Sunday, May 31, 2015

Shape Up For Summer Giveaway Hop

Welcome!  If you're stopping by my blog today, you are on the first stop to entering 17 awesome fitness related giveaways.

My giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY

What is a giveaway hop?  At the end of this post, you'll find a list of other blogger names.  After you enter my giveaway, click on the next name on the list and visit their giveaway.  Each blog you visit, has the list posted at the bottom.  We make it easy to quickly enter lots and lots of great giveaways, and give you a chance to come across some amazing blogs you might not have otherwise.

Love the new blog you stopped by to visit during the hop? Make sure to add them to your blog watch list so you can stop by and check out their future posts.


Okay, so now down to what you stopped by for today.  It's almost summer, and with summer brings lots and lots of different sports and things to do that aren't always possible during the winter months. So I figured what better way, than to just give you a gift card and let you decide yourself what new workout equiptment you need.

So, since you can get almost anything on Amazon, I am giving away to 1 lucky winner a $25 gift card to Amazon.com.



How can you enter?

It's very simple.  Just below this you'll see a Rafflecopter form.  Pick your favorite option to enter.
You can enter once, or there are a couple of other ways to earn additional entries.  It's that simple!

Giveaway runs between June 1st and through midnight on June 14th.  You must be 18 or older to enter, and have a valid email address.  Winner will be posted on this blog by June 17th, and will be notified via the email provided.  Winner has 48 hours to respond, if no response winner forfeits winnings and another winner may be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, hop on over to the next blog on the hop, and then the next...  Below if they say INT they are open to international entrants, US are for United States residents only.

Enter as many awesome giveaways as you have time for between now and June 14th.  Feel free to share the all the giveaway's with your friends too!





Thursday, May 28, 2015

How to Gain Weight While Being a Runner

Okay, so this may sound like a funny topic. There are probably less than 1% of runners out there who would actually say, yes please I hope I gain weight by running.
Truth be told, most people who run, want to shed a few pounds or trim down and shape up.

I hear a lot of people say, I can't wait to train for a marathon, just thinking about how much weight I will lose in the process is exciting... Then months later they discover they may be training, but they are also gaining weight.

Why is this?  It's very simple, once you start running and burning all those calories you tend to get hungry, and when we are hungry we tend to eat or in some cases overeat.
If we are already over weight, and not changing our eating habits as we are running.  We aren't actually making the healthy changes needed to give us the overall results.

Or another common mistake is thinking we went out and ran 5 miles, and then decide to treat ourselves to a treat for our efforts.

If you step back and look at how many calories you actually burn in a 5 or even 15 mile run. Then look at the amount of calories in the reward meal after, or treat...  More than likely you're going to find, you're still eating more than your burning.

Another huge and very common mistake is energy drinks or energy bars.  They are thrown in our faces as runners as the go to item we must have.  They trick us into believing that we actually need them each run to preform better and to sustain energy.
In fact they have very expensive ad campaigns designed to do just that, trick us into believing because something says it's for runners, or fitness enthusiasts, or that it is a health bar, that it is actually good for us.  When in all actuality, they are chalked full of calories and sugars and not really all that healthy.

The fact is, unless you have one of those metabolisms that you can't gain any weight no matter what you do.  (If you do, I am jealous!)  Those energy drinks and bars, are going to be most runners downfalls.
Sure, it looks like liquid, or is so small that it fits in the palm of our hand to squeeze or bite into.  But if you look at the calories, look at the amount of sugar inside.  You'd realize most people don't burn enough in one workout to equal that which is in an energy drink.

Truth is, energy drinks/bars/supplements aren't really needed for regular training.  Yup, I said it and it's true!
Most of the time they aren't even needed in a race.  In my own personal opinion when you think about the calories inside them, nearly any distance short of a marathon and you can easily over eat more calories than you are burning.
Just think in a 5k, if you stop and drink an energy drink mid race, in 1 drink alone you just went over the amount that you burn in the race itself.  Then if you have another right after the race, your just adding calories that will turn into pounds on your body over time..

So if you are a runner, and I can write this post based on fact, because I have been there, I have made the mistake of eating too much vs. what I am burning...
Take a look at what you're eating, track the calories, write them down.  Then compare them to what you're actually burning during that workout.
If you are gaining weight, or not losing weight while training for a race of any distance.  Then there is your answer.

Losing weight is simple math.  3500 calories burned = 1 pound lost.  3500 calories ate, means a pound gained...
If you want to lose weight, you have to create a daily deficit in calories, it's that simple.

I remember once, I had just ran a marathon.  The next day I was on a flight with literally a plane full of runners, including the race winner.  Our flight was cancelled and we were all put up in the same hotel and picked up very early the next morning to make our re-scheduled flights.
I was sitting next to this couple who had just ran the same race I did, I had run the full and they had both run the half.  They both were lean and looked like they were in great shape.
I looked like I was in shape, but lean is not something one would call me, as I have the girly curves and a few extra pounds.
I didn't have time to get anything for breakfast so I just decided to grab something after I got through security.  I didn't have many options, but decided I might as well grab a  McMuffin.
I grabbed it and headed back to the terminal.
When I got back, I sat down right across from the lean couple I rode over with to the airport.
Guess what they were eating.... Rice cakes, and a yogurt and they were completely satisfied with it. In fact, the woman didn't even finish hers.  I finished my McMuffin and the hashbrown they gave me easily.
Right then I realized, this is the difference between runners like myself and runners who are lean.

Is there a right or wrong?  Nope!  Runners come in all shapes and sizes, and whatever you're comfortable with, that is what is important.  You never have to be anything other than what makes you happy.
For myself, who's always wanted to shed a pound or five... Weight loss is something I would like, but unfortunately I wasn't eating the right way.

Is it hard to eat fewer calories, when you are running high mileage?  Definitely, especially at first. You can feel hungry all the time.  But like you're training your body to build up mileage for races. You can also train your body to run on what is needed, not more than, in the calorie sense.
It's possible!  I have seen thousands of runners at many races I run who can pull it off, so it really comes down to willpower and wanting it.

This post isn't meant to hurt any feelings.  It's a fact that a lot of runners don't know why they can't lose weight or why they are gaining weight.  Even runners who are running 40-60 miles a week can easily gain weight.
Instead this post is meant to give a little food for thought on the subject.  If losing weight is something you're interested in, and your a runner and it's not happening.
Take a little look at the daily and weekly numbers, what are you eating, and how much?  I won't say it will be easy, but I will say with some willpower and a little time, you can train yourself to not overeat and not to have those intense hunger cravings after runs.  Additionally, you can also un-train yourself to feel you need energy drinks and supplements with all workouts and re think how you use them, or if you need them at all.



Are you a runner like me who has had trouble in the past and actually gained weight while training for marathons or other races?


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

No More Excuses

No More Excuses by Maria Kang is actually not only the title of this motivational book, but it is also the motto I am currently trying to follow.
It's so easy to come up with an excuse not to workout, not to eat healthy. 

