Friday, March 11, 2011

Another Explosion Box!

Here is another explosion box I'm working on. I love making these! The only problem is, I haven't put any pics in any of the ones I've created! Some of them I am going to give as gifts so my friends will put in their own pics, but one I am keeping for myself and I have yet to finish it! Oh well, here is the newest one I am working on...

I am still looking for something to decorate the tabs with. Here are pics of the inside layers.

I am still working on them, but I like the way they've turned out so far. I would like to add more embellies, but since I'm giving them as gifts, I figure I'll leave them more "blank" so that whoever gets them can embellish the way they would like to. I hope someone will want them!

Thanks for looking!

PP: "McKenna" by K&Company

Four Days Off -- The Results

After my knee pain last Saturday, I decided to take a couple days off to let things get better. It's interesting how I was affected by this... I normally work out right after work, but since I wasn't working out, I felt really bummed and disappointed with myself. Instead, I plopped down on the coach, strapped some ice to my knees and scarfed down some Easter candy...and some ice cream...and maybe just one more piece of candy! YUMMMM! OMG -- I was so bad! Then when I was finished, I felt guilty for eating all that crap and not being able to work it off. Oh well! That was one bad thing that happened this week.

Here's one good thing: My feet have returned to looking somewhat normal again! Can I just first say that I have a weird foot thing -- I am slightly obsessed with feet looking cute. I almost did not go out with my husband after meeting him for the first time because when we met, we were at a beach party. He had sandals on which is totally appropriate for the beach, but as soon as I looked down and saw his feet, I was like, "Oh need to cover those things up! I realize socks and sandals are a total no-no, but you just might need an exemption!" Of course I didn't say that though! So anyway, now that I've been running longer miles, my poor little toesies have not been happy! I've had blisters of some sort for nearly 5 weeks! Well, with these 4 days off, they have started looking normal again! Thank goodness too, because these babies need to be sandal-ready in just a few more weeks!

Well, I finally went for a run today after my four days off. I decided to take it easy and only do 3 miles. I figured I would wait to see how I felt after a short run to see if I could be ready for my long 9-miler planned for Saturday. My knees hurt the first mile, but not bad. I'd say, on my pain scale of 1-10 (1 = that's strangely uncomfortable, 10 = call 911 -- I literally can't take another @$#@! step!) my pain during the run was at about a 2 or 3. Not bad! Halfway through the run, I didn't even feel the pain anymore. After I finished my 3 miles, I stretched and iced on the way home. That was a few hours ago -- so far, so good! As long as I am feeling decent tomorrow, I'll be hitting the road for 9 miles come Saturday. Cross your fingers for me!

As a side note, my run today was really nice. The weather was beautiful! It was about 55 degrees and the sun was shining. The snow was all gone and I could finally see the green grass and trails meandering through the trees. I can't WAIT to hit those. The path I run along has a lot of wildlife too and I could hear frogs and peepers singing their springtime songs. I LOVE days like today! Can't wait for more!

***Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes -- I have changed my blog layout...again! I know...I change the stupid thing practically every month! What can I say...I get bored easily!***

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Needing Some Changes

So I know that I said that I wouldn't combine topics in one post, but what can I say... I'm a rule breaker... apparently even when it comes to my own rules! I'll at least give you heads up with topic titles within the post! So anyway, first I'll start with a run report.

Run Report: If it wasn't for a tremendous amount of guilt this morning, I think I would have skipped my run. Why? Well, it seems that I'm getting pretty bored with my running. I've been running the same routes for my weekday runs for 3-4 weeks now. As many songs as I have on my iPod, I think I've listened to them all about 17 times now. It's not that I am hating the run... it's just that I'm tired of the same thing over and over...and over! Most of the time, I'm just like, "Am I done yet?!"

It doesn't help that my knees were seriously mad at me after my 10.5 mile run this past Saturday. I had to run the parking lot to avoid the rain yesterday (Sunday) and my knees seriously hurt. I mean, I don't mind feeling pain/discomfort while running, but when the pain sneaks its way into my everyday life, something's wrong. I was planning on maybe taking today off since they were hurting, but wouldn't you know it, they felt fine this morning. I was almost disappointed! It would've been the perfect excuse. Oh well.

