Well, Hello There!

Hey Friends!

I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve written anything.  I know you were all just dying to hear from me.  So… here’s a little update:  I recently started a new job and moved to Omaha.  I’m living with my mom for a little bit until I can find an apartment/build up some savings.  Basically, right now my life is filled with excitement and adventure.  Even if excitement and adventure simply means sitting down to eat breakfast, drink coffee, and watch the news every morning.  Switching from two jobs to one job also means that I have time to work out again.  I mean… That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve USED my free time to work out, but that time is there and I have every intention of using it.

I’m making a goal to write a little bit every day for the rest of May.  What would you like me to write about?  What are the topics that just make you go, “That Sally…. She sure is [hilarious, brilliant, humble, etc…]”  Because, you guys, I JUST found out this weekend when the new princess was born that Duchess Catherine was even expecting.  So… I need a little help.

Gratitude Challenge – Day 1

My mom nominated me on Facebook to take part in the “Gratitude Challenge.”  You post two things you are grateful for a day for five days.  Since I can never think of anything to write about, I’m going to use this challenge as a way to get back to regularly posting on here.

1. Since my mom nominated me, I think it’s only fitting that the first one is dedicated to her. I’m grateful to have such an amazing mama. Growing up, our house was always full of silliness. At any given time, there were songs being improvised to be sung by inanimate objects, children were turning into tigers, and books were being read. Watching her be a grandma serves as a reminder of just how fun my childhood was. I regularly find myself sitting on the floor with a toddler in my lap when Mom’s reading the bedtime stories.

I have been so inspired by my mom’s strength over the past 4 years, especially in these last 18-ish months. For a woman who hates making decisions, she has made a lot of BIG decisions with a lot of grace. Also, I know this “Gratitude List” is a 2-a-day, 5 day deal, but my mom has kept a gratitude journal for years and years where she writes numerous things she’s grateful for every day.  So…  I think I can figure out a way to come up with 10 things I’m grateful for.

momsally

2. I’m loving this shift to fall weather. Anything under 60 degrees makes me one happy girl. Once we get down to the 40’s… Oh Baby.  It makes me want to put on my running tights and a long-sleeved shirt with thumbholes and go for a run.

The weather today reminds me of a day when Emily P. and I went to something at the Edgerton Center then had a sleepover. The next day we rode our bikes to Ben Franklin’s to get supplies to make bubbles, spent the day trying to recreate the awesomeness of the Bubble Man, then rode our bikes to Chucks to get some pizza burgers.

You’re supposed to nominate two people with every post to take part in the challenge.  However, I’m just going to nominate a big ol’ collective YOU.  I’d love to hear what my readers are grateful for.

Not-so-Good Grief

A few weeks ago, I was visiting my mom in Omaha and got to spend a lot of time with my nieces.  My three-year-old niece, Whitney, and I started watching Pocahontas.  (Some advice from me:  Unless you want to have awkward conversations about race and greed and historical inaccuracies in Disney movies and controversy surrounding the settling of our nation, do not watch Pocahontas with an abundantly curious toddler.)  One of our big topics of discussion was bravery.  She kept asking me if Pocahontas was brave.  She wanted to know if John Smith was brave and also if he was Prince Eric but with yellow hair.  (I told her that Prince Eric was much, much more handsome than John Smith.)  She told me how brave she is and that her sister Abigail is kind of brave but sometimes gets scared (Side note:  Abigail is actually 100% fearless.).  After going through a list of her very brave family members, the question I feared most came, “Yeah, but, Aunt Sally, are you brave?” My natural response:  “Whaaaat?!  Of COURSE I’m brave.”

When I think of my dad’s illness and, eventually, his death, I will say that I had some very brave moments.  In fact, maybe too many than I would care for – especially before turning 30.  There were a lot of times when he was sick that I had to step up and embrace being a caretaker to a man I consider a hero.  There was a lot of courage in my own commitment to get healthy.  And, even though during his sickness there were many times that I chose be angry, resentful, or just straight up indifferent out of fear for being sad, in the final days of his life I mustered up every ounce of courage possible to tell the man I love most in this world goodbye.  In the week following my dad’s passing, I was brave while I tried to comfort people at his visitation who were also mourning the loss of someone who meant so much to them.  And, even though I excused myself to the nursery way too often to “check on Whit’s diaper situation” and started having a mini panic attack when I felt like there were too many chairs in Fellowship Hall following the funeral (Thank you, Mindy M., for immediately fixing this. 🙂 )  I felt I did an adequate job of being gracious at the funeral and I am 300% positive Dad would have been proud.

However, in the year following his passing, I’m most certain that I have not been entirely brave.  There are a lot of things that I originally pushed aside in the name of grieving, but seemed to have moved into the category of “Things I Choose Not to Think About, Because If I Move On To The Next Stage In My Life Then My Mourning Period Is Over And That Scares Me.”

