Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Five!

{holiday preppin’ with Happy Mail}

A vendor rep of mine summed it up perfectly: “Don’t worry everyone, there is only 5 weeks left until the start of Winter”. Depressing, right? Right. Yeah, the world we live in is frozen over, slippery and extremely snow covered (literally… 50% of the US is!). It came too soon. But I’m going to embrace it! For now, it’s simply put me in the Holiday spirit sooner than usual, which I don’t mind. The tree is up and the house is just beaming with festivity. I LOVE the Holidays! Who doesn't??

Speaking of, this weekend kicks off our 2014 holidays! My parents will be in Colorado for the actual Thanksgiving day next week so Max and I are celebrating with them this weekend. I’m so excited for the next two days! The new Hunger Games movie, toasting champagne over hors d'oeuvres, euchre, pool, darts, Michigan State football & basketball and induced food coma are all on the agenda.

Drive safe everyone!

{snow-mageddon come early this year!}

{mistletoe smooches}

{final splurge before budget-minded-Meg took over}

{got crafty & made a craft box using leftover burlap from our bedroom}

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Decorating (w/ baby elves)

Well guys. It happened. We all wanted the white fluffy stuff to hold off until December, but alas, it’s back! It’s like it never went away… Can't face today :(

This past weekend I decided to embrace the magical feel the outdoors possessed and use my free time to get the house holiday ready. Our big bay window in the front of our home truly made it feel like we were in a snow globe and as much as I hated to admit it, I really did love being cooped up inside with the snow slowly descending from the sky onto our already snow-covered grass. Then I remembered it’s only mid-November, but oh well, this is the time of year is when snow is acceptable (check back in February!).

Since Max was hunting, I employed a few elves to help me out! We had a blast drinking champagne (adults, not the kids!) and hot cocoa all day while laughing and joking around, chatting about the upcoming months. Everything from last year’s Polar Vortex, our holiday plans, our Christmas lists and what to expect in the next year were discussed. It was a really fun & relaxing day. 

Since the decorations went up a little earlier than usual, we’ll be able to enjoy them for well over a month! Last year, there was a hole in my living room (and my heart!) when I took down the Christmas decorations. I wanted them up longer! This year, I was sure to make that happen. 

{got the hard part done before the kiddos got here...}

{this is what we woke up to... not ready for this}

{the big bulbs are by far my favorite part... next year... ALL BIG BULBS}

Monday, November 17, 2014

Home Made Applesauce

Having finally broken the bowl-of-ice-cream-a-night habit,  I started looking for a sweet but healthy replacement that would keep my gigantic sweet tooth satisfied. A recent new membership to Costco sealed the deal, because what else is a girl to do with fresh fruit in BULK?

The recipe couldn't be more simple, as you'll see below. It doesn't even require words, it's that dummy-proof.

In fact... I am going to strongly advise the teachers I work with to try this in their PreK classrooms at some point during the winter holidays....

It's got all the pieces that an early childhood teacher goes nuts for: 
-Math (measurement)
-Reading (sequencing & vocabulary)
-Writing (ingredients list & steps)
-Science (apples going from solid to--almost--liquid)
-Health & Wellness (smart alternative to typical kids' treats)
-Seasonal/theme-related harmony (apples & cinnamon & warmth...come on!)

[Making one batch for my little family, I didn't actually use ALL of these.
I think I used 5-6.  Luckily, this recipe is very flexible.
It's all about taste & appetite.]

[1/2 cup sugar]

[Recipe says 1 tsp, but I always add spices to taste. 
And the nutmeg is all me. Favorite spice, what can I say?]

[After you've added the spices, mix it with 1/2 cup of water, then cover]

[Simmer over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes, depending on your 
desired level of chunkiness.]

*Recipe Enhancements*
1. While it's still piping hot, pour over a bowl of vanilla ice cream. 
2. (As seen above) add as a healthy addition to a serving of oatmeal.
3. Repeat all steps above, only replace 2 of the apples with PEARS. 