The heavy guilt of missing a planned run weighed heavily and kicked me out of the house to start my run. I actually left the iPod at home and just ran with my own thoughts. Scary! Anyhow, I knocked a 5-miler out and am hoping to find some new routes or trails to run on. After all, I had a good 10.5 mile run this weekend and it was mostly better I think because I got to see some cool new places. Maybe I just need a change of scenery...


What's Up in the Kitchen: Well, I don't have a cooking challenge yet to post. Hopefully I'll have some good stuff to share tonight. I plan on making shredded chicken enchiladas, spanish rice and some honey cornbread. I did want to share a old/new favorite beverage. I say "old" because I've had a version of it dozens of times, but it's "new" because now I am having the authentic version of...Chai Tea!

While I am NOT a coffee drinker, I do like tea and my absolute fave is Chai Tea, which is nearly the only thing I will get from Starbucks or Arabica. Anyhow, even though I've tried all the different versions of chai tea from the grocery store, nothing came even close! Well, last weekend, my neighbor from India showed me how she makes her authentic Indian Chai tea. OMG... better than Starbucks could even dream of!

The secret ingredient is a spice mix called Tea Masala which basically translates too...tea spice! Here is basically how she made the tea (and how I do now too!):


1/2 part water
1/2 part milk
1 tea bag per serving (basic Lipton is perfect)
1/2 teaspoon Tea Masala* for each serving (or more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom for each serving (optional)

*Special note regarding the tea masala: My neighbor said that each company that makes tea masala may have a different mix of spices. She says the best tea masala is by "Badshah". I found it at my local Indian food store. I got a 3.5 ounce box for under $2.00! Just think how many cups of Chai Tea I can make with that whole box versus one cup of Chai Tea from Arabica for $4.00! Well worth it! Here's a pic of the box in case your interested in finding it.

As you can see, the tea masala has already made it's way into one of my canisters! It's a keeper! Oh, one more thing... in my recipe above, I just use 1/2 teaspoon of the tea masala. It took 2-3 cups of trial and error to come up with that. You may like more or less spice, so adjust accordingly.


1. Take the cup you are going to drink from and fill it 1/2 way with water. Dump water into a pot and boil the water.

2. Once water is boiling, add the Tea Masala. (You will get huge bubbles when you do this. Be careful to watch the pot the whole time it is on the stove -- you don't want it to boil over! When it starts to foam up, close to the top of the pot, just remove it from the heat, lower the heat, and then put it back on.)

3. Drop in 1 tea bag per serving.

4. Allow to boil for a little bit. Add ground cardamom if you have it.

5. Take the cup you are going to drink from and fill it 1/2 way with milk. Add it to the tea. Allow to boil but WATCH CAREFULLY -- don't let it boil over!

6. Add sugar to taste -- I add 1T.

7. Pour into your drinking cup, allow to cool and enjoy!

I'm sure there may be easier ways to make it. In fact, on the back of the tea masala box, it just says to add 1 teaspoon of the spice to a cup of tea and add milk if desired. That may work, but the way my neighbor showed me makes a yummilicious cup of tea, so I ain't changin' a thing! (That may have to change once school starts again. I'll have to find a way to make this in my microwave!)

I Finished a Marathon... Kind of !

After my half marathon a few weeks ago, I started thinking about doing another race soon to keep up my motivation. Soon after that, I got an offer to join a relay team for the Roadrunner Akron Marathon! It sounded like a great running opportunity since I would be able to participate in a marathon event without having to actually go the full 26.2, which I am nowhere near being able to do! I lucked out and was even able to do the finishing leg which was a very doable 12.2K (7.6 miles) and also gave me the opportunity to do the marathon Olympic style finish into Canal Park Stadium. How fun!

I wish I could say that I did some heavy duty training in between my half mary and my relay race yesterday, but I'd be lying. I did a few long runs of 8 and 9 miles on the weekends, but only did a few 3-4 mile runs during the week. I was hoping it would be enough to have a decent showing for the Akron relay.

I arrived near the race venue early Saturday morning. I parked across from the stadium and could see it all set up for the finish. It was pretty cool! I then found my way over to front of the stadium so that I could catch my shuttle to my relay point. People were already lined up along the road getting ready to cheer for all of the runners. There was a gigantic roadrunner (you know the character -- meep meep!) balloon and people were getting their pictures with it! I wasn't one of them though. In fact, no pics for me! I didn't have my camera with me. :-( Anyway, it was really exciting to see the race atmosphere already in swing.