For instance: I am terrified of dating.  It’s something that I really have no experience in.  In college, there wasn’t so much dating as there was “hanging out.”  At least, I hear people “hung out”.  I’d like to pretend that I had the kind of game that could lead to “hanging out”, but I watched too much SVU and Criminal Minds to think that was a good idea.  Then, when my life became so centered on illness, I didn’t think it was a good idea to invite anyone into my life who didn’t already unconditionally love me.  So now, I’m trying to do what most of my friends figured out years ago.  And while that’s scary, it’s still just an issue that could be resolved in a very self-deprecating and amusing episode of The Mindy Project.  What terrifies me most is that the man I’ll end up sharing my life with will most-likely have never met my dad.  That might sound silly, but there is absolutely no way of simply explaining my dad to someone and coming even close to doing him justice.  When I make inanimate objects sing or blurt out things like “Oh, Heavens, No!” or “Good grief!”, you can tell within 10 minutes of hanging out with my mom where that came from.  But then there’s this very prevalent side of me that is dry and sarcastic and gets grumpy while waiting for people to make a decision or standing in line or being surrounded by crowds of people or busy stores (I guess I could’ve just gone with an all-encompassing “gets grumpy”) and always has to fight the urge to tell people that they could probably just walk when they say they’re just going to run to the bathroom real quick.  That side of me that is usually easy going, but occasionally needs to write an angry but well-worded and entertaining letter, email, Facebook Message, and/or series of Post-It notes or just go on a really long drive?  That part of me is pretty hard to explain and nearly impossible to forgive without the proof of it’s source.

I’m a little lost in all other areas of my life, too.  I think the main issue is that I’m afraid to leave my little bubble of grief.  I cut myself some slack in that first year without my dad to basically just survive.  I worked two jobs and it was okay, because I didn’t really have a whole lot of time to think about anything.  I promised myself I’d use that year to figure out what I want to do when I grow up, but now it’s been a year and three months and I have done very little of the self-reflection that I need to do in order to figure out that grown up stuff.  I mean, I have talking points that I use for things like family get-togethers and unexpectedly running into old classmates or friends.  And I definitely have leftover escapism fantasies from when my dad was sick that basically involve me opening up a bakery or moving into a house straight out of a Nancy Myers movie and writing romance novels under an awesome pseudonym.  I just haven’t done enough practical thinking on the issue.  I know it’s because I’m scared to leave this place of grieving.  I know I’ll always grieve my dad.  I am so much like him that not having him here is just incredibly lonely.  However, I know that in order to become a well-adjusted, happy, and successful adult I need to make some more room in my head for something other than my dead dad.  So, I guess this next year’s for that.

I’ve been wanting to write more, but most of my personal writing has been pretty – well – personal and a bit dark.  Since, historically, this blog has been a pretty silly place to talk about what’s been going on in my life it felt a bit fake to post about, oh, I don’t know a Taylor Swift Running Mix, when the theme of my life has been “Holy Shit, I miss my dad.”  But now that I have shared my burden a bit, we can get back to regular postings.  Despite being a little bit afraid, I am really excited to see what this year brings and to share it with all of my devoted readers.  (To my mom, my sister, my aunts, and the mothers of my friends:  You’re welcome.)  Also, I’m pretty sure this is at least the second time I’ve mentioned a Taylor Swift Running Mix in this blog.  I promise you, I’ve never made one.  It’s just always the most ridiculous thing I can think of.  That doesn’t mean I won’t try, though.  😉

 

And since we could all use some very sincere cheesiness:

 

An Introvert’s Musings on the Omaha Color Run

I have a confession to make.  It’s one that you might find surprising.  After all, I practically ooze charm and grace.  But it’s true, I am a bit of an introvert.  I’m not great with crowds of people.  I’m realllly not great with small talk.  When I meet new people, I have to struggle through a lot of awkwardness before a common interest is found and we can discuss that.  Once I hit my stride, or am really comfortable with someone, sometimes you can’t shut me up.  If you ever find yourself in a conversation with me and want to break free from the painful awkwardness that is happening, all you have to do is bring up any of the following topics:  The West Wing (The show, not the actual west wing of the White House.  Although, if you’re passionate about it, I will probably appreciate the conversation), Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks, HIMYM, Britney Spears (specifically her relationship with JT and/or her amazing comeback), the NBA during the first half of the 90’s, pro-wrestling during the second half of the 90’s, Ace of Base, Sweet Valley High books, Hillary Clinton, and – most importantly – Billy Joel.  I think a lot of people assume that introverts are just shy or have low self-esteem.  And that’s really not the case at all.  I love meeting new friends, I just really love my amazing core of best friends.  I’m incredibly proud of all I have/am accomplished/accomplishing, getting vocal attention for it just makes me feel uncomfortable.  (The exception being when I’m talking to my mom.  Then I’m like, “yeah.  I know.  I’m awesome.”)  I know it seems weird for an introvert to have a blog, especially one about their life and not, like, World War II memorabilia.  It’s completely the opposite, though.  I do much better when I’m writing than when I’m talking.  I can think things through before I actually publish them.  My approach to blogging has been to just pretend that I’m writing an email to Emily M. (with fewer links to outrageously expensive/impractical clothes and less planning of my very real wedding to Jason Segel), and it just kind of works for me.  With writing, I can just go to town, and if something needs to be changed, it can be easily done.  I do need to step out of my comfort zone more, but I don’t really think that being an introvert is some kind of character flaw.  The world needs both introverts and extroverts to run.  That being said, I have some advice for you:

The Color Run was not designed for introverts.

