How I Became a Runner

How I Became a RunnerSo here’s the thing. I’ve been active all my life, but not really.  I played sports, but never any that really needed much endurance.  Bowling, gymnastics and softball.  I never ran.  When we had to run a mile in gym class in high school it took me forever!  I couldn’t even make it a quarter of a mile without walking.

It wasn’t until my hubby signed up to run the Columbus Marathon in 2007 that I took up running.  He started training for the marathon and took me under his wing in order to get me to sign up, too.  So we started running together.  That first day out he wanted me to run for 5 minutes straight and I about died!  I had no idea how this was going to happen!

Having someone there to push me helped, but it was really just a mental game.  Yes, it was hard to breathe.  Yes, my legs were tired, but I needed to tell that voice in my head that kept reminding me of those things to shut it!

The plan was simple.  Alternate running and walking and every week up the running time.

Running Training PlanSo this is how I started out.  I had a stop watch and running shoes and I was out the door.  I ran 3 times per week following this schedule and before I knew it I was running for 30 minutes straight! I couldn’t believe it!

I signed up for the half marathon.  I trained all summer and in the fall of October 2007 I ran the Columbus Half Marathon.  I developed a heck of a blister on the side of my foot, I had to walk for a bit after about 7 miles, I took water when it was offered, and I crossed the finish line.  I didn’t break any records, but I didn’t finish last either.  All that mattered was that I finished the race.

And then I vowed to never run a half marathon again.

And with winter approaching I gave up running all together.

I became a seasonal runner.  When spring came around I had to start all over again.  I couldn’t even run 1 mile.  Luckily I knew how to start again.

I also had to stop and start again with pregnancies.  My hips wouldn’t allow me to run after about 12 weeks or so.  After Pumpkin was born it took me a while to start up again since the cold weather was upon us once I got the OK to start exercising again.

After starting up again last spring, though, I haven’t stopped.  I ran through the winter.  And this was one of the coldest/snowiest winters we have seen.  I actually kind of liked winter running.  Of course it wasn’t stroller friendly running, so I didn’t get out as much as I would have liked, but I’m happy with the miles I did get in and I’m happy where I am today.

Earth Day RunLast night I set out after the girls were in bed.  Thank goodness for the little bit of extra light in the evening these days!  It was a race against the sunset.  I set out with a plan of 5 miles or running until it got dark.  I was pretty excited when the 5 miles won.

I have no race plans in the near future.  I’m not sure I’ll ever run another half-marathon, though one of my girlfriends keeps suggesting we run the Disney marathon when she’s done having babies.  We’ll see.  For now it’s just something I do because I can.  Because I want to.  Because I want to live an active life and be a positive example for my daughters.  Heck, my consistency has even motivated hubby to get back into running recently.

If you’ve thought about taking up running I would really encourage you to give it a go (with your doctor’s OK, of course).  It’s great exercise.  It’s free (aside from the shoes).  It’s the perfect time to be alone with your thoughts (or your music).  You’ll get to experience the runner’s high.

There are all sorts of smartphone apps out there you can download to help get you going such as an interval timer app to start you out with your training plan.  I really like Map My Run for recording my runs. And of course you’ll want to load up on the music or use an app such as Pandora for some tunes.

Having a few good pieces of running gear helps, too.  You really want a good running shoe.  That doesn’t mean you have to buy a $200 pair of shoes, but they should be for running and they should feel comfortable.  I like to buy a half a size up just to give my toes a little extra room.  And I’m a big fan of running tights.  Specifically these C9 by Champion Running Knee Tights now that the weather is warming up.  And I loved these Champion Absolute Tights in chillier weather.  And don’t forget a good sports bra!

So, do you run? 

*I am not a doctor or a trainer or anyone qualified to tell you it’s OK to run.  Please consult with a medical professional before starting up a new fitness program.

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Post-candy Coma Report

Phew!  You guys, seriously, I feel like every weekend lately has been jam packed. And it doesn’t seem like we have any lazy weekends coming up either!

Thursday night was a mad scramble to dye our Easter eggs.  Slacker mom kept forgetting to hard boil the eggs earlier in the week.

Dying EggsCupcake took the egg dying job very seriously.  She wanted all the eggs to be green.

Dying eggsPumpkin was all about dying as many eggs as possible in as little time as possible.

We had to get the eggs done on Thursday because on Friday Cupcake and daddy were off for the weekend!  Hubby had plans to go to Cleveland for the weekend so he dropped her off with his parents for some spoiling fun for the weekend.  It was just Pumpkin and I (and Oscar).

