This post contains affiliate links. My Friday Favorites series is designed to share things that I love and in return when you shop through my links I might earn back a small commission as a thank you for promoting the items or services. All opinions are 100% my own.
It’s been a while since I’ve shared with you some of my favorite things and I’m excited to get back into this routine. I’ve been busy testing some cool products (especially running gear and faith-related items) and checked out a few cool local things, too! Time to share the things I love with all of you. <3
Friday Favorites: March 8
Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show – This one is an act fast favorite, so if you need to run off and take advantage of it and then come back to this site when you’re home, fine! The Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show is at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center through Sunday, March 10. Hours are 10-10 today and tomorrow and 10-6 on Sunday. All the details can be found hereand you can see our friends from Rent the Chicken doing chicken races (a favorite!).
Girl, Stop Apologizing – Rachel Hollis has done it again and captivated us with another book that cuts right to how to stop being apologetic and start achieving our goals (now that we’ve washed our faces). You can get this one on Amazon (here) as I did or listen to it on Audible. Either way, be prepared to take notes and put things into action.
Behave-Aid from Kiss Your Cravings Goodbye – This lip moisturizer helps reduce the junk food cravings. I have been testing out the “No Regret Mint” flavor as a behavior modification tool as part of my attempt to get back on track after a rough six months of not eating right. It helps, but I admit that I found myself applying a little more often than necessary because I am a sucker for mint’s taste! You can get this on their site (linked above) or when you shop on Amazon with Prime shipping (here).
Spring/Summer Thirty-One Catalog – This just launched last Friday and if you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Mermaids, Flamingos, Llamas, and Crabs made the print options as well as some amazing florals and classic prints. I’m so ready to do some summer traveling (can’t wait to spill the beans!) and the March Special is going to be perfect for getting all your travel bags ready to go. Check out my Independent Senior Consultant site, read the catalog, or book a party with me to get your items for FREE!
Thanks for checking out this week’s favorites! If you would like to be featured in an upcoming round-up, please check out the “work with me” page found here.
As 2018 comes to a close (gosh, we are so close), there are so many feelings going through my head. Between thoughts of reflection on 2018 and expectation for 2019 (thoughts my church family affirmed yesterday), there is this space. This space here that I launched last year and a space where I proclaimed my 2018 Word of the Year would be worthy.
I wrestled with taking the time tonight to sit with my computer in my lap and write this wrap-up. Truth be told, sorry Mr. Greg Willis, writing is where I feel most me and while I know you are anxious to get us to watching a movie before we turn into working adult pumpkins, I want to reflect on this year! #LoveYouForeverLikeYouForAlways
What better time than in the quiet of the last hours of the year to write!
Oh, 2018. Admittedly, I cried way more tears this year than I had expected, way more tears today than I’d hoped. But as we enter 2019, I know that this year was all part of the amazing plan that God has in store for our family. And honestly, things weren’t as bad as my head likes to make them. I’m ending the year with a job that I love, a motivated husband, and healthy kiddos. It really wasn’t that awful in the end. So let’s take a look back at what made 2018 for me and how I made it worthy.
Looking at my top photos of the year, it is clear that fitness played a big part in my year. Yeah, I’m a little sad that none of the photos of the kids or Greg made it, but when you look at that collage hopefully you see a woman who has changed for the better for those kiddos and their daddy. A woman who started the year heavier, a woman who planned on running one, not two half marathons.
2018 was full of moments fueled by healthy food (I’ve found that Keto eating is best for me – going off it the last three months has wrecked my gut and body) and committed fitness. I chose to be healthy for my family and we made it through two training cycles that led to PR’s in both races. My kids got to watch both Greg and I cross the finish line in Myrtle Beach and be inspired by our accomplishments. We started to go to the chiropractor as a family (thanks to my 2017 Christmas WOD injury) and are all feeling the advantages of these life changes.