We left for Omaha at about 6:30 Saturday morning.  Mindy had coffee for me, which I was soooo grateful for!  After a couple hours of laughing and gossiping, we arrived at the hotel to pick up Shelley and her daughter, Julia (yay for new friends!).  We walked over to the race site and were provided with a nice selection of Pop-Nasty music while we waited.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with “Pop-Nasty” – which I suppose is every person in the world besides myself and Emily M. – it is simply the music that is neither pop nor hip hop.  It manages to cross both genres, but is somehow neither.  Most pop-nasty “artists” are people whose careers fail to last more than a couple years.  The exception, of course, would be Black Eyed Peas.  The verdict is still out on Ke$ha.  When you’re waiting for the Color Run to begin, you want Pop-Nasty music to be playing.  We were pretty lucky to be in the third wave of people.  Since there were 13,000 people running, they let us go in waves of 1000.  At every kilometer (something I didn’t realize until I did a little research), we were covered in color.  At the end of the race there was a big color party where everyone threw their colored dust in the air and went crazy (I presume, we didn’t partake in the color party).  Sounds fun, right?  Well.  Kind of.

I think my main complaint about the run was the heat.  I know that no one had control over this, but the people planning the event should have either picked a date earlier in the summer or started early early in the morning.  By the time we even started running, we were drenched in sweat.  Now, I realize part of this is my own fault.  You would think that as a resident of Nebraska for 26 full years, I would know better than to agree to an outdoor physical activity, in this fine state, anytime after 7:00 am during July or August.  Apparently, I didn’t.  When I exercise in the heat and humidity, I get really weird dry mouth and have a lot of mucus build up in my throat (attractive, I know).  That, in and of itself, is unpleasant.  When you add massive clouds of cornstarch, things get really tricky.  I’ve never had asthma, but I think I caught a little glimpse of what it’s like on Saturday.
In addition to the heat, there were just soooo many people.  For someone who does horrible in crowds, this was not good.  I think the plan was to let waves of 1000 people go every 10 or 15 minutes, but instead they let us go every 2-3 minutes.  I think that was probably a good idea, because otherwise they would have been there well into the afternoon.  It just all made me very anxious.  My running partner and I were separated, which really, was fine.  Even when I run with a partner, I listen to my iPod and zone everything out so it doesn’t make a huge difference.  There were a lot of people walking (like, walls of 10 girls walking together, side-by-side) and a lot of little kids, so I felt like I was always navigating around and tripping over people.  Also, I made the mistake of not really looking at the course map.  I wasn’t at all familiar with the course and had no idea how far along we were.  I later found out that the color bursts were at every kilometer, which makes sense, but I still think it would have been nice if they would have put out signs saying how far we had run.  I ended up walking at least a mile of it, and eventually crossed the finish line at about 50 minutes.  They were completely out of water, but luckily Emily had grabbed an extra bottle (they were miniature bottles) when she finished.  I know that there were people who took 3 or 4 bottles of water, but I have a hard time understanding why, when you know it’s going to be extremely hot and humid, you wouldn’t make sure that there was enough water and then some.  I doubt it would cost too much, if any, more to buy bigger water bottles.  Or, if they weren’t going to have enough water, let people know so they could bring their own water.  They also didn’t have any food.  Granted, the only races I’ve done have been relatively small and it’s undoubtedly easier to provide for 1000 than 13,000, but it’s nice having a table of fruit and bagels when you finish a run.  When we were heading out of Omaha, we saw several ambulances heading toward the race area and I was just happy that everyone from our group made it out all right.

There were, however, some good things about the Color Run.  It was an extremely fun day with friends.  We had so much fun on the car ride there and back and waiting for the race to start.  I also love the huge sense of community there is between runners at races.  Even when we were driving to Omaha, cars would pass us with people in all white who were obviously going to the Color Run.  They would wave and we would wave and it was just fun.  After the run, we stopped at a Subway in a gas station.  Since we left Omaha pretty early, we were the only color runners there, but soon other people covered in head-to-toe color started showing up.  It kind of felt like we all knew each other.

Since Saturday, Em and I have reflected a lot on what we might have done differently.  My friends who posted pictures on Facebook, looked like they were having as much fun as the people in the ad looked.  This, of course, made us wonder if there was something wrong with us.  We kind of chalked it up to the fact that it was unbearably hot and that we’re both ridiculously large introverts.

