Category Archives: Reviews

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone-Buy Wine at Aldi

Step Out of your Comfort Zone

I heard there was an award winning bottle of wine available at our local Aldi grocery store. (Or, here in Ohio, it’s always called * Aldis*.  It’s a Buckeye thing.)


Shopping at Aldi

We’ve shopped at Aldi since they popped up here in Ohio. They used to be more of a bulk food type store. The food items were left on pallets. You brought your own bags-or bought them at the store. There were very good prices on most food items.


Aldi Remodel

It seems most Aldi stores were remodeled in the last few years, and the concept of the store has changed a bit. Prices are higher. Items are placed on shelves now.  There is more environmental friendly lighting and organic products available. I’ve read the company is starting to copy the Whole Foods 365 model.

Wine at Aldi

Some Aldi stores carry wine. We’ve tried a few bottles from the store-why resist a 4.99 bottle of wine? What do you have to lose?

Aldi Rose

The Award Winning Wine

The  Cotes de Provence 2016 Rose earned a silver medal at the International Wine Challenge. The rose is a blend of syrah, grenache, and cinsault grapes.



It was good. Light, with a bit of a strawberry flavor, but not sweet. Yes it as probably the best 7.99 Rose I’ve had. I did not do a blind taste test like this article did, and they concluded they couldn’t taste the difference. So why not take a chance on eight bucks and buy a bottle? But buy it now, this was a special purchase~and drink it today, rose wine is not meant to be cellared!

Aldi Rose Wine



Favorite Podcasts 2017 Edition

Favorite Podcasts 2017 Edition

It is September 30, which is International Podcast Day.  It is time to share my new favorite podcasts for 2017.Podcast Day

Some of my listening has shifted due to changes in my life. I’m no longer running but still striving to keep a active outside lifestyle.

Pedalshift  A bi-monthly podcast by Tim Mooney, it is focused on bike touring. I have picked up many tips listening to the podcasts. It helped that Tim is based in the DC area and is quite knowledgeble about both the C&O Towpath Trail and the Great Allegheny Passage Trail.

Outside In A Show About the  natural world and how we use it. Highly produced by New Hampshire Public Radio. I really enjoyed “Always Wear Earth Tones” about a man who lived outside for nearly two decades before he was found out.

Science Vs Presented by Gimlet Media, Science Vs takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.  Sometimes it’s fun to just have a random podcast about whether nuclear energy is safe, or whether lemmings actually commit suicide-Science Vs will find out and present the facts.

The Intelligent Racer Podcast I didn’t know about this podcast until they interviewed Gary Robbins and John Kelly of The Barkley Marathons. They get all sorts of people on their podcast, including Ryan Sandes who won Western States in 2017, and Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman.

XX Will Travel  Another “new to me” podcast I stumbled across.  A podcast for independent women travelers, many assorted shows on different subjects, reviews of cities and countries,

Women on the Road-somewhat of a spin off of the She Explores Podcast, interviews with women who are living on the road, usually in a van set up.

Wild Ideas Worth Living informative podcast interviews about people who have set big goals for themselves and achieved them,  usually in some manner about the natural world and adventure.

Any new and noteworthy podcasts for me to take a listen to?



Happy Birthday Alexander Hamilton!

There’s a million things he hasn’t done-but it’s another birthday! Of course he’s a Capricorn!

(I have a few affiliate links to Amazon. If you click through and buy, I get a few pennies. 🙂 )

Alexander Hamilton Podcasts

Alexander Hamilton is probably THE favorite most popular Founding Father of the day. If you don’t know much about Hamilton-the guy on the ten dollar bill-Ron Chernow has written a great biography about him.

He was our first Treasury Secretary.  That sounds really boring. He set up the way our country functions 240 years ago that we still use today. He invented the Coast Guard.

Lin-Manuel Miranda read Chernow’s biography and wrote, produced, and starred in the Broadway hit: Hamilton An American Musical.