It's late, your tired from a long day at work.  Your friends want you to go hang out with them.  It's too hard to get up early.  Working two jobs, how would you fit it in.  Between work and kids you have no time for yourself.  You'll start tomorrow.  You'll start next month.  You've been eating unhealthy for a month, another day won't matter. The list could really go on and on.

It's a fact coming up with an excuse only takes a second and it's easy to talk yourself into believing that your excuse should take priority.
But if you can adjust your thinking to focus on how to rid yourself of excuses, you might just get out the door, get that workout on.  Or pick a healthier food option instead of a fatty or high calorie one.

That is one of the things I love about this book and this is what Maria Kang promotes.  She will teach you how to adjust your mind, your life and not allow any more excuses and how to find the motivation needed to achieve the goals you would like.

I'm not usually into motivational diet books, but I have to say I found I actually really enjoyed this one.  Sure it's the same things we hear all the time, but this is coming from a gal who didn't just write a book, but she lived a heavier life and one day decided to not make any more excuses and achieve the health goals she had for herself.

Things you'll enjoy about this book; it breaks things down.  Everything from understanding calories and calorie control, muscle weight vs. fat, carbs and protein.
But she also breaks down all of the most common excuses that people come up with not to start a healthier life, and she breaks them down as to why they shouldn't be and how to break and move past the excuse.

She also gives workouts, with detailed pictures on how to do straightening and core workouts correctly.
She even broke it down for runners.  Now I love to run, and that will always be my cardio of choice, but she explains why if losing weight is your goal, how running may not be the perfect choice to go.
Normally in these situations I would roll my eyes, but she speaks the truth, the more miles you go, the better you get, the hungrier you can get.
While I still think running and weight loss is possible, she did give me some additional food for thought, that I have heard before and was considering.  But hadn't had it broken down.
Weight lifting... I have heard its the greatest thing for fat burning, but I never understood why.  She brakes it down, and I explains this.  I have to admit after reading it, she sold me on getting more into weight lifting to build muscle.  She also suggests doing this before you do your cardio workout, which I found I also agreed with.  Even if at times it might not be exactly my preferred method.

There was also a chapter on posture and core.  I have to admit, I do not have the strongest core and I have wondered about my posture.  I have some fun new workouts she suggested and shows in the book, that I am enjoying trying to strengthen my core and back to hopefully begin to correct incorrect posture.

Overall, I really liked this book.  I liked some of the tips and suggestions to get started on goals.  I am a huge goal person, so I liked that this book is not only motivational, but promotes goals.
I also liked the 30/30/30/10 eating plan she gives.  Allowing for 10% of your daily or weekly food intake to be a treat.  A calorie watching treat, but she doesn't promote you be perfect, she promotes you eat healthy but still allow yourself a little flexibility.

Although, I am reviewing this book for Blogging for Books, and I did receive a complimentary copy, all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.  I really did enjoy this book, and currently I am implementing some of the changes and suggestions she has given.
You'll probably see me mention them as I share with you weekly my goals and progress.

Click Here if you'd like more information on this book.
You can also check out Maria Kang's Author Bio HERE.




Thursday, May 21, 2015

5 Reason's YOU Should Join Us



Today I am linking up with the fabulously talented ladies who host the Friday Five.
Eat Pray Run DC, Mar On The Run and You Signed Up For WHAT.


I am going to go off on my own topic today, to of course shamelessly promote our Shape Up For Summer Giveaway Hop.


So here it is, 5 reason's YOU should join myself and Healthy Disney Family and all our other wonderful participants in the next giveaway hop.

BECAUSE IT'S A GREAT WAY TO GROW YOUR BLOG

Generally others participating are also interested in growing their blog.  The idea behind a giveaway hop is, one bloggers followers will enter their giveaway.  Then after they will click on the link to the next blog in the giveaway, and enter theirs.  So each blogger participating brings their potential followers, and those followers may be coming to visit your blog for the first time, and who knows if they like you, they may just keep on coming back.  Esentially helping you grow your blog!

IT STARTS JUNE 1st

Yes, it starts on June 1st, and runs through the 14th.  Which means you have a little time to prepare and get ready in advance.
(However, you can only sign up to join us between now and next week on May 28th.)

IT'S A GREAT WAY TO MEET OTHER BLOGGERS

It really is a great way to meet other bloggers.  Since this is a Fitness themed base hop, all those who are joining up.  Will all be giving away fitness related items.  Generally that mean, they have some type of healthy living blog.
I have met a lot of new friends, great blogger friends through these giveaway hops.  I know others have too, because so many have told me how great of an opportunity it was for them to meet other bloggers and increase their readership and followers.

ITS A GREAT WAY TO GROW YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE

That's right, it's not only a great way to increase your page views.  But you can also use it to build your Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram following base.  Due to Facebook rules, you can't really use it to directly increase your followers, but you can use it to increase you Facebook pageviews.
Building your following base on social media, is a great way to help build your access and reach to others.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE AN EXPENSIVE ITEM TO GIVEAWAY

I get this question a lot, some just don't know what to giveaway.  They think they either have to have something big and amazing.
While some bloggers secure deals with fitness related companies to giveaway one of their products.  The truth is, you don't have to have something fancy to giveaway.
In fact, some of the most successful giveaways, are just gift cards, for a winner to use to buy what they want.
Not only that, but a gift card can be used both US and Internationally, and why not build an international following base...
Since the item being given away must be valued at $10 or more.  If you're not sure what to giveaway, why not just make it simple.  Giveaway a $10 or more gift card to Amazon, or a large sporting goods stores.

_________________________________

Okay, now that I have given you 5 reason's to join us, why not give it a try and have some fun with us in June!
If you haven't joined us before, it is very important you READ HERE FIRST and go over all the rules, and make sure you are okay to comply.
If you are, then here is the sign up, like I said we would seriously LOVE to have you and your wonderful blog join us, you can join easily in the link below.





What Runners Want in a Race

If you didn't know, I am working on becoming a Race Director and designing a few of my own races. Since being a runner is helpful, it isn't only my opinion that matters when planning a race.

I have been surveying runners on different running forums, both in Utah, Nationally as well as various Facebook pages of all things runners:) and have decided to share with you what I found. Because its kind of interesting in a way, at least I think so!  Some of you may have even over the past 6 months seen some of my random questions on these pages, if you did now it may make more sense on why I asked:)

Why did I do it?  Well information is gold in a business, and racing is a business.  You do it wrong, you can be out a lot, and I mean a lot of money!  I needed to know if my thought process on it was aligned with what the majority of others, or if I was an anomaly:)
Especially since, to make my Half Marathon work, on my current estimates I need 250 runners to break even, and 400 participants to make it really worth doing.  (Those estimates could change, I am not finished with all the numbers just yet.)
The fact is, runners aren't just going to sign up to run a race because you create one, you need to make sure you are creating ones they want, that can compete with the large market out there that they can choose from.

