September 17, 2020

Cookies Fall Challenges! (Official "Rules" and Sign-Up Sheet)

Thanks so much for the feedback regarding what sort of challenge to do for fall. Ultimately, I've decided to do a few challenges at the same time! (And thank you for your patience while I work this out--I had no idea it was going to take me so long to put this post together.)

I have loved hosting the "Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge" each year, and I've gotten requests every year to make a fall challenge. I've always planned to do so, but never took the time to put it together. So, even though it's in the eleventh hour, I am going to post a few options for a fall challenge!

Many of you were interested in 75 Hard, but thought it was a little too difficult... so I made a few changes that I think are do-able for pretty much anybody (note: I said "do-able", not "easy"). 

For those of you that prefer the traditional checklist of runs/walks, I am posting a checklist (similar to the summer checklist) of runs or walks to accomplish this fall. For this challenge, you simply keep track of the runs/walks that you complete--there is no competition or anything, unless you create one with friends.

For those of you that enjoy a friendly competition, I'll also have a mileage challenge. You can run or walk as many miles as possible to reach the top of a leaderboard. Steps taken throughout the day don't count--the miles must be done in a minimum of 20-minute increments.

You can do one, two, or all three of the challenges--it's up to you.

First up: The "Cookies Fall Hard" challenge. Yes, I realize the name is kind of dumb, and Jerry and I laughed about it, but it is what it is! Haha. I will list a set of rules below, which are very similar to the 75 Hard challenge, and they must be followed without exception. No excuses, no exceptions, no "cheat days", etc. It's *supposed* to be hard!


Here are the rules:

  1. Follow a diet of your choice--write out your "rules" prior to starting the challenge. You cannot change them midway through, so make sure you choose rules that are challenging but not so hard that you will quit. They may NOT include "cheat days". These rules must be followed without exceptions or cheat days for the entire duration of the challenge.
  2. Exercise 60 minutes a day, with a minimum of 30 minutes outside. You can split the workout into two workouts maximum or just do it all in one go. They can be very tough workouts or very easy--your choice--and you can decide these on a day to day basis. You cannot add up steps throughout the day to count them as a workout--the workout needs to be deliberate and done in one or two goes each day.
  3. Drink 64 ounces (4 quarts) of water a day. You can add a squeeze of lemon or lime, but coffee, tea, flavored waters, etc, don't count. I use this Nalgene bottle (Amazon affiliate link) to keep track--I drink four of them a day. 
  4. Read 10 pages of a book (any book you'd like) every day.
  5. Write in a journal once a day--even if it is just one sentence. I LOVE my "Some Lines a Day" journal! (affiliate link)
  6. Take a progress photo once a day--a mirror selfie, or ask someone else to take one for you. Preferably a full-length photo. You don't have to share these with anyone; they are just for you.

Those are the six rules. They have a little more flexibility than the original 75 Hard, but I wanted them to remain "hard". If it was easy, it wouldn't be a challenge! The whole point is to build self-discipline.

(If you'd like to print out the rules, I've made a printer-friendly version here, including a checklist for each of the items)

On that note, however, this is just a challenge--you can obviously change the rules however you'd like to fit YOUR lifestyle. I'm not going to be policing anyone! I just feel that the "rules" are do-able for pretty much anyone--some harder than others.

For this challenge, I would highly recommend the phone app called Habit Share. It's totally free, and you can keep track of your habits there. Best of all, you can add people as "friends" who will be able to see your habits as well!

So if you add me, I'll be able to see if you're keeping up with the challenge or not--and you'll be able to check in on me as well. It's great for accountability. If you'd like, you can share your own account with other people in the Facebook group so that they can add you as well.

You can search for me with the email katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Or here is my QR code:

I haven't been keeping up with it lately, but I plan to start it over with when the challenge officially starts. But feel free to add me and I'll add you as well. It's great for accountability! (I'm not affiliated with the app in any way)

You do NOT need to sign up for this challenge, since it's not a competition. But the accountability from the app and Facebook group is great!

And here is a link to the Facebook group: Cookies Fall Hard 2020


There isn't going to be a sign-up for this checklist, either. This will be just like the Cookies Summer Challenge--you can print out a list of runs/walks to complete throughout the fall season and try to check off as many as possible. I will have a Facebook group just like the Cookies Summer Challenge group, where you can post photos of your runs/walks. This challenge is meant to make running or walking a little more fun this fall!

Here is the printable checklist for the run/walk challenge. I wish I was able to get more creative with this checklist, but I feel like I used up my creativity with the summer one! Most of these are runs/walks with specific dates, but I added a few new ones as well. If you have more ideas for next year, please let me know :) 

Here is the printable calendar for the run/walk challenge (this just helps you plan out your runs/walks more easily).


