Random Crafts

The holidays were a little over two months ago, and I realized while looking through photos, that I never shared some of the handmade gifts that I made! This year wasn’t very heavy on crafts. I had quite a bit of ambition, but I never get through my full list.

The gifts that I made were fabric rosette necklaces and a lace scarf. I really could have made more, but the holidays are just so darn busy! I feel like I need to start earlier and earlier in the year to get through the list that I have. :-) Maybe I should start now for 2014′s gifts? LOL!

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These were the rosette necklaces that I made. I have been so inspired by statement necklaces lately, and saw this tutorial for fabric rosettes (which I bookmarked ages ago, because they were just so darn cute).

Then, on Pinterest I came across the idea to make the rosettes into a bib necklace, and the idea hit me. Why not make them in my favorite team colors and give them as gifts? I gave the LSU ones to one of my sisters & my cousin, since they both go there. I also made one for me. :-)

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The other ones were, of course, for Saints fans. I gave one of those to my other sister and my future sister in law. :-) I won’t lie…it really takes some time to make the little rosettes and a good bit of tacky & hot glue. However, I love the results! I can’t wait to wear mine during football season next year!

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The fabric was Kona cotton, and since that’s normally a fairly pricey fabric (in comparison to other solid cotton fabrics), I just waited for it to go on sale. :-) I packaged the necklaces, using the same comic book boards that I used to re-organize my fabric collection a couple of years ago. I just cut them into smaller rectangles, and added in two slits on top of the board for the chains to stay put in. :-)

The other gift that I made was a lace scarf for my Memaw. Yes, I call my grandma, Memaw, and I love that Sheldon on Big Bang Theory has a Memaw, too. :-) She LOVES the color aqua, and since I had some aqua sock yarn in my stash, I decided to knit this scarf up for her. :-)

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I just love it. :-) It also was a fairly simple lace pattern, so if you’re a beginner with knitting and you’re looking to get into a lace-making pattern, this one is worth a try, in my opinion. It still takes some time, but most lace patterns do.

Did any of y’all make gifts for the holiday season? Or heck…now that we’re well out of the holiday season, are you planning to make any birthday gifts?

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

applecupcakes

You guys may remember how rough of a year 2013 was. Every time something would happen, I’d think…well, it really can’t get worse. Well, I feel like God really tested us last year, because oh man…it just kept getting worse. It was just a rotten year all around. :-\

2014 is proving to be so much better. I got some good news…like REALLY GOOD NEWS. You may have noticed lately that I’ve been a bit quiet on here and on social media….

…well….

I got a new job!

I don’t want to give specifics, but let’s just say I’m in the same field and I’m pretty darn happy here. While the job is still very new to me, I feel like I can honestly look forward to work every day. I have to admit, I had some new job jitters. What if I wasn’t smart enough for it? What if I didn’t make friends?

I had my doubts, because I held my previous job for almost 5 years. It’s what I knew, and this new job is a pretty big change for me. However, so far I’m loving it. LOVING it. Everyone I’ve met at my new job is very friendly, and it’s just a different, yet refreshing dynamic. It reminds me a lot of my first job out of college, which I loved (I had to resign from my first job, since I moved to a new city).

I’ve been in such a cheerful mood because of this change (amongst other things), and you guys probably know that “Happy” song by Pharrell? Well, yeah…that’s my theme song right now. In fact, I caught myself humming this in Target the other day…haha!