I am not going to share every detail that was discussed on each topic, but here are the more important or highlights on each.  

FOR CHARITY OR NOT

Do runners care if the race they entered gives a portion of the proceeds from their race entry to charity?
My opinion, no I do not care nor do I pay attention if one I enter does or not.  I'd rather have a great race experience and have plenty of what I need on the course.
What did others tell me?  Well I had quite a few responses on this question, over a hundred actually. About 3% actually responded that they cared or only enter races that support charities.  The rest thought along the same lines as me, they wanted good race support, plenty of port-o-potties at the start, they want to feel taken care of and have nice finishers goodies after.
VERDICT: I am normal in my thinking on this, so unless it becomes a huge tax benefit, then I don't think I will deal with charity runs right now!

MEDALS OR NO MEDALS

Do runners want medals for half marathons, 5k's and 10k's?
My opinion, while I love my medals for my 26.2's, and I can see why others want them for Half's.  I personally wouldn't care to get one in a 5k or 10k, although I do like them if I place in the top 3.  Truthfully, until last year I never even knew smaller distances gave finishers medals.  I am new to this medal craze, this I understand:)
What did others tell me?  This one I had quite the response on, and it varied so much depending on which different type of runner groups I asked.  The majority of marathon and ultra runners who responded told me they wouldn't want one for a 5k and if they get them, they toss them or donate them.  But then the majority of Half Marathon said definitely they like them and register races for them!  The shorter distance runners predominantly told me they do like them, and only choose races that offer them. They do put them up on their award walls and display them proudly.
VERDICT: Although I may be normal compared the most distance runners, I was very much NOT normal with shorter distance runners.  In the end, fun run runners do like them, and display them proudly.  The ones who don't care for them, most told me they donate them to special needs Olympic charities who give them to the participants. (Which I thought was a very cool idea!  I also learned that is what most races do with their left over medals after a race.)  So, races should definitely hand out finishers medals as most run for a medal these days!  Which means in my own planning, looks like medals for all races.


RACE SHIRT OR FINISHERS SHIRT

Do participants want a guaranteed shirt at packet pick up, or do they want a shirt given to them at the finish line after they cross?
My opinion, I am actually good with both.  I see why races give them out at packet pick up, it's less hassle for them race day.  But I also sometimes like that finishers shirt that is a little different and earned.  In a way I don't really have a strong opinion either way, but to be honest part of me had been leaning towards a shirt given at the finish.
What did others tell me?  This also varied depending on the distance running group I asked.  Overall, about 60% polled like the shirts given at the expo so they have less to carry after the race.  Some said they are okay with either, with no opinion either way.  A smaller percentage would only prefer them at the finish for finishers only.  I also had several tell me they didn't necessarily care for a shirt, but liked hat's or jackets or other unique items they could use.
VERDICT: Runners like nice soft technical shirts that actually fit, and like to have less to carry after they finish unless the race is giving them a finishers bag, with finish supplies then they are fine to load up:)  Overall, it seems most prefer them at packet pick up.  Still undecided on this once since it varied a little, so I'll probably go with what ends up being easiest.


PAY FOR PICTURES AFTER, OR GET IT WITH A RACE ENTRY

Do runners like photo companies to come to races and take the possibility of several photo's to then go home and choose from later spending what I have noticed is $7-$15 for one picture.  Or would they like a slightly higher race entry fee to have 1 picture mailed to them, not taken by a race photo company, but the race themselves?  Or do they care about a photo at all?
My opinion, I have run a few that your race entry includes 1 free photo of you in the race.  I have also run many that you pay to purchase photographs after.  Understanding that this is only possible for those who wear their bib correctly.  I travel a lot for races so I do like one photo of me, and I always cringe when I have to pay $15 or more for just one picture to be sent to me, but I do it to have one photo if I don't have someone snapping one of my on the course.  I do love it when one photo is included in my race entry fee.
What did others say?  A huge majority almost 90% of responders told me they would love a slightly higher race entry fee, to have one photo mailed to them after the race.  A smaller majority said they didn't care for a photo at all.   If a race doesn't offer a free photo, about 40% of those who responded to my questions said they may order a few photo's depending on the race.
VERDICT: Like myself, most runners like a memorable photo of a race.  But most hate the expensive fee's for them after.  If the price is included in the race entry, they would really like this and not mind a slightly higher fee into the race for this.

LOCATION AND COURSE PREFERENCE

How do runners pick a race location?  What draws a person to choose a new race, or location? What types of courses are favorites of runners?  What types of courses are not favorites?
My opinion, if I am traveling I pick races with high reviews in area's where there is plenty to do.  I like courses near National Parks, Mountains, Beaches.  Sometimes I will enter a race not just because of location, but because the race just sounds fun, or I have heard amazing things from other runners.  If it's a local race, I like mountain and canyon runs.  I am not scared away by hills, although I do dread flat courses as I find them boring.  I like point to point courses.  I hate loops or courses that require me to run circles.  I don't like to pass a finish line around half way knowing I can't get to it for a long while. I don't particularly like out and back courses where I can see everyone ahead of me, or behind me.  Unless it is just for small portions of the race.
What others said:  They like scenic locations, although some told me they really only go to race and don't spend too much time exploring much of the area, they fly in and fly out if it is a destination race.  Downhill or flat seemed to be the majority favorite, although a small percentage did say they prefer a challenging course.  Many choose races because other runners raved about it or because they feel they get their money's worth.
The majority said they prefer point to point courses.  Courses that they said they didn't like were ones that the organizers messed up and notified the participants after that the distance was different than what they originally declared.
VERDICT: I think I am pretty much in the norm with what others think as far as this.  So since I am planning a quite scenic half marathon on a downhill canyon course, I think I have hit the majority of the target audience of runners I am after.

AFTER RACE MASSAGES

Do runners like these?  Does it make a difference if you enter a race that has them or doesn't?
My opinion, I had one race massage after my 3rd marathon and it was heaven while I was getting it. After when I had to get back up, it was terrible only because I was so relaxed.  I only had to wait a short time in line which is why I decided to do it.  Usually, when I finish I don't stick around for too long, so most the time I don't give them a second thought.
What others said: A small percentage said they do make sure to always get one.  But most said it depends on the line.  A large majority said they don't really think about it or could careless especially on distances shorter than a marathon or if the line is longer than a 5 minute wait.
VERDICT: I think I am in the norm.  It would be a nice perk for those who like them, but it probably won't detour or entice any additional runners whether they have one or not.  So will I have them?  Probably not if I have to pay for the service.  If I can aquire it through the powers of marketing for free service, then I will have them.