Total Miles Ran: 450.23
Races: Pittsburgh Marathon: 5k, Pittsburgh Marathon: Half Marathon, Richard G Synder YMCA 10K, Myrtle Beach Mini (Half) Marathon, EQT 10-MIler
Worthy: Family and Fun
As a family, we pulled through a lot of things together, ending the year together and smiling. Highlights included:
Arianna’s spring softball season; Evan’s spring soccer season; both played fall soccer
Glamping at Yogi Bear
Ava and Isla started Pre-K
Family vacations to Myrtle Beach and Virginia
Running the Kid’s Mile with the Bigs
Running the MB Mini with Greg
Mom’s getaway with Missy to Williamsburg
Dreamforce (and yeah, that includes seeing Metallica and Janet Jackson and running the Golden Gate Bridge)
New jobs – yes, it was sad to see the end at Excel4apps but starting a new job at M&S led to positive changes too! Greg enrolled in and graduated from a CNA program and has started a job at a local care facility – no more long nights on the road!
It really has been a year where we had to pull together for each other!
Without faith, this year would not have ended as well as it did. There were a lot of hours on our knees that led to rejoicing and thankfulness. It was a big year of faith for us – Arianna was baptized in January, Greg saved in February, Evan baptized in April, then Greg and I baptized in August. I joined the worship team and the Bigs kept at Girls’ and Rangers. I gave my testimony at Women’s Ministries and then spoke at our women’s conference. We’re a family with souls on fire for God and it shows through our tests and difficulties and then blessings. We are counting every blessing and so thankful for our faith, our church, and most importantly God.
Hey, 90’s kids! I’ve got a must do for you when traveling to San Francisco. You need to go from the Bay to Full House! I know, they didn’t really film in that house, but the iconic front is all the things for us kids who grew up in the 90’s, am I right? [this post contains affiliate links which earn this site a little bit of cash at no extra expense to you when purchasing through those links]
How to Climb from the Bay to Full House
Yes, I said climb from the Bay to Full House. There is no judgement if you just Uber over (unless you’re brand new to Uber and you don’t sign up to ride with my link and save yourself some money, ahem) because San Francisco is full of hills. I had been two times before I took on this adventure and I admittedly thought the city was just one big hill – nope, it is rolling steep hills. But if you are adventurous like me, you’ll want to get down to the Bay then climb up to Full House. It will be fulfilling, I promise!
Starting by the Bay, you’ll want to be about halfway between Ghiradelli Square and the Golden Gate Bridge, actually right in the middle of Yacht Harbor! There you will find Broderick Street which goes straight up a hill back toward the city and is the street where you will find the house that was used as the front doorstep of Full House.
It’s about one mile and yes, it is all up-hill. I took this hill on right after I ran ten miles including the Golden Gate, so I might be about to exaggerate how steep it is, but it is worth knowing how I felt with strong legs because you need to be prepared. If you are a sweater like me, do it in workout clothes (you’ll thank me). And no matter who you are, wear your sneakers. If you haven’t noticed, my sneakers of choice are New Balance 880gb7‘s which you can find at a nice price on Amazon!
My walk up Broderick started with a video chat home to my kids. I was panting but doing okay. After 3 blocks, I had to be honest with them and tell them good night – time for mom to climb some hills! About 0.6 miles into the walk, you’re going to come to a place where Broderick turns slightly to the left but isn’t actually a road for a block. This is where it gets real. The sidewalk is steep as all get out but so worth the burn if you are feeling up to it. Seriously, here it is from my view:
I felt pretty accomplished after getting to the top of that hill and now I see on Google Maps that it is actually a “View Point” – well no wonder! I didn’t take the time to look but I had to do a selfie to prove I was able to climb from the Bay to Full House!
But wait, you aren’t there yet.
Finding Full House and What to Do When You Get There
I’m not going to give you the exact address of the house because well, one you can see it here but two it is someone’s (ok, the producer’s) private residence and I’m not all about linking addresses here on my page. Don’t make them say, “How Rude!”! Once you climb the hill, you’ll start downhill. I recommend approaching the 1700 block of Broderick on the left so you can get a view like this (especially as the sun is setting!) :
Do you remember the doors were actually red? As of the end of September 2018, there is construction going on, including painting the doors a light green.
