August 31, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #40 : 5-Minute Transformations

Happy Transformation Tuesday :)  When I sat down to start this post today, I realized that I didn't have any transformations to post this week!

Rather than skip the post altogether, I thought about what sort of personal transformation I could post that I haven't posted already. I didn't have time to do something very significant. And then I realized I could do a few "5-minute transformations"--things that took me about 5 minutes to transform.

These aren't anything spectacular, but considering I spent less than 30 minutes doing it today, I'm happy with what I accomplished! Here goes...

First, I tackled my bathroom sink area. It'd been collecting junk and every time I walked into the bathroom, it nagged at me. You would think I would have just cleaned it up before, but I just kept waiting for who-knows-what before doing it.

Next, I knew I had to straighten up the shoes at the front door. I am the only one in this house who actually puts my shoes on the shelves and it drives me CRAZY that my family doesn't spend the two seconds it takes to do it! I put away the shoes (if they aren't shoes that we wear frequently, we keep them in our bedroom closets; the ones at the front door are the ones we wear several times a week. (And yes, I plan to replace that rug!)

Then, I decided to organize the water bottles in the kitchen cupboards. This transformation is kind of hard to notice--I didn't get rid of more than 3-4 water bottles, so there is still a lot up there--but I flipped over the shelf because it was bending under the weight of some dishes (I need to cut a piece of wood to replace that cheap one). I put that small stack of dishes in a different cupboard. I matched up the water bottles with their lids and got rid of the random pieces. Then I set them neatly on the shelf instead of cramming them up there.

And finally, I organized the little junk-collection tray on the counter. This is supposed to be for mail and bills, but it became a catch-all and no matter how often I organize it, it'll look like the "before" picture in no time. Still, it feels good when it's cleaned up. I filed the important papers in an accordion folder; threw away the outdated junk; and sorted the rest into piles to put away where they belong.

Now... I challenge all of YOU to find a 5-minute transformation project. Pick something that nags at you whenever you see it and just decide to spend 5 minutes working on it (even if it takes 10-15 minutes, that's still worth it). Take a before and after photo! Then send it to me for Transformation Tuesday. To submit a transformation, just send me a before photo and an after photo at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Don't forget to include your name and a description of your transformation!

August 30, 2021

10 Things I Wish I'd Done This Summer

I really don't like starting my posts with, "Where had the time gone?!" thoughts, but seriously... when did the summer completely blow past? Eli starts school tomorrow, and even though it's not technically fall for a few more weeks, the start of school always feels like fall. Well, aside from the 100-degree temps we've suffered through this month (when it wasn't raining).

Jerry said today that he can't believe that August is over already, and we started talking about things that we had planned to do this summer and then we didn't get around to doing (which is pretty much everything we'd planned). So, I figured I'd make a list and see what we can still manage to do before it's *actually* fall.

There are "chores" that we wanted to get done, but also some fun family things and even stuff like cooking on the grill and spending summer nights sitting on the deck in the backyard. Throughout the year, something we say frequently is, "Oh, let's do that this summer!"--and we've certainly said that a lot since last fall--but summer flew by and now I can't even think of any big and/or important things we did this summer (other than going to my sister's property up north).

Anyway, here are some things we'd wanted to do but did not; and hopefully, things that it's not too late to do!

1) Plant new landscaping. The weeds were totally out of control. In the past, I would have spent a couple of mornings out there pulling weeds like crazy; ever since the pain in my hands and wrists got so bad, I can't even think about pulling weeds. So we sprayed weed killer on it and they died. But then we didn't finish prepping for new landscaping and now it's full of weeds again. Once we get that under control, we need to lay down a weed barrier and then plant some new landscaping. I'm so embarrassed of how it looks right now!

2) Go camping. I haven't been camping since probably 2009. And I really am not a fan (I hate it, actually!) but I have wanted to do it for just a single night with the kids for family time and memories. The kids have no memory of the time we went camping in 2009, and I want them to have one camping memory with the four of us. (I don't even have pictures from that time--this one below is pretty much it)

3) Go for family walks in the evenings. This is something we used to do all the time until a few years ago. The kids got to the age where it wasn't really cool to go for walks with their parents in the evenings, and we just stopped doing it. We didn't walk far--maybe a mile--but we liked to go when it was dark outside and we brought flashlights. Even if the kids think it's lame, I don't think it's asking much of them ;)

4) Paint or stain the deck and stoops. Our deck is horribly embarrassing--it's been needing a new coat of stain for probably 10 years! It's such an overwhelming task that I haven't wanted to even start it. Also, we need new siding on the house, so I've been putting off the deck until we know what will match the new siding.

