Monday, January 31, 2011

Marathon Monday

Happy Monday everyone!! I thought I would make Monday's a little different around here for a while. Marathon Monday will start today! I am starting my marathon training today for the San Diego Rock and Roll marathon in June. And I am going to keep you all updated on everything from training to blisters to eating a whole entire pizza after a long run to chub rub and everything in between.

I finally put together my training plan. I have run 2 marathons, the first one I didn't use a training plan. My first marathon (Los Angeles, 2005) was really hard. I didn't train enough. I trained by time, not distance. And I overestimated how fast I was running during training. Oh boy, the last half of that marathon was brutal. But I finished it and caught the racing bug. Final time was 5:36. Not exactly what I wanted, but in essence I think I was just happy to finish and not puke or pass out while doing it.

2nd marathon...San Diego Rock and Roll in 2006. This time I ran with Team in Training. Awesome, awesome program. I got so much support from my family, I raised almost $5500. And I loved having a coach and people to train with.

Yes, I ran with that huge fanny pack around my waist. I really wanted to bring my camera during the race and this was the only way I could figure it out. It was annoying to wear and by like mile 6 I wanted to throw it over the side of the freeway. But thankfully I didn't because I got this awesome sweaty lobster red faced photo at mile 8.

Race day was hot and humid, very unlike San Diego weather. I loved running on the freeway!

My goal was to break 5 hours. I really really really wanted to break 5 hours. I ended up running without my training group for most of the race because I panicked around mile 10 and decided I needed to run faster to break 5 hours. That killed me in the end...but my final time was 4:56!! SO stoked to break 5 hours!!

This time I am trying to train 'smarter', which really means I actually have a plan and a training schedule. I modified one of Hal Higdeon's training plans. I am running 4 days a week (with one of those days being a tempo/speed run) and doing boot camp 2 times a week. I loooove boot camp and really wish I could fit it more into my schedule. But right now, I need to put some miles on the road. And I NEED to schedule a day of rest, or else I won't do it. I am hoping to stay injury free. Since pulling my achilles tendon in 2008, I am crazy about stretching and foam rolling and icing and resting. I hope I can keep up that level of crazy.

So there you have it. I am at the beginning. The beginning of an 18 week training plan that will have me running my little heart out and getting up at the crack of dawn to do it. I would love to run a marathon around 4 hours...that's my goal. But I will see how my training goes, I might have to adjust that.

Thanks for coming along for the ride with me!! Gotta go stretch...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Birthday Card gift set

Are you on Facebook?? I am a total addict. I love re-connecting with old friends and new friends and staying in touch with my sister. Yes, sometimes I spend too much time on it but I can't help myself. I love it. We watched The Social Network this week and it was very interesting. I recommend it!

So...a while ago on Facebook people started a Pay It Forward thing. You would post on your wall that the next 5 people to comment would get a homeade item from you. The people who commented would have to post on their wall to send homeade items to 5 people..etc...etc. I love to make 'stuff' so I was excited for people to sign up. I was thinking I was going to make edible goodies for everyone, but some of my girlfriends are trying to eat healthier. So sweet treats was out. But...what about sweet treats made out of paper???

I used my PSA Essentials Whimsy Cakes stamps for the cupcakes. They are so cute, 8 cupcakes stamps and they are all different! I made 6 cards and here are the cupcakes I used...

I tried coloring the images again and had varying levels of success. Just don't look too closely, ha ha!! And what's a set of cards without something to put them in? I pulled out the Captured Card case template from Papertrey Ink and made a matching card box.

I am loving my Martha Stewart border punch I got on sale!!

All together now...

I am really happy with how this set turned out. I used some Bella Blvd scraps I had on my table (loved those Hello Beautiful papers, could not throw away one scrap!), felt great to use scraps. Here are all the cards in the box and there was enough room for envelopes too!

Happy Friday everyone! I am super excited for the weekend. I have a long run planned and this weekend will mark my first official weekend of marathon training. I hope to talk a little bit about that on Monday. Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

CPS Sketch #202

Hi Everyone...Happy Wednesday!! How's your week going? I am wishing it was Friday already, this week is dragging by. I can't wait for the weekend.

