Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Birthday to Shawn!

Today Shawn is in his mid-thirties. I, however, am still in my early thirties.

He is 34. I am 33.

For a few short weeks we are the same age, then May 31st rolls around and he is a year older than me again.

And that's how I like it.

When we were 17 and he turned 18, I had endless fun teasing him about dating a younger woman.

When he turned 21 and I was still 20, I joked about how he had to be the responsible one and I was still under age.

Now, he is in his mid-thirties and I am in my early thirties.

But the best part is that none of that matters at all. Because I am just happy to have him. He is the best Husband, Father, Friend, Brother, Son anyone could ask for and I get to spend every day of my life with him.

Even when he looks like this.

Because I know we will always be like this.

A happy little family having a lifetime of adventures together.

Love you Shawn. I know you don't like to make a big deal out of your birthday but you are kind of a big deal to us.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fitness Journey - Week Ending May 30

This week started out with a really bad day.

A day so bad I got down on myself and called it a Fail.

I wrote about it.

I processed it.

I used all the positive comments I received from the comments section on the post, my facebook wall, and from people in person and I put them back into my next run.

Saturday we set out to run 3.1 miles at about 5 pm. We were about four blocks from the house when big fat rain drops started to fall on us.

Shawn turns to me and says "Maybe we should have checked the weather."

I begin to mentally prepare to cut it short and head home.

We keep running and when we hit the trail it seems to lighten. Or maybe we were just in a tree canopy.

We are nearing the end of the tree canopy when this huge crash of lightening with immediate thunder lights up the sky and shakes the trail I am running down. 

We get just past the one mile marker and it really starts to come down. Shawn is about half a block ahead of me and he turns to come back.

I duck under a shelter, waiting to hear him tell me it's time to pack it in. I want to hear him tell me we will cut up the park and down that road and be home in no time.

But that's not what happened. He said "What are you doing?! You drug me out here, we are going to finish this!" He turned on his heal and ran off in the direction that will take another two miles to get me back to my house.

I set out after him and we do it. We run 3.1 miles in the rain. And it felt good. Well, save the squishy shoes. I hate squishy shoes.

We made good time and when we got home Shawn says "Why is your back so wet?"

Um... Everything on me was wet! But, that's Shawn for ya. Always there with a crack to make me smile.

I had planned to finish that evening with an outdoor yoga class with my friend, Erin but when we got out there it was raining. I was done working out in the rain and Erin wasn't feeling it either so we hit up Unique Thrift Store for some jeans and summers clothes instead. 

Saturday ended with a 3013 Calorie Burn and 11,271 steps. It was a day to be proud of.

Sunday we talked about running but after spending an entire day working in the yard we had to rethink that plan. We were beyond exhausted and felt like sitting in a movie theater instead.

We met my parents for dinner and then went to see Dark Shadows.  It was okay. It really was one of those movies where the previews give away all the funny parts and the rest is just kind of filler.

I ended the day with a 2559 Calorie Burn and 7428 steps. But most of all I ended the day with a very, very sore body. Sunday reminded me once again that it is time to add weight training to my activities.

Monday we found ourselves kid free for the entire day so we slept in, which we never do. Then we ran a ton or errands and were not done until after 2 pm. We realized at that point why we never sleep in, our day was already gone!

We got in another run which was interesting since we were both still so very sore from Sunday but it was a good run. Another windy run but this time I didn't let it get to me.

I finished the day with a 3078 Calorie Burn and 12, 453 steps.

Tuesday was a "back to reality day" starting with a very early morning in the office, leaving about an hour later than I had planned, ending with our final Girl Scout meeting with our Daisy Troop. I didn't get in a workout but I did take three walks. I ended the day with a 2557 Calorie Burn and 9626 steps. Very, very good for a non-run day!

While I am very happy about my calorie burn and steps this week I did fall down on the eating side. We eat out a few times and I found myself snacking a bit too much. I didn't do a great job tracking my calories as the day went on since I had that long weekend and I forgot what I had eaten when it came time to log.

The only way to lose weight is to have a balance Calorie Burn and Calorie Intake so it is extremely important to know what you have taken in. This week I didn't pay attention to that and even though I hit or exceeded my calorie burn every single day, my food was off and I netted a big, fat 0 pound weight loss.

I still consider my week a success. I am running a 5k on Saturday and then will be spending the day walking around the zoo. I feel that I am ready for Saturday and that's what really matters to me this week.

I resolve to track every calorie I eat this week and to make a few smarter choices in the food department.

Have a great week everyone! 

This weeks Body Bugg Stats - Calorie Burned Daily Average vs Calories Consumed Daily.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Daughter The Rock Star

One evening I came home from work to this...

