February 28, 2021

Affirmators! - Week 2 - Impermanence

Last week, I wrote about how my friend John sent me some Affirmators! cards--whimsical cards with positive affirmations. I am going to blindly draw a card once a week and make that an affirmation to put into practice the best that I can.

Last week, I worked on gentleness, particularly with myself. And I did really well with it! If nothing else, I found myself much more aware of the negative thoughts and I put a stop to them as soon as I realized it. I made sure to remind myself to be gentle with my words and thoughts.

This is the card I drew today. It took my reading it several times to really understand it:


"Life is always changing, and I drift easily through those changes, good and bad. As I drift through hard times, I can take comfort in knowing that I will leave them behind. As I drift away from good times, I can take comfort in knowing that more will come my way. Impermanence is an equal-opportunity nonentity."

This card is actual pretty perfect for me. I've written numerous times that I thrive on routine, and that's not really a good thing. Changes in my routine throw me off kilter and I have a very hard time adapting. I would really like to be able to go with the flow.

I can try to maintain a routine, but I would also like to be able to adapt to a change in that routine if something should come up. The past two days have been hard in this sense because Luke and Riley came over and spent the night. I can't do ANY sort of routine when they are here--they are two and three years old! We had a lot of fun, but it's completely exhausting--mentally and physically. (I don't know how I ever managed that every day with my kids, haha.)

I have to stop fearing change and I'd love to learn to just go with the flow. It would be so nice not to get tripped up over little things--good or bad. So, that is what I'd like to work on this week. It's not really something that can be helped in a week, but hopefully reading the positive affirmation frequently will help me when things do come up.

On a deeper level, there have been big changes recently (the pandemic changed all sorts of things) and we have major changes coming up (the kids becoming more and more independent until they eventually move out). I want to be prepared to handle those with some confidence!

This was a good card to draw today.


Just a reminder, if you have a Transformation Tuesday to share, please email it to me ASAP! You can send a before photo and after photo, plus a description of the transformation, to me at: Katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com.

February 27, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Poppy Seed Tea Bread


I have been doing a series of recipes from a few old cookbooks put together by the Rockwood, Michigan Historical Society back in 1995. You can find the original post here.

I have a very fun story to share before this recipe for Poppy Seed Tea Bread. The story and recipe aren't related (as far as I know) but the story is about tea party memories and I chose the recipe from the same section in the book (in the category of Victorian Tea). This story is written by Frances (Vizard) Skinner, who shares memories of her mother attending tea parties with her friends in the 1920's.

"Back in the late 1920's, around 1928 in Rockwood, four women got together every two weeks or once a month to have a little tea party.

They would dress real nice wearing their long skirts and always wore white gloves and hats. This was the only time outside of church they would have a chance to dress up.

This was also a chance to show off their fine china and good linens; the table was set perfectly. The women looked forward to this. It was a chance for the latest news and gossip. They would sit around the dining room table with their best linen tablecloth and napkins. (Paper napkins were not heard of yet.)

They all showed off with their baked goods. Ma always made her homemade fried cakes or her very special apple pie; it looked like a picture when she was done and the other ladies made their favorite desserts. My dad always went around smiling on the day of the party because he knew he was going to get some real tasty goodies.

I always had to go. I was told to sit in a chair and be quiet. After the ladies were done, I got my goodies. I also remember never put your teaspoon on the tablecloth, always put it on the saucer. I wish now I would have paid more attention to what was going on. But I was just a little girl and was bored with the whole thing.

The women were Mrs. Agnes Vizard (my mother), Mrs. Lena Baumeister, Mrs. Catherine McKnight and Mrs. Julia Lambrix. We lived in the old Kramer house on Huron River Drive (now the parking lot of the church). Mrs. Baumeister lived on the corder of Huron River Drive and Burton Street. The house is still there. Mrs. McKnight lived behind her at the corner of Burton and Grant Street and that house is still there. Mrs. Lambrix's house, later to be the George and Eunice Lemerand Home, was on Church Street.

These were the good old days as I remember. I was there!"

Out of curiosity, I looked up Frances Vizard Skinner (who wrote the story above) and discovered she passed away in 2014 at age 93. She had 2 children, 9 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, and 10 great great grandchildren at the time she passed away. Amazing!

Unfortunately, the recipes for her fried cakes and special apple pie were not listed in the book. However, there is a recipe for Poppy Seed Tea Bread that was submitted by Judy Breitner and I decided to make that. I just had to share the tea party story, though!


Poppy Seed Tea Bread (*Remember, I am writing the recipe exactly as submitted to the cookbook--but make sure you read my notes afterward)

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Ingredients:

3 c. flour
2-1/2 c. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1-1/2 c. milk
1 c. cooking oil
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 tsp. almond
1-1/2 tsp. butter flavoring

Directions:

Grease the bottom and 1/2-inch up sides of an 8 x 4 x 2-inch loaf pan. *See notes below!

Mix eggs, milk, oil, poppy seeds, vanilla, almond and butter flavorings. Add dry ingredients; stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Bake at 325 F for 50 to 55 minutes for 8-inch loaf pan or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack; wrap and store overnight.

Notes:

*This recipe is pretty straight-forward with the exception of the loaf pan(s). From reading the directions, it mostly refers to a singular pan, except when it says to spoon batter into PANS. I figured that was a typo and planned to bake it in one pan.

However, once I made the batter, there was way too much for just one pan. It very clearly makes enough batter for two loaves. I baked them together and they needed more time than stated--this may because I used glass pans and not dark pans (as well as baking two loaves at once). I just started checking with a toothpick after 55 minutes until they were done.