Also, another reason to be happy is that my birthday is coming up. I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating cake all weekend, so it’s fitting to share this recipe for cupcakes. :-) I made these for the Opal Apple dessert party, and they were SO good! I love mini cupcakes, because I can enjoy one and feel like I had dessert, or like some others who had these, enjoy 5 or 6 of these without too many judge-y stares. :-P

This made about 40 mini cupcakes for me, so it’s more than enough to go around for a party. :-)

Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: cupcake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction & frosting is an original 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Opal Apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 batch spiced cream cheese frosting
  • Optional: 1 batch caramel sauce (for drizzle)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a mini cupcake pan by lining each cup with a mini cupcake liner and set the pan aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large-sized bowl and set aside. Whisk the melted butter and sugars together in a medium-sized bowl, until well-combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time (beating for 30 seconds with each addition), until smooth. Add the whole milk and vanilla extract to the batter, whisking until everything is combined.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring the batter gently until just combined. Fold in the finely chopped apples.
  4. Fill the mini cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full with cupcake batter (using either a small scoop or a piping bag, to make it easier). Bake the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove the mini cupcakes from the oven and allow them to completely cool before frosting.
  5. Once cooled, generously swirl on the frosting, and if you’d like, drizzle the cupcakes with a simple caramel sauce. If you’re not serving these immediately, refrigerate them until you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card. All opinions are 100% my own.

Mini Apple Tartlets

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Well, yesterday was Mardi Gras. Usually, I’m super jazzed about it, but I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life, and Mardi Gras sort of just snuck up on me. I’m glad I didn’t get my hopes up too much about parading though…we had SLEET on Mardi Gras Day. SLEET…ICE…they closed roads…in Louisiana…in March! Let that sink in for a little bit. This winter has been a weird one..

Now that Mardi Gras season is over, and I’m mourning over an empty king cake box, I have to face what I’m giving up during the lenten season: candy and soda. I was really considering all refined  & artificial sugar, but I really want it to be something I know I can handle. Soda is hard enough (diet coke addict here!), but candy during Easter season? Ugh…I’ll buy a box of Cadbury eggs for the week after Easter. :-P Hopefully, this will kick my sweet tooth to the side for a while…I really need to stop craving Reese’s cups darnit!

Speaking of the sweet tooth, I’m still thinking about these mini tartlets that I made for my Opal Apple dessert party. They were so simple to make, and they made quite a bit for a party! I think this would be a perfect dessert to throw together at the last minute, and if you have some caramel sauce or ice cream lying around, they would be perfection on these!

Mini Apple Tartlets
Source: Opal Apples

Ingredients:

  • 2 Opal apples, peeled, cored & chopped
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 packages (containing 15 each) mini phyllo dough cups

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, add all ingredients, except for the phyllo dough cups. Heat the apple mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cover. Cook the mixture for about 5 minutes and remove the mixture from the heat.
  3. Once slightly cooled, fill each phyllo cup with a tsp. of the apple filling. Place the cups on the prepared baking sheet, and bake them for 8-10 minutes. They’re best served warm, but also taste great at room temperature!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card. All opinions are 100% my own.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos

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I’m such a huge fan of the slow cooker. We don’t use it often enough, but every time I use it, I make it a goal of mine to use the darn thing more often. That never happens, though, because I just always seem to forget about the slow cooker when menu planning. ::sigh::

One of my favorite things about the slow cooker is the amount of time it takes to be in the kitchen. This recipe is a great example of that. It requires just a few ingredients, and you just let the slow cooker do its job for 8 hours. Not much work at all, and you have a delicious, homemade meal ready for you for dinner that evening.

A meal like this is perfect for a new mom, actually, and today I’m so excited to be a part of Katie’s (of Katie’s Cucina and Sew Woodsy) surprise virtual baby shower, which was organized by Julie of The Little Kitchen and Christine of Cook the Story.

Katie is a good blogger friend of mine, who I met at Food Blog Forum last year. When I met Katie, I felt like we were just instant friends. She’s just super sweet…just like she comes across on her blogs!

Food Blog Forum 2013

She and her husband, Jon, are expecting their first baby…a BOY in March. :-) Since they’re pretty much DIY gurus, I’ve especially enjoyed following the nursery planning on their DIY blog, as well as her Instagram. I’m sure it’s going to come out amazing!

