July 31, 2021

Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade

I have to make this post very quickly... Jerry went to Wisconsin to visit Rik and I thought it would be a great opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with Luke (my 4-year old nephew). Luke and Riley (my niece) were going to be spending the night with my parents, but I asked if Luke could stay here instead. So he's here with me (I am quickly typing this in-between playing with Play-Doh and looking at a booger under a microscope). 

Several weeks ago, Luke and I picked cherries from my dad's cherry tree, and somehow the subject of lemonade came up. Luke was asking me all kinds of questions about making homemade lemonade. I'd never made it before and I always thought it would be fun to make fresh lemonade. (I actually included that on my 40 Goals by 40 Years Old list.) When he asked me questions about it, I made a mental note to do that with him in the near future.

So today was a great day to do that! I didn't use a recipe or anything--I figured I'd just mix fresh-squeezed lemon juice with water and then make simple syrup to add to taste (I actually like lemonade to be on the less-sweet side).

Luke and I squeezed lemons (just enough to make one cup of lemon juice--I don't think he'd have the patience to squeeze more than that!). Then I added two cups of water. I made simple syrup by combining one cup of water and one cup of sugar on the stove, heating until the sugar dissolved.

We put ice in glasses (for Luke, me, Noah, and Eli), then poured some of the lemon juice mixture, and then added a little simple syrup to each. It was delicious!

July 30, 2021

Friday Night Photos

This week went by WAY too fast--I don't even know what to say! So here are some photos from this week...

I've been so excited for The Peach Truck to come back to town, and today was the day! I picked up my pre-ordered box of peaches (they are sold in 25-pound boxes--that's a lot of peaches). I wrote about them a few weeks ago--these peaches put every other peach I've ever eaten to shame. They're SO GOOD.

They are picked in Georgia and immediately driven on a truck to a couple of cities for a tour, where you can buy them (either pre-order or hope that they have some when you get there). My mom and I picked them up today and there were SO many people there--but the line moved crazy fast because it was so well-organized.

They give you instructions to lay the peaches out on your counter for a couple of days to let them fully ripen. (Duck takes his job as head of security very seriously, as you can tell.) I'm dying to eat them now! In the meantime, though, I'm picking out some recipes to make with peaches. I'm planning to make peach preserves with whatever I can't eat in a week's time (I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't any left, haha).

Eli finally got to go musky fishing in Lake St. Clair again yesterday. It's been two years since I went with him on a family-friend's boat and he's been dying to go again. He and Andy were out for about 13 hours yesterday and they each caught one. (Remember, this is the "fish of 10,000 casts". I was so relieved that Eli caught one--he's talked about it for two years and would have been super disappointed if he didn't catch one.)

I was in the living room a few days ago while Jerry was sleeping, and he sent me a text from the bedroom. He said, "This is what I saw when I woke up and opened my eyes." HAHAHA

THIS very odd-looking thing is actually a pillow I made. (Jerry said it looks like a very skinny person's legs wearing skinny jeans--a couple of times, I've done a double take because I've thought the same thing!) I know it looks completely weird, but I made it specifically for what I felt would work to make me most comfortable (I have a lot of pain at night and it's hard to sleep because of it). I made it like a travel neck pillow, but extended the sides so they go down to my knees. I filled it with the leftover pieces of the Tempurpedic pillows.

I really didn't have much hope of it actually working how I imagined, but holy cow--it is perfect! I am actually able to get comfortable and stay comfortable. It's hard to explain the purpose for the specific shape I made (I can wrap it around to support painful areas), but even though it's not exactly pretty, it works great!

Noah and I started making the table for his bedroom. I thought I wrote about this, but I can't find it anywhere. Noah wants a chabudai (a table that is common in Japanese homes, from what I understand--I've mentioned that he's very interested in Japanese culture, so this wasn't an unusual request from him). 

For his birthday, I took him to Menards (haha) and we picked out the materials to make the table. We stained the top but we still have to seal it. Then we are going to add legs that fold underneath (the tables sit very low to the ground, so the legs will be short). It's been a fun project for us to work on together!

When we went to my brother's house for the fourth of July get together, my cousin Shannon was wearing these shoes (Hey Dude is the brand) and I loved them. I ordered a pair and then Jerry liked mine so much that he ordered a pair (his legs are the hairy ones in the pictures--hopefully that's obvious!). 

