RUN fuel and food

Remember how I’m in-training for my first half marathon? I think I’ve mentioned it before…

Well, here’s the thing I’m learning: training isn’t just what you do in the gym or on the road. It’s what you’re putting into your body, what you’re using as fuel to make your body do what it needs to do once you get to the gym. And that’s been hard for me.

A few years ago, I didn’t give a second thought to what I was eating. I ate because something looked or sounded good. I ate because it was time to eat or someone else was eating and I wanted to also. But since I started this journey to become healthy, to become fit and strong, I give a lot of thought to what I eat. (Not to say I don’t eat “bad” things or more than I should sometimes, I just think about it more!)

run collage

[quote source]

And there’s no time like when you’re running to think about what you ate the day before and how it’s affecting your run. I’ve learned that I can’t drink the night before a long run, it leaves me too dehydrated and groggy. I’ve noticed that if I don’t drink enough water in the twenty four hours before I run or do any strenuous activity, I cramp up fast and can’t go as far as I should be able to. I’ve learned that nothing tastes better than a chocolate treat after a hard workout. And I’ve learned that depriving yourself of everything you love to eat or drink isn’t healthy, helpful, or sustainable.


So I make sure to eat protein all the time (turkey bacon like it’s my job, Egg White Delight McMuffin from McDonald’s for breakfast-on-the-go, vanilla Greek yogurt because I think it tastes like ice cream), drink more water than caffeine (but I’m not willing to give it up, so don’t ask. Diet Mt. Dew and fountain Cokes FOREVER), and to always have a healthy snack on hand because your body needs more energy when you run (almonds, apples, and cheese are my favorites). I’m probably eating more food now than I have in years. And while I’m not losing weight like I thought I would running this much, I’ve learning how to feed my body well, how to forgive myself when I make a mistake, and how to eat for fuel. I’m realizing that if I want this body, this one body I get, to last as long as possible, I need to treat it with care, respect, and grace.

It’s empowering to say that finally, after thirty-two-plus years, I love my body, flaws and all.


RUN training schedule

I love a good plan.

Like really love a good plan.

So when I decided to train for a half marathon, I knew I needed a good training schedule. One that made me feel like I could actually do it, but that would kick my butt in the process. So like any resourceful woman in 2014, I went to Pinterest for all the answers.

And after pinning about ten different training schedules, I picked the one that looked the easiest.

half marathon training crop

Or so I thought. Maybe it was the underlined “can” that got me or how positive the dang thing sounded, but I read it over and it sounded do-able.


Wellll, apparently, I picked a pretty aggressive training routine for my first half marathon. At least that’s what my dad (professional runner of marathons and half marathons for over 40 years) said after I was about four weeks in and he got a chance to check it out.

But I was already on my way and wasn’t stopping.

I chose a 12-week training plan, but started it in January for my May race. I liked that idea of doubling up on some weeks, giving myself a little more time to add the miles. I’ve thrived on this schedule. I had no idea how much I would like following someone else’s plan for exercise. I have no problem getting myself to the gym and moving, I can bike, run, walk, weight train, or any number of other machines plus an occasional exercise class. I don’t get bored easily, and I have my routines. But following this schedule was exciting.

I know how ridiculous that sounds.

But it’s like having a personal trainer doing all the legwork and I just show up everyday and do what I’m told. Even things I don’t want to do, I do because it is on the paper. That paper is magical; it is my boss, my accountability partner, my encourager, my enemy. It’s evil and I love it all at the same time.


Training is a funny thing. Getting into the mindset that I’m preparing my body for something big, this culminating event that I’ve been focused on for months is mindblowing. Who am I to be training for something? I’m a thirty-two-year-old mom of two that really loves taking naps, reading books, and drinking McDonald’s Diet Cokes. And I’m in-training. I’m some kind of athlete that has a full-time job, has to make dinner every night for my family, and wipes butts on the weekends.

And I’m running a half marathon for the first time in my life. I’ve never felt more prepared, more excited, or more ready.


ingredients for an amazing life // alpine lace deli cheese

I guess I always assumed I’d have an awesome life.

Now I know that “awesome” is subjective. “Awesome life” at 22 is different than “awesome life” at 32. Ten years ago, my reasons for an awesome life would have included a lot of alcohol, boys, and cute (also known as trashy) clothes. Today, I’m more Diet Mt. Dew, one specific boy, and clothes from Kohls. And I’m pretty sure they’re not trashy…

We all have our own list of what makes up a great life or a great day. Like a recipe, we’ve got just the right amount of friends, food, and adventures that make our lives awesome. And it’s these life ingredients that make the bad days bearable and the good days great.

My life is full of ingredients that make it pretty great, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d focus on these things:

An early morning jog with a friend. IMG_7722

Followed by a lazy day at home. IMG_4732

Just playing with my kids and lounging with my puppy. IMG_8045

Followed by an early dinner with friends. IMG_7478


And dessert! IMG_6962

Then a date night with my baby daddy. IMG_3408

What about you? What ingredients make your life or day amazing?

What about with a sandwich? What ingredients make an amazing sandwich? I would answer onions and Alpine Lace deli cheese (reduced fat Swiss, to be exact). Nothing makes a better sandwich or a greater snack than cheese. I love to cure my munchies with a cheese and cracker snack or grab a quick sandwich for lunch. And with all my half-marathon training and get-fit goals, I love that Alpine Lace comes in reduced fat so I can still enjoy cheese without the guilt.

alpine cheese

Thinking of what ingredients you need for an amazing day? Go here to make a nutrition label complete with your ingredients then share that goodness on Facebook, let everyone know what you need for an awesome day!

alpine lace



Peeps Easter wreath

Since it’s officially April now, you better believe my front door is rockin’ my Peeps Easter wreath. I made it a couple years ago and it’s still going strong; it has completely dried out and it’s nice and hard which makes storing it easy.

peeps easter wreath 0

I would say each year I get a little more into decorating for Easter. I’m sure some sassy pants would say it’s because I’m getting older, but I think it has more to do with my kids and their excitement over holidays, decorations, and traditions. I’ve become that mom that everyone swears they won’t become. Cool.

I originally posted a how-to on the Peeps wreath here if you’re interested in making one for yourself!

peeps easter wreath collage

when mama goes out on the town

I don’t get to drink because I have to run nine miles the next morning.

I get to wear heels and a black jacket.

leather jacket and heels

leather jacket and heels 1

leather jacket and heels 0

I laugh a little louder than normal.

I drive my minivan like a boss.

I do not yawn once so all the young kids think I do this all the time.

I sit in a booth and catch up with friends: gossiping, storytelling, and reminiscing.

I come home at midnight feeling alive and filled up.

I need to do this more often.


Outfit details // jeans: Old Navy, t-shirt: Old Navy, jacket: Kohls [similar], heels: Rock and Republic for Kohls [similar heels and flats], bag: stolen from my mother [similar]

run update: March


March was tough. I’m four weeks away from the Mini Marathon at this point and really logging the miles. I ran my farthest distance ever on Sunday, ten miles, taking my March total to 50.9 miles.

OVER 50 MILES in March. Beast.

Some days I love running. Some days I loathe it. But I do it anyway because it’s teaching me discipline and making me mentally stronger. There’s nothing like the battle that goes on in your head when you’re running and you really think you can’t go one step further.

And then you do.

running update

You know what’s more addicting than drugs? Runner’s high. Knowing that you completed something that you’ve never done before. It’s empowering. This running gig has bled into other areas of my life, making me more focused, more confident, just more.

I’m thinking differently, thinking like a runner. I’m more aware of what I eat the day before a long run. I’m constantly drinking water because that one time I didn’t drink enough and I woke up all night with severe leg cramps is burned into my memory forever. I save all my favorite shows for the treadmill if I know I’ll be running inside. Important stuff, people.

This running thing is changing my life. I’m a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, and a better teacher because of it. I have more energy, more patience, and more grace. Because I have a lot of time to think while running and that makes me calmer.

running update 0

Can I tell you to take up running? Is that allowed? I’d love for you to experience these things too. To feel on top of the world after a great run and then feel your body recover from it so you can do it all over again.

Running’s a bitch. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.



weekend read: Lean In

I’m one hundred percent in on the mom struggle; I write about it constantly, I’m torn daily, sometimes hourly, with what I should be doing and what I should not be doing, and, while I don’t often second guess myself, nothing makes me more unsure about my choices than looking at my kids.