Heidi's older cousin Makayla, who lives with us, made her into a rock star, complete with huge sunglasses.

Lots of flat iron.

Lots of hair spray.

Lots of time.

She looked so stinken cute! I mean, she looked so punk! Don't tell her I said she looked cute...

And she happened to have guitar lessons this evening. Her guitar teacher loved it!

Friday, May 25, 2012

My First Running Fail

I have been running for about 10 months now. It is not something I ever thought I would do but it really is the only cardio exercise that really does work for me.

Every time I run it's hard.

I do not know what Hitting Your Stride means as I have never found that. I have settled into a slow pace but when I catch myself doing that I have to make a mental effort to push through.

I do like that it makes me less stabby. After a bad day at work a run will help me calm my nerves and with a high pressure job like the one I have, that is an awful lot of days.

If I run when I am sad I find I am even more sad when I am done. I end up both emotionally and physically exhausted.

What it really comes down to is running is something I need to do but it's not really something I like to do. In the end it is something I am proud that I do and something I haven't failed at. Until Wednesday.

I went into Wednesday knowing Jess was coming over do to Yoga around 5:30 and I desperately needed to make up my run I missed on Tuesday night. When I left for work that morning I told Shawn we would need to get in that run before we did yoga. Normally I would have just let that run go but we are running a 5k on June 2nd and I am honestly not sure I could finish it right now. We have not been running outside much and my time on the treadmill has been very, very limited.

I did everything I could to get out of the office on time and get home so we would have time to run and by some miracle it worked. We quickly changed into our running gear and headed out into the 15 mile per hour winds. A storm was coming in so the wind was blowing from all directions and no matter which way we were running it was never at our back but always all around us. This made the run very difficult.

We made it 2.7 miles and I was done.

I am ashamed to admit that for the first time in my running career I actually quit.

I stopped.

I gave up.

I was about a block behind Shawn when this little dog came running out of a yard and started chasing him. I do not like strange little dogs at all. I think they are the most likely to bit you! I kept running but when I was within half a block and the owner had yet to collect the dog I put the breaks on. I started walking but I was unable to kick it back in gear. We were at a point where we could go straight and finish our 3.2 miles or we could turn and be home in 2 blocks.

We opted to go home.

I am not proud.

I let the dog, the wind, the exhaustion be an excuse and that's just not like me!

When we got home I was not feeling 100%. I needed water and I needed to sit down. I kicked off my shoes, which always drops my core temp quickly, drained the water cooler of what little water was left, and threw myself down on my yoga mat.

I was down on my self for giving up.

I was hot.

I was exhausted.

I needed more water!

After ten minutes of self pity and moping I asked Jess to get the DVD going. I was starting to worry that I would not be able to kick my butt back in gear to do the Yoga video.

I would be letting Jess down.

I would be letting me down. Again. Twice in one day.

That could not happen! I needed to get up and get going, no matter what.

I gave myself a pep talk. I told myself I needed to stretch anyway so why not just do the video to get my stretch and then it would all be over. Like I tell my daughter, the sooner you start the sooner you are done.

So, I got my butt up off the floor and I did that yoga DVD the very best I could.

And when I was done I was proud. I was proud of the effort I put in to the Yoga DVD and I was really proud of Jess since she was busting her A$$ next to me. I am so thankful she was there because I know if she wasn't I would have fell onto the couch not to get up until it was time to take Heidi to guitar lessons later that evening.

In the end, I am still bummed that I gave up but I have resolved to use that tomorrow when it is still hard. I have five runs scheduled before my 5k and I will finish that 5k in a good time.

So, I will kick myself in the rear and I will do this.

I will do this.

And then when I plugged in my bodybugg Thursday morning, this is what I saw:

In the end, I really didn't fail. And I guess that's what really matters.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quick Craft: Fun Flip Flops

A few weeks back, when I was dropping Heidi off at gymnastics, our friend pointed out these flip flops sitting in the shoe area. They were super fun, cheap flip flops with balloons tied to them. I really am not sure if they purchased them this way or if they made them but I thought it would be a great way to cuten up a pair of cheap flip flops for the summer. (Did you know Cuten is not a word?!)

I picked these purple flip flops up at the dollar store and a bag of water balloons at Target for 50 balloons for $2. It took about 75 balloons to decorate both girls size 13 shoes and about 40 minutes of work.

The first flop I tied on the balloons in what ever order I pulled them out of the bag just trying not to put two of the same color next to each other.  The second one I sorted the balloons and circled through each color. I only did this to see if it made a difference.

I decided it did not make a difference. I can not tell which one was random and which was planned.

They turned out super cute so I made a few more for the some of my favorite girls.

Go ahead and give it a try for a special girl in your life or even for one of the billion birthday parties you are attending this summer.