The shoes are slip-ons, they weigh next to nothing, they're SUPER comfy, and they're machine washable! They have about a trillion different models, too. I chose a gray canvas pair because I figured they'd match just about anything, but there are so many to choose from. (If you're interested, here is a referral link for 5% off; I get reward points or something if you use it.)

Eli took this picture of Joey and Chick, and I just thought it was adorable. Chick really likes Joey!

I really don't like how I look in the photos we took as a family up north, so I'm not going to post those. Well, except for these--here are a few. I love the one of my kids and Luke and Riley! 

Photo credit: Riutta Images

This one below is the whole family: Nathan, Shawn, Jeanie, Dad, Mom, Brian (with Luke on his shoulders), Becky (holding Riley), me, Jerry, Eli, and Noah. I definitely look like I was switched at birth, haha. (It's much worse in the pictures of me and my siblings!)

Photo credit: Riutta Images

And I love this one of my parents--their 50th wedding anniversary was on July 24th!

Photo credit: Riutta Images

July 29, 2021

Final Thoughts on the Couch to 5K Plan

A little over nine weeks ago, I started the Couch to 5K running plan (originally from the CoolRunning website, but no longer there). There are a ton of "couch to 5K" plans (meaning to get you from couch potato to 5K runner by following the plan) out there on the internet, but the one I followed was (I believe) the original. I had tried it way back in 2007 for the first time--before there were smart phones and apps to follow and/or track running.

Back then, I printed out the plan and followed the instructions. I knew NOTHING about running at that time! I had no idea what a slow or fast pace was, how far was "far" to run, or even the distance (in miles) of a 5K. I never finished the plan.

I tried a couple more times over the next few years, but never got very far. The plan has you do intervals of running and walking, building up the running portions while reducing the walking portions over a period of nine weeks--at which point, you're supposed to be able to run 5K.

I absolutely hated running intervals--I found myself constantly dreading the next running portion. The walks seemed to be so short and the running seemed to last forever.

Fast forward to 2010, when I wanted to start running after having lost about 60 pounds. I couldn't stand the thought of doing intervals again, so I worked my way up to running 5K with a make-up-as-you-go-along plan. Basically, I just ran as far as I could (which wasn't very far at all!) and then added a little bit each time I went out (three times per week). I wrote it out in my own sort of "couch to 5K" plan. Here is the plan I wrote that is basically how I became a runner--I call it the "Walk to Run" plan; and here are eight beginner 5K plans that I wrote with a variety of options.

I went on to run 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, and even three full marathons. I'd become a "real runner".

Anyway, about the Couch to 5K...

Since I'd pretty much given up running in 2017 (aside from short periods here and there), I had gotten totally out of shape. I no longer considered myself a runner. Eventually, I found that I missed it! I missed the physical and mental health benefits I got from running regularly. And because I had never finished the Couch to 5K plan, I thought it would be fun to see if I could do it this time--dreaded intervals and all.

I located the old plan (via screen shots) from Google images and then I typed it out so that it was printable and easy to read. I printed it out and hung it on my refrigerator. (Here is the printable one that I made--remember, it's not my plan; I just typed it out so that it's easy to read.) I know it's old-fashioned to print out the plan these days, but I really like seeing it on my refrigerator and crossing off the runs as I complete them. Sometimes I prefer the old-fashioned method of things to the new apps.

The first week looks so simple on paper: Run 60 seconds, walk 90 seconds, and repeat 8 times (for a total of 20 minutes). It turned out to feel much harder than I anticipated! I was gasping for breath and my face was beet-red after that first workout.

Each week increases the amount of running for each interval and decreases the amount of walking. I found myself just wanting to get the running out of the way so I could walk the rest of the time. I didn't have enough time to catch my breath between the running intervals and I just wanted to be done!

Week 4 of Couch to 5K is pretty infamous because there is a huge jump in the amount of running. I was determined to get through the week, though, because I knew that I was capable of it. (The best advice I can give to a new runner is to slow down--even when it feels like you're running at a pace that you could crawl faster, you can go a lot farther than you think when you slow down.)

