Favorites from the Week: Spin, Florida, Food

Happy Friday! I’m linkin’ up with Katie’s Friday Favorites today. Thanks, Katie!

Many of my Friday favorites involve events that you have already heard about this week. Although, there is one amazing day that I still have to share about (I won’t forget I promise!).

Some of my Friday Favorites…

1. Spin class with Dana and Dara Torres. A great workout instructed by an olympian with my honey by my side. Sounds nice, right? dara

2. Snacking on Driscoll’s blueberries! So crunchy and sweet and fiberlicious. blueberries

3. Homemade California Rolls with quinoa instead of white rice. This was my first ever attempt at using quinoa instead of white rice in these rolls. I let the quinoa cook for an extended period of time before stirring in a vinegar, honey, salt, and water mixture. The combination of overcooking the quinoa and adding the vinegar mixture made the quinoa perfectly sticky and so easy to use in the rolls. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to white rice! sushi 4. Mini getaway to Orlando with Dana. Sunshine, relaxation, and Disney. 🙂 orlando 5. Salt ‘n Vinegar Blue Diamond Almonds. I mentioned these a couple of days ago I realize, but they make an appearance again because they are SO good. blue diamond almonds

6. The kettle chips from M. Tavern in Orlando. The chips were super crunchy just how I like them. kettle chips 7. Egg salad with avocado. One hard-boiled egg, 1/4 of an avocado, mustard, green onions, and pepper. A perfect snack or addition to your lunch! egg avocado salad 8. Wild Harvest’s Organic Green Chai Tea. (I originally typed green thai chee. A little dyslexic today I guess). 🙂 I’ve been limiting my coffee intake and replacing with tea instead and this has been a morning staple for me. I add a splash of coconut milk creamer too. green chai tea   Friday Favorites

There you have it!

What are some of your Friday favs?

Current breakfast beverage?

Current favorite snack?

Continue Reading Favorites from the Week: Spin, Florida, Food

Spin Class with Dara Torres Again!

You may remember back in September when I had the honor of meeting olympian Dara Torres as she promoted Koss headphones at a spin class in Eden Prairie. She is such an inspirational role model; she is kind, motivated, funny, positive, and so much fun to be around. I was thrilled to have met her!

I feel even more privileged to say that I had the opportunity to attend a spin class with Dara Torres once again this past weekend, and this time my husband Dana got to join me!

She was in town promoting AmLactin lotion, “a clinically proven, intensely hydrating, triple action, patented ULTRAPLEX®formula to gently exfoliate, and three essential ceramides to quickly strengthen the skin’s protective moisture barrier.” source 



photo: source

And she was leading a spin class again! This time she had to take it easy with the spinning because of a broken shin but she still rode along! Yes, a broken shin and she is still on that bike. Such a fighter!

spin with dara

photo: source

The spin class took place at LifeTime fitness in Chanhassen. Holy moly have you seen their facility? It’s like a small city in there. So beautiful!

spin with dara


We rode along to Dara’s energetic playlist as she instructed us through the 50-minute spin class. It got real hot and sweaty in there!

spin with dara

photo: source

dana melanie spin with dara


After an endorphin-filled workout, we had the chance to meet Dara and grab our goodie bag courtesy of AmLactin.


spin with dara

spin with dara Since Dara and I are old friends now, I took the opportunity to introduce her to my husband. 😉 I feel like such a shrimp next to her!


spin with dara


It was yet again a successful spin class led by the one and only Dara Torres herself. I wouldn’t argue with another chance to do it again someday! I am so grateful for this opportunity!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated by AmLactin, LifeTime fitness, or Dara Torres to write this post. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Continue Reading Spin Class with Dara Torres Again!

Weekend Excitement Teaser

Holy moly…WHAT a weekend! How are you guys?!

This weekend was fabulous! I’m sorry to say that today you’re only going to get a breezy teaser recap without many details of the events of the weekend. I hope to devote some major time to some recap posts this week so you can all get the full stories!

I do still want to share a few photos to give you a sneak peek of the excitement (by the way sorry for the excessive exclamation marks but it was a really good weekend)! 🙂


Another visit to Fox 9 news…

fox 9 fox 9 melanie

Another spin class with Dara

dara torres

Chipotle because Chipotle is amazing…


Homemade California rolls…


Escaping the cold weather…

universal studios


Does anyone know where I am in this last photo? Brownie points if you do!

