Benefits of Group Running

Before I moved to Chicago I never ran with a group. Occasionally I would run with a friend, but I rarely ran with more than one person (with the exception of races, of course). While I prefer to run alone for the most part  I love my me time and listening to music or Audible books  I was reminded last week of the benefits of running with a group.

  • Motivation and accountability. It was 30-something degrees on a dark November night. I was hungry and cold, and I was easily persuading myself to skip the group run. I could always run on the treadmill in my building, I said. But would I push myself? I knew the answer would be no that day, so I rushed to the group run meeting place and joined them for 3.5 miles. I was glad I stuck with it because I needed the inspiration to run. My fellow runners’ excitement for running was contagious! By asking friends to run with you or joining an organized group, you gain inspiration, accountability for showing up and lots of tips from others! Plus, you will know you are not alone in any securities you might have about running, like your speed.
  • Challenging yourself/improved speed. It was my first run that was more than 2 miles in weeks, so the run was difficult for me. I had all sorts of muscle tightness throughout my first weeks of pregnancy, and midway during the run it became worse. Later that night I felt so much tightness that I could hardly walk. I worried that I had injured myself by pushing too hard, but I awoke the next morning to see that any tension I had felt was gone. The run and postrun stretching had helped work that out! I was proud to have pushed myself to run faster than I had in almost two months. When you run by yourself, you might stick to your typical pace and never challenge yourself to go faster. It’s smart to occasionally run with people who will push you to speed up just a tad. You might surprise yourself!
  • Friendship. The running community is welcoming. I enjoyed the companionship and conversation among the runners at my pace during my last group run. One of them was the first person I met at a meetup in 2015 when I first moved to Chicago. Her warm welcome kept me coming back, and I’ve met other wonderful friends at these meetups since then.
  • Mixing it up. We took a different route from the usual path, and we ate at a new restaurant. It was a nice change from always running to and from the lake, or on the Chicago Lakefront path. Running the same route can get boring, so it’s important to add some variety to your workouts.

The best part about group running is that fellow runners are your cheering section. You’ll get high-fives and encouragement when you need it. If you have to stop mid-run, someone will wait for you. I highly recommend it!

I don’t know how I will feel throughout this pregnancy but I hope that I can attend these group runs at least once a month for all the reasons I listed above.

Do you enjoy working out solo or with others? What’s your current favorite workout?

Related posts:

How to start running | Chicago Marathon 2016 recap

A Drone Gender Reveal

I’m so excited to finally share the gender of Baby Flora.

We brought out our DJI Mavic Pro for a quick little video to announce that we’re having a …

Thanks to anyone who has left well wishes on my social media pages.

Johnnyswim at Vic Theatre | Why You Should See Them in Concert

Graham and I looooove Johnnyswim. The husband and wife duo have incredible voices and are such talented songwriters. Their song “Take the World” was our first dance song at our wedding, and we listen to their music all the time.

I bought tickets for last Friday’s show months ago and we’ve been anticipating the show ever since. They played a sold out show at the Vic Theatre in Chicago, a gorgeous venue. The best moments:

  • Johnnyswim’s openers were so fun! Striking Matches are a duo from Nashville that were energetic and played so well!
  • Abner and Amanda always go into the audience for at least a song.
  • Johnnyswim mix up their songs, transitioning into the next so perfectly and never being dull.
Tickets for the show were mostly general admission for about $34. You could also buy VIP passes to get into the theater earlier and meet them before the show. We skipped those because we met them in the past (for free) after a show, but I found myself wishing we had purchased them the night of the show. The Vic Theatre is set up so that each little section of the main floor is raised a little higher than the one in front of it, so if you’re short you can still see if you try to stand close to the railing. That’s what I did and I had a perfect view!