A lot of people choose to repeat weeks of the plan or create weeks that are something in between each. And I would definitely recommend doing that rather than quitting altogether. The only reason I didn't do that was because I really felt determined to do the whole plan as-written in nine weeks. But there is certainly no shame in repeating workouts. And I'd suggest creating a Week 3.5--that way Week 4 isn't so intimidating!

After the first few weeks, I did most of my runs on the treadmill (just personal preference). I also chose to do all of the running at the same pace so that I could see if my fitness was improving (if the same pace felt easier after running it over and over again, I would know that I was getting fitter). I like to use my heart rate as an indicator of my effort as well.

So, my overall thoughts of the plan itself:

I still don't like intervals. If I was starting from scratch as a runner (again), I would prefer to follow my own plan--doing all the running first and then finish with walking. I actually progressed faster and found it easier without doing the intervals.

I think the Couch to 5K plan is definitely too much, too soon for true "couch potatoes". The first workout has you running 8 minutes--even though there are walk breaks in between each minute, it's still a lot to ask of someone who has never run before.

I followed the plan exactly as written and it did, in fact, take me from couch to 5K runner. But it was HARD--even for someone who used to regularly run long distances.

I liked that it was only three days a week. When someone is going from "couch to _____", asking them to exercise 6-7 days a week sounds impossible. Three days a week of short workouts of 20-40 minutes or so is much more do-able and less intimidating.

I did enjoy the variety of the workouts--which I know directly contradicts what I said about hating intervals. I just liked that each week was a little different, which kept it from getting too monotonous.

I didn't really FEEL the progression of the workouts. I guess I hoped that they would feel easier over time, but they really haven't (yet, anyway). I am still dripping sweat after each run and my heart rate hasn't noticeably improved. However, now that I am up to the entire distance, if I continue to run three miles at a time, I'm hoping that I'll start to notice improvements.

For my FINAL final thought: I think the Couch to 5K plan works to get someone to run the 5K distance, but I think it's too hard for the average couch potato--which will make it not-very-fun, which will likely make them quit. It's a good plan for people who have taken a short hiatus from running and want to get back into shape. If you do the first few workouts and find yourself dreading each interval, then it's not the plan for you--the intervals only get longer.

[It's important to note that all of this is MY OWN opinion of the plan--obviously everybody has their own thoughts about it. Tons of people love the plan! I'm not saying whether it's a good or bad plan, because that entirely depends on the person who is following it. We all need to figure out what we like best and what works for us, which is why I did my own plan back in 2010.]

I'm really happy that I completed Couch to 5K because I'd felt like it was unfinished business from 14 years ago. Now I can put it to rest. And now I am at the point that I can run three miles, which was the goal in the first place!

July 28, 2021

Wednesday Weigh-In : Week 9

Before I get into the weigh-in post, I just have to explain the story behind the hoodie I'm wearing in the above photo...

When we got home from vacation, there was a UPS package here, addressed to Jerry. Jerry got all giddy and told me to open it. I had no idea what was going on--but sometimes he'll order something from my Amazon Wish List as a surprise for me, so I figured that's what it was. I was wrong, though. I'll get to what was in the package after the backstory:

As I've mentioned before, probably too often, I LOVE the game Best Fiends (note: it's "fiends" and not "friends"). I first heard of it while listening to my various true crime podcasts--it's a game that several podcasts advertised. I was getting bored with Lumosity and one day I downloaded Best Fiends.

I got hooked on it right away! I started playing it on my phone and now I use my iPad. It actually helps me with my anxiety; it takes my mind off of my anxiety and it's just mindless fun to play. (It's super addicting, though--just beware.) I even got Jerry hooked on it.

Anyway, Jerry knows how much I like the game and we talk about it sometimes ("Hey, I upgraded such-and-such Fiend today!" "I got 10 minutes of boost time!" and stupid stuff like that.) We banter about it--we realize it's a dumb thing to get excited about, but we're both nerdy about it.

I didn't know this, but Jerry wanted to buy me a Best Fiends coffee mug (I didn't even know that the game had merch). When he tried ordering it, the online store wasn't working. So he emailed them and told them that he wasn't able to order a mug for his wife because the website wasn't working.

They messaged him back and said that the store is no longer running--they aren't selling the merch anymore. But they said that they'd be happy to send him a couple of things anyway, and asked for his address. He didn't know what they were going to send, but he thought it was cool of them to do that.