Or check out my Etsy store and order some from me!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fitness Journey - Week Ending May 23

This week was a very typical spring/summer week for my family meaning we were crazy busy and it was hard to find time to get anything more into a day.

Starting out with Wednesday - We reopened Kara's Yoga Studio in my living room! We cleared out a few small pieces of furniture, rolled back the rug, laid out a few yoga mats, and popped in a Jillian Michaels Yoga DVD.

My sisters-in-law and I worked, sweated, and cussed our way through the 30 minute level one video. When it was done they pealed off and I did about 15 minutes of the level two video and then a short ab workout on the floor.

It was hot and sweaty and I was sore for two full days. So over all I would say it was a great workout.

After working that hard and being that sore I have to remind myself that Yoga is not a calorie torcher and that I need to balance it with running.

Thursday was a busy day at work, Heidi had Gymnastics, and I had a meeting in the evening so I had to take it as a rest day. I worked hard to make sure I at least got all my steps in and was happy to find I was 500 steps over goal even with sitting in a chair from 7 to 9:30 pm.

Friday I went for a quick walk during my lunch and I was able to make it to they gym in my office after work. I ended up 300 calories over my goal burn and logged 13,076 steps - WOW! I suffered that night with shin cramps, a middle of the night reminder that I need to stretch not only after working out but before bed as well. I am sure the two glasses of wine with dinner played into the cramps as well!!

I spent Saturday cleaning my house and then we checked into a local waterpark Hotel for the weekend where the kids swam for hours and hours. I was not able to wear my body bug much while I was there since it is not something that can get wet so I am not sure how I fared over the weekend.

Sunday I woke up with a knot in my back the size of a fist and had very limited use of my right arm and shoulder. This limited my movement and in the afternoon it was so unbearable I ended up sitting on the couch watching TV for about 4 hours. This is not something I ever do but I figure it's my body's way of telling me to take a break.

My awesome Sister-in-law Jess worked the knot down to something manageable and I was feeling a bit better so Monday I was able to begin moving again. I got down to the gym at the end of the day and spent 15 minutes on a yoga flow. When I was done my shoulder was aching and the base of my head was starting to throb so I walked on the treadmill for 35 minutes instead of running. I was pleased to see my steps were at 9108 on Monday and I burn 798 more calories than I took in making Monday a huge success and helped make up for any damage done from the weekend!

Tuesday was full of good intentions. On days when we run I really watch what I eat so I am not weighed down by food and I stop drinking coffee by noon so I am not fighting dehydration cramps at the mile mark. While I was very successful in the food department I was not able to get away from my desk on time, add traffic from construction leaving downtown, and I didn't get home until it was too late for us to run and still make it to a commitment we had in the evening. Days like this bum me out!

This morning I set my baseline weight and body fat for my next set of goals. This is slow and steady, not a race so my goals are 12 pounds over 12 weeks. 

I am really excited and motivated to get this train going again!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!

I want to use today's post to wish a very happy birthday to my dad.

Dad -
Thank you for being strong when you should have been weak.
Thank you for loving me with your whole heart always, no matter what.
Thank you for being the best dad you could be.

I know it wasn't always easy.

I love you Dad!

Monday, May 21, 2012

What's Cooking? Peanut Butter Balls but Mostly About Mothers Day

Last weekend was Mother's Day.

I spent a lot of time not looking forward to Mother's Day and then just trying to survive it.

When I became a Mother I didn't fully embrace it but it was now a part of my life. My daughter gives me little gifts she makes for me and I do love that but it's up there with my mom's birthday and the anniversary of her death for difficult days in my book.

This year was probably the best Mother's Day I have had in many years for a few silly reasons.

First, Heidi gave me a gift she made all by herself.

She planted a flower for me at school, she made me a card, and she made me that awesome Duck Tape Purse!

A bit later in the day Shawn and Heidi surprised me with this little guy.

Let me tell you about this little guy. He has been a little bit of a pain in my ass since he arrived on Mother's Day.

First, he was sitting on my dresser when I was getting dressed without me even knowing! 

Then, I placed my comb on the dresser, right next to him, where I put it every day. When I went to grab it to comb out Heidi's hair it was gone! Later I found it in the pocket of my bathrobe. He totally did that.

Later in the day when Jess and her family were over we had moved Mr. Gnome out to the Gazebo table. She placed a cigarette next to him and within a few minutes it was gone. It's been over a week now and it has yet to surface.

All of this forced me to make Mr. Gnome's home the small space between the strawberry patch and the zucchinis on the side of the yard. He had been minding his business in this new home but I am telling ya, we will not tolerate any more mischievousness!

Once I got Mr. Gnome settled into his new place in the garden we made our way to my parents house for lunch.