We take everything opportunity to see them live, and I’m sharing why you should see them play live before they get even bigger:

  • Their music is damn good.
  • They sound even better in person.
  • They involve the audience in the show.
  • They typically perform in intimate settings.
  • Tickets are affordable; prices don’t do them justice.
  • They sometimes bring their adorable son Joaquin or good friends (like Steph Curry) onstage.
My favorite Johnnyswim songs:
  • “Take the World”
  • “Home”
  • “Diamonds”
  • “Heart Beats”
  • “Don’t Let It Get You Down”
  • “Summertime Romance”
  • “Annie”
  • “Adelina”
  • “You and I”
  • “Live While We’re Younger”

Listen to Johnnyswim:

Hit shuffle and enjoy!

Holiday Season Check List

It may seem like I want to skip Thanksgiving and get to Christmas, but it’s not true. I am, however, slightly over fall decor and ready to make that switch. I love this time of year because there’s so much to look forward to and lots of fun activities to do.

Here’s what I plan to do in November and December:

  • Go to a tree lighting.
  • Send Christmas cards.
  • Participate in a Secret Santa exchange.
  • Give back. We like to pick an Angel tag (or a similar program) and buy gifts for children.
  • Bake cookies. (And other treats!)
  • Watch NYE fireworks.
  • Sip hot chocolate and see holiday lights.
  • Watch a Thanksgiving parade.
  • Go to a Christmas market. (Christkindlmarket is expanding to the Park at Wrigley (Field) in Chicago and I can’t wait to visit!)
  • Ice skating. (Not sure I will be able to, but Graham and Victoria can!)
  • Catch a holiday show at the theater.
Also: Take V to see Santa and catch the CTA holiday train (in Chicago).

What would you add to this list? What’s your favorite thing to do?

Fun Subscription, Membership and Experience Gifts

** This post contains affiliate links. I am compensated for purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Floradise!



I’m a big fan of giving experiences and subscriptions as gifts. Many of us have people in our lives who own so much stuff that you don’t know what they could possibly want or need. Giving classes, tickets and memberships won’t add to their clutter and will instead create fun memories or help them achieve a goal. I like subscriptions as well because they are a nice way to try out products and don’t necessarily need to be recurring; even a monthlong subscription can be thoughtful, unique and appreciated.

Some recent memberships, subscriptions and experiences that have caught my eye:


Yogi Surprise: I tried this yoga-themed subscription box earlier this year and I enjoyed trying new products. Yogi Surprise offers both lifestyle and jewelry boxes. The prices for each include shipping and are as follows: $24.95 for the jewelry subscription box and $44.95 for the lifestyle box. The lifestyle box I received contained six full-size yoga-lifestyle inspired items. The jewelry subscription box contains two handmade (and fair trade) pieces and an organic treat. The retail value of each lifestyle box is $70 or more, while the jewelry box has a value of $65 or more. I found the box to be a nice trial of many yoga brands. (Read about my box here.) You can also get $25 off your first box with code YOGI25.

Newspaper or magazine print/digital subscription: Friends/family who are obsessed with current events, a particular subject or popular culture may appreciate a subscription to a news outlet or magazine. I gifted Graham a New York Times print and then digital-only subscription for Christmas last year that we still have. He reads articles throughout the day and appreciates being informed.

Headspace: I started using Headspace over the summer when I was feeling overwhelmed and needed a change. You start with just three minutes a day of meditation and the sessions sometimes include animated videos on how to meditate. It’s a nice way to start the day or regain peace of mind during the workday. A bonus: Gift a meditation subscription and a subscription will be given to someone in need.

Audible: I love my Audible subscription! I have listened to many self-improvement books this year that I highly recommend. You can gift three-, six-, or 12-month subscriptions to the bookworm in your life or anyone with a long commute. I also like listening to books sometimes during workouts. (Read more about them here.) 

ClassPass membership: Fitness fanatics would love the ability to try different classes in their city, from yoga to crossfit to boxing. It’s a great way to try out new studios before deciding to commit to a workout. Or they can just keep switching up their workouts! It’s a good idea to check how many studios are available in their area first, though. Other fun options: Rock-climbing gym passes or trapeze school gift cards!

