Stitch Fix Review #3: October 2014

Disclosure: This post contains referral links that will help support my Stitch Fix addiction. All sign ups through my referral link are greatly appreciated!

Stitch Fix Review

In case you are not familiar with Stitch Fix, let me bring you up to speed. Stitch Fix is a monthly subscription service (although you don’t have to get one every month, you pick how often) that sends you clothes and accessories based on a style profile that you fill out. You can keep what you like and send back what you don’t. There is a $20 styling fee but if you keep any of the items, the $20 fee is deducted from the total purchase price of the items you keep. Basically it is like playing dress up as an adult…..and it is both fun and addicting! To sign up to get a fix of your own, click here!

Now lets take a look at what was in my fix this month!

Item #1: Tart Jessamy Twin Striped Cardigan

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In my notes to my stylist I requested the Clove Twist Black Striped Cardigan that you can see here on my Pinterest board. My stylist wasn’t able to get one for me in this fix so until she is able to track one down, she sent me this as an alternative.

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And although I liked this cardigan, I didn’t love it. I decided to send it back in hopes that I would eventually get the cardigan that I requested.

Status: Returned

Item #2: Level 99 Patrick Chino Pant

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I liked these pants but they were too big for me in the waist. Otherwise, I may have kept them as I don’t currently have a pair of brown pants and I did like them other than the sizing issue.

Status: Returned

Items #3: Uttam Dulce Crochet Overlay Belted Fit and Flare Dress

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This was another item that I liked but didn’t love. I try to only keep pieces that I fall in love with, so this one was sent back as well.

Status: Returned

Items #4: 41Hawthorn Filbert Grid Print Blouse

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I loved this shirt the minute I pulled it out of the box! The print, the color, the style….everything! I especially like the detail on the sleeve.

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Status: Kept!

Item #5: Street Level Jamie Print Folded Clutch

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I was really excited to get an accessory in this fix as I didn’t get one last month. Normally I do not like animal prints or anything gold. And although I still would have preferred silver hardware on this clutch, I still really love it.

Status: Kept!

So as you can see I only ended up keeping 2 of the 5 items that I was sent but I am ok with that. In all honesty, even if I only keep one item from a fix, that feels like a success to me. Stitch Fix gives me the opportunity to try on things that I may not have tried otherwise. It is a fun experience that I look forward to each month!

Want to see my past fixes? Click on a link below.

Fix #1: August 2014

Fix #2: September 2014

Want to get a fix of your own? Click here to sign up!

What did you think of my fix this month?

Are you a Stitch Fix fanatic? I would love to hear about your experiences!

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K5 Learning Review


Disclosure: B and I received a complimentary 6 week subscription to K5 Learning for review purposes. All opinions are ours.

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Recently B received the opportunity to review K5 Learning an online reading and math program for kids in Kindergarten to Fifth Grade. We both jumped at the opportunity because 1)B loves doing things on the computer and 2) B has been struggling with reading so I was hoping this would help.

To get started all B had to do was take an assessment online and then he was good to go! B naturally gravitated to the Math portion of the training because it comes easier for him and he enjoys it more than reading. And although he enjoyed that part of the program better, he still enjoyed the reading and spelling portion as well. As I mentioned, he loves doing anything on the computer, so this felt more like a game to him than school work.

Do you have a child that you think might benefit from this program? You can head over to their website and sign up for a free 14 day trial offer. If you and your child end up liking the program it would just be $25 a month for one child or $199 for an annual subscription for one child. There is additional pricing options available if you have more than one child that you would like to enroll in the program.

B and I say you should definitely give it a try! Anything you can do to make learning more fun is a win in our book!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

 

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Looking ahead to 2015

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There are only a couple of months left in 2014 (how the heck did that happen?) so naturally I am already trying to hammer out my race schedule for next year.

Okay, who am I trying to kid here? I have been “scheduling” races for 2015 since 2014 began. It’s just what I do. If I had it my way I would run all the races but logistics doesn’t allow that, for good reason. So races that I couldn’t get to this year, got put on the list for next year.

Technically I am only officially signed up for one race next year at this point but I thought it would be fun to take a look at the races that I am considering for 2015. Typically I do one race a month so I will have to make some compromises along the way.