(Our insurance adjuster is supposed to come this week about the roof and siding from our wind storm. He was scheduled to come last Thursday, but that morning, he fell off of a roof(!) and spent four days in the hospital because he broke two vertebrae. So, he's bringing someone with him who will go on the roof, but he's still coming.)

5) Go to the Detroit Cookie Company (ohmygosh, check them out on Instagram--their cookies look INSANE). Eli and I been talking for a couple of years now about going (we are peas in a pod when it comes to our love of sweets). It's not necessarily a "summer thing", but it was something I kept planning to do this summer.

6) Go kayaking with Eli. We got each of the kids a kayak for Christmas, but Noah didn't end up wanting his. Instead of returning it, I just gave him the money for it and we kept the kayak so that Eli could go with a friend (it's a kayak that is especially meant for fishing, so he just walks it across the street and then paddles through the canals). I planned to ask him if I could go with him one day and he could take me to his favorite fishing spots. I'm not a fan of the water or boats, but I think it would mean a lot to Eli if I did that.

7) Bury a time capsule with my family. I bought the capsule, we just haven't done anything with it yet! I really need to just make a deadline and tell everyone to gather what they want to put inside.

8) Go on a picnic with the family. This one is so simple--I bring it up probably every few weeks, but we never actually make the plans to do it. Again, I need to just pick a date and make a plan.

9) Go for a 30-mile bike ride with Jerry. Honestly, I don't know if I have the endurance for this! Haha. We wouldn't do it fast or anything; we would pack some food and picnic at the halfway point. Stop and take pictures or check out scenery at spots along the way. We went on a pretty spontaneous bike ride a few years ago and rode 26.5 miles--so that's where I got the 30-mile idea. A little farther than before.

10) Go to a drive-in movie theater. This is something I've wanted to do for such a long time! And we just got a local drive-in about 15 minutes away, so I am excited to check it out. Jerry and I want to have a "date night" (I can't even remember the last time we did that) at the drive-in. Eli actually just went on Saturday with his friend. They were showing all three Back to the Future movies, and Eli and his friend dressed in their 2020 Halloween costumes (his friend was Marty and Eli was Doc Brown). Eli told me that lots of people were asking to get pictures with them--so funny!

August 29, 2021

September Activity Goal

Over the past week or so, I've been cleaning some stuff up on my blog (nothing really noticeable, but going through and resizing pictures and fixing broken links and stuff like that). Stuff that I should really keep up with on a regular basis!

It's fun to see how much I've changed over the years. I don't mean physically; I mean my viewpoints, opinions, priorities, and goals.

Some of it makes me feel a little nostalgic. I used to be very ambitious with goals--I would make daily/weekly/monthly/yearly goals all the time. I probably only completed about 10% of them, but it's fun to see what I was working on back then.

This photo is from back in 2013 when I was into doing the Wii Fit regularly--just for fun! I recently dug it out to play with Luke and it made me want to do it again. (Jerry snuck a video of me doing the hip hop dancing, hahahaha--this is just a screenshot of that, so it's blurry.)

I feel like I've matured quite a bit since then; my goals aren't as vain and I'm more concerned about my health than I am about my jeans size. I care more about being fit than I do about "respectable" race times (or even running races at all). And I've learned to try to find a gray area rather than think in black and white (an "all-or-nothing" attitude). I think these are good changes!

But I do miss working on some of the silly goals. One memory that pops into my head is when I was determined to hit an activity goal every day every single day for a month (this was in 2013). I remember one evening, I had a LOT of steps that I still needed to get in. I actually wrote about it:

"I was very determined to get to 100%, however, so I created a little game with the kids--and they had a blast with it! We walked single file around the house in a big loop--through the living room, kitchen, and hallway.

For each loop, we added something else that we had to do during that loop--first, we had to pet each cat as we walked by; then we had to touch each chair and pet each cat; then we had to give Jerry a kiss, touch each chair, and pet each cat; then march the loop instead of walking it while doing all those things; and so on. (It reminded me of that Father Abraham song, where you keep adding a body part to move for each verse).