*The last three ingredients are all extract flavorings. I used pure vanilla and almond, but obviously the butter extract was artificial.

*For specificity, I used white all-purpose flour, whole milk and canola oil.

*I wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator.

This recipe was delicious! It was so fun to make something that I'd never even seen before and it smelled and tasted amazing. The flavor reminded me of an almond cookie, and the texture was perfect for this type of bread. (Which is good because I have two loaves of it!) I will definitely make it again.

February 26, 2021

Friday Night Photos

It's Friday night! Which means it's time to dump the past week's photos from my camera roll...

One of the items on my 40 Goals by 40 Years Old list is to try a food I've never had before. Noah bought a Dragon Fruit and I had never tasted it, so I tried some. I thought it tasted exactly like kiwi (which I love). It was $5, though, so I'll just stick with kiwi. But it was fun to try something new!


Speaking of Noah and food, he's very interested in Japanese culture and he's teaching himself Japanese. He asked for a bento box for Christmas, as well as a little rectangular pan to cook eggs--a rolled omelet?--so he's been practicing with it. He's not as sad/mad as he looks in this photo--I just can't get him to smile for anything when I take pictures!


Eli took his driver's training test today and passed, so he got his driving permit! I was nervous with Noah, but I'm actually much more nervous about Eli driving, haha. He drove home from his class where he'd taken his test. So far, so good, though!


The snow is finally melting, so I decided to drive to the State Park for my walk today. I haven't been there to walk/run in a very long time! I wasn't even 100% sure about my route--I was pretty sure that it was five miles--and thankfully, I turned out to be correct. I was cracking up at these seagulls who are all lined up at the edge of the ice. It's like I could practically hear them counting down until they all jumped in. THREE... TWO... READY... GO!


I happened to catch Duck in the middle of a yawn. Snake eyes and Jerry face!



Speaking of Duck, he's gotten very spoiled. I was brushing my hair one day (while he sat on the counter) and he watched me closely, then tried to grab the brush. I brushed it against his face and he LOVED it. Now he runs to the bathroom counter every time I go in there and waits for me to brush him. Maybe it's gross that I use my brush, but he's too cute not to give in. And now Jerry is a sucker, too ;) 


I've also gotten suckered into making forts for Chick and Duck--like this one. They love sleeping in them, but mostly they love when I poke around at the top while they are inside. They have a blast trying to catch my finger.



Speaking of Chick and Duck, I made my March book choice for the Friends Read-athon. The prompt was actually "The One with the Chick and the Duck" (Read a book with an animal in it). I got this book from Amazon First Reads. I'll write a review when I'm done with it.



I saved the best for last... Remember the squirrel I posted a photo of, the one who I noticed had mange? I felt so bad for him because it's winter and I didn't want him to die of exposure after losing all that fur. And he was SO itchy--it was hard to even get a picture of him because he wouldn't stop scratching.

Well, I bought some Ivermectin from a farmer's supply store (I read about about the Ivermectin on the DNR website). I was very nervous about giving it to him because it comes in a syringe that contains a dose meant for horses of 1,250 pounds. I used a toothpick to get a little bit of the Ivermectin, which is like a thick gel, and I put it on a walnut.

I think the first dose I gave him was TOO small, because he looked worse before he looked better. I gave him a little more the second time and then I noticed that the next time I saw him, he'd stopped scratching. Then I saw that his fur was starting to grow back and now it's almost filled in (I gave him four doses total). 

Here is a before and a current photo of him--I'm so happy to see that it worked! His fur is growing back nicely. And he stopped scratching. 


Well, I've got to get some sleep tonight.. Luke and Riley are staying the night tomorrow, and they keep us VERY busy! :)

February 25, 2021

A guest post by Beth Probst, author of 'It Could Be Worse: A girlfriends guide for runners who detest running'

A woman named Beth wrote me an email last month and asked if I'd be interested in reading her book, 'It Could Be Worse: A girlfriend's guide for runners who detest running'. I get a lot of inquiries about reviewing books, but being a slow reader, I am VERY choosy about what I read. When I saw what the book was about, however, I couldn't say no!

And I'm so happy that I read it. I was taken right back to when I first started running (perhaps that's part of what inspired me to go back to the beginning with the Couch to 5K plan). I highlighted several passages from the book, but this very honest introspection is probably my favorite:

"I realize that deep down, one of the primary reasons I hate running is because I’m mediocre at it. I’m a mediocre runner because I’m not willing to put the work in to be a good runner. I’m not willing to do the stretches, train regularly, eat healthy and lose weight so that my legs aren’t carrying an extra hundred pounds. In other words, I’m mediocre at running because I choose to be mediocre."

Despite the title of the book, Beth does not come across as whiny, nor does she complain about hating running throughout the book. I read it as tongue-in-cheek, and there was a lot of my favorite type of humor--the slightly sarcastic, obvious truths that so many people are thinking but don't like to admit (or at least share). Take this, for example:

"To add to this joy, I had the pleasure of being the larger-than-average gal lining up with a bunch of skinny runners. Don’t shake your head at me and say, “but you are a runner.” You know what I’m talking about. If you want to feel fat, head to a half-marathon and look at those in your company."

Haha! This book is great for people who are interested in running but believe they can't do it. It's super inspiring for beginner runners, slower runners, and/or overweight runners. It's so nice to read that someone else has the same thoughts I've had numerous times. It was very relatable, light-hearted, and honest.