Do you notice those signs and construction fencing? Obey them and be kind. No, you can’t sit on the steps right now. I felt a little underwhelmed at first but then thought about how we’d feel if people were always on our porch and I get it. And the neighbors – they don’t need you to be a nuisance. Take a selfie, take a photo for others who have stopped by too (because they will) then move on and take an Uber back to your hotel or a Starbucks for a pumpkin spice frap blended. You earned it. (Mine was less than a mile away and I did it, yes the uber and the frap!)
What iconic landmarks or buildings are on your travel must list?
Disclaimer: I was provided with tickets to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg in exchange for this review of my visit. All opinions are 100% my own. This post also contains affiliate links.
As a parent, have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit an amusement park you loved as a kid as an adult without the kids? No shame – this is a perfectly fine thing to think and do! Greg and I have done this at a few parks over the years. This summer, I decided to take my best friend with me to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg, a park we went to on a high school band trip. It gave me a chance to ride a few rides that I might not have with the kids, really check out the kid space without having the kids running in four different directions, enjoy a show, and indulge in some food without paying for six people to do so. It was pretty glorious.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg: Fun for Mom!
As part of my girls’ weekend away with my best friend Missy, a trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg was a must. We stayed at my timeshare about 2 miles away and grabbed an Uber to the park after a morning of treating ourselves to a mani/pedi.
As soon as we got into the park, a show was starting in their England area. Britmania™ was a musical revue that charmed us with music from the 1960s to today (the Beatles to Adele). The dancing was what really wowed us in this show. Mom tip: This is a great family show for those moments when you need a break out of the heat!
Psst! Love my backpack? It’s a MUST for enjoying theme parks (it’s a THERMAL!) and you can get yourself one on my Thirty-One shopping page! <3
After the show, I decided to grab a Bier Fest punch card ($22) to sample 10 different craft beers from around the globe while we walked through the park. My favorite was the Buskey Tart Cherry from Richmond, Virginia (found in England and true to the name, tart and cherry, and full of a red cherry color). And, to fully disclose, my least favorite was the Ballast Point Bonito Blonde (found in the Germany area). (I thought I’d try it because I have a co-worker by that name, but the beer was skunkier than I expected.)
In between stopping for my samples, we enjoyed the landscape (Busch Gardens has 134 acres of lush landscaping), watched rides that were a HECK NO for me (I am not a coaster fan but LOVE the thrill of watching them WHOOSH by – there are seven coasters here), and rode a few rides.
The Trade Wind has always been my favorite ride (the one that goes in a circle up and down a hill with really upbeat music), so that was a must. It was fun taking in the birds-eye view of the park from Skyride (which goes from England to France to Germany and back as one-way stops). We even found a new pal while waiting in the England line.
Missy enjoyed a plinko-style game in Oktoberfest and we had to indulge in pretzels and slushies, too!
Of course, I had to put in some “mom time” and stop by Sesame Street®
Forest of Fun™ and see what my littlest kiddos would have enjoyed. We got to meet one of Ava’s (and Missy’s) favorites, Cookie Monster!
