Marathon Fail… Twin Cities Marathon

Seriously, why do I do this to myself???????  For some reason it really sounded like a good idea, not sure why because the first one didn’t go so well.  I honestly thought, experience would be on my side and I’d do much better than the last time…  I was wrong and I need to remember to stop believing in myself ;)

I could blame a lot of things on another failed marathon attempt, but I take full responsibility…  I am not meant to run 26.2 miles, and I understand that now.  I truly enjoy running and like seeing what I can do (obviously it’s not marathons).

I don’t mean for this post to be a pity party, this isn’t an Attention Seeking post.  I’m not looking for uplifting words like “At least you finished” or “That’s impressive, I would never do that”, or “Lots of people wouldn’t have even started”.  All of those are true sentiments and I appreciate people’s candor, however, it was awful and I’m not all that impressed with myself.  But that’s just how I feel about me… I’d be super proud of anyone else :)

My training started off really well, I created a spreadsheet with a variety of runs (hills, speed work, long runs) as well as lifting/cross-training days, rest days and stretching days.  About a month in it pretty much went out the window; I have the worst immune system ever!!  I got a really bad cold in May, June & September… getting chest congestion while trying to train for a marathon really don’t work well and my training got completely off track.  I thought after the June sickness I’d be able to make up for lost mileage and I was actually doing pretty well…  until I got sick again in September, a little less than 2 weeks before the marathon.  And on top of getting sick, at a Bachelorette Party (a week before the marathon) a drunken cowboy stepped on my foot and it was swollen and badly bruised… shoes hurt (yep, I’m making excuses, didn’t I say I take full responsibility? ;) ).

I was actually debating not even doing the marathon.  My husband and I tried (well I tried, Matt kindly ran with me) running a week before the marathon… 1.5 miles and I thought I was going to die!  I gave myself til the end of the week before I made a decision.  Luckily, I had to go on an antibiotic for a procedure I was having a week later and it cleared up my cold/chest congestion.

I sought out a friend from grade school, I knew was also running to see if she wanted to run together.  We don’t have the same running style (I like to do a run/walk on long runs, where she likes to just run); however, we were both in similar positions.  Neither one of us were very confident in our running abilities in this race, but were happy to be running with someone and knew together we could probably do ok :)

I wasn’t sure how well I’d do not doing the run/walk, so I told her I’d run as far as I could before I needed to start doing the run/walk.  I was able to run half the race with her and was doing really well.  I was on track to finishing in a 4:15-4:30, which was my goal :)  I was really proud of myself, however, my first mistake was either not starting out doing the run/walk or stopping at the half-way point to start the run/walk…

By mile 16, I could barely run and by mile 18 I couldn’t run at all.  I had thought about quitting and it didn’t help that my mp3 player ran out of juice; but I really wanted my shirt and my medal (whether or not I felt I deserved it…).  I decided to take it one mile at a time.  It was helpful that I had friends/family at mile 16 and 22 and they were also waiting for me at the finish line.

A part of me is glad that I walked a good portion of it, just because of the fact that I felt really good at the end.  I didn’t feel sick, my body didn’t hurt and I didn’t feel like I was going to die.  I would have prefered to finish sooner than I did, but I finished :)  All-in-all, I didn’t do too horribly considering the fact that I walked almost 10 miles and only finished an hour past my goal… Bright Side!!!!!

Lesson Learned: No Marathons, Only Halfs!  :)

On another note…

Matt, his Grandpa, Uncle, and Cousin all ran the 10 miler!!!  They all did such a great job :)  The race was fun for everyone and I’m glad to have been able to share it with so many amazing people!

Freezer Meals for Matt: Back in the Game

So, Summer isn’t the greatest time for freezer meals.  Matt didn’t really want hot food, when the weather is hot.  Totally understandable, and summer is usually pretty busy for me anyway, so it kind of worked out nicely.  Well, now that it’s getting colder it’s time to make more meals!!!

