Saturday, July 31, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's entertaining blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Rolling feet on a golf ball.

As I write this (on Friday night), I've got a golf ball under the sole of one foot. I'm rolling it around. It's really a nice, effective way to give yourself a foot massage--you should try it!

Hey, I just realized this golf ball that I use on my feet is the same one that naughty Zoodle had in his mouth earlier tonight. That's kind of gross.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A blended family

When The Engineer and I married, we didn't register for a blender. The Engineer already had one. It wasn't a really nice one, just an inexpensive Hamilton Beach model. But it did the job.

In fact, our cheap, trusty blender lasted through ten years of marriage! But several months ago, the motor burned out.

So there I was, stuck with a broken blender base but a perfectly functional blender jar. (It's a plastic jar, so even my clumsy hands haven't managed to break it.) I tried posting it on Freecycle. (You know I love Freecycle, right?) I hoped that someone had a base and needed a jar. I didn't get any takers. The jar sat in my cabinet, lonely, widowed from its base.

And then yesterday I checked my email and found this:
OFFER: Hamilton Beach Blender minus the glass jar part
This was a real nice blender but the glass jar met its demise on the tile floor. Everything else is there.
The poor blender! Functional motor, but unable to fulfill its life's purpose. A broken-hearted blender...just needing a jar. The same brand as mine. Could this be a second chance at life for both of them?

So this morning I picked up that free blender base and brought it home. I introduced it to my blender jar. It was a perfect fit.


Sure, the base is white, and the jar lid is black. But I'm not picky. They may have met later in life, but I'm hoping it'll be a long-term match, and that they'll have plenty of progeny (smoothies) throughout the years. I think they make a perfect blended family.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A hat for Molly-o

My sister Becki requested that I make this hat for her daughter Molly. Molly likes pink and brown, so here's what I made (modeled by Chickie!):



What's cool about this hat is just how simple the pattern is.


I'd never made pom poms, so I found two tutorials (here and here). They were very easy.

If I keep going at this pace, there will be a lot of crocheted items under Christmas trees in a few more months!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer heat...not so bad!

I've never liked summer heat.

Let me rephrase that.

I've always hated summer heat. (Much better.)

People seem to think that because I grew up in Yuma, Arizona (known as "The Armpit of Arizona"), I should be used to heat. But here's the problem--I've always been an indoor sort of girl. I've was so in love with air conditioning that I didn't make peace with that awful heat.

Then I became a runner at the end of October last year. It was late enough in the year that I didn't have to deal with heat. I enjoyed running through the winter and spring. And then it started to get warmer, and really humid, and I was miserable. I even blogged about joining a rec center so that I could run indoors.

And at that rec center, I discovered that there's something worse than running in warm, humid weather--running inside. I did a total of two runs at that gym, and I realized that large quantities of sweat are definitely preferable to large quantities of boredom. I figured out that if I just bucked up and dealt with the heat (and made sure I left the house early enough, and slowed my pace), running outside during the summer was suddenly doable. I canceled my rec center membership and haven't missed that indoor track or those treadmills one bit.

And then I discovered something amazing. I've had the kids outside more this summer, with Backyard Bible Clubs and a recent outdoor playdate and other outdoor activities, and it's not so bad. Running in the warm, muggy mornings has gotten me acclimated to heat and humidity for the first time in my life. I certainly wouldn't want to spend all day, every day outside, but it's wonderful being able to enjoy myself even when I'm hot.

It took me 32 years to acclimate to heat. So let's hope we never move anywhere that has a lot of snowy weather. I've never had to shovel a sidewalk. I'm not even sure I'd know how. This old dog may be able to learn some new tricks, but living with blizzards might be taking it a bit too far!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Saturday Chickie and I headed out for a couple of hours for some one-on-one time. It wasn't anything fancy. I was doing grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, and we stopped at the in-store McDonald's for lunch. (I think that sentence just doubled my redneck rating!)