 Heidi, the bug whisperer, had fun rounding up all the inch worms on my dad's deck.

And she adopted this little guy who ended up living in a peanut butter jar on my kitchen table until yesterday when we talked her in to letting him go back out into the wild.

We grilled out and then enjoyed these yummy peanut butter balls for dessert. Mine are not nearly as cute as the ones made over at Strawberry-Chic but they were so very good! You really should go see her pictures, they are much better than mine.

After we ate we all sat around and played pass the baby.

 Heidi is a very good big cousin. She really enjoys holding baby Eliette Mae.

Grandpa was more than happy to get in on the fun of the baby holding too!

Eventually, when the baby holding was over, we headed back to our house and hung out with sibling-in-laws in the back yard. The Gnome didn't play any more tricks and we all just kicked back and relaxed while the adults chatted and the cousins played in the yard.

My amazing family did a pretty good job keeping me distracted for the day and I made it through.  What I learned this year was to lean on my family on hard days like this, not to just hole away and hide. And that is the best Mother's Day gift anyone could give me. (But the Duck Tape Purse is pretty awesome too!)

 I know it's a week late, but happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there. Keep up the good work!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Author Review: Jen Lancaster

A few years back a co-worker of mine, Emilie, was telling me about this author she loved and suggesting I check out her books. At the time that author had three books on the shelves and I had 8 billion books on my to read list.

No really. 8 billion. Check out my list on Goodreads if you don't believe me.

I vividly remember her telling me not to read the first book first since that will probably turn me off but read the second book then go back to the first book. I completely lost interested and promptly forgot the name of the author.

Fast forward 6 to 8 months later. I am in Barnes and Noble near my house browsing the shelves. It's not that I want my list to grow past 8 billion books to read, it's just that I love book stores so much!

So, in typical Kara fashion, I pick up four or five new books mostly based on their cover. This is harder now that I read on my kindle but yes, I do judge a book by it's cover. But one of my life rules is "Never judge a girl by what she is reading, simply celebrate the fact she is reading at all."

I begin reading a book called "Bitter is the New Black" and I am hooked on the first sentence. "Camille said you stole a bag from a homeless guy."

I tore through Bitter on a work trip and found myself in the Dayton, OH Barnes and Noble looking for Jen Lancaster's second book "Bright Lights, Big Ass" for the flight home.

These two books have me in stitches my entire trip. Everyone both of they flights thought I was insane as I held in my laughter which just caused me to make strange snorting noises and silently shake in my seat.

Laughing out loud in the hotel room made my trip much more enjoyable and mostly made me forget I was away from my family for three days.

When I returned to my home office I ran into Emilie's cube to tell her all about this crazy, mean, absolutely hilarious woman who has written a series of memoirs about how crazy and mean she is. I insisted she read them right away as she sat there looking at me like I was an total idiot.

When I finally stopped blabbering on about how quickly Emilie needs to read these books because her life is not fulfilled until she has read them, she gently explains to me that not only has she read all of Jen's books and follows her blog, this is the author she was trying to get me to read almost a year ago when I told her I simply was not interested.

Emilie is very, very nice and completely resists the urge to tell me I am an idiot and hand me a big "I told you so!" Instead she simply sent me a link to Jen's blog and suggested I check it out.

Since this all went down Jen's has published and I have read/purchased four more memoirs, making her memoir total six, one novel, and one highly successful blog.  Not to mention the columns she wrote for TMS Humor Hotel and all the interviews she participated, it's not hard to get a regular fix of Jen.

In June of 2009 when Pretty In Plaid hit the shelves Jen made an appearance at a local Boarders. Of course Emilie and I were all over that!

I even dressed like Jen!

To make me love her even more than I already do, her books are typically published in early May making them the perfect birthday present to myself! 

This year I preordered Jeneration X, her newest memoir so it would be on my Kindle as soon as I turned it on May 1st. I freed up my reading schedule so I would be ready for it first thing the morning it was released.

Jen promised she was bitchier in this book, much more like Bitter than the other four, and she did not fail on that promise. Within the first pages I already knew I would shaking my head, rolling my eyes, uttering the phrase "Oh, Jen, you didn't" over and over again, snorting, laughing, crying, peeing my pants, and gasping for breath through the entire book.

Let me tell you. I was not at all disappointed. Keep up the good work, Jen.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Memories Blowing In The Wind

Did you know in Ancient Rome, the Romans hung wind chimes called Tintinnabulum in their gardens to ward evil spirits and bring good fortune?

Ancient India and China also believed the noise made from a chime in the slightest breeze would frighten away any lurking evil spirits.

I have heard people say a wind chime should be hung outside the window of a babies room to bring good fortune. 

I have always found this thought to be intriguing.