January

Chris and I are doing the Star Wars Rebel Challenge at Disneyland in January! It will be both our first and second Disney race as the challenge involves us running a 10k on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday. It was also be our first time at Disneyland and Chris’s first official half marathon (although he ran 14 miles at the Spartan Beast). As you can see there will be a lot of firsts and it should be a great experience!

February 

I have nothing on the radar for February as of yet. Winter was pretty rough on us in Michigan here last year and to be quite honest,  I was pretty miserable during all of our Winter races. Maybe I will play it by ear and see how Mother Nature treats us.

March

I have several races that I am eyeing for March. One of which is Rock CF which is a race that I have been doing since its inception. The race is on Grosse Ile and it benefits Cystic Fibrosis. It is one of my favorite races as it is scenic, well-organized, has a great shirt, awesome medal and the best post race food.

The other two that I am considering doing are ones that I have not yet run. One of which is the Cork Town Race which is a St. Patty’s themed race and is one of the largest 5ks in Michigan. It has a fun party atmosphere and also a sweet medal.

The other race that I am considering isn’t a traditional race. It is the Fight for Air Climb which is held downtown Detroit at the Renaissance Center and it benefits the American Lung Association. And it is exactly as it sounds, a race up flights of stairs. The full climb is 70 floors and the half climb is 40 floors. I have never done anything like that and have been wanting to give it a go.

April

If the Indiana Spartan Sprint is held in April again we many consider doing it as we really enjoyed the course. Plus now that I have finally done some Spartan Races, I am HOOKED!

The bf and I also want to do the Serious Series this year which is a race series that involves three trail races. The first of which is in April and it is called the Trail Marathon. Don’t let the name fool you, there are other distances at the race other than marathon. We are eyeing the half marathon. This race is held on the Potowatami Trail and has been said to be a pretty tough course!

May

I think we may do the Back to the Beach run again in 2015 because we enjoyed it so much. You can click here to read all about it.

I would also really like to do Mud Guts and Glory which is dubbed as an extreme mud obstacle run. It is in Ohio so that is not too far away from us and it is an OCR event that we have not yet tried so it is calling my name.

June

In June we will be doing the second trail run of the year for the Serious Series. This one is called Flirt with Dirt and they have either a 5k or a 10k. I am sure we will do the 10k because it is double the fun.

July

Normally I would say that I would be running the Warrior Dash in July but I think we are going to skip it in 2015. We just weren’t very impressed with it when we ran it this past Summer. Or maybe once you start running Spartan Races, other races just start to not measure up.

Regardless, we are eyeing the Waugoshance Trail Marathon. In addition to the marathon they also offer a relay and a half marathon. I expect that we would do the half marathon. This race ends in Mackinaw City which is near where my Mom lives and it is near where I grew up. It seems like a great excuse to go visit my Mom if you ask me!

August

I have a lot of options that I am weighing for August. We will for sure be doing The Legend which is the third race of the Serious Series but I also have three OCRs that I am interested in . One is the Down and Dirty which we did this past Summer, the other is another Mud Guts and Glory race and the last one is Swamp Foot which is a local mud run that I have heard a lot about but I have yet to do. Decisions, decisions.

September

I really want to do the Hungerford Games trail run and this may finally be the year that I don’t have any other races that conflict with it. Yay! And this my friends, is the reason why I make lists of races that I want to do so I don’t forget about them. Because eventually I will do them.

October

Nothing is on the radar at this point.

November

Chris really wants to do the Wine and Dine race at Disney World. Since we are already registered for the Star Wars Race in January, 2015 may be our only opportunity to go for the Disney Coast to Coast challenge. The Coast to Coast Challenge is where you run a qualifying race at both Disneyland and Disney World to earn the coveted Coast to Coast medal. And while I am not against that idea, I just think it is a lot of Disney in one year and a lot of money. We shall see.

December

Again nothing on the radar for this month, although I may just go into hibernation mode for the Winter.

So after typing all of this out, it appears that 2015 is going to be the year of the trail races. I love trail races but I do feel my schedule is lacking in OCRs and mud runs. If I don’t get an adequate dosage of OCRs each year it is hazardous to my health. It’s a medical condition and OCRs are the medication. It is really out of my control.