I had such a nice time with my girl. I don't even remember what we talked about, but it was relaxing and fun. At McDonald's Chickie ate Apple Dippers...


...and played with her Happy Meal toy...


...and I didn't feel the need to rush her to finish as quickly as possible so we could get home.

As I sat there with her I realized just how much more relaxed I am when it's just Chickie and me, without Zoodle. When both kids are with me when I'm out in public, I tend to feel rushed and often grumpy.

Why is that? I wondered.

I think part of it is that is just the ages they are right now. I can have more true conversations with a 4-year-old than with a 2-year-old. I can trust that Chickie won't run away from me in the store (well, not far away, anyhow.) It's easier to relax with a preschooler than with a toddler. Pretty soon Zoodle will be old enough for me to let down my guard a bit with him too.

Part of the issue, though, is that when there are two kids, I'm outnumbered. I have twice as much to watch out for. Two kids are making requests and demands. Two kids are sometimes obeying and sometimes not. And I just want to get done so we can get back to the familiar, relatively safe and relaxing comfort of home.

But it was so enjoyable, letting myself relax on Saturday. And I think with some planning (to leave the house early enough) and the right attitude, maybe I could learn to be more relaxed with both kids too. The result would be three people who would enjoy running errands more than we enjoy it now.

Relaxing two-on-one time? It's certainly worth a shot!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Micro: Expressive kids

Our church did a little one-session Vacation Bible School on Saturday, followed by an outdoor festival. It's so fun watching my kids have a blast.

Chickie dances to the beat of her own drummer. I love how she goes back and forth between being the only kid dancing, and trying to follow the song's hand motions.

Zoodle got wet and sandy due to a sprinkler and sandbox, so we stripped him down. Didn't stop him from having a great time in the bounce house.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's splendiderrific blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Vacation Bible School & Festival today!

Our small church is doing a one-day Vacation Bible School this afternoon, followed by a fun Summer Festival with food, games, and a bounce house. It doesn't start for 7 1/2 more hours, but I've got a Bible story to finish preparing, four dozen cupcakes to make, and a couple of watermelon to buy. Plus we're hoping to do some family swimming before we go. It'll be a busy and fun day!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Zoodle and the ducks

There was once a sweet little boy named Zoodle. He, his sister Chickie, and his mommy met some friends at a park to play at the sprinkler area and the playscape.

Zoodle saw some ducks there, and later kept telling his mommy, "I wan koo kee guh guck!" ("I want to see the ducks!") But alas, his mommy didn't know where the ducks had gone. And she didn't want to walk down to the lake at the park to look for them, so poor Zoodle was outta luck.

Finally after a long morning of lots of heat and water and running and fun and picnic food, they got ready to go. They loaded up and walked to the car. And I guess those ducks must have wanted to see Zoodle too, because they were waiting for him at the car.


Zoodle was so happy! He wanted to say hello to the ducks. "Hewwo, guck!" he said. "Hewwo, guck!" They quacked in response.

Zoodle's mommy, while thrilled to see the ducks, was concerned for their livelihood. She was not in the mood to make fresh duck for dinner, so she was relieved when they started to move...


...and eventually all exited their shady spot.


They headed to the neighboring vehicle (walking past Zoodle's excited sister Chickie.)


But the owner of that vehicle was leaving too, so the ducks once again needed to move, and when Zoodle's mommy had buckled him into his seat, she saw that the ducks were back.


"Shoo!" Zoodle's mommy said. "Shoo, duckies!" The ducks, resigned to the loss of their shady cabana, exited, quacking all the way.

Thankfully, there were plenty of other shady places for the ducks to choose from, and they quickly settled in one.


Hopefully for the rest of the afternoon there were plenty of other little boys and girls happy to see ducks too...accompanied by careful drivers saying "Shoo."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What do you buy at warehouse stores?

I'm going to come right out and say it--I don't like to scour grocery ads and clip coupons. I know it's a good way to save money; I just don't like to do it, so...I don't. That means finding good everyday prices is important to me.