There are two wind chimes hanging in my daughters room. One in a corner where it tinkles slightly when the ceiling fan is turned on. The other is hanging over her closet where it chimes when the curtains that cover the closet are opened. Both of these were given to her by my parents.

This year for my birthday my parents surprised me with a beautiful yet sturdy set of chimes for our back yard.

I love them. They are perfect for so many reasons.

1. I have always wanted chimes for our yard.
2. This is the year we will make major changes to our backyard so we will be able to enjoy them so much more.
3. They have a sonnet written on them that speaks to me and who I am.

They say:
Are more than just
A link
To the past
Sometimes they're
All we have
That will last

They remind
Us of people
And things we
Hold dear.
They bring
Smiles, laughter
And sometimes

Thanks Dad and Terri. You did good.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Journey to a Better Kara: Chapter 2

Chapter 1 in my fitness journey was very typical. I found things that worked for me, I had the motivation, and I stuck with it. (Link Not Just Running)

People would compliment me all the time but I just did not see it.

I had lost 40 pounds and I honestly did not see a difference. I mean sure, I had given away all my pants and, a huge thanks the Shannon and Barb, had started to wear an almost entirely new wardrobe. And yeah, my stomach didn't hang over like it used to. But really, I didn't see it.

I weight myself every day because it hold me accountable. I weigh at the same time every day, just after I shower but before I eat anything. This way I have a pretty decent baseline of where I am. Then I sync my bodybugg to the computer and make any last minute meal updates from the day before. While I am doing this I reflect on that number on the scale.

If it was higher than I wanted, I look at what I ate and how much I burned and figure out what caused the gain.

If it was low, I look at the same things and celebrate the loss.

I never beat myself up. I just take it day by day.

I was seeing the change in my attitude and I was seeing a change in my energy levels but the fact that I wasn't seeing a change in my body really made me starting understand body dysmorphic disorder.

I am not saying I had it but even with forcing myself to look at myself in the mirror regularly I just could not see what everyone else was seeing.

Until one day when it all changed. I did see how much I had lost but I also saw that my curves were disappearing. Not the curve of my stomach, but the curves of my butt and my chest. These are curves I spent a lifetime loving. I didn't what to lose them!

Boy did I whine! Shannon and Shawn can attest to this and they both got the brunt of the whining. And they both thought I was being silly.

I didn't think I was being silly at all. It was a real concern of mine. If my butt was going to go flat then I need to stop now and be happy at 200 pounds.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this as it was truly bothering me. It might sound silly but I am certain I am not the only person who has felt this way.

I decided the best thing to do is take a break. I am on life long journey to find a healthy body weight and then maintain it. This is not a crash course in dieting nor is it race to the finish.

I ended up taking a maintenance break from January to May where I lost about 5 more pounds. I would go up a few, down a few, up a couple, down a couple. It was exactly what my life will be like when I hit my healthy body weight and I am so glad I took the time to do this because I learned a lot about myself during these months.

First, I learned that I will be able to maintain. I now have the confidence that I will not gain all my weight back as soon as I hit my target.

Second, my body was able to "settle" into it's new normal. And guess what? I am the same shape I was before I started, just narrower and I love it!

Third, I do not want any kind of skin reduction surgery so I better figure out what to do about my Flying Squirrel arms really soon.

And finally, chapter 2 will be a 20 pound loss. When I hit that I will reassess and make my next set of goals.

Also, as part of chapter 2, I will recap my week each Wednesday and report my weigh loss here. You are welcome to follow along.

Since this post didn't contain any pictures I am going to throw this in here. When I participated in the Lucky 7 7k in March this picture was taken as I crossed the bridge. And it was PUBLISHED in a MAGAZINE for RUNNERS! How insane is that?!  Erin called me one day and said "Oh, you are in my mom's running magazine, I will bring it to you." I just cannot get over how awesome this is!

That's me - number 5610!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

DIY Necklace Shelf

I really love DIY projects but for me coming up with the ideas is the hardest part.

Then, with the help of my good friend, I was introduced to Pinterest where one will never be without inspiration! Here is the blog post that inspired this little project - thanks Mini Mannor!

That's where I found a great idea for my necklaces. I pinned it and proclaimed that I would have Shawn make this for me and I would fill it with new necklaces!

So, that's exactly what I did.  I found these silverware trays at Ikea for about $10 each. They were unfinished wood so they were perfect for painting!

Then I made a quick trip to Menards for paint and hardware. I picked up a pint of bright white paint for $9.99 and a package of small hooks for $1.19.

The entire project took a total of about a hour to put together. I had to let paint dry and I wanted Shawn to drill the holes for the hooks so duration was a full week but it really could have all been done on a rainy Saturday.