Yes, you can take the life of a Founding Father and turn it into a charming awesome production about an orphan immigrant who makes good-then is murdered in a duel by the Vice President of the United States.


There are four  podcasts about Hamilton and Hamilton An American Musical:

Pod4Ham: Pod4Ham is a podcast that’s all about the musical “Hamilton,” taking it one track at a time. Every episode will features different groups of people talking about a single track from the Original Broadway Cast Recording.  Yes, you can spend thirty or forty minutes talking about one song!

The Hamilcast: I call this the FanGirl Podcast, meant in a very positive funny fashion. From their website: “In this American podcast about an American musical about a bastard orphan, we (your hosts Gillian Pensavalle and Bianca Soto) talk all things Hamilton including how it brings people together, how we find Ham references in everyday life, and the general brilliance of the show.”  

The Room Where It’s Happening This podcast also takes each song from the Original Broadway Cast Recording (don’t call it a soundtrack: it’s not) and discusses it.  Travon Free and Mike Drucker  host this with special super-fan actors, musicians, writers, and comedians,

Hamilton The Podcast on Graphomania

This also is a nice podcast on the musical.  Join Robbie Hurlocker and Vinton Bayne as they discuss Hamilton, a hip hop musical based on the life and times of the first treasury secretary of America. I really enjoy how the hosts are knowledgeable about hip-hop and rap, two music genres I don’t know anything about.


More Hamilton and American Revolution History Podcasts

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Tracy Wilson and Holly Fray have several episodes that if you are interested in the Hamilton era:

Hercules Mulligan  5/9/16 and 5/11/16 Podcasts

The Reynolds Pamphlet Live 11/2/16

You need to check out their listings, it’s extensive and interesting!

The Junto Cast is a podcast with a more scholarly approach, produced monthly.  Each episode features a roundtable discussion by academic historians, Ken Owen, Michael Hattem, Roy Rogers, and guest panelists, exploring a single aspect of early American history in depth.

Several Hamilton episodes:

The Election of 1800  11/5/16

Alexander Hamilton 10/15/2015 and 11/2/2015

Founder in Early American 1/28/15

The Early American Presidents 2/27/2014

Did I miss any Hamilton podcasts or episodes on another show? Please let me know, I would love to listen!

My Top 10 List of Historic Awesome Female Runners

Historic Women Runners: My Top Ten Picks

top 10 female runners

As a tribute to Women History Month, I thought I would list a few of “historic women runners” and why I feel they warrant the mention.

This is not an all encompassing list, and it is slanted toward US runners. A few of the names came to mind very quickly.  This list  favors the time period where I became a runner or interested in running.