I'll admit, I do most of my grocery shopping at our Wal-Mart Supercenter because the prices are just so low, and because it's the nearest store to me. I occasionally make trips to stores that are more expensive because they carry particular items. And I stock up on certain things at Costco.

Costco shopping bag
(That's a huge bag. I think my husband might be able to carry me in it. But I'm not crazy enough to try.)

I have to be careful though. Some items are not cheaper at Costco. Cold cereal tends to be kind of expensive there. Some of the produce is pricey. Some items aren't available in the store brand "Kirkland" and I'm better off buying a smaller package of a store brand somewhere else. I've just got to take it item by item.

But for certain things, Costco does have good deals. Sometimes I even use the coupons they send me; because they sell in bulk, each coupon saves me enough money to make the clipping worth it!

Here are some of the items I regularly buy at Costco.
  • Energy bars. These are in the bakery section, and Zoodle loves them. I eat them regularly before running, but Zoodle (who is in a picky phase) has them almost every morning for breakfast. Check out all the good stuff in that ingredient list.
  • Chicken broth. Six quarts of organic broth for under $10.
  • Frozen mixed berries and strawberries (for smoothies, snacks, pancake topping, etc.)
  • Mickey-shaped all-natural chicken nuggets.
  • Spring mix or spinach, and huge bags of baby carrots.
  • Some fruit, depending on the price.
  • Certain snack items--tortilla chips, pretzels, "Simply Fruit" Fruit Roll-Ups (made with real fruit & fruit juice), various types of granola bars, Goldfish crackers etc.
  • Frozen boneless/skinless chicken breast.
  • Turkey bacon.
  • Frozen fish.
  • Chicken sausage--a delicious, healthier alternative to beef or pork sausage!
  • Sandwich bread. (Orowheat bread is a great deal there; each loaf is twice as big as a normal grocery store loaf. You have to buy two at a time; I freeze one.)
  • Beer and wine. (We like Black Box Cabernet; it's a tasty wine that yes, comes in a box.)
  • Huge jars of sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts.
  • Idahoan "Baby Reds" instant mashed potatoes. Yeah, I know, instant, but we like them.
  • Diapers--well, not anymore! But we appreciated the diaper discounts on Huggies and on Kirkland brand (which is comparable to Huggies Supreme) for both kids.
  • Clothes--Sometimes we find some good deals on quality clothes for the kids, for us, and for gifts.
  • Contact lenses--I save SO much money buying my contacts at Costco! I even use the on-site optometrist (who is available to members and non-members.) Her prices are great, and I really like her.
  • Gummy bear calcium for the kids. (And sometimes for me--they're MUCH tastier than the calcium pills I sometimes take!)
And of course there are "impulse buys" which at Costco can quickly drive my bill a lot higher than I expected! Not to mention the free samples that introduce me to foods I didn't know I needed. I have to be careful!

Those Costco trips can be expensive, but now that we've stocked up on so many things, I usually don't have a huge list when I go there. After shopping, we often buy some cheap food at their cafe, where Chickie loves to sit at one of the tables that has an umbrella over it.

What do you buy at warehouse clubs? Do you find that you save money in the long run, or just end up spending a lot more than you expected?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


"There was a really cool interview on NPR the other day," I told The Engineer. "It was about barefoot running." And then I proceeded to tell him so much about the interview that he certainly wouldn't ever need to actually listen to it himself.

As I wrapped up, I noticed he was...fidgety. You know, like I am when he tells me about the plot of a video game.

"Sorry," I said. "Am I talking about this barefoot running thing too much?"

"Well, it's all you talk about," he replied.

Point taken. There may be more to life than barefoot running, and it might help my conversations with my husband if I could insert a little more variety and a little less "sole."

But for some reason when I get excited...I mean, really excited...about something new, I get obsessed with it. In the last 2 1/2 weeks since I decided to start running barefoot, I've joined multiple online communities; perused advice on barefoot running injuries I don't even have; read a book by a barefoot running proponent; and talked--a lot--about running barefoot.