I’m hoping to get to you all sooner than later to fill you in on the fun!

I hope you all had a great weekend!

What was your favorite moment of your weekend?

Continue Reading Weekend Excitement Teaser

Spin Class with Olympian Dara Torres

I couple of months ago, I was contacted by the company Koss; a company that was founded in 1958 when John Koss created the first pair of stereo headphones. They now have a line of headphones, headsets, fit clips, ear buds, and more that have been comprehensively reviewed on whoishuman.

dara torres koss event

Koss has partnered with Olympian Dara Torres to create a new line of ear buds called the Fit Line which includes the Fit Buds, which are designed to be 33% smaller than the normal ear buds, and fit perfectly in women’s smaller ears (and some men’s ears too).

Koss invited me to attend a spin class lead by one of the Cycle Quest instructors, as well as Dara. You better believe I cleared my schedule to make this happen!

Remember when I hosted the giveaway to attend the event a while back? You can read up on some more Dara stats from that post!

So, on Tuesday night I made my way over to Cycle Quest in Eden Prairie, MN. Not only would I be attending my first ever spin class, but I would be working out with Olympian Dara Torres; five time Olympian and 12-time medalist Dara Torres! I don’t know how many times I will have to say it to believe that it really happened.

We were greeted by the lovely staff of Cycle Quest who got us all checked in, gave us a bag of goodies from Koss, and steered us in the right direction towards the locker room and the cycle room.

First stop was the locker room. I had worn a tank top and a t-shirt not knowing exactly which one I would prefer. I had capris on too—that much I knew would be okay. The girls that were there all told me I’m going to want to be in a tank, because I am going to sweat my face off.

So, as I was getting ready in the locker room, guess who walks in? The one. The only. Dara Torres! I was a bit taken back because she was in the normal locker room, not a special locker room just for her, and she was so casual and friendly. She said hey and introduced herself as she used a facial wipe to remove her makeup. Oh my she is so gorgeous and obviously ripped like you wouldn’t believe! What perfect motivation to high tail it during a spin session!

With a giddy grin on my face, I made my way into the cycle room…

dara torres koss event

I was so excited that my Katie was there too! I got to spent all weekend at HLS with her and then I got to see her two days later! WIN!!! She had the brilliant idea to suggest we get a pre-workout/non-sweaty photo with Dara. Dara happy obliged. Yes, she is super tall. Yes, I still have the giddy smile.

dara torres koss event

We all got settled onto our bikes and I had a sweet member of the Cycle Quest team teach me how to adjust the seat, change gears, and get my feet all strapped in.

dara torres koss event

I was dead front row center with Katie by my side and a handful of other bloggers surrounding me. There were also a number of Cycle Quest instructors who took the spin class too. It was a full class and I was so pumped to get started!

dara torres koss event

dara torres koss event

Katie and I started a warm-up ride while Dara and the Cycle Quest instructor finished getting set up in front.

dara torres koss event dara torres koss event

We all wore a pair of the Koss Fit Clips (photo is at the top of this post) and the music as well as the voices of the instructors were streamed through the Fit Clips. These things are SO comfortable! They fit behind your ear and have a bud that sits in your ear. They didn’t move a smidge once I got them suctioned into my ear, even with the insane amount of sweat going on.

Dara played a killer playlist which really helped to keep me pumped throughout the entire session. We have very similar taste in music and I had so much fun singing and dancing along to the tunes.

I wasn’t able to hang on to my phone throughout the spin class (my hands were too wet with sweat to handle a phone anyway!) so I don’t have any photos during the actual spin portion. Let me tell you though, being that this was my first spin class, I am now obsessed with it! I loved the intensity of the workout and also loved how it was so low impact (I will be writing a post hopefully in the near future about my latest thoughts regarding my physical activity). Just like the girls said, I did seriously sweat my face off, and my buns, and my legs. Everything. We were all dripping sweat by the end of the workout. I loved it.