It sounds completely ridiculous, but both kids said, 'This is the most funnest thing we ever did before bed!' and they loved it."

Reading that makes me smile. It wasn't at all an exciting "game", but for some reason, the kids loved it. They asked several times after that if we could "play that game where we marched around the house", haha.

I've mentioned to Jerry a few times lately that I want to get in more daily movement--not intentional exercise, but being more active in general. I miss feeling as good as I did before the chronic pain issues I've been dealing with. (After SO many various tests, my rheumatologist diagnosed fibromyalgia, but she's still looking into other causes--I have to get an x-ray of my neck and back before I see her again.)

One thing I've noticed over the past few years is that as the pain has gotten worse, my activity level has gone done. Naturally, when I'm in pain, being active is harder. However, my gut feeling is telling me that my body would feel better if I was more active. I don't mean doing anything excessive, but I'd like to get more activity (especially on the days that I don't run).

So, to test that out--as well as for nostalgic reasons--I'm going to set a step-goal for September. I still have my old Fitbit (it's just the tiny little clip that counts steps--nothing fancy). I'm going to aim for 8,000 steps per day in September. That may not sound like much to people who regularly get 10,000+, but it equates to about four miles--and I'm sure that's more than I'm doing now!

August 28, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE : Devil's Food Cake

My mom's birthday was on Monday and I invited Luke and Riley to come over and help me bake her a birthday cake. Since I've been baking a lot this year, thanks to this heritage recipe series, I thought it would be fun to make a cake and frosting from scratch.

There were several cake recipes to choose from, but not many that seemed like "birthday" cake. I know my mom likes chocolate, so I picked a recipe for Devil's Food Cake.

This recipe was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by Betty Gay, in memory of Mrs. Frank Gay.

Being from Rockwood (which is literally only two square miles), I recognize just about all of the surnames of people that live there. However, I hadn't heard of anyone from Rockwood with the last name "Gay", so I was definitely curious to see if I could learn anything about Betty or "Mrs." Frank Gay.

Mrs. Frank Gay was Betty's mother-in-law, Louise. Louise was born in 1894 and was one of FOURTEEN children! Louise married Frank Gay in 1950 and they had several children. Their son, Samuel (Sam), married Betty (Betty is the one who submitted the recipe).

Sam and Betty were honorary life members of the Golden Retriever Club of America--I'm not sure what that is, exactly, but I'm pretty sure it means they loved dogs ;)  Interestingly, the couple lived on Sam's family farm, which is now the center portion of Lake Erie Metropark (that's the Metropark where I've done a LOT of race training over the years).

As I was looking for some info on Betty and Louise, I saw this nice tribute that someone wrote after Betty's obituary--it's quite the coincidence!

"Betty Gay was a passionate family historian. Pre-computer or Internet, she'd travel to courthouses and graveyards, researching. I contacted her in the late 1970s about the Shew and Bentley line. The information I received back was abundant and well researched and documented. An inspiration to all who love the hobby of genealogy."

Louise passed away in 1980 at age 86; Betty passed away in 2009 at age 80.

I have to say, Louise had a great Devil's Food Cake recipe! I really love how it turned out.

I told Luke that if my mom asked him what kind of cake it was to tell her, "It's Devil's Food Cake from scratch". He asked me a couple more times on the way to her house--I could see his mind working and that he wanted to remember what to call it. Just before we went inside, I asked him what it was called. He said, "Devil's Food Scratch Cake". Close enough! Hahaha.

As always, I'm sharing the recipe exactly as written in the heritage cookbook, and I made it without substituting ingredients or altering it at all. (See my notes after the recipe.) I've re-typed the recipe with specifics and clarifications, which you can find in the "printer-friendly" version.

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Devil's Food Cake

2 c. sifted flour
1/2 c. cooking cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. sour milk with 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. boiling water with 1 tsp. soda

Cream shortening; add sugar. Blend, then add eggs and beat well. Mix flour, cocoa and salt together (in separate bowl) and add this mixture alternately with sour milk/soda mixture (start and end with flour mixture). Add vanilla and water with soda added. Beat well. Bake at 350 F for about 1/2 hour. Test with toothpick.

My Notes:

The only ingredient that made me pause was the sour milk. I see it in a lot of the old heritage recipes and I've avoided them because sour milk back then was not the same as "soured milk" today. Back then, sour milk was just milk that started to go bad and developed a sour taste; it wasn't yet spoiled, though. I don't know if I'd be able to tell the difference between sour milk (safe for consumption) and spoiled milk (may make you sick).

These days, we can intentionally sour milk by adding an acid (like lemon juice or vinegar) to pasteurized milk. Rather than trying to test out milk that has gone sour, I went the acid route. To make sour milk, you just use 1 Tbsp. of vinegar or lemon juice and add enough milk to equal one cup.

To make the 1/2 cup of sour milk needed for the recipe, I used 1-1/2 tsp. of vinegar and enough milk to equal 1/2 cup--I let it sit for about 5 minutes, and it was thickened and a little clumpy. Then I added the baking soda as called for in the recipe.

Since the recipe called for sifted flour, I sifted the flour together with the cocoa powder and salt (to avoid clumps of cocoa powder).

The recipe didn't specify about cake pans. I used two round cake pans--I greased them with shortening and then dusted them with flour before adding the batter.

Other than that, the recipe was pretty cut-and-dry. I baked them for 30 minutes (maybe a couple of minutes longer, if I remember correctly) until the toothpick inserted in center came out dry. (Luke liked looking at the toothpick a couple of times and telling me whether it was done or not.)

I let them cool about 10 minutes in the pan and then turned them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

I made a chocolate buttercream frosting (I modified the recipe on a bag of powdered sugar just a little. Instead of melting chocolate chips, I just used cocoa powder and added a little more shortening.) But here is how I made it:

1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp. shortening
2/3 cup of cocoa powder
16 oz. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream the butter and shortening until smooth, then add the vanilla. Add the cocoa powder and powdered sugar a little at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.

I spread a layer of frosting over one of the cake layers, then topped with the other layer and frosted the whole thing. It was the perfect amount to be able to frost the whole cake. (Somehow, I was able to frost this without getting crumbs all over the place. When I use boxed cake/canned frosting, I make the biggest mess ever. I don't know if it has to do with the fact that it was homemade, but I managed to frost this pretty neatly. (I don't have a cake dish for serving, so I just flipped over a CorningWare dish for the cake! Not the prettiest, but it worked.)

Of course, top with sprinkles if you'd like! ;)

August 27, 2021

Friday Night Photos

All day long, I kept thinking that today is Thursday. It does not feel like a weekend! Noah started school last Wednesday (he's taking all college courses now and has a tough semester ahead) and Eli starts school this coming Wednesday. It's the first time EVER that school has started before Labor Day (in my kids' schools, I mean). The start of school has always felt like the end of summer, and I just can't believe that summer is over already.

Here are some random photos from the past week...

My next door neighbor has an enormous abundance of basil in her garden which is lucky for ME--because I love basil so much! Yesterday, I made a margherita pizza on my favorite whole wheat crust (I am not a person who chooses whole wheat over white--ever--but I do love this pizza crust). The pizza was so AMAZING.

The house was extremely chaotic all at once when it was in the oven and I thought for sure I burned it, but the crust end up being perfect. I was setting out plates to pull the (mini) pizzas out of the oven when I heard Eli yell a few choice words that were a bit out of sorts from the quiet, sweet kid that he usually is. He came running into the kitchen and blood was streaming from his hand all over the floor.

He had been handling a new fishing lure that he'd bought via Facebook Marketplace--a huge lure for catching musky--when Joey jumped off his bed and bumped into him. The hook went deep into his finger (you could see where it almost came through the other side). Thank God the barb of the hook didn't go any farther in, because it would have been a much bigger mess. I checked with his doctor, and he had his last tetanus vaccine in 2018, so at least we didn't have to go to Urgent Care.

I tried to sneak up on Duck while he was sleeping to get this picture of him because he was lying in such a funny position. At the last second, he opened his eyes--but he was sleeping like this:

I made Chicken Pot Pie Bubble Up for dinner and it was SO good--total comfort food. I couldn't remember if I'd posted the recipe before, so I took a picture of it in case I hadn't. Well, it turns out I did post the recipe, which you can find here. It's super easy to make.

For a few days, Jerry was looking for his car key. Thankfully, he has two of them, so he just used his back-up. But it was bothering him that he couldn't find his key. Well, I was doing laundry while he was at work and as I was moving clothes from the washer to the dryer, I found his key--haha! I sent him this picture. (Surprisingly, the key still worked!)

Eli sent me this picture when he was out fishing. He fishes with a boy his age and the boy had brought with him a baby squirrel. He said he'd rescued it (with the help of his parents) and they'd been taking care of it for a couple of weeks. I would have liked for him to call a rescue organization, but he said his parents did their research and the squirrel was thriving. I hope so! My heart melted when Eli sent me this picture.

My mom's birthday was on the 23rd, and I thought it would be fun to have Luke and Riley over to make a birthday cake for her. I actually picked a recipe from the heritage cookbook for Devil's Food Cake, so I'll be posting that (probably tomorrow). We also made homemade chocolate buttercream frosting. Yum! I measured out all the ingredients ahead of time so that it was easy for them--they just had to dump ingredients into the mixing bowl without measuring. The cake turned out so good! Of course, they wanted to decorate with sprinkles ;)

I finally finished an enormous project I'd been working on. I hadn't been able to print anything for months and it was driving me crazy! I finally figured out that our printer is too outdated for our computers. It's a very nice Brother all-in-one printer (from 2010) that my brother gave to us when he bought a new one. I know that laser printers are very expensive, but after getting used to the laser, I just can't go back to an inkjet.

Over the last several months, I've been going through and updating all of my recipes and saving them as PDFs--but unable to print them (I have a three-ring binder that I keep my recipes in). Anyway, I figured out that if we save it as a PDF on a thumb drive and then plug the thumb drive into the printer, we can bypass the computer.

So, I finally finished formatting the recipes--nearly 200 of them--and was able to print them! I was thrilled. The next morning, I put them all in plastic sleeves and into my binder. I'm so glad that I don't have to look recipes up on the computer when I want to make something.

(We ended up ordering a new printer, though. Noah needs to be able to print things for his classes so we need something reliable. We bought the same printer, just a newer model. At least we know it will last a long time, though!)

Remember when I mentioned freeze-drying peaches after getting them from The Peach Truck? I asked Becky (she and Brian have a freeze dryer) if the peaches would work well and she said she didn't think so because of how juicy they were. So I never tried it. Well, she recently gave peaches a try in the freeze dryer and said they turned out amazing. She sent me a bag of them when Luke and Riley came over. They were such a good snack! The next time I get a load of peaches, I'm going to freeze dry a lot of them.

I wanted to get the kittens a new toy to play with and after looking through popular toys on Amazon, I ordered two of these fish--they flop around like a real fish would (they actually look pretty realistic, considering they are a cat toy). They arrived today and the cats exhausted themselves playing with them for over an hour. Chick especially loved them (he's the one with the long fur). He kept wrestling the fish and then holding it and rabbit-kicking it. It was so funny to watch the cats play!

If you have a playful cat, I highly recommend these toys! Phoebe and Estelle weren't very interested, but they're old and rarely interested in new toys, so I wasn't surprised. Duck and Chick love them though. Here is the Amazon (affiliate) link. (I like that they are rechargeable and don't need batteries.)

Well, I'm going to try to finish my book tonight so I can start another; my library queue is getting backed up. Have a great weekend! xo

August 26, 2021

Return to Running Recap : Week 13

Apparently, I forgot to take a post-run selfie last week. I did find this one on my camera roll, though! From the angle, I can tell I was sitting on the treadmill in front of the fan (something I do after my runs while I upload my running data into Garmin Connect). Clearly, this photo was an accident--but it's the only one I took, so this will have to do ;)

This past week, I've been thinking about changing something up with my running routine. For the last few months, my plan was to continue running three miles, three times a week. I wanted to maintain the same pace and see if it got easier over time (meaning I was getting fitter; evidenced by a lower heart rate).

I'm making progress in the heart rate department, but nothing drastic--and certainly nothing consistent! It's not unusual for my heart rate to be super high during one run, and then just two days later, super low. I still haven't quite figured out a pattern to it.

Anyway, I can't say that I'm bored with the running routine, but I do have the urge to change something up. I'll have to think about it this week--maybe adding a long run day (working up to five or six miles) or adding speed work (intervals and/or tempo runs). There are several things I could change up to keep things interesting.

This past week, I actually did add intervals to my first run of the week...