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What races are you eyeing for 2015?

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My Running Shoe Arsenal

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There was a time when my running shoe collection was not really a collection at all. Instead it was just a single pair of shoes. Let’s all take a moment to reflect on those simpler times in my running journey.

Ahhhhhhh, that was a nice look down memory lane wasn’t it?

Times have certainly changed. And while I don’t have an enormous shoe collection like some other runners, I do have three different pairs of shoes that I wear for three very different purposes. And I am in love with each and every pair for very different reasons.

Let’s take a look at them shall we?

Altra Intuition 1.5

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These are my everyday street running shoes. They were my first pair of shoes that were zero drop (meaning the heel and forefoot are the same distance from the ground) and I immediately fell in love with them. I transitioned to them very easily but you should definitely give yourself time to adapt if you decide to take the plunge.

A unique thing about Altra shoes is that they have a wide toe box. Most running shoes are much narrower at the toe. This also takes some getting used to but now I wouldn’t want my shoe any other way.

The best way I can describe these shoes is that I feel like I am running in a pair of slippers. They are that comfy! But they are also supportive and durable enough to handle the miles that runners put on them.

Altra Superior Trail Shoe

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Since these are also Altra’s they are very similar to the Intuition’s that I talked about above but with one exception. These are made to tackle trails. The soles of these shoes are more aggressive in order to provide traction on the trails while still offering the same comfort factor and zero drop component as the Intuitions.

And while they are trail shoes I would not recommend them for mud runs or OCRs. For me they are too wide in the toe for obstacles, they retain water too easily and they don’t clean up as well.

Inov-8 Trailroc 226

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I did an in-depth post about these shoes yesterday, so you are welcome to check out that post by clicking here. To summarize, these shoes are also zero drop like the Altra’s but they have a narrower toe box which makes climbing on obstacles easier. They are also lighter than the Altra’s and the tread on the bottom is even more aggressive than the Superiors. What makes these a great pair of shoes for mud runs and obstacles races is that they are lightweight, they drain well, they provide excellent traction in the mud and they clean up well. I highly recommend them.

So there you have it, these are the three pairs of shoes that help me get my run on!

What shoes are in your arsenal?

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Inov-8 Trailroc 226 Review

Sadly the Spartan Beast that I recently ran marked the end of my mud run / obstacle race (OCR) season for this year. But just because the season has come to an end doesn’t mean I have run out of OCR related things to talk about.

You may remember this post that I wrote earlier in the year where I was contemplating getting a shoe just for OCRs. Shortly after that post, I did just that. I purchased a pair of Inov-8 Trailroc 226!

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Aren’t they pretty? As much as I like a good-looking pair of shoes, the most important thing about a pair of shoes is how they perform.

I started using the Inov-8’s when I ran the Warrior Dash in July. So between the Warrior Dash and the last Spartan Race I just ran, they were with me for 4 OCRs this year. For me, that is plenty of time to decide how they measure up.

So what did I think?

I absolutely LOVE them and I plan to continue to use them going forward. Let me break down they features that I love the most about them.

- As you can see from the picture above they offer a lot of grip and traction. This is especially important for mud runs and OCRs because of all the mud that is on the course. Often times other runners would be slipping and sliding whereas I was not thanks to my shoes.

- These shoes are zero drop meaning the heel and forefoot of the shoe are the same distance from the ground. There is no elevation in the heel. This concept may not work for everyone but I had already been running in zero drop shoes and it is all that I will run in. Inov-8 does make other models that are not zero drop so if it isn’t your thing you have other options.

- They are lightweight. Mud runs and OCRs are known for well……being muddy! The last thing you want is a heavy pair of shoes weighing you down with the mud. These shoes weigh in at only 8 ounces.

- They have a slim design which I find is ideal for conquering obstacles. A wide shoe makes getting over obstacle a tad more tricky and anything you can do to make it easier for yourself is a good thing.

- They drain well. Another thing mud runs and OCRs are known for is being wet! Normally you pass through several water obstacles and you don’t want that water to stay in your shoes. With these shoes the water goes out as easily as it comes in.

- They clean up well. You may hear of many people who throw away their shoes after running a mud run or OCR. I cringe at that because it just isn’t necessary with the right shoe. All I do with my Inov-8s is hose them off after the run and throw them into the wash with some Win Detergent (my favorite sport detergent but any brand should work). After the wash they are as good as new!