  1. Kathrine Switzer-a name that should be familiar to all. Women didn’t use to run marathons-they weren’t allowed to! Switzer entered the Boston Marathon using the initials K.V Switzer.  There is the iconic picture of Switzer being attacked by the co-Race Director after he found out a female was running the marathon.   This was the beginning of opening marathons to both sexes. Switzer won the 1974 NYC Marathon and has been involved in promoting and empowering women through running in her entire career.
  2. Ann Trason-female with the most ultra wins ever. Nobody is coming to be able to reproduce or top her stunning achievements. She won Western States 14 times; Thirteen times in top 10 overall at Western States; Comrades Marathon twice; Leadville four times; 100K World Championships twice; and set 20 world records.  Check out her results on Ultrasignup: all you are going to see are first (and a few second) place finishes.  Nobody is going to be able to repeat this.  Trason is back on the running scene after a long injury hiatus.
  3. Joan Benoit Samuelson-American woman who won the Gold at the first marathon for females at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics! Joan is still running strong; she qualified and ran at the Olympic Trials in 2008, running a sub 2.50, and also ran in 2009 the NYC Marathon still running a sub 2.50.  Still running a sub 2.50 at age fifty! Amazing!
  4. Deena Kastor-Kastor was the running star on the running scene when I first started running.  Who could forget her Bronze Olympic medal, where she was running somewhere midpack, 28th at the 5K mark, and then steadily just picked off her competition, one by one, to end up 3rd in the 2004 Greek Olympic games.
  5. Paula Radcliffe-her World Record in the marathon still holds from 2003 at 2:15:25. Her record at the 2003 London marathon smashed her own previous world record by one minute and 53 seconds, a HUGE time amount to shave off a marathon time.  She won the London and New York City Marathons each three times and the Chicago Marathon once. She still holds the world 10K record of 30.21.
  6. Wilma Rudolph was an Olympic champion.  Rudolph was considered the fastest woman in the world in the 1960s and competed in two Olympic Games  in 1956 and in 1960.  She was the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic game. As a member of the black community, she is also regarded as a civil rights and women’s rights pioneer.  Rudolph had polio as a child and wore a brace on her right leg. Talk about overcoming adversity!
  7. Florence Griffith Joyner and her sister in law Jackie Joyner Kersee were the Olympic track stars when I first started watching the Olympics games.  Joyner took home 3 gold medals, the 4X100 meter relay and the 100 and 200 meter runs (those real fast runs!) as well as a silver medal in the 4 X 400 meter relay.  The records that she set in 1988 for the 100 and 200 meter still stand!
  8. Catherine Nderebra is a Kenyan marathon runner. She has twice won the marathon at the World Championships and won silver  in the Olympics in 2004 and 2008. She has won the Boston Marathon four times and the Chicago Marathon twice.  “Catherine the Great” Ndereba broke the women’s marathon record in 2001, running 2:18:47 at the Chicago Marathon, the first ever sub 2.19 marathon run by a woman.
  9.  Nikki Kimball is an American ultra runner. She ran her first 100-mile race at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in 2004 and won it.  She was the winning female at Western States again in 2005 and 2007, becoming only the third woman to win Western States three times. In 2014, she won the Marathon Des Sables multi-stage endurance race on her first attempt.  She has won Leadville 100 in 2005, the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in 2007, Tahoe Rim Trail 2008, and Run Rabbit Run in 2014.  She holds the Fastest Known Time (FKT) on the Long Trail in Vermont for a female completing the 273 miles in 5 days, 7 hours and 42 minutes.
  10.  Grete Waitz was a Norwegian marathon runner and former world record holder. She was the first female in history to complete the New York City Marathon in under two and half hours. She won nine New York City Marathons, more than any runner in history.  She won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics and a gold medal at the 1983 World Championships. Her other marathon victories included winning the London Marathon in 1983 and 1986. Waits helped spur on women entering the marathon distance for running.

Who is on your list as historic female runners?

Groundhog Day: Favorite time travel books

(This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the book, it will take you to Amazon, where I will earn a few cents toward my next wine bottle. I do have a privacy & disclosure tab at the top!)


In honor of GroundHog Day, my favorite time travel books!

Gobblers Knob

Everyone has seen “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray who is forced to wake up every day to Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You Babe” and relive February Second over and over again. This year I paid homage to time travel, giving you my favorite time travel novels.

Back in Time

I love a good time travel book.  My favorite in the genre of the Groundhog Day movie is “Replay” by Ken Grimwood.
Jeff feels himself dying at age 43, only to regain consciousness as himself at age nineteen, in the 60’s.  He does “die” again, same date, and wakes up again, as himself, a few years older.  He chooses to live out each “life” in a different way. A good read and re-read.

Favorite Time Travel Book: Doomsday Book

My favorite time travel book (and one of my top reads ever)  is “Doomsday Book” by Connie Willis.   Set in the near future, the University regularly sends scholars back in time to study history. Kivrin is set to go back to the middle ages, when she gets sent back to the  wrong decade, which is the start of the bubonic plague.  The book flashes between Kivrin’s dealing with this horrific sickness, and her professor trying to get the equipment and people in place to go rescue her, in the middle of their modern influenza crisis.  The first time reading this, I couldn’t put it down as I got to the end. Awesome read and re-read.



