June 30, 2021

Things That Helped Me Get Back On Track With Weight Loss

I've been going strong for over five weeks now, finally making some progress in dropping the extra weight I picked up over the last few years. Five weeks isn't a long time in the grand scheme of things, but considering how many times I've tried to get "back on track" in the last three years, five weeks seems like an eternity.

Something feels different now, too--I don't see myself quitting. I am super determined to be at a healthy, comfortable weight before my 40th birthday in January. I don't feel like every day is a struggle, nor am I counting the days until it's "over" (because it's never over, as we all know). I feel GOOD. I feel like what I'm doing is something I can do indefinitely.

(Excuse the random photo--I literally took this picture right at this moment, because I can't think of any other photo for this post!)

Again, it's only been five weeks, but I feel like I've made enormous strides in that amount of time. I've lost much more than I anticipated--over 16 pounds! Several people have asked me for advice on getting back on track. I wish I had magic words or a concrete plan, but I tried so many times myself and it just didn't click. I think the biggest key is just to keep trying, because eventually it WILL click. I'm sure that's how I managed, throughout the last decade, not to gain back all the weight I lost.

So, while my advice may or may not help, I just thought I'd share a few things that helped ME get back on track...

1) I enlisted a friend to do it with me. My friend Caitlin (who lost 242 pounds!) had a baby last year and she was struggling to lose the baby weight. We've commiserated with each other about our weight struggles throughout the years (she lost the weight around the same time I did) and we were both getting pretty fed up--quite literally--of not just taking action to lose the weight. (Here is a guest post by Caitlin)

When I decided to sign up for the DietBet, I asked Caitlin if she'd like to do it, too. She jumped on board. We've also been doing the Couch to 5K "together" (she lives in Boston, so "together" just means we're doing the same workouts and talking about them).

Somehow, having a friend to check in with and talk to about this stuff has been really helpful. In the beginning, we each texted a photo once a day of a picture of when we were feeling really good--not our "thinnest" pictures, but pictures of when we were feeling happy and confident and comfortable. Looking through the photos was very inspiring--I want to feel that comfortable in my own skin again.

2) I went back to my old go-to snack: grapes. I LOVE grapes and I've been told that I eat way too many of them. I promise you that I do, haha. But you know what? Grapes are a heck of a lot healthier than the other stuff I was/could be eating. I buy pounds of grapes at a time and I weigh out 300 grams (about 200 calories) for a snack.

Having a healthy go-to snack that I really love is super helpful in getting back on track because in the beginning, whenever I just wanted to quit and eat (insert lots of junk food here), I would eat a big bowl of grapes without guilt and not blow all of my calories.

3) I didn't make anything too hard or too complicated. My exercise plan is simply the Couch to 5K plan (which is three days a week, 20-30 minutes or so per workout). I didn't want to get overzealous and take on too much. Maybe I'll add more later, who knows?

As far as my diet, I went back to what works and what has always worked for me--counting calories. This is the only thing I've ever been able to do long term and see through to my goal weight. I don't worry about macros or anything else--just the calories. I'm NOT saying that this is what everybody should do! What I'm saying is that we all know what works best for us, so we should do what we know. What has worked in the past and what is do-able forever.

4) I still allow for "treats" in my diet--daily, if I want. It worked really well for me in 2009-2010 when I lost 125 pounds, and it still works. Lately, I have been really into homemade desserts or quick breads (usually the stuff I make out of the heritage cookbook). Having a warm slice of carrot bread in the evening with a cup of tea is heavenly.

5) I started cooking more and more frequently. Sometime early last year, or maybe even in 2019, I started to despise cooking. I'm really not even sure why that happened! I used to love to cook but eventually, I just found it to be a chore. My kids got pickier as they got older, so I found I was making the same tired recipes over and over, and I wasn't making foods I love because it was stuff that the kids wouldn't like.

Recently, however, I decided to start making things that interest me--and if the kids don't like it, well, they can have cereal for dinner. I went through the heritage cookbook and used Post-Its to mark recipes that interest me (either to make and share on the blog, or just make because they look good). I marked a LOT of recipes!

Making new recipes has made me feel excited about cooking again. (But not grocery shopping--still hate that.) And new recipes are fun to spend calories on--I find it much more satisfying than always eating the same dishes over and over. I count up the calories in advance and then plan the rest of my food for the day around dinner.

Again, that's just what works for me; it certainly won't work for everyone!

And there you have it. I tried not to be redundant by writing out the same advice I've given several times in the past. Here is a post with a lot of weight loss advice I wrote a few years ago--I still stand by everything I wrote.

While it's "only" been five weeks, I also don't want to downplay the fact that it's been five whole weeks(!). Haha, I am really happy that I've managed to finally get back the drive that kept me going all these years. I have no idea what the future holds as far as returning to my goal weight, but I am feeling very positive about it :)

June 29, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #32

Happy Transformation Tuesday! I am thrilled that I have some fun transformations to share today. Please please please keep them coming :)

Life got in the way this year (we adopted a new dog!) and I really let my community garden plot get away from me. The weeds in the before picture were really out of control! I knew it had to be dealt with and I set aside an evening to work on things. The after picture is what I was able to accomplish after about 2 hrs of continuous solo work. I was satisfied with the transformation and it didn't take as long as I thought it would. I even managed to get some veggies planted!

