Grandparents, Van Gogh, and a Mini Vacation

There is so much good stuff going on right now, I don't even know where to begin. I'm not sure I can even squeeze all the random awesomeness into five little bullet points. But, here's to trying!

It's Friday, you know the drill…

1. Grandma and Grandpa Macke were here for a few days, and before they left we made sure to take them to a few of our favorite places. Like, the park with the stream, waterfall, and ducks that just love to be fed.
A trip to "our" beach was a must.

2. Thanks to the visit of Grandma and Grandpa, I was able to slip out for a girls night. The time with some good girl friends was very much needed. The ladies and I had the best time painting, grabbing dinner, and sipping on some very good wine.
I was in the best of company. But, that painting. Ugh. I'm not sure which closet it's going to grace.
3. On a whim I signed up for yet another race. Who am I?! Usually these kind of things are very calculated with meticulous planning and training. This will be the second race I've signed up for less than a week from race day. And, it looks like it's going to be a doozy.
Conquer the Bridge 5.3 Miles Race :: Over that bridge. And then back again. It doesn't look too bad, but trust me when I say the incline (twice!) on that bad boy is going to be INTENSE!

4.  This has nothing to do with anything, other than the fact that I am admitting a guilty pleasure - trashy TV. This is seriously the only smutty TV I watch. Otherwise if the TV is on it's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. But, did you see who the next Bachelor is going to be?! Farmer Chris!! The best part? He's from IOWA! Tell me he isn't about the dreamiest farmer you've ever seen.

5. At 4:00PM Sunday this Grandma will land in L.A. and stay with us for a bit.
We are beyond excited!
Grandma Kathy's visit may or may not also mean I am going to hop on a plane and visit Scott while he wraps up the last few days of his work trip. That place may or may not be pictured below.
To say I'm thrilled would be an understatement. Not only will I get to travel without a toddler (the first time in well over a year!), and see Scott, I'm so freaking pumped to run the National Mall!
BONUS: Congrats to Stephanie from Wife, Mommy, Me winning the Damsel in Defense Hot Lil' Hand Pepper spray. If you're interested in the Damsel products be sure to check out all their amazing and affordable products! Just click HERE to browse (and buy)!

Have a great weekend!


Fancy Tacos

Normally I don't do many posts like this, but every once in a while you visit a place that is cool enough you feel compelled to share. While there's nothing flashy or showy about our latest little adventure I could't help but share in the fun and uniqueness…

All of a sudden Taco Bell has gone fancy-schmancy. You read correctly. Taco Bell, fancy, in the same sentence. I thought it was all a big joke until my sister-in-law sent an article on this mythical upscale Taco Bell restaurant located in Huntington Beach.

I would categorize my in-laws somewhat as foodies. So, when my mother-in-law and father-in-law were visiting and heard of the news of this fancy Taco Bell they convinced me we needed to take a day trip to HB.

Let's be real. It doesn't take a whole lot of convincing to get me to go to a beach, especially Huntington Beach.

Off we went!
Never in a million years would I have thought that a restaurant run by Taco Bell would be cute, and the food outstanding. 
U.S. Taco Co. is this cute, chic, hip little joint located just off the beach. The decor is this funky eclectic mix that just works.
These fancy tacos ranged anywhere from $4 to $10 per taco. You can pretty much get six meals from a regular Taco Bell for $10!
And, the tacos. Yes, give me all the tacos. I had the Wanna Get Lei'd taco (of course I did), which was grilled Mahi Mahi topped with cabbage, cilantro, a mango salsa, and some sort of creamy sauce. I'll take 12 more of those, please and thank you.

You'd think I was getting paid to promo this place, but I'm not. I just thought it was that cool and that good.