For some reason, I can’t find any of the pics from the meals I made so I’m just going to list them all off, and let you know my changes :)

Cauliflower Bake:

This one was really good.  I like the idea that not every casserole has to involve pasta!  For this recipe, I followed it exactly and didn’t change a thing.  If I make it again, I might change the veggies or make it fajita flavored with onions, peppers and chicken.

Bacon Corn & jalapeno Pasta:

My husband really liked this one!  He’s big on HOT, he’ll add hot sauce or jalapenos to anything; so when I found this I knew he would like it.

I changed things a little…  I added cooked, cubed chicken.  Switched the Orzo pasta to Penne to add volume.  I might have added extra jalapenos and garlic to add more flavor.

Crazy Good Casserole:

Another really good one!!!!  The only thing I changed was the soup; I used Campbell’s Heart Healthy Cream of Chicken instead…  I like to save calories where ever I can, basically so I can eat dessert :)  I did think it was a little too garlicy, so 1 TBSP might be a little much.

Easy Beef Stroganoff:

Every so often, I ask Matt what he wants for meals and I always get the same response… “I don’t care, I like whatever.”  That is until this past weekend, he says Beef Strogonaff!  Most of the meals I make are things that sound good to me, even though I’m making them for Matt.  I find recipes on Pinterest that I’d eat, with ingredients I like.

Beef Strogonaff is NOT one of those things.  I hate mushrooms, so I never even thought about making this for Matt, who LOVES mushrooms!  So being the good wife I am, I made it for him…  quite honestly the smell emanating from the crockpot made me nauseated.

I didn’t change anything with this recipe :)

Gnocchi, Spinach, & Sausage Soup:

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am not the best with adjectives, so I use exclamation points to get my point across :)

This is such a great soup!  I changed very little of this recipe; basically I added extra peppers, spinach and sausage.  When it comes to soup and casseroles, I rarely pay attention to amounts and add everything to my liking.  I also didn’t add the Half-and-Half, I didn’t think it was necessary… leaving out the cream made it a broth soup rather than a creamy soup.

BBQ Chicken Pizza Soup:

I pretty much stuck to the recipe on this one.  I believe I added some extra BBQ sauce, I didn’t think 1/2 C. was enough, but that’s just me :)   It really just tastes just like BBQ Chicken Pizza!

Baked Pasta with Spinach & Ricotta:

Another winner!!!!  I added cooked sausage to the pasta sauce to add a meat to this meal.  I unfortunately forgot parmesan cheese at the store, so my ricotta mixture didn’t have any; it tasted fine without it but I think for next time I’ll make sure I get it.

Apple Toffee Blondies:

Saved the best for last…  no seriously!!!  These never actually made it to its intended destinations, TWICE :)  About a month ago, when it was starting to become fall I decided to do a bit a baking.  I tested this (just a little corner piece) to make sure it was ok to take to work, and half a pan later realized it was staying home :)  I made it again, knowing how good it was, thinking I’d take it to work, and once again my family and I consumed it before the weekend was over :)

The only thing I changed was the amount of apples, I didn’t think 1 apple was enough… so I went with 2.  I also made the mistake of grabbing the Health candy bar bits with chocolate; I didn’t realize they made just toffee bits…  they tasted really good so I didn’t think anything of it until I saw them at Target :)  Next time I’ll make them with the toffee bits instead of the candy bar bits.

Social Skills: Back to School Week

As some of you may know, I work at an Autism Center as a Behavior Therapist.  We do 1-on-1 therapy for kids with Autism.  I absolutely love my job and am so glad to be doing something that makes such a huge impact and fulfills a great need!  Another girl and I have been asked to teach the Social Skills class (cause 1 had a baby and another got a great opportunity in the school district), I will be teaching the early learners and she’ll be teaching the older kids.  We’ve kind of decided on doing themes each week and then doing our own thing for our classes.  Since we have different abilities in the classes it’d be more fun for each of us to be able to do something age/ability appropriate, instead of modifying 1 activity for each class.