I asked Beth if she'd like to share a guest post here, and I'm thrilled that she agreed. So, here's Beth :)




I first learned of Katie while reading Runner’s World Magazine many moons ago. I am so glad I did! Over the years, this blog has fueled my runs. As many of you know, there are a lot of running blogs out there packed with advice from elite runners and coaches, but few offer the candid, quirky and challenging side of running the way Katie does. She is one of the go-to places I find myself when I need inspiration and information about running. Because let’s be honest, I am not your typical runner.

My name is Beth Probst. I’m a plus-size mediocre Midwestern runner in her early 40s… And no, I’m not being self-deprecating. I literally am the gal who regularly finishes in the back of the pack. Part of this can be attributed to my size – I weigh well over 200 pounds. This alone presents many challenges. But, to add fuel to the fire, I also hate running. Yep. I hate running but love calling myself a runner.

So why do I do it? Because I can. Something happened to me that time I crossed the finish line of my first half-marathon. I had gone from mojito drinking chip eater to half-marathon finisher in just 15 weeks. It felt amazing. And so I kept doing it. But, I’m also someone who has many hobbies and interests in life… which means I’ve never made training my number one priority. Instead, I’m someone who is a runner and… meaning I run and do a whole bunch of other things. This means being honest with myself about where I’ll finish come race day.

Here’s the thing, though. I’m now entering year 10 of running. And every time I ask myself, is it worth putting yourself out there and finishing at the back of the pack yet again? The answer remains yes. Because I’d rather be the gal who puts herself out there and finishes last then doesn’t show up at all. As someone who strives for perfection (and always comes up short) and is super competitive, this was not an easy journey. But, it is my journey.

Which leads me to the heart of this post. For nearly a decade, I’ve been chronicling my running journey via blog and social posts. I’ve shared my running highs and running lows, in part to help inspire folks to just start moving. The reality is, folks often look at me and think if she can do it, there’s no reason I cannot. And you know what, they are 100 percent without a doubt right. I also think there is a whole slew of runners who relate to my story – the group of us who don’t actually love the act of running but love how they feel AFTER a run or a race or feel the “runner’s high” only after snagging a great deal on their favorite piece of running gear. So, I took last year and the global pandemic to pen a book about running. It is called It Could be Worse: A girlfriend’s guide for runners who detest running. It is a series of essays about my running journey and the lessons I’ve learned along the way, along with tips and hacks to help you cross the finish line while still doing all of the other things you love in life. 

Earlier this year, I asked Katie if she’d be willing to review my book because well, she’s amazing. And, I thought maybe some of you reading this post might want to know about this resource. I’m so grateful to her for sharing her thoughts about this book. And, I’m so grateful to her allowing me to share a little bit more about myself. If you are at all interested in learning more about my running adventures and how I stay motivated as a plus-size runner, consider checking out my book or following my running adventures.

Buy my book: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/it-could-be-worse or https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/109834877X

Note from Katie: The Kindle book is not listed on the same page as the paperback, and as you know, I love my Kindle. You can find the Kindle version here. (Amazon affiliate link)

Blog: https://circletouradventures.com/ 

February 24, 2021

Back in the Saddle


I have NO pictures for this post, unfortunately, so this is the logo that Jerry drew for my first Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K back in 2013. That's me, running for a cookie ;)

Ever since I decided I wanted to start running again, I didn't have a particular plan--I just added little running intervals here and there into my daily five-mile walk. My favorite way to do this was on the treadmill. I could play Best Fiends on my iPad while I walked, and then every time I lost a level, I would run for one minute. It became kind of a game in itself, which was fun! And the time went by SO fast.

I started listening to the audiobook version of 'Depression Hates a Moving Target' by Nita Sweeney while I was walking outside because the last time I listened to it (I believe it was late 2019 when I was running 3 miles - 3 times a week - for 3 months), it really motivated me to run. In the book, Nita talks about how she started out by doing a Couch to 5K plan and it reminded me of when I first started running back in 2010.

I attempted Couch to 5K a few times in the past, but I could never get past week three. I also HATED running intervals--where you run a little, walk a little, repeat. I found myself spending the entire walking portion dreading the next running interval. So, I made my own method to start running and that was perfect for me--no intervals.

Fast forward through dozens of races, including three full marathons, and God-only-knows-how-many training runs through the past 11 years, and don't mind intervals so much. I did intense interval training (short and fast running portions) when I was training to run my 10K and even though it was really hard work, I liked that I could look forward to taking a breather after each sprint. And I felt AMAZING after those interval runs.

Back then, I was doing intervals not to run longer, but to run faster. The Couch to 5K plan is meant to get you to run longer distances each time until you're able to run 5K without walking. Each run portion is meant to be very slow, so it's less intimidating than what I was doing for 10K training.

Anyway, listening to Nita's book made me think about my attempts at Couch to 5K and it gave me the idea to try it again. Now that I know I can do it and what to expect, it would be nice to actually complete it since I never did before. 

I printed out the original plan (which is no longer at their website--so I used screenshots from Pinterest to piece it together) and I did the first workout on Friday just to see if I liked it and wanted to try the plan again. The first workout says to walk five minutes, then alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Since the roads have been covered in snow and ice, I used the treadmill. I did the Couch to 5K workout and then immediately followed with my regular walk. The Couch to 5K workout ended up being two miles (after adding a five-minute walk on the end of it) so I only added a three mile walk afterward, to total five miles.