My bathroom is very difficult to photograph since it's so small. I was straddling the toilet to get these!

Oh! And don't you love my wallpaper? It really is starting to grow on me.

I am very pleased with how they turned out. The lower shelf is right where Heidi can reach so I will only put items there I am willing to share with her. The higher shelves are for Mama only items.

Much better than the peg on the tie rack I had been using!

Monday, May 14, 2012

What To Cook? Blueberry Scones

One morning a few months back I arrived at work before having eaten breakfast. I was very hungry so I headed towards a little deli I know sells fruit cups and yogurt.

When I walked in they were just pulling freshly made scones from the oven and placing them on the counter.

What a great sales tacit! They don't put them behind the glass! No! They put them right on the counter so when you go pay for your coffee they are sitting right there. In your face. In all their sconey glory.

I can't help but wonder if this practice started when the Caribou was put in next door...

In any case, I forgot about the fruit cup and yogurt and picked up a freshly baked, still warm blueberry scone. Not only was it fresh but it was the most moist scone I had ever eaten, save the one Emilie brought me a few years back.

I had become complacent with dry, cold scones from the coffee shop. They are good but they are not exactly what they should be.

For deli scones later I decided it was time to throw together a recipe I can put in my binder for a quick go to any time I feel the need to have a scone. It's so simple and I have everything I need in my pantry so I can make these any time I am in a pinch for a pastry to serve for breakfast or with coffee to surprise guests.

Here's what you need:
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1/2 cup (6 oz) vanilla yogurt or sour cream (I prefer yogurt)
1 egg

Use frozen blueberries instead of fresh for two reasons. 1. They are always in season (aka, cheaper!) 2. They will not fall apart or pop when handling the dough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir using a sturdy rubber spatula.

Either cut the butter into small cubes or grate it on your box-grater using the largest holes. I prefer to just cut it into small cubes but you do whatever floats your boat! Add butter to the dry ingredients and stir.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg and yogurt (or sour cream).

Add yogurt mix to the dry ingredients and mix until it is slightly chunky but not smooth. Scones will be chunky. Be careful not to over handle your dough.

Fold in the blueberries. This means dump the blueberries into the dough then fold your dough over lightly using your rubber spatula or hands taking care not to crush your berries. If they are frozen, this will be much easier.

Traditionally, scones are shaped like a cone or in a wedge or a triangle. Maybe you like round scones or maybe you like them square. Feel free to shape them however you would like. Make them your own!

If you want to be traditional, Cut your dough in half then turn out half onto your work surface. Shape into a very thick pizza and cut into six slices. Repeat with second half and place slices on a greased baking sheet.

Or you can go the other route and simply scoop out the dough into mounds and place on the greased baking sheet. Try to make 12 equally sided mounds.

Place your baking sheet in your preheated oven in the middle. If you have to adjust your rack to do this, please don't be lazy and just do it!

Bake for about 20 minutes and serve warm!


Hey, if blueberries are not your thing, try changing it up! Swap the blueberries for raspberries or blackberries. Or add cheese and bacon for a breakfast biscuit. When it's apple season I will create and post an apple cinnamon scone.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dining Out: Cocoa & Fig

A few months back my friend made a very important connection. I work downtown. Her favorite confectionery is downtown. Therefore, I must bring her a box of French Macarons.

I had never heard of this place before. It really is very close to my office but I had never even walked past it.

That does not mean it took too much to talk me into making a pit stop at Cocoa & Fig.

Fast forward a few months and now it's the same friends birthday. I knew right away I would be picking up a dozen French Macarons for her to enjoy, and if she feels extra nice, share with her family and co-workers.

Do they not look simply divine? And they are! Staring from left to right - Salted Caramel, Chocolate, Pistachio, and Raspberry. I so wish the Pistachio were mint. Oh, what about a chocolate cookie with a mint filling? That would be amazing...

If you have never had a macaron, it is a sandwich cookie made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, ground almond, and food coloring, filled with ganache or buttercream. I also found it interesting to learn that macaroons are naturally gluten free!

While standing in line I found this little sweetie just calling my name.

She is a Carrot Cake Sandwich cookie. Um... Yes please! Let me tell you how delightful this little sandwich turned out to be. A soft carrot cookie with the perfect amount of walnuts filled with a slightly sweet filling. I could have eaten three!
Cocoa & Fig has a retail store front on the Skyway Level of Gaviidae Common downtown Minneapolis. They are on the Saks side.  Their lovely website is located here.

In their store window they have a variety of treats including cupcakes, French Macarons, Valrhona Chocolate Bouchons (Brownies), Oatmeal or Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies, Flourless Cakes (gluten free!), and Cake Lollipops.

They also provide speciality cakes for birthday, weddings, and other events, cupcakes, and many, many other desserts.