- Jess

This is not the most exciting transformation for others, but for us it is SO exciting and well over do. We moved to Australia from the U.S. in 2010 and once we found our own place, we bought a secondhand fridge. It has been with us through 5 houses and 11 years. Well last week, the freezer stopped freezing. So of course this meant it was time to buy a brand new fridge!

- Sarah

I got this cast iron skillet for $8 at a yard sale. This is the first time I’ve restored one. I think it turned out well!

- Rebecca

Last year when COVID hit and lockdown started, we decided to redo a few things in our house. I'd hated our kitchen and bathroom since we moved in 4 years before, and our carpet was getting pretty gross after housebreaking 2 puppies (not to mention the mess the kids make!). I don't know what I was thinking, taking before pictures when our house was such a mess, but I did! I cleaned up for the "after" photos!

So what did we do? First we replaced our carpet with rigid vinyl flooring (with 2 little kids and 5 pets this was the best decision ever!). Then we knocked out half a wall between our living/dining room and kitchen, we put a backsplash and new counters in the kitchen, replaced the ceiling fans and light fixtures, and then painted the walls and trim. And then we also completely redid our bathroom - tiled the floor, put up a backsplash, new vanity, painted (twice...), and then also widened, tiled, and refitted the shower.

It took the entire summer (a family member helped us with most of it) and there are still a few fixtures that need to be replaced and some shelving and photos need to go up, but overall it's 100x better than it was before and much more "us".

- Christina

Jess, I'm amazed at what you were able to do in just a couple of hours. Wow! Pulling weeds is no fun at all--but what a huge difference it made. I hope your veggies grow nicely :)

Sarah, I completely understand how exciting something as simple as a new refrigerator can be. I was ridiculously giddy over a new vacuum cleaner, haha. The new fridge looks fancy! I hope you're enjoying it.

Rebecca, that skillet is one of my most favorite transformations I've seen. I LOVE that you saw the potential in it, that you recognized what a good bargain it was, and I can see you put some serious work into it. Now you have a brand new (to you) good quality cast iron skillet! You make me want to keep my eye out for a skillet to restore, haha.

Christina, holy smokes! Just reading the list of what you transformed is exhausting. You did a lot of the same things I did a few years ago, and believe me--I know how much work that is. It looks fantastic! I'm sure it feels like a brand new house. Enjoy :)

Thank you so much for sending these transformations! I look forward to seeing new transformations every week--so please, if you have a one that you'd be willing to share, just send a before photo and an after photo to me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Don't forget to include your name and a description of the transformation!

June 28, 2021

Couch to 5K : Week 5 Recap

Week 5 of Couch to 5K is in the books!

I'm more than halfway done now; it's going by super fast. Just as I was nervous about Week 4, I knew that the third workout this week was going to be a tough one. The amount of running without walk breaks was a huge leap from last week.

First, though, Week 5 Day 1 - Run 0.5 miles, walk 0.25 miles, run 0.5 miles, walk 0.25 miles, run 0.5 miles.

This one started out great. I've been reading a book while I run instead of watching a show (I just can't find a show to get into lately, which is probably a good thing.) I'm currently reading 'One of Us Is Next'--the sequel to 'One of Us Is Lying'. Reading makes the time go by a lot faster than watching TV while I'm on the treadmill, which is nice.

I was caught up in the book while I was running my first 0.5-mile interval and when I looked down, I saw that I'd run 0.64 miles and my Garmin hadn't beeped. I realized I'd forgotten to turn off the GPS on my watch--AGAIN. (I wrote about this on Friday Night Photos.) So, I wrote a note and taped it to the treadmill to ensure that I don't do it again.

These two "accidental" runs have actually been a little helpful to check out my heart rate, though--since they include only the running portion (no walking), I can see what my heart rate was strictly from the run. This 0.64-mile run wasn't good as far as my heart rate goes. I spent almost the entire thing in Zone 4. (Remember, my ultimate goal is to run three miles in Zone 2--my MAF heart rate.)

When I realized my mistake, I stopped the treadmill, caught my breath, and started all over again after turning the GPS off. I felt pretty decent, but judging by my heart rate, I was working very hard. Too hard. By looking at this in comparison to the one above, I know that the only time my heart rate is in Zone 2 is when I'm doing the walk breaks.

Week 5 Day 2 - Run 0.75 miles, walk 0.5 miles, run 0.75 miles

I remembered to turn off the GPS, thanks to my note. This run wasn't as hard as I expected. I actually was tempted to cut the walk break short because it felt really long. But after the second 0.75-mile interval, I was definitely ready to be done!

Since my main goal is my heart rate, here is what it looked like for this workout:

Week 5 Day 3 - Run 2 miles (!!)

This was the "scary" workout--a random two-mile run at the end of Week 5 (next week goes back to intervals). I wondered if I'd even be able to do it. The farthest I'd run without a walk break so far during the plan was 0.75 miles.

Interestingly, I was looking forward to this workout. First, because I still hate doing intervals; I much prefer to do all of the running at once. Also, I was genuinely curious to know if I could complete it.