You will need to sign up for this challenge. This will be a friendly competition to see who can run or walk the most miles this fall! You'll log your miles once a week on a Google form. To compete in this and be included on the leaderboard, you must sign up by September 21 at 11:59 PM ET. 

Each week, you'll have to log the number of miles you completed that week. Once a week, I'll post a leaderboard of the results. (Make sure you have proof of your runs/walks--a photo of your running watch, screenshot of your phone app, etc. I *may* do a few prizes at the end, but don't mark those words just yet!)

I have a Facebook group for this challenge as well, so you can post your photos of your daily mileage there and share whatever you'd like about your runs/walks. 

Below is the sign-up sheet for the Cookies Fall Mileage Challenge. This is the challenge where you will compete with others to run or walk the most mileage. Depending on how many people sign up, I would like to separate the runners and walkers, but I won't be sure yet. Your name on this form will be what is shown on the leaderboard, so make sure it's unique (but also something you don't mind sharing publicly).

By having the three separate fall challenges, it give the option of doing a simple run/walk checklist challenge (nothing to do with diet or otherwise), a mileage challenge (to push yourself to run or walk farther) and/or a challenge to push your self-discipline in areas other than exercise. You can sign up for one, two, or all three. 

If you are interested in any/all of these challenges for Fall 2020, please join the Facebook group(s) and introduce yourself! I will try to post there as often as I can, but I am terrible about being present on social media. If you really need me to see a post, then tag me in it and hopefully I'll see it!

The point of the Facebook groups is for accountability and to motivate each other to continue the challenge. I find that when I check out the Facebook groups for the Summer Challenge, for example, I am excited to go out and do my walk!

I hope I'm not forgetting anything--I may be in over my head with all three groups!--so please let me know if you notice a mistake somewhere or if I am missing anything.

I plan on doing the challenges myself! So I hope to see you all posting in the Facebook groups :)

By the way, all Facebook groups are PRIVATE, so unless someone is in the group, they will not see your posts. They will not show up in your newsfeed.

September 16, 2020

It's almost ready!

I was really hoping to post all the details today for the Cookies Fall Challenge(s), but it's taking much longer than I anticipated--creating new Facebook groups, writing out the checklist/calendar, etc. SO, I'm going to get it posted tomorrow instead. It's going to take me at least a few more hours to finish up, so I'm not going to write a post tonight.

I did decide to do three different challenges, though!

1) A checklist of runs/walks like I do for the summer challenge--only they will be different items.

2) The Cookies Fall Hard Challenge (modified from the 75 Hard Challenge).

3) A friendly mileage competition--a leaderboard of who can run or walk the most miles each week.

You can do one, two, or all three. I would love to do prizes, but I haven't thought that far ahead yet. Right now, I'm just trying to get the details written down before it actually starts on the 22nd! Haha.

And since I don't have a photo for this post, I'll just show you my new Friends pajama pants :) They are SO SOFT!

September 15, 2020

It's Soup Season! (My Favorite Soup Recipes)

Fall is, without a doubt, my very favorite season. Not because of the pumpkin spice everything (I'm actually not a big pumpkin spice person) but because I love soup. And thankfully, my family does, too. I know it's not "officially" fall for six more days, but I am so excited to post these now :) 

Sometimes, we'll have soup for dinner five times in a week! And because it's so versatile (you can turn pretty much any favorite meal into a soup or stew or chili of some sort), it never gets boring.

I have so many favorites, it's hard to even make a list. But after much consideration, I've narrowed it down to my Top 12 Favorite Soups (in no particular order--I couldn't choose a very favorite!):

Lasagna Soup

Serve this with crusty garlic bread! It's such a simple recipe, but SO delicious. 

I love baked potatoes, but I can never seem to get the texture right. They are either too mushy, too firm, or even rubbery. But this has the perfect texture and combination of all the "loaded" in potato soup and it's seriously SO EASY to make (considering you use frozen potatoes)!

This soup has such the perfect combination of flavors--the sausage and garlic being the most prominent (probably because I add extra garlic). Serve topped with parmesan cheese. So good!

Chicken Taco Soup (in the slow cooker)

This is a go-to when I just don't know what to make for dinner and if I happen to have chicken in the freezer. I don't even thaw it--I throw everything into the crock pot (pretty much zero prep work) and the soup is delicious! I always top it with cheese and Fritos :) Also, this is the tastiest way to get some extra fiber into your diet!

This is more of a soup than a chili. Don't let the photo fool you into thinking it's bland. It's full of flavor and it's absolutely delicious, especially on a cold day. 

Again, this is a go-to recipe when I need something to throw in the crock pot. Split pea soup may not look pretty, but this is my kids' FAVORITE meal. They literally ask for this every week! Allow a full eight hours in the crock pot to get it nice and thick.