Their staff is extremely friendly and their website is very user friendly, complete with menu and prices.

I highly recommend you check out Cocoa & Fig to satisfy your sweet tooth! I can't wait to go back as soon as I calculate how many miles I will need to run to negate that carrot cake cookie...

(Cocoa & Fig did not ask me to write this review, I paid for the products received, their staff doesn't even know I exist, I just really like their product and wanted you to know about it.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

They Will Always Be In My Heart and Around My Neck

There isn't a day that goes by that I do not think about the two most wonderful bullies who ever graced this world.

At times I feel completely lost without them.

Right now, as I write this, my heart physically aches for them.

They were my two very best friends and I miss them more than I can ever say.

But it helps me to know there are people out there who understand what I feel even though I cannot tell them.

And they go and do things like this.

And now, thanks to one of my favorite people Erin, I can carry them with me always.

Erin worked with her friend and neighbor, Kari to design this necklace for me. Kari is the owner of Beadfruit. Please visit her on Facebook and check out her Etsy store!

Thank you ladies. You never cease to amaze me!

To learn more about my Daisy Mae, you can read about her battle with bone cancer here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Not Just The Running...

Having recently lost a noticeable amount of weight, people like to ask me how I did it.

My standard answer is that I began running with the help of my extra supportive husband, Shawn.

First we set a goal because running just to run isn't much fun. We talked about doing one of those adventure 5k's one year from that conversation and then decided that a shorter term goal would be a good idea. It was July so we figured we could run and complete a respectable 5k by Halloween.

Near Halloween there is a run called the Monster Dash. Everyone dresses up and it is a grand time!  I figured if nothing else I could walk a 5k no problem and just check out all the costumes.

We started our training on July 19th with our version of a Couch to 5k program. It was painfully hot. Leave it to me to decide to start running in the middle of July! We had heat index well over 100 most days and I had never run a day in my life.

My motto had been - I only run when being chased. And I avoided being chased at all costs!

We started off with a 3 minute brisk walk for a warm up. Then we alternated jogging for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds until we had completed that cycle 6 times. It was killing me and I complained like you have never heard but we did it and I was very proud. Then I went home and passed out on the floor in the living room.

We did this for the next three times we went out.

Then I realized that I am a huge excuse maker. If there is an excuse to be made I would come up with it.  I needed to remove all obstacles such as making sure I had good shoes so my feet, knees, and back would not hurt.

When the Adidas shoes I bought ate up my ankles I realized that running is very different from walking and the best thing to do was try new shoes. My new Puma's made a world of difference.

Another excuse would be that we are just too busy. So I pulled out the calendar and mapped out three runs a week, at least one day apart. This held us accountable and made sure we thought about our running when making other plans. This was a life saver and really worked!

Here I am after our second day of running. It was July 20th, 98 degrees outside but we did it!

Every fourth run we would make it harder. I don't remember exactly what we did but it was something like this:

Week 1 -
  • 3 minute warm up walk
  • 60 second jog, 90 second walk, repeat for 20 minutes
  • 5 minute cool down walk

Week 2 -
  • 3 minute warm up walk
  • 90 second jog, 60 second walk, repeat 3 times
  • 60 second jog, 60 second walk, repeat 3 times
  • 5 minute cool down walk

Week 3 -
  • 3 minute warm up walk
  • 90 second jog, 60 second walk, repeat 6 times
  • 5 minute cool down walk

Week 4 -
  • 3 minute warm up walk
  • 2 minute jog, 60 second walk, repeat 3 times
  • 90 second jog, 60 second walk, repeat 3 times
  • 5 minutes cool down

We completed that 5k in 38 minutes! I was so impressed with myself even though it was still very hard.

Our second race was a 7k that we ran on St. Patrick's Day. We finished in 54 minutes and 17 seconds. I was ecstatic with this time. My original goal was to finish in under 50 minutes but we had only run 4 miles one other time and we hadn't been running much during the winter since it gets so cold here.


That's half of the story of how I lost 45 pounds.

The other half is something I don't talk about much because when I first started I had a huge complex about it. I thought people would think I was the fat girl who couldn’t figure it out.

But one day, about 20 pounds later, I realized I was actually the fat girl who had figured it out!

I am still a bit self-conscious about this but most of it is because I don't know how to explain it in a way that really makes sense.

But here it goes.

I wear a band on my arm.  It's called a BodyBugg. I first heard about this on The Biggest Loser. Have you ever noticed the arm bands they wear? Now you know what it is! 

It looks like a pedometer and if you ask me about it in the elevator, that is exactly what I will tell you it is.

But it's so much more than that. It tracks my actual calorie burn throughout the day in addition to tracking my steps. 

