Giveaway ends July 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST.
Prior to the last couple of years, I procured coconut water in one of two ways: 1) going to the Asian market and buying a fresh young coconut, taking it home and using a variety of household implements to get it open or 2) wandering around the market stalls and beaches of the Caribbean and Asia, finding and purchasing a young coconut from a vendor, who promptly whacks the top off with his machete. Both experiences resulted in me having a refreshing beverage to cool down with.
Now, coconut water is sold in cans and cartons at my local grocery store. My how times change! While not as fresh as my examples above, they provide a convenient way to enjoy coconut water at anytime.
Zola recently sent me a box of three of their products to try out.
I received a can each of Coconut Water and Coconut Water with Pulp and a bottle of Acai Juice, plus a pair of bright green Zola sunglasses! I placed them all, well not the sunglasses, in the refrigerator so that they would be chilled for consumption.
I tried the coconut water without pulp first because that is what I would normally drink. I had it after a weeknight run and found it to be oh so refreshing. I also really liked the taste of Zola. Some of the pre-packaged coconut waters I have purchased in the past have had an unappealing grittiness to them. Zola wasn’t like this at all. In fact, it tasted clean and subtle. Perfect for post-workout rehydration because coconut water contains essential electrolytes like potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. Zola’s coconut water also does not contain added sugars that you might find in other flavored coconut waters.
A few days later, I had the coconut water with pulp after another workout. This one I wasn’t sold on, mostly because I don’t have any straws at home and think that the majority of the pulp remained at the bottom of the can. Although I enjoyed the same great taste as the coconut water without pulp, having the extra pulp was lost on me because I couldn’t get to it.
Finally, the acai juice was opened but not finished. I have tried acai products a number of times now and, quite frankly, am not a fan of the taste. To me, the juice is too thick and the taste is pretty chalky. It is too bad because acai berries have so many health benefits. I wish I could be a fan, but I’m not.
What’s my take? When fresh young coconut is not within arm’s reach, I would happily enjoy Zola’s coconut water (without the pulp) after my workouts or runs or even as a beverage with a meal.
Since it took me almost 33 years to finally make it to Toronto, who knows when I will return for my second visit! With that in mind, I decided that Niagara Falls was a must-see during my TBEX trip. I looked into booking a day tour for a number of reasons, but the main reason was because I was expecting to be dead tired from the conference and wouldn’t want to drive.
Most of the tour operators pick up and drop off passengers at each of their hotels, which makes the day pretty long and wastes a good amount of time for a tourist who is visiting for only a short time. Chariots of Fire, on the other hand, picks up and drops off at three locations around the city. This allows passengers more time to enjoy Toronto. We picked them as our tour provider for this reason.
Our bus picked us up from the tour stop at 33 Yonge Street at 7:30 am.
We left Yonge-Dundas Square, the third and final pick up point, at 8 am and were on our way to Niagara Falls.
During the drive to our first stop, the driver gave us an overview of what our day would look like and told us some fun facts. Quite honestly, I tuned some of it out, tried to nap and checked my Twitter feed.
About an hour later, we reached our first stop of the day: Skylon Tower. It was an extra $12CAD to go to the top of the 520-foot Tower. A glass-enclosed elevator took us to the observation level, where there are indoor/outdoor viewing decks. From there you can enjoy views 775-feet above the bottom of Niagara Falls.
The other city of Niagara Falls (in New York) was also visible from the top of Skylon Tower.
Of course, we were there to see the three waterfalls that are collectively called Niagara Falls. There is the largest falls, the Horseshoe (or Canadian) Falls. This view also gave us a sneak peek into what was in store for us later that afternoon when we were scheduled to ride the Maid of the Mist. See that tiny boat? That was going to be us.
Then there are the American Falls on the left and the much smaller Bridal Veil Falls on the right.
Then we approached Horseshoe Falls. The wind was whipping and the mist? More like the waterfall is raining on you! At this point, I couldn’t see a thing so I just held my camera up and snapped away. From the progression of photos below, you can see that my camera couldn’t see anything either! Maybe I should wipe down my lens? Hah!
Poncho protection did some good, but it didn’t keep me completely dry. Water trickled down my neck and sleeves. Sad face.
Sometimes I feel like these “Week in Review”s are exactly like the image above! So if you feel the same way, I apologize, but it also serves as a great accountability tool for me.
This was the first weekend all month that I have been at home for the entire weekend. I was able to get so much done. It was also Raisin Bread’s 37th birthday on Friday, and he got to have not one, not two, but three birthday dinners! Yes, I spoil my husband. I’ll get to birthday dinner #1 in a second, but first, my week was full of great workouts. I finished my 6 mile training run, so I feel pretty confident about running The Biggest Loser 10K in a few weeks.
