Tag Archives: Christmas

Holiday Rewind

Once again another Christmas season has whirred past like a red and green blur. After all the wrapping paper is torn off the presents, and the last morsels of Christmas dinner are finally devoured, I’m always left with the feeling of remorse.  I don’t love winter, but I love this time of year.  I enjoy the time with family, and the excitement and anticipation that Christmas brings.  After it’s all set and done, I’m left feeling like a girl who just got dumped and wondering, “Is it really over?”

About all the decorating I could handle this year

This year was especially strange because none of our typical holiday traditions took place thanks to the stomach flu epidemic that invaded our household a week before Christmas! Instead of baking my traditional fudge and setting up decorating our tree, Nick and I took turns heating up Cambell’s Chicken Noodle soup for the two of us.  Very romantic.  I sound so sarcastic, but it really was awful.  The upside is we were feeling MUCH better by Christmas Eve, and managed the drive down to my parent’s house in time for “Santa” to arrive.

Luckily My Parents Got It Right

Christmas Day, I came to the realization that I am either completely spoiled, or I was a very good girl this year.  I received a Garmin Forerunner 305 from my husband, which was the exact one I was pining over.  My brother gave me a running journal and a gift card that bought me a pair of Brooks Infiniti Tights and an Asics soft shell running jacket.  I now feel like I can get down to the more serious training because the below freezing winter weather can no longer stand in my way.  I won’t be a slave to my gym’s treadmill any longer.  Ha!  And last but not least, my parents gave me my favorite Lola perfume, so now I can smell delicious whenever I’m not sweating it out on a run.  All in all, I feel completely blessed to have such a thoughtful family.  But the gifts were still not my favorite part of the holiday season!  I love the food.

Green Bean Casserole

I still managed to run despite all the hustle and bustle of the season.  I did 3 miles in the great outdoors before the flu bug struck.  I took my dog, Dixie, with me using my hands-free leash (which I still love).  She needs the good ol’ stretch of the legs as much as I do!  I even cut a minute off my running time compared to my pace on the treadmill.  I haven’t ran since Christmas, but personally I wanted to give myself plenty of time to rest and recover.  Plus, I truly feel spending time with family during the holidays trumps my running plans.  I know I can make up for the time off, and it only happens once a year.  I’m sure the more dedicated runners of the world were out running 15 miles, while I was watching Muppets Christmas Carol and sipping a cup of hot cocoa — but I enjoyed myself!

I love this picture

I hope you all had a lovely holiday!  

What were some of your favorite moments? 

Cinnamon-Sugar Coated Pecans

For the last two years, I’ve been making these delectable pecans for all our family get-togethers.  Any time I serve them at parties, I’m immediately bombarded with requests for the recipe.  I have actually caught my aunts and uncles scraping the baking pan in hopes of devouring any remaining morsels.  If you’re planning any kind of holiday party, you’re going to want to serve these.

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Delicious

Ingredients

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 pound pecan halves
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Grease one baking sheet.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg white, water and vanilla extract (if desired) until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. Add pecans to egg whites, stir to coat the nuts evenly. Remove the nuts, and toss them in the sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.

This recipe is phenomenal.  I’m able to whip them together in minutes, and then it’s just a matter of baking time.  I’ve made these a day or so in advance and they taste amazing, but I especially love them hot and fresh out of the oven.  I’m thinking next year I will give these as hostess gifts to those who invite us to their parties.

Give Them Away as Tasty Gifts

I hope you all Enjoy!

You’ll Run Your Legs Off Kid

I Can Totally Relate

“I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle,” screams Ralphie as he clings to Santa’s red slide.  Ralphie, I can totally relate.  You want a Red Ryder BB gun, I want a Garmin Forerunner 305 with a GPS Receiver and built-in heart rate monitor.

Let's Hope Santa Reads Follows My Blog!

How I long to break free of my treadmill, my phone’s GPS applications, and MapMyRun.  To slap on this little beauty and head out in any direction imaginable for a serious run is all I’ve thought about since I made up my Christmas list this year.  Yup, we still make wish lists.  I think I’ll get lucky because this model isn’t the newest out there, so the price is reasonable compared to others.  Keeping my fingers crossed!  I’ll be so happy to tear open the wrapping paper and find myself holding the forerunner in my hands, I imagine I’ll bust out the front door and immediately start running down the street to test it out!

Other items on my Christmas list include:

Cold Weather Running Tights

I wasn’t very specific with the running clothes, as long as their made for cold weather.  For someone who lives in a state with frigid winters, you would assume I already have warm clothes to workout in.  Nope!  I had two pairs of long underwear, and somewhere along the line they’ve disappeared into the abyss that is my closet.  I have a pair of sweatpants, but they’re capris — not too good for running through slushy roads.  So any cold weather item would be greatly appreciated!

Because I Like to Not Smell Bad

I remember smelling this perfume in the department store a year or so ago, and I haven’t forgotten how much I loved it!  I’m one of those girls who loves nice scents and perfumes, but I can never justify spending so much on such a little bottle.  So I decided to put this on my Christmas list because it’s something I’d never by for myself. Plus it just looks so pretty!

A Water Bottle with a Built-in Filter

This whole concept intrigues me.  I would love to be able to fill up my water bottle at the gym or school and always have good tasting water at my fingertips!

That about wraps up my Christmas list this year.  Obviously, I don’t expect to get all of these things, if any!  It’s fun to dream and no harm in that!

What are some things you’re hoping Santa brings to you?  What is has been your Red Ryder equivalent?

 

Attack of the Christmas Cookies: and other things that are sabotaging my running goals

I am officially in a sugar coma!  This past Monday, my book club decided to do a Christmas cookie exchange on top of our typical book discussion.  I left the party with 6 dozen cookies of all varieties: peanut butter kisses, iced gingers, chocolate peanut butter no-bakes, chocolate chip, cranberry-white chocolate chip. Needless to say, I was surrounded by temptation of the most delicious kind!  Every time I walked into the kitchen, these little morsels of delight were staring at me from their plates and calling my name.  I think I heard them say, “Oh come on, what’s one more?”  I’ve been on a cookie binge for the last week and, despite my efforts to run, I can feel my body screaming at me to cut back on the freakin’ sugar!

The Infamous Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bakes

Luckily, this doesn’t happen often and I don’t plan on making any kind of sweets for a long time after our current stash is depleted.  Still, I need to work on eating better.  I feel like stress from school is becoming my excuse for not doing a lot of things.  In all seriousness, I’m sure my body is crashing knowing that I am days away from being finished with finals and this semester.  But, I can’t allow those things to get in the way of my goals.  Every day on campus, I see a handful of runners still going despite finals, despite the holidays and despite the cold.  They’ve been able to manage their time and fit in their runs.  I need to adopt that kind of focus, determination and attitude if I’m going to accomplish this half marathon.

I honestly don’t feel like I’m making nearly as much progress as I thought I would have by this point in the game.  Duh. My sugar overload combined with laziness this week probably hasn’t helped much.  But even before, my body has been struggling with the whole treadmill running concept.  All summer I ran outside, either on trails or on the sidewalk paths by the river.  I enjoyed being in nature and looking at my surroundings as I huffed and puffed and trotted along.  The treadmill has quickly become dull to me.  I am easily distracted by other runners, who discourage me with their ability to run faster and longer than I can at the moment.  Luckily, I have found something that is making it a little  more bearable: Podcasts!

LOVE!

A podcast called MotionTraxx is currently my favorite one to listen to while doing any amount of running on the hamster wheel.  Their episodes provide energetic, trance-like music that keeps you running at a specific pace.  I downloaded three so far.  One is a solid hour of music set at a 150 beats per minute pace.  The other two are treadmill-interval workouts at levels 1 and 2.  Both give you cues on when to increase the speed or incline, which keeps you from having to time yourself.  The music is wonderful because they keep the variety going and it is easy to lose yourself in the rhythm.  I totally forget about peeking to see how much longer I have to go.

I’ve downloaded some other podcasts like: This American Life and RunRun Live, but I find it more difficult to pay attention to them on the treadmill.  They’ve been great while cross training on the elliptical and I do like those programs, so I recommend them if you’re looking for something to listen to, other than music.

This has been quite the hodgepodge of a post!  I did find one last thing that I feel I need to print and duck tape to my mirror, so I have to see it every morning.  I think it would put an end to all excuses pretty fast.

I think this was directed at me.

Have any of you been struggling to keep your running goals lately?  What have you found that gets you back on track? 

 

Exercising the Mind Does a Body Good

So last night I hosted our book club meeting.  I feel so lame admitting that I belong to a book club, but it’s a nice way to get together and chat with the girls. I’m surprised they haven’t kicked me out because I’m terrible at finishing the books we pick.  It’s not that they aren’t good, I’m just about the worst procrastinator known to man.  This month we’re reading Pride and Prejudice, which is my ultimate favorite so I’m not too concerned with this one.  Plus, my brother bought me a Kindle for Christmas so I’ll be able to read it on my new technology!

For dinner, I made the Everyday Mac and Cheese recipe that I posted the other day.  I was seriously impressed with how it turned out!  Delicious!  I don’t think I allowed the sauce to thicken enough as it was a little on the soupy side, but still really good!  My husband loved it.  I used the whole wheat noodles and skim milk instead of 2 percent.  The perfect comfort food for a cold, winter day.

Now I just need to figure out what I’m making tonight!  Any suggestions?

 

Bouncing Back from the Holidays

Ahh… I haven’t posted anything new in so long!  I apologize for my hiatus.  Between finals week and trying to prepare for Christmas, I sort of let things fall through the cracks!  This includes my exercising, which unfortunately hasn’t been my top priority.  I managed to watch what I ate throughout the holidays, but I didn’t practice what I preach and of course found reasons why I could put off my workouts.

SO! That being said, I’m making a come back of sorts and making up for lost time.  I am starting a new job which will also open up my schedule and keep me from feeling like I have no time for myself.  This will be wonderful in the sense that I’ll be able to do my 1-1 1/2 hour workouts without feeling rushed or guilty for not doing other things that need to be done.  Problem solved!

 

Make It Through the Holidays Without Gaining a Pound

Healthy Holidays

 

Healthy Holidays!

How do people make it to January without weighing 10 pounds more than they did before the festivities began? Here are a few tips that I plan on putting into practice myself and you may want to as well!

Eat! Yes, eat breakfast, have healthy snacks readily available and always, always, always… Eat before going to a holiday party. Don’t feast, but have a light meal so you don’t show up starving and ready to polish off that cheese dip.

Don’t worry about saving room for dessert because half the time it’s not a diet friendly dessert anyways! Instead, fill your plate with a lot of healthy lean meat and veggies. For example, this would be turkey breast without skin and salad. Eat the healthy stuff first, then have a tiny sample of one or two other things you can’t live without.

When it comes time for dessert… If you must have it – split it with someone! Or better yet, bake your own healthy dessert and bring it to share! Then you are being healthy and a good guest! (See recipe for Baby Tiramisu at end of article)

Another tip? Don’t fill up on alcohol! Its a calorie black hole and may also have a lot of sugar. Plus you end up snacking in the process. Better to have one glass of wine or one light beer. Avoid margaritas and pina coladas unless you plan on skipping that piece of pecan pie!

And of course… Keep moving! No slacking on exercise! Try to get in something everyday! Shoot for 20-30 minutes. If you can’t go long – go hard!

Baby Tiramisu

Baby Tiramisu
Thanks to EatingWell for this recipe!

6 servings | Active Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 45

Ingredients

1/2 cup nonfat ricotta cheese, (4 ounces)

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

12 ladyfingers, (about 1 3/4 ounces)

4 tablespoons brewed espresso, or strong coffee, divided

2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips, melted (see Tip)

Preparation

Combine ricotta, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Place 6 ladyfingers in a 9-by-5-inch (or similar size) loaf pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons espresso (or coffee). Spread the ricotta mixture over the ladyfingers. Place another layer of ladyfingers over the ricotta and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons espresso (or coffee). Drizzle with melted chocolate. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Tips & Notes

Tip: To melt chocolate: Microwave on Medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on Medium in 20-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. Or place in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted.

Nutrition
Per serving:

107 calories; 2 g fat (1 g sat, 0 g mono); 3 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 0 g fiber; 125 mg sodium; 29 mg potassium.

1 Carbohydrate Serving

 

Healthier Christmas Cookies and other holiday faves

Thanks to Eatingwell.com for these tips on making healthier cookies this christmas! enjoy!

These tips are straight from their website because I came across them and thought they were too good not to share.  Check out their website to read more!

Also, be sure to check out EatingWell’s 2010 Christmas Cookie Award Winning Recipes – I have them posted on the above tab :)

Tip 1: Make them more heart healthy.

Swap out some of the butter, margarine or shortening for heart-healthy oils, such as canola oil or olive oil or pureed fruit or even vegetables.

To replace fats with oil: For every tablespoon of butter you replace with heart-healthy oil, you eliminate at least 5 grams of saturated fat from your batch of cookies.

Tip 2: Replace unhealthy fats.

Consider replacing some of the butter with nontraditional cookie ingredients, such as nonfat plain yogurt, nonfat buttermilk or even fruit juice.

When you reduce overall fat in a cookie recipe, the resulting cookies can be dry; adding a “moist” ingredient helps keep the cookies satisfying. Try 1 to 4 tablespoons of a liquid ingredient in place of up to 4 tablespoons butter.

Tip 3: Add fiber to your cookies.

Try replacing some (or all) of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour, whole-wheat pastry flour and/or oats. If you are used to the taste and texture of whole-wheat, some cookies are just as satisfying when made with 100% whole-wheat flour. Using whole-wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour gives your cookies about four times the amount of fiber in every batch.

Tip 4: Keep sodium in check.

Some baked goods can be surprisingly high in sodium. Aim for no more than 1/2 teaspoon salt per batch of cookies. If you’re on a salt-restricted diet, try reducing the salt in a batch of cookies to 1/4 teaspoon.

Tip 5: Eliminate trans fat & other artificial ingredients.

One of the benefits of homemade baked goods is their simple list of ingredients. By making your own cookies, you can use whole ingredients and avoid most or all processed ingredients that are found in many packaged cookies.

Steer clear of ingredients that contain partially hydrogenated oil (or trans fats), such as margarine and most vegetable shortenings.

 

**These tips are great and a lot of them I already use.  I never add as much salt as they say to on the recipe, it just isn’t necessary.  And adding fiber is another great way to be healthy and can even help with weight loss.  Although I wouldn’t recommend getting all of your fiber from your selection of cookies!

Gift Ideas for Everybody

If you’re like me, you probably haven’t finished your Christmas shopping.  I have so many people to buy for (like my dad) who just don’t want anything and if you buy them something it will remain unopened and unused till the end of time.

I did find some things that seem fool proof and I’m hoping they’ll help you as well.

Kids Gifts

Hallmark Recordable Story Books

These make wonderful keepsakes.  Record your voice or the voice of a loved one reading the story.  You can lock the recording so it can’t be recorded over and the batteries are replaceable so you won’t lose the memory.  They run about $29.95 but there are some coupons floating around as well!

Razor Rip Rider 360 Drifting Ride On

Razor Rip Rider

I saw something like this on Ellen and I thought it was absolutely the coolest toy ever.  She even got on and rode it!  I think it holds up to 160 lbs and is for children 5 and up.  The reviews on Amazon.com are very good and one lady mentioned that her kid got it for Christmas and hasn’t stopped playing with it. It runs about $85.

There is another brand called Ezy Roller Ultimate Riding Machine and it too has great reviews, but is a little pricier at $104.  I think either one would be a ton of fun for kids of any age!

Spouse or Boyfriend/Girlfriend


A gift to a spa for the two of you is amazing.  We had a spa day with our whole bridal party this past fall and let me tell you, BEST time ever.  The guys were skeptical (they are very manly men), but they immediately admitted to enjoying it immensely.  We want to make it a tradition to go there at least once a year now.  So I highly recommend a day of relaxation to get away from stressers of daily life.

Also, tickets to a game or concert that they’d enjoy.  I bought my husband two tickets to the Packers/Bears game on January 2nd.  I know he’s going to LOVE it and I’ll have a good time too!  Ticketmaster.com sells a lot of the tickets for these events as does Stubhub.com  but you might even check with the actual venue as sometimes they sell directly.

For the guys, stay away from buying wallets as they usually like to buy these and break them in.  His may look worn out, but I assure you he loves it that way.

For Spouse/Boyfriend or Girlfriend (who enjoys reading or any kind)

Kindle Video

Definitely the Kindle.  Amazon has two different kinds, one is $139 without wi-fi and the other is $189.  They come in two colors, but you can buy skins or cases for them.  The screen is the closest thing to electronic paper that I’ve seen. There are a bunch of free books as well.  Most of them are classics like Pride and Prejudice or Sherlock Holmes, but still good if you enjoy reading them (which I do!).

If you are looking for an actual book to give someone, try getting them the first edition of their favorite author.  For example, if they LOVE Gone with the Wind, try finding the first edition of it.  This can get VERY expensive though depending on whether the book is extremely rare.  Their are websites like Alibris and AbeBooks where owners will sell first editions so it makes shopping for them easier.  Another tip, be aware of what the first edition should look like.  For example, if the seller claims it’s a first edition but it was published 20 years after the book was actually written, it’s not the edition you’re looking for.  There are many sites out there that will help you and it is a very personal gift.

For Teens/College Students

I-Pod Touch (4th Generation)


Yes, everybody already has an I-pod by now, but this is the newest model they’ve come out with.  It does everything and even allows for FaceTime.  FaceTime is a camera that is similar to a webcam, meaning that you can actually see the person you are talking to and they can see you.  Kind of a neat feature!  The I-Pod also feature video editing and the ability to be your own DJ.  Plus a ton more, perfect for any college student or high schooler.   Even your techy husband/wife would appreciate it!

Mom and Dad


Let’s get real, parents are hard to buy for.  At least mine are.  My mom has MS and isn’t very mobile, which limits what I can get her because her ability to use it isn’t there.  Last year, I made her a photo album of all our old pictures growing up.  She loved it so much she cried.  It took a little time, but turned out great and was a very personal gift.

Create Something Amazing With Your Pictures

If you are short on time, Shutterfly.com can make the albums for you.  They look awesome and aren’t that expensive.  I believe they start around $15-20 dollars and look GREAT!  You can even make a calendar out of your family photos.  Right now they’re offering free shipping and buy one get one!

As far as Dad’s go, it all depends on what he is into.  Does he like technology?  Maybe a new camera or a handheld camcorder (to record the grandkids or vacations).  If he’s a handyman, tools are always needed.  Even when you think your dad has EVERY tool in the world, there is always one tool he could use.  Maybe he wants clothes.  This year my dad asked for a new set of screwdrivers, some dumbbells (he wants to workout in the morning), leather slippers and some heavy cotton button ups.  Yeah, not that exciting but hey, that’s what he wants so that is what he will get.

If your dad is more business-y, try new cologne or a gift certificate to a nice restaurant in the area (enough to maybe take his wife or girlfriend if he has one).