I wear it about 23.5 hours a day. Then I plug it into my computer where it loads the data into this little website. I also log everything I have eaten that day in to the same site.

On this day you can see that I burned 2841 calories and I took in 1552. If you look at the graph below you will see huge spikes around 6 pm. That was me running! And you will see how low the lines are throughout the day. That's me sitting at my desk all day.

It tells me how much KARA burned during the day which is so helpful because it is true to me, not some estimate based on my age, job description, activity levels, and weight.  It's actually what I burned.

Then it does the math between what I burned and what I ate to tell me my actual burn.

To lose 1 pound a week I need to burn 500 more calories than I take in each day during that week. So, if I want to eat a lot, I need to move a lot. If I don't move much, I should probably not eat too much, or make smarter choices.

This is a picture of the same day but showing steps. Something I learned early on is how little I walk in a day. On a typical week day, when I don't try to do anything extra, I was taking 3500 steps. When I would try hard to walk the long way or get away from my desk more often, I would log 4500 steps. That's a far cry from the recommended 10,000 steps in a day. My run this day was 3 miles. Notice how I ran 3 miles and still didn't hit a 10,000 step count? That sure was eye opening!

 This is exactly what I was missing all these years. I had no idea how inactive I was prior to wearing this armband. It has shown me not only what I AM doing but most importantly what I am NOT doing every day.

So, that's how I did it. And that's how I am doing it again now that I am on chapter 2 of my journey. I will tell you about chapter 2 soon, stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fiesta Fun Fair or The Fundraiser Which Causes Parent Stimulation Overload or How I Get To Spend 6 of My Birthdays

My daughter goes to a Spanish Immersion School. To make this school successful they hire a number of college students or recent college grads from Spanish speaking countries to assist in the class rooms each year. We call them TA's. The TA's stay with host families during the school year and the PTO does a great job taking care of them.

However they are expensive and our PTO has to fundraiser a lot in order to fund them each year.

One of their big fundraisers is the Hot and Spicy night which is an adult only live and silent auction held at a local VFW. It is a total blast where the parents, teachers, and TA's all get to let their hair down. And trust me. Some of the parents do a very, very good job letting their hair down at this event.

Their other big fundraiser is the school carnival called the Fiesta Fun Fair. It is held each year on the weekend of Cinco De Mayo which is lucky for me since my birthday is the day before Cinco De Mayo!

I will let you decide if you think I am happy about this or being sarcastic...

All 500 students, their siblings, their parents, cousins, friends, alumni (both kids and adults) all flock to the school to partake in this annual celebration to play games, bounce in houses made of air, eat junk food, get their faces painted, and don crazy hair.

And now, for the pictures!

Heidi and Emily play on the playground equipment that is off limits to the lower grades during the school day.

First stop - Face Painting! Heidi quickly transforms into a panda while Alysssa sports a smily face and Kate has a dragon.

Emily is a beautiful falcon ready to fly around this place!

Emma is sporting a tasteful butterfly!

Willy's zombie face was awesome but faded as soon as he got his snow cone.

 Heidi, Kate, and Alyssa found their teacher, Sra. Reynolds at the popcorn stand. Alyssa loved buying popcorn from her teacher!!

Heidi, Kate, Sophia (with the very fitting butterfly mask), and Piper (a beautiful falcon) have their snacks and are ready to find some games!

Our little friend Lily, Robbinsdale Ambassador, made an appearance! It was so great to see her and her mom, Jessie! We miss you guys!! (Lily is the little one looking directly at the camera)

 Heidi rocked the hockey shot game.

 So did Piper!

This is about the time where Jess asks me if I think this is as bad as Chuck E. Cheeses. As a general rule, I do not go to CEC. I call it Parent Stimulation Overload. It is just to much for me to willingly spend any more time in that place.

While this was much more buck wild than The Chuck, I am willing to spend a few hours of my birthday weekend supporting such a good cause. Without the TA's my daughters school would not be as amazing as it is.

The ring toss.
 Bean bag Tic Tac Toe.
 Who doesn't love a giant Spiderman obstacle course?! Spiderman is my favorite so I am sure this was just for me...

 Next stop? Crazy hair room! Piper sporting her colorful pigtails.

This room was bliss for us moms. We gathered in the back of the relatively quiet room and took a breather while we waited for all the girls to turn into punk rockers.

 Doesn't Carly look like a Powder Puff Girl?

Kate, Heidi, and Sophia look awesome!

Last stop was the snack walk where Sophia won twice!

And on her third attempt, Heidi won some cookies.

I think everyone had a blast. I had a great time running into other moms and having quick chats with them before we all ran off in different directions.

And to think. Only 364 days until the next Fundraiser Which Causes Parent Stimulation Overload. 

Until next year!