared with everyone.  He had guy time and I had girl-time.  And we had our alone time.

Day 1 – Saturday

Boyfriend D and I were on the same flight as his parents.  We arrived in Aruba Saturday afternoon and went straight to our hotel.  We ate lunch at the hotel, went grocery shopping, and spent the afternoon relaxing.  Boyfriend D and I ate dinner on the beach then took the first of what we became our nightly strolls on the beach.

Day 2 – Sunday

Boyfriend D had a golf outing in the morning with the men.  The women stayed in while the baby napped.  We ate lunch together on the beach then lounged in the pool.  We ate dinner with his parents and went for our nighttime walk on the beach.  We discovered it was easier to walk in the shallow water than on the dry sand.

Day 3 – Monday

Boyfriend D and I began our day with a WOD at CrossFit A297, the only box on the island.  When we first walked in, we saw this on the door:

Once we walked inside, we saw:

The WOD was on a computer screen, but first, this:

I just love all of the positivity, don’t you?  Anyway, the WOD:

The running was outside in the sun.  We completed the WOD using much lighter kettlebells for the box overs.  CrossFit is all about “beating the clock” where the goal is to finish before the clock runs out.  In Aruba, it’s all about beating the heat as the running outdoors in the sun was brutal and there was no AC inside the box.

We met Boyfriend D’s family for lunch in town and walked around the shopping area.  I napped when we returned to the hotel.  That night was our night to stay in and baby-sit.

Day 4 – Tuesday

The men played golf in the morning while the women stayed in and the baby slept.  We ate lunch as a group when the men came back then lounged by the pool.  That night, we ate dinner at Simply Fish as a family on the beach and watched the beautiful sunset.

Day 5 – Wednesday

Finally!  Boyfriend D and I had the day to ourselves.  We went off-roading in UTVs in the morning, ate lunch with the family, and went to Screaming Eagle for dinner.


They gave us the bandanas to cover our noses and mouths because the trail became very dusty:


California Lighthouse:

Boyfriend D pointing out the golf course from the lighthouse:

Day 6 – Thursday

Yet again, the men went off to play golf.  This time, we women were pampered with facials and deep tissue massages.  Like the other family days, we ate lunch together, lounged by the pool, then went out to dinner as a family.

Day 7 – Friday

Boyfriend D and I had the whole day to ourselves.  We spent the morning off-roading on the jeep tour, ate lunch just us, frolicked in the sea, and went to the Flying Fishbone for dinner (a MUST if you go to Aruba – make sure your reservation time is early enough to watch the sunset).

Our first stop was the Natural Pool:

Natural Pool itself:

Next stop:

The original Natural Bridge aka “Mother Bridge” (it collapsed after Hurricane Katrina’s winds passed):

The Natural Bridge still remaining aka “Baby Bridge”:

Goofing off wearing Boyfriend D’s backpack:

Yes, I know I’m white.  My goal was not to burn.  As a consequence, I didn’t tan either.

Moving on…The blow hole:

Day 8 – Saturday

We came home to snuggle with Finn (because you know there has to be the obligatory picture of Finn):

Have you ever been to Aruba?  What did we miss that we must go to next time?  Where should we go next?

Vacation Prep: Paleo

 A fellow CrossFitter from my box asked me how I keep paleo when I travel, whether I’m going on vacation or traveling for work.  As my work travels both this year and last year take place during the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge (yes, I’m doing it again) and my vacation took place during my box’s 30-Day Paleo Challenge, I have to have a food plan.

 Let’s go in chronological order:

Fall 2013 – Work travels to Jacksonville, Florida; Dallas, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; and Fontana, California.  Not exactly food meccas unless you’re looking for fast food (Waffle House, What-A-Burger, Raising Cane’s, In-N-Out Burger, respectively).

Since Delta only offers non-paleo snacks – pretzels, peanuts, and cookies – I brought my own.  I made my own trail mixes in Ziploc baggies consisting of raw cashews, raw almonds, and raisins.  I brought slices of a homemade paleo banana bread or paleo blueberry or raspberry muffins (pictured below).  I also dropped a handful of Larabars in my bag.