For Katie’s baby shower, the theme is easy recipes & crafts for busy families. I instantly thought of the slow cooker for this theme, and since tex-mex cuisine is a favorite of mine, I just had to share this recipe with y’all.

This is such a great, basic recipe for a meal. The pulled pork takes very little prep time, and it’s super versatile. You could use it for tacos (like I’m showing y’all today), enchiladas, serve it over mexican rice, quick tortilla “pizzas”, nachos, etc. Also, since this calls for 3 lbs. of pork, you can easily make this for a dinner one night, freeze the leftover meat, and use it for dinner another evening.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a shower without a whole variety of recipes/crafts to try! Check out these amazing ideas from the other bloggers who contributed to Katie’s shower. Congratulations again, Katie…can’t wait to “meet” your little one!

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Easy Broccoli & Cheddar Soup from The Little Kitchen
Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers from Cook the Story
Individual Tortilla Caprese Pizzas from a farmgirl’s dabbles
Easy Cheesy Potato Corn Chowder from A Little Claireification
Slow Cooker Jambalaya from A Spicy Perspective
Italian Style Stir Fry from Aggie’s Kitchen
Apricot Chicken from Bombshell Bling
Easy Baked Spaghetti from Chocolate & Carrots
Cuban Casserole with Whole Grain Mustard Butter Biscuits from Climbing Grier Mountain
Freezer-Friendly Quinoa Meatballs from Cooking with Books
Baby Boy Subway Art Printable from H2OBungalow
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Cake from Inside BruCrew Life
Asparagus And Leek Quiche from Kokocooks
Roasted Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Red Potatoes from Life After Empty Nest
Yogurt Blueberry and Honey Smoothie from My Sweet Zepol
Pesto Parmesan Chicken Salad from Shaken Together
Printable Baby Whale Themed Cards and Project Life Mini Album from Simply Kelly Designs
Coconut Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies from Simply Southern Baking
Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garden Vegetables from Sweet Remedy
Easy Kofta Kebabs from Tasty Chomps
Crock Pot Fajitas with Chicken and Quinoa from The Dinner-Mom
Overnight Oatmeal from The Hungry Housewife
Honey-Dijon Chicken, Apple & Quinoa Wraps from The Kitchen Prep
Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Soup from The Lemon Bowl
DIY Whale Art from While They Snooze
One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice from Yellow Bliss Road

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos
Source: inspired by Can You Stay For Dinner

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. boneless boston butt/pork shoulder
  • 1 jar of store bought salsa
  • 1 batch of taco seasoning

Directions:

  1. Pour the jar of salsa in a 5-6 qt. slow cooker. Gently place the boston butt/pork shoulder over the salsa. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the top of the pork. Set the slow cooker on the low setting and cook for 8 hours. Shred the pork using two forks and enjoy…..or for a more crispy texture, follow the next step.
  2. Optional: To give the pork a crispier texture for some pieces, shred the cooked pork and place it in a rimmed baking sheet, spreading the meat as evenly as possible. Place the meat under the broiler on “low” and allow it to bake, checking it every minute or so, until the meat starts to brown/crisp on top (about 5 minutes).
  3. I served mine with plenty of chopped cilantro and white cheddar, but you could also opt for finely chopped red onion, salsa and/or sour cream, to name a few ideas! Top them however you like!

 

Opal Apple Dessert Party

Opal Apple Party 2014

I absolutely love making desserts. One of the biggest reasons I miss the holiday season is because of the holiday baking. Our mixers (yeah, I’m crazy…I said mixers) and oven were going like crazy, and after the holidays (and a bit of weight gain), I decided to just stop baking. It’s been a couple of months, but I’m confident enough in my will power to give baking another shot. Since I’m a brand ambassador for Opal Apple this year, I was asked to throw a party featuring these awesome apples. So, I decided to throw a dessert party and get to baking!

Opal Apple Party 2014

Opal Apples were discovered in 1999 in Europe, but were brought to the states in 2010 and are sold exclusively through FirstFruits Marketing of Washington. They’re a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Topaz apple.

They are very crunchy in texture, and are super sweet with a slight tang. They also don’t brown as quickly as other apples, so when you’re serving slices at a party, there’s no need to dunk the slices in citrus juice. They’ve quickly become my favorite apples, and they’re available in stores from December through April.

Opal Apple also has their “Youth Make A Difference Initiative“, which awards funding to organizations that help the community, where the youth in the community take on a leadership role within the organization. If you know any organization in your community that follows the criteria listed on Opal Apple’s site, they’re still eligible to apply for funding until February 28, 2014! More information can be found here.

Opal Apple Party 2014

For the dessert party, I wanted to keep everything mini, so everyone could try one of everything and not feel too guilty about it.

The dessert menu was simple, but so tasty:

  • Apple Spice Mini Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting & Salted Caramel Drizzle (recipe coming in another post)
  • Mini Apple Tartlets in Phyllo Dough Cups (recipe coming in another post)
  • Apple Bites, which were simply Opal Apple slices, white cheddar slices and grapes

Opal Apple Party 2014

Since two of the recipes from the party were from Opal Apple, I also placed recipe cards (made by the folks at Opal Apple) in a basket for guests to take home with them. :-)

Opal Apple Party 2014

All of the recipes were a hit, especially the cupcakes! I loved throwing this party together, and everyone had a great time getting together. :-) There were a few leftover desserts, but thankfully my coworkers were happy to take care of that. :-)

Thanks to Opal Apple for the opportunity to be a brand ambassador this year, and for the idea to throw this party! It was fun!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card to throw this party. All opinions are 100% my own.

A Bunch of Randoms

1. Well, life has been a bit hectic lately. Some great changes are happening in my life right now (thank you, 2014….2013 stunk a big one!), and I’ve just been so busy getting ready for these changes. I can’t exactly explain what the big news is, but I will in a couple of weeks (hint: it’s not a baby). :-)

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2. Yesterday, Millie received her last BarkBox. I purchased a 3 month Groupon for her for Christmas, and she has LOVED everything that has been included in the box. I’m thankful that the toy included in every box wasn’t what we like to call a “5 minute toy”, meaning it’s shredded to bits in under 5 minutes. She also loved all of the treats that she has tried so far from her BarkBoxes. :-) We probably won’t continue though, because she still has about 10 bags of treats unopened, and she has a whole basket of toys. This gal is beyond spoiled. :-P

I took a picture of her when we got the shipment. You can’t tell in the picture, but she was in the middle of barking at the box. She doesn’t like boxes very much (she was found in a box as a puppy…poor thing), so she refuses to grab anything out of boxes and she won’t go anywhere near larger boxes. No worries…she got a treat and the rope toy a few seconds later. I just wanted a picture of her with her last BarkBox. :-)

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3. Last weekend was the Mardi Gras Mambo 10K. I’ve heard great things about the race, and at $25, it was a no brainer to register. I have to admit, I went into this race thinking it would be no big deal. I mean, I did a half marathon the month before. However, I haven’t gone for a single run since the half. Since my strength training program says to avoid cardio in the first month, I didn’t run at all. Big mistake..it’s amazing how quickly I lost my endurance and also, I had leg day at the gym a couple of days before….my hamstrings were on fire after mile 2. :(

4. Confession: Valentine’s Day candy (heck, ANY holiday candy) on clearance is my weakness. I totally purchased 6 bags of candy (I know…crazy), but I’m super proud of myself for not going over my calories with all of this candy in the house. I’m learning that two small pieces of chocolate is enough for a snack, and a good trick for me to make it last is to freeze the chocolate. It takes longer to melt in my mouth, so it feels like I’m getting more than two small pieces of candy. Totally a mental thing, but it works for me. It’s good to have some semblance of willpower back. :-)

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5. Last month, my husband and I went to a local shoe store to get him some new shoes. There was apparently a big clearance there, and we had a coupon for an extra 50% off clearance, so we figured it would be a great sale for him to stock up on shoes. We didn’t see that it was for ladies and kids only, though. :( While I wasn’t planning on getting any shoes before we got there, I couldn’t resist after seeing the prices. I purchased $190 worth of shoes for $50. I’m really excited about rain boots, which were $12 after coupon…my dog will NOT use the facilities in the rain without me standing out there (boo), and sinking in the mud in nicer shoes is not fun at all. Yay for rain boots!

Also, yeah…black flats…those are work staples. I’m not coordinated enough for heels, and frankly, at 5’10″, I really don’t need the extra height. :-)

Weekly Weigh-In

This week was the first full week that I was back on track. I’m admitting my weight for the first time since September, so yeah..it’s ugly. I needed to be completely honest with y’all about my weight. :-\ While I’m deeply ashamed of how much weight I’ve gained back since last April, it’s really really great to be back! I feel in control of things again, and while my loss wasn’t huge this week, I’m still proud of myself!

Starting Weight

Before: 298.5
—————–
Last Week: 260.4
This Week: 258.6

Weight Lost: 1.8 lbs.
Total Loss: 39.9 lbs.

Now, I know I probably should have lost a lot more considering it was week 1. However, I’m back into strength training, and the last time I started my strength training, I definitely didn’t lose much at first. I know I’m gaining muscle, because I was ridiculously sore last week. Like…couldn’t brush my hair, cough, laugh, take the stairs, etc. I know changes are happening, and I’m OK with the results being slow. :-)

For now, I’m aiming for a 1-2 lb./week loss. If I keep on keeping on, I could potentially meet my goal weight by the end of the year. I’m super excited!

I made some new rewards for myself, since I bought myself or got gifted a few things on the rewards list already (oops…). The big rewards will happen once I hit 100 lbs. (hello designer purse)!

~ 50 lbs. (Pedicure)
~ 60 lbs. or 20% (Flowers for me)
~ 70 lbs. (New pair of jeans)
~ 80 lbs. (Mini make-up spree)
~ 90 lbs. (New bottle of perfume)
~ 100 lbs. or ONEDERLAND!! (New designer purse)
~ 110 lbs. (Some fun, sassy heels!)
~ 120 lbs. or GOAL (New pair of designer jeans)

I can’t tell y’all how excited I am about a pedicure! I definitely need one after half marathon/half marathon training, and after my 10K race this coming weekend! :-)

How are your weight loss/health goals going so far this year?

French Apple Cake

French Apple Cake

Oh man. This week has been crazy. It’s the first real week that I’ve been back into calorie counting, and I just started a new strength training program as well. It hurts to reach to brush my hair, sneeze, walk, and pretty much exist. It’s a great sore feeling, because I like knowing that there’s actual muscle somewhere in there, but oh man, it’s aggravating! :-P

While the exercise is going well, I’m finding it much more difficult to stay within my calorie counts. Since I ate with no guilt for a few months, I can’t explain how hard it is to knock down the cravings. I’ve had a few good victories this week, though. Example: I went to a training seminar at work, and the instructor brought two large king cakes for the class to enjoy. Oh my gosh…the king cake smelled so good, and my coworkers totally dug in. I kept thinking…what’s one piece? One small piece won’t do anything, right? But then I told myself that I’ve stayed within my calories this whole week, and ruining it over king cake isn’t worth it. I had a granola bar in my purse for a snack (thank goodness), and had that instead.

Small victories. That’s what weight loss is all about, right? One meal at a time…one day at a time.

I got hit with the baking bug this week, too. I figured this would be a big test for my willpower, so I decided to bake with some Opal Apples that I just received in the mail. Usually, I go to town on snacking on these because it’s just an easy way to get fruit in (not to mention, they’re especially killer with a little chocolate spread or peanut butter). :-P However, I decided to give these a try with baking, and they worked wonderfully! As far as the recipe goes, this very simple to throw together (the peeling of the apples took the longest), and the resulting cake reminded me a lot of a rum cake from around the holidays with a ton of apples thrown in….just awesome! I had a small sliver, and it was worth every darn calorie. :-) I have to admit, I was proud of myself for not cutting a large slice and just going to town….it was just delicious!

Disclosure: I was sent a shipment of Opal Apples at no cost to me as a brand ambassador for Opal Apples. 

French Apple Cake
Source: Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. dark rum
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Grease or butter an 8-9″ springform pan, and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set this aside.
  3. Peel the apples, and core them. Cut the apples into 1-2 inch chunks.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs well for a minute or so until they’re foamy. Add in the sugar, and whisk the mixture for another minute, being sure everything is mixed well. Whisk in the rum and vanilla extract. Then, whisk in half of the flour, and once that’s just mixed, add half of the melted butter. Repeat this one more time, stirring gently after each addition, ensuring that the batter is smooth. Add the apples to the batter, and fold them in gently with a spatula or spoon, making sure that all of the fruit is coated with the batter.
  5. Add the batter/apples to the greased springform pan, and gently move it around with a spatula to get the cake to an even height. Place the baking sheet/springform pan in the oven, and bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on the top and when the knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
  6. Gently run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake, and open the springform pan to expose the cake. Pull the cake out of the springform, and place it on the cooling rack to finish cooling. Serve the cake slightly warm or at room temperature. The cake with keep for about 2 days, very loosely covered at room temperature.

10 Things I Learned About Half Marathons

It’s been a while since I’ve gone for a run. In fact, confession time. I haven’t gone for a legitimate run since the half marathon. I had a bout of sickness that took me over a week to get over, and then I jumped into strength training. However, it feels like that race was yesterday. I don’t remember much of the pain…I just remember the finish line. I guess that’s why people say you’ll get bitten by the running bug. You just remember those high moments. :-)

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However, I did learn quite a few things while training and during the race that I thought I’d share with y’all.

I have to insert this in this post, because half marathons (heck, running at all) is a huge deal.

DISCLAIMER: Now, of course before you start any type of workout program, it’s best to check with your doctor. I’m not a doctor…just some random blogger. Seriously, check with your doctor before taking on a workout program, especially if you have had injuries or you’re overweight. Running can be hard on your body, so you want to make sure you don’t make anything worse or hurt yourself…period! Also, these are tips from what I personally encountered. Everyone is different…you might not go through any of this (lucky). :-)

Mile 3

1. It’s going to be SUPER mental.

So many people told me this, and they were all right. Running long distances becomes a mental game. After mile 1, I surely didn’t think I had 12.1 more in me on race day. However, I took it one mile at a time. It was especially rough once I passed the 10 mile marker, since that was my longest distance in training. I kept saying to myself, but you did a personal best! You don’t have to hobble 3 more miles..but I somehow shut my brain up and finished it! :-)

2. You might get sick after. Like seriously…

I came down with bronchitis TWO DAYS after the half marathon. I was 100% on top of the world on Sunday, and then I slowly declined by Tuesday. I thought something was wrong with me, but apparently this can happen. When you’re exercising for such a long period of time, your immune system takes a bit of a dip, so I apparently was supposed to take vitamins, avoid exposure to a bunch of people and just become a hermit. Um…nope…that didn’t happen at all (Oops!). I seriously had NO idea about this…lesson learned.

3. Body Glide is my BFF (sorry real life BFF, I still love you).

It’s no secret that I’m a large gal. With that, things rub/chafe. In fact, it wasn’t until the 10 mile run that I learned about sports bra chafing. Yeah, that’s a thing and it’s PAINFUL. Worse than thunder thigh chafing. My good running friend recommended that I purchase Body Glide and put it everywhere. That stuff is wonderful.