I soon caught the shuttle to my destination and stood in the corrals waiting for my relay partner to show up. Since I was the last leg, I really had no idea how long it was take my other 4 teammates to run their legs, so I got there an hour early and just cheered for everyone until I heard my bib number called. Once they called my number, I jumped onto the course and started waving to my relay partner. As soon as he passed the relay bracelet to me, I said, "Great job!" and started off.

I really wasn't sure how I was going to feel. I hadn't warmed up since I was afraid to miss my bib number called if I wasn't right in the corral, so I had gone from literally standing around for an hour, to full out race pace. Also, my training in the weeks before weren't exactly stellar, so I figured that I'd just try to keep to a 9 minute pace as I had done in my half mary and cross my fingers.

It was really hard to pace myself since there was a mix of full marathon runners and relay runners. Obviously the relay runners bolted out, but I didn't know how wise it was to try to keep up with them. I used my Garmin to try to keep me on track. As much as I tried to keep a constant pace though, I was all over the place ranging from 7:30 m/m to 9:30 m/m! I think that was mainly due to the hills on this course. I rarely run hills anymore, so the hills on this course really took it out of me! I promised myself though that I wouldn't walk the hills though and would instead just run as slow as needed and try to make it up on the other side. Well luckily, despite the three sizable hills on the course, the last mile was all downhill and it was pretty steep too. I cruised down that hill as fast as my legs would carry me! There was a slight uphill right before the end but I knew the finish was in sight, so that made it easier. I was still dead tired though and my legs were so heavy that it was hard to turn them over. After making the final turn into Canal Park Stadium, I saw the finish timer and went into a full sprint. The stadium was packed and people were cheering! It was awesome! I pretended that they were all cheering for me! LOL! It was great fun!

Aside from the cool finish, one thing that I really enjoyed about this race was all the people I saw! First, there were tons of people cheering all over the place. There were bands, and cheerleaders, and people just sitting out on their front lawns cheering for all of the runners. There were people standing at the ends of their driveways handing out snacks like pretzels and drink. Everyone was so positive! I saw a lot of people dressed up too. I saw a group of relay runners all dressed up with batman masks and another group all wearing princess tiaras! I even saw one marathon runner juggling as he was running! WHOA! I also was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of people I know too. When I first arrived there, I ran into a girl that I work with. She and I chatted for a bit before I headed over to catch my shuttle. Once I got to my relay zone, I ran into the wife of one of my husband's former coworkers. She and I had fun chatting while waiting for our numbers to be called. Then, once I started running, I heard a familiar voice shouting from the crowd cheering people on. It was another coworker. I yelled to her and she starting cheering like crazy for me! How nice! Then, a mile or so later, I had to cross traffic. The traffic cop was telling a driver to wait for me. When I looked at the driver, I recognized him as another coworker! In fact, he would have been doing the race himself had he not pulled a hamstring last week. He gave me a big wave and a thumbs up. After I crossed the finish line, I started making my way through the shoot and found another coworker there. She had just completed the full marathon a few minutes ahead of me. Then, to top of my reunion type day, after chatting with my relay teammates for awhile, I started heading back to my car. As I was walking down the sidewalk, I looked to the person on my left and recognized her as the person who first hired me as a teacher! She was my supervisor for a few years and was always very supportive. It was nice seeing her again.

I really could not get over how many people I saw yesterday! I mean, some of those situations were just too coincidental! With the 10,000+ people just at the race alone, I don't think I could have planned to run into those people if I tried! Oh well, so glad I did!

So once I got home, I checked out my split time which for 7.6 miles was 1:07:06. I was wondering if that was on pace as to what I should have been able to do. I went onto the Running Times Calculator and entered in my half mary time from a few weeks ago and then entered in 7.6 miles and found that my projected time should have been 1:06:40. HA! I was less than 30 seconds off my target time and I didn't even know it! Considering that my half mary course was all downhill and my race yesterday certainly was NOT, it turns out that I did pretty well! In fact my average pace was 8:49 m/m -- not too shabby!

So overall, the relay race was pretty fun! I think I'd like to do it again. It has me looking forward to racing again soon too! :-)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I've Got Two Tickets to Paradise

The surprise destination is... The Big Island Hawaii! I can't believe this! This is far beyond my wildest hopes and dreams! I've been SO busy getting ready the past two days though, I haven't even had time to write about how the surprise was revealed! I still have so much to do too. I'm sure I'll have plenty of time on the plane tomorrow to give all the details! Stay tuned!