Friday, August 7, 2009

If I could only...

think about something (other than running) while running, I'd be all set.

WARNING: yes, this is another whiny post about my EE5K training. You can stop reading and keep those 2 minutes of precious time if you've heard it all before.

Seriously, from the moment I get to the end of my street, I start thinking about:
  • How my neighborhood is built like an Escher painting. No matter which direction I turn, it's uphill - how can that be?
  • How my legs feel sore & tired. Running isn't good on your joints, maybe I'm only asking for an early onset of arthritis by doing this. (yes, I know -- being overweight isn't good for your heart OR your self-esteem, but this doesn't cross my mind when I'm running)
  • How ill-equiped I am. I don't own a pair of running shoes - I currently run in New Balance (gasp) walking shoes, I wear a cotton shirt, and I don't even know what wicking fabric is. I even have to CARRY my iPod since I don't have one of those cute little ones that you strap to your arm.
  • My iPod - I still haven't made a play list, so I just put it on shuffle. Why oh why do I have so many James Blunt & Josh Groban songs on there, and when will I get rid of my Christmas music?
...but I know if I could think about something (anything) other than all of that, I'd be all set. Today I stopped running to trudge up a never-ending hill. A song came on that would be a PERFECT recital dance. I was so absorbed in that thought process that I missed the turn for my street!

Now I just have to figure out how to think AND run at the same time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The agony of defeat

I wrote this post a few months ago but forgot to share. For those of you who don't have a Cub Scout or who have never seen a Pinewood Derby, it's a rite of passage...the boys are given a block of wood (pine, I'm assuming), some wheels, and some nails and screws. They have to make a car out of the wood to be raced against the other cars. Some parents boys spend months designing an creating a car that is super cool to look at AND has the right amount of weight to fly down the track.

Okay, let's just say as crafty as I am -- anything involving cutting wood is beyond my realm of expertise. I just have images of someone winding up having to be rushed to the hospital to have their finger reattached. It's clearly a job for Fred.

Fred helped the boys design and cut out their cars. Once they were cut, I could join back in and help get them set up to paint and decorate the cars. Let it be noted that we had almost a month to build the car. When did we start?-two days before!! Really, just getting the cars made spelled V-I-C-T-O-R-Y in my book, and we were pretty proud of the fact that our boys really did do most of the work.

Race day results. They didn't win - that's okay, it's all about having fun right? Well, not really; however, I think Alex would have been okay with not winning -- except that he lost to his YOUNGER BROTHER -- why oh why did they have to pit brothers against each other? There were a few moments of fighting back tears, and the ride home was a little unpleasant, but everyone has recovered and they are eagerly anticipating the next Cub Scout race - raingutter regatta, space derby - whatever it is, I'm just glad my oldest will be out of cubs and not competing!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: More photoshop fun

I know - it's supposed to be Wordless Wednesday, but I think I like the before photo better. I'm not much for the "hand-tinted" vintage look. Maybe I'll try playing with a photo that doesn't have a person in it. The glowing stars around the head were just part of the assignment.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Look what I can do!!!

So, we have this great computer. My husband has an AMAZING digital camera. He's a super technology geek (I mean that in the best possible way - I am in awe!) who designs incredible websites in his spare time. Me? I can email, resize pictures to have them printed, and surf the web.

That's where my technology skills end, seriously. But one of my favorite scrapbook gurus, Becky Higgins, alerted her readers to a FREE (yes free) 2 week photo editing class given by Jessica Sprague. If you don't know who that is - well, she does some pretty amazing digital scrapbooking, and although I'm still a paper & scissors kind of gal, I could stand to learn a few tricks.

I've actually considered paying to take one of her classes before, but I was afraid I would never get around to doing the assignments - money wasted, so I put it off. But this opportunity is PERFECT. No pressure! If I do the assignments - GREAT! If life gets too busy or I don't like the way she teaches, nothing's lost!

So far, so good. Our first assignment was to add a PNG frame & word art to a photo. The tutorial was super easy to follow, and I really like the way my photo turned out. I can't wait for tomorrow's lesson!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Try this at home

Okay, so we went strawberry picking and, as usual, hoarded picked as though we would never see another strawberry again. They were soooo good - nice & ripe right off the vine. The only problem? They start to get overripe REALLY quickly, so we had to figure out what to do with them - FAST. This wasn't too much of a problem since we ate nearly half on the first day.