So, back to the UPS package. As you can guess, it was from the Best Fiends people (Seriously Digital Entertainment is their brand). I still didn't know anything about Jerry writing them and them sending stuff to Jerry, and when I started pulling things out of the box, I was getting mad that Jerry would spend so much money on that stuff! (I knew it had to cost a fortune.) Then he explained the story to me and said they they sent him the stuff for FREE. (Yes, it is free advertising for them--but it's a win-win because I love it!)

I got a t-shirt, a raglan shirt, a hoodie, two mugs, a leather journal, three pairs of socks, and a canvas tote bag! I couldn't believe it. And I was really surprised by the quality of the merchandise--the shirts were the super soft, comfy kind of cotton that I love; the hoodie wasn't the standard fleece (it was more of a thick tightly-knit fabric); the socks, the bag, the journal, and even the mugs were excellent quality. I was stunned that they sent all of this.

I immediately put on the raglan shirt, which is my favorite.

I would post a link to their store and give them a big "thank you" shout-out, but they don't have the store anymore. It was a super fun surprise to get in the mail, and Jerry was just as excited to give it to me as I was to get it!

So, on to Wednesday Weigh-In...

My last official weigh-in was Week 7 because I was up north last Wednesday. I was at 176.2 pounds two weeks ago, and I don't know what it was last week. For today's weigh-in:

I was at 173.4, so I'm down 2.8 pounds. Not too bad, especially considering I was on vacation all last week! From my starting weight (nine weeks ago) of 197.0, I've lost 23.6 pounds. (Several people have asked me about how many calories I eat per day... I'm mostly doing the same thing I did before, which I wrote a detailed post about--you can find it here. I will write an updated post about it soon.)

I figured I'd just write a few notes about staying on track while on vacation:

I didn't plan out "special meals" or foods that I had to pack or anything like that. I wanted to just go with the flow, eat what everyone else was eating, and enjoy the trip. Something I've been doing since I started counting calories again is choosing what matters most to me--in this case, I knew that I was really going to want to enjoy my dinner (our main meal) and I didn't want to have to restrict what I was eating, so I saved most of my calories for that meal.

I did bring grapes with me--not because I felt like I "should" eat them, but because I love grapes and I've been eating them for breakfast every day. So, I ate grapes for breakfast and I usually skipped lunch. Then I'd eat whatever everyone was having for dinner. Each of my siblings, my parents, and I were in charge of bringing the food for and preparing one meal.

My mom took care of all the breakfasts. She made some great breakfast food, but like I said, I've been really into eating grapes in the mornings. For dinners: Jeanie and Shawn made amazing grilled pork chops with herbed butter, green bean casserole, and macaroni and cheese; Brian and Becky made the most delicious pulled pork with coleslaw and cheesy potatoes; Nathan and his girlfriend, Alex, made grilled hamburgers with sautéed potatoes and corn on the cob; and Jerry and I made lasagna with garlic bread and caesar salad.

All of the meals were delicious! I knew what we'd be eating for dinner each day, so I just estimated the calories ahead of time. I didn't measure or weigh portions--I just made my best guess. My dinners were high in calories, but I didn't feel the slightest bit deprived and I ate like a "normal" person would eat while on vacation.

I quit drinking alcohol in February, so I didn't drink any calories up north. I brought some La Croix, but I mostly just drank from my water bottle.

The only dessert we had was s'mores at the campfire each night, but I was too lazy to roast marshmallows, haha. So I didn't have any s'mores. (The last night we were there, however, I made some brownies with chocolate frosting--I wanted to do something a little special for Noah's birthday since we hadn't celebrated with the family. I had one of those and it was so amazing!)

I wasn't super active while I was there--I am most definitely not an outdoorsy person, so while most everyone did some things like tubing down the river, I stayed back and read my book in my hammock. I did help Shawn work in the pole barn a little each day--measuring and cutting boards and helping him to frame in some areas. The only real "exercise" I did was when I went for a three-mile run one morning.

I think the most important takeaway from the whole thing is that I didn't overthink anything having to do with my weight loss. I wasn't worried about it at all and I actually didn't even think of it much; I knew that as long as I wasn't pigging out I'd be fine. I did the activities I enjoyed and I skipped the ones I wasn't into. I ate the foods I liked and I skipped the stuff that didn't make much difference to me (like lunches). I didn't worry about exact measurements for portion sizes or stress about sticking to a perfect running schedule. I feel like it was a very healthy, balanced approach to staying on track while enjoying vacation.

