Local Connections and Mitch’s Restaurant Palm Desert Giveaway!

Joining up with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud.


Sometimes it feels like I blog on an island.

Now don’t get me wrong. Since I started blogging over six (!) years ago I have made so many “blends” (blogging friends). We read each others blogs, support each other, and I even had the chance to meet many last year at Blogfest (and more hopefully this year).

20140814 IDEA Anaheim Copyright 2014 Len  Spoden Photography.

IDEA Anaheim Copyright 2014 Len Spoden Photography.

The thing is, even though some of these women (and a few men) feel like true friends, none of them live anywhere near me. Oh, yes, quite a few in Southern California, especially San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. But those places are several hours away, and I don’t get there very often.

But now, that is changing.

Several months ago I was participating in a campaign with Linqia. I always like to support the other bloggers in a campaign, so when they would leave the link of their completed article I would stop by their blog and comment on and share their post.

One of those bloggers was Andrea from Tabler Party of Two. She’d written a great post for Del Monte Pure Earth Juice, including a delicious Pineapple Mojito recipe (check it out!). About a week later I received a message from Andrea asking me to join the Desert Bloggers, a local blogging group! I had no idea she was from the desert! Fortunately, my old blog name Live from La Quinta, let Andrea know that I was a local.

Since that time, a few of us have met for a glass of wine, and several of us will be heading to Bloggy Boot Camp in May. I’m excited to have made new, local blogging friends and can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

Well, in one way, the future is here. The Desert Bloggers are doing our first shared giveaway! If you are local to the desert, or know someone who is (please share this!), you can win a $150 gift certificate and a bottle of wine from Mitch’s on El Paseo !

When Andrea, Lizzie, and I met at Mitch’s Restaurant a couple weeks ago to discuss the giveaway, I had a chance to check out the menu. I, of course, am always on the lookout for plant based options, and Mitch’s has a few. They even have a vegan roll on their sushi menu (called The Vegan). I was also assured by Mitch himself, who is always on hand to greet diners, that the kitchen would be happy to accommodate a plant based diet on request (I’d recommend calling ahead).

For my non-vegan readers, Mitch’s Restaurant, which opened in February 2013 in the site of the former Augusta Restaurant on El Paseo in Palm Desert, has options that range from steak and seafood to sushi and lobster tempura. Truly something for everybody.

Below you will find the links to all of the participants in the giveaway as well as the Gleam entry form. Good luck!


Mitch’s On El Paseo | Tabler Party of Two | Bianca Rae Foundation | Buehler’s Day Off | Krystle Kelly | Coach Debbie Runs | Listing to Port

Mitch’s Giveaway

If you’re a blogger, have you joined a local blogging group? Have you had the opportunity to meet your favorite bloggers in real life?

Getting Outside with LÄRABAR (plus a Giveaway)

Today’s post is sponsored by LÄRABAR but my love of their bars is all my own.

Get Outside

I love to exercise outdoors. I am a runner first and foremost, and as I have, ahem, gotten a little older, I appreciate more and more the joy of trail running. Some days, though, it’s great to slow things down, lace up my hiking boots (or retired running shoes in my case), and hit the trails for a hike.


I am so fortunate that I live less than a half mile away from some of the best hiking trails in the world. While not your typical woodsy trails with lovely streams running through them, the desert has its own subtle beauty, and your hike or run can be as easy or challenging as you want to make it.


Do you want to put some effort into it, find hidden desert treasures, and spend several hours exploring the trails? Try the Bear Creek Oasis Trail. Would you rather have a more moderate, flat, sightseeing hike? Try the Bear Creek Canyon Trail or simply circle the Oasis. There is even a trail that will lead you about 14 miles up the Santa Rosa Mountains, ending up at 4,000 feet elevation! There truly is something for everybody.


I kept it simple on my hike this week. I was alone for one thing, so I felt more comfortable with the Oasis loop, plus I just got over my cold, so I really didn’t need any challenges. That makes the packing simple too. I just loaded up my backpack with water, a handful of LÄRABARs, and a couple packs of RENOLA. Easy breezy!


Eat Clean

I have been a huge fan of LÄRABAR for years. I’m always looking for plant based snacks, and most LÄRABARs are not only vegan and soy-free, they are all gluten free, non-GMO, and made with simple whole ingredients. For example, my favorite, Pecan Pie, has only dates, pecans, and almonds. You can’t get more real than that.

Larabar8I was first introduced to RENOLA at IDEAWorld Expo, where I picked up a couple packages at the LÄRABAR booth. RENOLA is a blend of fruit, nuts, and seeds, like a combination of trail mix and granola. It is gluten and grain free, and super easy to stash in your purse or bag for a quick snack on the go.