This week at Card Positioning Systems, a great card sketch blog, PSA Essentials is sponsoring the sketch. Do you want to win some great PSA stamps? Well, join us in making a card with the sketch!

Here is my card. I used PSA's super cute Hello Kitty Garden Club stamps for this card. Isn't she cute??

Everytime I pull out these stamps, my daughter goes crazy for them. I ended up stamping a whole bunch on some paper for her and she and I colored away together at my scrap table. I still need some major help with coloring, but practice makes perfect. Right? Right??? If you are feeling creative today, give this sketch a try and link back to the CPS blog. You might win some awesome PSA Essential Goodies!

Thanks for stopping by today, Friends!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Snickerdoodle Blondies

My family loves snickerdoodles. Snickerdoodles are everybody's 2nd favorite cookie, right behind chocolate chip. When I made my husband a snickerdoodle bundt cake for his birthday, I knew I was on to something good. And when I ran across this recipe for snickerdoodle blondies, I knew I had to make them!!

If you ever want a really fast way to get snickerdoodles to the table, this is the recipe. There is no rolling of the dough balls, no dipping the dough balls in cinnamon and sugar. It's a bar type cookie and they are so super easy to make it probably should be illegal.

Mmmm...cinnamon....sugar...baked crispy sugar crust...what more can you ask for? Here's the recipe!!

Snickerdoodle Blondies
from My Baking Addiction

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
a pinch nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and/or line a 9×13 inch pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside.
2. In large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar for 3-5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and beat until smooth.
3. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan (spread it out with a greased spatula or your hands). Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.
4. Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool before cutting. Makes 20-24 bars.

I have to run...I am hopelessly addicted to The Bachelor and I must watch tonight. I feel like I need therapy everytime I watch this show. Anybody else watching????

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Papertrey Princess Challenge...Punch It!

I belong to an awesome group of crafters called the Papertrey Princesses. We are all fans of Papertrey Ink stamps and products and connected on their message board. I love all the inspiration I get from these creative, crafty girls. They are the best!! Today I am posting a challenge for our group...Punch It! I want you to use your punches to make a card or layout or project. Border punches, circle punches...any kind will work.

I pulled out my favorite Martha Stewart butterfly punch, some Bella Blvd scraps and started punching. Here is what I ended up with.

I loved the Hello Beautiful line from Bella Blvd, I could not let one scrap go to waste. I thought I would pair red with yellow for a bright and cheerful card. And I used a Papertrey Ink stamp set called Fancy Flourishes for the little red flourish.

Okay Princesses, let's see you put your punches to work! And please feel free to join in on the challenge. Link me to your card if you make one so I can check it out. Thanks for stopping by today!

Friday, January 21, 2011

More Love Birds

Happy End of The Week!! I hope you all had a great week. My son has baseball tryouts and i'm hoping for more nice weather. Today I have one more layout I made using the Love Birds papers by Fancy Pants. I've gotten a few questions about Croppin' Paradise and I want to let everyone know the store is NOT closing. They are still going strong and will be getting all the newest product from CHA this year. They just decided not to have a design team anymore. So keep looking at Croppin' Paradise for your scrappy needs!! the layout!!

I had mostly scraps and alot of great stickers from the Fancy Pants embellie sheet. They really go a long way dressing up a layout. Oh yeah, and bling too!

This was such a fun birthday party. My daughter's friend had a diva party and the girls were totally pampered and dressed up, had their hair done, drank apple cider from martini glasses and had a crazy dance party. I want to know when I can have a party like that!!

Have you been following all the CHA sneaks this week? Which ones are your favorites? I am just lovin' all the new Jillibean Soup sneaks, I think Chilled Strawberry Soup is my favorite. I am also liking the new Bella Blvd sneaks and the new Cosmo Cricket. I can't wait to get my hands on some new stuff!