We got a little crazy!

CrazyWe had a bunch of errands to run on Friday morning and I had a bunch of yard work to do in the afternoon.  We went for a hilly run on Saturday morning and a birthday party in the afternoon.  On Sunday morning we went to the grocery store and started our preparations for Easter dinner.  And we waited for Corinne and hubby to come home!

Our Easter celebrations we a little delayed, but the bunny still visited us!  The girls got some goodies in their baskets.  The binoculars were a big hit with Cupcake and Pumpkin was pretty excited about her Klip Klop Horse.

Hunting eggsMiss Competitive here tried to snatch up all the Easter eggs and we had to slow her down and get her to help Pumpkin.

Hunting eggsShe eventually got the hang of it, though.

The girls had some fun with their new toys and the foam stickers that were in the eggs.  And Pumpkin did her best to show big sis how much she missed her by sitting on her every chance she got.

DSC_3742These girls crack me up!

And then we feasted.

Easter dinnerHam, red potato salad, roasted Brussel Sprouts and my favorite, deviled eggs.  I also made a carrot cake for dessert.  I didn’t take a picture because it was a bit of a fail.  A little undercooked.  Womp womp.

Not to worry, though, the grandparents sent Cupcake home with a TON of candy!  And here I thought it was going to be a low sugar holiday!  I might have eaten a few more Reese’s eggs than I should have.  I’ll do my best to make up for it with this morning’s workout.  And with this week’s meal plan.

Black Bean Quinoa Enchilada Bake
Green Thai Chicken Coconut Curry
Burgers
(Leftover) Ham and Pineapple Pizza
Grilled Chicken

I like holidays and all, but man, when it’s just our little family of 4 it’s really just me doing the usual housework and making an elaborate meal on top of it.  I wear myself out.  Add to that my sugar crash and you’ve got yourself a sound sleeper.  But I’m ready for a new day.  Monday, bring it on!

How you was your holiday weekend?  Did you have a big dinner?  Will you be eating leftovers for the next week?

 

*Links to Amazon are associate links.  If you make a purchase using one of these links your cost will remain the same, but I will receive a small commission.  Thank you.

 

 

Nap Time Craft Time: Envelope Back Pillowcase Take 2

Are you in the mood for some pillow talk?  I’m back with another Envelope Back Pillowcase tutorial for you.  Why?  Because you need to know more than one way to make an envelope back pillowcase.  You see, sometimes you find a remnant of some really expensive fabric for cheap.  It’s really pretty and the perfect color.  You want to cover two pillows for your sofa, but there’s not enough fabric.  What’s a girl to do?

Only use the expensive fabric on the front of the pillow!

Envelope Back Pillowcase #sewing #tutorial

In my last tutorial I showed you how to make your pillow case with just one length of fabric.  This time we’re going to use 3 pieces of fabric and we’re going to use 2 different fabrics.

Envelope Back Pillowcase #sewing #tutorialI picked up a 2 pack of pillows on sale at Joann’s for 50% off.  Score!  My pillows measure 16″x16″.  Now, last time I told you to add an inch for your seam allowance, but I’ve covered a few more pillows since then and I’ve decided I like my pillowcases a little more snug.  So, I cut my front 16″x16″ and then I cut two pieces for the back at 16″x 10″.  I just used white cotton fabric for the back.  Why did I cut those pieces of cotton 16″x10″?  16″ across like my front piece.  10″ because 16/2=8 and then I added 2″ for overlap.  Got it?  Good.

Envelope Back Pillowcase #sewing #tutorialNext I serged one 16″ side of each of my two back pieces, folded them in, pressed and straight stitched down the whole length for my hem.

Envelope Back Pillowcase #sewing #tutorialThen I just lined up my fabric, right sides together and pinned my pieces in place.  You can see how my back pieces overlap right in the middle.

Envelope Back Pillowcase #sewing #tutorialI took it over to my serger and zipped across all 4 sides of my square.  And done.  If you don’t have a serger you can straight stitch then finish off your raw edges with a zig zag to prevent fraying.

Envelope Back Pillowcase #sewing #tutorialI finished off my serged corners by threading the excess through my stitching with a blunt tapestry needle.  Then just flip your pillowcase right side out and stuff your pillow in!

Envelope Back Pillowcase #sewing #tutorialLooks good!  Looks much better in person, though.  This silk fabric is gorgeous and I love it on my sofa!

Envelope Back Pillowcase #sewing #tutorialYou can see I got a little pillow happy!  The other 3 pillows were picked up at IKEA last week and the fabrics are from there as well.  I made those pillowcases the same way since I only had enough fabric (at least of the striped fabric) for one pillowcase if I used it on the front and the back.

