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Aches, Pains & Gluten Free Grains (plus new gear!)

3 Jun


We are falling apart.

Well, I am. And HT isn’t doing so well himself. After a flirtation with true exhaustion and a test of mental toughness over the weekend on the Devil’s Path in the Catskills, he doesn’t seem so eager to get back on the trails.

Me, on the other hand, I’m dying to hike but my body is not cooperating. I’m still recovering from my 15K-induced foot injury and persistent shoulder pain (I popped it out of joint a couple weeks ago, ouch). These combined leave me only able to bike on the recumbent bike and walk with an ankle brace on…no running, no yoga, no swimming, I’m dyin’ here!

All that aside, I am determined to get some hiking in this weekend, come hell or high water…I am going to be positive about it too!

And I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of some new gear!

New gear renews my motivation to hit the trail and put it to the test. Here’s what I have coming my way:

The Osprey Aura 50


I gotta tell ya, I tried on a lot of packs. I really thought I was going to love the Gregory Sage 55 (HT has the men’s equivalent, the Savant 58), but when I tried it on, the fit was just wrong for me. I tried on the REI Flash 52, but the lightweight-ness meant sacrifices in comfort, for me. I also had high hopes for the Deuter Act Lite SL 45+10, and although it was alright in the comfort department, I decided I ultimately wanted a few more features, which led me to the Osprey Aura 50. I put this baby on and like magic, it made the same amount of weight I’d packed into the other packs feel suddenly lighter!

Hardtack will tell you, I’m a little picky about this kind of thing. I’d like to think of myself as “discerning”. I am the girl that orders “the salad special, without olives, without cheese, add avocado, if it’s not too much trouble?” The result is always delicious, trust me. With packs, I need to be a bit picky. I have shoulder and neck issues that have plagued me for years now and a lower back that acts up with very little provoking, so when choosing a pack, fit will always come before features. I think I may have gotten lucky with this one…maybe the best of both worlds? It does have some great features…but I’ll do a full review once I’ve used it. Can’t wait!

Thule System for my 2012 Mazda 3 Hatchback

Thule ARB47 AeroBlade Bars


I figured if I’m going for it, I might as well get the nicer, quieter bars and hopefully cut down the tiniest bit on gas mileage over the next few years.

Thule 598 Criterium (x2)

Bikes on the go!


Thule 835PRO Hull-a-Port Pro

Take a boat from port to port!


I’m pretty psyched for this system. It’s a big investment, but hopefully one that is easy to use and allows me to take advantage of even more adventure opportunities. I’ll be sure to report back.

Merrell Proterra Vim Sport


I’ve been told I need to try trail shoes or trail runners, entertaining an option other than my go-to Merrell Siren Sports or more traditional (and heavy) hikers. I got a great deal on these, so I have a pair on the way and I’ll let you know how they work out. I’m optimistic, though I’ll probably wear an ankle brace with them for a while.

Now, on to recent edible adventures.

The Recipes for Repair diet that HT was diligently following has now morphed into a bit of an overall lifestyle change, adopting a diet much lower in sugar (almost zero refined) generally gluten free and heavy in fresh foods and those made from scratch. In adapting to this new diet, we’ve found some real product gems that I think are worth sharing. Here we go!

Bonk Breaker Bars 

BBO_270x200 AP_270x200

I don’t eat nuts anymore, so these are my go-to flavors (Apple Pie and Blueberry Oat).  They taste like actual fruit. People have told me the PB&J varieties and other nutty delights are also really great. I love that in a world of added chemical stabilizers and manufactured proteins, these have very few ingredients, are gluten free and taste legit! The only drawback is price, but when I consider the quality of the ingredients, I think you get what you pay for and we are going to start buying by the case for less. Headstart in Portland swears by them too! She’s also GF.

Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Artisan Flour Blend


I’m also big into baking as a stress reliever, but I don’t want to eat all the goods myself, so I’ve begun my explorations in the world of gluten free flours, so HT can also reap the benefits of my kitchen therapy. So far Pamela’s Products Artisan Flour Blend is the only one I’ve used and really liked, both in taste and behavior. I’ve successfully made muffins AND popovers with this blend…so I consider it a new staple.

That’s all for now, but the list will surely keep growing…

Other delicious GF suggestions? Thoughts on gear? I’d love to hear from you!

Blue Bin Signature


GEAR REVIEW: Women’s Icebreaker GT200 Baselayer Made Me A Wool Believer!

2 Feb

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I’ll preface this review with the note that I came to have this Icebreaker performance GT200 lightweight baselayer by way of Christmas gifting. Thank you, Dad! I’d been in need of a winter/cool weather base, and my Dad had recently returned from a European cycling trip obsessed with the idea of merino wool as the “best” base material, per cyclist buddies. Thus, December arrived, and…

Performance wool for everyone!

When I first put this top on (immediately after opening the gift) with nothing but a sports bra underneath, I was a bit concerned about the “itch factor”. After 10 minutes of wearing, however, my concern (and the feeling) was gone, and I was sold on the comfort. I never changed back and wore the shirt through Christmas, including a wintery, brisk walk with the Duchess. Since then, I’ve worn the piece on treks of differing distances and times, both as a next-to-skin layer and on top of sport tanks, and I’ve been nothing but happy with the performance.

It’s true about wool, you can wear it multiple times and the fabric still smells fresh, something that is NOT true of synthetics, no matter how breathable. I know this is part of the reputation of “smart” merino but I remained skeptical until I experienced it for myself.

My arms are on the long side, so the thumb holes are usable but not 100% comfortable for me (but still a selling point), and the overall cut and styling are great. I am loving the long zipper that really allows for ventilation or protection from the elements, depending on your need.

The only con I’ve found so far: Price! This is expected with performance wool of this kind, but it can be hard to shell out over $100 for a shirt.


  • Weight: 6 oz.
  • Fabric: 97% merino wool, 3% Lycra®
  • Reflective half-zip at front
  • Reinforcedthumb holes

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*TAKE NOTE* A source tells me this exact piece was purchased, and is still available at Sierra Trading Post for discount prices (if you’re on the smaller side). Jackpot! Check it out. I’ll be stalking sales at the end of this season to stock up for next year. My takeaway here is, even if I don’t buy this exact piece again, I am now on board with performance merino.  Blue Bin approved!

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GEAR REVIEW: Marmot Minimalist Jacket is a Girl’s Best Friend

20 Dec

Well, it’s official. I have a favorite outdoor item. And the best part is, it is not relegated to weekends, hiking, or backpacking situations as many specialty outdoor gear items are. It’s a rain jacket, plain and simple. The Marmot Minimalist for Women is now among my prized possessions—in “recycling bin blue” for me, of course (they call it Cobalt).

Summit of Madison, White Mts, New Hampshire

Summit of Madison, White Mts, New Hampshire

Last summer we trekked the Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire’s (gorgeous) White Mountains. It was a unique hike, a fun challenge and one of our first times out using a bunch of new gear. My newest acquisition at the time was this jacket, which I’d researched a bit before buying, but ultimately picked because of a trip to REI to try on some options. I’ve been obsessed since. Here’s the breakdown.

Gear Specs & Features (per Marmot site)

Center Back Length: 27.25in / 69.2cm

Overall Weight: 14.4 oz / 408.2 g

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