After our adorable al fresco meal we meandered through the beach community and made our way to the beach.
Oh, that beach… While I really enjoy the beach we frequent, HB is the epitome of Southern California.
The beach itself is wide, the sands are soft and clean, little to no sea weed washes ashore, and the crowd is easy going. Just the right mix of surfers and sun bathers, tourists and locals.
 We also took the opportunity to take Marcus' monthly pictures.
And a selfie.

No beach trip would be complete without a little ice cream, or in our case, gelato.
I couldn't help but snap a few shots of the character of Huntington.
Gosh, I wish HB was just a little bit closer to us. In good traffic we can get there in 45 minutes. In bad traffic… Oy.
I'm no expert on beach communities in California. But, if you were to take a trip to the coast I'd urge you to fore go Santa Monica (so touristy!), Venice (so many crazies - for real!), or even Malibu (unless you're rich). The charm of Huntington Beach will leave you longing to go back before you've even left - and the tacos are pretty exceptional as well.


Some Pretty Tall Ships

Remember the giant rubber ducky (of course you do)? Well, he didn't go too far. Actually, he helped parade in 13 pretty amazing tall ships into the Port of Los Angeles for the Tall Ships Festival.
I found the ships to be fascinating. Marcus found the duck to be the real show stopper. Obviously.

After the conclusion of the parade we were able to get up close and personal with the tall ships - which to me looked a lot like the ship from Pirates of the Caribbean.

The ships didn't do much for Marcus. After the coveted ducky sighting the kid was out for the count for most of our festival experience.
Duck? Check. Nap? On it.
With the pint-sized passenger knocked out it gave Grandma, Grandpa, and me a little time to hop on board the American Pride.
The ship was simply gorgeous. And, I'm really glad I'm not the one in charge of all those ropes and sails and whatnot. Eek.

Eventually the mini-matey woke up to catch the last half of our tall ships adventure, and just in time to spot this slightly out of place vehicle…
The Wiener Mobile?! I'm confused…

We continued with our ship gawking, and managed to snag a few decent photo op moments.
Tall Ships Festival, we weren't sure what to expect from you, but you did not disappoint. Though the festival is over the rubber ducky has been such a huge hit that he's sticking around until Labor Day! Maybe we'll take one more peek before he heads back to sea.


A Giant Rubber Ducky

So, here's a post. About a rubber ducky. A giant rubber ducky. You might think I'm kidding. But, I'm not.
The duck is SIX STORIES tall!
See? Giant rubber ducky. 
L.A. hosted a Tall Ships Festival, and we (obviously) attended. While the ships were amazing, and I'll be posting about them soon (as in, tomorrow), the rubber ducky was a pretty big hit with our resident 2-year old.
There's actually a legit story behind the ducky…
If you didn't read the sign above, long story short: in 1992 a shipping crate from Hong Kong to Tacoma, WA was lost at sea. The crate held 29,000 plastic bath toys. In the last 20 years bath toys have been floating around the world and washing up on shores. 
Where and when the bath toys have been found.
 A good portion of our morning was spent gawking at the inflatable bath toy.
Please excuse my awesome ensemble. I had literally just finished a run when one of my girl friends text me and said we needed to get to the harbor - ASAP - to see the duck. So, straight from run to duck I went, hot sweaty mess and all.
At one point a local Chinese television station thought Marcus would be a good interview. 
While I didn't actually catch the segment on TV I have a pretty strong suspicion Marcus' little piece didn't make the cut.

The ducky, though slightly odd, was really cool. The best part? Grandma and Grandpa Macke were in town, so we were able to share the experience with them!
For a little perspective: Marcus is holding an actual rubber ducky bath toy next to the giant rubber ducky. 
Didn't get enough of the massive duck? Don't worry, we didn't either. There's more of the duck to come.


Happy Marcus Monday!

Cheers to two years, five months!
Love you to pieces, little man. 
Happy Monday!!


Hot Lil' Hand

I've been so excited to share this post that it's taken every ounce of restraint not to post it sooner. There were a few things that I needed to properly line up and get solidified, but once the stars aligned I could.not.wait. to hit the publish button.