My Inov-8s after the Spartan Beast.

My Inov-8s after the Spartan Beast.

And after I washed them up!

And after I washed them up!

I have raved about these shoes so much that even the bf jumped on the bandwagon and bought himself a pair before the Spartan Beast. He started referring to himself as SpiderMan because the shoes made him feel “sticky” on the course and the obstacles.

I should mention that I have not been compensated in any way for this post. Although I am certainly not against it, if Inov-8 happens to be listening. ;) I just like to share things that work for me so that you can use my experiences to make the best decision for you.

 

Are you an Inov-8 wearer? 

What shoes do you wear for mud runs and OCRs?

 

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Spartan Beast Ohio Recap

It’s been just over a week now since I ran the Spartan Beast in Ohio, so I think I am finally ready to write the recap. I am not as bitter about it as I once was and instead of wishing I didn’t do it, I am glad I did. I did achieve my goal of earning the Spartan Trifecta after all!

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The morning of the Beast started out normally enough. Our hotel was about an hour and a half drive from The Wilds where the Spartan Beast was being held. It was cold but I had hopes that it would warm up a smidge and that the sun would peek out. I was mostly wrong on that but we will get to that in a bit.

Our drive to the race was uneventful. Like the other Spartan Races we have done, this one was also in the middle of nowhere which appeals to the country side of me. When we were just about to the race site we were detoured by race volunteers and told to make a right instead of going straight. This was some crazy back way to get to the site that added unnecessary time to our drive. I believe they were trying to funnel the traffic in from multiple directions so not everyone was coming from the same area. I get the purpose, I just wish we weren’t one of the ones selected for the detour.

One difference between this location and the other locations we have done Spartan Races at is that at The Wilds there was no VIP parking because they seemed to think they had enough parking on site to handle everyone. While in theory this may be true,  the parking area was very hilly and muddy from the rain the night before and it was just a nightmare trying to park there. There wasn’t much direction from the parking people and many people were getting stuck. It was frustrating to say the least.

Because of the detour and the amount of time it took us to park, we didn’t have much time left before our wave was sent out onto the course. We basically had just enough time to pick up our packet and go to the bathroom. That was it.

Once we got on the course we were feeling pretty good and excited. So good that I took off a layer of clothing from my top half. I would later regret that decision but you live and learn. Or sometimes not as these things are hard to judge.

The course was quite wide at the beginning which was good since we were running with a lot of people. As the course went on however, it became single track trails which made it very difficult to get around people and it caused a lot of back ups both on the trails and at obstacles.

We experienced some different obstacles at the Beast compared to what we had at the Sprint and the Super which always makes me happy as I appreciate the variety. We had an obstacle where we had to fill a bucket with small rocks. It was heavy for me but still manageable. What made that obstacle difficult was that you had to walk around in a circular single track trail and eventually you came to a dead stop because of the amount of people trying to do it at once. We also had a similar obstacle where instead of carrying a bucket of rocks we had to carry one large log and once small log. Again it was made more difficult by there being a back up on the trail.

There were also plenty of obstacles at the Beast that we had experienced before like the over / under walls, atlas ball, tire pull, walls walls and more walls, sand bag carry, sand bag hoist etc.

The biggest obstacle of all on this course, however,  was Mother Nature. At the start of the race we could see our breath and it really didn’t get much warmer from there. The sun rarely made an appearance and it was super windy. Luckily being in the woods kept us sheltered from most of the wind but even the woods couldn’t shelter us from the rain and hail that alternated sporadically during the race.

The weather pretty much broke me to be honest. By the middle of the race (or what I thought was the middle) my whole body was freezing, my hands were so cold that I couldn’t move them to grip anything. The cold and the rain was causing my asthma to act up and I had to stop to use my inhaler. I didn’t want to keep going. I wanted to pull myself from the course or to be pulled from the course.

