Gear Review: tasc Performance Bamboo

I have some exciting news! I was recently selected to be a brand ambassador for tasc Performance!

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Some of you may have heard of tasc before. They are a New Orleans based company that uses a bamboo-organic cotton blend in their workout clothing. This clothing has all of the same features of traditional performance clothing– moisture wicking, anti-odor and UPF protection. Also-they use no chemicals on their fabrics. Their bamboo source is Forest Stewardship Council certified as organic. And the biggest difference I’ve noticed–the clothes are so soft and comfy.

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I received the Northstar Fleece, which has to be one of the most cozy tops I own! I can’t wait to wear it on my next hike or run. I really like the long length, the soft fleece lining and the fact that is has thumbholes with fold over mittens! This will be perfect for marathon training this winter.

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I also got the infinity scarf. I love the pop of color it adds to my outfit and that it’s lightweight, which will be perfect for the spring-like weather we’ve been having lately. I’m also wearing the performance headband, which I wore last night to bootcamp. It stayed in place the whole time–which is a deal breaker for me when it comes to headbands.

I also opted for the district pant, since I don’t own any loose fitting casual pants like this. I love the rouching on the side and the fact that there are cords on the legs that make the hem adjustable. They have a wide, comfortable waistband, and are flattering all round. Love them!

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I am really pumped to be a brand ambassador for tasc. They have a motto that I can really get behind, Freedom to Pursue the Adventure of Life, because as you know, I love adventure! My biggest passion in life is spending time outdoors and living life to the fullest, whether it be knocking off some more of the 46 high peaks or mountain biking in Vermont. What adventures are you going to be taking on in 2016?

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Stay tuned for some exciting giveaways. In the meantime, check out tasc!

Disclaimer: As a brand ambassador, tasc sends me clothing to review. All opinions are my own.

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Hiking Indian Head

Hope everyone is having a fantastic holiday weekend! It really is still summer because the weather here has been quite hot and amazing. Yesterday, Christine and I wanted to do an easy hike so we decided on Indian Head, a spot in the high peaks that is not a high peak but has an amazing view. We left Albany at 7:30 and drove up to the Ausable Club Parkin lot in Keene since that’s where the trail for Indian Head starts. The hike begins at the AMR gate (like many of the other hikes I’ve done).

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The hike itself is mostly just a dirt road walk. It wasn’t too exciting. Until the Ausable Club shuttle driver pulled over and told us that there was a BEAR up ahead in the beaver pond! He said the bear was young and wouldn’t bother us because it was far enough away. Sure enough, we continued down the road and when we got the beaver pond, there he was!

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Its hard to see, but the black blob in the middle of the picture is a black bear! It was the first time I had seen a bear hiking. I knew it would happen sooner or later because I’m out in the woods a lot. Bears are active in this area so it’s good to be cautious! He started running away and climbed right up a tree. Too funny.  I can’t believe we saw a bear!

Anyway, four miles of walking down the road later, we came to a trail on the left right before we got to Ausable Lake.

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The trail to Indian head was less than a mile up and soon enough we hit the junction for Gothic Window.

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Gothic Window is a clearing through the trees where you can see Gothics. But there’s a much better view just head on Indian Head itself.

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Christine and I had both been dying to get to Indian Head. The views from the cliff are iconic and we’ve seen them for ages all over the internet. One photo was even my iPhone background. Steeping onto the lookout cliff was surreal.

You can’t even believe what are you looking at! Its just breathtaking.

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You can see upper and lower Ausable Lake, along with Sawteeth, Gothics, Armstrong, Upperwolfjaw and Lower Wolfjaw on the right.

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Gothics and Pyramid.

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Also, Cloudline sent me a pair of their technical hiker socks to try out on my hikes.

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What I love about Cloudline wool socks:

They are made of premium merino wool. Their merino wool blend naturally regulates moisture, temperature, and has antibacterial properties that resist odor. Also, they are made in the USA which is always a nice bonus! The socks are thick and cozy! They may have been a tad bit too warm for a hot 80 degree day in the mountains, but I can’t wait to wear them when snowshoeing and hiking this winter! Their technical hiker socks run $20 a pair on their website and are currently having a free shipping promo for labor day weekend!