BumpBox: I had never heard of this subscription until it was gifted to me by my friend. I loved the idea! The first trimester box I received contained items to alleviate morning sickness as well as other cute things. It had Preggie Pops, a nausea bracelet, a bath bomb, a ginger drink mix to help with nausea, belly stickers for photos, and a water bottle. I love the idea of gifting this to a friend who is expecting just to show you’re thinking of her. (I mentioned this in a recent favorites post.)

Museum/zoo/attraction membership: Especially in a city like Chicago that has a ton of attractions, a membership to a museum would be so thoughtful and would help the recipient(s) stay entertained while saving cash. This is perfect for people who just moved to a city, newlyweds, families  anyone!

Dabble gift cards: I used to be a Super Dabbler, aka ambassador, because I love Dabble.co classes so much! I still do. You can buy gift certificates from $20-$500 so that your friends/loved ones can experience knife-throwing, terrarium making, sushi rolling, photography and so much more. Find links to my Dabble class experiences here and get 10 percent off (while promo still works) using my ambassador link. (I am not compensated for signups through this link; I just want to save you cash!)

Have you tried any of these memberships/subscriptions? Would you give any of them as gifts?

5 Onesie Pajamas to Keep You Warm This Winter

** This post contains affiliate links. I am compensated for purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Floradise!

All images via Target

Lately I’ve been all about comfort. All I want to do is lounge around in the coziest of pajamas. It doesn’t help that it’s been gray and in the 30s and 40s, either. I currently only have one onesie  a pancake-stack print  and I recently bought the most comfortable pair of pajama pants from the Gilligan and O’Malley brand, but I want more. More! Today I’m sharing what I think are the most adorable onesie pajama options at Target. Consider this my onesie pajama wish list! These are all super affordable, too. (Some of these were recently on sale for only $20. While that sale is over, look for more deals as the holiday shopping season ramps up.)

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  • Elephant: Because elephants are one of my favorite animals.
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Penguins: These just scream cozy Netflix marathon.
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Which onesie is your favorite? Are you a fan of onesies?

My Ancestry DNA Experience and Results

** This is not a sponsored post; however, this post contains a referral link for Ancestry that is rewarded with Amazon gift cards. Thank you for supporting Floradise!



I’ve always been curious about my heritage and where specifically my ancestors are from. Often when Graham and I travel we get questions about my ethnicity and I’ve accidentally been given local discounts because some people have assumed I am a member of a certain tribe or that I am from the area rather than a visitor. That was always surprising to me, but I have also always wondered exactly where I am from. Graham and I recently purchased DNA kits from Ancestry to try to find out.

Graham has yet to take his saliva sample, but I was able to finally do mine a couple of weeks ago. I paid $79 for my DNA kit and additional kits were $69. I used my sister’s referral link, which got her a $10 Amazon gift card. To take the test, the first step is to activate your kit online. Also, you can’t eat, drink, smoke or chew gum for 30 minutes before doing the test. Once you are ready, you fill the sample tube to the indicated line and then close the tube. You then twist to tighten the cap until the blue stabilizing solution drops into your sample. You shake the tube for 5 seconds and then it’s ready to place into the little collection bag and mail it back to the lab in the enclosed mailing box. (These directions are printed on a card inside your kit.)

You receive an email when the lab has received your kit and you can track where the kit is in the process. Initially the email estimated it could take six to eight weeks to receive my results, but the lab received my kit on October 20 and I had my results November 1. Not too shabby!

My results:

My ethnicity estimate indicated 49 percent Native American from Northwest Mexico and the Southern California Coast, 19 percent Iberian Peninsula, 9 percent Ireland/Scotland/Wales, and 7 percent Middle East and 3 percent Africa North. The rest were low confidence regions.