Week 13, Day 1 : Run at 5.0 mph for 4 minutes, run at 6.0 mph for 1 minute. Repeat 7 times, for a total of 35 minutes. (treadmill)

I came up with this on a whim, just before getting on the treadmill. I didn't want to do anything super hard--I figured a 4:1 ratio was good, and it ended up being perfect. Not too hard, not too easy. The time flew by on the treadmill! That is my favorite part about doing intervals--the whole workout seems so much shorter because I think in short segments (4 minutes, 1 minute...) instead of my usual 36-minute run at the same speed throughout.

I was very curious to see how my heart rate would compare to my regular runs. I thought for sure it would be really high. Which is why I was surprised when I saw that my average heart rate was 147 bpm--right in the middle of Zone 3.

For intervals, I like to look at the maximum heart rate for each interval rather than the average. Since the intervals are short, there isn't really enough time for my heart rate to increase enough to make a difference in the average.

Anyway, my maximum heart rate for each of the faster intervals was 149, 151, 151, 153, 154, 155, 155 bpm. If I'm going to do interval training, then I should probably increase either the speed or distance of the intervals so that my heart rate gets higher--the maximum should probably peak in the high 160's or low 170's.

See how the peaks and valleys are pretty gentle? I need to make the peaks a lot higher!

I don't really care about getting faster, but I think that doing some speed work will help me to get in shape more quickly. I'm going to put some thought into it this week and figure out how I want to change things up.

Week 13, Day 2 : Run 3 miles at 5.0 mph (treadmill)

I had a feeling that my heart rate was going to be very high for this run. Before I even got on the treadmill, I could feel my heart beating fast. It sounds so ridiculous, but I actually get nervous before every run! I have no idea why that is, but the more I try NOT to be nervous, the worse it gets. My best runs are usually the ones that I decide to do in a moment's notice.

When I finished, I was happy to see that my heart rate wasn't in Zone 5 for the first couple of miles--it certainly felt like it was! Haha.

Week 13, Day 3: Run 3 miles at 5.0 mph (treadmill)

This was one of those runs that I just did in a moment's notice, so I didn't have time to think about it. I just hurried to change into my running clothes and then hopped on the treadmill. I'm reading a book that I'm just really having a hard time getting into, which makes it hard to distract myself from the fact that I'm running. (It's called 'The Dressmaker's Gift' and has 25,000 reviews--4.5 stars--on Amazon. I don't know why I can't get into it!)

I tried my best to focus on my book, but the time seemed to be moving so slowly. The last mile felt like it was 30 minutes long. However, I felt really good throughout the whole run. I got a little tired the last mile, but for the most part, this felt easy to me :)

I was actually surprised that my heart rate wasn't lower on this one--I was so sure it would mostly be in Zone 2. It looks almost identical to the previous run, though! It's funny how I felt very different during each of these runs, but my heart rate was almost the same for both.

Overall, I definitely feel like I'm making progress. Running feels a lot easier than it did a few months ago. Most of all, I just feel really good that I'm running regularly again. I missed being a runner!

August 25, 2021

Wednesday Weigh-In : Week 13

As my weight loss has slowed down over the past month or so, I find that I'm starting to feel impatient. I know that I will continue to see progress as long as I keep doing what I'm doing (and I certainly don't plan on stopping now!); I just want to *feel* like I'm a smaller size. Having lost nearly 30 pounds in the last 13 weeks, you'd think that I would notice a huge difference, but I haven't noticed any significant changes in at least a month.

(I'm glad that I've continued to run three times a week, though, because I definitely feel like the three-mile runs are getting easier each week. Being able to *feel* it getting easier really helps my mindset!)

When I was going to take a selfie for this week's weigh-in photo, I figured I should probably change out of my pajamas. While grabbing something to wear, I noticed a shirt that Caitlin had sent me a while ago--maybe early last year?--with a box of amazing cookies. As soon as I saw the shirt, I knew it wasn't going to fit. It looked so tiny! I tried it on and I could barely pull it over my boobs. And even then, the seams looked like they would split open if I even took a deep breath. I told Caitlin that I was determined to lose the weight so I could wear it.

So, I tried it on today and it fits! I still wouldn't feel comfortable wearing it in public--maybe in about 10 more pounds--but it's comfy enough to wear around the house. I put a cardigan over it (see photo above) because I will never be happy with my arms; I have so much loose skin there. It's not just cosmetic, either; it's really uncomfortable moving my arms around without sleeves that go down at least to my elbow.