I received a LÄRAbag full of goodies from LÄRABAR so that I could fuel my hike and let you know about the pure clean goodness of their products and also to make sure that you knew about National Take a Hike Day, which is on November 17. It’s a great day, and a great way, to #GetOutside and #EatClean.

larabar12The story behind LÄRABAR is very simple too. Founder Lara Merriken was hiking in the Colorado Rockies one day, and began to wonder why there wasn’t a convenient, wholesome alternative to trail mix that was easy to carry and eat. In that instant, in May 2000, LÄRABAR was born.

Win a LÄRABAR Prize Pack of your own!

Here is your chance to win a LÄRABAR prize pack with 16 assorted LÄRABARs and packs of RENOLA! All you have to do is visit the LÄRABAR site and tell me in the comments what flavor of LÄRABAR and what flavor of RENOLA that you are excited to try. There are over 20 flavors including some seasonal ones that will make your mouth water. The contest ends at midnight on November 7.

Save with this Coupon on your next LÄRABAR purchase!

Can’t wait? Live from La Quinta readers can get this coupon for .50 off any LÄRABAR! Click here for your coupon.

National Take a Hike Day

Don’t forget that National Take a Hike Day is on November 17! You can join LÄRABAR and me, and get outside to enjoy a hike on trails near you. You can share your stories and photos, and read about others’ adventures by using the hashtag #getoutside and #eatclean. I can’t wait to hear your stories!

Contest Rules: Must be 18 years old and a resident of the US to enter. To enter visit the LÄRABAR website and tell me in the comments the flavors of  LÄRABAR and RENOLA you would like to try. The winner will be randomly chosen from all entrants who answered the question in the comments. The contest ends at midnight November 7 and a winner will be selected and notified within 24 hours. The winner must respond within 48 hours or another winner will be selected.

What flavors of LÄRABAR and RENOLA would you like to try? Do you have a #getoutside story to tell?

Bondi Band Review and Giveaway

Bondi BandI was given an opportunity to try a Bondi Band and to host a giveaway through Fit Approach. All opinions are my own. I received one Bondi Band for myself, and three to give away.


I thought there was something wrong with me.

Everywhere I ran, I saw women wearing headbands. Flowery ones, sparkly ones, headbands with cute statements on them. They served a double purpose, they kept one’s hair off one’s face and they looked cute while doing so.

I jumped on the headband bandwagon.

Maybe I should have tried one on before I invested bought a variety of pretty headbands.

Try as I might, I simply couldn’t keep a headband on my head. I’d put it on, adjust it so that it felt secure, but as soon as I moved, it would slip right off the back of my head. I finally just assumed that my head was shaped wrong and that I just wasn’t meant to be a headband wearer.

When I was offered the opportunity to try out a Bondi Band headband, I thought I’d give it one more try. I remembered Carrie wearing her Bondi Band during our Ragnar Relay, and how comfortable and snug it looked on her head, and I was hopeful.

Because of the Ragnar connection, I was happy when I received this in the mail:

Bondi Band 4

I wore it for my run the very next day. First off, let me tell you, it stayed in place. It did NOT slip off my head! I kept touching it to make sure that it was there because while it doesn’t slip at all, it is also really light. The weather is really warming up here in the desert, even though I run early in the morning. I was afraid that it would make my head feel too hot. In fact, the opposite was true. The Bondi Band kept me dry and cool!

Because I just ran a few recovery miles, I had time to practice a little yoga before I needed to get ready for work. I chose a 30 minute flow class, and kept the Bondi Band on. It kept my hair off my face, and again, it felt so weightless I’d forget I was wearing a headband.

Bondi Band 5I always get a little help with my at-home yoga practice.

As I mentioned, I have three Bondi Bands to give away! Not only that, if you use the coupon code SWEATPINK when your order you will save 10% on all items (except Bargain Basement, Design Your Own, and Custom Items) through June 28!

Bondi Band

Use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win one of the three Bondi Bands above.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Bondi Band 3

Flipping Out: FlipBelt Review

The giveaway is over and the winner is…Sheena!

Wow! It’s December 16! Remember when you were a kid and the last few weeks before Christmas c-r-a-w-l-e-d by? Not anymore! The past few weeks have flown by.

I spent the weekend getting most of my shopping done. We’re doing our celebration next Saturday at my son’s house in San Diego. Lovely, but that takes four days from my shopping time.

There is still time to shop online (if you get going, like, right now). I actually did a little myself last night, for my sister and brother-in-law, who won’t be able to make it out this Christmas. If you need a few ideas, check out my Gift Guide for Runners.