And then I read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. These life-changing books seem to be coming at me a lot recently, Running Like a Girl rocked my running and half-marathon training and this book, Lean In, is doing that for my career and family.

Lean In book review

I grew up in a house that had a stay-at-home mom and a work-to-support-the-family dad. We were traditional and well cared for and common. But every once in a while, I caught glimpses of my mom and her dreams, her desires that weren’t confined to the walls of our house. And while I don’t believe there is anything wrong with being a stay-at-home mom (I sometimes fantasize about it…), I do think there’s something wrong with doing what society thinks you should do if it’s not what you want to do.

alice walker quote

My mom is a product of the fifties and she was raised to be a mom. There was never any talk or encouragement to pursue a career or college or anything once she graduated from high school, she was supposed to get married and make a home. But I know if she had more options, she would have chosen differently.

I wish this book had been around for my mom.

single most important career decision quote

Lean In affirms this atypical life that my family and I lead. Where Chris stays home and raises our babies while I support our family and pursue writing in my “spare time.” Where he cleans the bathrooms and does the laundry while I pay the bills and explore career options and dream big.

I spent the majority of this book highlighting, underlining, writing notes, and re-reading because she was speaking directly to me. Sandberg wrote Lean In for me. And I don’t think that’s thinking too highly of myself when I say that because I know there are a few million other wives, mothers, daughters, co-workers, learners, and dreams just like me that she wrote this book for.

This one changed my world. I can’t put it on the shelf yet, I’m not done with it and I’m not sure I will ever be. I keep flipping it open, re-reading sections, nodding my head enthusiastically, and then underlining more. I keep finding more passages that apply to my days, my dreams, my ambitions. This book helps me see my career, my steps, and my plans more clearly.

You’ll be hearing more about Lean In from me, her words have definitely lit a fire, gotten my wheels turning, and given me the push I needed. Have you read her book yet?? Do it. Whatever your life track, read this book. Raising girls? Read this book. And then let me know what you think, because I want to talk about it!


how to make homemade vanilla extract

I got the brilliant idea to do homemade Christmas gifts for relatives last year. It was a lot more effort than I planned and I ended up giving up on most of the ideas. But! ONE idea panned out so well I’m now on round three so I thought I’d share it with you since I have yet to mess it up and it’s pretty much amazing.

homemade vanilla recipe

For real, two steps.

Step one: buy vanilla beans and vodka. Originally, I bought one jar of vanilla beans (that held two beans) but have since upped the beans to four. Two worked fine, I’m just impatient so I thought more beans meant faster vanilla. That has not shown to be true yet. For vodka, cheap and nasty is fine. I started with Dark Eyes and have graduated to the next step up, but it doesn’t really matter. Go Grey Goose if you want to, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Step two: Slice open vanilla beans, put them in a jar, pour in vodka, seal, and wait.

Wait three to four months. One recipe I read when I started this experiment said three weeks but that is a complete lie. I opened the jar up after three weeks and I had vodka with a vanilla bean garnish. There was nothing extract about about it. So I waited and waited, slowly watching the color change from clear to dark brown. And when it finally looked like vanilla, I opened up the jar and it smelled like vanilla too.

how to make homemade vanilla 0

The key is patience, because it seems to take forever. When it’s finally done, strain out all the beans and vanilla floaters, bottle, and use.

I’m not a vanilla snob by any stretch of the imagination, BUT I can tell a major difference when I bake with this homemade vanilla. It is shocking how good it is. Like you won’t believe it until you try it.

My first jar made five bottles (like these) that I gave to grandmas and great grandmas for Christmas. What’s great about the beans is you can just put all of them back in the jar, fill it up with vodka again, and you’re already working on another batch. I’m currently on batch number three and the vanilla beans haven’t lost their power yet.

Altogether, I spent about $16 and ended up with four large bottles of pure vanilla extract. If you’ve been grocery shopping recently, you know that’s a heck of a deal. And it took about three minutes of actual work. The hardest part of this gig is the waiting. So if you can do that, you’ll end up with some delicious homemade vanilla extract and plenty to share!



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