Tuesday: Daily Burn: Hip Flow Yoga (60 minutes)
Wednesday: Ran 2.9 miles
Thursday: Daily Burn: Full Flow Yoga (60 minutes)
Friday: Ran 2.7 miles
Saturday: Ran 1 mile + 20 minute arm workout
Sunday: Ran 6 miles + Pilates Chair (30 minutes)
Total yoga this week: 2 times
Total mileage this week: 12.6 miles
Total mileage this year: 180.97 miles
We had a birthday eve birthday dinner for Raisin Bread on Thursday night. We chose The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon because Green Pig Bistro didn’t have any openings. On this night, the service was totally off. Our server asked us if we wanted any appetizers, and we asked to see the cheese menu. He then took the remainder of our order and then proceeded to give us the cheese menu just as our entrees were coming out! Who does that? So we decided to just have the cheese for dessert.
I ordered the Prosciutto Pizza with Parma ham, mascarpone, Parmigiano, arugula, rosemary and preserved lemon. The lemon really made the pizza sing.
Raisin Bread had a half order of the Spinach Tagliatelle with prosciutto, peas, pecorino, crème fraiche, basil and mint, followed by the Arctic Char with mustard spaetzle ragu, fennel, peas, asparagus and preserved lemon froth. I had a few bites of the pasta, and it was really rich and yummy. I especially liked the peas.
For our cheese course, we had the Smokey Blue and the Cabecou Trufee. After our cheese plate arrived, we both noticed that the table next to us was looking at our table and whispering. We both thought it was because the Cabecou Trufee was SO STINKY!!! It turned out they were looking at us because they wanted to order cheese as well. *whoo* I liked the saltiness of the Smokey Blue, but maybe the other one was a little too complex for me or maybe it was just the smell, but I couldn’t eat much of it.
Apart from the terrible service, we had another enjoyable meal at The Liberty Tavern. For birthday dinner #2, I cooked a meal of brown rice fusilli, ground turkey, baby portobello mushrooms and spinach. Finally, birthday dinner #3 will need its own post because it was a multiple course extravaganza at Sushi Taro, my favorite sushi in DC.
The Liberty Tavern
3195 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
Rebecca the Cruising Goddess and I spent an afternoon in Toronto learning how to cut things. Before the conference, I signed us up for a tour entitled “Shop with the Chef at St. Lawrence Market.” The tour wound up being more chef-ing than shopping. While I know my way around the kitchen, I wouldn’t say that I have great technique. Despite the number of television cooking shows I have seen in my day, I still learned a lot from this experience.
Our knife skills class took place in the Market Kitchen, which overlooks the stalls of St. Lawrence Market. When we entered the Miele Gallery and saw these station set-ups of cutting boards, knives and veggies, I knew I was going to have to work for my lunch!
It has been exhaustion central at the Stirling household. Traveling every weekend has taken a toll on me and Raisin Bread is not far behind as he is still in summer school. On Saturday, we spent the whole day in Pennsylvania on an antiquing mission. We also got to see both of his parents and my baby brother! It was quite a long and successful day. I’m serious when I say long. We woke up at 4:30 am and didn’t get home until after midnight, although we did sneak in a short nap at his mom’s house.
This week wasn’t as successful on the training front as I had anticipated. I’m hoping to do better next week with my first double training weekend.
Tuesday: ran 1.8 miles
Wednesday: ran 2.91 miles
Sunday: ran 5 miles + Daily Burn: Strength Recovery Yoga (20 minutes)
Total yoga this week: 1 time
Total mileage this week: 9.71 miles
Total mileage this year: 168.37 miles
On Thursday evening, author Lauren Weisberger was on hand at the W Hotel‘s POV Rooftop to sign copies of her new novel, Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns, the follow-up to 2004’s super successful The Devil Wears Prada: A Novel. This was Ms. Weisberger’s only scheduled Washington, DC appearance.
DC’s weather decided to behave this evening, which allowed for views of Downtown DC like no other from the W Hotel’s rooftop. Guests were treated to tunes from DJ Neekola, mini Georgetown Cupcakes, plus a little primping from the NARS Cosmetics lipstick bar. Bloomingdale’s showcased some current fashion trends and attendees received hair styling from IPSA For Hair.
Copies of the new novel were available for purchase, and guests were eager to meet the author and have their copies signed.
During my stay in Toronto, I only had a few opportunities to try out the local eats. After our Toronto Photo Walk, Rebecca (big sister/Cruising Goddess) and I stopped for lunch at Mother’s Dumplings to try their handmade dumplings. What else?
A highlight of the evening was Ninutik Maple‘s presence! They were on hand to create some yummy treats. Maple syrup was ladled onto a bed of ice to chill and then a cube of cheese was wrapped in the frozen maple syrup. Below is a video of the process.
There was also a pretty dessert table with lots of little sweet delights to sample.