It's so strange to say this, but I really loved it! It made the time go by so quickly. I played Best Fiends during the walking portions and the running intervals were so short that they flew by--I couldn't believe I'd already completed two miles for the day. When I was done, I was actually looking forward to doing it again--it was so nice to change things up.

I decided to aim for Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays for the C25K runs (if I change it up, it's no big deal, but I figured I should have some sort of direction). And I decided that I would "officially" start C25K last Sunday. I did it on Sunday and then again yesterday, and I'm looking forward to doing it tomorrow. Then it's on to Week 2!

I've kept the running portions very easy--5.0 mph (I set it at 3.5 mph for walking). Just for the heck of it, I wore my heart rate monitor to see how my heart rate compared to my MAF rate (my MAF zone is 131-141 bpm).

Interestingly, I found that it took about one minute to go from the bottom of my MAF zone to the top of my MAF zone--so I ran and my heart rate peaked at about 144 during the running, then I'd walk and it would drop to about 129, then I'd run again. So even though I wasn't trying to train by using my heart rate, I found it interesting that I stayed pretty close within my MAF zone the whole time.

This post was really just a very long-winded way of saying that I'm starting Couch to 5K again and I am really enjoying it so far. It feels good to run again, even if it's slow and just for a minute at a time. I can honestly say that I miss it!

February 23, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #15


Yay--it's Transformation Tuesday! I wish you could see how excited it get to go through the Transformation Tuesday emails. I have a few more DIY projects to post this week--organizing spaces and bathroom makeovers. Fun stuff :)

This first one is from Deb, who shared a before and after of a valance in her bathroom last week...


Well, changing up the valence created a bit of a snowball effect in the bathroom!

A bit of back story: When we bought this house 5 years ago, this bathroom had wallpaper and a sort of 1970s "French regency" vibe going on. The vinyl floor and the cabinet doors had mauve accents. Rather than fight that, I tried to embrace it while encouraging it to read pinker than mauve by swapping the wallpaper for pink paint. I added my 1950s poodle stuff & called it a day (for a few years.) I never liked the floor and didn't care for the doors either, but couldn't afford to change them out. Ditto with the heavy feeling mirror.

Changing the valence prompted me to think about what I could​ change now. So, I took the plunge and decided to paint what I didn't like! Painting the mirror white and painting the cabinet a bit darker made it feel less "top heavy" as well as making the room feel brighter. Painting the cabinet doors a single color minimized the ornate accent molding, and swapping the pulls out for something less fussy helped it feel "cleaner". I still need to do some touch up and these pulls are a temporary solution (they were left over from another project), but I'm pleased with the result.

I would call this project "before" and "for now" rather than "after". I still would like plainer doors and new flooring (besides the mauve dots, the floor itself is not in good shape), but for now this low money relatively small effort refresh has made the whole thing feel a lot better!

- Deb




I don’t have a great before pic but you can see the wreck in the background. 

I added two horizontal shelves at the top.  I cut down a long piece of wood that was part of my grandma's china cabinet.  It’s so much more functional now!

-Rebecca



I moved in with my boyfriend a year ago and he already had the one car garage full, as a shop. Well, I do A LOT of woodworking (and have more tools than he does!) and other things so I started organizing the area.

Sadly I did not think to take a before picture of the full garage. I really wish I had. The first pic sort of shows the chaos... I bought "stank the tank" my awesome tool box to use as my workspace and when he first came home he kind of just sat in the middle of the mess. Now he finally has his own space with even more organization and a workbench for other things. As well as my new 3D printer, laser engraver and CNC machine on top of him! It makes working on my projects sooooooo nice!

- Katie



My transformation was actually inspired by you and a few other bloggers! We bought our house two years ago and all of the bathrooms were remodeled except the guest bathroom. I decided to see what I could do myself so I pulled the trigger and ordered a laminate counter top, a toilet, new sinks and faucets, a jigsaw and a table saw, and I went to work!

Removing the tile on the original vanity was a lot of work, there was so much concrete and staples under there. I wasn’t ready to take on a tiling project so I decided to paint them instead! It’s been a fun project. You can definitely tell that it was a DIY and not professional but I feel pretty proud of it!

I also used MirrorMate to get a custom frame for the current mirror and it turned out great!

- Lindsey, from So Cal




(Before I forget to say this, if there is ONE thing I can't stress enough, it's to make sure you ALWAYS take "before" photos! I am super bummed that I didn't go through my house and take clear photos of the rooms from different angles before I started working on them. I had no idea that I was going to do so much with the house so it didn't occur to me to do that. Like Katie wrote about her garage/workshop, she really wishes she'd taken photos before she started.)

Anyway, thank you all for sharing these transformations! Deb, painting the mirror in the bathroom made SUCH a huge difference--and you did a great job on the cabinets, too. Rebecca, isn't it crazy just how much extra space you get by adding a couple of shelves? I added extra shelves in our closets, and I was stunned at how much room that made. Katie, I can't even tell you how jealous I am of your workshop--and I can't WAIT to see the she-shed you mentioned in your email. And Lindsey, holy smokes! Your DIY bathroom makeover is nothing short of stunning. The tiles are unbelievable.

Please please please keep the transformations coming! I love this series I don't ever want to run out of transformations to post ;)  You can submit them by sending a before photo and after photo (the highest resolution you can) and a description of the transformation to me at: Katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Make sure you include your name, location, and what you like to do!

You can find the previous Transformation Tuesday posts here.

