Sunday, February 12, 2012

Christmas Altered Barn Star

I've seen a lot of altered barn stars in the Two Peas gallery and I've been wanting to make one myself. I finally found some at Big Lots for $10. I decided to alter one using some of last year's Basic Grey "Dasher" PP. It is my first and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out! Here it is sitting at the top of one my ladder shelves with one of my holiday Boyds Bears. Merry Christmas!

Summer Plans

Last summer, I pretty much just sat on my butt doing nothing but laying out, reading a book on my front porch swing, or scrapbooking. My DH didn't say anything at all -- he just let me relax. This year though, he discreetly says, " didn't do too much last summer...kind of layed around a lot. Plan on doing anything this summer?" Oh GEEZ! What's with the pressure?! Get off my back already! JK! We actually have a lot of stuff around the house that definitely needs to get done and considering I have nothing but free time for the next 9-10 weeks, I convinced myself to try and knock some of it out! It's actually kind of getting on my nerves -- we've lived here for 3 years and really need to organize our stuff. So that has been my goal on my first week off. I wish I could say that I've acomplished a lot, but I'd be lying. I did get some stuff done though. I went through all of my clothes and bagged up old stuff for the Salvation Army. I cleaned out my old dresser so that we could try to sell it at our garage sale. I also went though our "random stuff" closet and attemped to organize it and gather more garage sale stuff. now I just need to get some bins or crates to help un-randomize the closet. :-) For accountability reasons, here is the rest of my summer to-do list (I know you're just on the edge of your seat for this!):

  1. Organize closets and scrapbook room to prevent the panic attacks I've been getting as I stare at the chaos barely contained within them.
  2. Free the pictures that are now held captive in my computer, put them in the frames I bought eons ago, and actually put them the frames up on the walls. What a concept?!
  3. Buy a few more chochkies for the house to make it feel more homey.
  4. Finish our wedding photoalbum which is actually nearly done except for maybe 5-6 pages. Maybe I'll actually finish it before our 3rd wedding anniversary! Ooops!
  5. Organize my recipe box which now is nothing but a box full of random papers sticking out everywhere. Half the time, if I want to make a certain dish, instead of going through my recipe box, I just go to my computer and print it off again. Kind of defeats the purpose!
  6. Get super buff! Okay, this one is kind of personal, but whatever!

So far, I've made good progress on the first goal and the 5th one. I actually decided to type out all of the recipes I frequently use, put them in page protectors (to keep whatever I'm cooking OFF the paper,) and put them all in one binder. I'm kind of making my own personal cookbook! I've finished typing out almost all of my recipes and it looks good so far, so I'm psyched about that. Wait, I just realized...I'm going to need a rockin title for my cookbook. Any ideas?! Oh BTW, I can tell you that the Lemon Blossoms recipe will likely not be included in my cookbook. My DH said that they were "good". He said the cupcake itself was yummy but the glaze was a little too much. I tasted one for myself and you know what they reminded me of? You know those lemon jelly-filled donuts that are glazed? That's exactly what these cupcakes tasted like -- but no jelly consistency...make sense? Anyway, they were way too sweet for me! As far as baking desserts, I'll stick to whoopie pies (I giggle a little everytime I say their name) and peanut butter cookies -- my faves!

As far as the last goal, I'm working on that one too. I've worked out pretty much every day since my summer break started. I only took 1 day off so far and that was because uh...I couldn't move my knee after running 8 miles the day before. I know, I'm a big wimp! ;-p Anyway, I've been running 4 days/week, doing my Firm videos, and I've thrown in a little yoga! I found this show called Namaste Yoga on FitTV and it's pretty good! One episode was even titled "Yoga for Distance Runners". Without the commercials, each episode is only about 20-25 minutes, so it's nice and short. Here's my workout schedule so far:

  • S: Long run day
  • M: Rest
  • T: Easy Run (4 miles) followed by Namaste Yoga
  • W: Hill Workout Run (3.5-4 miles on a hilly course) followed by Namaste Yoga
  • R: Firm Video -- Total Body Time Cruch ("Is my butt supposed to feel like this? Wait...I don't feel my butt anymore!")
  • F: Easy Run (4 miles) followed by Namaste Yoga
  • Sa: Firm Video -- Bootcamp ("Is it normal for a person to sweat this much?)

