Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Confessions 11.30.12

Time to confess....I've missed a few weeks. This is a crazy time of year where I work!!

I confess that all the Christmas decorations are up at work. It took 2 days and several volunteers, but everything is up and residents are happy. Now we can enjoy the month of December. I confess that I absolutely dread having to take it all down after New Years day.

I confess that the Holiday Hottie Challenge I am doing is helping me stay focused. I normally just let my diet and exercise go basically from Halloween to New Year's, but not this year. I've worked too hard to let some Christmas cookies and eggnog get the best of me. I also confess that I'm very proud of the push-up video in my Holiday Hottie Challenge post. Very, very proud.

I confess that in year's past I have spent days baking Christmas cookies to give away to friends, family & neighbors. This year I am scaling back and switching to quick breads. They are much less tempting for me. I will still bake some cookies, but not the several 100 dozen that I roll out.

I confess that a good friend and co-worker is at the hospital right now, as her 3 year old son is having major surgery. I have been praying for them and confess that I am anxious to hear that all is well with the little one. Not having children, I can only imagine how hard and emotional this would be.

If you want to go into your weekend pure and clean, consider heading over to see Aubrey at High Heeled Love to join the confessions. I promise you will feel better.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Hotties December Challenge

With my job as an activity director in a retirement community, the time between Halloween and New Year's Day is wrought with awful and wonderful temptations, on an almost daily basis.

I honestly admit to using bribery to get my residents out of their rooms, and into my activities. Most of the time, the bribes include food. Usually sweets. The last taste buds left on our tongues, as we age, are the sweet ones. This is why many older people will use lots and lots of salt, when the food is already well seasoned. They simply can't taste it. But the sweet buds linger on, and I use it to my advantage. And to my disadvantage. Sugar is one of my greatest weaknesses. I simply adore it, in all is forms. But especially in cookies, cakes and chocolate.

Resident family members leave us food at the nurse's station, they send us food in the mail. They leave it on our desks. Vendors give us food, doctors send us cakes and donuts. There are parties for staff, parties for residents. Then a few more parties for staff. We just love to party and to eat. 

It's no secret that most Americans experience a 3-9 pound weight gain during the holiday season. Exercise routines slack off and eating plans slip beyond recognition of healthy.

Thankfully I have two accountability groups to keep me honest and mostly on track during this food-filled season.

My running girlfriends started a Healthy Challenge Facebook group to keep us accountable with eating and exercise. We post our food & exercise daily. Share recipes and tips as well. These girls are great - I also run with them almost weekly and enjoy their camaraderie and friendship.

My Ninety day challenge group coach Lindsay Phillips started a Holiday Hottie challenge. It could not have come at a better time. And those who know me have seen a bit of my competitive nature. Well, seriously, no one LIKES to lose, right?

Our Hottie challenge started the Monday after Thanksgiving. We were given a grid of ways to earn points. Whoever earns the most points by Dec 31 wins a prize.

I've printed off a copy at home and work, so I can remember what will earn me which points. Some things are easy - we almost all post our daily menu & workout. Now I just need to remember to snap a picture of my sweaty self, and get some pictures of my healthy meals. Well, I need to get back to some healthier meals before I start taking those pictures.

My sister, Mary, who has been doing the 90 day challenge with me has had some amazing results. See for yourself:

I am so proud of her! And because I am a chicken, I am showing her before/after pictures, instead of mine. When I get a little farther along, maybe I'll be brave enough to show you those. Maybe.

I will show you this nice little video Mary took of me doing push-ups. I have always struggled with upper body strength, and the only way I could do push ups was on my knees. On of my "crazy, awesome" goals is to be able to do 25 toe push ups  I'm not quite there yet, but, check this out!!  If you can hear the sound, that is Mary and my parents cheering me on in the background.

I've never met any of the girls in my Hottie challenge face to face. We do not even live in the same states. We post daily, encourage each other and are forming connections that are strong and lasting. We are all working on becoming better versions of ourselves.

My sister Mary is racking up major points in our challenge. She is creating cheers for all of us. Here is the one she came up with for me (think: Liar, liar - pants on fire).

If you are interested in this kind of challenge, just find Lindsay Harrish Phillips on facebook, and friend her. Tell her I sent you (and it might earn me some extra points!!). Pin It Now!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Happiest 5K - Charlotte Color Run!

I found out about the The Color Run last year when someone in our running club put a link on Facebook. It looked like so much fun - an un-timed 5K with lots of powdered color. It is touted as being the Happiest 5K on the Planet. And now that I've experienced one, I can honestly agree. It was 100% happiness.

My sisters and I decided to do it together, in Charlotte, NC. And in the end, two of my nephews also joined us. Along with 12,000 other Color Runners. Yes, Twelve Thousand!

The event was held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway:

Originally, the advertised date was set for October 2012. When registration opened, the date had been changed to Nov. 17, 2012.  Ah, the same date as my Tryon Running Club's first 1/2 Marathon. Bummer.

Well, next year will be my year for the 1/2. I'll be 45 next year, and will celebrate with 13.1 miles of movement.

Most of the Color Run was delightfully flat. There were two hills, the last one on the long side just before the finish. One of my nephews (he is 11) was a little upset at the fact that no one would actually win this race. He wanted to run the whole thing, so I told him I would run with him. Thank God we reached the first Kilometer and first Color Station. My nephew was a little bullet. Weaving in and out of the crowd, sprinting and glancing back to make sure I was still there. I ended up getting much more of a workout than I expected, but was running much faster than I really can while still being able to breathe.

At the first color stop I told him we had to wait for the others since this was supposed to be a family event, much to his utter dismay. "You mean we have to stop and WAIT? We just wasted all that time running??" He was none too pleased. But honestly, I needed to catch my breath!
We all went through the Blue together. The volunteers had buckets and bottles full of the blue powder (cornstarch) and threw it at us as we jogged on. There were clouds of blue everywhere, the path was covered in blue. Some of the volunteers wore masks and hats, but they were also completely covered. Some got in my mouth and it was chalky and dry. With no water to rinse out, we just spit it out the best we could. Then my nephew was back at it, wanting to run. So he and I took off again. I slowed to a walk on the first hill, and he jogged back to me. I told him to go ahead and wait for me at the bottom of the hill. After I met him there he said "Aunt Caroline, since you've had time to walk, do you think you can keep up with me now?"

"No, baby. I can't keep up with you, you've already worn me out!" I replied. So on we went - he sprinting off, then jogging back to where I was, then running at a nice, even pace. We went through the next 3 color stations together - leaving the others to come on along.

At the finish line my sister Mary, of Forty By Forty, and I were greeted by our blogger friend Aubrey, of High Heeled Love. What fun to finally meet in person!

At the finish line - before Color Bombs

They threw out color packets to the crowd

In everyone's swag bag was a packet of color to throw at the finish line. Every 10 or 15 minutes there would be a color explosion and everyone would throw their packets up in the air. 

I was completely bombed with a green one. It landed on my head and then exploded. I slightly resembled a happy looking Grinch ..and I had to wash my hair 4 times. I gave my packet to one of my nephews so I could take pictures of the sight:

Going up in colored smoke!

After Color Bombs - a green packet exploded on my head.

There was loud, fast music everywhere - at the start, at the color stations, and at the end. The kind of music that has you swaying, then dancing and loving life. You know - the kind of music you run with!

It was a super fun day. The Color Run was great, and benefited Habitat for Humanity. The exercise was wonderful but doing it with my family was priceless.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Confessions 11.9.12

It's that time again! 'Fess up before the weekend!

I confess that I've missed a few weeks of confessing. One Friday was a travel day. I was coming home from here:
Okaloosa Island, Ft. Walton Beach FL
It was a lovely, stress free week on white sand beaches. It was off season, so we pretty much had the beach to ourselves, as you can see. We stayed right on the beach and were treated to dolphin sitings in the ocean every day and gorgeous sunsets every night.

It was hard getting a good picture of the dolphins, but if you can see the black thing in the middle of this photo, that's a dolphin. We saw them playing and jumping, usually in groups of 15-20. Very, very cool!




We rented bikes the last 2 days, and next time we'll do that the very first day. It was so much fun! I confess it's been a long, long time since I've ridden a bike without any gears. But it's really, really flat down there, so no hills to worry about.
I confess that I can't wait to go back!!

Last week in our baking group, I had a request for coconut-something. So I found an easy recipe for Coconut Macaroons. Oh. My. Goodness. I confess I ate more of them than I should have. I found these at C'est Si Bon - they are easy and delicious!
I confess that I've only run twice this week. Six miles on Sunday and one on Monday. It was cold and rainy two days, and I just fell out of my groove. The Color Run is coming up on the 17th, so I need to get some more miles in this week!

What are YOU confessing this week?? Thanks to Aubrey at High-Heeled Love for hosting this month! Hit the button to join the party!

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Confessions 10.19.12

It's that time again! Time to 'fess up before the weekend!

I confess.....

that instead of baking this week, I had my residents make these adorable Halloween S'mores kits. If any of them had eaten a s'more before (nice rhyme, huh?) they didn't remember. So when we sampled them (one each) they were impressed. 

Everyone knows how messy these things are, and there was chocolate everywhere! I told them (all females) that there "is no lady-like way to eat these", and one of residents responded - "and where do you see a lady?"

I handed out damp paper towels to everyone to clean their fingers, and another lady said "Oh no, I don't want to wipe them off, I want to lick them off"...okay....that's just how good these were.

I found these on Pinterest from Mommy's Kitchen, to be exact.

I confess....

that I was pleasantly surprised to see a comment on my Rock My Run! post from Chief Rocker Adam (one of the founders). AND, then he hooked me up with a couple of free credits. How lovely was that? All the more reason for you to check them out. Great running music and they are really nice, too!

I confess.....

we will be having a Halloween Costume contest at work this year, so my department is trying to get it all together. Can't spill the beans here - but can say that I love the fact that the girls I work with love to dress up, not just for Halloween, but other theme days too. Great fun!

I confess....

this is one of my most favorite times of the year. I love the cooler weather and the leaves are starting to show color.

I actually took this a few years ago, but love this shot!

I confess....

that's it for this week! 

Mamarazzi is on a bloggy break, but Aubrey over at High-Heeled Love is hosting. 

What are YOU confessing this week? 
Get it off your chest, you'll feel much better!
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Confessions 10.12.12

It's that time again! Time to 'fess up before the weekend!

I confess....

I had one more race last Saturday. It was my third race in three weeks. I survived, but I didn't perform that well on this last one. It was Benson 5k near where I live, for Greer Community Ministries. They fed my mother-in-law daily for the last few years she was in her home (through Meals On Wheels). I was glad to give back a little bit for so much that they gave to her. This was the first race I have done where there was a prayer for the runners before the start. I confess that is was very, very nice.

It wasn't my greatest time (but not my worst either). As usual I went out too fast, then hit a wall. I'm getting to be a fairly decent runner, but not a great racer. I'm improving, but it's slow going.

I confess....

I discovered a new running music website - Rock My Run. I did a review on them here. I love their mixes. On tap is an 8 mile run for this Saturday - the most I have attempted to date. So I'm thinking I might need a new mix to help me get through it.

I confess.....

that instead of dreading the long run on Saturday I am really looking forward to it, and to running with my friends. I've missed the last couple of runs, so I'm eager to get back with them.

I confess....

that I would LOVE to win the giveaway SUAR is doing this weekend for a set of Yurbuds Sport Earbuds. The ones she's giving away are made specifically for women. 

One of the ways to enter is to blog about this! Check out her page for all the details, and to enter yourself!!

I confess....

that we made these delectable Triple Layer Brownies during my baking group this week. They were so good. The residents had lots of steps to get through. Put the cookie dough in the pan, unwrap all the Reese cups, place them on the me do the brownie mix. And they ooohed and aaaahed when they came out of the oven....

I confess....

that I briefly thought about how to hide some to take home and stash in my freezer. My sister talked me out of it. And good thing, 'cause they never would have made it to my freezer!! 

So, we gave them ALL away.

Mamarazzi is on a bloggy break, but Aubry over at High-Heeled Love is hosting. 

What are YOU confessing this week? Spill the beans, you'll feel much better!

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Triple Layer Brownies (AKA YUM)

Today was baking day at work. I've been looking forward to this session for some time. My office mate found these jewels on pinterest and repinned them just for me. Actually, just for herself, because she knew that if we made them in our cooking group, she would get to eat one too. And, well, she was right.

I usually make a grocery store stop every Thursday morning - they know me there and always ask whats on the agenda for the day. I rattled off the ingredients and the layering method to the check-out girl. She pulled out a slip of paper and said, "okay, what temp and for how long? I've got the rest in my head." I felt an immediate kindred spirit with her.

The original pin didn't have a website attached, or a name - just a picture with the directions. So I needed a name for these things. I was thinking of calling them Reese-Stuffed Cookie Brownies. A bit long and cumbersome. Our traveling IT guy came up with Triple Layer Brownies, and it stuck.

You just can't go wrong with Reese cups, brownies and cookie dough - right?

First, take the cookie dough, smash it into a disc shape and press into bottom of a muffin pan. Then place Reese cup on top.

Next, prepare brownie mix and pour over Reese cookie and almost fill pan. I made the batter with a tiny bit of extra water to thin it out to a nice pourable consistency. 

Bake in a preheated 350 oven, for about 18 minutes. 

You want them slightly underdone. You can eat them immediately while they are hot and gooey, or wait until they have cooled off. They are good either way. I know this from experience.

There isn't a recipe, really. Just easy, layered goodness. Enjoy! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rock My Run!!

This is an endless Runner debate. Run with or without music? Most have a definite opinion and either love it or hate it. There is research that supports the benefit of using music, and there are purists who believe running "naked" - without any gadgets is the way to go.

When I first started running I didn't listen to music. But the sound of my gasping and grunting started getting to me, so I turned to tunes. And found I loved running with music in my ears.

But I usually run early in the morning - in the dark, with a headlamp on my forehead and a flashing light attached to the back of my shirt. I want to make sure I am seen by drivers. I want to hear cars, and feel I need to be especially watchful. And I have my dog with me too - so I have to kind of keep an eye on him. I can't take too many distractions - so no music on early mornings.

I started with music during races. It helped me with pace, and kept my mind off the fact that I had to keep running and breathing until the end. Most songs were inspirational in lyrics. "Titanium" by Rihanna has gotten me up many a hill - sometimes in my ears, sometimes in my chant.

Lately, I haven't been running to music at all. Weekdays, I've been running early. And on Saturdays I've been running with a group - it's much more fun to talk and chit/chat. 

But I will run with music again, hopefully soon, because it's a nice escape once in a while. I recently discovered Rock my Run. It's a really neat website that offers running mixes. And they are mixed together so that they transition smoothly from one song to the next.  DJ's upload their offerings, and each mix "costs" between 1 and 3 credits.  But, check this out, you get one credit just for signing up (and you can sign up with your Facebook account), and you get one credit each month after. So if you're not in a hurry for music, you could get one every month or two. And you can always buy credits as well. 

From their website - "Rock My Run is a product of Rock My World, Inc., a business focused on providing GREAT workout music for active people. Specifically, Rock My Run provides running mixes, designed by popular, professional DJ’s that will increase the enjoyment and performance of a person’s workout or race.

People interested in a more enjoyable running experience come to Rock My Run and are able to find mixes that have music they love, in a variety of lengths, genres and (eventually) paces. Plus, all of the mixes have a listing of the songs that are in the mix so runners always know what they're getting!"

I downloaded my first mix last week, and I LOVE it. It's fabulous 80's music - the title of the mix is (and I love this!!) Miles & Mullets!! How awesome is that? And unless you are an 80's graduate, you may not get  the whole mullet thing.

Description for "Miles & Mullets" - Dust off that leather Guns & Roses jacket and lace up your high tops! DJ Rock Right has 30 minutes of hair and testosterone from the finest rock bands of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. It is straight up mullet madness as you look back at all the classics that gave the middle finger to pop music and banged their heads in rebellion. This mix is about 30 minutes.
This past Saturday, I had a 5K race - so I downloaded my second mix Grrl Power 2!  This mix was created by world-famous DJ Mike Czech, and 100% lyrically powerful, 100% clean and (nearly) 100% powered by female vocals. The BPM in this mix does vary a bit over the course of the mix and rather than finishing with a high BPM thrust at the end, drops down into some lower tempo, but equally motivating tracks, before finishing with a brief cool down. This one is about 45 minutes long.

They have at least 100 different mixes, and when searching for your perfect one, they can be filtered by genre, BPM,  length, DJ, and clean or explicit lyrics. I really like the fact that I can search for only clean lyrics. 

I've tried creating my own mixes, with Itunes, and other software that supposedly groups songs together with the same/similar BPM. But it's tedious and there's always a song or two that I skip over during the run because it doesn't fit. I love the fact that these mixes are seamless, and I can preview all the songs included before I decide to download. I'm looking forward to more awesome mixes to add to my shuffle for those days I do run with music.

Check them out for yourself! And remember, you will get your first credit just for signing up!

What say you? Run/exercise with or without music? What's your go-to song?

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Confessions 10.5.12

It's Friday! So it's time to confess! I missed confessions last here goes.

I confess ......

That I've run two races since my last confession. First was Ache Around the Lake 8KIt was a good day. My sister, her son and my dad also participated. It was super-duper to have them, and my mom there cheering me on and supporting me.

Next up was Moonshiner 5k Night Trail Race. It was my first night trail race - everyone had to wear a headlamp. It was a blast. I hope I get to do this race again next year. I loved running at night on the trail - and it reminded me that I really do like trail running, and I need to get on one more often.

I confess....

That I'm one month into my 90 day challenge. You can read about my first 30 days if you are interested. I'm very, very pleased with my program. I am increasing my weight lifting abilities, and stamina. My running is improving and my body is slowly melting. There's not much better than fitting into clothes in your closet again (except maybe a good pizza...).

I confess.... 

that I ran across this video....and it made me laugh out loud!!

I confess....
What ours looked like - not bad!
That during my baking group this week we made these yummy thingies. I really don't even know what to call them. They were easy, sweet & salty and I found them on my beloved Pinterest.

Check out how easy there were here!

This is what they are supposed to look like...
What are YOU confessing this week? Have you run any races? 
Made any sweet, addicting treats?
Thanks for stopping by!
Mamarazzi is on a brief bloggy break, so the Friday Confessional party will be hanging out with Aubrey at High Heeled Love through the end of October.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sweet & Salty

Today was baking day at work. I found these little gems on Pinterest (where else??) and tracked them down to Megster Meter. Her pictures are really great - so check them out.

This "recipe" only has 3 ingredients - mini pretzels, Hershey kisses & M&M's.

Place the pretzels on your baking pan in a single layer. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Top each pretzel with a Hershey kiss.

Place pan in oven for 3 minutes. 
Kisses come out soft and melty.

Immediately press an M&M onto tip of kiss.

Then place in fridge to firm up. All done!

Of course we skipped the fridge part. We placed them immediately into our mouths. And there was melted chocolate pretty much everywhere - on hands, smeared on mouths, shirts, table. Oh well, they really enjoyed them!

I found these Candy Corn White Chocolate M&M's. They are nice fall colors - white, yellow and orange. My residents unwrapped the kisses, and placed them on the pretzels in the pan. I placed all the M&M's on top of the kisses. One resident told me I was using too many white ones, "Use more color on those!" 

And one resident asked me if I didn't trust them to put the M&M's on top. Um, busted. I did want them to look pretty and not have melted chocolate everywhere. After we taste-tested it was too late for that.

We made a gazillion in just a 1/2 hour. And we're thinking of doing them again in Red & Green for December.

I'm really glad I got my 4-mile run in this morning so I could munch a few of these!


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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Moonshiner 5K Night Trail Race

Ready, Set, Go!
 Almost three hundred runners lined up this year for the 3rd Annual Moonshiner 5K Night Trail Race. This race was put on by Half Moon Outfitters in Greenville, SC. Everyone had to have a headlamp to participate. How lucky that this is the only night trail race in the southeast and it's basically in my backyard.

This was my first year, and on the drive over I was wondering what in the world I was doing. It started at 7:30pm on Friday night, and I was already tired from the week. My friend Jennifer reminded me that I was the one who asked her. 

This race was just going to be for fun, so I wasn't nervous or anxious at the start.

Moonshine, anyone?
I picked up my Jennifer at her house. Before we left, her husband wanted to get pictures of us with some "moonshine". I look like I've already had a bit too much!

We put our headlamps on at her house, and being the nerd I am, I forgot about it and wore it the whole way, driving in the car.

I've never been to this park, let alone on the trail, so had no idea what to expect. It started on road, then went to trail, back to road, then to trail and the last little bit was road. It was a nice mix. It was really cool watching the lights dance in the forest as runners ahead of us bobbed along in the dark. I couldn't see the runners - just their lights shining bright.

Walking up to the start.
The main goal going into this race was to not fall down and hurt anything. And thankfully, neither of us did, although there were a couple of near misses.

The first part of the race was all downhill, which was really nice until I realized that at some point we would have to head back up.

Announcer Start Guy
About 1/4 mile or so into the race, maybe a little farther, there was a bottleneck. Everyone just stopped. It was when the road went to single-track trail. Hey, it was a trail race - and there were 300 people there to get on it. Not a big deal. Once we hit trail it got really fun. I loved running at night, with my headlamp. I passed a few people, and had a few people pass me. I was going too fast, and my breathing was turning into gasping, but I didn't want to slow down or stop. Finally we hit road again and I had to take a walk break.

Looking very happy before this race!
Super cool shirt in our race packet.
We hit the first mile marker, and there wasn't a water station. You could see all the dust from the trail swirling around our headlamps. Swirling right into my very dry mouth. You know you are dry when you can't come up with any spit in your mouth to swallow down. It was warm, too, and I was feeling the humidity. I was dripping by the end of the race.

The end of the race kind of snuck up on us. All of a sudden we were heading up a hill, and I could see the glow of the time clock. I looked at Jennifer and said "let's go for it!" and we took off racing as fast as we could toward the finish line. 

I was trembling when we finally stopped and gulped down some gatorade, water and a banana.

Official time was 36:31 - Not great, but not bad for me either. And it was super-fun. I think this is one I will look forward to next year!

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