February 22, 2021

Running Burnout

As I've mentioned a few times recently, I have been wanting to start running regularly again--and I actually feel excited about it!

I wish I still had this shirt! It was from an 8K race in 2011.

I've been reading 'The Happy Runner' by David and Megan Roche (Amazon affiliate link) and there was a chapter that really made me stop and think. It was about running burnout--how and why it happens, and how to prevent it. While reading, I realized that it is EXACTLY what happened to me back in 2016 after my 10K in April. I lost my running mojo and never got it back.

I was training so hard for that 10K race for months. I had a big goal for a personal record and I was determined to reach it. I wrote about my training. I shared my goals. I made running my biggest priority. And you know what happened when I crossed the finish line with 19 seconds to spare?

Nothing.

I had a new PR, which felt good. I was happy that I hit my goal because I would have felt embarrassed to NOT do it after having trained so hard and talking about it so much. But that, right there, is where the problem was. I was focused on what other people might think. 

This is such ridiculous thinking because literally NO ONE CARES what my personal record is for the 10K. And if I tell them, then they would surely forget within a minute or two anyway. Even if I said I didn't reach my goal, I'm pretty sure that no one would give another thought to it after that moment. I couldn't tell you what my runner friends' PR's are in any distance. They probably told me they hit their goal with such and such time, and felt great. I'm sure I congratulated them, and then promptly forgot what their finish time was.

It kind of reminds me of when I used to work at Curves (a fitness center for women) back in 2003-2005. When new members would join, I would weigh them and take their measurements. I did it automatically, without even thinking about their weight. I certainly didn't silently judge them for it. The second I wrote it down, it was out of my memory. I would see members out and about (grocery shopping or whatever) and say hello. But if you asked me what their weight was, I wouldn't be able to guess within a 30-pound range! I didn't care what they weighed, so why would I remember it?

Anyway, I trained and trained and trained for that 10K. I crossed the finish line at the race, and then... I was the same person I was before. The only difference was that I ran 19 seconds faster over a distance of 6.2 miles. I can't say that I FELT the burnout or "let down" after the race. I just didn't have any direction or any real reason to run after that.

In the book 'The Happy Runner', the authors write about how important it is to have a WHY when it comes to running. Why do you do it? If nobody would ever know what your training looked like, how many miles you ran, what your paces were, what your goals were, or anything else... would you still train the same way?

When I really thought about this, the answer was an obvious no for me. When I know people will see my training log, or even if I know I'm going to post it here, I do things differently than I would if nobody would ever know. Sure, that might be good for accountability--it's certainly pushed me in the past, like it did with the 10K (I would have fallen back at mile four of the 10K if nobody would ever know my time--I was dying at that point!).

The problem with it, though, is that it's no longer about running for myself--it's about running to meet certain expectations. And when I actually finished, I no longer had a reason to run. I'd met my goals and I didn't have a desire to run farther or faster. (I still don't.)

This has really made me think about why I want to be a runner again. My attempts over the past few years to start running again have been more about other people ("Wait, you're 'Runs for Cookies', but you don't run?") and not about myself. During the summer and fall, when having thoughts of running, I kept them to myself because I didn't want to put it out there and then have it be about meeting those expectations. 

This time, I have a different reason for why I want to run. It has nothing to do with running fast or far. I want to run to feel healthy and fit. I want to run because it gives me a big mental boost when I'm done. I want to run because I CAN--my entire life, up until I lost the weight, I assumed that I couldn't run. I thought you had to be skinny and an athlete right out of the womb to be a runner.

Spectating the Detroit Free Press Marathon in 2013

After getting involved in the running community and meeting a ton of diverse runners, I saw that I actually can be a runner. No prerequisites required.

When I think of being a "happy runner", this is what it means to me:

  • I can run any distance I want (even if it's just a mile here and there)
  • I can run at any pace I want (even if I never run faster than a turtle)
  • I don't have to stick to a strict schedule (a guideline is nice, but if I don't follow it exactly, it's not going to matter)
  • If I find that I'm dreading running, then I can back off
  • I can do races if I want, but I don't have to
You know that saying, "Dance like no one is watching"? Well, I want to run like no one is going to see my Garmin stats ;)  I don't mind sharing them--Now, I've gotten to the point where I am not going to feel pressure of any kind by what others might think. I will run how I want. I'll still enjoy looking at my stats (I love numbers!) but they will not determine my "success" or "failure".

I don't have an end goal. I don't have goals of getting faster or running particular race distances. I just want to run because it makes me feel good. I'm sure I'll have runs that I don't enjoy, and that's okay, too. All runners have days like that--even the authors of 'The Happy Runner'!

I'll write more on Wednesday about what I've been doing as far as running goes, but I will say that I've actually really enjoyed it. I feel my best on the days that I run, even if it's only a few intervals on the treadmill. And I actually find myself looking forward to doing it again. All it took was this change in mindset--thinking about WHY I want to run and making it about me rather than what other people think. That's great progress for me :)

I haven't finished the book yet, but I'll write more about it when I do!

February 21, 2021

Affirmators!


I don't think I wrote about this, but something that I've been trying to work on this year has been changing my mindset and being kinder to myself. I never used to think I was hard on myself, but over the past year, I caught myself being super negative and hating on myself for all sorts of different things. Always feeling like I can't do anything right, and letting it affect my mood.

Saying nice things about myself doesn't come naturally--it feels very awkward. 

