Gear Review and Giveaway: Stonewear Designs (apparel for active women)

Giveaway Closed.  Congratulations to commenter number 3 for winning the headband! 

I’m not a world-renowned athlete and I’ve never led an exhilarating expedition to worlds unknown.  My ab muscles are strong but are by no means toned enough to resemble a six-pack.  I’m training for a half-marathon–words that I never imagined would fall from my lips. I don’t look like a supermodel and my curves sometimes annoy me.  But I’m proud of my body and all that it has allowed me to accomplish.

I believe fiercely that adventure and outdoor exploration are for all.  I strive to stay active, push my limits, try new things and inspire others to do the same. Staying active and fit are high on my priority list. I use all of my resources to not only help my son with special needs thrive outdoors, but to show others that adventure and the natural world are within everyone’s grasp. I believe in the power of nature to sooth the soul and nourish the body and mind.  I believe that everyone can benefit from being active outdoors.  And I don’t think that you must have the perfect body to do so.

That’s why I was so delighted to become a member of the Stonewear Designs Grassroots Team.  Stonewear clothing is designed to fit every type of body.  They empower women of all shapes and sizes to be active while stylishly supported.  So today, I thought I would share with you about some of my favorite Stonewear outfits that I was provided to test and use in my daily activities.  And I’ll be honest….I pretty much live in my Stonewear clothing now. It makes me feel beautiful, strong and comfortable all day long.  Their clothing is of very high quality (so it will last without showing wear) and is specifically designed to be tough enough to keep up with an active lifestyle.  

Lyra Top + Rockin’ Capri:

The Lyra Top is made of a very breathable, moisture-wicking fabric that keeps you cool and dry while hiking, running, kayaking, climbing or just wrangling kids.  This is my go to top for all of my activities.  Not only does it keep me cool and dry down here in the hot and humid southeast, but the support is phenomenal.  The Lyra Top has a built-in bra that keeps the girls nicely in place.  I sometimes pair this top with Stonewear’s cross back sports bra to give myself the maximum amount of support possible because I really like to keep everything in place 🙂  But the top alone provides great support.  The fit is extremely flattering as well.  The fabric skims the body and flatters without being clingy  (which is great if you are like me and your midsection is a little soft and round!)  If you are an active woman who is a bit heavy on top, then the Lyra Top is definitely for you.

The Rockin’ Capris (also referred to by me as the most awesome pair of capris to ever grace my legs) are the best thing that has ever happened to me from a clothing standpoint.  These flattering, moisture-wicking capris feel great, look great and hold up to creek crossings, muddy hikes, kayaking trips and hot trail runs. They also have a side zip pocket that is large enough to store a smart phone or keys. I practically live in these capris (as well as the pant version.)  Wash after wash these babies still look like new.  The Rockin’ Capris are the most rugged and beautifully constructed capris/pants I’ve ever owned.  They are certainly worth every penny.  I cannot stress enough how awesome these are!!  I will never hike in anything else again….seriously….they are that good.

Keep a lookout for an upcoming review of my other faves–the Olympia Top, Rockin’ Pants, Double Cross Back Top and Meridian Capris….

Want to see what other real women have to say about Stonewear Designs?  Check out this fabulous post that shows women of all shapes and sizes sharing their favorite pieces of clothing!

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Now, who wants to win a little something from Stonewear Designs? Enter to win a headband, here’s how:

1. Visit the Stonewear Designs website and take a look around, then come back and leave a comment below telling me what piece of clothing you think would be great to try and why.

2. For an extra, additional entry, you can like Stonewear Designs on Facebook.  Then come back here and leave a separate comment telling me you did so.

3. For one more extra entry, you can like Hike.Blog.Love on Facebook (or tell me you already are a fan) and come back here and leave another comment.

That’s it!  Good luck, ladies (and men who would like to win some swag for their lady.)  The giveaway closes on Friday October 5th. The winner will recieve a headband in a random color.

Some of the Stonewear clothing shown in this post was provided to me free of charge as a member of the Grassroots Team.  Some clothing was purchased with my own money because I love the clothing so darn much.  All opinions expressed are strictly my own.

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Run Hard, Do Good (earn money for charity through the app Charity Miles)

For the past few weeks, my RunKeeper log has looked like this.  I’m showing this to you 1) to prove that you don’t have to be the fastest and best runner in the world to train for a half-marathon, 2) that I’m really working hard to train for my half-marathon and 3) most importantly, I want to share a new app with you all called Charity Miles.

So why am I running?  You can go to the top of my blog and see that I’ve added a new page called Run, Mama, Run! that highlights the whys and whats of my running career (ha, I use that term loosely, folks!)

(Right now I’m training to run a half-Marathon that will benefit a minsitry for families of special needs families called Rising Above Ministries.  I will also be helping a special needs participant cross the finish line.  Part of my responsibility for participating in this half-marathon is so that I can help raise funds for Rising Above, and you can find the donation link here if you’d like to contribute. Just tell them Lauren sent ya.)

But even if you’re not running in a race like me, you can still raise funds for charity just by walking, running or biking!  Meet the new app called Charity Miles.  Here is the basic description of the app:

“…an iPhone/Android app that empowers you to earn corporate sponsorships for charity by walking, running or biking.