I tried to get a picture of the back, but it was so hard to do!

It's the logo from the Cookie Monstah food truck that I'd seen when I was in Boston in 2017. Being "Runs for Cookies", of course I had to get a picture next to it! So it was super nice of Caitlin to send me some cookies and the shirt.

But anyway, I'm glad I tried it on. This week I felt like I was making zero progress, so it felt good to have something physical to remind me that what I've been doing actually is making a difference. For this week's weigh-in...

This morning, I weighed in at 168.4; last week, I was at 169.6, so I'm down 1.2 pounds again this week. That's a total of 28.6 pounds down since I started this at the end of May. The weight loss has definitely slowed down, but since I'm not in a rush to an imaginary finish line, I'm cool with that--as long as the weight is still coming off, I'm happy :)

(Since someone usually has a question about what I've been doing to lose weight, here is a recent FAQ post I wrote about it.)

August 24, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #39

Happy Transformation Tuesday!

I actually spent the morning finishing up the transformation in my kitchen--I put up the backsplash behind my sink. I love how it turned out! I still want to put some sort of trim along the outer edges to finish it off. I used one full box of the vinyl tiles on this wall (literally down to every last scrap), so the whole backsplash on this wall only cost $30 and took about four hours. It would have been much faster if I didn't have to cut around the window and the change in countertop height and the plugs/light switches. It made such a big difference--I wish I'd done it a few years ago!

Anyway, here are a couple of readers' transformations for this week...

I create a little gnome/fairy garden in an old bird bath every year. I like to take a before picture to see how much the plants grow. Each gnome represents my husband and two son-in-laws and each fairy represents myself and my two daughters. Also, the two little boys and two babies represent my four grandchildren. Next year I’ll have to buy two more babies!

- Kim, Grandma to four, Mom to two daughters, Dog Mom to two rescue dogs

Kim, what a cute idea! I love that the figurines represent your family--that must be so fun when you get to add to them. Maybe one day, you'll have to buy a bigger garden ;)  -Katie

Nothing like a Transformation Tuesday to kick me into high gear and mostly finish an office redo.

I’ve worked from home for over 20 years, and it was finally time to redo the office. I’d painted it many years ago, done floors about 11 years ago, and change was needed. I had already started cleaning/moving stuff in the before pictures—I wouldn’t normally work in that much chaos!

The walls are now Behr Marquis (one coat coverage really worked!) in Sculptor Clay—it’s sort of a greige (that is such a made-up word, but it works). The floor is the stick together vinyl tile—SO MUCH EASIER than wood. We have done all sorts of floors in the last 30 years and this was by far the easiest. We even decided to put it down OVER the existing laminate—it was flat/smooth and there was room under the baseboards. It saved us having to pull up the old stuff. New furniture arrangement and purging of some stuff that had just accumulated over the years and it feels like a whole new space!

- Traci, Texas girl

Traci, what a huge difference! I absolutely love the wall color. And the little corner nook with your chair looks super cozy. You must love the "new" space--it looks fantastic! -Katie

Thanks so much for sharing your transformations! Please please please keep them coming so I can continue Transformation Tuesday. To submit a transformation, just email me a before photo and an after photo at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Make sure to include your name and a description of the transformation!

August 23, 2021

DIY: Applying Vinyl Backsplash Tiles

I'd like to change up a couple of my blog posts each week--right now, it looks like this:

Monday - running recap
Tuesday - Transformation Tuesday
Wednesday - Weigh-In
Thursday - whatever I feel like writing
Friday - Friday Night Photos
Saturday - recipe
Sunday - whatever I feel like writing

Ever since I started losing weight in 2009, I've considered my weeks to start on Wednesday (at least as far as weight loss and running is concerned). That's why I do my weigh-ins on Wednesdays (it's not just for the alliteration of Wednesday Weigh-In, although I do like alliteration!).

Anyway, I consider my running week to start on Wednesday. Because I write my running recap on Mondays, I have to get my third run done by Monday. Overall, it really doesn't matter much; but I would like to be able to finish my week on Tuesdays if needed.

So, I going to switch my running recaps from Mondays to Thursdays. That way, I can write about the running I did from Wednesday through Tuesday. I'm probably making this sound much more confusing than it is--but for the foreseeable future, I'll post my running recaps on Thursdays.