RACE CUT OFF TIMES

Specifically addressed to those who run half marathons.  If you're a back of the pack runner, or run/walker what do you consider a fair cut off time?
My Opinion, I honestly never thought about this until I started planning my own race. Initially, my thought was 3 hours was a fair cut off time.  That is a 13:44 pace, which seems like a fair run/walk pace.  But then I read that most of those who train to run/walk, train to walk twice as much as they run.  So they are closer to a 15 min mile pace so my second thought was 3:20?
What others said:  This one was a pretty overwhelming agree in response.  Almost all who answered told me 3 hours was a fair cut time. About 5% told me 3:30 was a fair cut time.  Many said they do check the race website cut off time information before they enter to make sure they can comply.  I did have one person say they don't care about cut off times, they will just finish as they want to finish even if course support is removed.
VERDICT:I think if permits are possible without too much additional cost , 3:30 would even allow for those who enter and choose to walk most the race.
I did search various race sites, it looks like larger races even allow for a 4 hours cut off time, but smaller races generally are 3-3:30.
For my race, its going to depend on how much extra it's going to cost to keep the course open.  I might try for 3:30 because it seems like there are a lot more run/walkers these days and that might increase entrants to meet my quota.  But pretty sure paying an extra $1000 just to keep the race open for 4 hours for walkers only, is not going to happen.


I should mention I did not poll runners on themed race forums or pages or those who mainly only run fun runs.  I polled runners both in Utah specific pages, and a few larger national pages, most of which on the national pages were marathon and half marathon runners.  I am sure I may have gotten a different response to some of the above if I did poll a themed race page.  The reason I didn't was because what I am organizing is not a themed race.

I actually sent out polls on several other topics.  I will have to share them at another time, to help keep this post only as lengthy as it is.
So if you're a runner and you've read through this, I'd love to hear your opinions or thoughts too. Does your opinion on these subjects fall with what others thought in the polls?  Or are you like me and think a tad differently (It's okay different is good, right:)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wedding Wednesday

Okay, so it's been a while since I have posted Wedding Wednesday pictures:)  It's not that I haven't had weddings, but sometimes I get so busy with things on my business website and business blog and social media pages I forget to get a few pictures up on this blog to show you all a peek into what I have been up to.

Before I start showing you pictures, I have to tell you.  This particular wedding, because of my  health situation at the time, and limited abilities that day.  I had to rely on my amazing crew a little more than normal.

To be honest, and I hope they don't read this:)  But normally I let them do their things, and then about 90% of the time after I send them all home.  I go back and fix a lot of things or re-do things or do a touch up.  I know that is terrible, it's the perfectionist in me.  They don't even know I do it, well most don't, haha.
But anyhow, that didn't happen this particular wedding.  I didn't have the energy to go back and fix everything, so things aren't the normal perfect.
I started taking the pictures before everyone was finished, so these are nearly done.  I look at them now, and still wish I went back and fixed a few things.  But the couple was happy and loved it. Likely I am the only one who notices some of the imperfections:) hopefully.


  The above picture shows about half of the reception room.  The lights above were actually chandeliers that were made by hand in 1902 and are like a stain glass light with different colors reflective in them.  Obviously my camera didn't do those beauties justice!


This was the area they did their ring ceremony at.  The reason we didn't put up an arch or some fancy decor in the area for the ceremony is because using this beautiful building that I mentioned above was built in 1902.  The Stain glass window in this room was so lovely, and because of the time of the ceremony and the time the sunlight was going to be pouring through the beautiful glass, we decided to keep it simple and let the hand made stain glass window's be the backdrop.


I know this is a close up of the one above, but I actually wanted to show the detail in this church building.  The blue curtain stage that we hid with the pillars, has this gorgeous ornate wood carving around it.  This was actually all hand carved by the pioneers that build this building by hand.  Then in the carving they fit in this gold to make the detail stand out.  Ya, this is the interior designer in me, but I love building details like this:)
Additionally, it was not planned but very helpful that the huge stage curtain behind the backdrop happened to be the exact same shade of Navy that we picked as one of the colors.


Obviously the brides colors were Navy Blue to Baby Blue.  We alternated the chair cover colors on the sashes.  Kept the tables the same overlay and runner colors, but we actually did 2 different table centerpieces.
White gazebo's with greenery that lit up in the center with flicker candles.  Black lantern centerpieces that also had greenery and a center flicker light inside.
The centerpieces were 13 inches to 20 inches higher.  Nothing to distracting so that the guests could speak to one another as they chatted over the meal.


Obviously pre-cake, and I wish I had gotten one with the cake.  It was a White and Navy tier cake. But like I said, these were all taken before we even finished decorating so things aren't finished.  The reason the ruffle area in the center isn't lit, because that is where the cake goes and no need for lighting under the stand.


This one is a little closer up image of the lantern centerpieces.  I should also mention, I (usually) tie every single sash at a wedding.  Because ya, I pride myself on my perfect bow:)  But for the first time ever, I didn't tie a single one.  My sweet sister finally learned how to tie them, close to what I like. She alone tied all 130 chair sashes in the room.  And my sweet 10 year old niece came and put all those chair covers on, she was not liking me much by the end, she didn't think it would be that much work and take so long:)


This fun little gazebo centerpieces.  You can't really see the flicker candle light inside them from this view, but they are there.  By evening when the light wasn't coming in from the side windows, the lighting we brought in turned the atmosphere into a bit more romantic.  I had taken these pictures around noon so it was still the bright time of the day.


Okay, so I will admit I did go back and fix this part.  The flowers at the top, did not remain like that for more than 5 minutes after I snapped this picture:)
I think they must of been tired or in a hurry and didn't stand back and look at it after they finished, or like a lot of times probably just got annoyed with messing with it, and knew I would go back and fix it, LOL

This water fountain area, is unfinished.  Eventually we added all the engagement pictures and bridal pictures into this area, there were about a dozen.  This way as guests walked past this area, they could check out the cute couples pictures.


Clearly, this picture probably doesn't look like it goes with the others.  It doesn't, we wanted to keep the reception hall elegant and the fun part outside, which is why we actually set this up out in the front entrance and grabbed the guests as they soon entered the building. They could stop for a quick fun picture before heading down the hall and into the reception area.


Since none of the guests know me personally or that I blog, then I guess they can't be upset that I shared their pictures:)  Here are just a few of what were taken with the frames props and photo booth area, so you can see what fun it is!
If you have a wedding coming up in the future I have to say this is a super fun thing to include, guests have a lot of fun with it!

So, ya like I said above, I didn't go back and fix all the imperfections.  (Okay, that is a lie, I did fix a few things, but literally only a very few, no where near the normal:)
Overall the crew did an amazing job!

I didn't realize this until the other day as we were all chatting while we decorated.  But almost all of those who help and work for me are runners and there are well over over 100+ full marathons between us all, countless half's, many Ragnar's and even a few Tri's.  Kinda fitting that myself the Runaway Bridal Planner, would hire a bunch of Running Decorators on the team!
But if you saw how much running around, and felt the workout your body gets after a full day like this, it kinda makes sense:)




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hiking Appistoki Falls



Many people travel to Glacier National Park and take the Going to the Sun Road, but if you don't mind a bit of a drive, you can venture into a less populated section of the National Park, in the Two Medicine Area.