We have decided the first week will be Back-to-School week.  Yes, I know school started weeks ago… but we are a little behind in our scheduling, so yea…  Anyway, this is what I have planned for my kiddos this week :)

Back-to-School Scavenger Hunt: (Lesson Plan)

This activity is perfect for the first day/week of school; it can familiarize kids with their surroundings and introduces them to teachers or important people at school.  Most of our kids come to the center year-round but sometimes it’s just nice to reintroduce them to their surroundings.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books:  

I was really excited to find this book, such a great back-to-school book.  The kids really like how silly it is!  I found a wonderful lesson plan from First Grade Wow, and I used one of the activities.

I created my own Old Lady head, by using the cut-outs from the website.

I then used the clip art from the website for the different school supplies the Old Lady eats.  We started class by talking about the different kinds of school supplies we might use at school.  I gave each child one cut-out clip art picture.  As I read the story, each child took turns and fed the Old Lady the school supplies.  This activity worked well with my kids because I only have 4-5 kids in each class; my suggestion would be to modify for bigger class sizes.

They thought it was hilarious!!!  The kids really had a great time with this activity.

Classroom Puzzle:

I’m a huge fan of unity and this activity is a great way to fulfill that; it shows off everyone’s style and personality but reflects that you all come together to be a class and fit together perfectly.

I printed off a puzzle template from DLTK’s Crafts for Kids (which by the way has great and simple ideas for crafts and activities).  I then cut out the pieces on heavy-duty white paper, decorated each piece and then glues onto a colored sheet of paper.

Name Recognition:

I found this activity on Pinterest and the resource given was A Place Called Kindergarten, but of course when I tried to find the actual activity I couldn’t find it…  So I created my own Lesson Plan :)

This one is a nice activity for Pre-School or Kindergarten.  It allows children to decorate the first letter in their name and then work on writing their names.  It’s perfect for name and letter recognition while letting them decorate to suit their personality.

I found an alphabet template on DLTK, cut out the amount of each letter I needed, each child decorated their letter and then glued it onto a colored piece of paper.  Once they glued their letter, I wrote ‘is for _______________’, the child (some with help) wrote their name.

Vegas Vacation & The Not so Grand Canyon

Since we had gone to bed early the night before, we woke up very refreshed and ready for the day.  We started our day off with a little gym time (yeah, that’s right we actually work out on vacation ;) ).  After the gym we headed down to the pool for some sun and relaxation!

We made some friends at the pool, some very cool Canadians!  It was Kayla’s 21st birthday and she was celebrating with her aunts and cousin.  They were all very nice and we had a great time together, however, too many b-day drinks and shots and I was wasting majority of my sunny day sleeping it off in the hotel room… :)  Oh well, it’s Vegas right?  Needless to say, I didn’t drink the rest of the vacation ;)

After I had slept off my pool fun, Matt and I made our way to our first Vegas show….  Daniel Tosh!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSaturday, was a little disappointing… it was pretty cloudy and rainy for about half of the day.  We were able to get a little pool time in the morning but then the weather changed and we tried to waste time until our next Vegas show, Mystere!  The people in the Cirque Du Soleil shows are amazing.  I cannot believe the things they can do!  Mystere was a good show, a little trippy in the ‘story line’, but very cool all the same :)

Sunday was our Grand Canyon South Rim excursion.  Matt and I were super pumped because neither of us have been there.  We took a bus tour that stopped at the Hoover Dam for a short period of time and then headed off for the Grand Canyon.  We opted for an additional Pink Jeep tour while at the Grand Canyon so we could see more of it.

The day started off super nice and sunny.  It looked like it was going to be a great day!  Our first stop was the Hoover Dam; the bus driver we had, was incredibly vocal and gave lots of information about the Hoover Dam.  He told us stories about how long it took, how many people helped to build it, and additional little tidbits which made the trip very entertaining and enjoyable.