Now I feel like a sophisticated adult because I have decorative pillows on my sofa!  And then the girls throw the pillows on the floor and that feeling goes away.  Oh, and then there’s the issue of the big blank wall above the sofa.  Nonetheless, I love my new pillows!  And I’m making (slow) progress on my living room redo.

Got any plans to sew some pillowcases this Easter weekend?  I’m pillowed out.  I think I’ll sew up some clothes!

 

Linking up with Make It and Love It.

Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing

I’m not a big fan of salad.  Well, at least not the healthy kind.  I do like the ones covered in fatty dressing, but I’ve got a good, not so fatty salad dressing to top my salads these days and it makes eating mountains of lettuce more bearable.  Am I selling you on this?

In an attempt to make my prepregnancy jeans look good (now that I finally fit back in them!!) I’ve been eating a lot more salad on the side of my meals.  Instead of two pieces of pizza I’ll have one piece of pizza and a salad.  But if I load that salad up with ranch dressing it’s no better than eating another piece of pizza.  So I’m back to making my own salad dressing and Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing is my favorite!

Lemon Garlic Salad DressingThis dressing is so good!  I love lemon and I love garlic, so of course it’s a winner in my book.  It’s so simple to make, too, so there’s no reason to use fatty, weird ingredient store bought dressing on your salad.  I also like to drizzle it on hard boiled eggs for an afternoon snack.

Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine and whisk all ingredients together. Refrigerate any leftovers.
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I had a big salad of Romaine, carrots, black olives and Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing last night with my Chicken Parmesan and I was stuffed for the rest of the night!

What’s your favorite salad dressing?

Go Go Go Weekend

Phew!  TGIM?  I can’t say I’m too upset it’s Monday because this weekend was all go, go, go.  I’m exhausted!  I hope you didn’t miss me too much on Friday.  I was in a sewing groove and couldn’t peel myself away from the machine long enough to get a blog post up.

Friday Cupcake was itching to get out of the house, so with the promise of playing in Smaland I packed up the girls and headed down to IKEA.  I had a few things on my shopping list that I could pick up on my own with the girls in tow.  Unfortunately Smaland was full upon our arrival which meant the trip went a lot slower than planned!  But I picked up the pillows, fabric, picture frames and meatballs I went there for!  Now, I really need to get moving on getting some pictures printed so I can finally do something on that big blank wall behind the couch.

Friday night Cucpake had a program with the local Metro Parks to search for nocturnal amphibians.  She got to stay up way past her bedtime!  We found lots of spring peepers, some toads and we got to see salamander eggs up close!

Amphibian searchWe had a blast.  She got another stamp on her park passport program and she’s on her way to earning a park backpack!

Saturday morning we were off to Lowe’s for the Build and Grow Workshop.  This month she built a recycling truck and earned her 10th patch!

Lowe's Build and GrowAfter that we headed back home, gobbled up a quick lunch and we were off to a local ice cream shop for my sorority’s annual Easter Basket Build.  We put together a record number of baskets this year!  It’s always a fun event and we love helping community members in need.  Oh, and we love to eat ice cream.

Another mad dash home, another quick meal and we freshened up and headed down south to meet up with some friends for family photos. We all struggle to get decent family photos using a remote or timer so we did a little photography swapping.  This kids were only somewhat cooperative, the weather was absolutely cooperative and I’m happy enough with the results.

Family PhotoSeriously, these kids do not like being in front of the camera.  It was another late night and unfortunately these kids also haven’t figured out how to sleep in on a Sunday morning.

Sunday was a whole lot of around the house stuff.  Lots of cleaning, some yard work and of course playing outside.  Cupcake and I ran down to the park during Pumpkin’s nap for a change of scenery.  The park is just under a mile away, so it’s a quick run (with 40+ lbs of kid in the jogging stroller).  I did some strength training while she played with the other kids on the playground and then I ran her home.  And then I itched like crazy after being in the grass.  I love the spring weather, hate the spring allergies.  I just ordered some TriEase capsules from doTerra, which I’m hoping will help keep the allergy flare ups to a minimum.

I cooked up some Teriyaki Burgers for dinner and we enjoyed the fresh air the rest of the evening.  And the girls went to bed early because they were exhausted from all the weekend fun.

So anyway, last week I said I would show you what I made to go with my homemade mustard.  Pretzels!  Seriously, if you’ve never made homemade soft pretzels you have to give this a try.  I was so intimidated, but look how they turned out!