Like all of Glacier, Two Medicine is a beautiful scenic drive, and does offer plenty of hiking and backpacking.  Today for Travel Tuesday I want to show you the Appistoki Falls trail.  This is actually a very easy hike, 1.3 miles round trip.


You'll actually take the Mt. Henry trail for most of the way to the falls.  There are signs, so locating it is not a problem.  (FYI: the Mt. Henry trail is actually a segment of the Continental Divide.)


You'll eventually come to the Appistoki Falls trail section, and you'll get a great view of the falls at the end.  I will note, you can't actually get up to the falls themselves, or at least there is not a trail to get to them, the terrain gets a bit too rugged after the view point.  However, even from the viewpoint as you can see you will still have a great view of the falls.


I will say, if you are in for a bit more of a hike and a great scenic view, you can also continue on the Mt. Henry trail to Scenic Point, which is actually an 8 mile round trip.



Make sure you take the full drive out to Two Medicine either before or after the hike, as there are many other hikes and scenic views in the area.

What will you get in this hike, fun beautiful mountain hiking.  It's a pretty easy round trip hike. Definitely a fun hike to do to spend an hour or so exploring in the National Park!





Monday, May 18, 2015

Up's, Down's and Plans

This week, like any normal week for me was full of it's ups and downs.
On a good note, the bruising on my neck and soreness from the biopsy are about completely gone.  In other words no more scarfs, YAY!
On a bad note, I came down with another cold on Tuesday.  But luckily I didn't have a huge busy work week, so it allowed for a lot of needed sleeping time.  (I may or may not have slept until 1pm twice this past week, terrible I know.... But I needed it!)

I did get out and go for a very short run last Monday, and even though I woke up sick Tuesday I attempted what was even a shorter run, okay more walking than running:)  I thought maybe it would push the cold out of me before it settled in, I thought wrong.  It was a worth a try though!

But between all the crazy lifting at the wedding the past Saturday, or just being sick for a month unable to get out much on my feet.  Apparently my Achilles tendinitis didn't like it much, and decided to flare up again. *arghhh*
I no longer take a day of tendon pain and wish it away.  Instead I took immediate action and put the lovely boot back on.  As of Sunday night the pain was almost gone, I think another 5-7 days of it will be needed before I start gradually working back into running again.  I am pretty confident I can nip this in the bud before it has time to get out of control again!

I would love to share with you hiking exploits and other fun things.  But with everything, you can see I haven't been able to get out much.  I am hoping this week, has a little bit more adventure to it, as I am more than ready for some!
But since we have been getting a lot of well needed rain and snow here lately and that doesn't look to be changing anytime soon.  It's not really been bothering me too much that I can't get out and play:)

RACE PLANNING NEWS

So a few weeks back I mentioned that I was going to try my hand at becoming a race director.  With that comes with a lot of education and research.
I learned that 3 of the top races in our state for the first time in almost ever, they did not sell out this year.  What does that mean?  Well it's not for a lack of runners as Utah has many.  But one thing Utah also has, is a lot of races.  I have discovered we have over 760+ races each year (that I know of.)
About 98% of races in Utah are all on Saturday's, which mean that is about 14-15 every single Saturday.
Yup, a lot for runners to choose from!
I still want to go through with this, but based on my recent findings, I am realizing I need to schedule them as perfectly as I can, to be able to attract as many runners as possible.
So now that I have bored you with all of those numbers:)

I will share, what I am working on for 2016 is a Half Marathon, with a 5k.  (If I can get the permits.) I may be trying my hand at a 5k this fall and possibly another next spring as testers to get myself ready to pull of a bigger event.  But I am not going to decide on those until until I find out about the permits for the Half.

Originally, I was just planning on organizing a normal, but great race.  Because that is what I like. I enjoy beautiful scenery, great course, challenging but still a chance to PR and great race support and a entry cost that doesn't break the bank.
I am not really much into all the new hype about races with costumes, themed runs, or crazy events that go along with the race.  Although I have discovered, its not as easy as one would think to keep the entry costs low, when cities/counties are constantly raising the rates they charge for events to be held!

But realizing I want this to be successful, and I want to attract all kinds of runners.  I find myself re-thinking a few things, and I am now in the process of considering a few other ideas.  Because I completely understand my thoughts on picking a race are likely not what the majority considers anymore, I may need more to attract more.
Anyhow, late June or early July I hope to have the permit process about finished and at that time I will share with all of you my plans. (Which I can't help but be excited about, even if they are a work in process!)

_______________________________

Well that along with a few weddings is what I am working on right now.  I promise my life will get more interesting soon!  I have told all illnesses and injuries where to go, and how fast to get there so I am hoping they listen this time!  I think they will!!!!


If you haven't already, join us for the next Giveaway Hop that starts June 1st.  Sign-up going on right now.  You can CLICK HERE to add your blog to the list today!


Hope you all had a great week.  Share with me what you have going on.
Also, if you do have any great idea's to add to a race that you don't mind sharing, I'd love to hear.  I am all about unique and different right now!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter

This was one of those "accidental" finds.  I was just finishing a shift at a library and realized I had a couple of hours in between when I got off and when I had to go back to work.  I wanted something to read to pass the time and as I was pulling a hold for someone else, this title caught my eye.  My hope was it would be a fun romance to just sit back relax and read.  I have read a couple of Denise Hunter's books before, and have always thought them to be a great vacation read, this one didn't disappoint!

Shay Brandenberger is living in Moose Creek, Montana raising her daughter alone on her family inherited ranch.  Her biggest problem is the bank, and the fact that they are threatening to foreclose any day.  She's been praying for a miracle.  The only problem is sometimes miracles don't always show themselves as such, sometimes they are disguised in what you think couldn't be more wrong and it's going to take more than just a little faith to get through them.

Fourteen years ago a young Travis McCoy left Shay standing on the steps on her way to the alter.  After spending years in the rodeo circuit fulfilling most of his dreams, he is finally ready to leave it all behind and head back to Montana to see if there is any chance of a future left for him there.  Not just any future, but a future with the one woman who he wronged and made the biggest mistake of his life with a brash decision that has haunted him since.

With a Founder's Day wedding reenactment Shay agreed to do, that was until she realized the man she would be reenacting with is none other than her high school sweetheart Travis McCoy.  The man who broke her heart, left her to discover his own fame and fortune.
After the reenactment is over, Shay has no intention of ever seeing Travis again.  But that is before a busy body neighbor friend got involved, and a preacher who wasn't paying attention to what he was doing.  What happened, the wedding was real and Shay finds herself screaming annulment.

The only problem is, Travis has a proposal of his own, one that Shay can't turn down.  Before long she finds herself in an accidental marriage, that is either going to be the best or worst thing to ever happen to her and her daughter.