So far I feel great! I'm trying to eat healthy too. Any great recipes you care to share? I'd love to add them to my awesome cookbook! BTW, I know it's totally not healthy, but I'm on the hunt for the recipe for Max and Erma's Chocolate Cake. It's the best I've EVER had...must have more... ***wiping drool*** Maybe later today or tomorrow I'll share a few of my fave recipes!

TWD: Granola Grabbers

Michelle over at Bad Girl Baking chose this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe: Granola Grabbers! (Click on her blog name for the recipe.) I was glad to see a cookie recipe as I needed something that could be whipped up quickly. These were different too -- a break from my usual chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies. The only problem I had was finding plain granola. The best I could find was a granola cereal with just almonds. Once I got it home though, I had to break up some of the big chunks in the cereal for the recipe. Yikes -- that stuff was super jagged! I felt like I was trying to break up chunks of coal! Once that was finished though, they were really easy to put together. I mixed in some peanuts and both regular and golden raisins. I left out the coconut though since I know some of my DH's family doesn't like it.

I think the cookies came out really good. They reminded me of an oatmeal cookie crossed with a little peanut butter cookie. Yum! I also liked how this cookie had a few healthy ingredients such as the granola and wheat germ. It made eating the cookies feel a little less guilt-ridden! The recipe was fun too considering all the variations you could do. I think that if I make these again, I'd definitely like to play around a little more and try some different add-ins like maybe dried cherries and more almonds. Mmmmmm!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Going Back to School!

My friends from work invited me to join the Wilton 1 Cake Decorating class at my local JoAnn's. I've been interested in learning to decorate, so I thought, what the heck! While it was fun watching the instructor work today, I am slightly overwhelmed. I have never done any of this stuff! I guess that's why I'm there though, right?! And the class is condensed too. Instead of meeting 1x a week for 4 weeks, we're meeting 2x a week for 2 weeks. Our first class was tonight and I have to bake a cake and ice it by Wednesday! AHHH! That's okay though. Tomorrow after work, I'll bake my cake, then take it over to my friend's house. We're all meeting there to make our frostings and start icing. Should be a lot of fun! I'll post pics as the class progresses... this should be interesting!

Monday, February 6, 2012

CIK Challenge: Parmesan Chicken

If you don't recall, Chaos in the Kitchen (CIK) challenges are just personal challenges that I give myself to try new recipes. Tonight, I tried a recipe that I saw on Ina Garten's show, Barefoot Contessa. The recipe is Parmesan Chicken and can be found on Food Network's website (or just click on the link!) I don't know why it says on the website that this is an intermediate level recipe. I thought it was super easy. Basically, pound down chicken to about 1/4" (I just sliced mine horizontally since the chicken I get is so huge anyway -- it ends up being 1/4" or so), dip in flour mixture, egg, and then bread crumb/parm cheese. Cook in skillet over med-low heat for 2-3 minutes per side and you're done! If you want, you can top with greens that have been dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. I think you should try it with the greens -- the lemon vinaigrette is so tasty with the chicken! Overall, I thought this was a super simple recipe with a lot of yummy taste! (Oh, BTW, just so that you can determine size, the plate below is NOT a regular dinner plate. It's just a salad plate. Those would be some honkin chicken breasts otherwise! LOL)

We weren't all that hungry though, so I just made the chicken and another little treat -- tomato with mozzarella and basil. I won't insult you by giving a formal recipe. You can probably figure it out by the pic -- slice a tomato, insert some mozzarella slices, top with chopped basil. Drizzle good olive oil over top and s&p to taste. It's so simple, yet one of my DH and my favorite summer eats!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Found a Speck of Mojo" Friday