Matt was a huge concrete nerd and was really excited about all the concrete used to build the Hoover Dam as well as the additional bridge made years later :)  He couldn’t get enough pictures of the bridge and dam!  I guess that’s what happens when you work in construction and your specialty is concrete :)

From the Hoover Dam, it took about 2.5-3 hours to get into the Grand Canyon National Park.  We noticed it continued to become more and more cloudy and even a little rainy…  The temperature dropped dramatically and I was completely under-dressed for our excursion.  Our bus stopped for lunch at the National Geographic Visitor Center.  The visitors center thankfully had lots of ‘Grand Canyon’ themed clothing (neither Matt or I were all that excited to have GRAND CANYON displayed across our entire tops but we were desperate and I was cold…).

As it got closer to our Pink Jeep tour time, it started to rain a lot harder and the Pink Jeep people decided to cancel the tours for the day :(  They said visibility at the Canyon was basically non-existent, our bus driver doubted that so on we went to one of the look out points.

And drum roll please…  The Grand Canyon in all it’s glory!

See that tiny stretch of Canyon?  Grand isn’t it? :)  Total let down, and super bummed we didn’t get to see hardly anything.  With all the crappy weather, I really feel like we should go on another vacation :)

Monday was our last day in Vegas, and what a crappy day it was…  More rain :(  We walked the Strip a little more and made our down to the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign, did a little gambling and decided to call it a day before packing up and heading to the airport.

Here are the rest of our pics from our vacation :)

All in all it was nice to be with my husband for a few days without the congestion of life :)

What Happens in Vegas…

…is a blog post online (for all to see!)  :)

Happy 6 Year Anniversary!!!!!!

I can’t believe we’ve been married for 6 years already!  Time really goes by way too fast!  I always imagined what my life would be like after getting married.  House and Kids… isn’t that what’s supposed to happen? :)  We have neither, but we have each other and we’ve been through a lot together, which I wouldn’t have any other way!

Anyway, getting back to Vegas….  We decided it was time for a little get away.  We hardly ever see each other since Matt works in another state during the week, works every other weekend and then home either part or all of a weekend.  So needless to say we needed some time together.

We left early on a Thursday and arrived in Vegas around 11 am, luckily we were able to check-in right away at our hotel, Treasure Island.  After getting settled, we set off to explore The Strip.

We looked at all the different hotels, enjoyed the sunshine on our walk and then went to Madame Tussaude’s Wax Museum.  I’m amazed at the artwork and detail involved in making the wax sculptures!  However, everytime I think of wax museums I always think of that wonderful scary movie House of Wax, thinking they are going to start blinking and come to life :)  Anyway, we met lots of celebrities and had a good time!

And being the old people we are, we went to bed at 8pm ;)  No, seriously….  but in our defense it was 10pm our time and we had been up since 2am.

4th of July: Food, Fun & Footfalls

We enjoyed a wonderful 4 day weekend at the lake over the holiday!  Matt and I both had Friday off so we were able to spend the long holiday together (which I can’t even tell you the last time we were in the same place for 4 whole days).

Melvin really enjoyed the car ride up to the lake ;)

We got to the lake late Wednesday night and enjoyed some food and drinks with our family and friends before heading to bed. I’m kind of a loser at the lake or on vacation in general.  I like going to bed at a reasonable time in order to get up at a decent time, so I can enjoy the WHOLE day.  I don’t like sleeping until 11 or staying up til 2am, it throws off my whole schedule, plus sleeping in just wastes sunshine hours.

Thurday morning, I went for a great 4 mile run.  It’s so refreshing running at the lake and I enjoyed every minute (of my 32 minute run… 8 min/miles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  can you tell I’m pretty proud??  and I got the same time as Matt :) ).