I turned off my GPS, set up my book, filled my water bottle, and set the speed at 5.0 mph. I tried to just focus on my book and not think about the fact that I was running. And I did it! I finished two miles--and honestly, I felt like I could have kept going. I was definitely tired when I was done, but I didn't feel like I was going to drop dead or anything. The time actually went by really quickly.

I was pretty happy with my heart rate, too--I stayed out of Zone 5 completely, and I spent more time in Zone 3 than I did in Zone 4. Considering this was a two-mile run--no walk breaks--that's pretty remarkable in comparison to the accidental 0.64 miles I ran on Week 5 Day 1.

I think that keeping the speed low has been most helpful--if I'd tried to bump the speed up, I'm sure I would have collapsed when I was done. I'm just going to stick with this speed until my heart rate is able to stay quite a bit lower, and then maybe I'll increase it a bit. But even if I stay at this speed forever, I'm cool with that.

I'm really excited about how this week went. That two-miler was a big confidence boost!

June 27, 2021

A Funny Story About Facebook Marketplace

I'm not sure what to title this, other than "a funny story"--because that's just what it is!

As you know, I love Facebook Marketplace. I've sold things on there, but mostly I love to find furniture. I bought most of the furniture in my house from Marketplace, saving a ton of money and finding some really cool pieces I never would have found elsewhere (like my 1976 couch and coincidentally matching chair!).

Yesterday morning, I opened Marketplace to search for something--I honestly can't even remember what it was--and a bunch of "Listings for you..." popped up. Marketplace basically uses an algorithm to show you listings you might like based on previous interest in items (not surprising). It always shows me furniture, which distracts me from what I was intending on doing (which is why I can't even remember what I had planned to search for yesterday).

I started looking at tables that looked like they could work for playing cards/board games in the garage. When the weather is nice, it'd be fun to be able to play games out there, but I don't want to spend a lot of money on a table that is just going in the garage. So, Marketplace.

I saw a table that looked pretty perfect--the base of it had a little storage cubby. I figured it'd be convenient to put cards and whatnot in there. It was only $20, so I sent a quick message to the guy who was listing it, just asking if it would fit in a pickup truck, assuming it was still available. His name was a little odd, and I wondered if it was real (I know some people use a pseudonym for things like Marketplace, for privacy reasons, which I understand). The name just stuck out to me because it was one of those funny names--I don't want to say exactly what it was, but it was a name like "Hugh Jass" (not quite so obvious, but you get the idea). 

I didn't hear from him right away, and I had to get ready to go to Brian's house. I was at Brian's until after 11:00 pm. I had completely forgotten about the table that I'd inquired about... until today, when I got a message from the guy. All it said was, "Call me" and he left his phone number.

I laughed and thought, "Sorry, I'm not going to call a random creep on Facebook." I figured the table just wasn't meant to be.

About five minutes later, my cell phone rang and it was a number I didn't recognize. At first, I thought, "Oh no! Could that guy somehow have gotten my number from Marketplace? I don't think they can do that, can they?" But I told myself to calm down, it was probably a spam call.

I answered... and thankfully, it was just my cousin who I'd seen at Brian's the night before. (It was really fun to see several of my cousins that I hadn't seen in years!)

He said he was a little surprised that I hadn't mentioned anything about the table to him at Brian's house, and I was totally confused for a second--what table? What was he talking about? And then it hit me--HE was the "random guy on Facebook"! He's always been really funny, and it did not surprise me at all when he told me the name he used was his pseudonym on Marketplace.

He realized how creepy it sounded after he said to call him (he had been thinking I knew it was him up until that point). So he called my mom to get my phone number and explain. I was cracking up--seriously, what a coincidence! There are SO many people on Facebook Marketplace--and it's not like my cousin lives very close--so it was just crazy that he happened to be the person I messaged about the table.

So, we had a good laugh and now I'm going to get a free table for my garage ;)

For the life of me, I could not come up with a photo for this post. So here is a picture of Estelle, enjoying my favorite piece of furniture I bought through Marketplace...

June 26, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Blender Carrot Bread

This recipe technically isn't a heritage recipe--it comes from the same cookbook, but it's not in the "heritage" sections (the heritage section is a collection of recipes that were handed down among generations).

As I was going through the cookbook, I started marking recipes that caught my eye, and this recipe for Blender Carrot Bread sounded interesting. My family loves quick breads, so I decided to give it a try this week. This was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by a woman named Ethel Beaudrie--she was born in 1916 and passed away in 2006.

The bread ended up being delicious! Jerry especially loved it. The prominent flavor is actually the orange peel. You only use two tablespoons of it, but it really flavors both loaves of bread.

As usual with the heritage recipes, I am writing out this recipe exactly as submitted to the Historical Society, and I am not changing or substituting anything while making it. (The printer friendly version includes any clarifications.)

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Blender Carrot Bread


1-1/2 c. salad oil
2 c. grated carrots
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple
2 T. grated orange peel
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 c. whole nuts
3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt


Combine first 7 ingredients in blender until nuts are coarsely chopped. Sift dry ingredients into bowl and pour carrot mixture over them and mix well. Pour into 2 greased 9 x 3 x 2-inch pans. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour until done. May be baked in soup cans. Makes about 6.