What did we do with the rest? Well...
We made these, of course! Chocolate cupcakes with with a fresh strawberry in the center, topped with cream cheese frosting and a sprinkling of brown sugar! I got the recipe from, one of my favorite sites. They were surprisingly easy and basically awesome!! They look pretty impressive too, don't they?

Then, look who came to visit.

Mickey looks tastes soooo much better with a little strawberry sauce and almond flavored whipped cream to dress him up.

I love whipped cream, but it's EVEN BETTER when you add just a touch of flavoring to it. The almond was a perfect complement to the strawberry flavor. We've been on a waffle kick, and the other day we had waffles with warm blueberry sauce & cinnamon flavored whipped cream - yum! - but I digress...

Finally, made some freezer jam with the last of the berries and some corn muffins to go with it. This jam is unbelievably easy. It left me wondering why I've never made it before.

The strawberries are gone, but there are plenty more berries that will be ripening in the next few weeks. Next on the picking list? Blueberries, raspberries & blackberries. I love summer!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


What do these songs have in common - Baby Got Back...a 5 minute techno version of One Night in Bangkok...Gone by M. Gentry...Don't Stop Believin...Rag Doll...I Want a New Drug?

Sadly, they are all the songs that I chose to run to today. I thought using the shuffle feature on my iPod would mix things up a bit and make it more interesting. It did, I guess - but mixed in with these musical gems was Christmas music I've been too lazy to take off, James Blunt, David Lanz, music from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory that I choreographed last get the idea. The songs listed above were the ones I could tolerate.

Oddly enough, they speak volumes:
  • Baby Got Back - yes she does, and I'm trying like crazy to get rid of it. Unlike Sir Mix-a-Lot - I'm not a fan of big butts.
  • One Night in Bangkok - this was a song I chose for my upper level jazz class to perform in the recital. Did it turn out awesome? Yes, but the song is over 5 minutes of non-stop techno music. It gets me moving and drives me insane - much like running.
  • Gone - the line, "She ain't never comin' back" - that's exactly how I feel about halfway through my run when I start to lose any momentum I might have and my route takes an uphill turn, literally.
  • Don't Stop Believin' - my mantra. I will be able to run 5k someday - hopefully by September when I actually have to do it.
  • Rag Doll - I got nothin' for this one. I guess that's a good thing considering the lyrics. It was just the first upbeat song after about 10 that I had to skip over because they just weren't doing it for me.
  • I Want a New Drug - all you runners out there - I still think Prozac might be the way to go!
Summary - while the shuffle option provides some interesting results, I think I need to make a running mix - any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Move over Bakerella!

For those of you who have never been to Bakerella's blog, she creates the cutest artwork out of cake, icing, and chocolate that I've ever seen. And the best part? She actually shows you how to do it yourself - well almost. Truth be told, Bakerella makes everything look so easy, that you think "hey, I can do that." And you can - what you tend to forget is that she's perfected the art of cake pops and made thousands of batches - so your first try may take an entire day and look a little like your 2 year old made them.

For those of you unfamiliar with a cakepop, let me break it down. You start by mixing a baked cake with frosting into a bowl until it's all smooshed together. Then you roll that concoction into little balls - just like making meatballs. The balls are then put on a stick, coated in chocolate and decorated to look like cupcakes, bunnies, mummies...anything you can imagine! Click HERE for a video tutorial if you want to brave this project at home.
These are what mine looked like when I was through. Not exactly like hers, but not too bad either. I was in a rush making them, so I didn't get photos from as many different angles as I would have liked, and I didn't really set up my food photo shoot in a way that was deserving of the work it took to produce these things. Oh well, live & learn.

Truth be told - I'm not a huge fan of the way these things taste. They're a bit mushy for my liking, but my kids LOVE them, and my husband is quite fond of them as well. But they are totally CUTE - and the cute factor may just trump taste.