I tried to find hotels that serve a continental breakfast or have a restaurant open for breakfast.  I ordered scrambled eggs or a vegetable omelet.  I brought avocados from home that I sliced on top of the eggs.

Since lunch is always take-out from a local fast food place, I knew I was SOL there.  I made my own “breaded” chicken that went into the refrigerator as soon as I arrived.  I bought thin sliced chicken breast, coated it in egg, then “breaded” it with a mixture of almond flour, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper.  These were then baked for about 10 minutes on each side at 350.

Dinner was easy.  As I am usually the only female on these trips and men like meat, we often wound up at a BBQ joint or steakhouse.  I would get a plain grilled piece of fish or steak and a side of vegetables (steamed broccoli, grilled asparagus, plain baked sweet potato).

My work trips are usually fly in early Thursday morning, fly out Friday evening or Saturday morning.  I don’t usually have the time to visit the hotel fitness center or local CrossFit box.  As the 2013 trip to Ohio had me coming home Sunday morning, I had the time Saturday afternoon and WOD-ed at CrossFit Grandview.  The space was enormous and they must have had at least 50 people show up for the class to do a Hero WOD.  They were very welcoming and I left with a t-shirt.  My only issues were the large ratio of athletes to coach (about 50:1 with a camera) and the lack of warm-up time to build to working weight.  With so many other boxes in the area, I’ll go to another one to add to my CrossFit t-shirt collection.

Summer 2014 – Vacation to Aruba

My food for the flight was the same – trail mix and blueberry muffins.

Boyfriend D and I were fortunate to share a suite with a kitchen with his sister and her family.  We picked up eggs, avocados, and sweet potatoes and made breakfast in our hotel room.  We roasted the sweet potatoes in the oven and scrambled the eggs with the avocados.  When we bought the sweet potatoes, we had no idea the only sharp knife in the room was a steak knife:

By making our own breakfast in the hotel room, we also saved quite a bit of money and were able to indulge on nicer dinners with an extra glass of wine.

Being on a Caribbean island, the fish was fresh and the fruits and vegetables were tropical.  Lunch was at a restaurant either on our hotel property (Marriott Ocean Club) or the hotel next door (Ritz).  I typically ordered grilled fish with a side of vegetables.

Dinner was just about always off hotel grounds and, like lunch, I would stick to meat or fish with vegetables.

When the paleo challenge ended while we were away, I broke it with a delicious piece of halibut that came with champagne risotto and chocolate mousse for dessert.  Needless to say, the romance of the night ended pretty quickly after that.

Fall 2014 – Work travels to Dallas, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio (North Carolina and Florida were before the challenge started, California will be after it ends)

I ate breakfast at home before my flight to DFW (spinach and mushroom frittata with roasted sweet potatoes).  I picked up a banana from the Delta Sky Club and added it to the bags of Wonderful Pistachios in my tote for the flight.

I am very fortunate to work near a deli that serves a strictly paleo menu in addition to their regular deli foods.  Their paleo meals all come with a protein and two vegetable sides and they carry paleo brownies.  I bought two meals (chicken meatballs with mashed sweet potato and roasted cauliflower and chicken chili with mashed cauliflower and sautéed kale) and two brownies that served as my lunch both days in Texas while the rest of my crew ate What-A-Burger.

Dinner that night was at Outback, where I had grilled mahi and a side of steamed broccoli.  Dinner was waiting for me when I get home.  Boyfriend D said picked up steak and asparagus at Morton’s. 

Tell me, Fitters, how do you keep paleo when you travel?  What do you bring on your flight when you know you won’t be able to eat any of the snacks the flight attendants give out?

Vacation Prep: Finn

Dear Fitters, I must apologize for my long absence.  My too long absence.  I have missed you and I have missed writing.  Let’s play catch up.

When we last met, I was getting ready to go on vacation and told you about my issues finding sunglasses.  I ended up keeping the Ray-Bans I bought.  I didn’t tell you about any of my other vacation prep, which I had meant to do.  Since I’m in the midst of my work traveling season, what better time than now?

You all know I have a dog and probably wonder, “What do you do with Finn when you go away?”  Luckily, a former neighbor recommended a very sweet, nurturing woman who lives two minutes away as a dog sitter.  I bring Finn to her house the night before along with all of her toys, a letter with important phone numbers (you know: grandma & grandpa, the vet), her treats, and Ziploc baggies of pre-packaged meals.

