Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The year of the cupcake

Does anyone else think that 2008 was the year of the cupcake? Just by Martha Stewart standards, there was always a bit on the website about cupcakes, and I believe there may have been a month in which there was a "cupcake of the day" or "cupcake of the week" or something like that on her show. I fell hard into the year of the cupcake. I made cupcakes instead of birthday cakes for all of my friends and family. I purchased a cupcake carrier at Target. I gave Becky a muffin tin, mixing bowl, and Sprinkles cupcake mix for her birthday. There were way too many cupcake books on the market for anyone's good, though I must admit I perused them myself at Davis-Kidd many a Saturday afternoon. And my Christmas list included jumbo muffin tins and ice cream scoops - not for ice cream, but for making perfectly measured cupcakes. I received both, and I was able to use both of them last night to make...


Will 2009 be the year of the muffin? We can only wait and see : )

Monday, December 15, 2008

Three months...

Well, we've made it three months without a car! Let me tell you, it feels like an eternity, not a quarter of a year! I have had my ups and downs, days when I never want a car again, and days when I am tempted to just head out and get a big huge car loan to put me out of my misery!!

I must say thank you to all of the people who have helped us out with rides over these months: Becky, Justin, Catherine, Leigh, Lee, Ashley, Dorothy, Josh, Becca, Lesley, LaShonda, Gwen, Martha, the Vitullos, the Marks, the Coplins, and probably plenty more people I am forgetting! There are times and places in Memphis that are just simply not friendly for public transportation, and we could not have made it three months without the help of our friends. We were concerned at the beginning about getting to and from church, since MATA significantly decreases its service on Sundays, but thanks to wonderful friends at church it has never been a problem. Ashley took me to the grocery store the other night when it was raining, and it was such a blessing. I think that if nothing else, our not having a car gives our friends a way to help someone else out, to do their 'good deed' for the day as it were.

Some more great things about not having a car are exercising every day whether I want to or not, more face time with my husband since we walk everywhere together, less stress about crazy drivers/maintenance/break ins, and a bit slower pace to life. On Sunday, we walked to the grocery store from lunch, and we had about 40 minutes to wait until the bus came to take us home, so we just sat at Starbucks and had a drink, read through some Christmas gifts we had purchased at the bookstore, and talked a bit. We weren't rushed, we just sat and enjoyed our time.

Thanks again to everyone who has been so willing to help us out!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My favorite cookies

I made cookies last night for a cookie swap on Thursday, and I thought I would share. Although I am a self proclaimed chocoholic, these are my absolute favorite cookies. I think that is because this is a family recipe. The shortbread has been made in my family for generations, originating in Scotland. Every time I knead the dough I think about my grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmothers all making this same dough over the years. Oh, and I learned an important lesson yesterday - do not keep your blackberry on the kitchen counter while baking! There is this cookie dough lodged in between the keys!!

Jam Tarts

1 lb butter (room temp)
1 cup sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar (for dusting)
Raspberry jam

Beat butter and sugar using paddle attachment until well combined and fluffy. Add flour, small amounts at a time, and mix to incorporate. This may take a while. Dump out dough onto clean surface and knead by hand until dough is smooth and glossy. Roll small amounts of dough between two pieces of parchment paper until approximately 1/8 inch thick. You do not want the dough to be too thin. Cut out cookies using symmetrical cutters (any shape is okay), and cut small holes in half of the cookies (these will be the tops). Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes until set and just barely light brown on edges. Cool on racks. Dust the tops with powdered sugar. To assemble, spread a teaspoon or two of raspberry jam on the bottom cookies and place tops over the jam. If making ahead of time, wait to assemble with jam until just before serving, since they can get soggy if sitting too long.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Whew! Half marathon #2 is over, better than #1, but not nearly as good as I wanted it to be. I guess I will just have to work harder for #3!!

It was freezing - literally - Saturday morning the entire time I was waiting for and running the race. I believe the temp was around 28 degrees when the race started, and we were waiting in our little corral for about an hour. We had on plenty of extra layers to strip off at the start, and we ran back and forth to the port-o-potties a few times, but it was still frigid!

Miles 1-8 were great! We ran at a good, slow pace that we thought we could keep up the entire race. We stayed within eyesight of the pacers. We took our scheduled water breaks. Our 10k time was the best it has every been. All was well, and I was feeling like my 6 months of training had paid off : )

Then around mile 8, my joints started aching. Hips, knees, ankles, toes - yes, toes! I initiated several unscheduled walk breaks because my joints were screaming at me. No muscle pain, no real fatigue, just joint pain. Becky and I regrouped several times, set small goals of how far we would run without another break, and tried to finish off the race strong. I had to let Becky go ahead of me at mile 12 when my hips were aching again, and I got quite frustrated with myself. I had virtually no pain during our training runs, and I was quite disappointed that this problem arose during the main event. I made it through the last mile, and ran strong the last half mile or so.

After the race I enjoyed a solar blanket (still freezing), a good stretch, and some McAlister's potato cheese soup. I met up with Jonathan, my mom, Becky and her parents for some photos, then collapsed into the Flying Saucer for lunch.

I ran about 12 minutes faster this year than last, which is approximately shaving off one minute per mile. If I had been able to keep up my first 8 mile pace, I could have finished with about 2...maybe even 3 minutes per mile faster than last year. So, yes, I was disappointed, but I am glad that I at least salvaged a better time.

Plan for next year: add cross training (weight training and yoga) to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility to hopefully address the joint pain issue, and put in more miles each week to increase endurance. Also...I am not going to take off two months like I did last year!! I am going to try to get out again this week for a 3 mile run just to keep my body in that mind set, and I am going to participate in the cross country racing series put on by MRTC starting in January. I have never done cross country, and I hope it will be a fun, challenging change from road racing.

* My mom and Becky's parents took some pictures, and I will try to post some soon : )

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Second to last running blog, promise

I needed to get my running mojo back after a pretty lame running weekend, so I set out tonight on a different route from work to church. Slightly longer but considerably safer than the last time I tried, it was a pretty good run. The weather was pretty much perfect tonight - cool not cold and just a little breezy : ) I ran slow and steady, trying to make my legs run like they need to in the first few miles Saturday when they will want to run faster than they should. Good run. Feeling better about Saturday. If you live in Memphis come out to Midtown and Downtown to cheer on all the runners! The elites are amazing to watch : )

Work break!

This is a picture from last year's half marathon, right before mile 8. Note the multiple layers of cotton and fleece!! We were such running newbies : ) This year we will have actually running clothes that wick away sweat from your body, and I am planning on one layer instead of four! And hopefully on Saturday we won't have our photo taken while walking, but running...

Monday, December 1, 2008

carefree college days

"Hey, have you eaten yet?"
"Do you want to go eat?"
"Where do you want to eat, the Rat?"
"Okay..see you in a minute."

I am sitting in the lobby of the althletic building of my college alma mater, and that is the one side of a conversation I just heard. Ah yes, I remember when the most important decision of the day was Rat or Lair for dinner. The days when you could stop everything to write a paper, or study for an exam, or see friends. I cannot believe that I thought life was overwhelming in college. I kind of want to take these kids, throttle them, and tell them that life will never, ever, ever be this easy and uncomplicated again.

But I will not throttle them, I will go to my meeting.