If you're looking for a fun summer read, I highly recommend The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter. The book has Christian based values and faith references.  It's a fun romantic western that will have you cheering for love and crazy accidents:)  Not to mention it's set in the beautiful Montana mountains right up against the Yellowstone River.

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Scary Past Few Weeks, and Why I Haven't Been My Normal Blogging Self

I know over the past month, I haven't been my usual self, and I know it's probably been noticeable on the blog, especially on my Monday posts.  Those of you who read my blog frequently, may have noticed, or not.

With the walking pneumonia and then what I am about to share with you, I have gone through a lot lately.

I actually almost didn't write this post, which is why I am so late getting it up today.  Originally I thought I would just keep it all to myself and a small circle of family and friends who I let the secret out to while I was going through it all.

But then I realized, this is my life and I don't want others who read my blog to only think I post about the good things. So I would like to share with you all my personal story, of my far to close brush with cancer.

Sorry for the lengthy post, I will not be offended at all if no one but me ever reads the whole thing:)

HOW IT STARTED
It all started a little over 2 weeks ago.  I was finishing up with the horrible upper respiratory problems.  I had been up in the night coughing, but I didn't think much of it, because I felt like other than being super tired I was getting better.
I went to work at the library that day, and I sat down at the up front desk and for some reason put my hand on my throat.
Immediately I noticed a HUGE bump.  I ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror.  It looked like I had a golf ball size lump sticking out of my throat.  I was mortified!
My first thought was, it must be from all the coughing the night before, maybe I pulled something?? I didn't like it but figured it appeared out of nowhere, maybe it would leave the same way!

2 Weeks ago MONDAY
The lump seemed to only be getting larger, it seemed to stick out an inch, it was swollen up half of my neck.  So I called and made a Dr. Appointment for the next day.
This is what Day 1 looked like

2 Weeks ago TUESDAY
My doctor came in, and asked me a few questions.  He was immediately concerned he ordered a bunch of blood work to be done.
Good thing I don't mind needles too much.  The nurse even believed me when I told her which vein would be best to take it from, and she got it first try.  Which is rare for me, they always have a hard to find veins!
The doctor gave me a specialist he recommended and told me I needed to get an Ultrasound done as soon as possible.
Although he didn't say the big C (Cancer) word, I knew what he was thinking as it was implied.
Although the lump was near my thyroid, my symptoms and how quick it came on didn't match that of something related to thyroid.  He told me, not to worry just yet.

I left the office and got a phone call almost before I even got home.  The nurse called and said, they didn't want me to wait and schedule it myself.  She had called the hospital and scheduled my ultrasound for the next day.  They told me to cancel anything I had going because I needed to get in asap, she said this wasn't something that I could wait on.

2 Weeks ago WEDNESDAY
I had the ultrasound.  The tech who preformed it was nice, but not too chatty while she was doing it. I was watching the screen and I saw a huge black mass, but to my untrained eye I just assumed it was my throat or something...
When she finished, as I was walking out of the room with her.  She turns to me, and says "it doesn't look like too much to worry about right now, but I will send it on and let them decide" and that was it.
I probably should have asked more.  But oh well......  My Dr. was out of the office on Thursday, so I knew I was going to have to wait until Friday to get the result.

MY FIRST MOMENT
So as I left the hospital, I was close to the mountains so I took a drive up one of my favorite canyons. I don't cry, but as I was driving I couldn't help but get slightly worried.
I hate to admit it out loud, but I had about 2-5 seconds where I teared up, before I took a few deep breaths to let it go.
I kept telling myself, I am just overly tired, and although this lump is huge I am sure nothing is wrong, I feel mostly fine I am just really tired.

(When I say tired, I mean I literally don't wake up unless someone wakes me, and I was frequently sleeping until noon easy... Then taking another nap or two during the day.)

I enjoyed my evening up the canyon, I even splurged and ate a fast food picnic when I stopped on my drive.  I wasn't caring about calories at that point, and french fries taste so good!

2 Weeks ago FRIDAY
I was working at the library and I knew I would be getting a call, so I had my phone on me.  About 2pm that afternoon the nurse called me.
She was overly concerned, far more than me.  She told me, the results showed 2 cysts on my thyroid. One was a smaller hard mass, and the other was a much larger non hard one.
I was doing okay, and was in denial that anything could be wrong.  But then she said, we just haven't seen one this size before, and the Dr. and we are very worried.  She told me I needed to get into Radiology asap and get a biopsy done.
My blood results hadn't come back yet.
The nurse although making me more concerned because she seemed to be far more upset about it than I was, was awesome.  She told me all the other details, and said she didn't want me to wait she would call around and try to get me in.
She did, she called every hospital in the valley that day, they wanted to get me in that same day. Unfortunately it was too late in the afternoon all the hospitals were booked.
She called me back and apologized that she couldn't work any magic to get me in, and kept saying how it wasn't good if I waited, but the earliest she could get me in was Monday.
She was upset that I had to wait over the weekend.
After the call, I called my parents and told them the news.

MY 2nd MOMENT
I was actually thankful I was working, it made this moment a little less of one.  But I did go back in the "stacks" away from people for a few minutes to take a few deep breaths and remind myself that I am find, everything is going to be fine. Because it had to be!

LAST MONDAY
My mom did offer to go with me, but I was going with the mentality, it's no big deal so I drove myself.
On my drive to the appointment, I wont lie, I just kept telling myself that it's not possible anything can be wrong.  I selfishly told myself, my life isn't all that great right now to begin with, it's not like another thing could be thrown on me, I couldn't see how Cancer would fit in my life.
There was a bit of praying that went on, of course I had been doing that for a week already.  I did have a feeling I was fine though.
I was actually more upset that I was going to have some huge medical bills coming.  Yes I have insurance, but I have always been pretty healthy so I have a high deductible.  So basically, I know I have to pay for pretty much all of this out of my own pocket.
I kept getting mad, because I literally just finished the month before paying off my medical bills from my tendon injury.  I had been saving to run a few marathons this fall..  But now all that savings was going to go to this... I wasn't happy, and I was scared.

After Biopsy, less lump
but very swollen neck!
THE BIOPSY
Okay, so if you have never had this done.  I won't tell you all the yucky parts, but I am going to say some.  So if you don't like hearing bloody details.  Then skip the next 2 paragraphs.