The self-negativity is not good for my mental health and it has had a big impact on me over the last year. Rather than just working on the "physical me", I decided this year to really work on the mental side of things--even if it seems hokey. One of those things is using positive affirmations. I didn't even really know what positive affirmations were when I read that they can help. 

PositivePsychology.com defines them like this:

"Fortunately, positive affirmations are almost as easy to define as they are to practice. Put simply, they are positive phrases or statements used to challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts.

Practicing positive affirmations can be extremely simple, and all you need to do is pick a phrase and repeat it to yourself.

You may choose to use positive affirmations to motivate yourself, encourage positive changes in your life, or boost your self-esteem. If you frequently find yourself getting caught up in negative self-talk, positive affirmations can be used to combat these often subconscious patterns and replace them with more adaptive narratives."

I was a little surprised to see that there is actual science behind this. And I figured that it certainly can't hurt, so it's worth a try! I've been writing down positive affirmations in a journal about once a week, but I haven't really put them into practice--like putting them in a visible place, reading them out loud, looking at them regularly.

My friend John (who you may know as "San Diego John" or "Runner 12" from my Ragnar "From Fat to Finish Line" team) posted on his blog about some affirmation cards he bought called "Affirmators!". There are 50 cards in the box, so he plans to look at one per week, and focus on practicing that affirmation. I loved the idea! There is something fun about having to wait to look at the next card and I wouldn't feel as awkward reading these aloud as I do about writing and reading my own.

Well, John was so kind to actually send me my own box of cards! It arrived from Amazon today and I immediately wanted to read through the deck, but I restrained myself. I read the "How to Use These Cards" directions and to specifies to turn the cards facedown on a table in front of you and shuffle them the way a three-year old would. I took this literally, and I did just that:


Then I picked a card, hoping that it would be something that seemed appropriate for my current state of mind. This is what it reads:

I think this was the perfect first card to draw. The whole reason I started thinking about affirmations is to be kinder and gentler to myself. I'm very gentle and compassionate to others, but I'm extremely hard on myself a lot of the time.

I taped the card to my bathroom mirror, so I'll see it frequently throughout the day (thanks to the gallon of water I've been drinking every day--I drink a lot of water in the summer, but in the winter months, I have a hard time with it, so I'm trying to get back in that habit).

At first I thought I would look at one card each day, but I think that's too frequent--not enough time to really let it sink in. So, like John, I'll draw a card once a week (on Sundays) and practice it throughout the week.

This week, I am going to focus on being gentle not just to others, but to MYSELF. If I find myself thinking or saying something negative about myself, then I am going to try to remember the card--and picture the baby deer with the baby elephant. I love thinking of that visual! Thank you, John <3

(The cards can be found here on Amazon (affiliate link)).

February 20, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Smuckle Doodle Cake

Smuckle Doodle Cake

This recipe is much more interesting than I thought when I first looked at it. This afternoon, I realized that today is Saturday and I'd been planning to post a heritage recipe--but I hadn't yet decided what to make or gone grocery shopping. I started flipping the pages in the historical society cookbook, looking for something that I already had the ingredients for.

When I saw "sweet milk" listed as an ingredient in this cake, I immediately thought of sweetened condensed milk. I knew I didn't have any in my pantry, but if I had to go to the store, at least I'd only have to pick up one ingredient. I had the rest of the ingredients on hand--and I'm sure most of you do, too!

As it turns out, "sweet milk" is actually just regular old whole milk. Back in the day, when people didn't want to waste anything at all, they found a way to use all of it--even spoiled milk! So, if the recipe just listed "milk", it wouldn't tell the reader what type of milk: buttermilk, sour milk, fresh milk, etc. In this case, "sweet milk" is just ordinary cow's milk, like what you would pour over your cereal.

Happily, I did not have to go to the store. On the other hand, this recipe looked a little boring. I like the heritage recipes that have some background to them, though, even if it's just a few words so that I know how old it is or where it came from.

This recipe for Smuckle Doodle Cake was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by Ruth Finley in memory of her mother, Mae Clark. Ruth said that she always ate this cake at her grandmother's house when she was a kid. She specified that it was over 100 years old (and the book was published in 1995, so 126+ years old today). 

As usual, I'll share the recipe and then my notes underneath it and some more photos. That's where it gets interesting!

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe!

Smuckle Doodle Cake

Ingredients:

1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
pinch salt
1/2 c. sweet milk
1/2 c. sifted flour

Directions:

Mix thoroughly. Pour into a greased, small square pan. Sprinkle a mixture of sugar and cinnamon over cake before baking. Bake in a slow oven (350 F) about 35 minutes or until done.


My notes:

*I already addressed the sweet milk. I just used regular whole milk.

*I wasn't sure what a "slow oven" was. When I Googled it, I learned that it's an oven heated to a temperature between 250 F and 325 F. So, according to that definition, 350 F is not a "slow oven". But a slow oven is not a special oven, so that was what I wanted to make clear before I baked this.

I didn't know this, but there are lots of terms used to describe the baking temperature of an oven. I got this little chart from Wikipedia, as well as this info:

"Before ovens had thermometers or thermostats, these standard words were used by cooks and cookbooks to describe how hot an oven should be to cook various items. Custards require a slow oven for example, bread a moderate oven, and pastries a very hot oven. Cooks estimated the temperature of an oven by counting the number of minutes it took to turn a piece of white paper golden brown, or counting the number of seconds one could hold one's hand in the oven."