It comes as no secret that running is kind of my thing. It keeps me sane, happy, and healthy. There's a small arsenal of items that I consider *must haves* every time I head out the door to pound the pavement and I wanted to share them with you. 

1. THIS pepper spray!! 
Oh my gosh, how did I not know of Damsel in Defense, and their amazing line of self defense products before a few weeks ago? 
This Hot Lil' Hand (how much do you love that product name?!) is about the greatest invention ever. I simply slip on the grip glove, which keeps the pepper spray in place, and I have a pretty good line of defense should I need it. 

Damsel in Defense has so many amazing products that are perfect for runners, walkers, or simply if you're out and about and alone. 

So often when we talk about running we talk about our pace, or a PR, or the next goal. Not often enough is the spotlight on what we do to stay safe while we're racking up the miles. I figured it was time to change that! Are you safe when you run??
Stick around, I've got some pretty sweet stuff regarding Damsel in Defense and the Hot Lil' Hand a little further along in the post.

2. Along with my new, cute pepper spray, here are the other must-have items that keep me trucking along.
No, I don't carry the Nikon with me when I run. Though some days I wish I did.
So much stuff, but all of it necessary, even that little guy in the lower left corner!!
Proper (and cute) running clothes, as well as GOOD running shoes (go get your feet evaluated and fit for the shoe that best suits YOUR foot)!
1. A solid music selection and good ear phones. What's more annoying than earphones that pop out when you're woking out? Basically nothing.
2. The watch that keeps my pace in check. Monitor pace, distance, and the like. Need it!
3. The runner's fanny pack. Ok, that's not what it's really called, but it's essentially what it is. Some H20 and some shot blocks for those long runs.
4. Runner ID. Just in case I collapse/pass out/become unconscious. My info and emergency contact info is all strapped securely to my shoe.
5. Head band! Fly away hair is the worst. Gotta keep that mane under wraps. 

Not pictured: my running sunglasses. 
3. Lately my running and workouts have been challenging, but overall good, and I'm really enjoying them. Perhaps pushing a 20 pound BOB with a 35 pound passenger is better than I thought it might be. And, I'm LIKING strength training days. Who am I?!!! 
4. The Fall Virtual 5k is in four weeks, and I've been loving all the InstaGram, Facebook and blog updates from the participants. Keep it up, ladies! I can't wait to see everyone's results in a few short weeks. Speaking of races, my friend (hi, Julie!) knows me too well. This popped up in my messenger the other day:
I've been DYING to run a Rock n' Roll!! Now, to get signed up and put a training program in place…
5. Remember that Hot Lil' Hand I mentioned (see number one for a refresher)? Damsel in Defense Pro, Jennifer, has graciously agreed to team up with me to give one away to one lucky reader! 

Please, for the love of running, enter this raffle. Entering is easy and you won't get any junk mail because of your raffle entries (I pinky swear).

If you'd like to know more about the products you can host a Power Hour where a Damsel Pro will visit you, and all your favorite running/walker buddies, and show you the amazing line of products and how each product works (click HERE to find a Pro in your area).  You can also browse and buy the Damsel in Defense products simply by clicking HEREYou can order your Damsel products through me until Monday, September 1!

If you find several products you love (I've got my eye on the Kubotans!) and spend $50 you will receive the Hope Pouch O' Pepper Spray, for FREE! (Five percent of all the Hope Pouches go to support Wipe Every Tear, an organization that rescues girls from sex trafficking in the Phillippines.)     

Ok, now share this with your friends and get entered to win the Hot Lil' Hand!!
Giveaway rules:
Contest runs Friday, August 22 (12:00AM) to Wednesday, August 28 (12:00AM).
Winner will be drawn, at random, by Rafflecopter.com.
Winner will be contacted via email, and has 24 hours to claim his/her prize.
Must be a US resident.
Must be 18 years or older to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway