Friday, June 22, 2012

What to Do Next?

So, for some reason, I've been thinking a lot about my next fitness goal. I'm big on accomplishing something once and not having near the satisfaction of finishing it the second time. I've done P90X once and couldn't do it again. Insanity once and couldn't do it again. The only thing I've ever done more than once is a half-marathon. I've pretty much decided I'm going to do another half this fall. At least... But, I'm thinking it may be time to take it up a notch.

I've considered training for a triathlon or most likely, just a sprint triathlon (usually a 750m swim, 12 mile bike and 5k run). Problem is, I don't really swim. I was on swim team back when I was 8 but somehow I don't think that will get me very far. Not only do I not swim, I don't have a place to go to swim. I've had one person volunteer to help me train and I'm sure I could find a handful of people to give me advice, but still need that place to train. I don't really bike either, but could get through 12 miles without a problem. Won't be the fastest biker on the course, but well, I'm used to that...

But, really, I've been thinking more and more about running a full marathon. I really can't put my finger on the reason why, but just think I'm ready to try something new. I think, truly, I'm just ready for a new challenge. I don't really enjoy running, but I certainly enjoy the calorie burn. Plus, I really look forward to the feeling of "mission accomplished." Last week, I ran 17 miles and I'm on par to do 20 this week. I just looked at the calendar and if I take this as week one of my training (which would include an 8 mile run on Sunday), I would be perfectly timed for the Indianapolis Marathon on October 20th. I'd probably follow this training routine by Hal Higdon.

Now, I probably won't do this. For one, it's such a time commitment. I mean, we're talking 18, 19, 20 mile runs in a week. Tom would have to be totally on board with this one and not want to train for it too. (We tend to take on big goals like this together.) Not to mention, I'm not totally sure I can hack it or if my feet can take it.

But, on the other hand, I'd be in the best shape of my life. And, probably the best weight too. And, I'd be pretty proud of myself. Not sure those are the best reasons, or if there is a good reason to put yourself through that much torture. But, people, lots of people, do it all the time. Perhaps, it's time to see what all of the fuss is about... Or, perhaps not... I'll keep you all posted.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Patriotic Cupcakes

I have been pinning ideas for annual Fourth of July celebration for quite some time. When we were invited to a Memorial Day party at the neighbors, I thought it would be the perfect time to try out an idea. I looked again at my Fourth of July Pin Board and didn't find anything that quite struck my fancy. I did draw a lot of inspiration though.

I decided to make an American flag out of mini cupcakes. Plus, it gave me a great chance to try out some of the cupcake icing techniques on my Sweet Treats Board. Now, I'll have you know, I'm officially NOT Martha Stewart. I went with boxed cupcake mix but made my own icing (for the most part - you'll see). I'm not convinced that making your own cupcake mix is worth it, but real buttercream icing is pretty much awesome.

First, I made the cupcakes in a mini muffin tin. I found cute red, white and blue wrappers, but totally could have used plain white or silver.

Then, I went to work making the buttercream icing. I made a batch of this recipe. (Should have made a double batch if I would have needed white. Keep reading.) Yes, you read it right, two sticks of butter per batch. It is rich. And delicious. And pipes onto the cupcakes really well.

Now, it's time to hear the reason behind the non-homemade white icing. When I was at Michael's, picking up my new frosting tip and gel dye, I noticed "white dye." I thought to myself, well, you have to be just plain stupid to buy white dye for icing. Icing is already white! Well, not when you make it with two sticks of YELLOW butter. (Sometimes I wonder how I've gotten so far in life. Who felt stupid now?) So, plain white buttercream icing will not work for this one. Some day, I may try out the white dye, but not this day. This day, I busted out the white canned frosting. I will say, it definitely doesn't pipe as well, but I put it in the fridge for a while and that helped a lot.

For the red and blue, I used Wilton dyes. They come in a concentrated gel and really make the icing bright and true. Although, again, I probably should have used the white dye on the red at least because I had to use a lot to achieve a true red and not orange.

Back to Pinterest, I tried using this technique for getting the icing into the piping bag. Personally, I thought it was more trouble than it was worth. I am never good with plastic wrap and adding in the extra bags, etc. just made more of a mess for me. I did find this great tip (can't remember where now) for getting icing into the bag that I did use and was a great way to do it. Simply put the bag into a glass and fold the edges of the bag over the lip of the glass. Add icing and you're done!

I used the Wilton 1M Open Star tip. And, I used this tutorial, also from Glorious Treats. You really do need the extra large tips (and an extra large coupler if you want to use one) to create the large swirls. For these cupcakes, I started on the outside edge and swirled in to the center.

Here are some photos of the final product. (The white icing was definitely not as good to pipe and wasn't still enough to hold up really. You can see they look as if they're "melting.")

A side shot to show just how much icing is on these suckers. Half cupcake - half icing. Yum. (I read another tutorial that said to do a whole layer on the first round on the edge of the cupcake in and then another layer on top of that to make an even larger swirl.)

Here are two I did in the reverse direction just for fun. I started on the inside and swirled to the outer edge. They look more like a rose.

Final product. Oh how I wished I had a fancier way to display. But, a cookie sheet covered in foil was the best I could do with relatively short planning.

And, enjoying the final product...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Daughter

This post is about Josie, just Josie. Well, OK, fine. I'll probably compare her to Tessa, but since they can't yet find or read my blog, I think I'm safe.

In the last week or so, I have come to learn one thing. Josie, my oldest, is me reincarnated twenty some years later. We've always thought she looked more like me than her dad. In fact, when she was first born, she looked remarkably like me and really my brother, Matt. She definitely inherited her facial features from her mama.

But, I've come to find out, she's inherited so much more. I posted this photo on Facebook today.

I had a good friend make a comment about how much she looks like me. And, she totally does. My response though is that it goes so much deeper than that. Most recently, I truly feel like I'm reliving my childhood through her. (I saw tons of stuff throughout the school year too - too many to list!) I'm sure this will go in spurts like anything else, but this week has brought to light one particular memory of mine.

Last week, we took the kids to the Greenfield-Central All Comers track meet, just like we did last year. (We're totally becoming creatures of habit.) Josie came in fourth this year. She was STOKED! Last year, she was last place. And, she totally remembered that. All she talked about was how fourth place was awesome and so much better than sixth place. It totally put me back to my days of swimming on swim team and then running in track. I scrapbooked all of my "participant" ribbons and medals as if they were blue ribbons. In fact, I think they're still in mom's basement. I didn't care that I was first - I cared that I did better than the last time.

Of course, as the years went on, I became more competitive. Though never being competitive in athletics, I certainly could hold my own in academics and in my small circle of musical attempts. I'm still highly competitive, though I keep it to myself most of the time. In fact, Tom and I just explained it best to our employees. We want to be the best. The best. At everything. If we put on an event, it's the best. If I'm PTA president, I'm the best. If I run a half-marathon, I'm the best. OK, fine. Maybe not, but I certainly give my best effort.

The trait I love the most about Josie right now is her absolute willingness to try anything, whether she's good or not. (I really don't think I had this as a kid.) Tessa has been working on flipping into the pool and even diving. She's really good. And, Josie's really not. But, by gosh, she absolutely gives it her all. How far will that attitude get her in life?!?! I wish I had more of that in me at this stage in my life. Turns out the kids can teach me a thing or two.

I don't want to mislead you all - she has certainly received some qualities from her daddy too. She has one heck of a sense of humor. And, she certainly does not have my body type. She's thin as a rail. She also has a sort of confidence about her that I never had, and maybe still don't. That's all Tom.

She's also great at making new friends. She goes up to every kid that is within a few years of her, wherever we are, and just waves and asks their name.

Again, how much can I learn from her? A lot. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm looking forward to watching her grow and becoming more like her mama everyday. :)


The couch next to Josie looks inviting for a nap. Alas, I'm on the treadmill trying to convince myself to bust out six miles in hopes of burning off the pigs in blankets Tom wanted for fathers day. Why do I let myself eat those things!?!?!?

Off to sweat it out while watching Tom mow the grass :)