*The recipe didn't specify what size pan to use--it just said to use a "small square" pan. Looking at the amount of ingredients, I felt like an 8x8 pan (the smallest I have) would be too big. I didn't want to try doubling the recipe and messing up the baking times--I'm not a baker!--so I just decided to try the 8x8 pan and see if it worked out. I used an 8x8 square Pyrex baking dish.

*While I'm not a baker, I do know that there are usually some sort of (leavening?) ingredients to make cakes rise. So before I baked it, I kind of guessed it wouldn't puff up a lot. But what do I know?

The texture of the batter was like a very thin cake batter. I poured it into the greased pan and per the recipe, sprinkled some sugar and cinnamon on top. I put it in the oven and set the timer for 35 minutes.


Halfway through, I got curious and took a quick peak in the oven--I was very surprised to see that the cake rose, but not in a normal way. It was almost like there were big air pockets underneath. I figured it would level out. When the timer went off, I used a toothpick to check to see if it was done (and it was). The bubbles were still there, though.



I used a toothpick to poke at them and see if that would deflate them. That's when I noticed that the cake had a very unusual texture. I could lift it easily out of the pan. It looked like it had a bit of a crust on the bottom and then a sort of filling, and the flakey cinnamon-sugar on top. Not at all what I expected! But it smelled good. After lifting it, the air bubbles underneath were gone, so it was very flat. And as I expected, it didn't really rise.


Hopefully this is what it's supposed to look like... maybe I just messed it all up! Haha

When I tasted it, I first noticed that the texture was not at all what you imagine when you think of cake. I had a hard time describing it to Eli (who asked me what I made)--but eventually, I realized that it reminded me of a crepe. A very thick crepe. If you eat a crepe that has been folded a couple of times, that's the texture of this cake. I really liked it!

As for the flavor, it reminded me of rice pudding. Then I realized that I basically used the same ingredients in the cake that I use for rice pudding--only I used flour instead of rice. When I make rice pudding, I sprinkle cinnamon on top like I did for the cake, so I think that's why it popped into my head.

Overall, I really liked this! I will definitely make it again. It's not super sweet and would probably taste good with the same sort of things you would eat with crepes: fruit, jam, chocolate, powdered sugar, Nutella, etc. This was much easier to make than standing over the stove cooking crepes, too.

Smuckle Doodle Cake

Jerry's at work and the kids haven't tasted it, so I can't tell you their opinions. But I'm pretty sure they'd like it as much as I do. Now I'm tempted to go to the store for some strawberries...

February 19, 2021

Friday Night Photos

I don't remember being THIS tired since late 2017. I actually remember exactly when that time was because it was the most tired I'd ever felt in my life. I'd been hypomanic for months, getting only a couple of hours of sleep at night and feeling totally great--wide awake and energetic all day. But eventually, it caught up to me. I remember feeling so tired that it almost felt like I was drunk--vision was all wonky, slurring my words--and then I crashed HARD for a week or so, sleeping every spare moment.

I'm not to that point right now (not even close, really)--but I've gotten only a couple of hours of sleep every night for the last week or so, and even that wasn't restful sleep. So, I'm going to post these photos, take a sleeping pill, and then read in bed and hopefully fall asleep. I haven't been hypomanic, so I have no idea why I haven't been sleeping. I just know that I will feel a million times better tomorrow if I can sleep through the night tonight.

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed Jerry's post yesterday! He read the comments on it and said, "Your readers are so nice!" 

The theme of this week was definitely snow. It's been insane--we haven't gotten this much snow in at least a few years, if I remember correctly. I don't know what the total accumulation was, but you can see from the pictures how deep it is. I want it to melt--it's been hard to go for my walks outside because there is a layer of ice underneath the snow, and then the snow on top is also very slippery (depending on the temperature outside--when the temps warm up a little, to 25 degrees or so, the snow gets softer and it's like trying to walk in deep, dry sand). My calves are killing me!

Okay, Friday night photos... and then bed. Hopefully.



Eli threw a snowball to Joey, who loves catch them in his mouth. This is what it looks like, haha.



This is what I had to dig out just to get from the side of the house to the garage. And this was BEFORE we got another 9" a couple of days later.


I've been walking in the early evening all week, at around 5:15 pm. A couple of days in a row, Roomba (Joey's black German Shepherd bestie) ran out to play with him in the snow. They had a blast running around in the snow together. It's impossible to get a clear photo of them because they are so fast. Zoomba's on the left and Joey is on the right.



Last week, when Luke and Riley stayed the night, we watched Snow White in the morning. I got out my old Snow White costume, and even though I knew it would be too big, I thought Riley would like to try it on. She was SO CUTE! (I need to finish the adult-sized one that I'm sewing--it's pretty much done. I just need to make the brooch and headband. Then I'll post a photo.)



Another project I've been working on. This started out as a VERY simple idea--my dad sold it to me as a simple idea, anyway!--and ended up being much more work than I anticipated. I didn't get a "before" photo of the frame, which I'm bummed about. But my dad loved the frame and wanted to use it for a painting he's working on. One side of the frame was too big and the inside needed to be routed out a little in order to create depth for the canvas to fit into. I haven't painted it yet, so it's not totally done, but at least I got it put together and it fits the canvas!




I was reading my book today, and Duck came and curled up in the crook of my arm, just like a baby. He slept like that for a while--until I had to pee so badly that I was forced to move him, haha. He is so sweet!



The current book I'm reading. I started this the night I wrote my post about a different type of running plan, and coincidentally, this book pretty much says exactly what I wrote about! I want to be a happy runner, and not focused solely on finish lines and hitting certain goals. This book is super motivating--it inspired me to stay in and run on the treadmill today instead of trying to tread through slush outside. I'll write more about it when I'm done.