When I was pregnant with Zoodle, I read book after book about natural childbirth. A couple of years ago evolution and the evolution/creationism debate had me obsessed for months on end. When barefoot running has been relegated to just another part of my normal life, part of me may miss the obsession and look forward to my next all-consuming interest. And part of me will just be glad my brain has calmed down for awhile!

It really is smart to be careful just how much I talk about these things, because frankly, not everyone is interested in what I'm learning about barefoot running form and how my soles are handling the asphalt! But at the same time, when it comes to how I spend my time, I'm hesitant to limit my obsession too much. It really is fun to delve neck-deep into a topic that fascinates me until my curiosity naturally dies down. You could call it an entertaining way to get some no-credit adult continuing education.

When you have a new interest, does it naturally just fit in with the rest of your life; or do you find yourself temporarily obsessed?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Add Humor and Faith" to your blog reading!

In May I had my second blogiversary and did a giveaway. The prize was two-fold: something yummy from my kitchen, and some free PR for the winner's blog.

The lucky winner was Sandra. Except I'm not sure she was really that lucky, because I'm finally, two months later, holding up my end of the deal! Sandra got some Sweet & Spicy Roasted Nuts in the mail yesterday. (CrockPot recipe here!) And I'm pleased and proud to tell you all about her blog today!

Sandra was one of the first people to find my other blog, The One-Minute Writer, at the end of 2008. That led her here, and I ended up checking out her blog, Add Humor and Faith...Mix Well. We hit it off in this wonderful blogosphere, and we've been reading each other ever since!

The title of Sandra's blog is nicely descriptive. Her writing is full of both humor and faith. If she were to be even more accurate, she could call it "Add Humor, Faith, Wisdom, Photos, Healthy Recipes, and a few Indulgent Recipes (Cake Balls, anyone?)...Mix Well." On the other hand...sometimes conciseness trumps accuracy!

Sandra married her high school sweetheart, and a great way to get introduced to her blog would be to read the story of how they met. After enjoying that story, maybe you'll keep reading...and start enjoying your daily dose of humor and faith from Sandra!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Micro: They're ba-ack...!

(Insert horrified scream.)

stonewashed jeans

Did I really need flashbacks of junior high when I walked past the juniors' section at Wal-Mart?!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's great blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Barefoot running--harder than I expected.

I'm still excited about my decision to become a barefoot runner. In fact, I've decided to stop running in shoes entirely. Barefoot running requires, for me, a totally new running form. Wearing shoes part of the time was just confusing things.

But that means I'm having to run a lot fewer miles. Barefoot running uses the muscles, tendons, and bones of the legs and feet very differently than my old shod running style did. I'm sore! I pushed it a little too hard this week, and am having to back off as I realize just how important it is to listen to my body when that body is doing something it hasn't done since it was very young.

It's going to take awhile to be running the same mileage I was doing just a week ago when I was still wearing running shoes some of the time. My goal is still the same, to do a half marathon in the fall or winter. I had more than enough time to train for that goal; I was ahead of where I needed to be in my training. Now I've just found a way to use all that extra time--if I train conservatively, it may take about two or three months to ramp my mileage back up!

This is an exercise in patience, and I've gotten addicted to my long runs, so patience is tough for me! But I expect that the end reward will be amazing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A little Zoodle experiment

I realized that my last few blog posts have been full of news about Chickie, while poor Zoodle has hardly been mentioned!

Zoodle has this amazing ability to make the people around him smile. I hope he keeps that quality all his life; it's a priceless one.

I wonder if it works online? I guess it's worth an experiment.


I hope it worked...and that you keep smiling all day. Have a great Friday!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 1 of swimming lessons

Yesterday I blogged about Chickie's fears in the pool. I wasn't sure how her first swimming lesson would go. went great!


She was willing to try things I thought would totally freak her out, based on our experiences in the pool with her. She dipped her head just slightly under the water, with her mouth in the water and her nose still out of the water. She jumped from the edge of the pool into the arms of one of her instructors. She didn't seem freaked out!