Just choose a charity and press start.  As you walk, run or bike, the app tracks your distance and you earn money for your charity.  Bikers earn 10¢ per mile; walkers and runners earn 25¢ per mile, all up to our initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool.

And this is just the beginning.  As you walk, run or bike with Charity Miles, you also help us attract more sponsors to increase our sponsorship pool for everyone.

So please join the movement.  And please invite your friends.  Because changing the world is a team sport!”

I just downloaded the app and can’t wait to get started. It’s free, so what are you waiting for?  Run (walk or bike) hard and do good.  It’s that easy!

Comfort Zones {the day I learned to fly fish}

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.   ~Brian Tracy

Yesterday I spent the day doing something outside of my comfort zone.  I attended an all-day fly fishing school along the banks of the Caney Fork River. Now don’t get me wrong, I adore doing anything in nature.  But a fisher(wo)man I am not.  And fly fishing?  Well, that takes a lot of skill that I certainly do not possess.

But I wanted to learn this elusive art form that I’ve seen my husband master in the last several years.  I guess my motivation stems from a desire to be able to enjoy a deeper connection to the mountain streams and wildlife that I spend so much time around.  I have no intention of catching fish to consume, but rather I long to use catch and release in an attempt to experience this world I cannot reach by foot.  After all, the hubby stops to fly fish on most of our hikes and kayaking trips, so I thought it would be great to share this with him.

So, I awoke bright and early on Saturday morning to learn how to cast and all the other skills that go along with that.  I attended a class where I knew absolutely next to nothing.  Turns out I’m not too shabby at this whole fly fishing thing.  I had a blast and can’t wait to try out my new skills.  I may even be able to teach my expert fly fishing hubby a thing or two….someday.

Have you done anything lately that has put you out of your comfort zone?  Do you try to push yourself out of your comfort zone on a regular basis?  Do tell!

Up the creek…

without an agenda.

A couple of weekends ago, our family hiking group visited a lovely nature park filled with several kid-friendly hiking trails.  Since this park was new to me, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but had heard good things about it.  Luckily we were not disappointed!  After a short hike, we came upon a spectacular shallow creek that ran against a bluff line in the woods.  The creek was teaming with small fish, crawfish, salamanders and even snakes.  It was so much fun to get a little wet and muddy while exploring such a diverse habitat.  We ended up staying and playing in the creek much of the time, letting the little hands explore and discover to their hearts content.  I love finding such a jewel in the woods!

Little Man having a blast

Big Brother enjoying the water

Little Man holding a crayfish

a tiny salamander

hunting for treasures

some colorful mushrooms along the trail

Peace Begins at Home

Remember me? I used to blog here.

Let’s face it, I have neglected my blog over the course of the past few weeks. It wasn’t intentional and I have truly missed sharing my thoughts and photos with all of you each day. Life, it seems, has swept me away into a dizzying whirlwind of to do’s and obligations. I’m actually blogging from my phone while sitting in my office, if that gives you any indication of the state of my blogging goals. But I’m readjusting the sails, so to speak, and I’m going to try harder to spend time nurturing my precious and worthy outlet–my blog.

A single moment out of my crazy and hectic morning stopped me in my tracks, reminding me to start looking at the big picture.

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I always put notes in the boys’ lunch boxes each day. This morning I found that Little Man had also decided to write a note for his brother, and he placed it next to mine. Looks like Big Brother will get a double greeting today.

Such a small act of kindness that speaks more profoundly than words ever could.

I mused to myself that I must be at least doing something right in this crazy and chaotic season of my life. And then it struck me that today is the International Day of Peace. And you know what? I had a thought.

Peace begins at home.

It’s not something you teach, but something you live. It’s not something you have, it’s something you are. So live it and pass it on.

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peace

Sinking

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling to keep my head above water.  The boys started Kindergarten.  I started back teaching at a local university. Then the sinus/cold/mystery virus crud made its way around the family, one member at a time.  Exhaustion has become the norm.  But in all fairness, things are going very well here in the Hiking household.

If you’ve been following Big Brother’s school journey, you know that we’ve had major issues in the past.  So you can imagine how happy I’ve been to hear that Big Brother has been having good days at school and that he will soon receive his very own aid [fist pumps spastically.] Everyone told us we were crazy to advocate for such a thing in our school system.  Good thing I consider myself to be pretty crazy, huh?  It seems to have worked to our favor in this case.  I guess that’s why I chuckled so much at the sight of this image on my fb feed tonight:

So all in all, I’d say we’re doing great despite the never-ending streams of mucus and lack of sleep.  Once we settle into our routine and recover from the crud, I have a feeling it will be smooth sailing as far as school is concerned.  In the meantime, we’ve been trying to get outdoors as much as possible in addition to weekly visits to the climbing gym.  I’ve only got a few cell phone photos to show for our week.  I’ll try to do better next time.  Right now?  I’m going to try to catch up on some much needed sleep….

Yep, life is good.

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Thanks to all the new readers who found me through my SITS day!  I’m still responding to all the awesome comments and trying to go and visit each new blog from all the new visitors.  I absolutely enjoyed all of the blog love, thanks for making my day so special 🙂