I noticed that a lot of the recipes call for "salad oil"--this just means a flavorless oil like canola, vegetable, etc.

For the nuts, I used walnut halves.

In the directions, it says to combine the first seven ingredients in a blender until nuts are coarsely chopped. I did this, but the nuts wound up totally blended in with everything else. The rest of the ingredients wouldn't come together well while leaving the nuts somewhat intact. Next time (and there will be a next time!) I will add the nuts after blending everything--I'll add them and just pulse a few times to chop them lightly.

I thought that the pineapple and carrot would give a different texture to the bread, but the blender really does a good job mixing everything. When baked, you can't see or feel the texture of the carrots or pineapple.

I loved the idea of baking this in soup cans! Unfortunately, I would have had to open and empty the soup cans if I wanted to use them, because I never have them lying around. So I just baked two loaves of bread instead of the soup cans. However, I do think that if you baked this in soup cans, it would make a LOT more than six. The loaves of bread were pretty big, so it's hard to imagine baking the batter in cans.

Overall, this recipe is a winner--really good! It's very moist (and stays that way, even after a couple of days) probably due to the amount of oil in it. The orange flavor is unique and it really does make the bread special.

The first seven ingredients before blending:

And after blending. I couldn't blend everything without the nuts getting completely blended, too! Not sure if that was intentional, but I don't think that's considered "coarsely chopped" ;)

Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry...

This was really thick after mixing. Again, not sure if it was supposed to be like that, but it turned out perfectly, so I'm guessing I did it right!

Before baking:

It took longer for mine to bake--I believe it was about 70-75 minutes and not 60 minutes.

June 25, 2021

Friday Night Photos

I could have sworn I took all kinds of pictures this week, but going through my camera roll shows that I actually have very few, unfortunately. Noah and Eli were up north and Jerry had three of those days off work, so it was fun to spend time together--we didn't do anything special, but it was interesting to hang out in such a quiet house!

When I began working on Eli's room, the first thing I did was pull everything out of the closet. I wanted to clean the floors really well because I was sure they were loaded with dog hair (Joey spends most of his time in Eli's room). That led to finding a place for things that didn't belong and then--long story short--I rearranged his bedroom furniture, removing his desk (he never sat there--it only collected clutter) and putting a nightstand in there. Jerry helped me work on it the second day.

The kids got home today and when Eli walked into his room, I heard him say, "Holy crap!" I asked what he thought (and told him we have his desk in the garage if he wants it back) and he said he LOVES how it looks now. I wish I had before and after pictures, but I wasn't planning on this being that sort of project! 

Anyway, here are a few pictures that I did take this week...

My cousin Shannon saw a picture on Facebook of a baby wearing crocheted flip-flops and she asked me if I could make a couple of pairs of them for her friends' babies. There was a link to the pattern (I didn't want to have to design something myself because I get perfectionistic and stress about it!) so I said sure. I don't have a picture of them on the babies' feet, but they turned out cute and hopefully they fit!

A few hours after the boys left to go up north, Eli sent me a short video--they'd came upon a car that was on fire! They got there right when it happened (no police were there yet) so Noah pulled over and asked if anyone needed help. The driver managed to get out okay and said there was no one else in there. The police arrived and then Eli took the video as they were driving away. This is just a screenshot.

This may not look like much, but when I tell you how it happened, you might get the heebie jeebies like Jerry did, haha. I was shaving my legs in the shower and I was in a hurry--moving the razor really quickly--and I don't know how it happened, but the razor caught my nail. I felt it catch, but no instant pain, so I kept saying, "Oh no oh no oh no" while I was trying to see it in the shower. I just hoped it didn't cut through the nail.

Well, it had. It sliced into the nail and pulled down toward the edge, but didn't pull the nail off. After that, I was SO scared of getting it caught on something! I cut it as short as possible. When I was trying to pull my hair up, I felt my nail catch on my hair and it hurt like a mother. So I tried glueing it down with "liquid bandaid" (which is essentially superglue) and that helped a little. But the next day, it caught again. Eventually, that whole section of nail was pulled right off. So now I have a big chunk of missing fingernail. (This picture is right after it happened)

On Sunday, I went to my parents' house to bring my dad his pecan pie for Father's Day. Luke and Riley were over there so I hung out for a bit. Luke wanted to show me where he picked cherries (my parents have a cherry tree). He told me they were sour cherries but we could eat them. So we picked a few that looked ripe and then Riley wanted to pick some, too. They asked what we were going to do with the cherries and I said we could make a smoothie. So we looked around my parents' kitchen for things to throw into the blender--cherries, strawberries, milk, chocolate chips...

It was funny--I suggested we put a few chocolate chips in there, but when I looked in the drawer where I thought they'd be, all they had were butterscotch chips and white chocolate chips. When I told Luke, he said, "No, they aren't in that drawer. They're in the drawer underneath." And sure enough, they were! Haha, he knows my parents' kitchen better than I do now. The smoothie turned out to be delicious!