Probably the only thing that kept me going at that point is that there wasn’t any way for me to remove myself from the course. The race was not adequately staffed with volunteers and staff members. Some obstacles had no volunteers at them at all and there were miles in between aid stations. One aid station in particular didn’t even have someone at it. The racers were literally pulling the water jugs off the rack and onto the table so that they and others could get a drink. Most of the other aid stations only had one person at them. I don’t know if the under staffing was due to the weather or if they just didn’t have enough people sign up to volunteer. Either way, I thought that was very dangerous.

I was concerned for myself because if something were to happen to me, I knew that there was a large distance in between myself and someone who could help me. As much as I know that fellow racers will always stop to help someone in need, there was just too much distance in between (staffed) aid stations. I was also concerned for other people on the course for the same reason.

And as long as we are on the subject of safety there was something else I noted at this race. All of the aid stations only had water. No other fuel. Chris and I carry our own because we know that we should but there were plenty of people out there who were not carrying their own and you could tell that they were suffering. I saw other racers stop and offer their fuel to racers that needed it and while that is admirable I believe that Spartan is a big enough race to be able to offer Gatorade and GU or something similar to its runners.

As much as I like Spartan, I believe that Tough Mudder has them beat in terms of runner safety. Of the three Tough Mudders I have run, all of them had lots of volunteers, staff and medics. If a racer went down to the ground, even just to sit, a medic would be there to see if they needed help. The medics would also pull people from the course if they thought it was necessary. In addition to adequate staffing levels and medic availability, Tough Mudder also had fuel other than water at their aid stations. So although there are other parts of Tough Mudder I am not a fan of, I have to give them credit for keeping the safety of the runners as a top priority.

Another thing that broke me at this race was that I expected the race to be 12 miles. But when we eventually came to the 12 mile marker it appeared to be no where close to the finish line. I was crushed. The course ended up being 14 miles which is my longest run to date now.

As broken as I felt during this race, I saw much that inspired me and I feel it is important that I say that. There were at least 3 people out on the course who were in a wheelchair. All 3 people had a great team with them and all 3 teams had their own special way that they tackled the course and the obstacles. It was amazing to watch and it made me feel like my issues were not really issues at all. There was also a ton of camaraderie on this course. Runners looking after each other, offering a hand at obstacles, saying encouraging words as they passed by, offering their food and drink to those that needed it. Despite the race getting the best of me, I was proud to be a part of the race and proud to call myself a Spartan.

So at the end of the day I did finish the Beast. Yes there were some obstacles that I passed by either because I couldn’t grip anything with my hands or because of my asthma or just because I was too frickin cold. There were also lots of burpees that I didn’t complete. Some will say that I didn’t earn my medal. But those are people not worthy of being a Spartan in the first place, in my opinion. I ran the race to the best of my ability, I did what I could and pushed myself father than I have before. I got knocked down and I got back up. I kept going when I wanted to stop. And I crossed that finish line as someone better and stronger than when I crossed that start line. I earned that medal and my Trifecta. Aroo!

Here are a few pics Chris took after we finished of some of the obstacles while I was in the car trying to get the feeling back in my hands. (Btw, this was the first OCR I have run that I didn’t use the hoses to get clean at the end. I just put clothes on over the dirty ones because there was no way I was going to hose my self off with ice water when I was already frozen.)

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Dataclysm Book Review

 This post was inspired by Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder, where he analyzes online data to find out that people who prefer beer are more likely to have sex on a first date. Join From Left to Write on October 9th as we discuss Dataclysm. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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For some of you this will not come as a surprise but for those of you who are new to my blog you may not know this…….Chris and I met on a dating website. (To read more about that, click here.)

Crazy right? Well not really. I think a lot of people meet that way now.

The dating website that we met on was OkCupid and the book that I am currently reading, Dataclysm, is written by the  co-founder of OkCupid. Because of that link I have been reminiscing about my time on OkCupid so I thought you all might want to reminisce with me.

I was only on OkCupid for seven days because I really didn’t want to be on a dating website but my friends put a profile up for me and I agreed to stay on it for a week. In that time I got a lot of messages from guys that were not worthy of a reply. Most of them were from guys that thought I was “hot” and were only looking for one thing. I even got a message from a guy that wanted to see if I could get him a job because my profile indicated I was a manager. I kid you not.

I did end up going on four dates with four different guys from OkCupid. Three of the four turned out to be duds but they make for funny stories.