This will make your house smell like HEAVEN. I promise! The tomatoes and garlic roasting in the olive oil will make you want to take a bath in it. (Not really, but it's SO good!)

I happen to love Wendy's chili, and I used to eat it in college when I was on Weight Watchers. I would always order a baked potato and chili. Anyway, this recipe actually tastes very much like the Wendy's recipe!

This is the most simple recipe for soup you could possibly make (nearly as easy as opening a can!) but it tastes amazing! Even if you don't think you like lentils, definitely give this a try. The red lentils are much different than the green lentils that you typically see at the grocery store.

I don't know if I've ever even had Max & Erma's Chicken Tortilla Soup, but I tried out a few recipes for it and I love this one. (I cannot remember where I got it, so if you have the original, please let me know so I can give them credit.) This recipe basically involves opening a LOT of cans. Whenever I've made this, I get tons of compliments and several people ask for the recipe. It's almost embarrassing how easy it is!

If you think you don't like lentils, you've GOT to try this! Even meat lovers will enjoy this. In fact, it's one of Jerry's favorite meals! Don't knock it until you've tried it--really.

Turkey, Black Bean, & Corn Chili

This may not look like a typical chili, but it has so much flavor and is super hearty--it's amazing! It's one of my favorite recipes when I'm just not sure what to make--I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand. I like to serve it with sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips if I have them. But even if you eat it plain, it's so flavorful that you won't miss the toppings!

September 14, 2020

Lordy, Lordy, Jerry is 40!

Way back before COVID turned the world upside down, I started thinking of plans for Jerry's 40th birthday this year (today). I wanted to do something that I knew he would love--a very cheesy, romantic getaway for the two of us. Somewhere tropical. Basically, the opposite of something I would choose! Haha.

I was thinking of the types of resorts on The Bachelor--the types of trips that I make fun of because of the corniness. I asked Becky for some ideas and I started researching destinations. 

And then there was COVID. I had no idea that this quarantine was going to last so long, but I knew that the plans for a trip (or even a large party) were out of the question. My second idea was to have a "roast" of Jerry with our friends--he would LOVE that--but again, a large gathering was out.

I gave him an early birthday gift (the beer beverage refrigerator for the man cave). But I am SO SO SO ashamed to admit that I actually forgot it was his birthday today. I didn't realize it until around 2:00 in the afternoon when his mom called to wish him happy birthday. I started crying and apologizing and I just felt horrible.

He honestly didn't mind, especially considering all that I've been through this week, but I have NEVER forgotten his birthday before. So I am hoping this blog post will somewhat make up for it. This is going to be long--lots of pictures!--but only short captions.

In honor of his 40th birthday, here are 40 of my favorite photos/moments of Jerry:

I wanted a little garden and got this idea to use a kiddie pool from my friend Hilary. I hated the way the dirt smelled (fertilizer?) so Jerry did the planting for me. I was so grateful!

Jerry and Chandler. Jerry adored Chandler, who was the most loyal cat ever, and still talks about how he misses him.

After I ran my first marathon (in Cleveland, 2012), I had a black toenail and another that seemed to be falling off. Jerry asked me if he could paint my toenails. He was pretty enthusiastic about it! 

This was shortly after Jerry completed Insanity (a truly "insane" workout plan). I couldn't believed how defined his muscles were! He didn't even realize it until I showed him this photo.

Purina invited me to a cat adoption event about an hour from my house, so I took the family to check it out. They had people there giving massages and manicures. So, Jerry and the kids each got a manicure! I love it :)

I find this picture so funny because I think Jerry's face goes PERFECTLY in the painting!

I love this picture because of Jerry's shirt. He designed it before he went to San Diego to visit John. It says, "I'm Jerr-ific!"

Jerry grew to love Mark almost as much as I did, and Mark really loved Jerry. Sometimes after we visited Mark at the nursing home, he'd pull Jerry down to whisper in his ear, "You got to hold on to her! She's a good one!" <3

Jerry and I CRACK UP whenever we see this photo... I have no idea why it is, but his head looks enormous and his neck looks ridiculously long. We think it's hilarious.

When Noah was a toddler, he absolutely LOVED to watch the garbage truck go by. There was a Hispanic man who drove it, and he didn't speak more than a couple of words of English. But he would see either Jerry or I holding Noah on the porch every Monday morning to watch for the truck. He learned that Noah loved to watch, so he would drive back and forth a few times and dumping the big bucket into the back, then crushing the garbage. Noah loved it! 

This picture was just moments after Eli was born in January 2006. Jerry adores babies, and the second Eli was born, Jerry was by his side.

This is a day when we took the kids to see Thomas the Tank Engine at Greenfield Village. (Whoever came up with that show... UGH!) While Thomas was the most boring show ever, the kids loved riding on the train. And I love this photo because of how much Jerry and Noah look alike!

We did the Warrior Dash in 2010 in Joliet, IL, and when we got back to the hotel, Jerry took a hot bath while wearing his viking hat. I just thought this was a cute picture!

For Noah's birthday in 2010(?) he invited friends over to go on a nature walk in the marsh across the street and then have a party in the back yard. I love that Jerry took the kids on the walk--they loved it!

Jerry was on a co-ed softball team for work called "Chix N Sticks" (haha) and I loved the pink shorts and socks he wore! 

Jerry desperately needed a haircut, and he decided to let the kids give it a try with the clippers. It was so much fun! This is what it ended up look like before I finished it off ;)

This was Jerry's very first time eating a Big Mac... can you believe it?! He even worked at McDonald's for a few years when he was in high school!! (He loved the Big Mac, by the way, and I think it's his go-to at McD's now.)

This is one of the sweetest things Jerry has ever done for me. He knew how much I LOVED my old scale. I'd had it for the longest time and it was the most reliable scale ever. I'd tried other "fancier" scales, but always went back to this one. Until one day, it wouldn't work anymore. I was really upset about it, so Jerry (not know what he was doing at all) tried his best to fix it for me. He wasn't able to, but the fact that he tried so hard meant a lot to me.

We went to an aquarium in Tennessee and saw these fish--we couldn't stop laughing at the "faces" on them!

This was right after Jerry and I got married. I hadn't seen this picture until much later, but I love it! Clearly, he was thrilled to be hooked to me for life ;)  (He had no idea what was in store for him, haha)

I took the kids to a fountain to play on a hot day while Jerry was at work, and he somehow got out of work early. He surprised us by showing up at the fountain, and without hesitation, he jumped in with all of his clothes on. The kids thought it was hilarious.

My friend Stephanie took this photo of Jerry during a photoshoot she was doing for me (when I was at my goal weight). Jerry was looking really good, too, so I wanted some pictures of him!

This is how excited Jerry gets for Christmas! Literally. And Jerry was particularly ecstatic during this Christmas because my friend Caitlin, who lives in Boston, managed to get her hands on a bottle of Utopias, a beer that is only made once every two years by Sam Adams. It's $200 for a bottle! Jerry loved being able to share a little with his friends when they came over for a Christmas get together. (It's meant to be sipped in a very small portion because it's VERY potent.)

This picture cracks me up because of these ridiculous "chairs" that Jerry and I have. They are basically like beach chairs, but they don't really have a bottom (just a piece of canvas to sit on). They allow you to sit up or recline. We use them in bed once in a while, but mostly just when we go on a picnic or something. They're pretty hideous, though!

In this photo, Jerry was in one of the happiest moods I'd ever seen him. He was SO excited to visit Fenway Park in Boston, and it was the highlight of his trip.

I love this photo of Jerry teaching Luke how to make the "Jerry face" for pictures!

I love this photo of the two of us--peas in a pod--when we were up north at Jeanie and Shawn's place. We sat and had coffee in the hammock and it was super cozy. It gives me warm fuzzy feelings to think about it :)

As you know, we love quoting from Forrest Gump. This was our, "I'll lean back against you, and you just lean right back against me. This way we don't have to sleep with our heads in the mud." --Bubba

I lecture him about sunscreen ALL THE TIME and he still ends up looking like this sometimes:

Jerry's senior photo :)  (He used to have a mole on his cheek, which he had removed in 2002. In school, he was teased for it--people called him "Chocolate Chip" or "Holy Moley!"

This was when we were waiting to get the Certificate of Occupancy for our home in 2003. We were so excited to move in to our first place together!

Jerry may have been slightly high on morphine when I took this photo, but he was telling me to take a selfie with him in the background "looking all sick" so that my haters could talk about what a horrible person I am to be so vain--bahaha!

And of course I love this photo... I'm so jealous he shamelessly asked for a selfie with "Ian Gallagher" at a Star Wars event. He told him that he wanted the photo to "make his wife jealous". 

One of the only photos we have of Jerry when he was little. Remember when it was popular to have the photo-in-photo like this done? haha!

Again with the Forrest Gump reference. Jerry was trying to sit like Forrest was when he was waiting at the bus stop.

Of course we had to get his picture with the "J. Foster Jewelers" sign :)

Totally in his element in Seattle. A flight of beers!

This was just moments after Noah was born. 

Jerry got so emotional when Noah was born that everyone in the room thought he was going to pass out! (That's my friend Sarah in the background, clearly finding it amusing.)

Finally, I picked this one because I thought it was funny--we were playing Guesstures (similar to charades) and Jerry was acting out one of the clues. I don't remember what the word was! 

And there you have it! Forty pictures for forty years. And as a bonus, I'm going to include two of my very favorite videos of Jerry:

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