Since it’s not likely that I’ll be having a lobotomy and/or moving to somewhere with a milder climate, here are a few of my suggestions and things I’ll keep in mind if I decide to do it next year:

  • Get a big group of friends together and plan on walking a large portion of it.  Also, one of my fellow Sweat Pink Ambassadors posted pictures of the Color Run in San Francisco and she and her friends pregamed with PBR beforehand.  It was definitely too hot for beer drinking followed by running in Omaha, but I’m sure we could have figured something out (vodka and Crystal Light, maybe?).
  • Carry water with you (and maybe also a snack, for after the run).  Unless you are the fastest person in the first wave of people, you will most likely be stopping to walk quite a bit.  The water stations they had were extremely congested and I didn’t really want to wait, so it would have been nice to have my own water.  If you’re not stopping to walk, you’re probably running over children.  If you’re running over children, then may God have mercy on your soul.
  • Make sure your iPod is on the setting you want it to be on.  I carefully formulated a playlist, but accidentally put it on shuffle instead of having it play straight through.  Somehow all my “filler” songs played at the very beginning.  It just really wasn’t my day.
  • Study the route – I think this goes for just about every race.  After forgetting this detail, I felt lost the entire run.
  • Wear an old bra.  It’s weird because my shirt got almost no color on it, but my bra and actual skin were covered in color.  I’m still trying to wash color out of my stomach.
  • Have fun!!!  Embrace the fact that this is a fun run and don’t take it too seriously.  If you have been training to run a 5k, choose a different race for your first one.  I think if I would have done the Color Run before I ran the A’Ror’N Days 5k, I would have been very discouraged with all the starting and stopping.  Get your “serious” race out of the way and just have fun with this one.

Have any of you done the Color Run in your cities?  Was your experience similar to mine or am I just a grumplestiltskin?  I’d love to hear your feedback!

Milestones

I had a feeling this week wasn’t going to be a great weigh-in.  I suppose I didn’t really do anything to sabotage my week.  I just maybe wasn’t as motivated last week.  I haven’t done very well at keeping up with the running in this heat.  Have I complained about the heat and the humidity in almost every post this month?  I feel like I have.  Most years, I’ll want to complain a little bit.  Then I always think, “Well, it definitely beats being snowed in last winter.”  But it hardly snowed last winter!  If next winter is anything like last winter, I have a feeling I’m going to like running outside in the winter a lot more than in the summer.  Any way, I digress.  I apologize.  Back to my week.  So, I didn’t run as much as I should have, and I tracked very sporadically (I will NOT apologize for accumulating a large majority of my vocabulary from Clueless.  Cher Horowitz was and remains to be a smart, smart lady.), so I wasn’t expecting a huge loss.  I ended up losing .8 pounds, which put me at exactly 30 with WW and 50 total.  Yeah!

I wanted to see what the change looked like approximately every 10 pounds. I know you’re probably incredibly impressed with my photo collage skills. My services are, indeed, available for hire.

I’ve been finding it harder to be motivated lately.  I think a lot of people do when they get to the 20-30 pound range.  I think that part of my problem is that I’m overconfident in my skills.  Maybe that’s not the right way to put it, but I’ll kind of slack a little.  Like, I’ll think, “Ohhh… I’ve been doing this for 16 weeks now, I know how to eat right.”  So I won’t track everything.  That leads to dangerous things.  Like eating an avocado every day for the entire week, and not realizing how many points they are.  I’ve also become more lax with measuring.  I know it won’t hurt too much if I have more than a cup of Cheerios, but little slip ups lead to big slip-ups, and then I don’t feel like I’m in control.  And for me, in this program, I need to be in control in order to succeed.  Not, like, obsessively so.  That would create bigger problems than gaining a bit of weight, but I do need to be in control of my own life.

As a lot of you know, about a month ago I wrote about the small victories I have won since starting WW.  I feel like I should update it a bit since I hit a couple of bigger goals this week.

  • I’ve lost 30 pounds in WW!  For reference, that is one of these plus an extremely full diaper:

  • I’ve lost 50 pounds over the course of 2 years.  For further reference, two years ago, I was carrying around the weight of two of the cutie pies from the previous picture (sans heavy diaper).
  • I fit into a size 16 jeans.  Comfortably (!), which hasn’t happened since high school.   (I should also note that when I was trying them on, a lot of the size 16’s fit very uncomfortably.)  I have been very lucky, because I’ve pretty much been able to get by with wearing workout clothes.  My summer uniform has been Nike running shorts and a tank top (thank you Nike for making cute, plus-size workout clothes and not always being able to sell the in season stuff and in turn selling it to places like TJMaxx and Nordstrom rack so that I can buy $35 shorts for less than $10!).  However, Saturday night I was meeting up with an old friend, so I had to wear real clothes.  Ugh (to wearing real clothes, not to seeing old friends)!  This is really only a half-problem, because my closet is filled with shirts I bought right after I had my reduction mammaplasty a few years ago, but haven’t fit in more recent years and do now.  The problem is in the pants.  (The previous sentence sparked a lot of inappropriate jokes in my head.  So much so that I considered deleting it and choosing my words more wisely.  Ultimately, I decided to leave it so you guys could have some fun with that.)  I have a pair of jean capris that really only fit right after I pull them out of the dryer.  And despite my better judgment, I keep wearing them.  Also, up until Wednesday, all of my underwear was too big.  This created problems.  It especially created problems on Wednesday, when I happened to be wearing a dress.  Mom and I made the dreaded trip to Walmart.  I absolutely hate going there and thought if I left to get the stuff I needed, on my own, it might be a quicker trip.  Well, I didn’t grab a basket and my arms were full of stuff when I was walking back to mom’s cart.  My underwear had been slowly creeping down, but I thought I could make it.  As I turned down the aisle she was in, they pretty much full on fell down.  I mean, I could kind of disguise the situation, but when you’re doing a really cracked out Sumo walk to try and stop your underwear from falling down in the middle of Walmart, you’re not really deflecting attention away from yourself.  I did get new underwear, though, so there’s no need to worry about me anymore.  Except, I did not get new pants.  So.  Maybe worry a little bit.  But at least one layer will stay up.  Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a list.  I should probably get back to it.
  • I ran 4 miles on Wednesday!  Most days this past week, my legs would start hurting a lot while running, so I maybe only do a mile.  Wednesday, they felt so much better, so I just kept running.  I ran to the highway, down to the next road, and then some.  Sometimes I forget that I’m going to have to turn around, and that’s kind of been my strategy for adding distance.  Maybe the only thing I find cool about running on gravel (besides the fact that when there’s corn on both sides, I just feel incredibly small, in a good way), is that sometimes when I go running, my footprints are still there from the night before.  Sometimes I try to run so that my opposite foot is right next to the print, so if someone happens upon my trail they’ll be like, “Wow!  Someone hopped down a country road for 4 miles?  That’s pretty impressive!”