Homemade soft pretzelGolden, buttery deliciousness!  You’re not going to find a recipe here, cause well, I didn’t make this stuff up.  I used Bobby Flay’s recipe and well, it was divine.  I wouldn’t know how to change it if it needed it, so yeah.  Try this at home!!!!

Alright. I need to sneak in a quick workout before the girls wake up and finish my grocery list since I didn’t make it to the store last night.  Go, try and make pretzels.  Seriously.

 

How was your weekend?

Homemade FLOAM

Spring break meant project week at our house.  Cupcake loves a good project and that kid constantly needs to be entertained.  So entertain her I did with a little project of homemade Floam.

Homemade Floam

This project gets a little messy, so be prepared.  And you need a few ingredients, some you might already have at home, but one you probably don’t.Homemade Floam

You’ll need Borax, school glue, water and food coloring (optional).  You’ll also need some polypropylene microbeads.  These can be a little tricky to come by.  They don’t seem to sell them at the fabric store anymore, except online.  And of course on Amazon.  This bag is way more than you need, but it’ll keep for future Floaming or for other craft projects.  Rumor has it there easier to find in store around Christmas time.

To get started you’ll want to dissolve 2 tsp of Borax in 1/2 cup water in a small bowl, then set aside.

Homemade FloamNext you want to mix 1/4 cup glue with 1/4 water.  And add in your food coloring.  Once it’s all combined pour the glue in a plastic zipper seal bag.  Add the desired amount of microbeads.

Homemade FloamHere’s where things start getting messy.  Those beads are staticy!  If you’re not careful they will shoot up out of the bag like a volcano.  Ask me how I know!

Once your beads are incorporated add 3 tsp of the dissolved Borax into the bag and squish it around until the mixture firms up.

Homemade FloamPour it out and you have Floam!  Cupcake was pretty excited to start smooshing.  It’s very similar in consistency to the slime we made before, just a little thicker.

Homemade FloamShe loved making handprints and footprints in it.  We got out some toy dinosaurs we bought at the Children’s Museum and played “guess which dinosaur’s footprints are in the Floam” for a good chunk of time!

One bottle of glue will get you two batches of Floam and you’ll have enough of the Borax/water solution for a second batch as well.  If you touch the two batches together they will stick!  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (to prevent mold).

Linking up with Make It and Love It

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Homemade Spicy Brown Mustard

Apparently my computer had a case of the Mondays already last night.  I like to get my posts started and preferably scheduled the night before posting, but last night my laptop just wasn’t feeling it.  But, I’m here now and it’s mustard time!  I’m going to show you how I made spicy brown mustard.

Miami Valley Spice Traders spicesIt started with a trip to my favorite local spice company.  I knew I needed paprika and pumpkin pie spice, but I picked up the mustard seeds on a whim.

Mustard SeedsI went with half yellow mustard seeds, half brown.  Mustard seeds are very hard, so to soften them up I soaked them in some apple cider vinegar.

Soaking mustard seedsI added equal parts vinegar to mustard seeds in a small bowl, covered it with some plastic wrap and set it on the counter.  After 24 hours my seeds were nice and soft.

Soaked mustard seedsAll I had to do was take them for a spin in the food processor and I had mustard!

Spicy Brown MustardAfter you make your mustard, you want to let it sit for a few days (refrigerated) to really let the flavor mellow.  The mustard is really good, but it’s a tad too spicy (for me) for everyday use.  It gives me heartburn.

Spicy Brown MustardMaybe I’m not selling you on making it with statements like that, but I served this up at a beer tasting event and it was gobbled up.  See, it’s just me.  Spicy ain’t my thing.  Really, it’s good.

I’ll show you how I prefer to eat it later this week.

Have a good (rainy) Monday!

Cadbury Mini Egg Cookie Bars

So, let’s talk Easter candy.  Of all the holidays out there Easter has THE best candy.  So much good stuff at once.  Peeps (yeah, I know they make them for other holidays, but I only like the classic Peeps), jelly beans (Starburst ones are my faves!), and of course Cadbury Mini Eggs.  Oh, and those chocolate covered marshmallow eggs.  And with Easter being so late this year all this candy has just been taunting me on the shelves!  I finally gave in and bought some Peeps and Cadbury Mini Eggs the other day.  The Peeps were gone by the afternoon, but I was saving the Mini Eggs for something else.