It's probably too early to say this just nine weeks in, but I feel like the effort to lose weight has been pretty easy this time around. I think the biggest key to that is that I don't overthink things. Keeping it simple has made a world of difference!

July 27, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #35

My mind just can't seem to comprehend that today is Tuesday. Yesterday, I was sure it was Sunday. And today feels like a Sunday as well! I think going on vacation last week messed me all up. Our trip was Monday through Friday, but it all felt like a long weekend.

Anyway, it's Transformation Tuesday! I only have a couple to share today (so please send me some!) but they are good ones...

I am typically what I call a black thumb, I kill everything I plant. But my husband and I bought a new house this spring and I really wanted to try a little garden, as well as fill the custom planters the previous owner left. We planted 4 tomato plants & 1 pepper plant along with lots of flowers. Surprisingly, I haven't killed much yet (although there have been a few casualties). These pics are exactly 2 months apart (May 16-July 16) and I'm blown away at the growth. We've even harvested our first tomato which was somehow a giant fusion of 3 separate tomatoes!

- Christie, Amateur gardener

I am working on a "Phase 1" Kitchen reno, trying to keep the budget low and just use paint and smaller updates to get our kitchen to match our style. To start, we painted the cabinets using a sprayer, replaced the hardware, faucet and some lighting. The best best best project ever was painting the countertops. We had granite before, but it wasn't our style so we used a marble countertop kit from Home Depot to paint the countertops. It gets sealed with an Epoxy, but for $180, no one can tell that they aren't real marble! 

We are going to continue a few more steps to include replacing the floors and adding a new top to the island with legs to extend it out for more seating. We are trying to do the whole project for under $3000, so fingers crossed! 

We are tracking our reno at our blog sprucebaltimore.com, feel free to stop by!

- Melissa

Melissa, I am super impressed. I have a "black thumb" as well--it's really pathetic! I think I need to just have someone come over and help me, because I have no idea where to start. But that's so exciting that your garden has really flourished! Definitely something to take pride in :)

Christie, holy cow! Your kitchen reno is STUNNING. It looks so elegant. And the countertops are crazy impressive. I hope you had an easier time with epoxy than I did! Hahaha (here is that nightmare of a story). It's amazing that you did that with paint. (I just have to say that the nerd in me really loves that you took your before and after photos from the same angle--I always love when they match up like that). Great job on the kitchen!

Thanks again for sending the transformations! As you know, I love this series. But to continue it, I need more submissions to post--so please send them. To submit a transformation, just email me a before photo and an after photo to: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Be sure to include your name and a description of the transformation! Thanks, Friends :)

July 26, 2021

Couch to 5K : Week 9 Recap (the final week!)

It's over! I finally completed the Couch to 5K plan. (I'm referring to the really old school plan from way back in 2005-ish.) I've attempted it several times, but this was my first time actually finishing. I'll save a "final thoughts" post for later this week, but I just wanted to write a recap of my Week 9.

For Week 9, all three workouts are the same: Run 3 miles. Simple! But definitely not easy.

Week 9, Day 1: Run 3 miles

I went up north on Monday. I packed clothes to do two runs while up north. As it turned out, I only ended up doing one. It was really hard to push myself to go do it, but I'm happy that I at least did one while I was up there. And I chose to do it outside, despite the fact that my sister has a treadmill at her cabin.

Her road is all dirt/gravel--and the gravel is pretty big. It's the kind that will cause you to roll your ankle if you're not careful, so I threw away any sort of ideas of what my pace might be. I even changed my Garmin to show only my distance, time, and heart rate so I wouldn't know what my pace was.

The gravel is 2/3 of a mile, and then there is asphalt. It's extremely rural, so I was only hoping not to encounter a bear. I ran straight on that road (no other options) until my Garmin showed 1.5 miles, and then I turned around. I just kept hoping to get to the dirt road, so I knew I only had 2/3 of a mile left. The last quarter mile or so was really hard. I just wanted to be done!

Overall, though, I felt pretty good. I knew I was probably going at a slower pace, but I was worried if I picked up speed, I wouldn't finish. It worked out well.