Bakerella recently tackled cheesecake pops - now these may be right up my alley!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bag Lady

Mia is 2. She's the only girl in our world full of sports, trucks, action figures and all things BOY. Yet somehow she manages to be a girly girl. Almost from birth she's had a fascination with shoes. She's amassed quite an impressive collection really. Slippers, boots, sandals...taking off, putting on, sorting...they are one of her favorite toys.

Another fascination is purses, or pocketbooks as we call them in Rhode Island. She has several, and each contains another treasure - jewelry. Luckily, right now she's happy with plastic bracelets and any bag with a handle.

I dread the day when the bags have to be Coach, the shoes, Jimmy Choo and the jewelry, gold!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Run Diane Run - EE5K Update

When someone mentions running, I immediately conjure up images of Forrest Gump (hence, the title of this post) and Maniac McGee. Forrest ran so long his leg braces popped off, and Maniac's shoes wore down until he was left running barefoot!!

I know - FICTIONAL CHARACTERS. But for some reason I feel I need to measure up, and sadly I fall short - waaaaaaay short.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I know several women who run for fun and CLAIM that running is as good as Prosaic. I've never taken Prosaic, but after running for a few weeks I don't think I want to.

Whining over! So, a few weeks ago I started this program called "From Couch Potato to 5K in 10 Weeks". It's not written by a doctor; there are several versions of it in cyberspace; I didn't check out the credentials of the trainer who came up with the program...but still, I decided this would be the best program for me.

So the first week starts out with a 5 minute walk, then you alternate running for 60 sec. & walking 90 sec for 6 reps. Not too bad.

Week 2 is similar, but you run 90 & walk 60. Quite a bit harder. In fact, I was contemplating repeating week 2 - then it rained...and life got more chaotic than normal...and running was the first to go -- SURPRISE.

So, after a week hiatus, I'm back. I'm starting over. HELP. Remember how I said week 1 wasn't bad? I lied. The first 2 or 3 running/walking reps aren't bad. Then my legs turn to cement...the clock slows down when I run and moves at hyper speed while I walk...when I tell myself I need to run to a corner or a light post, I feel like I'm in the Shining riding my Big Wheel down a hallway where the door gets further & further away...

But I'm sticking to it. Guess you have to run more than a total of 6 minutes to get that euphoric "runner's high". If anyone has any tips - bring 'em on. If there are any non-runners out there - please tell me you've had similar experiences so I don't feel quite so pathetic.

17 weeks from now I want to be a running convert!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ahhh Paradise!!

While some people may prefer paradise to be a place untouched by humans, rather than an outcropping of resorts on a sandy shore, I assure you Cable Beach in the Bahamas is close enough for me. It's warm, sunny with a light breeze, the people are friendly, and I'm writing this while enjoying an ocean view and sand between my toes. After this past winter in New England, I'd say "paradise" is exactly where I am right now.

Fred is down here attending the annual Bahamas Weather Conference. It's a chance to listen to all the big names in meteorology discuss the upcoming hurricane season. Me? I'm happily along for the ride.

The Bahamas Department of Tourism hosts this event each year, and they pull out all the stops! We have been treated to Bahamian hospitality at its best. We've dined at some of Nassau's finest restaurants, experienced some cultural events, and enjoyed the beautiful (and did I mention warm?) beaches. We're staying at the Sheraton, Cable Beach. It's a gorgeous resort, and definitely NOT overcrowded. There are children here, and while I think it would be a nice place to bring my children, it doesn't have that crazy, theme park atmosphere that I think we'll find when we head over to Atlantis on Saturday. I'm pre-judging, and I will be sure to give a fairer assesment/comparison after I've experience Paradise Island.

During the opening cocktail reception, we were treated to a Junkanoo parade.

Today, while Fred spent the morning listening to speakers, I strolled Cable Beach. I don't know if people sleep late on vacation, if everyone visiting the Bahamas stays at Atlantis, or if the economy is so terrible that no one is traveling here -- the beach was pretty desolate. During my two hour jaunt, I ran into a handful of people: a local woman cleaning the beach, a poacher killing conch and collecting the shells, and a couple of people running.

I also saw several huge starfish - not the type you have to search tide pools to find - HUGE starfish just lying in the water, which is crystal clear and a beautiful hue of turquoise. Of course I had no camera! Maybe tomorrow, although Fred didn't seem that impressed -- like he sees starfish every day.

Now, I'm going to sit back, relax and do I said, PARADISE!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

New Challenge?

I'm sure it won't come as a shock to anyone if I say our family is trying to keep better tabs on where we spend our money these days. I mean, you're probably saying, "join the club".

As I was grocery shopping last week, I decided to begin a little game with myself. Would it be possible for me to spend only $100 to feed my family for the entire week. Now, maybe there are some of you frugal Fannies out there who are thinking, "$100? I could feed my family for a month on that, maybe even two if I tap into my food storage."

Frugality has never been one of my traits, especially where food is concerned. We typically spend $150 per week on groceries and go out to eat one night/week with the kids. In addition, I probably stop off at the market at least once during the week to pick up more milk or something I forgot to buy, so spending only $100/week is a HUGE challenge for us.

I let my family know that this was a challenge I had set; otherwise, I would surely give in when the children started complaining about what my oldest refers to as "quick fix meals" - aka pasta or something along those lines. I guess he expects me to whip up a turkey dinner every night.

How's it going? Well, last week I spent $98 and change on my shopping trip. I had to return later in the week for more milk and cat food, so my total was a little over $103. Still a huge savings from the week before.

Today was Friday - woohoo!! day. The kids had fun seeing if we would indeed be able to stick to our limit. When we got up to the checkout the total was $101.98, BUT through the magic of coupons, we were able to get out of the store for a mere $91.73!! I still have to go to another market for a couple of things that were significantly less expensive, but I think overall I am doing a pretty impressive job of saving our family money.

Will my thrifty trend last? I don't know - but for now, it's kind of fun trying.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Yeti or not...

That's the name of my Expedition Everest Challenge Team. What's that, you ask? Expedition Everest Challenge is a 5K race (that's roughly 3 miles) through Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World, followed by an obstacle course and a scavenger hunt.

Newsflash...I love Disney World! (I love Disneyland too, but it's clear across the country.) I would go to just about any length if it meant I could vacation there...including doing something I dread, like run. Plus, a lot of Mom's Panelists are attending this event, so it's a reunion of sorts.

I have friends who run for fun. In fact, one friend trains for marathons and gets up to run 20 miles in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT so she can be home for her kids during the day! While not everyone I know is so enthusiastic about running, most people can probably run 3 miles without significant training. I'm not most people. Sadly, I can't run 3 yards without feeling the need to sit and rest -- at least not yet. But the ability to run long distances is something I've always envied in others. When I lived in Colorado, I always wanted to run the Bolder Boulder (a 10K) just not enough to get off my rear end and do something about it - until now.

So we've purchased a used jogging stroller, and the weather is starting to warm up. Time to train. In the meantime, I've been doing Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVD, and it's been killing me - endurance is not my thing. We went out for a family walk the other day, and my husband told me I could jog home if I wanted. I think I ran a total of 300 yards -- guess I've got a bit of work ahead of me. I'll keep you posted.

This could be the beginning of something great. 5K in September, then who knows? Maybe I'll throw in a few 10Ks in, sprinkle a half marathon, and top it all off with Boston Marathon. Miracles can happen, right?!

Friday, March 20, 2009

And the award goes to...

Jo at Forever Young gave me this award! For those of you who don't already read Jo's blog, you should. She is an incredibly witty, fun, brilliant "mum" from the U.K. who happens to be on the Disney Mom's Panel with me. Thanks Jo, you made my day!

Here's how the award works:

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Jo already chose a few of my favorites, but fear not, there are several other amazing, kind women out there.

And the award goes to:

Lisa at Spots of Time
Margaret at Fries Family Five
Becky at Grandma Bailey's Reflections
Jackie at One Fabulous Mama
Jaimie at Sophistimom
Darcie at Such the Spot
Briana at Ward Family Five
Holly at Sunny Side Up in an Upside Down World

Thursday, March 5, 2009

American Idol Experience

For those of you who haven't friended me on Facebook or followed my Tweets (that's you mom), I recently had the opportunity to attend the press event for the American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It was a whirlwind trip that lasted less than 48 hours, but for an American Idol/Disney fanatic, the memories will last a lifetime!

The forecast on February 12 didn't look to promising. My favorite meteorologist was predicting high winds and hoped my flight wouldn't be delayed. What? I was scheduled to arrive a couple of hours before the event. A delay could make me miss EVERYTHING! Fortunately, the wind didn't pick up until after my flight took off.

At the airport, I ran into Jackie -- another Disney Mom -- and her sister, Sarah. We boarded Magical Express and were off to the Polynesian! I had never stayed there and was anxious to check it out for my next family vacation. (It's beautiful, by the way, and I highly recommend staying there.)

The next couple of hours were a little rushed to say the least. We met up with Disney Mom Margaret in the lobby and were greeted by our "handler" Leigh -- it's so exciting to have "people"-- kind of makes you feel like a celebrity. Our rooms weren't ready, and our luggage hadn't arrived. That was a slight problem since we had about 1 1/2 hours until Jackie and I had to film a quick video for the event looking fabulous, of course.

We had a quick lunch at Kona Cafe with some other Disney Moms and some mom bloggers who were there for the event. My room was finally ready (no luggage though), and Jackie, Sarah & I had about 10 minutes to get ready -- Yikes!!

Hollywood Studios was crazy that day. Fans were lined up along the streets waiting to catch a glimpse of their favorite Idols riding down the "blue" carpet. It was all very - well - Hollywood. If you (hi mom) are one of the only people who hasn't seen the package, click HERE. After filming the video, we headed over to a reserved area to watch the motorcade.

I don't have a crazy zoom lens on my camera. This is really how close they were.

The show, itself, was incredible. Mark, the warm-up guy, was hysterical, and the judges captured the essence of Paula, Simon & Randy. The contestants all performed very well, especially considering that the audience was packed with former Idol contestants all sitting in the first few rows! I think I would have passed out!! We all voted, and then Ryan and the guy who plays him in the attraction began the elimination process.

In true Idol style, the final two contestants had to wait -- not for a commercial break --
but for a special performance by David Cook & Carrie Underwood!!!
and then for all 7 Idols to be brought out on stage!

After the show, the real fun began. We spent the evening at a party WITH the contestants. It was amazing, and people couldn't have been more friendly or gracious.

My favorite part of the evening - Sanjaya! I know...I know...I think I led the brigade to get him eliminated from the show. Well now...I might be feeling a little bit guilty about that...I might have even thrown a couple of votes his way just for the nice factor.

He posed for a picture with us, and then we ran into him on Rockin' Roller Coaster. After the ride, Karen, Jackie, & Jennifer wanted to go back on -- there were no lines. As much as I like the attraction, it makes me feel like my brain is bouncing around in my head, so Margaret & I opted to do Tower of Terror instead. As we were getting in line we heard, "I think I'm following you guys." It was Sanjaya! He was with Mark from the show and a couple of other people.

He'd never been to Disney World before, so Tower of Terror was a new experience for him. He was a little nervous about riding with the "Moms" since he wasn't sure if he could keep from yelling profanity during the ride. I also got to ask him about the whole 12 year old girl crying thing. He was totally uncomfortable with that whole situation -- see, I told you he was normal -- and for the record -- I didn't hear him swear once during the many drops on Tower of Terror.

Another highlight of the evening happened back at the hotel. As Jackie, Sarah & I got off the bus, a woman stopped us. "You're on the Mom's Panel? I just want you to know that my friends and I love that site!" She asked if we would take a picture with her -- Wow!! We actually had a fan that wanted OUR picture -- so cool! Should I be worried that her website is called Nah!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I've always wanted one of these...

In just a little over a week, I will be heading to sunny Florida for a twenty-four hour whirlwind trip. February 14 is the official opening of The American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios. To celebrate and to promote Disney's newest attraction, there is a press event on February 12.

I have no idea what to expect or who I might see there (David Cook? Carrie Underwood?). All I know is that I LOVE American Idol and I LOVE Walt Disney World! The two of them combined together -- FABULOUS!