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Extremely happy feet! These socks are also available on Amazon!

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Anyway, Christine and I sat at the top of Indian Head for a while, ate our lunch and took a bunch of crazy pictures since we had the summit to ourselves the entire time.

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It was a day well spent! I would HIGHLY recommend this hike. The hardest part is the distance since you are walking: 8 miles total out and back on the dirt road. The trail itself up to Indian Head was easy.

Indian Head
Total Distance 9.3 miles RT
Total hiking time 5 hours 13 minutes (includes long break on top)
Ascent 1,552′
Elevation 2,634′

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A Lake Weekend and Mineral Sunscreen Review

Last weekend Jordan, his sister Hayley and I went out to their family’s camp on South Hero Island on Lake Champlain in Vermont. It was a fabulous day!  The camp has some amazing views of the Adirondacks!

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The same weekend we also went to Jordan’s friends camp in the Adirondacks at Sacandaga Lake.

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It was the perfect time to try out a new natural mineral SPF 30 sunscreen from Block Island Organics. They recently sent me a bottle of their sunblock to try.

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The main ingredient in this sunscreen is Zinc Oxide, which acts as a UV filter when applied as a layer on top of the skin that is said to scatter, reflect, and absorb broad spectrum ( UVA and UVB) rays and is the most popular ingredient in natural sunscreens.

After trying it out, I really like that this sunblock is natural and free of parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, phthalates, dyes, and fragrance. Also an added bonus: it’s made in USA. A little bit more about the product from their website:

  • Organic and natural ingredients – zinc only
  • SPF 30 & broad spectrum protection decreases the risk of skin cancer & aging
  • Gluten & nano free, vegan formula, eco-friendly (no ingredients shown to harm reefs)
  • Ultra lightweight and non-greasy formula, can be worn under makeup

The only problem with the sunblock, which was an epic fail on my part for not reading the directions completely, was that it was not waterproof! We spent the entire day on Sunday on Lake Sacandaga, boating, tubing,  and going in and out of the water. After I got out, I reapplied the sunblock after I was completely dry and didn’t get burnt on those areas. However, Jordan applied the sunblock while still wet after coming out of the water. It didn’t absorb completely, resulting in a sunburn.

I think this would be a great sunblock to wear under makeup or if you are just out and about during the day and want to protect yourself from the sun. However, if you plan on being out in the water in the direct sun all day, go with a waterproof /sweat proof sunscreen.

Interested in trying out some natural mineral sunscreen? Block Island Organics has offered a 15% off  discount for my readers ! Use coupon code jenm on your order to receive the discount! Offer is good until June 25th! Check out their website to see some of their products!

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Café de Colombia and How to Make Iced Coffee

My favorite way to start the day is sipping a cup of coffee while I get ready for work or school. It is just so relaxing for me! I recently had the opportunity to try some coffee from Cafe de Colombia, coffee straight from Colombia. They really value their coffee beans and are proud of the Colombian farmers that grow the beans.

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(source)

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They sent me an awesome coffee package including a small french press (one of my favorite ways to brew coffee), a mug, and coffee beans!

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I wish you could smell these beans! They smell divine.

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The coffee they sent me was a lighter roast. Normally I drink dark roast coffee, but this was a nice change.I made a cup of hot coffee the other morning, and it was one of the smoothest cups I’ve ever had. It had no bitterness at all and was actually creamy. To learn more about their coffee, check out their website: The Bean Bang Theory.

One of my favorite ways to drink coffee in the summer is cold-brewed. It is actually fairly easy!

Ingredients/Equipment

French Press

Coarsely Ground Coffee

Cold Water

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Instructions

Step 1 – Measure out coffee grinds. For my large 34-oz french press, I scoop out 5 scoops of coffee and add it to the french press.

Step 2- Add cold water and stir

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Step 3 – Cover with tin foil and let sit in the fridge overnight

Step 4 – Take out of fridge in the AM and stir again

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Step 5 – Press the coffee!

Step 6 – Pour and enjoy! This is my absolute favorite way to make iced coffee.