Flipbelt review

One of the suggestions on my Gift Guide is the FlipBelt. I first discovered the FlipBelt when Alan and I were in Malibu when he announced the Malibu Marathon. I bought one at the expo, used it the next day, and fell in love. Since that time I have used my FlipBelt for every run.  In fact, I loved it so much that I contacted FitBelt to see if they would sponsor a giveaway. They said yes! I also received a second FlipBelt free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

The FlipBelt is a tubular pocket that fits snugly around your hips. It’s made of moisture-wicking lycra spandex and it will hold your phone, gels, keys, and other necessities, all without pinching, squeezing, or best of all, bouncing. You just slide in your stuff through one of several holes in the FlipBelt, then flip it so that the pockets face inward and your stuff won’t fall out. Actually, the first time I wore the FlipBelt, I didn’t flip it (instructions weren’t included in my expo-purchased FlipBelt), but everything still stayed snugly in place.

Flipbelt reviewI was a little concerned about my phone getting sweaty while running. The FlipBelt is not waterproof, though it does wick away moisture. I’m not a really heavy sweater, but with my first FlipBelt I noticed a little moisture on the screen after the run. FlipBelt recommends that you put electronics in a plastic bag, and even includes a ziplock bag with your online order (make sure to click that option). The bag is big enough to fit most phones. A bag is also recommended if you’ll be carrying small items like keys, coins, or lip balm.

Speaking of phones, when I first got my FlipBelt I was using an iPhone. I have since upgraded to the Note 3, which is huge. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t fit. I have a rubber case on it and I will admit it was a tight fit the first time I tried. After I received my second FlipBelt with the plastic bag, I now slip off the rubber case, put the phone in the plastic bag, and it fits just fine.

Flipbelt ReviewWhen I bought my first FlipBelt, I chose Jet Black since that would pretty much match everything. With my second one I picked Violet (after wavering over Hot Pink, Royal Blue, or Nuclear Yellow). As you can see, FlipBelt comes in a variety of colors.


Flipbelt review

The FlipBelt costs $29 and shipping is free in the US. Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a FlipBelt of your own! If you can’t wait, you can save 10% on your purchase by using the coupon code LFL.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The FlipBelt is not just for running. It works great for the gym, hiking, cycling, or just about any other activity. It would be really great for racing because it is so comfortable and would hold everything you would need for distances up to a marathon.

As I mentioned above, I received a FlipBelt in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own. And my opinion is: I love it!

Kind Bars Review and Giveaway

The contest is over (and the winner listed below). I hope you’ll stick around to read the review!

I was so excited when Kind Snacks recently offered me an opportunity to try some of their Kind Bars and to sample two different Kind Healthy Grains! I have been a fan for a long time. What’s not to love?

Kind Bars - vegan

After all (from their website):

We believe if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it shouldn’t go into your body. Actually, it shouldn’t even go into your pantry. That’s why all KIND Healthy Snacks are made from all-natural whole nuts, fruits and whole grains. No secret ingredients and absolutely nothing artificial here. Just a delicious way of getting your body essential nutrients like fiber, protein and antioxidants (to name a few).

My delicious care package included a bag of Oats and Honey Clusters with Coconut (I try to avoid honey so Alan got to enjoy it), and a bag of Dark Chocolate (chocolate!!!) and Cranberry Clusters. All of the Kind Healthy Grains are made with unique 100% whole grains like amaranth, quinoa, and millet, and contain superfoods like blueberries and chia seeds. As with all their products, they use only whole foods, and they are all gluten free and always non-GMO What an inspired idea to put antioxident rich dark chocolate in a cereal/snack!

Kind Bar Review

I also received a supply of Kind Bars, including a few newer ones that I hadn’t heard of before!

Kind Bar Review - vegan

These Kind Nuts and Spices Bars offer a variety of nuts with spices such as ginger and cinnamon. Oh, and dark chocolate too! Plus they all have only 5 grams of sugar or less. These bars were definitely my favorites, though I’d have a hard time choosing between Maple Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt. Oh, don’t forget Cashew and Ginger Spice. Or perhaps my all time favorite Dark Chocolate Chili Almond.

Kind Bar Review - Vegan

I also received a few Kind Plus bars, all of which come with an extra boost of protein, antioxidents, fiber, or omega 3 fatty acids. I love to throw one in my purse, just in case I need that boost.

The best thing of all? The kind folks at Kind Snacks want you to have a chance to try out their bars! Enter the giveaway below and you can win a dozen Kind Bars!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Kind Bar review

Bottom line, I love Kind Bars and Clusters! Great tasting, whole food that will fuel your body naturally.