So for the biopsy on your throat, you are awake during it.  I had a great RN and Dr. who came in, they gave me all the details on what to expect and it sounded pretty awkward but easy.
First a needle goes in, and gives you a slight numbing agent, kind of like the same thing they do to your teeth when you go to the dentist.  It feels like a bee sting and then burns for a second.
Then they take the bigger needle and go in, and in my case they decided to do the largest one first.
(That mass I thought was my throat, ya that was the cyst.)
My large cyst was in-between the size of a golf ball and a baseball. *cringe, ya..*
Since they were taking the stuff inside for biopsy, I asked them to drain it all, because I wanted the lump gone.
They said they would take it all, but it might not get rid of it. (I didn't like that answer:)
Can I just tell you, this is an awkward feeling.  It didn't hurt at this point, but felt weird.
Once he had all the stuff out, he was amazed at how much came out, he even said look at all that was in it.  I looked...  It was bloody gross, and a lot.  I am not squeemish, thankfully!
Seriously, you probably could have filled 1/2 cup with it, I knew it must have been big, but I had no idea....  Guess that is why I felt like I had something pushing on my throat, and why my voice was slightly altered.

Then they take this other needle thing, and stick it back in and poke around.  This hurts, I won't lie. But I read online that if you relax when they do things like this, the recovery time is faster, and possibly less bruising.
So ya, I used the same thing I do when I run a marathon and hit that point where it hurts.  I focused my attention on other things, and I made my entire body relax and not tense up.
The Dr. and Nurse were talking to me during it.  Since they were asking me questions, I felt weird talking with needles in me poking around, but it helped keep my attention on the subject not the needle and the ultrasound screen I was watching.

They repeated the procedure again on the smaller harder one, it was less gruesome, but for some reason all the poking on that one hurt a lot more.

MY PROUD MOMENT
When I finished the Dr. says to me.
WOW, never let anyone tell you, you are not tough.  He said he has never had anyone go through what I just did, and appear so relaxed and handle the pain the way I did.
The nurse says, yes, oh my gosh you didn't even flinch.
Don't ask me why I would actually take pride in this, LOL but I did.  Ya I am a dork!
My first thought was to a few of my marathons, I almost wanted to tell him, he has no idea how tough I really can be:)

QUESTIONS
They were great to answer all my questions before I asked, but I did ask a few.  They told me it would take 3-4 days to get the results from the biopsy.
But the Dr. said that in his experience, the really juicy ones like I had in the one larger one are generally non cancerous.  The smaller, he just said, didn't seem to be anything I should worry about right now either.
But they did warn me that there was about a 25% chance I may have to have this redone in a week, if it didn't give them what they needed.  (I didn't like that. so I decided to ignore that part a little.)
Also, after he finished, he went back with the ultrasound and looked at the larger one, and said it already appeared to be starting to fill up again... (Ya, I didn't like that either!)

THE PAIN
Okay, when they say you may experience "some" pain.  They say it like its nothing, so when they told me this and gave me the ice packs and instructions.  I was like, how bad could it be, aren't I over the worst of it???
Also they neglected to warn me the weekend before that I wasn't going to be allowed to lift anything heavy for 3 days.....  I had a huge wedding I needed to get ready for later that week.
OMG, OMG, OMG the pain started before I even got a mile down the road.  I was wishing I had taken my mom up on the offer to drive me.
I was pretty much icing it a little each hour for the next couple of days to keep the swelling down.

I'll be honest, I was actually starting to get a little scared at this point.  Not about the pain, but everyone kept treating me like this was so serious, and that cancer was a likely possibility, but not to worry about yet.
This is me, my life, my world may or may not be changing soon.  I had a few moments, where I was not okay with it.
But I'd pray, and I honestly felt comfortable with it after, and I decided to just believe I was going to be okay, because I didn't feel like I thought it would feel if I was about to be told I had cancer.

So ya, the pain was horrible that first night.  Sleeping was painful.
They told me to take ibuprofen or Tylenol for the pain.  Which I did, but since my mom offered something a little stronger so I could get some sleep that night, I took it:)  Ya, ya, I know it's not good to share drugs, but I knew I wasn't allergic so it was fine!
The next day, was painful.  The bruising started, and the area's where the needles were, were a bit red.  I wore a scarf to cover it and ya I went to work.
Don't ask me why, I should have called in... But I am an idiot and I was under the assumption no one would know....

Wrong!  Since I felt more pain than when I had whiplash from car accidents, and for some reason my neck just would't turn.  I looked awkward.  So that was when others asked, and I just decided to tell them what happened.  But I lied, I told them I had the results and everything was fine.
I didn't want anyone looking at me with pitty or anything especially since I didn't need their pitty, I felt like I was in pain, but going to be fine.

Thankfully I have a great sister and dad, who did all the heavy lifting and packing for the wedding.  I just saved all the ironing and stuff that I needed to do until Thurs/Fri... I hated leaving that much work to be done that close to a big wedding, but I had no choice.
I went on with my week, painful, but less and less pain each day.

LAST THURSDAY
I got the call about 5pm that day.  The results for both my biopsy and then the blood work they send it had also come back.
My doctor called me personally, with the best news ever.  First thing he said, "Great news, you do NOT have cancer."
He also said that my blood work came back and showed me as perfectly healthy, I don't even have a thyroid problem.
Which is odd, because of the large cysts....  In short I do still have to go see a specialist about the cyst, but I do not have cancer, and I do not have any current health problems that I need to worry about right now.
It was such a relief!  It wasn't until that moment that I realized deep down I really had been a little worried about the results.  A huge weight lifted at that moment!
I tried to call my family, but none were answering their phones, they were all helping my sister move into a new house.  So I sent a mass text to everyone so they could get the good news when they get to their phones, and I went to work!

TODAY
So I still have swelling on my neck, I can feel the lump on my throat.  I still can't put much pressure on my throat, it's still sore from the biopsy.
I will visit a doctor in a few weeks so they can figure out what to do about that part.
Why have I been so tired?  Well we are guessing it was related to being so sick weeks before and maybe some carry over, and my Epstein Barr contributing toward it.

Between the upper respiratory illness, and then the possible cancer scare, then the sore neck with the biopsy, I seriously hadn't run or worked out in a month have been getting so out of shape!

On Saturday I had a huge wedding, it was raining the entire time, so it was even more work.  Not to mention the place they had it, gave us 2 flights of stairs to carry everything up.  Ughhhh...
I left the heavier stuff for my crew to do, I for once took it a tad easier.  In other words, I only took 18,000 steps that day:)
Your neck muscles are very much connected to your arms as you lift and I just wasn't up for too much.  I even gave up one of my favorite things, tying chair sashes... that day:) The wedding turned out beautiful, I may show picture's Wednesday if I have time to put them together.

I went running this morning (Yay)  I am so out of shape!  I was coughing up junk (I know TMI.. sorry:), which oddly I think was still just my lungs getting rid of the last effects of that respiratory cold!
But even though I only ran 1 mile, and then ran walked the other 4... Okay, so mostly walked the other 4:)  I loved it.
Looks like in my time away, they even turned on the water that goes through the canals, and all the ducks had their little yellow puffballs of babies swimming with them.  (Ya I enjoyed getting out!)