I found it interesting how many of my DNA matches were from Sonora, Mexico, and California. It seems my family members have stayed in the same general area. The ethnicity timeline for that area goes back to the 1700s. It says:

Survivors on the Spanish Frontier


Early settlers who followed the narrow corridor between the mountains and the ocean to the northern frontier tamed the farthest reaches of the Spanish Empire. They were generally cut off from the rest of Mexico, often enduring temperatures greater than 100 degrees, and surviving as silver miners and farmers. The Jesuits, a Catholic monastic order, built churches, schools, and strong communities that made religion the center of daily life. During the late 1700s, residents faced frequent raids by Native American tribes.

While I was excited to learn my results, I wish I could know specifically which Native American tribes vs. the general area they lived in. I am more interested in knowing that, though I am not sure how to go about finding out. However, I was happy about the number of DNA matches I was able to see. I didn’t expect so many matches to show up in my list! My sister has already done a DNA kit, so she showed up at the top of the list. Two estimated third cousins also showed up in my list of matches, along with many fourth-sixth cousins. If you would like to you can message your DNA matches, which I think is awesome!
To really dig into your family tree you will need an Ancestry membership, which I’m considering. In the past, my sister has found documents listing relatives from when they crossed into the U.S., along with much more. I think the DNA kit is a great way to get started on learning more about your ancestry, and overall I am glad I did a DNA test.

Use my referral link to try Ancestry DNA for yourself. I receive a $10 Amazon gift card, but no other compensation.

Have you considered taking a DNA test? Have you ever used Ancestry?

October Favorites | November Plans

** This post contains affiliate links. I am compensated for purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Floradise.


October was a loooong month for me. It seemed to drag on forever, partly because I was having uncomfortable symptoms for most of the month. Luckily, the end of October brought some relief thanks to my focus on self-care and family. Here are the items I loved last month because they helped me start feeling like myself again!

Bump Box: My friend surprised me with this first trimester box as soon as I told her we were expecting. She was the first friend I told, thus she was one of maybe two people who knew about my symptoms so early on. When I opened the box and saw a new package of Preggie Pops I was thrilled because I had just ran out of mine. Preggie Pops are the real favorite because they have been helpful in relieving my morning sickness (for the most part). The box also contained other goodies, like a water bottle, a bath bomb and an anti-nausea drink mix. I didn’t use the anti-nausea bracelet or the belly stickers, but I appreciated the gesture of sending a box.

Sweater Weather three-wick candle: To be honest I am not obsessed with every Bath and Body Works three-wick candle scent. Sweater Weather (sage, juniper berry, eucalyptus, fresh woods) is one of the few I actually enjoy. I am also currently burning Tis the Season, which smells like rich red apple, sweet cinnamon and cedarwood. (Too soon?)

IZZE Sparkling Juice Clementine drinks: I recently rediscovered this drink and have since craved it constantly, though I’m trying to stick to water as much as possible. It’s refreshing and sweet and so good!

Lush Mint Julips Lip Scrub: I just picked this up but it’s already a favorite. It tastes so good and leaves my lips soft. Plus, it has that gentle tingle I enjoy in my lip balms.

Lush Rosy Cheeks Mask: This, too, is a new addition but I already love it. It smells amazing and left my face feeling ridiculously soft and moisturized. It wasn’t really exfoliating or anything, just a treat to use.  It has a nice cooling and soothing effect since it’s supposed to be kept in the fridge.

What products have you been loving?

What I’m excited about in November:

I’m really hoping this month brings more relief and a lot more fun!

I’m looking forward to:

  • Sharing the gender of our baby!
  • Seeing Johnnyswim perform in Chicago.
  • Visiting my friend Charlsy in Alexandria.
  • Celebrating Thanksgiving in Louisville.
  • Doing some Christmas shopping!

What are you excited about this month? What are your goals?

Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns at Chicago Botanic Garden

Happy Halloween! Graham and I had a spooktacular date night at Chicago Botanic Garden on Sunday. It was a bit past our old folk bedtime, but we managed to find tickets for the sold-out Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns on the last day of the event. We would have preferred to attend the earlier time slots, but we were only able to find 8:45 p.m. tickets available. We were still pumped to plan our first night out together in weeks.