Winter Wish List 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Jazz Half Marathon

I know none of you would believe me when I talk about cold days in New Orleans unless a) you were here or b) you also live in the south and understand that we do actually get cold weather down here, even if the chilly winds are blowing through palm trees and tropical flowers.

While the temperature the morning of my race was not enough to ruin the experience all together, it did try to mess with my game. That was the first time our temperature had dropped so low this year, and it had done so by 25 degrees overnight. I love running in cold weather but was not prepared for the high winds that left me with immobile hands the entire 13 miles. 

C'est la vie. On to the good stuff. 

It had been so long since my last race that all my old rituals felt brand new again! 
-Preparing the outfit
-Preparing the pre-race meal
-The tapering of miles
-The adjusting of diet and sleep patterns the week of the race

...all of it had me on a high all week. I did make a few changes along the way, before, during and after the race, so we'll see how they pan out for the next two halves.

This was the earliest race I'd been in. Gun went off at 7:00 am. That, coupled with my excitement to run half marathon #4, pulled me right out of bed well before the sun. I may have been pumped, but that didn't stop fatigue from trying to weigh me down. I always worry about having to "go" during the race, so I limit the amount of joe I gulp pre-race. But cold weather and droopy eyes won out. I'll happily give those 40 seconds to the port-a-potty to get my caffine buzz on.

Tradition: Drink one small mug of coffee  
Change #1: Allow yourself 2 regular-sized mugs of coffee and don't beat yourself up when you--inevitably--stop to pee.

[Screw it.]

Tradition:  Block all outside communication until you cross the finish line.

Change #2: Realize that your ass is going to be out there alone for awhile, and unless you're planning to sprint all 13 miles, a little texting w/ mom isn't going to kill ya. Plus, you've got a blog that's not going to illustrate itself. 

So I decided to whip out my phone and start snapping pictures.  
While I was running. 

[Approaching Mile #3. Feeling good.]

[Mile 7. Sure, I can do 6 more...]

[Miles 8 & 9 took us through Audubon Park. The sun coming through the Spanish moss really woke me up.]

Ahhh..mile 9. This was the point I decided I should probably start inserting those walk breaks I studied in my book. Written about a professional runner and coach. Those breaks that you use immediately, at the beginning of the race. Not after you realize you're tired or sore.

Tradition: Insert your timed walk breaks from the start. 

Change #3: Wait until you're tired and sore. 
(I should really count my blessings that I didn't mess up my knee. Was just achy for a day. That will not happen again.)

You're probably wondering what's wrong with my face in these shots. "Is she singing? Is she talking to herself?"
The answer is yes. To both.

I didn't spend hours arranging my most favorite songs into a playlist that so perfectly matched the pace I wanted to run just to listen quietly. They're my favorite songs! They get me pumped! I'm going to sing my favorite songs, y'all! Besides. I was running a half marathon, not working. Let a girl enjoy herself on her special day.

Tradition: To take your mind off of any threatening tiredness and to ensure you don't run too fast at the beginning, only listen to podcasts for the first 9 miles before pressing play on your carefully crafted playlists. 

Change #4: Um, you can put slower songs on your playlist. Listen to music, you fool. 
Proofs of the candid shots that I'm definitely not planning to purchase.  Maybe something cuter will show up once I sift through the 17,000 they sent us of the entire race. 

[I'm standing!! And not crying!!]

[Are those all for me???]

Tradition: Bee-line it to the Jambalaya   

Change #5: Find the food tent with the shortest line.
(You're supposed to eat a protein-packed meal w/in 30 minutes of such a strenuous workout. Plus, mama could smell those wieners.)

I have to say it: my actual chip time was 2:06. Not 2:07. This is a new PR for me, not by much, but I'm going to take it.  
I'm pretty impressed with my average pace as well. My long training runs are usually at or above 10:00. Who knew. 
Maybe it was that extra swig of joe on my way out the door. 
I would really like to break 2 hours in December.

[That's just disgusting.]