Speaking of blenders, this blender full of stuff is going to be the heritage recipe that I post tomorrow. It's called Blender Carrot Bread. And it turned out to be delicious!

On Wednesday, I (AGAIN) ran quite a bit more than I had to for the Couch to 5K plan because I forgot to turn off my GPS for the treadmill. (When the GPS is turned on while I run on the treadmill, the distance on my Garmin will always read "0.0" because the GPS location never moves.) Even though the Garmin shows the incorrect distance on a treadmill, it's not off by a huge number--so I still use it to set up my workouts. It was set to switch to walking mode after 0.5 miles.

Well, I'd run 0.6-ish miles and my Garmin still hadn't beeped to signal me to begin walking. I looked down and sure enough, I'd forgotten to turn off the GPS. (I did that last week and I swore it would never happen again.) I could have just skipped the first interval after resetting the Garmin, but I didn't want to do that. So, before starting over and running it again, I wrote myself a note and taped it to the treadmill--"TURN OFF GPS!!!" Now, I'm sure, it won't happen again.

Tomorrow, I'm going to my brother Brian's house for a 4th of July get-together. He's going to put on an enormous fireworks show (he spent some time last year getting licensed/certified to use these particular fireworks; when Brian does something like this, he goes all out). Last year's show was amazing, and it's hard to believe it could be any better, but I'm sure it will. I'm really excited to go!

Have a great weekend!

Oh! Thank you for the well-wishes for my dad. After all was said and done, we got really good news from his surgeon. Before his procedure, he was told that the blockages in his blood vessels were pretty bad but they wouldn't know just how bad until they "went in there" (he had a cardiac catheterization). The doctor said that he was pretty sure my dad was going to need bypass surgery. After the catheterization, his surgeon said that he was able to complete everything during the procedure--so he wouldn't need bypass surgery. Very good news! 

However, he said that my dad's LAD artery was almost completely blocked--which is pretty much the worst case scenario. If you've ever heard of a "widow-maker heart attack", well, it's caused when the LAD artery is blocked. The doctor said that if he'd waited much longer, he would have had a heart attack and it would have been fatal. So scary! I'm so glad that they were able to repair with angioplasty/stenting.

I always thought of my dad as being low-risk for a heart attack--he's never been overweight, doesn't drink or smoke, and gets plenty of exercise. His diet, on the other hand, could definitely use some work. Hopefully this scared him into making some changes!

June 24, 2021

If I Won the Lottery... (a writing prompt)

I was sitting with my computer, asking Jerry, "What can I write about?" (Read in a whiny voice.) He said, "Why don't you write about how you ask me this question every single day and then you never take my suggestions anyway?" Hahaha, it's true!

I like that I've gotten in the habit of doing some theme posts each week--my running updates on Monday, Transformation Tuesday, weight loss stuff on Wednesday, Friday Night Photos, heritage recipe on Saturday. That leaves Thursday and Sunday for me to try to get a little creative--some days, though, I'm totally blank.

Jerry and I were recently talking about what we would do if we "won the lottery" (meaning, a huge sum of money--not a $10 scratch off). My idea was pretty unique (I've never heard anyone else say it before, anyways) so I thought I'd share it here as a writing prompt:

What would you do if money and resources were not an issue?

My big idea came about one day when I was telling my kids about how much better it was back when I was a kid and we didn't have the internet (you know, the stereotypical "get off my lawn!" old people talk). I MISS the days before the internet. Of course, having the internet has opened a HUGE world of possibilities in numerous ways--it's a very positive thing, for the most part--but for those of us that remember the pre-AOL days, there is something nostalgic about that time. Back then, we didn't miss the internet, because it didn't exist yet. Everything was so SIMPLE.

My mom said that I used to watch the radio--when the radio was on, I would pull up a chair and watch. Haha! We were easily entertained back then.

Anyway, this led to my telling my kids, "I wish you guys could live in the 80's for just a week--you'd appreciate everything you have now so much more!"

And this is where my idea was brainstormed. If I had infinite money and resources...

I would buy an island somewhere and section it off into different camps. Each camp would be dedicated to a period of history: 1100's, 1500's, 1800's, 1910's, 1920's, 1930's, etc. etc. The camps would be set up so that they are exactly like what you would have found in that time period.

This wouldn't operate like a museum, but a literal home-away-from-home *camp*. People would pay for a week or two weeks or whatever amount of time to go live in that time period. They would not be allowed to bring cell phones or anything at all--everything that they need would be provided, but only if it's something that was relevant in that particular time period.

So if I wanted to send my kids there for a week to live in the 1980's, for example...

They would have to show up with nothing. They would be given a wardrobe for the week (with 1980's clothing), a house that is identical to what a house looked like in the 80's, with all of the 80's decor, a landline phone complete with phone book and directory assistance, a radio, an 80's television set, a kitchen equipped to cook things that were popular in the 80's, etc.

Anyone remember these couches?

There would be several other people/families in different houses at the same time, so they could all really live as if they were neighbors in the 80's. If they want to take pictures to post on Facebook later, they can use a disposable camera and get their photos a week or two later, like we all did before cell phones ;) 

Fun, right?