We arrived at exactly 8:45 and quickly realized we should have planned to get there earlier to allow time for parking. When you buy the tickets ($28 for two), you get an email suggesting arriving 30 minutes before your time slot. A line of cars snaked out of the parking lot onto the main street, but luckily Google maps had directed us to come from the opposite direction, so we were able to turn into the parking lot and make our way through the members-only car line easily. We had paid for advance parking, which means we could bypass the other line. The woman in the parking booth didn’t even look at our parking receipt, which made me wonder if we should have even bothered paying! Parking still took a bit of time, though. We made our way through the garden entrance to the event waiting area to find another long line. I was a bit surprised that even with ticket time slots we waited until about 9:15 to get in, but once we were able to begin the walk, any annoyance was forgiven.

Each section of the walk has pumpkins carved to fit a certain theme, including music legends, Chicago sports, and Halloween classics. I was in awe of the talent of these carvers from the start!

Music:

The Solar System:

Pluto was included even though it’s not a planet. A sign next to it said: “Pluto, We Miss You. Love, Your PFF (Planet Friends Forever).” Adorable!

Sports:

They had other Chicago sports pumpkins but I only really care about the Cubs, duh. Also Michael Jordan.

Other Jack-o-Lanterns:

We were thrilled to see our name on a pumpkin. 🙂

At various tents you could observe as carvers created their masterpieces and you could ask about the process. You can and should stop by for a hot cider, chocolate or coffee and a dessert. (We got the apple cider doughnuts bites. Yum!) My hot chocolate actually made the pregnancy symptoms I was having go away, and the treats made the chilly walk more enjoyable! By the way, those beverages can also be spiked if you prefer/are not expecting. Or you can just get beer, wine, water or soda.

You also walk through a Wonderland Express section with countless trains. Kids would love it, as did we! We saw a miniature version of Wrigley Field that we very much enjoyed. Entertainers such as a man on stilts also greeted us as we walked around the garden.

The ivy inside the mini Wrigley Field was out of control!

We were done with the entire walk through the jack-o’-lanterns at 10:40 p.m. and appeared to be among the last people out. It was a nice way to beat the Sunday Scaries before another workweek!

Have you been to the Chicago Botanic Garden? What are your Halloween plans? Which pumpkin is your favorite?

Thoughtful Gifts to Buy on Etsy

** This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission on purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Floradise! 

All photos by their respective shops.

Etsy is one of my favorite places to shop for gifts. I like giving handmade, personalized items as much as possible because they are unique and thoughtful. It’s also a nice feeling when you can order from a smaller shop that really appreciates your business! I was recently browsing the site for holiday ideas when I found some nice gifts that could be given on their own or as part of larger presents.

For newlyweds (or people who just moved):

Custom Address Stamp from NoteTrunk: I ordered one of these for recently engaged friends this year, and I bought one for myself when Graham and I were engaged. This is also a nice housewarming gift for friends or family who recently moved. NoteTrunk offers a variety of cute designs!

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Buy this custom stamp and others at NoteTrunk on Etsy. Free shipping may only be for a limited time.

For pet lovers:

Custom Pet Ornament: EllaSketchArt paints a small portrait of your pet on a wooden ornament.  These are perfect for pet owners! I plan to buy one as a gift myself. Aren’t they adorable and thoughtful? (This shop is currently on a break but should be back soon.)
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For travelers:

Personalized luggage tags: This could be a birthday, holiday/Secret Santa or engagement gift! These could also be stocking stuffers. You can include a personalized message on what I believe is a vegan leather tag.

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For anyone/people who love to stay warm:

Sinking tea leaves knit hat from RET Handmade: My friend’s shop has all sorts of adorable scarves, hats and headbands. She has made me a headband and gave V and me cute Cubs blue scarves that we love. Plus, for every order she makes one to donate.

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For the wine drinker:
Personalized wine rack: This could be a housewarming, wedding gift, or birthday gift! It doesn’t necessarily need to be gifted to a couple, obviously. I know plenty of people who love and appreciate wine. 
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What awesome gifts have you found on Etsy?

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