Happy Friday everyone...thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

*Almost* Wordless Wednesday

We love Seaworld!!!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Whoopie Pies

The first time I had a whoopie pie was about 3 years ago. My sister was engaged to a boy from Maine and he took her to Maine to visit his parents and homestate. It was right around my birthday when she visited and on my birthday I got this huge box in the mail. I had no idea what it was...except it said Wicked Whoopie on the outside. I was a bit hesitant to open it! But inside were a dozen glorious Wicked Whoopie Pies. They were the size of my head, chocolately, and absolutely amazing. She sent me classic chocolate and chocolate chip. They were packaged individually in plastic bags. After the pie was gone, I had to inside-out the plastic bag, stick it on my hand like a glove and lick the leftover frosting off the inside of the bag. I had no shame, they were that good.

Ever since then, i've been trying to re-create them in my own kitchen. Many recipes are a doctored up cake mix attempt and to be honest...are not that good. I ran across a recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookie magazine and I wanted to give this recipe a whirl. And i'm so glad I did!

The cake part was spot on!!! It tasted almost like the original whoopies I tried, they were so darn good. I was disappointed with the filling recipe in the magazine, it was way too runny and I had to do some quick fixing to salvage it.

But I think I salvaged it pretty well. It was delicious inbetween those two little chocolately pillows. This is the closest I ever got to the original and I wish my sister was here for a taste test!

So my sister married that Maine boy and now she's living in Maine. I think it might have been the whoopie pies.

Classic Whoopie Pies
from Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies magazine 2009

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat shortening on medium for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in buttermilk, egg, and vanilla until combined.

2. In medium bowl, stir together flour and cocoa powder. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour mixture.

3. Drop dough from a rounded measuring tablespoon 2 1/2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, let cool.

Now...I basically made a vanilla buttercream frosting for the middle filling. Spread the flat side of one cookie with frosting. Then top it with another cookie. Squish it together gently. I am thinking maybe a marshmallow fluff frosting recipe might be pretty good in the recipe. I will just have to make them again to try it out!

Happy Monday everyone!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Owls and Birds

Happy Saturday!! What are your plans for the weekend? I plan on enjoying my 80 degree weather. Yes, you read that right. It's supposed to be 80 degrees and sunny this weekend. I plan on spending every second I can outside. Well, after I finish this blog post.

Last year for my son's 8th birthday, we had a pretty cool party for him. Our friend, who is an animal trainer and falconer, brought his birds to the party. One of the birds he brought is a Eurasian Eagle Owl and was the coolest bird I have ever seen. He was so calm and his eyes were amazing and we all had the opportunity to touch him. And here he is...Periwinkle!

I was happy to find this Basic Grey paper in my stash, I thought it went perfect with these photos. In fact, I ended up scrapping my son's entire birthday with these papers.

Our friend also brought a peregrine falcon and a huge, huge vulture named Dexter. It was one of the coolest parties, even the parents were fascinated! If you want to see the recap, check it out: Kevin's 8th Birthday.

That's it for me today! I am off to enjoy the beautiful weather and the 3-day weekend. Have a great weekend everyone!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Measuring cups are not just for baking...

Gone are the days in my house when I can give my babies a set of measuring cups and they will play for hours with them. Maybe because they are not babies anymore! But when I saw my nieces over the holidays, I did just that. Gave them a set of measuring cups and watched them play and bang them on the tile and make tons of noise and play some more. And I loved every second of it.

When Molly heard her sister banging around in the kitchen, she had to come check out what the fuss was all about.

Such a pair of cuties!!! I loved chasing them around with my camera. I hope you're having a great's almost Friday. Have a great one and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Quinoa and Bean Corn Chowder

I'm going to tell you a little secret. I don't cook. It's not that I can't cook or don't like to do it. But it's my husband that does all the cooking. Our schedules are arranged so he is home with the kids in the afternoon for homework, shuttling them to sports and dance practices, and he does all the cooking. I am more the baker in the family. If you want to know what's for dinner...ask Dad. If you want to know what's for dessert...ask Me!!

So I was very excited this past weekend to have an afternoon to try to make a new recipe. One that I knew my kids probably wouldn't like but one that I really wanted to try. So I did and i'm sharing it with you!