Haha, maybe it sounds like torture to some people, but I would LOVE to do something like that! I'd love to do it for all different time periods. It would be a blast to invite a bunch of friends who are roughly the same age to go stay for a week at camp in their "childhood era".

Probably not what most people think of when planning on how to spend their lottery winnings... but this is honestly what I would love to do if it were possible!

June 23, 2021

DietBet Weigh Out

It's already been over four weeks since I started the DietBet! The last day was on Monday and yesterday was when I had to "weigh out"--meaning submit my final weigh-in to see if I lost the required 4% of my body weight in order to win my money back.

Four weeks ago, I felt like a completely different person. I knew what I *wanted* (to feel good in my own skin again) but I just wasn't willing to do what it would take to get there. I'm not crazy about the idea of "DietBet" for several reasons, but I am really glad that I chose to do it when I did. I have no idea what it was that motivated me, but knowing that I had to weigh in for accountability seemed to be the push I needed to get started.

And that's all it was--a start. With most things I do, once I am able to get a streak going and I see some progress, I get very focused and determined. The hard part is actually getting to that point! If I hadn't been doing the DietBet, I'm sure that I wouldn't have lasted a day or two. I don't think I would have even attempted counting calories again.

Now that I've gotten a good start, I feel super determined to see this through. I even have some goals in mind! My 40th birthday is in January, and while I am totally dreading turning 40, it would be great to hit the big 4-0 feeling good about myself. So, I'd like to get my weight down under 140 (not to say that I wouldn't be content with 145 or something--I just want a number to aim for). And I'd like to be able to run three miles with a heart rate in my MAF zone (131-141 bpm).

Anyway, about the DietBet weigh out...

I'm kind of bummed that I didn't first weigh myself right when I got up in the morning without clothes (prior to my official weigh in, I mean--I'm not going to submit naked photos, haha). My first official weigh-in was rejected because I wasn't looking straight ahead (I was looking at my phone for a mirror-selfie) so I had to send a new one. And that was after I had eaten breakfast and drank a lot of water. For my weigh out yesterday, I tried to do the same circumstance--I weighed after breakfast and after I'd had water.

And I did it! I won my DietBet. I'm not sure how much money yet, because people are still weighing out, but I at least won my money back.

Those numbers don't really mean anything to me, though. When comparing my weight, I like to do it first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything, and without clothes. Since I don't have the number from the morning I started my DietBet, I just looked at the previous day's weight. If I look at that weight as my starting weight and yesterday's as my ending weight, then I am down 14.6 pounds! (From May 23 to June 22.) I'm beyond thrilled with that.

To lose the weight, I literally just did the EXACT same thing I did before when I counted calories. And surprise, surprise, it worked ;) I ate whatever I wanted, I measured or weighed out my portions, and I counted the calories. I always aim for quality over quantity with my food--I'd prefer a small piece of a rich, homemade dessert than five 100-calorie packs of cookies any day. I don't have a calorie target set in stone, but I aimed for roughly 1600 per day--some days I ate a little more, some days I ate a little less, depending on my appetite. For exercise, I did the Couch to 5K (Weeks 1-4).

I feel really encouraged to keep going after seeing such great results. I don't know if there is a difference in how I look, and I honestly don't care right now. I just feel SO MUCH BETTER about myself. I feel more in control, which is the best feeling. I plan out things like dessert (like when I've baked desserts for the heritage recipes) and I just work it into my calories. I don't feel bad about eating it because I planned for it. Like this Drömtårta--yum!

Moving forward, I'm just continuing what I've been doing and I know I'll eventually reach my goals (even if it takes longer than I'd like). Since I've been seeing regular progress, I think I'm ready to start doing Wednesday Weigh-Ins again. It's been so long, I can't even remember the last time I did that! So, I may post one next week, if I'm feeling brave.

June 22, 2021

No Transformation Tuesday :(

I only have two short Transformation Tuesday submissions in my inbox, so I'm going to save them for when I get at least one more--so please send me some transformations to post!

I'm going to take the night off of blogging so that I can work transforming the kids' bedrooms. I'm using the time while they're up north to clean the heck out of their rooms. I like to do a really good, deep cleaning at least once or twice a year, and I would always work on it while the boys were in school or staying at a friend's house or something. Because of COVID, they were doing school at home and were generally here all the time. So, it's been probably a year and a half since I thoroughly cleaned their rooms. They are very overdue!

Remember, please send me some transformations for next Tuesday! Just send a before photo and an after photo to me at katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Include your name and a description of the transformation!

June 21, 2021

Couch to 5K : Week 4 Recap

I have finished the infamous Week 4 of Couch to 5K! Week 4 is the point in the program where it really makes you question whether you can even finish or why in the heck you thought it was a good idea to start.

Rather than quit, my advice is to make up your own "Week 3.5" to make a smaller jump in the running intervals. Or repeat weeks until they are more comfortable.

I already wrote about my first workout of Week 4. I had been super nervous about it, but I did it! I was thrilled. And then I realized it wasn't the first time. (Here is that post, in case you missed it.)

My second workout was another face-in-palm moment...