I revisited my goals from last week, and I didn’t quite make them all.  I DID run 4 miles last week and I also ran 4 times last week.  Emily M. and I didn’t reach our 60 classes in Jazzercise before the shirts were gone, but that’s okay, I suppose.  The shirts are One Size Fits All, but they look a lot more like One Size Fits Medium, so it probably wouldn’t even fit me.  It would, however, fit Em so that makes me kind of sad.  I didn’t make it to an Aqua Zumba class, but I’m going to go tonight!  I’m excited!  Whenever I drive by the pool, it looks like they’re having so much fun.  I know my other goal was to learn how to shimmy, but — I’m sad to say — I’m throwing the towel in on that one.

Goals for this week:

  • Track every day.
  • Go to Jazzercise 5 times.
  • Run 4 times.  One time at least 5 miles.
  • Try a new kind of activity.  Maybe yoga?  I need to figure this out.
  • Finish The Color Run on Saturday!

Currently, my Power song when running:

Oh!  Also!  I have to brag a little bit:  My mom started WW last week and lost SIX POINT EIGHT pounds this week!  Holy Moly!  She’s a rockstar.

Tracking: Week 13, Day 3

Week 13, Day 3

Today I decided to run the course for the 5k I’m doing next weekend.  I am happy to announce that I made it without stopping!  It took me 50 minutes, but still… I made it.  My goal is to make it under 45.  I think I can accomplish this.  Especially once I regain the ability to breathe through my nose.  I think I also need to work on a better playlist.  The musician in me has to run in rhythm with what I’m listening to, so I think if I put songs with a fast beat on my list I’ll be fine.

Tracking: Week 13, Day 1

Okay, this might be excessive.  Correction, this WILL be excessive.  Sometimes my dad will talk about how he (and I, I suppose) doesn’t need a smart phone.  This leads to us talking about things that we might tweet about.  It usually ends up with very detailed description of our, um, bodily waste and the things we ate.  But it will start with, “What am I going to Tweet about?  It’s not like the world needs to know that I had chicken, AGAIN, for supper.”  So, I’m sorry.  I feel like this will hold me accountable this week.  I promise to my Facebook friends, I will not post links to my tracking posts.  Also, this will not be something I do EVERY week.  I promise that while I may be posting mundane things about what I ate, I will NEVER… PROBABLY never… post anything about my poop.  Plus, we all know women don’t poop.

I use the 3 month tracker, which is kind of amazing.  It’s nice to be able to go back and check how many points something is, if you can’t remember.  It’s also interesting to see the correlation between whether I tracked/what I ate/How much I exercised and how much I lost.  I can tell you right now, the weeks that I tracked for a couple days then stopped once it came time for the weekend are usually the weeks I haven’t done well.

Every week starts out with pages for tracking off points earned and used. It also has a page to plan your exercise for the week.

I need to write in pencil. Everyday I have to scribble out the total at least twice.  Daily Points Remaining: 7, Points earned: 34

As you can tell, I realllly like Schwan’s Lemon Frozen Yogurt.  It’s sooooo good.  Also, when mom was going up to get some was when I calculated that I had 21 points left.  But then I realized the almonds were 5 and not 3 and my burrito was 8, not 4.  So… The more you know, I guess.  I’m a little embarrassed at how few of the Good Health Guidelines I checked off.  We need to get some fruit and veggies in this hizzouse.  Actually, we probably do have some, I just get a little afraid of what might be in our vegetable drawers in the fridge.

Also… Are there any people out there who do WW and Jazzercise?  I usually figure the points for half of the class as regular impact, half the class as high impact.  But I’m not sure if that’s right.

Tag! You’re it!