After the class, we had the opportunity to chat with Dara again. It was like hanging out with a friend. She was so easy to talk to. We were asking her about her recent knee surgery (just 9 days ago) as well as where she keeps her medals and what her plans were for when she was in the area. All of her responses were extremely genuine, and she really took the time to talk with us. It never felt rushed or forced; just natural.

dara torres koss event

I was thrilled to meet some new blog friends and see some old ones too! 🙂

As if meeting Dara and getting to participate in a free spin class wasn’t enough, we were also sent home with a whole bag of goodies. Another swag bag! How do I deserve this?! In the bag were three adorable tops: a 3/4 length hoodie, a coral tee, and a bright neon yellow tank. I am in love with all three of them. I also go to take home the pair of Fit Clips I wore in the class along with a pair of the Fit Buds to try! ANnnnndddd….Koss Corporation even wrote us all hand-written notes, thanking us for attending the class and acknowledging that they had checked out our blogs! Not to mention, I also got a pass to attend another Cycle Quest class. I just may need to go back!

dara torres koss event

dara torres koss event

Talk about being spoiled.

This was such an incredible opportunity and I want to thank Koss Corporation, Dara Torres, and Cycle Quest for inviting me to be a part of this event. I can’t wait to try out the Fit Buds and to get my cycle on again!

Disclaimer: This was a free opportunity given to me by Koss Corporation. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading Spin Class with Olympian Dara Torres

Four Bean Quinoa Chili & GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

Well, hello there! Happy Friday!

Who wants some of this? four bean quinoa chili

I have LOTS of leftovers around here! This always winds up happening to me…I have the intention of making a small pot of chili, or soup, or anything really, and it turns into a humongo amount. Lucky for me soup freezes well and I have an extra freezer in the garage.

I know some of you out there probably think I’m totally crazy for making chili on a 95+ degree day, but it’s not like I slaved over it in kitchen. I let the crock pot do the majority of the work for me.

Here’s how I did it…

I chopped up the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and lightly sautéed them in a small amount of olive oil on the stove top for 5-7 minutes (more detailed instructions below). I then transferred the veggies to the crock pot along with all other remaining ingredients except the beans. I used canned beans and I didn’t want them to get too soggy and/or mushy by adding them too early.


I actually let this whole concoction sit together overnight only because I knew I wouldn’t have time to throw this together in the morning, but you could most definitely do this all the morning of.

Since I did let this mingle overnight, it allowed for my quinoa to soak for a long time before cooking, which can aid in digestion. Again, this is a step you can skip if you would like.

The next day I gave it all a stir and turned the crock pot on low at 12:00 pm (this is still without the beans and chiles). This mingled in the crock pot for four hours.

Then I added the beans and the chiles (you could add the chiles to the ingredients that were already in the crock pot, I just kind of forgot/got too lazy to open up the can I guess!


Three hours later when we arrived home, I did some final taste testing, added some additional seasoning, and gave it one last stir.chlii

I chopped some cilantro and fresh avocado to top off the chili.

I got’er all served up!


And I devoured.  chili


You can add any other toppings you like—cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt, green onions, etc!

So pretty, right? Call me crazy but I can eat chili any time of the year no matter how hot it is. Now, if I didn’t have air conditioning, we would be talking a whole different ball game.

Four Bean Quinoa Chili
Serves: 12
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 3 cup chicken broth**
  • 2½ Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp smoky paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sprinkle of garlic powder
  • **you could substitute vegetable stock and make this recipe 100% vegan
  • sprinkle of onion powder
  • 1-15 oz can black beans
  • 1-15 oz can chili beans
  • 1-15 oz can red kidney beans
  • 1-15 oz can white kidney beans
  • 1-4 oz can of diced green chiles
  • cilantro (optional topping)
  • avocado (optional topping)
  1. Lightly saute onions, garlic, carrots, and celery on the stove top for 5-7 minutes.
  2. In a large crockpot, add the sautéed vegetables, quinoa, broth, and all spices. Stir, cover, and turn crockpot on low. Let this go for 4 hours.
  3. After 4 hours add in the beans and chiles and stir. Recover and let cook for another 2-3 hours.
  4. Give it one last stir and taste test to make sure seasonings are spot on. Add additional seasonings if desired.
  5. Serve in pretty bowls and top with cilantro and avocado!
  6. Enjoy!


What do you think? Am I crazy for making hot chili on a super hot summer day? Do you ever eat soup in the summer?