Cadbury Mini Egg Cookie Bars #dessert #cookies #baking #easterCupcake and I made some Cadbury Mini Egg Cookie Bars and boy are they good!  A soft chewy cookie combined with creamy Mini Eggs.  Yum!  It took all my willpower to not eat the whole pan!  Hubby didn’t know cookie bars could get any better.

Cadbury Mini Egg Cookie Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Cadbury Mini Eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour with baking soda and set aside. Combine the butter, sugars, pudding mix and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat until smooth. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture. Fold in Mini Eggs. Spread into a greased 9"x13" pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
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You want to fold in the Mini Eggs so they don’t get crushed by the beater.  And the batter will be very stiff, so you’ll have to press it into the pan.  You’ll also want to cut the bars while they’re still warm, so you can cut through the Mini Eggs.  The end result is divine.

Cadbury Mini Egg Cookie Bars #dessert #cookies #baking #easter

What’s your favorite Easter candy?

 

What They Ate on Wednesday (on Thursday)

It’s time for Munchkin Meals again.  This month I thought I’d do a day in the life type post, so I’m going to share what they ate yesterday.

Breakfast:

BreakfastFor breakfast they both had some Barbara’s Organic Snackimals Cereal and strawberries.  Pumpkin probably would have had some of my scrambled eggs, but she slept in so I got to eat them all myself!

We were off to a playdate/moms meeting so they both snacked on a Lara Bar on the way there.  I knew we would be having a late lunch, so I wanted them to have a little something to hold them over.

Lunch was a special treat today.

LunchChick-fil-a!!!  It’s a playdate ritual.  They both devoured their chicken nuggets and gulped down their applesauce pouches and milk.  I usually only get them the 4 count nugget, but I think I might have to start getting them the 6 count!

After lunch they played some more and then passed out on the way home.  Well, Cupcake was about to.  Pumpkin definitely did.  While Pumpkin was napping Cupcake snacked on a banana.  When Pumpkin woke up she snacked on some raisins from the comfort of her castle.

Cupcake asked for a million snacks while I made dinner, but I didn’t give in in the hopes that she’d actually eat her dinner.  We had Thai Turkey Burgers and roasted broccoli.  It was delicious!  I thought the peanut sauce would entice Cupcake to eat it, but alas…..

DinnerShe just looked at it.  She said she just wanted to eat the bun.  She did try a piece of broccoli and eventually took a bite of the sandwich, but that was it.

DinnerPumpkin went right for the broccoli.  She ate most of it, all of her bun and one or two bites of the burger.

 

So, it’s not the most normal day, since we went out for lunch, but it’s also a pretty normal day.  It’s hard to get veggies in the girls, so a lot of times I don’t fight.  I can occasionally sneak some in with a smoothie, but I think they’re on to me because they’ve not been drinking them lately.  I often give them carrot sticks with lunch, which goes over pretty well.  And Pumpkin will eat my green (spinach or kale) eggs.

So, not the most balanced meals, but at least they’re not eating junk!

Anyone have any suggestions to get veggies in?

Marshmallow Engineering

It’s spring break and Cupcake gets a little stir crazy.  I knew I would have to come up with some fun things to do this week, particularly while Pumpkin is napping and we are stuck in the house.  First up was Marshmallow Engineering.

Marshmallow Engineering

Have you seen the episode of Curious George where he builds a little bridge to help the chicks cross over a pond to get to the little island in the middle?  I have.  About a dozen times.  George was on his way home from the store with toothpicks and thought he could build a bridge, but realized he needed something to hold the toothpicks in place.  So he used marshmallows.

Marshmallow EngineeringThus you have Marshmallow Engineering.  So after a quick trip to the store to pick up some marshmallow and toothpicks we were ready to get working.  I made the cute little structure above and Cupcake tried to replicate it.

Marshmallow EngineeringAnd she added her own flair.  And got a little frustrated at first, but after a little help she got the hang of it.

Marshmallow EngineeringAnd stole mine.  And got very creative with her structure.  She had a great time making little creations.  And getting silly.

Marshmallow EngineeringHere she’s doing a little “extercising”  with the dumbbells she made.  We had a lot of fun with this activity.  We packed up the marshmallows and toothpicks after we were done playing to save for another day.  And it’s a cheap activity!  $1 for the marshmallows.  $2 for the toothpicks.  My little engineer, following in daddy’s footsteps.

We only had one casualty.

Marshmallow EngineeringWho doesn’t love a game of pick up sticks?

So, if you’re looking for an inexpensive and easy to entertain your kids before they go stir crazy, give this one a try.

 

p.s.  It wasn’t until we were cleaning up did she realize she could actually eat the marshmallows.  ;)