You guys, last weekend was seriously the Best Weekend Ever.  The past few days, I’ve just kept laughing at random things that people said or did, and it really made me wish I had carried around a tape recorder to catch everything.  Saturday morning was the Havelock Charity Run, so The Emily’s and Kim came to Lincoln on Friday night.  Because, you know, we wanted to get a good night’s sleep before the run.  Well… It should come as no surprise that we stayed up until about 4:00 am, talking about just completely random things.  If we made a drinking game where you had to take a shot every time someone said “Remember that one time…” or just shouted out completely random names of our preschool-high school classmates and teachers followed by a completely random story, we would all probably be dead from alcohol poisoning.  I was a little nervous about the run, so I seriously got maybe 30 minutes of sleep.  I just had all of these horrible flashbacks of running the mile in P.E. class when I’d be, like, a whole lap behind everyone so when the class would finish they’d come and run along me and cheer me on and it was AWFUL.  I just always wanted to be like, “Hey, how ’bout y’all go back inside and climb the effing rope, because we all know how good you are at that and let me finish this alone.”  It should also come as no surprise that Elementary P.E. is where Emily P. and I perfected our swearing skills.  Anyway, sorry about the rant.  My cousin Sarah met us up at the race to be the 4th person in our team.  Since we had a team of at least four people, Pinnacle Bank donated money to the charity of our choice.  I chose Lighthouse, because I think it’s an incredibly awesome and needed place for the young folks of Lincoln.  I didn’t realize just how many people would be running.  I’m not sure the exact number, but there had to be at least a thousand.  I also was not aware how many kids there would be.  Like, LITTLE kids.  When the race started, there was a little boy in front of Emily M. so she tapped him on the head and said, “Tag!  You’re it!”  He didn’t continue the game, but I think it would have eliminated any need for an iPod.  I also understand why they suggest you don’t use an iPod during the race.  They kept making announcements like, “There’s a car on the right side of the street.  Watch out.” or “Don’t run into the giant flag pole.”  I just thought, “Dude, I’m not going to run into a car.” (Those of you who really know anything about me, probably just thought to themselves, “Sally… if anyone’s going to run into a parked car, it’s going to be you.)  And, I DID almost run into pretty much everything they said not to run into.  However, I managed to make it through the race injury-free, which says a lot about someone who has actually managed to sprain her ankle in her sleep.  We ended up placing 390-393 out of 548 with a time of 24:55 AND I didn’t walk.  I didn’t warm up or stretch beforehand (I know, crazy), which I think was a big mistake.  Normally when I go for a run, I run for a song, stretch, then do my actual run.  If I don’t, after about 5 minutes into my run my body’s like, “SALLY!  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME??  WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH?!?!?!?”  That’s kind of what happened on Saturday, but after we passed the mile mark, I was just like “Whatever, I’ve got this.”  It helped that the little boy in front of us (not the boy Emily M. challenged to tag, a different one) and his mom was teaching him how to spell/read all the street signs and also to say “thank you” to the traffic cops.  It didn’t help my confidence that this boy was probably, like, 6, and just running along when I’ve been training for 8 weeks to be able to run anything longer than a block.  There were actually an embarrassingly large amount of kids with ages in the single digits who beat us.  Oh well.  I’ll get them next year!  I can’t say enough how thankful I am for my running team.  They probably could have all finished the race in about half the time, but they all stayed with me and that made it so much more fun and special.

After the race, the only thing we really wanted to do was drink a Bloody Mary.  (Wouldn’t you?)  By the time we were done talking to people and taking pictures (Thank you, Emily P., for being such a great photographer and cheerleader!), it was about 8:30 and we really didn’t know any place that would serve alcohol that early.  HOWEVER, we decided to just start walking down Havelock and discovered that Arnold’s opened up early just for the occasion.  So we sat around drinking Bloody Mary’s and, again, telling amusing stories.  I suppose I should also disclose that my friends also got me a 2-week-early birthday shot of tequila as my punishment for making them run in celebration of my birthday.  In case you’re wondering, there were not other customers doing shots of tequila before 10:00 am in Arnold’s.  After that, we headed to The Isles since Emily M. and I had been CRAVING their cream cheese pepperoni pizza.  Then we got pedicures done.  The Emily’s had to go back to Aurora, but Kim and I took a three hour nap and got ready to go out and meet our friend, Savanna.  I won’t bore you with the details of that, but I will just give you the advice that if you’re going out and decide it’s a good idea to “party like it’s 2007,” it’s not… Especially if the last time you partied like it was 2007 was in 2008.

I feel like it goes without saying, that my weigh-in this week was not great.  Running less than two miles on Saturday does not cancel out pizza and drinking.  I gained about a pound, but I’m confident I can take it back off soon.  Since I started WW, I haven’t ever had the mentality of “ohhhh, since I worked out today, I can have pizza tonight.” Or really, ever rewarding myself with food.  Most weeks I earn at least 100 activity points and very very rarely use them or the extra 39 “flex points” we’re given every week.  So when my friends were in town to celebrate my birthday, I decided it was okay to indulge a little.  Sure, it might lead to me needing to kick my butt in working out this week, but that’s okay.  I worked really hard and actually finished my running plan (YAY!  I think this means I’m actually a Runner), so I’m not going to beat myself up over it.  I just have to be careful not to have that mentality all the time.  I also have to be careful not to sink back into old habits.  So, this week I’m going to try super hard to track EVERYTHING.  It’s really embarrassing, but last week I’m pretty sure I only tracked on Wednesday, and the rest of the days in my WW journal were empty.  Maybe I’ll post my journal every day.  That won’t be annoying at all…

Lessons learned this week, or things to keep in mind for the A’Ror’n Days 5K:

– I need new shoes.  BAD.  I got my shoes at least 5 years ago.  Granted, I haven’t done a WHOLE lot of physical activity in those 5 years, but I have had to replace the insoles and the back is wearing down so that it rubs against my Achilles tendon.  And, I may be developing a case of Runner’s Knee in my right knee (according to Google). It doesn’t hurt that bad, but I think I need to fix the situation soon.