Would I go back and do this again? ABSOLUTELY! Here are some ways to enjoy the rest of 2018…
Events happening at Busch Gardens Williamsburg this Year
While there is only today to enjoy Bier Fest as I did, there are some great events in store for the rest of this year at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (information provided to me via the Busch Gardens Media Room):
Busch Gardens® Bier Fest (Aug. 17-Sept. 3)
More than 200 years of Oktoberfest traditions come to life this fall at Busch Gardens® Bier Fest. Raise a glass to toast the end of summer with a variety of craft beers from around the globe. Sample traditional German food, listen to live music, and experience all this unique Bavarian celebration has to offer. Prost! (details)
Howl-O-Scream® (Sept. 15-Oct. 28)
Fill fall nights with fright at Busch Gardens® Howl-O-Scream®. Celebrate 20 years of fears in this special anniversary year, with more haunted houses, Terror-tories™ and scares than ever before. At the stroke of
6 p.m. Busch Gardens becomes home to a host of creepy creatures that lie in wait for unsuspecting victims. Fear abounds in the Virginia theme park’s collection of elaborate haunted houses, immersive themed scare zones and darkly entertaining live shows. Busch Gardens becomes a seriously scary place at 6 p.m. when the haunts come out for Howl-O-Scream. Guests should consider the park’s elevated scare factor when deciding whether Howl-O-Scream is appropriate for young children. (details)
Count’s Spooktacular (Oct. 6-Oct. 28)
Come celebrate silly, not-too-spooky, family fun at Busch Gardens Williamsburg this fall. Every weekend in October, children 9 and younger are encouraged to come dressed in their best Halloween costume to
dance and play with their favorite Sesame Street® friends Elmo, Cookie Monster and more at The Count’s Spooktacular. Kid-friendly rides, family activities and trick-or-treating will be offered around the park for kids to celebrate the fall season. You won’t want to miss a special show featuring The Count, dance parties for the kids and a parade to end the day for families before the haunts and scares of Howl-O-Scream start in the evening. (details)
Christmas Town™ (Nov. 17-Jan. 1)
Christmas shines brightest at Busch Gardens® Christmas Town™. One of the largest light displays in North America grows even bigger in 2018 with over 10 million lights to commemorate the family-friendly winter holiday event’s 10th anniversary. Festive food and drink, holiday shopping and heartwarming shows make the spirit of the season come alive. Come for the biggest and brightest Christmas lights event and illuminate your children’s holiday season with a visit to Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland and Sesame Street® Forest of Fun™. And don’t forget to stop by the North Pole to see Santa Claus. Complete your Christmas Town experience by enjoying exhilarating rides, dazzling shows, hearty holiday dining and festive shopping. (details)
Personally, I have experienced Bier Fest, Count’s Spooktacular, and Howl-O-Scream and as a parent, I recommend enjoying Bier Fest and Howl-O-Scream without the kids (unless they are teenagers).
Budget-Friendly Ways to Visit
I don’t recommend doing as I did and only enjoying the park for part of the day. If you are a rider or bringing the kids, you want to leave plenty of time to enjoy. As I was on my girls’ weekend and trying to experience several things in the area, it’s what worked for me. To get the most out of your money, there are a few ways to save on your visit:
Get a Membership – starting at $12/pp per month, you’ll save 50% on parking, enjoy both parks, and get to experience Christmas Town at no extra fee. I met a local family who purchased this and they were raving about the savings and benefits it gave them.
Fun Cards – These are like a mini membership. Not as many perks but great for those of us who aren’t local but close enough to visit a few times a year. Save on return visits with these options.
Pay ahead for things like your photos, food, or parking (save $2) here. If you’re staying close and going for an adult day, I suggest taking an Uber. That’s what Missy and I did. It was a first for both of our drivers but the process was smooth and they met us right at the gate. Total cost to Uber was about $15. First time using Uber? Sign up here with code 4j85u to get $5 toward your first ride.
I will be the first to admit that I am not the “mommingest” mom. My hubby is pretty incredible at his side of our parenting game and doesn’t seem to get as worked up as I do having four kids and a job. That’s why I spent this past weekend away from the mom duties. I momfess, I needed a mom time away.
The trip wasn’t intricately planned, just a stay at our timeshare and a visit to Busch Gardens (which I will talk more about later), but my bestie and I enjoyed time mostly off our phones and treated ourselves. There was running for me, shopping, pizza eating, and a mani/pedi. It took all of five minutes on the road and I was relaxed and ready to just breathe.
And it took all of six minutes to miss the kids and Greg, but in the same breath I remembered that I am me first and if I am not the best me, I can’t be the best for them. This was a great time to refresh and reset before a busy fall season. Mission accomplished.
I was provided with a review unit of the Fitbit Flyer in exchange for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
As a runner, I’ve found I need some noise in my ears to keep the voices in my head from bringing me down. I wanted to check out the Fitbit Flyer to see if it was a viable option as part of my running kit and here’s what happened…
Fitbit Flyer: The Techy Stuff
Before I tell you the “after”, I’m going to share the “before”. Because I’d already tried the JBL Free headphones from Verizon, I decided I wanted to compare them to a set that had some different features. On the sports and fitness page of Verizon, I found the Fitbit Flyer.