Today is Friday and that always puts me in a good mood! I got everything I needed to get done at work so I feel pretty good about that. I decided to go on a run today after all. I drove up to my favorite park and ran the loop twice. That only equals 3.6 miles, so I ran up and down the driveway and a little back onto the path in hopes of getting in 4. I used MapMyRun to check my totals and it looks I got in 4.2 today! The loop I ran at the park is pretty hilly, so I was huffing and puffing on parts of it just to keep a 10 min/mi pace, but that's okay. I hope the hills will just make me stronger, right?! My goal then will be to run that course with greater ease and in a faster time. What really stunk about the run though is that my knees are still hurting. It's not nearly as bad as it was before, it's just the fact that they are STILL hurting. I mean come ON already! It's been 8 weeks now. UGH! Despite that though, I still feel pretty positive about my running today. The knee pain has reduced and I'm getting ready to slowly approach greater distances again. Tomorrow I'll take off from running, but Sunday I plan to try 5 miles. Monday I'll have off, but then Tuesday I'll just go out for 3 or 4. I'll have to take Wed and Thur off though because I am going on a field trip with my students. We're going to CAMP! It will be really fun, but I have to admit...I'll miss DH and my kitties. (Yes, I'm lame like that.) I'll be back home Friday afternoon, but I'll probably be pretty tired. I'll try to go on another long run that weekend -- hopefully 6 miles. We'll see how I feel after that. I hope I can get up to running 6 miles with relatively no pain. That'll be awesome! The following weekend, I will have a 5.25 mile race! The course is supposed to be pretty hilly too. I hope my park course helps to prepare me for it!

Oh, I guess I should mention that speck of mojo that got me out there today. While one speck is due to the simple fact that today is FRIDAY, the other is that today was jeans day at work, and I have to say, I really liked how my jeans fit today! I remember how they used to be a little tight in the waist and today I noticed how loose they are! I kept having to pull them up! I thought, COOL BEANS -- this running thing IS doing some good for me! :-)

Other than that, I'm now still trying to decide on a race to do in August. As I wrote in an earlier post, there are two that I both wanted to do (one is a 10K and one is a 10-miler) and I recently found out that they are on the same day. They are also both 3 weeks away from my first ever half marathon. I am trying to decide which race would better prepare me for my half. At first I assumed the 10-miler would better prepare me since it is closer in distance to the 13.1. I figured it would give me a good idea of how to pace the half mary. Well today, I was reading "The Fast Lane" page in this month's Runner's World (pg 46) and it was talking about "tune up" races. Here's what is says:

"Tune-ups are done 2-3 weeks before a key event and should be shorter than your target race, but run at full effort. Running fast ensures that your fast-twitch muscle fibers and neuromuscular coordination are high; the shorter distance ensures you won't need a long recovery."

It then goes on to suggest running a 10K two weeks before a half marathon. So now I just really don't know! Luckily I have time to figure it out.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lazy Days Are Coming To An End

Summer is my absolute favorite time of year. First, I love nice warm weather. Feeling the nice warm rays on my skin just makes me smile. Second, I love when everything outside comes to life -- the trees are a sea of green waving in the breeze and the flowers are bursting forth in color and heavenly fragrance. Third, I love all the fun things you can do in the summer like camping, hiking, biking, going to the beach, enjoying dinner out on our back deck... FUN! Oh, and there's one more thing... From the eloquent words of Alice Cooper... Schoooooooool's out for summah! Now for me, that means a good 8 weeks worth of days upon days to do whatever I want, whenever I want, AKA: Living the Dream! And this summer, I wanted to do pretty much what the girl at the top of my blog is doing -- laying around and just enjoying a lazy day. I was lucky enough to do much of that this summer, but I also did a lot of fun things too. I got back into cooking again and found a new love in baking. I kept up with my running and am getting close to reaching one of my goals this year which is to complete a half marathon. I got a few rooms in my house organized and did some decorating. And oh yeah, I went on an AWESOME vacation! Ahhhh, I am so sad to say goodbye to my lazy days. This was one of my best summers EVER, but all good things must come to an end. As of this coming Monday, I must say goodbye to living the dream and rejoin the ranks of those partaking in reality. Oh well, it was simply fabulous while it lasted, and if times get rough during this school year, at least I'll have pleasant memories to bring me joy, and a hope for another fabulous summer to come next year!