Now, to those of you hanging around to find out if you are the winner of the Dara Torres meet and greet, spin class, and free ear buds, your wait ends here.

The two winners are:

1. Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate

2. Stacy Elling

Congrats you two! I will get an email out to both of you with the details of the event!! Thank you all of you who entered!

HApppppppppyyyy Friday!!

Continue Reading Four Bean Quinoa Chili & GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

Meet Olympian Dara Torres and Win Free EarBuds {Giveaway–CLOSED}

Happy Monday! Have I got a treat for you. I do have a lot to catch you up on from the weekend, but it’s going to have to wait til later in the week.

First, let me introduce you to Dara Torres…

dara torres 2

To those of you who may not know Dara:

Dara Torres is arguably the fastest female swimmer in America. She entered her first international swimming competition at age 14 and competed in her first Olympic Games a few years later in 1984.

At the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, Dara became the oldest swimmer to compete in the Olympic Games. When she took three silver medals home – including the infamous heartbreaking 50-meter freestyle race where she missed the Gold by 1/100th of a second – America loved her all the more for her astonishing achievement and her good-natured acceptance of the results.

In total, Dara has competed in five Olympic Games and has won 12 medals in her entire Olympic career. Her impressive performance in Beijing and her attempt at the 2012 London Olympic Games has inspired many older athletes to consider re-entering competition, including cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Aside from her amazing accomplishments in the pool, Dara has talents on dry land as well. A composed commentator, guest host and strong interviewee, she has appeared on such shows as Fox News, ESPN, CNN, Piers Morgan Tonight, Today Show, Good Morning America, Kelly and Regis, and many others. Additionally, Dara was the first female athlete ever to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and in 2009, won the ESPY award for “Best Comeback.” To add to Dara’s accolades, she was also named one of the “Top Female Athletes of the Decade” by Sports Illustrated Magazine.

Now a top-selling author, her memoir, “Age is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage in Your Life,” published in April, 2009 and was listed as one of the top 25 best-selling business books by June. Her second book, “Gold Medal Fitness: A Revolutionary 5-Week Program” hit stands in May, 2010 and is now a New York Times Best-Seller.

Olympian, author, mother, and role model, Dara Torres is many things to many people, but above all, she is an inspiration.”


Besides all of the aforementioned list of achievements, she has also more recently partnered with a headphone company called Koss.

The line she is working on is called Koss FitBuds and they are the smallest earbuds Koss has ever created. The buds are only six millimeters in diameter, making them 33 percent smaller than the average Koss earbud. The elements are surrounded by a dual-injected, soft-rubberized housing intended to fit perfectly in the female ear. The FitBuds feature a sweat-resistant coating and come in fun colors!

dara torres koss headphones

The FItBuds are:

  • Ideal for active women
  • Sweat resistant
  • Ultra lightweight
  • Extreme durability
  • Covered under the Limited Lifetime Warranty

Source: www.koss.com

dara torres

Giveaway Time!

How would you like a chance to meet Dara?!

I am giving away two entries to Minnesotans or to anyone willing to drive to Minnesota to not only meet Dara, but also take a spin class with her, get a free pair of FitBuds and a free gift bag from Koss!

  •  60 minute spin class taught by local instructors
  • A pair of Koss Fit Series headphones to use during the event and a pair to take home
  •  A gift bag from Koss
  • The opportunity to meet and workout with Dara Torres, a five time Olympian and 12-time medalist.

dara torres

The dates and times for the classes are as follows:

Option 1:

Tuesday, September 17
4:45 pm – 5:45 pm
Eden Prairie

Option 2:

Wednesday, September 18
11:45 am – 12:45 pm

*Winner will need to inform me of option/location they would like to attend. Exact locations will be revealed to giveaway winners.

Doesn’t this sound like a blast! I plan on being there, too!

Enter to win! 

To enter to win, comment on this post telling me why you would love to win this giveaway. Earn an extra entry by tweeting, “I want to meet Dara Torres! I entered to win at http://wp.me/p2J5VV-2dX.” Be sure to leave an extra comment on my post so that I know you tweeted.

I will announce the winner on Friday, August 30th! Edited: Contest closes at 12:00 am central time zone on Friday August 30th. 

Continue Reading Meet Olympian Dara Torres and Win Free EarBuds {Giveaway–CLOSED}