What I loved/Why I picked the Fitbit Flyer
I already am in the Fitbit family (my must have is the Fitbit Versa)
There is a cord that connects the two earbuds (I won’t worry about losing one while only wearing one)
That rose gold (it is a new obsession for me, I’m late to the game I think)
Offers 6 hours of playtime on a charge + you get a one-hour playtime quick charge in ~15 minutes
Fitbit Flyer: My Experience
My first day with the Fitbit Flyer was a rest day, so I charged it up and called Greg over a lunchtime walk. First, I was super bugged out – I could hear everything around me like it was in stereo! I hadn’t dialed him yet, just plugged them in my ears, but I was hearing things like the traffic on the street, people walking near me, and leaves blowing on the trees like it was right in my face. Once I dialed, those stereo sounds of the outside world went away and I was able to hear him super clear – and he could hear me just fine, too. When we were done chatting, I let them fall around my neck and finished my walk in silence (I think I was on noise sensory overload!).
When I would run with the buds in my ears, I often found myself keeping one in at a time. Frankly, the noise it would pick up during silence was almost too much for me and I was a little scared at how little I could hear when the music was playing. It was almost “I can’t win”, so I’d wear one bud and tuck the other under my tank-top strap.
To be honest, I had the life scared out of me when I was wearing them in that photo above. You’ll notice both are out – one tucked and one flapping in the wind. I had just heard the growling on my 10k and decided to pull them for fear of what I’d heard. Eek!
But the logistics!!! They stayed in nicely, my ears must have been a perfect match so I didn’t mess with the wingtips or fins that come with the option to customize the size. I also like that when I was in the office I could pair to my computer to listen to my Spotify but keep the phone linked for accepting calls. That was super LEAN and a huge perk of these headphones.
So, what’s my final verdict? There were things that I liked but things I didn’t. For the price ($129.99 MSRP on Verizon), I’m not sure I would. They were nice to try and compare, but I’d say I give them a 4.0 out of 5 stars. You can shop on Verizon’s online store if you would like to try them yourself!
Last year, I don’t think Greg and I used gear check because my work had a tent at the Finish Line Festival. This year, our team is part of the Corporate Challenge, so we’ll be in the Hospitality Tent when the race is done. I hope to spend some time celebrating, getting a massage, and checking out what all is around the park this year, so we’ll be checking a bag with all the things that I want to have on hand.
Verizon Tech had some awesome gadgets that would be perfect for packing in a marathon race day bag:
Tile Style – these stylish squares of technology are great for attaching to things you might lose (like your keys). I’m usually pretty good about knowing where my keys are, but I was thinking it might be good to toss one of these in the bag since it will go to Gear Check (which I trust, but you still never know).
When I was testing out this gadget, I happened to misplace my phone. A quick click of the tile icon and my phone started to make a noise – even though the sound was off! I’m intrigued at how these work without a charger and amazed at how easy they make finding all the lost things!
mophie powerstation – I’ll be drained of all my power (or on a super runner’s high) and I’m sure my phone will be, too. The mophie will come in hand when I am trying to snap photos or call to check in on the kids (and tell them how great the day goes). With battery backup that lasts up to four charges, Greg and I both could charge our phones while getting our fill of post-race yums. (Note – if you are a “house divided” and one of you has an Apple and the other a Samsung, you’re in luck as this charges both!)
JBL Free wireless in-ear headphones – Ok, these might be in my ears (or ear, I have been running with just one for safety and it still works great), but the case will be in the bag for safe keeping post-race. These headphones are splashproof so they joined me on some of my snowy and rainy runs this training season. The sound is incredible – maybe almost too much because I couldn’t hear outside noises while using them!
(Note – the Pittsburgh Marathon Course recommends against wearing headphones. I’ve never run a Pgh event with them in because the bands are awesome, but I’m not ruling out the idea of wearing one bud this year.)
While running usually just requires your feet and a good pair of shoes, there are some things we tech-crazed people can’t live without! What technology do you use to make your life easier?