Jerry and I have been playing Ticket to Ride almost every day and we love it. I just got the Ticket to Ride Europe edition today, so we're excited to try that one as well. 


Okay, I'm going to head to bed and hope that I fall asleep and don't wake up until morning. Have a great weekend!

February 18, 2021

10 Fun Facts About Jerry (a guest post)


This is a totally random post, but I am having such a hard time coming up with things to write about lately! I asked Jerry (my husband, for those that may not know) if he would want to write a post for me today (only half-joking) and he said sure. He wasn't sure what to write about, so I told him just to write some random facts about himself.

I always love learning new things about people, even if it's completely useless information. I'm not sure what Jerry is going to write, but hopefully it'll be interesting ;)  I'm turning over the computer to him now! (He types with two fingers, so this is going to be painful for me sitting next to him, hahaha)



For those who don't know me I'm Jerry, Katie's lesser half. I have an opportunity to tell you some random, silly facts about me that you may or may not know. Some will be shocking, maybe even controversial. So, here we go.

I love Star Wars
This goes without saying. You can probably look through all the pictures on this blog of me and I'm either wearing a Star Wars shirt or thinking of Star Wars. I've been to Star Wars Celebration in Chicago; sat through a 17-hour movie marathon showing Episodes 1 through 7 (after having a spinal tap); sat through another marathon which was 27 hours long (showing all the movies) while in Chicago with Noah and Eli; and read over 70 books throughout the Star Wars expanded universe... I think that all of this proves my dedication.



Now for the controversy... as much as I love Star Wars, I'm not a big fan of the original trilogy from when I was a kid. As a matter of fact, they're terrible. The acting is bad, the story sucks, and there are so many plot holes created by the expanded universe (books and comics) that it's hard not to see that. But, I still love them nonetheless; they're just the worst of the movies. 



I love pro wrestling
I've been a wresting fan my entire life. I spent my Monday nights and Saturday mornings glued to my TV, watching these athletes throw each other in and out of the ring, take chair shots, and overdramatize falls--and I loved every second of it. I currently hold a subscription to the WWE Network where I can relive classic moments On Demand and invite friends over to watch the Pay Per Views. PS: I know it's not real so you don't have to remind me. 

I listen to a wide range of music
Just like everyone else, anything except country. It's cliché, but that's just how it is. I'm hip to the hop of the up and comers of rock and pop and will try anything. You should hear what the kids are listening to these days. 

Back to the music for a minute...
I love ska. For those who don't know ska music, it's essentially punk rock or reggae music with a horn section. Think of Reel Big Fish or The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I'm a sucker for anything with horns and a good guitar riff. If you have a band you think I should listen to leave a comment and I'll be sure to check them out. 

I like beer... a lot
I was never a beer person until I turned 21. Let me explain... in Michigan we would travel to Windsor, Canada to go to the bars or just have a good time. The drinking age in Canada is 19 and this was our work around to the States' age restriction of 21. Even with all the good beer in Canada, I just was not into it. Beer wasn't my thing. Throw me a Mike's, Smirnoff Ice, or Skye Blue and I was good to go. 

Now that I'm older, I drink almost any type of beer, though. I'm big into IPAs and lagers. Stouts are great, too. I traveled to Wisconsin to a beer festival and stayed with Rik and was able to taste the flavors of the Americas. I've even had Sam Adams Utopias which was not an easy beer to get. It is bottled every two years and in limited quantities. This was generously gifted to me by Caitlin (Katie's good friend from Boston) and I am forever in her debt because it was just flat out delicious. 



I like to chill
Katie talks about me being an extrovert all the time but I generally like staying at home. While I go out from time to time I like being home catching up on shows and playing games with the fam, especially during this pandemic. 

I'm a XBOX guy
I used to have Playstation when I was a teen but after Katie bought me an XBOX for my birthday in 2001 I was hooked. I did have a PS2 but after going through two of those in rather quick succession I picked my side. Plus, can't play Halo on a Playstation. 

Baseball is my favorite sport
I've been into baseball for as long as I can remember. I played every day that I could when I was a kid and well into my teens. Sandlot ball was the best and every time I talk about it the kids would say 'I wish I grew up when you were a kid'. Baseball is lost on this generation and it's sad to see all these overgrown fields when you drive through a city or town.

I was a huge Twins fan growing up, even though I've spent most of my days in Michigan. Kirby Puckett was my man, I even had a jersey. I miss that jersey. It was stitched and everything... on the field authentic. I got it when I was 250 pounds and after losing the weight I felt like I was swimming in it so I had to part with it. I'll get another one, some day. 



I drink too much caffeine
I can go though coffee like crazy and drink the Bang energy drinks like there's no tomorrow. I can also go without them though and not even miss a beat. 

I'm a ridiculous typer
Katie just told me that I make these weird facial expressions when I type and she wishes she had her phone next to her so she could video me. She's said this before but maybe I don't look ridiculous, maybe I look cute like Meg Ryan when she's typing a response NY152, Tom Hank's AOL screen name in the movies. 

And I'm a sucker for rom-coms
As you can tell from above, I fancy a good rom-com. I love the Freddie Prinze Jr (also a Star Wars guy) movies. 

Katie tells me I've been typing for too long. With as long as I've been writing this post, a normal writer would've completed more but I type like a coked out parrot... so I'm off for now. You're welcome for sharing... give me some love below.

Jerry