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Cafe de Colombia is going to offer a lucky reader a chance to win some of their coffee! Just leave a comment on this post to enter! I’ll pick a winner in a week.

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Fresh Blenders – Apples – Product Review

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Fresh Blenders, a company that sells bagged fruit for smoothies. Some of the fruit they sell include apples and pears. They sent me two huge bags of apples, both sweet and tart, to try out in my smoothies. Apples are one of my favorite snacks. In fact, I eat one every single day. They really pack a nutritional punch!

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  • Vitamin C – apples contain this powerful natural antioxidant that prevents damage caused by free radicals, as well as boosting the body’s resistance against infectious agents.
  • B-complex vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin B-6) – these vitamins are key in maintaining red blood cells and the nervous system in good health.
  • Dietary fiber – apple skin contains fiber. The British National Health Service says that a diet high in fiber can help prevent the development of certain diseases and may help prevent the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood from rising. It can also promote weight loss because it keeps you full!
  • Phytonutrients – apples are rich in polyphenolic compounds. These phytonutrients help protect the body from the detrimental effects of free radicals.
  • Minerals such as calcium & phosphorus, which are important for bone health; and potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/267290.php)

A little bit about the apples from their website:

Stemilt grows the best Washington apples in the best orchard locations. Here, we grow classic apple varieties like Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious, and new, up-and-coming varieties.

They sent me a bag of the Fujis and a bag of the Granny Smith. I immediately opened the bag and tried a Fuji, it was crisp and sweet! According to Stemilt,

Fresh Fuji Apples

Fuji apples were developed in the late 1930s by growers at the Tohoku Research Station in Morioka, Japan. Fuji apples are a cross between two classic American apple varieties – Red Delicious and Virginia Ralls Janet. This variety is often misspelled as Fugi apples.

The Fuji apple variety was introduced to the United States in the 1960s. Fans of sweet apples adore Fuji because with 15-18% Brix, or sugar levels, it is the sweetest apple around! Fuji apples are also great storing apples, and because of that, are available year-round!

I really liked that the bag stood up in the fridge, making more room for other food on the shelf. These apples were good (but maybe not as good as our NYS apples in the Fall–but I’m biased 😉 ) But since it actually isn’t fall here now, our apples leave little to be desired, so these Washington apples were a great substitute!

They were so good, I ate one every day and unfortunately never had a chance to make a smoothie with them. But in case you want to try a fresh blender apple in a smoothie, here is a recipe from their website:

N0 Dairy Very Berry Smoothie

A refreshing, subtly sweet, dairy-free fruit smoothie that delivers nutritionally where traditional “milkshakes” lack… packed with good-for-you antioxidant properties. Stemilt Fresh Blenders Sweet Apples are the perfect partner to a bevy of berries and luscious almond-milk-based, dairy-free “yogurt.” A touch of honey and a snippet of fresh basil add all the natural sweetness necessary for a pleasingly crisp “milkshake-like” morning beverage.

Ingredients

  • 1 Stemilt Fresh Blenders Sweet Apple, cored and quartered
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 6 large fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 3 to 5 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ cup (or less, as preferred for consistency) unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1, 6-ounce container dairy-free, plain cultured almond milk “yogurt” (like So Delicious)

Directions

Add apple, ice, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, basil, honey, almond milk, and dairy-free “yogurt” to pitcher of high-speed electric blender (one suitable for crushing ice and handling firm textures). Blend on high (or use “smoothie” option, if applicable) for approximately 1 minute. (If necessary, stop machine intermittently to scrape down sides or press ingredients down to remove any air pockets that might impede blending.) Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information

Per Serving: Calories 229.2 (11.8% from fat); Fat 3.0g (sat 0.0g, poly 0.2g, mono 0g); Protein 4.8g; Carbohydrates 48.9g; Fiber 12.2g; Sugar 30.0g; Cholesterol 0.0mg; Potassium 213.8mg; Sodium 128.4mg.

Recipe from Stimelt Fresh Blenders. For the locals, fresh blenders are now available at Price Chopper!

Disclaimer: The company sent me apples free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

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