The first guy I went out on a date with seemed to be a nice guy but when he saw my apartment (B and I were living in an apartment at the time) he started going on and on about how much money I must have because he didn’t live in an apartment as nice as mine and he could only imagine how much it would cost to live there. He continued to talk about money and how much money I must make etc etc. As you can imagine that got old fast and mind you, my apartment was nice but certainly not lavish. And even it was, you shouldn’t talk about money on a first date. That’s a no-no.

The second guy I went on a date with was also a nice guy but WAY to metro-sexual for me. I think it would have taken him longer to get ready for the date than it took me and that is just way too high maintenance for me.

The next guy I went out with was a total disaster. I met him at Dave and Buster’s and we played some of the arcade games. He got angry because I was beating him at all of the games. (Poor sport.) We then sat down at the bar to have a drink and he asked me if I would pay for our drinks…even though he was the one that asked me out. In addition to all of that, there was just no connection with this guy whatsoever so I ended up cutting the date short and telling him I had to leave. He asked if he could walk me to my car and then proceeded to try to make out with me. I pushed him off of me and then he asked me if I would drive him to his car. I did, although looking back that was far to nice of me. And then before I even got home he texted me checking to see if I had a good time and that he wanted to go out again. Which of course we didn’t.

Chris was the fourth date that I went on from OkCupid and as you all know, it went well! We obviously had more of a connection than the other three dates I went on and the tone of our dates were much more relaxed and comfortable. And well, the rest is history!

Have you used any dating sites? What was your experience like?

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Medal Monday: Beast Edition

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Well, I did it. I conquered the Ohio Beast and I have the medal to prove it. I promise you all a full recap soon but I just need some more time to absorb it all. If I were to give you a recap today it would sound something like this:

I suffered through 5.5 hours of complete misery to get a medal. It sucked. It was cold, foggy and windy. It hailed and it rained. It was complete hell. I need to re-think my hobbies because this seemed more like punishment than pleasure. I may take up knitting or bowling as the people that do those hobbies always seem pretty warm. I like warm.

And as much as all of that is true. That is not the recap I want to give you. I have so much more to say, I just need to give myself more time to be able to say it. So stay tuned.

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Bully Sticks Review

Disclosure: Chewie received a package of Bully Sticks from Best for my Pets to review. All opinions are his (and mine).

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 Chewie is taking over the blog today because he thinks he doesn’t get enough air time and he also wants to tell you about the Bully Sticks he received from Best for my Pets.

Let’s see what he has to say about them…..

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Well, it appears that he is busy eating one of the Bully Sticks, so I guess I will have to fill you in on them.

Chewie’s favorite part of the Bully Sticks is that they taste good and that they satisfy his urge to chew on things.

We love that he likes them and that he chews on them instead of on things that we don’t want him to chew on, like all of the kids’ toys.

Some other great things to note about the Bully Sticks:

  • They are odor free! (Too many dog treats smell just awful.)
  • They are chemical free and all natural.
  • They are high in protein and low in fat.
  • When you purchase them a portion of the proceeds goes to helping support dog rescues throughout the United States.

Chewie gives them two paws up and thinks that you should get them for the special dog in your life!

 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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Next Up: Spartan Beast Ohio

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I am pretty certain you all know where I will be tomorrow but just in case you need a reminder I am going to be in Ohio running the Spartan Beast! This will be the last third in my quest of completing the Spartan Trifecta this year! I am so excited and a bit nervous.

Luckily I feel completely recovered from the Super I ran last weekend. I do have a few bruises and scratches but my body feels normal and that is all that matters. I’m thinking that the Tart Cherry Juice has been a big help in the recovery process after all.

As far as the races goes, it is in Cumberland Ohio which is outside of Columbus. The race is being held at The Wilds which is a Safari Park and looks like it would be a fun trip all in itself but I don’t think we will have any extra time to check it out.

The weather looks to be a high of 50 which is a bit cool but still manageable. There is also chance of rain which I would not be a fan of. A cold rainy OCR brings back memories of my first Tough Mudder. Brrr it was cold that day.

I plan to bring my Sprint and Super medals with me so all three medals can be together as soon as possible. I will then probably walk around with them hanging from my neck the rest of the weekend. It just seems like the right thing to do.

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What are you up to this weekend?

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