My pace ended up being much slower than on the treadmill (or on the streets by my house)--12:33 per mile. I was really happy with my heart rate, though--an average of 149, 150, 154 per mile, respectively. I was simply focusing on running easy--if it felt too hard, I went slower. Most of the run was in Zone 3, and what was in Zone 4 was on the low side.

Week 9, Day 2: Run 3 miles

I didn't do my second run until Saturday. I chose to do this one on the treadmill; it's been super humid here.

I don't know what it was about that day, but my run was horrible. One of the worst runs I've ever had! My heart rate was really high and I felt like I was going to die when I was done. I made it through the run, at the usual 5.0 mph, but the second I stopped the treadmill, I was gasping for air. I could barely gulp down water because I was trying to catch my breath. Jerry said, "Man, you must have been flying!" But I went the same speed as always, and it just felt so much different. I was even still trying to catch my breath after I took a shower.

My heart rate for each mile was 147, 155, 158 respectively. I was so sure it would be higher, based on how hard it felt.

After that, I had bad anxiety about running again. I was so nervous it was going to feel horrible. I planned to get it done yesterday, but like I wrote in yesterday's post, I was extremely tired. I'd even put on my running clothes early in the day, but I couldn't get the energy to do it. So, I put it off to today--knowing that today was my last shot.

Week 9, Day 3: Run 3 miles

I chose the treadmill again. Running in the humidity makes my heart skyrocket, and I really like passing the time on the treadmill with whatever book I'm currently reading. During the morning, I felt very "off". I did manage to sleep a little last night, thanks to my anxiety medication (I rarely take it because it makes me super tired, but sometimes it comes in handy).

Despite sleeping, I still felt lethargic (which was probably the medication still in my system). I knew I had to get my run done today, though, so I got dressed and onto the treadmill. I had a bad feeling about it, but I still just wanted to get it done. A mile in, I knew I wasn't going to be able to finish. I dragged on as long as I could, but I called it quits 1.3 miles in. My legs just felt super wobbly and weak.

I was so mad at myself! I knew I wasn't just being a baby about it--I really didn't feel right today. I laid on the couch, still in my sweaty running clothes, just staring at the ceiling. Two hours later, I woke up to the sound of Joey barking (someone was delivering a package). I had actually fallen asleep! That never happens.

After that, I started thinking about how I should just get back on the treadmill and finish out 1.7 more miles to hit my total of 3 miles. I didn't care if it was "cheating" by not doing it all at once. I wanted to do it--it was my very last day of Couch to 5K!

I was feeling much better than a few hours prior, so before I could talk myself out of it, I hopped back on the treadmill. The treadmill had cleared the data from the previous run, but my Garmin was still showing 15:00-something for the minutes I'd already run, so I was able to just continue on that. Since I was running at 5.0 mph, I knew if I ran until the minutes read 36:00, I would have gotten in 3 miles (the distance on the Garmin isn't correct when running on the treadmill).

The time actually went by pretty quickly--I was so relieved when I saw the 36:00 approaching on my watch! But I still felt like I was cheating somehow. I knew I wouldn't feel like I'd really done it. I wondered if I could keep running until I ran three miles straight. I would only have to run another 1.3 miles.

And I decided to keep going! It was SUCH a hard decision, considering how I felt earlier, but as I got closer to 3 miles, I knew I'd made the right decision. I was thrilled when I finally did it!

In total, I ran 4.41 miles--1.31 of it was at 11:00 AM, and then 3.00 was at 1:30 PM. I think that because the earlier one was so hard, I was probably still feeling the effects of the medication I took last night. A few hours later, I felt better (not good, but definitely better!).

Interestingly, my heart rate was still really high for the second run (in all, my average heart rate per mile was 150, 152, 162, 165). Look how much of it was in Zone 5! Usually, if I hit Zone 5 at all, it's only for a few seconds. Today, I spent 21 minutes in Zone 5. It's weird how the same exact run can feel so different.

I feel like I'm kind of going backwards in the heart rate training--I have been hoping to run at the same pace and eventually my heart rate will get lower (less effort). The logical solution is MAF training, but I don't want to do that (that would mean a lot of walking and I am just now getting back into running). I miss running; it just makes me feel good in a way that no other exercise ever has.