I did it on the treadmill again, and I started my Garmin. When I'm on the treadmill, I use the Garmin for the timer because the timer on the treadmill is too fast. But my Garmin doesn't accurately track my mileage and pace, so I use the mileage shown on the treadmill. (I really wish there was an accurate way to use a Garmin on a treadmill! If you've been reading my blog from the beginning, you know that already, haha.)

I have my Garmin set to the workout, which is based on distance--so even though the Garmin reads, say, 0.25 miles, I actually ran a little farther than that because the calibration isn't accurate. 

The workouts this week were:

run 0.25 miles; walk 0.125 miles
run 0.5 miles; walk 0.25 miles
run 0.25 miles; walk 0.125 miles
run 0.5 miles

I was waiting for the beep of my Garmin to tell me it was time to walk. When I looked at the treadmill display, it said I'd run 0.28 miles; the Garmin should have beeped, but it read that I'd only gone 0.03 miles. Then I noticed that I'd forgotten to turn off the GPS!

I stopped the treadmill and debated what to do. I could count that as my first interval, but I didn't have the "proof" on my Garmin (and even though it doesn't matter to anyone but me, I wanted that on there!). Other option was to do it all over. That's what I chose to do.

I ran an extra 0.28-mile lap during Week 4! But I'll tell you what--I'll never forget to turn off the GPS again ;)

I'd planned to do my third workout last night at around 11:25 PM so that I could start the run in the springtime and continue until after summer officially started at 11:32 PM. Basically, I wanted my workout to start before 11:32 and end after 11:32.

It didn't work out that way. I was SO TIRED yesterday. I hadn't gotten more than 2-4 hours of sleep each night for a few days and it hit me hard yesterday. (Even when I'm very tired, I have a hard time sleeping. My mind never shuts off.)

At around 11:00, I just decided to take a shower, get ready for bed, and then at 11:30, I'd walk for 10 minutes at a super slow pace--that way, I could complete the solstice run on my checklist challenge. And I saved the Couch to 5K run for today.

I was tired enough last night that I managed to sleep for six hours (that's a great night for me!) and I felt so much better this morning. I decided to do my "lunchtime run" on the checklist challenge--which means to run between 12:00 and 2:00 PM. The run itself was uneventful.

My heart rate definitely did not have the same decreasing pattern as last week, unfortunately. I expected it to be higher overall, which it was, because I doubled the distance of the running intervals.

The goal is to get my heart rate to stay in Zone 2 as much as possible. Zone 2 is comfortable; it's the perfect heart rate for an "easy run". Running was much more enjoyable when I was able to run for miles and miles in Zone 2--so I am hoping to build my endurance back up to be able to run just 3 miles in Zone 2.

Interestingly, the accidental 0.28 miles I ran on Friday before my C25K workout gave me some good insight into my heart rate...

This segment contained NO walking. I was running at 5.0 mph on the treadmill. So, you can clearly see that my heart rate is in Zone 4 during all of my running segments. The lower zones are when I'm walking. So my first goal is to lower the amount of time spent in Zone 4. I know it'll get there if I'm patient and keep working on it!

Next Monday, my Week 5 Day 3 workout is a 2-mile run. Yikes!

If you have a transformation to share for Transformation Tuesday tomorrow, please email it to me! Just send a before photo and an after photo, along with your name and a description of the transformation to me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Thanks!

June 20, 2021

Empty Nest!

This week is going to feel SO strange. Noah and Eli left early this morning to go on a road trip up to the upper peninsula, to stay at my sister's property until Friday. Two of Noah's friends went along, so it was just the four of them making the 10-hour drive up there.

When Noah got his license last year, he asked if he could go up north with his friends in the summer of 2021. I said sure--honestly, I didn't think he'd ever bring it up again. So when he kept talking about it, and making real plans for it, I got pretty nervous that it was actually going to happen.

Noah will be 17 in a couple of weeks, and Eli is 15. Noah is a FANTASTIC driver--if he wasn't, I never would have agreed to let him drive up there. When his friends asked their parents if they could go, one of the "pro" arguments used was, "Noah's mom is really strict! We'll be fine!" Hahaha, I have NO idea what Noah has told them to make them think I'm super strict. Maybe because I didn't let Noah go to parties and stuff like that during the COVID-19 lockdown? I don't know--I always thought I was a "fun" mom! It was funny, though, when I heard how strict I am ;)

Noah's friends came over at 5:45 this morning so that they could hit the road by 6:00 or so. I planned on staying incredibly busy all day so that I wouldn't worry the whole time and keep refreshing the "Find Friends" app on my phone (where I can see Noah's location).

I was so relieved when I got a text from the kids saying they arrived safely at Jeanie's. They are going to spend the week fishing, sitting by the campfire, playing corn hole, riding four-wheelers, and just having a fun time with their "cool" aunt (and leaving their strict mom at home!).

Jerry was off of work today, so we had the day to ourselves--and it felt so weird! We decided to look through the cookbook and make some dinners this week that we don't normally make (because the kids don't like it).

I baked my dad a pecan pie, per Father's Day tradition (I bake him a pecan pie on Father's Day and on his birthday every year). When I brought it over there, I also brought an empty pie plate that I covered in plastic wrap--my dad has to have heart surgery on Wednesday, and I told him I baked a special pie that is sugar-free, salt-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and carb-free. (Yes, it was a total dad joke, but appropriate for Father's Day!) Then I handed him the real pie.