We enjoyed laying out and boat rides all day Thursday and Friday!  I read a few good books The Heist, Second Honeymoon, & Now You See Her, and enjoyed the sunshine (with SPF 30 :) ).

Holidays aren’t the same without treats, Right?!  I made 2 different kinds; S’more Rice Krispie treats for us and then 4th of July Rice Kripsie Treats for the party!

IMAG0437mlFor the 4th of July Rice Krispie Treats; each layer needs:
5 C. Rice Krispies

3 TBSP butter

1 bag marshmallows

Melt butter and marshmallows (for red and blue layers, add 30 drops of food coloring), stir in cereal.  Press into sprayed 9×13″ pan, making sure layers are even.

We had a great holiday weekend!  I think we often forget that 4th of July and other holidays come at a price and that we are lucky to be able to have these parties and gatherings.  I’m thankful for everyone involved in the military who makes everything we do in America possible. I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday!

The Many Faces of Rice Krispie Treats

We had a family reunion a few weekends ago, and I (like usual) signed up to bring dessert.  I had no idea how many people were going to be there, so I wasn’t sure if 1 pan would be enough… did I need 2?  But then of course looking through all of my pinterest recipes I couldn’t decide, cause they all looked so good!

I really wanted to make something easy, that didn’t need a lot of ingredients and looked/tasted complicated :)  I decided on 3 different kinds of Rice Krispie Treats, all super easy but sounded really good!   Caramel Stuffed Rice Krispies, Chocolate Coconut, & Strawberry Shortcake.

Umm, let me just say that these are all really good and you can’t eat just one of each… ;)

Caramel Stuffed Rice Krispies

Layers 1 & 3:

**total amounts listed, you’ll need to 1/2 the recipe for each layer**

1 box Rice Krispie cereal

2 bags marshmallows

6 TBSP butter

Layer 2:

1 – 14oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 – 14oz. bag caramels, unwrapped (not sure if I really need to mention that, but not everyone is the brightest crayon in the box… ;) ).

1/2 C. Butter

Layer 1:

Prepare 9×13″ baking pan.  In large pan, melt 3 Tbsp. butter and 1 bag of marshmallows over low heat; pour in 1/2 box cereal (approx. 5 cups).  Mix until cereal is evenly coated.  (I like to keep the pan on the stove to keep the marshmallow mixture warm, makes it easier to mix together).  Press into prepared pan.

Layer 2:

In saucepan over low/medium heat, melt caramels, butter and milk.  Pour over layer 1; refrigerate until set (approx. 30 min.).

Layer 3:

Repeat layer 1 :)

**to be honest I think the caramel layer is a little thick.  Layer 2 could easily be halved or you can just make 2 pans of bars; who keeps a half can of sweetened condensed milk? :) **

IMG_20130622_181257

Strawberry Shortcake Rice Krispies

1 box Rice Krispie cereal

1 1/2 bags strawberry marshmallows

**if you can’t find strawberry marshmallows, use regular and then add 1 box sugar-free strawberry Jello powder**

4 Tbsp. butter

1 small package strawberry flavored dried cranberries (optional)

**I couldn’t find these, but I believe they would have made a great addition**

1+ C. white cake mix

**the original recipe calls for angel food cake mix, however the box I grabbed had 2 packets and it really threw me off, which is why if I make it again I’ll use white cake.  Also I couldn’t really taste the cake flavor, so I’m not sure if it’s necessary or not**

Prepare 9×13″ cake pan.  In large pot over low heat, melt butter and marshmallows.  Pour in cereal, dried cranberries and cake mix; stir until well combined.  Press into prepared pan.

IMG_20130622_181902Unfortunately it didn’t photograph well, and it kind of looks like brains…  On a positive note, they were really good :)

I’m not going to do a tutorial on the Chocolate Coconut Rice Krispies cause I didn’t change anything and I forgot to take a picture :)

Enjoy!!