And there was even a gummy bear carving station. Now, that is something I had never seen before!
I also had the not-so-brilliant idea that we couldn’t leave Toronto without having tried poutine. Since Smoke’s Poutinerie was only a couple of doors away, I convinced sister to make one last stop for the evening with me. If you don’t know what poutine is, it is a Canadian dish, originating from Quebec, of french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. I had to try it but found it super salty and not very appetizing.
On our last day in Toronto, we met up with Professor Wong, one of my oldest friends/former neighbor/high school buddy and current Toronto resident. We had lunch at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky in Kensington Market.
I had the brie and nut pate sandwich, which I thought looked and tasted like meat loaf. Interesting, no? We also shared a terribly cute rhubarb pie!
You might think I’m crazy for saying this after looking at everything I ate, but I wish I could have tried more food and explored more of the neighborhoods! Next time!
421 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON M5T 2G6
Wanda’s Pie in the Sky
287 Augusta Avenue
Toronto, ON M5T 2M2
Prior to the start of the recent TBEX conference, I had the chance to go on what turned out to be a very strange Photo Walk of Toronto. I found it to be strange because the group was relatively large at about 25 participants, and the Photo Walk leader didn’t tell us anything about what we were shooting. Even now, I have no idea what half of the sights we visited are called! The tour was also supposed to include tips and tricks for taking photos, but I felt that if you didn’t have a DSLR, than none of the information that was given was relevant to you. There must be tips that point-and-shoot users can incorporate, right?
Here is one of the buildings that I was able to identify! This is the main hall of Union Station.
One thing that came up quite often during my trip planning was the fact that Toronto is undergoing a ton of construction. They weren’t kidding. There was construction everywhere!
With all of the new construction sites around, there is bound to be more contrasting structures sharing the same cityscape in the future. The Clock Tower of Toronto’s Old City Hall is one such structure from the past.
CN Tower is sort of the iconic landmark in Toronto’s skyline. It was once the tallest structure in the world. Whenever I wasn’t sure if I was heading in the right direction, I just needed to look up and see where CN Tower was to get my bearings again.
I loved the interior of Brookfield Place because of all of the natural light that it brings in. The lines are also quite beautiful.
Architecture wasn’t the only thing I noticed on my photo walk. There were also everyday pieces of Toronto living that I was able to capture, such as their BIXI bike shares.
And their public transportation system, which includes red streetcars like this.
And their colorful post boxes.
I thought the Photo Walk was pretty much a wash. I didn’t feel like I got anything more out of it than I could have gotten had I just picked up a guidebook and led myself on a walking tour of Downtown.
This weekend, Raisin Bread and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary in Maine! We visited Acadia National Park and I definitely ate my fill of lobster! We did lots of hiking, ate a ton and spent some quality time together. The weather wasn’t great, but we were still able to make the most of it. Expect to hear more about Maine later. For now, here is a sneak peek at the natural beauty of Acadia. This photo was taken from Schooner Head Overlook.
Speaking of training, my schedule fell off the last two weeks with all of my traveling. I am also really sad that I haven’t been able to fit any yoga in and I have definitely missed it. The next several weeks should be more conducive to following my training plan and I need to get back on track!
Here is a look at the last week:
Monday: walked around Toronto a lot
Wednesday: ran 2.4 miles
Friday: hiked 6.1 miles
Saturday: hiked 4.1 miles
Total yoga this week: 0 times
Total mileage this week: 2.4 miles
Total mileage this year: 158.66 miles
In a little more than a month, The Biggest Loser RunWalk will be coming to the RFK Stadium Fair Grounds in our nation’s capital! I’m uber excited to run in this inaugural event for a bunch of reasons. The biggest reason though is because I’m slightly addicted to watching The Biggest Loser. I find the show to be so inspirational. Watching the contestants go through their journeys helps to remind me that I’m not the only one who struggles to manage their fitness and that no matter how far you get, working out is still really, really hard sometimes! Plus, who doesn’t love to watch Jillian and Bob work their magic!
Another reason I am looking forward to The Biggest Loser RunWalk is because the race organizers have really created an event that is inclusive to runners and walkers of all stripes. There will be a 10K, 5K and 1 mile kids fun run, plus there are award divisions for runners and walkers in both distances! How cool is that? So whether you are super speedy or want to challenge yourself with your first walk, there is something for you.
If that isn’t enough, registered participants will receive items including The Bigger Loser Finisher’s Medals and free downloadable race photos. Both of these items are practically unheard of in the local races I know of! Also, Gail Lee from Season 13, Michael Dorsey from Season 14 and Dan and Jackie Evans from Season 5 will be in attendance!
Hope to see you there too!
Event Date: Sunday, July 14, 2013
Online registration closes: July 10, 2013
Disclosure: I received complimentary race registration from The Biggest Loser RunWalk. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here.