Anyway, now that I've completed the Couch to 5K, my plan is to continue running 3 miles, 3 days a week. I'm going to stick with the 5.0 mph speed on the treadmill and hope to see my heart rate improve over time. I'd like to start noting things like my hydration, amount of sleep, whether I've eaten, and things like that affect how I feel during my runs.

Overall, Week 9 was successful in the sense that I did it, but it was (by far) the hardest week of the plan! I'll write my final thoughts about the entirety of Couch to 5K later this week.

July 25, 2021

August Book Suggestions?

I am SO TIRED that I can't even organize my thoughts into a blog post, so I am really going to keep this short (I know I always say that, but this time I mean it). I want to have a super quiet evening with no computer or phone. I'm just going to read and (hopefully!) get some sleep.

Anyway, I wanted to ask for some suggestions for an August book. I'm doing a Friends-themed read-athon for 2021, and I haven't picked a book yet. The theme for August is:

Ross: "PIVOT! PIVOT! PIVOT!" - Read a funny book.

Jerry and I actually use the "PIVOT!" line kind of often. Just today, we were moving a piece of furniture and Jerry starting calling out, "PIVOT!" Here is the scene, if you haven't seen it:

Anyway, I never read funny books! So I have no idea what to pick. However, I do have a single stipulation: I want to read a novel; no self-help books or memoirs or anything like that. Just a funny fiction story!

If you have any suggestions, please feel free :)

Oh! This is a good place to mention that when Jerry was looking for a show to watch on Peacock yesterday, I glanced up, did a double take, and yelled "STOP!! Go back!" (scaring Jerry half to death at my outburst). I saw the teaser cover of 'One of Us Is Lying' among upcoming shows. I read that book in June (here is my review) and I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I even said that it needs to be a TV series. And now it will be!

I don't know when it will premiere--all I can find is "later this year". I'm sure I won't like it as much as the book, considering I already know the ending, but I still can't wait to watch it!

July 24, 2021


This is a rather simple recipe today, but don't let the lack of ingredients fool you--I was very pleasantly surprised at how good this turned out!

I chose this recipe because we just got home from vacation yesterday and we had zero groceries in the house. I hadn't gone grocery shopping or even chosen a recipe to make for today's post, so I flipped through the heritage recipe book looking for something that was very simple.

I had all of the ingredients for this Maple Nut Cake, so I decided to give it a try--and it was delicious! It has the flavor of chocolate chip cookies (without chocolate chips) but the texture of a quick bread. (I'm assuming the "maple" in the name comes from the brown sugar; there is no maple syrup or extract.)

Jerry called this "Cookie Bread" because it tastes like cookies but it's in quick bread form.

This recipe was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society via a handwritten recipe book by Viola Herzog. However, she copied the recipe from a 1930's issue of the Detroit News.

As always, I am typing this exactly as written in the heritage book. Make sure you read my notes afterward, because there is an important error in this recipe. I made this recipe exactly as written, with no substitutions or alterations. The printer-friendly recipe is rewritten by me with any clarifications.

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Maple Nut Cake

1/2 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. milk
1-1/2 c. flour
1 c. finely chopped nutmeats
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream shortening with sugar; add egg yolks. Mix well. Add milk and flour sifted with baking powder; stir well. Then fold in the stiffly beaten whites of eggs and vanilla. Bake in a greased loaf pan 1 hour.

My Notes:

First, the obvious error (which I didn't notice until I was mixing the batter). The directions never mention adding the salt or nuts, even though they are in the ingredients. I'm not sure if this error was made in the Detroit News, or the handwritten recipe, or the heritage book. I added the salt with the flour and baking powder, and I stirred in the nuts last.

I wish I'd read ahead to beat the egg whites--if I was doing this again, I would beat the egg whites first, set them in the fridge while I mixed the rest, and then add the whites in. This way, I wouldn't have to transfer the batter to another bowl, wash the mixing bowl, beat the egg whites, then add the egg whites to the batter. Egg whites won't get stiff if any of the yolk is mixed in there, so you need a very clean bowl to beat them (ask me how I know!).

To get specific with the ingredients, I used whole milk and pecans (since it didn't specify in the recipe, I just used my preferences).