– Warm up and stretch!  I can’t be sure, because no one knows what happens behind her vanity/closet, but I bet even Barbara Gordon/Batgirl has to stretch before she runs off to save Gothem.

– Sleep well the night before a run!  It was a special occasion since my friends were in town, but I will be getting a full 8 hours of sleep next Friday before my 5k.

– Dri-fit may be the best invention ever.  Today I wore a regular cotton t-shirt on my run, and it was awful.  I have no problem admitting that it’s probably the main reason I didn’t add an extra mile onto my run.

– I feel like I need to stop being afraid of picking up the speed.  I was just worried I wouldn’t have enough endurance to make it without walking.  However, I had plenty of energy left to “sprint” the last couple blocks, so I need to figure out a pace that pushes me a little more.

I can’t really think of anything else.  I am a sleepy goose today, and I have to head into town to go to Jazzercise.  But I’ll leave you with a few pictures from Saturday…

Kim, Me, and Emily M. before the race

Kim, Em, Me, and Sarah after the race.

Cousins! Me with Kate and Sarah. Kate ran the 10K like a boss.

This is how your friends repay you when you make them wake up early on a Saturday morning to go run. But really… Does it look like I’m complaining?

Also… I just realized it’s been an extremely large amount of time since I posted an actual recipe — and this is supposed to be a food blog! — but I promise I’ll post one soon.  I may just have to pull one out of the archives.

UPDATE: I decided to post my daily tracking, if anyone is interested.  I’m not going to be posting links on Facebook every day.  Don’t worry!

Birthday Cakes!

Image

This past weekend was my niece Whitney’s first birthday.  It’s so crazy to think that a year has past already.  The year has gone by so fast, but at the same time it’s hard to remember life before Whitney.  She has changed and grown so much in one year.  I know that as an aunt it’s my duty to brag on Whitney, but really – she is awesome.  She has soooooo much personality for someone her age.  When we have story time, she’ll pick out a book and let me read about 3 or 4 pages, then she’ll want down and will walk (because she’s already walking like a boss at a year old) over to her books to pick out a new book and lift her arms and say her universal sound for book, up, yes, or more.  Again, she’ll have me read a little bit then she’ll pick out a new book.  This cycle can go on for a long time, but I love it.  I have a confession, though.  This might make me seem like a horrible aunt, but I had to hide a book from her when I was babysitting on Super Bowl Sunday.  She kept bringing me the book “Doggies” by Sandra Boynton.  Now listen, I LOVE Sandra Boynton books and I totally get the point of this book.  It will have one doggy and that doggy’s barking sound.  The next dog will bark twice, and it has a different sound for that.  The next one will bark three times and so on and so forth.  I understand that it’s a counting book and for that purpose it’s great.  I’m sure there are a lot of kids who learn how to count from it.  The problem is, I’m HORRIBLE at making animal noises (with the exception of a velociraptor).  I’m lucky to just get out a “woof” in the right voice, but then I have to do it ten different ways.  Some of them are weird, too.  When have you ever heard a dog that goes “nnn-nnn-nnn??”  I think a dog making noises like that probably needs to go to the vet, because he probably just ingested a bunch of chocolate or raw chicken and things are going to get ugly soon.  Any way… when I was babysitting her, she KEPT bringing me this book.  To top things off, this wasn’t a read 3 pages and put away.  This was a read all the way through book.  I swear she knew what she was doing to me, because this is not one of her usual favorites.  Maybe she just liked hearing Aunt Sally sounding like she was having some sort of stroke or attack, but she was so into this book.  Eventually, I had to put it on her dresser behind the lamp.  She initially looked at me like “ummmm… what did you do with my book.”  It was worth it, though, because we spent the next 30-45 minutes reading Jamberry, Goodnight Moon, a variety of Little Pookie Books, and ended the night with a continuous replay of Barnyard Dance.  I honestly think I probably read it seven times before she fell asleep- and maybe a few times after she fell asleep.  I sooo did not want to put her in her crib.  It’s such a rarity for her to fall asleep while I’m holding her anymore, so I was willing to just spend the night in the rocking chair but I did eventually put her in her crib.  I always have this weird anxiety about putting her to bed that the second I lay her on her mattress she’s going to wake up.  However, she handled the transition magically this time.

I suppose it’s time to move on to the cakes.  Not only was Whitney’s birthday on the 11th, but my brother’s was on the 12th, AND Whit’s cousin Will’s birthday was on the 13th.  This meant I had a lot of cakes to make.  Grant wanted an ice cream cake, so I didn’t have to worry about that.