Yes, I am that person who measures out my dog’s meals and puts each meal in its own bag.  I know how much my dog eats for breakfast and dinner and don’t want to run the risk of her eating too little or too much, the latter being the more likely case.  I also am particular about my dog’s diet.  Finn doesn’t eat any grains or unnatural products.  Her food is Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato and her treats are Blue Wilderness Grain Free Salmon Biscuits.

When my sitter wasn’t available one weekend last December, I had to use a back-up sitter who also came highly recommended.  She laughed when I told her I measure out my dog’s meals beforehand and questioned why I wouldn’t let her feed Finn whatever dog food she had lying around.  When I went to pick Finn up after that long weekend in Ohio, Finn could not wait to get out of that house.  Needless to say, I haven’t used her again.

To answer the back-up sitter’s question about her food, though: When I first picked up Finn and brought her home from the foster mom in Connecticut…I never showed you that picture?  It’s one of my favorite’s!  Cousin E took it as I was driving:

As I was saying, Finn had the worst dandruff when I first brought her home.  We finished up the dog food the foster sent me home with.  I don’t remember the brand exactly; but, it was one of those everyday commercial ones like Purina.  Cousin E suggested I put Finn on a grain-free diet and within two days, the dandruff was gone.  Now she has the softest, silkiest fur that I could pet for hours.

Vacation took me to Aruba with Boyfriend D and his family.  We dropped Finn off at the sitter the night before we left.  The sitter was leaving on her vacation the day we came home.  My stepmom, aka Grandma to Finn, picked her up the day before.  When we came home, Boyfriend D and I dropped off our luggage and went to pick Finn up.  I smile now, on the plane to Dallas, looking forward to coming home tomorrow for her greeting.

During my longer work trips, like the one last week that took me to Jacksonville, FL, after a day in Charlotte, NC, and had me away for 4 days, Finn stays with the sitter.  For those that are just one night, like this one to Texas, Boyfriend D stays over and takes care of her.  I hate seeing both sets of their sad puppy eyes when I walk out the door; but, I know the kisses I’m going to get from both of them tomorrow that makes it all worth it.

Tell me, Dear Fitters, what do you do with your pet(s) when you go away?

Also, Instagram account for Finn – yay or nay?

(As an aside, I receive no reimbursement for any reviews or links I may post.)

Vacation Prep: Sunglass Hunt

I have a dilemma.  I’m going on vacation with Boyfriend D and his family and I need sunglasses.  The sunglasses I currently own are about five or six years old.  They are prescription lenses (I have issues with distance and I will not wear contacts) from Costco in a Louis Vuitton frame (no biggie…I’m not much of one for brands).  They don’t really fit my face very well:

I have seen these Ray-Bans on a number of blogs and I love them.  I tried them on and they looked terrible on me.  The “tear-drop” of the aviator lens is not flattering on my face.

However, when I went to Sunglass Hut on the day my laptop had issues, I found a pair of aviators that did not have the “tear-drop” but flattened out at the bottom.  I also discovered that I need the smaller diameter lens (55 or 56 mm instead of 58 or 59 mm).   I ended up buying these cockpit-style in the solid color (gray) mirror lens:

Unfortunately, I did not realize I bought the glasses with the bigger lens.  The lenses also aren’t prescription.  Thankfully, Ray-Ban has a 45-day return policy and offers free returns.  Otherwise, the glasses look really good:

Resolution: Bring the sunglasses on vacation and return them when I get home.  When I have my next eye doctor appointment in September, I’ll get my doctor to write a prescription so I can get new sunglasses with prescription lenses.  And I’ll probably get them from Costco.

*As an aside, the Ray-Ban website offers a virtual mirror that is pretty neat.  It uses your webcam to take video of your face and you can “try on” the different sunglasses in “real-time.”  My issue with it is the true aviators looked good on me.  It wasn’t until I was in the store and smiling that I realized my cheeks hit the bottom of the lenses and giggling was uncomfortable.

Do you have a summer vacation planned?  Where are you headed and how do you prepare?