I was supposed to get in my third run today and I didn't end up doing it. I woke up feeling tired for whatever reason, and as badly as I wanted to lie down on the couch and do nothing, I actually ended up working on a pretty big project today--nothing physically exhausting, but it was time consuming.

As you know, I completely made over my house starting in August of 2017 (can you believe it's been THAT LONG?). From the ceiling to the floors, I worked on it every single day for nearly a year. I absolutely loved how it turned out. Here is a before and after of the kitchen:

One thing I never ended up doing was putting up backsplash. I knew I'd want to eventually, but I was intimidated at the mere thought of tiling and grout. Not to mention, it was very expensive.

I don't remember how I came across it, but I found some faux-tile vinyl backsplash sheets that are peel-and-stick. I wasn't sure how it would look or how durable it would be, but I figured I could at least try that out instead of committing to the tiles and grout. If I didn't like it, it would be much easier than tile to remove. I bought a single box (ten 12"x12" sheets) and set them on a shelf in the garage. Every once in a while, I'd see them and think that I really should try them but I never even opened the box.

A couple of days ago, I re-caulked the kitchen because the caulk was starting to look dingy. When I was getting the caulk from the garage, I saw the box of backsplash vinyl tiles on the shelf. I decided that it was FINALLY time to do it.

I knew the single box wasn't going to be enough for the kitchen, so I bought two more boxes. Thankfully, Amazon still had them! A few years ago, I'd only bought one box because I figured I could check them out to see if they felt like good quality before getting enough for the kitchen; I just never got around to it!)

I got some spray adhesive (it's not necessary according to the package directions, but it does say that if your wall is painted with latex paint and/or is glossy, to prep the wall by lightly sanding and then use an adhesive spray to stick them on).

Today, I cleaned the walls, went over them lightly with sandpaper, and then removed all the dust to prep the wall. I cut open a paper grocery bag to lay on the counter (to keep the spray from getting everywhere). Then I used a level and a pencil to draw a line that I could use as a guide while applying the tiles.

The first tile needs to be cut vertically (so it has a straight edge) and then placed in a corner. After that, you just overlap each tile in the spaces indicated. 

Since I was using the adhesive, it was a little messier, but I feel like it stuck the tiles on there really well. I sprayed a 12"x12" section of the wall, peeled the backing from the tile and sprayed the entire back of the tile, and then quickly (but carefully) lined up the "grout" lines. Then I pressed it down really well--running my finger along each line to make sure all of it was adhered. Finally, I removed the plastic from the front of the tile. Then repeat along along the length of the wall.

I had to cut out two spots for the electrical outlets. To do that, I just used one of the paper backings from a tile to use as a template. I held it against the wall and marked a rectangle where the hole needed to be. Then I cut it out to make sure it fit before I actually cut the sheet with the vinyl on it. I just laid the template on a vinyl sheet and traced the hole I'd made in the paper.  It worked perfectly! I was afraid I was going to ruin one of the vinyl sheets by making bad cuts, but the template was super helpful.

When I was done going across the wall, Noah asked me if I was going to put it all the way to the bottom of the cupboards. (The cupboards are up 18" from the countertops.) I told him no, I hadn't planned on it. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. And since the sheets were 12"x12", I could just cut them in half--stacked on top of the 12" sheets, it would be the perfect size to reach the cupboards--meaning I would only have to use half the amount of vinyl sheets on the second pass.

I LOVE how it turned out! It makes such a huge difference in the whole room.

This is what it looks like up close:

Not too bad, right? Here are a couple of before and after shots. My cupboards have not faded to an odd yellow-green; the lighting in the after photos makes them look that way! They are still the same blue from the before photos.

I have just enough tiles to do the wall behind the sink, so I'll probably get that done tomorrow.

From what I can see, I think the quality is good. It's obviously not going to be as durable as tile and grout, but I love the way it looks and it's cheap and easy enough that I can change it up every few years if I want. I'll have to update how well it stays on and if it cleans up well. But I really like it!

Here is an Amazon affiliate link to the particular vinyl tiles I bought. But there are tons of different ones to choose from. I'm going to get some for my bathrooms, too.

If you haven't seen the DIY renovation of our house, here is the page for that--there are tons of before and after photos on those posts!

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