     So yes, sorry for the novel.  Like I said above, I wrote this more for me to sort of keep as a memory sake of my scary ordeal.
I am more than thrilled that I am okay.  I thought about others who don't get that "your okay" message.  In fact 2 of my biggest 50 state marathon supporters passed away from cancer while I have been off my 2 years of getting over the tendon injury.  My aunt and a childhood friend.  My aunt wanted to see me finish my goal, but now she gets to watch from heaven:)
Going through the past 2 weeks was a scary thing, I can't and am fortunate I don't have to deal with any further nightmares that it could have been.
I handle stressful situations really well, better than most.  But even though I wasn't freaking out more, I am still very relieved and it opened my eyes a little!
I did a lot of thinking the past two weeks, and although I am fine.  I feel like I have a different outlook now.  It's made me want to re-think what I am doing, how I am doing it, why I am doing what I am doing etc...  I feel like now is the best time ever to make some major changes, and live life even fuller!

Anyhow, I will shut up in a second!
I really do apologize for the long post, but won't feel offended in the least of no one reads the entire thing:)
I just wanted to share my story for myself and any of you who may be interested on what I have been going through.

Hope everyone had a great past week!  We had almost non stop rain, and I kind of liked it:)  Well until the day of the wedding, but what ya gonna do:)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Grow Your Blog Topic: Write What You Love


Today, I want to talk to you about a topic that in blogging communities I see come up way too often.

What are those questions?

"I just created a blog, or want to start one, but how do I know what to write about?"
"How will I know that others will want to read what I write?"
"How do I pick the best topics to write about?"

I am going to be honest, I used to think this was a ridiculous question, why would anyone want to start a blog with no idea what they like to write about?
But since rarely a week goes by that someone in one of the communities I follow doesn't hold back from asking the question.  I decided this is probably a good topic to bring up today.

When I give advice on this subject, I will always give the exact same response.

Write about what you are passionate about.
Write about things you love or enjoy.
Write about topics that you know about.

If you are asking someone else what you're blog should be about, and someone actually gives you an answer.  Chances are, you are already off to a bad start and likely on a path that you probably won't keep up.

Why write about what your passionate about?

Because, people will feel it in your writing.  You can't hide passion, and if you're writing on what you're passionate about others will feel that passion.  You're chances of grabbing their interest just went up significantly.

Why write about things you love or enjoy?

Because things you love and things you enjoy will come natural to you, the topics won't seem forced.  Not only that, but you're more than likely rarely going to run out of content to write about.  People are smart, they can read between the lines.  They know when someone is feeding them a line, or sharing something they enjoy.  If you enjoy what you're writing, you're already more than likely going to find others who will enjoy what you write about too.

Why write on topics that you know about?

Because you're knowledge and life experiences on these subjects will shine through in your writing.  You'll be able to write posts based on experience.  This doesn't mean you can't research to make them better, because you definitely can.  But when you're not starting from scratch the words will flow better, you'll know how to write them with feeling and write them in ways that may appeal to readers better.

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In short, there is no crazy science on blog topics. You should never start a blog, or pick topics just because others tell you it's the "hot" subject. Quite often bloggers start a blog writing on one thing, and then switch it up a year or so later. That is okay, people evolve, blogs evolve.

If you are just starting out, you may be the only one reading your blog for a while.  I know I may have just crushed some potential bloggers there, but it's true.  Just because you have a blog, doesn't mean they will come.
In the beginning you or your family or close friends may be your only readers and it could be that way for months.  But that is okay, just keep on writing content that you love.  Keep participating in blogging communities, link ups and eventually others will find your content and read it.  If they see you're passion, and enjoy the subjects you write on, you'll have much better chances of getting them to come back.

If you are a blogger, do you write what you know, what you're passionate about?  Do you have additional information you'd give to newer bloggers on this subject?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

I was a big fan of Lauren Oliver's Delirium series, because of that when she comes out with new material I am always looking forward to reading it.
When I picked up Vanishing Girls, I really had no idea what it was about.  I didn't even read the cover synopsis until just before I started reading it.

Dara and Nick were sisters and best friends.  That was before the accident that scarred Dara and left the two girls on non speaking terms.
Nick has been devastated and she knows she's lost everything, and when she is forced to move back in with her mom and Dara she decides that this is the summer that she is going to make everything all right.

When a nine year old girl vanishes and has the community on edge and searching everywhere for signs of where went and who may have taken her.  The disappearance grabs Nick's attention.  But it isn't until Dara goes missing on her own birthday that Nick starts wondering if the two are connected.

Eventually, this turns into a frantic search and Nick is sure that it's going to take a sisters love to figure it all out.  The only problem is, what Nick is about to figure out, is far more than she ever could have imagined.

I am not going to ruin the ending and twists in this compelling read.  But I will say, when I got to the end, I literally sat back and said to myself, I didn't see that coming.  Seriously, had me wanting to go back and read it all again looking for signs I missed something throughout.
But then I realized I don't think I did, I think Lauren Oliver did an amazing job creating what some have called a psychological thriller.  Or what I call an intriguing mystery of sorts.  Although, I don't think the genre for this would qualify as mystery at all.

For the most part this novel is fairly clean, although if occasional bad language throughout, or talk of teen sex as well as drug and drinking abuse bother you, you may not enjoy this quite as well.
Overall it's a pretty fast read one I enjoyed, and one that I am going to go out on a limb and say, and ending that you too won't suspect.
I actually gave this book 4 stars on my Goodreads review.  Another bonus, this is a stand alone novel:)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Gooseberry Falls State Park

This week for Travel Tuesday I am taking you to an area in Minnesota near the shorelines of the beautiful and massive Great Lake Superior.  Gooseberry Falls, located right off of HWY 61.



Gooseberry Falls are about five different falls that come down from the mountain and cliffs and then go into Lake Superior.



It's actually pretty short and easy hiking, there is even a 1 mile handicap access trail that will take you down to the main section of the falls.
But there are actually 18 miles of trails, so you can take your pick and go as far or as short as you'd like.



Depending on the time of year, you can get right out and hike down on the cliffs around the falls, I had a fun time picking my way on these for different vantage points.  Also on a hotter day, it is a great way to cool off.



There is also a visitors center, bathrooms and picnic sites for those who want to spend a half to full day in the area.



I actually took a part of another trail called Castle Danger which also takes you out to some beautiful overlooks, it was actually a little over two miles round trip added to the Gooseberry Falls trail.



What will you get by visiting this area?  Waterfalls, lots and lots of beautiful waterfalls.  Not to mention some fun hiking and breathtaking views and overlooks.



If you're going to be visiting the North Shores area of Minnesota, I highly recommend taking an hour or two and visiting Gooseberry Falls State Park



IF YOU GO

* HWY 61 from Duluth to Canada is a beautiful scenic drive right along the coast of lake superior, a definite must do, if you have a day or two.

* Take water and a camera so you can stay out and enjoy the sights no matter where your feet take you around the state park.

* Its free, at least I was not charged to park or hike around the area.

* For my friends to love to run, The Grandma's Marathon held in June, is just down the road.  Great place for a racecation!