I finally got some new bakeware, and I'm excited about using it! Since I've been making a lot of the heritage recipes, I got some metal baking sheets/pans to use instead of the Pyrex glass ones. (Temperature resistant glass wasn't introduced until 1915, and a lot of these recipes are from the late 1800's to early 1900's.) I think the bake times should be more accurate with metal pans. Anyway, I greased my new loaf pan and baked the "cake" for 1 hour, as stated. (I put cake in quotes because this reminds me more of a quick bread.)

It was done after exactly one hour in the oven. Delicious!

July 23, 2021

Friday Night Photos : Family Vacation

I am SO exhausted! There is something about being in the car all day that is exhausting, despite the inactivity (literally just sitting). We drove home from my sister's property in the upper peninsula, leaving at 7:00 this morning. There was construction on the way home, which backed up traffic and added time to our drive. We were in the car for 11 hours! We stopped once for gas/bathroom and once at a rest area for a bathroom break. It was such a long day.

I'm not posting our family photos yet because I'm not sure when we'll get them back from the photographer. (And if I really don't like them, I may not post them at all.) So, I'm just going to post some random photos that I took during the trip...

The Mackinac Bridge is about halfway between our house and Jeanie's property. (It's the bridge that connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan.) Jeanie's property is in Ewen, Michigan, which is just about as northwest as you can get in Michigan. We live about as far southeast as you can get--so it made for a very long drive.

We took Joey with us. On the way up there, my kids rode with my parents, so it was just Jerry, Joey, and me in our rental car. He was SO good in the car--I literally forgot he was in there because he was so quiet.

Jerry pulled up some fun Snapchat filters to play around with--Luke and Riley love making faces and watching themselves with the filters. I love just watching them make faces.

The sweatshirts we're all wearing in several photos are shirts my sister had made for the week--since we were there to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary (which is tomorrow), the front says "Cheers to 50 Years!" and has their names in hearts. The back is a logo that Jerry designed for "Camp Fireside" (what my sister named her property).

Anyway, my dad taught Luke how to shoot a bow and arrow. I wish I'd taken a video of this shot, but I honestly didn't think he'd hit the target. He hit the target on the first try! Haha.

Shawn (Jeanie's husband) had these huge "chimney logs"--he called them that because it started as a tree that was rotted from the inside, so there was a hole down the center of it. When he cut it, it made a bunch of big rings. When put on the fire, the fire burns from inside the hole and lasts a long time. Anyway, they were super heavy so he brought them to the fire with his tractor, haha.

Nathan (my younger brother) has a black lab named Bailey. She's so funny--she climbs up onto the rocking lawn chairs and curls up into a tiny ball to sleep. It looks so uncomfortable, but that's where she preferred to lie down!

My sister's very old basset hound, Remington, does a lot of sleeping these days. Jeanie puts a bed out by the fire and he lies down there. Riley covered him with a blanket and sat with him. It was so sweet.

Like I mentioned on my Couch to 5K 8-Week recap, I had to start Week 9 while I was up north. Week 9 involves running 3 miles straight--so this was my first workout. I'll write about it on Monday during my final recap.

My mom brought one of those little parachutes that a lot of us probably remember playing with in gym class--she and I showed Luke and Riley how it works. We counted to three and pulled it up hard, then Luke and Riley ran underneath to trade places before it came back down. I used to love it when the gym teacher would bring out the parachute in class!

Jerry with the fish he caught on a pontoon boat Jeanie rented.

This picture below was actually my favorite part of the week! When we went up north in 2017, Nathan let me try shooting his rifle. I'm not a "gun person", but I thought it would be fun to see if I could shoot the targets. I loved it! It was so fun to use the scope to line up the shot and I felt "cool"--I told him I felt like a sniper in the movies, haha)  Anyway, he brought a few of his guns and showed me how to use them.

Nathan and I built this stand in about two hours! (I cut the boards, but Nathan put the whole thing together). We lined up a bunch of cans across the pond and I shot at them. The scope was so good that I only missed about 2-3 shots out of 20 or so. The scope was strong enough that I could probably read a book through it from all the way across the pond.

I'll never take a real interest in guns, but it was fun to shoot some targets with Nathan's. My boys were impressed that their old mom was a better shot than they were ;)

Okay, I have to finish unpacking. I'm going to bed early tonight--I can't wait to sleep in my own bed. Have a great weekend!

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