4. Cotton is the enemy.

This goes with chafing. Cotton stinks…cotton clothes, cotton socks, cotton anything. Whenever I wore cotton anything during training runs, there was blisters/chafing. I love cotton for everyday clothing, but never again for workouts.

5. There’s this thing called a wall.

Yeah, that infamous wall happened for me at the bridge (around mile 11). I was thinking there’s NO WAY there’s 2 miles left in me. You just have to keep on, keeping on (unless you injured yourself, of course). Blast music. Count trees. Check out cool gear on marathoners who are running past you (some running shirts had hilarious phrases on them).

6. Always bring fuel.

Don’t depend on the race course to have what you need. Bring the fuel that you know and are used to. The last thing you want are stomach issues on the course. I had a pocket full of Gu Chomps (which I used for quite a few long runs previously) for the race. :-) I did pick up a free Gu at mile 8, just in case I needed a boost in the end, but I never used it.

7. Hydrate!

There’s a bit of a balance here. I wanted to stay hydrated, but I didn’t want to over-hydrate (it’s really dangerous to do that from articles I read). For me, I took a small swig of Powerade and a small swig of water every 2 miles. It worked for me, and I never needed the port-o-potties.

8. Full night of sleep before the race? I wish!

For me, I am a worry worm. I kept having nightmares before the race, and the night before was no exception! I think I got 4 hours of sleep the night before, but thankfully the afternoon before, I took an epic nap. :-) Carb loading = running fuel + a need to nap!

9. Don’t compare yourself to others. Just finishing is awesome.

I did this the whole race. I’d look across the lake and saw the first place runners passing mile 10 while I was pushing through mile 3/4. I felt sort of defeated when I saw that, but my friend reminded me that we were still doing this and finishing the race, no matter the time, is still doing the same distance everyone else did. We all finished the same race. :-)

10. Runners are friendly.

This blew my mind. I don’t know…maybe it stems from old school P.E. days of being called Shamu by kids, and constantly being last picked on teams ::cue tiny violins::. Whatever. :-P I just always felt like I was in the way when it comes to working out. I’d rather be invisible (I battle this at the gym all the time), because I don’t like knowing that people are watching me struggle. However, at the race, marathoners….FAST marathoners at that, took a second to pat me on the back and tell me “Good Job!” when I hit the wall. I needed that so badly. Also, throughout the race, we sort of kept up with the same people and we’d have conversations while having walk breaks (yes, I took walk breaks…many of them…I’m not ashamed).

Now, I’m sure there’s more….but those are the top 10 that stuck out to me. :-) If you’ve done a race before, what’s something that you learned?

A Bunch of Randoms

It has been quite an odd week in Louisiana. It has snowed twice within a week, and I’m just a tad bit tired of the cold weather. Remind me that I said this when it’s 110 degrees outside in a few short months.

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1. I became THAT runner. My car now has a 13.1 on it. As cheesy as it is, I think I earned it. :-)

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2. I’m falling more and more in love with Trader Joe’s lately. These chocolate covered powerberries are amazing. OMG..and they’re healthy, right? So I can feel no guilt at all for eating the entire bag over the course of three days? Great!

Also, my addiction to their dried mango is nothing short of ridiculous.

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3. Here’s evidence of the snow. This was just the start of when the snow started last night, and I couldn’t help but take a picture of the paw prints. It took Millie a little while to understand what this snow stuff was, but after a while, she was running through it like crazy. :-)

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4. This tank top just gets me. OMG. I just had to get it for my upcoming 10K, and while it’s a little tight right now, I think I’ll be OK in a few weeks for the race. Weight loss motivation? I’m gonna wear the heck out of this in the summer for my runs. :-)

5. I’m completely loving this song. I mean, it’s probably because Idina is singing it. I need to babysit someone’s child so I can watch this movie in the theater without being judged. I haven’t been this excited about an animated movie since “Princess and the Frog”! I just love Disney. :-)