Another book where the protagonist deliberately goes into the past is 11/22/63   by Stephen King. King novels have gotten way too wordy for me, but I actually read this entire book of his. After Jake’s first visit to the past of 1958, he find that he can keep returning to the past.  He goes back again and again to try and prevent the assassination  of John F Kennedy.

No Control Time Travel

Two books where the protagonist has no control over their time travel: “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and “Kindred”.


Time Traveler’s Wife Imagine being married and in love with a man who pops up in and out of your life and leaves you. He has no control over this!  A beautiful written book. I couldn’t read it more than once, the sad ending was too close to home for me.


Kindred by Octavia Butler  was a new book  to me as I surfed for time travel books.  Dana is yanked back in time in order to save a young white boy from drowning in the mid 1800s.  It turns out that this young man is an old ancestor of hers. Dana  is a young black woman from the 1970s.  She is involuntarily brought back to the plantation where her ancestor lives, in order to save his life over and over.  She has to spend time on the plantation, living life as a slave, until she can be sure her future generation is born, therefore knowing her own life will continue.

Outlander OF COURSE

A very popular time travel book series (and now TV series) is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon  Claire travels back in time, meets Jamie, a Scottish highlander, and eventually has to choose between living in her time, the 20th century, and his time.  There are now many books in the series now and it’s a fun romantical adventure.  These tomes do become a bit wordy over the years, but I still like reading them.  I have watched the HBO series and will probably watch the upcoming season too.


Do you have any time travel book recommendations? Let’s hear them!

Review: Mamma Chia Energy Drink

Review: Mamma Chia Energy Drink

I was given some samples of Mamma Chia Energy Drink, and here is my review of them: Mamma Chia Energy Drinks


Drink One-I drank this one during my 50K at URINEO.  The taste was good.  BUT just so you know, if you are not familiar with the gelatinous nature of chia seeds it might be a turn off.  I drank this in the middle of the ultra, hoping to not have any untoward gi side effects. It did not!

Drink Two: I took the grape flavor to work,

Grape Mamma Chia Energy Drink

Grape Mamma Chia Energy Drink

and drank it about hour eight into my ten hour shift. I was going running after work.  Running right after work is my hardest time to work out-I’m usually tired from work, the late afternoon is my low spot of energy.

So I sampled my grape drink. Wow, it was tasty! A nice grape flavor, and the gelatinous matter of the drink did not bother me so much. I felt pretty good getting out of work to get my run on! As the website says “A super-healthy way to start the day as well as the perfect afternoon pick-me-up!”

Mamma Chia Energy drink has natural caffeine from guayusa. Guayusa is found in the leaves of the holly berry tree native to the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador.  As I drank it, I did feel a bit refreshed and more perky! The drink went down easily and I felt refreshed, with a bit more energy than I would have gotten from a Diet Coke. Mama Chia energy drink also has:

  • More than an entire day’s worth of Omega-3s (2500 mg)
  • 25 percent of one’s daily fiber (6 grams)
  • 4 grams of complete protein
  • 90 mg of natural caffeine (about as much in an 8 oz. cup of coffee)
  • Twice the antioxidants of a cup of green tea
  • Calcium, powerful antioxidants and valuable minerals
  • 120 calories

I drank the raspberry Clean Energy the next day, also before a run, and enjoyed the little perk of energy I got from the beverage.

Having another run to complete on New Years Eve Day, I drank my remaining drink before my 13 mile run. I didn’t really notice the same “pick me up” that I got drinking the beverage at work versus just before a run, but I still enjoyed the beverage.

Retailing for $2.99, the Clean Energy organic beverages are available in four flavors and will be available at select retailers, including Whole Foods, Safeway and Target, starting in January.

Verdict: I enjoyed the taste of the Clean Energy Drink. My only con with the product that it has to be refrigerated, as I wouldn’t mind taking these on an ultra. But if I came across these in the grocery store, I would buy one or two for a mid-afternoon pick me up!

Mamma Chia provided the Clean Energy drinks for my review. My thoughts on the product are my own opinion.