Will’s Cake – Chocolate Butter Cake with Instant Fudge Frosting

Image

The Birthday Boy! Isn't he adorable?

I got the recipes for both the cake and frosting from Smitten Kitchen.  I have to say, this was my favorite cake.  It was my first time using these recipes and the cake turned out sooo rich, that I was worried the kids might not like it.  They said they did, but they’re polite kids so they could’ve just been using their manners.  The recipe was for three 9” square pans, but I ended up using two 9” round pans.  I had every intention of using the left over batter for cupcakes, but by the time I got done with all the cakes it was about 11:00 or 11:30 pm, and I still had to clean.

A couple notes:  You want to use a REALLY big bowl for the cake.  I started with just a normal big mixing bowl and realized after mixing the dry ingredients it wasn’t going to be big enough so I switched to my mom’s giant Tupperware bowl that she mixes puppy chow in.  It was plenty big.

Also… The recipe calls for cake flour, which the Aurora Mall did not have.  To make my own cake flour, for every cup of all-purpose flour I put in, I took out two tablespoons of flour and replaced it with two tablespoons of corn starch.

So… Mathematically speaking: 1 cup flour – 2 T flour + 2 T corn starch = Cake Flour.

This might also be a good time to let you know, Mom, that you are out of corn starch… And also cocoa powder, but we will get to that later.

Chocolate Butter Cake

http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/07/project-wedding-cake-the-cake-is-baked/

Makes one 8-inch square, three layer cake

3 cups cake flour

3 cups sugar

1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)

3 teaspoons baking soda

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 ½ cups buttermilk

3 eggs

1 ½ cups freshly brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature (I only had about a half cup of coffee left after my daily consumption, so I filled the rest with water.  I think it turned out fine.)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch square cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.  (My method of preparing cake pans is spray or butter, then flour, parchment, spray, and flour.  Flouring twice might be excessive, but I’m a little cautious when it comes to cake sticking to the pan)

2. In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and buttermilk and blend on low until moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Whisk the eggs and coffee together, and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only until blended after each addition. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans; each pan will take about 3 1/4 cups of batter.

4. Bake for 38 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Carefully turn them out onto wire racks and allow to cool completely. Remove the paper liners only when they are cool.

Instant Fudge Frosting

http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/08/espresso-chiffon-cake-with-fudge-frosting/

Note: the recipe calls for the frosting to be mixed in a food processor.  Unfortunately, I don’t have one.  Instead I just used a regular mixer.  It might not have been as easy, but it got the job done.

Makes about 5 cups (this was enough to frost this cake, decorate the owl on Whit’s cake, and have some left over).

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled.

4 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature

6 Tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth.

Whitney’s Cake! – yellow cake with Swiss Buttercream frosting

Image

I have another confession to make.  For the actual cake, I used a box mix.  I had every intention of making it from scratch, but our road was blocked so I couldn’t get into town to get to the grocery store until about 3:00 or 3:30 when our neighbor came through and cleared it.  By that time, i decided to just settle on a box.  My favorite kind of box mix to use is Duncan Hines.  Unfortunately, Aurora Mall didn’t have any.  (Seriously, AM step up your game in the baking aisle!)  I think instead I used Sara Lee.

This was my first time making this frosting recipe.  For decorating, it was a dream.  It spread smoothly.  It piped smoothly.  It was just kind of perfect in that sense.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  I liked it a lot better when it was actually on the cake, but I had my doubts when I was just tasting the frosting.

I made two 8″ round cakes and two 4″ round cakes with the box mix.  I reallllly wish I would’ve made the big cake at least 9 inches.  It was harder to fit everything on the 8 inch pan.  Also, the owl kept getting bigger, so then I had less room to write.  If I would do it over again, I would probably do the writing part first.  I was so paranoid of hitting the owl that I felt it didn’t look the best.

Swiss Buttercream Frosting

adapted from: http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/07/project-wedding-cake-swiss-buttercream/

2 cups sugar

8 large egg whites

6 1/2 sticks of butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.

Transfer mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. (Here’s a tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.)

Add the vanilla.

Finally, add the butter a stick at a time and whip, whip, whip.

Beth (my sister-in-law) swam at Rice University and owls are so in right now, that it just made sense to have Whitney’s cake be owl themed.  I wish I would’ve taken pictures of every step of decorating.  It was a lot of making it up as I went.  I pretty much traced a small circle on the cake and went from there.  The little smudge of yellow at the bottom of the cake is not the owl having an accident.  Initially, the owl had feet, but when there wasn’t enough room to write Whitney’s name, I had to amputate them.

Oh!  I’m sure you’re wondering how the Birthday Girl liked her cake.  After all, one of the best parts of first birthdays is getting to see the baby go crazy on their cake.  Right?

Image

She went crazy, all right!  I won’t hold this against her.  I mean, how can you?  She manages to look adorable while crying.  This talent will get her far in life.

Image

All Better! Seriously, how cute is she?

Image

Me with Whitney and her adorable cousins, Will and Kate.

Thank you, Beth, for taking such great pictures!