In other news, today is the summer solstice! At 11:32 PM ET, it will officially change from spring to summer (in the northern hemisphere). And THAT means that it's time to start the Cookies' Summer Challenge!

If you haven't seen the post about it, it's not too late to start--you can find all the details here. The summer challenge is something I've been hosting since summer of 2016. There is a checklist for runners and/or walkers to complete between the summer solstice and the fall equinox in September. The list has 50 items on it to do while running or walking.

The challenge is just meant to make exercise a little more fun in the summer heat. Every year, I say that I'm going to complete the entire list, but I've never done it. This year, I make the same goal--I want to complete the list! And since I'm doing the Couch to 5K plan right now, I have no reason not to work on it.

Anyway, all of the information can be found on this post, including the checklist to download and the link to the Facebook group.

It's almost 10:00 PM right now, and I'm ready to start the summer challenge by literally running from spring into summer--I'll start my run before 11:32 and finish it after 11:32. I'm super tired, but I'm hoping I'll be able to sleep in tomorrow, due to the quiet house!

June 19, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Tender Crust Dinner Rolls (and Woman's World Beauty Tips from 1900!)

When I was looking for a recipe today, I realized that I still have some fresh yeast left over from Nan's Coffee Cake; the yeast was relatively expensive, so I wanted to use it before it expires. I didn't want to do another dessert recipe, so I chose to make Tender Crust Dinner Rolls.

This recipe was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by Jeanette Herzog; it comes from her grandmother, Leona Skinner. I wasn't able to find anything online about either of them, unfortunately, except that Leona was born in 1898 and passed away in 1953. So, I'm guessing this recipe is from the early 1900's (perhaps older, if it was passed down to her).

As always, I am typing this out exactly as written, and I followed the directions without any modifications. Make sure you check my notes after the recipe if something is unclear. The printable recipe clarifies anything that I was unsure of.

Here is a printer-friendly version!


3 T. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk, scalded
1 cake yeast
3-1/2 to 4 c. sifted flour
2 eggs


Add butter, sugar, and salt to scalded milk; cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk mixture. Add 1 cup of flour and beat with rotary beater until well blended. Add egg and beat again until smooth. Mix in remaining flour, mixing thoroughly. Allow dough to rest, covered, on rolling board for about 5 minutes. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Let rise, covered, in a warm place until double in bulk. Pinch and knead lightly. Divide into desired shapes. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until light. Bake in hot oven, 325 F, about 15 minutes or until nicely browned.

My Notes:

The ingredients are pretty simple. The yeast cake is fresh yeast--a small cake is 0.6 ounces and a large cake is 2.0 ounces. I had a large one, so I just used 0.6 ounces of it. (A small cake is for roughly 3-4 cups of flour.)

I don't think it's absolutely necessary to scald the milk (from what I've read, the purpose of scalding the milk in these older recipes was to kill bacteria. However, heating the milk also serves the purpose of melting the butter and dissolving the yeast--so it's helpful either way.

I definitely needed the full 4 cups of flour. I was tempted to add more because the dough was still a little sticky. This picture is from after letting it rise for a while...

I rolled mine into balls about the size of an egg. I got 20 rolls out of the batch (they were a little small--I think next time, I'd do 16 rolls). I weighed the batch when I was done, and the batch weighed 950 grams total. So next time, I'll make them roughly 55-60 grams each.

Before rising:

Covered with a damp towel:

Just before going into the oven:

I baked them 15 minutes and they still looked a little pale, so I ended up baking them for a total of about 18 minutes and they were perfect. They probably could have gone another minute or two, but I didn't want to risk burning them--and I wanted them to be very soft.


Holy cow, these are delicious! "Tender crust" is a great description--the rolls are super soft and fluffy. It's kind of like not having a crust at all--just the super soft, squishy part of warm bread. Yum!

I commented to Jerry that they would make perfect sandwich rolls or hamburger buns. You could just shape them into larger discs and bake a little longer. I'm going to try it soon.

This is a great recipe, and I'll definitely be making it again!

The heritage cookbook includes some fun tidbits including excerpts from the Woman's World book, printed in 1900. Since I don't have a story to go along with this recipe, I'll share these beauty tips :)

  • To keep the face from wrinkles, lie down, if possible, once or twice daily in a darkened room; close the eyes and let the facial muscles rest.
  • Preserve your temper if you wish to preserve a youthful expression.
  • Sleep eight hours in twenty-four.
  • Leave the top sash of your window open about an inch at night.
  • Exercise in the open air as often as possible.; walking is the best possible exercise you could have.
  • CaCao-butter applied at night and washed off in the morning will keep the skin soft and clean.
  • Cream of lemon-juice rubbed in at night will remove all sun-burns.
  • Shade a strong light so that it may fall on your work whilst your eyes may remain in the shadow.
  • The bath not only serves to cleanse the body, it acts as a tonic.
  • The best skin tonic you can have is a tepid bath, using Starlight Royal Toilet Soap.

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