Quinoa and Bean Corn Chowder:

Now if I was a real foodie, I would have ironed my placemat before taking the photo. Ha ha! I found this recipe on the blog Daily Garnish. Emily is a vegetarian chef, a marathon runner, and a healthy living blogger. No, I don't know her but her blog is becoming one of my favorites. If you want to see the recipe in full, I will direct you to her blog (she has some great step by step photos!): Quinoa and Bean Corn Chowder.

I did make a few changes to the recipe. I didn't have cumin seeds, so I omitted them. I also didn't have almond milk. I had vanilla soymilk and was a little afraid to use it in case the flavor came across too sweet. But it turned out great!! This was a very hearty soup with the quinoa and corn. It was filling and great for a blustery cold Sunday afternoon. And i've eaten the leftovers 2 days in a row.

See the little reddish specks? That's the quinoa. Quinoa is a grain that is very high in protein and contains all the essential amino acids, thus making it a complete protein. It's a great substitute for rice. I got the red quinoa at Trader Joe's, where you can also get plain quinoa (which is the great substitute for rice). It's definitely a departure from my usual sugar/flour/butter creations but a really good one. If your weather is cold and icky right now, this bowl of chowder just might do the trick!

Okay...Wednesday...halfway through the week. Just a few more days until Friday! Thanks for stopping by today!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday randomness

Happy BRRRRRR cold Monday everyone!! In my effort to Move More this year, I was up at 5am for boot camp. And I even burned some extra calories by scraping the ice off my windshield with a credit card before I could get there. It was coooold this morning! I am grateful not to have any snow on the ground, though. Hope you are all stay safe and warm.

There are some fun things going on this week. At the PSA Essentials Stamp Camp Blog it's Bridal Week! Libby will be sharing all sorts of great ideas for brides and weddings. Are you getting married soon? Know somebody getting married? Been married yourself? It's going to be a week of fun inspiration so make sure you come check it out.

Also, I am featured today on the Inspirational Blog! I was quite surprised to get an email asking if I wanted to be featured on the blog and I said Yes! It's a fun blog, so many great creative people and projects featured. I got lost checking out the archives. Please take a peek if you have a chance!

And lastly, if you are looking for a challenge to get your creative juices flowing, check out the January Crop Suey Challenge. It's an Ad Challenge this week!

What inspires you about this ad? The colors? The design? The saying? Make it your own, create a layout and link back to the Crop Suey Blog. This month our sponsor is Cosmo Cricket!!! Here's what I did...I was inspired by the red background and the black TV so I tried to recreate that color contrast.

Yes, the banner obsession continues. These stickers from My Mind's Eye make them easy.

So...go get creative! Stay warm and safe today my friends...thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Soft Garlic Knots

This is the kind of recipe my brother-in-law will like. He's not a sweets person, he goes for more savory foods and he loves to bake his own bread. So these are for you, Jason!

These are heavenly little bits of dough, tied up in a knot and brushed with butter, garlic, and italian herbs before baking. Here is the recipe (from the Annie's Eats food blog): Soft Garlic Knots. It's a pretty basic dough recipe, I like the addition of olive oil to the dough. And you even get to have a little bit of fun tying the knots. Want to see how?

First...grab a small ball of dough after it's risen:

Roll it out into a long strip of dough:

Then literally just tie it in a knot!

If you have problems with the dough pulling apart when you pull the knot closed, just add a little bit of flour to the dough strip before you tie the knot. Tuck the right side into the top of the knot and tuck the left side into the bottom of the knot.

I use my pizza stone for making rolls. The never stick and the cleanup is so easy. After you let the knots rise again, brush them with butter/garlic/italian herbs. Then bake. They are soooo good!

Some of the tops popped out of the knots while baking, so next time I will make sure to tuck them in nice and tight.

You could really brush them with whatever. Leave out the garlic and just do the herbs. Just use butter. Brush with a butter/honey combination. Whatever floats your boat!! These rolls were the best i've ever made. So chewy and fresh, I loved them. This will become my go-to dough/roll recipe for sure!

Hope you are all having a great weekend. It's coooold here and these knots sure would be good with a bowl of soup right now. Thanks for stopping by!