Disclosure: I was sent the Kind Healthy Grains and Bars at no cost to me in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Fifth Hysterversary Update and Poise Body Cooling Towelettes Review

While it is a little early to celebrate, the fifth anniversary of my total hysterectomy and instant entry into menopause is quickly approaching. This seemed an appropriate time to discuss the changes I have undergone in the past five years, also because I was recently sent a sample kit from Poise.


Poise offers a complete line of wellness products designed to help women approach changes with confidence.


It’s been almost two years since I posted about my life after menopause. I took a look back at that post and realized that, while many things have changed, most especially my fitness and training, some things have not, specifically my migraines and occasional issues with my hormone replacement therapy.


I am really excited that for the first time since before my hysterectomy I am actually training for a half marathon. Yes, I have run one or two half marathons a year, but beyond running enough to build the appropriate endurance, I didn’t do any other training. My times showed it of course, they were generally around 2:10 or so, not too bad considering the lack of training, but still, I felt I could do better. Now that I am currently in week eleven of my La Jolla Half Marathon training plan, I feel that I can improve my time, run a stronger race, and even recover better afterward. Time will tell!


I had a very fast recovery from surgery. I was back to work in eight days, felt good from the very beginning, was able to get back to most of my regular activities within a couple weeks. I am sure that my great recovery was due in large part to being in excellent shape before my operation. Menopause has not always been so easy, though. I have written about my search for the perfect hormone replacement (if such a thing exists). In my fantasy, my energy level would always be high, my migraines would disappear, and the words “hot flash” would not be a part of my vocabulary. My reality is somewhat different. While I usually wake up well rested and ready to face the day, I find that by midday my energy will slack off. Now, that could be many things, including 1) High energy expenditure in the mornings, my main exercise time, 2) My hypothyroidism, for which I’ve been taking medication for several months (darn, need to remember to go get that follow up blood test!), and 3) my, ahem, age. While 55 is certainly not old, it is not 25 either, and one can expect some changes due to time. Then there are my migraines. I was so hopeful entering menopause that, as many older women had told me had happened to them, my headaches would disappear. That was not to be in my case, and I still get frequent headaches which blossom into a full-blown migraine once a month or so. I guess I should be used to this, it has been going on for 45 years, but I was so hopeful at the beginning of my journey through “the change.” I still have a really outstanding hot flash from time to time, though, and that brings me back to the Poise sample kit that I received last week.


One of the items in my sample kit was Poise Body Cooling Towelettes. According to the package, the towelettes offer an instant cooling sensation that can provide hot flash comfort. Oh, yes, I’m in. Since most of my hot flash moments occur at night, I took the convenient re-sealable pouch and placed it by my bed. When I awoke that same night feeling uncomfortably warm, I first moved a couple dogs, kicked off my covers then reached for a Poise Body Cooling Towelette. I fell almost instantly back to sleep. I have used Poise Body Cooling Towelettes several times since then and they always provide me with cool comfort.


The Poise Feminine Wellness line, which was the 2013 Product of the Year, consists of five products designed to help provide comfort when experiencing some of the changes such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and vaginal odor. Millions of women already rely on Poise for discreet protection from light bladder leakage, and now Poise offers a unique line of daily products specifically designed to help women with staying cool, feel fresh, and intimacy. The line includes:

  • Roll-On Cooling Gel helps you feel comfortable and refreshed. Squeeze the tube and gently roll the cooling gel on wrists, chest or neck for a cooling sensation that lasts up to 10 minutes.
  • Body Cooling Towelettes offer instant cooling and refreshment. Gently wipe the towelette on wrists, chest or neck to feel cool and comfortable. Featuring a portable, re-sealable package, these towelettes are easy to use anywhere you go.
  • Personal Lubricant designed to enhance your intimate experience. This lubricant features an easy to use bottle and is made without Fragrance, Glycerin or Parabens.
  • Panty Fresheners have a fresh and clean scent that lasts up to four hours. These discreet, hypoallergenic fresheners stick to the outside of your undergarments so you can confidently go about your day.
  • Feminine Wash provides daily freshness with a unique formulation that is pH balanced for your intimate area. Glycerin and paraben free, this gentle wash will help you feel clean and confident.

For more information about the Poise Feminine Wellness Line and to sign up for a coupon or sample, visit Poise’s Facebook page.


And now for the sweepstakes – How are you approaching life’s changes confidently? Each comment will be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card!


No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 4/04/13-4/30/13.

Be sure to visit the Poise brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!