I think this is one of those instances where she really needs some teachers who aren't her parents. By the end of the lessons next week, she won't be doing all the different strokes, but I think she will be less afraid and will enjoy herself even more in the pool. Yay!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Helping Chickie learn to swim.... This is one area in which I feel like I've failed. She's never had lots of pool time, and she has quite a bit of fear when we do go to a pool. She's brave enough now that with water wings plus a donut-style floatie, she'll float around without someone holding her. But holding her breath and bobbing her head under the water is out of the question.

Several weeks ago I signed her up for swim lessons. Today I checked to see when the lessons would be starting.... and groaned when I saw the date "7/12." So she's missed her first two lessons. Aargh! I'll bring her tonight, and she'll get the last six lessons of the two-week class.

I was talking to a neighbor recently, and she told me her son had also been afraid of swimming. They'd signed him up for swim lessons when he was about Chickie's age, and he was still so afraid that they'd only gone to a couple of lessons. That should have discouraged me, but what she said next encouraged me instead.

"This summer," she said, "he just got over the fear." He's six. He just needed some time to outgrow that fear.

That makes sense to me. Chickie has had plenty of irrational fears. She always gets over them eventually. I need to remember that her current fears of swimming and spiders will probably eventually go away, just like her old fears of taking baths and pooping!

So I hope the swim lessons "work" by helping her be more comfortable in the water. But if the fear remains, we'll just continue to be extra-cautious with her in the pool. I'll remind myself that she'll probably decide she loves water before too long, without me having to do anything but let her grow up. I think this is one of those areas in which I need to relax and be patient, letting my daughter be who she is, and letting her grow at her own pace.

Maybe I should have put her in swim lessons earlier. It might have made a huge difference. might not have. Either way, in the long run I think she'll be just fine. So I'm going to try to cut myself a little slack on this one, and to cut Chickie some slack too.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Flowers flowers flowers!

Chickie wanted me to crochet her a hat, so I let her look at pictures online. She passed over hat after hat after hat. Several had big flowers attached to them, which I really thought she'd like. Why was she being so picky?

Finally, she settled on one. It didn't just have one big flower, but multiple ones. Very girly! I ended up not using that pattern, but I used the general idea. I made it with this hat pattern, and this flower pattern.

So here it is, her very flowery hat. It's gaudy, but in a cute way...and it's just what she wanted.



I hope you're bearing with me on all the craft-related posts recently. For some reason I'm in a craft phase lately. I'm loving the crocheting! I may get tired of my crochet hook at some point, but for now, I'm having fun. My relatives had better be prepared for lots of yarn-related gifts this Christmas!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Suggestions for drivers, from a runner

Because I generally run streets (not trails, treadmills, or tracks), I see a lot of cars during my runs. I know a majority of you aren't runners, but almost all of you are probably drivers! Here are my suggestions for you when you are driving and you see a runner.
  • When you come up to a runner who is on the street (as opposed to the sidewalk), pull your car away from the runner as you pass him or her, if you can do so safely.You may know you're giving the runner plenty of room, but the runner doesn't know whether or not you're paying attention...and fears you might accidentally swerve at the last minute. By changing lanes, or even just moving over within your lane, the runner knows you probably see him/her.
  • Most of us run on the left side of the street, if we're actually on the street. (Why run on the street if a sidewalk is available? Asphalt isn't as firm as concrete, and it's easier on the joints!) So if you're coming toward a runner, (s)he will be able to see into your car if the light is right. As you pass, smile! Smiles from strangers--whether they're in cars, on foot, or on bikes--give me extra energy to keep going! The runner you pass might be five minutes into the run, with plenty of energy--or an hour and a half into a long, challenging run. Your smile might act as a calorie-free "Power Bar" for that tired runner!
  • If you're backing out of a driveway, make sure you check both directions before you pull onto the sidewalk and/or street. Many drivers only check behind their right shoulders until the last second. A runner on the left side of the street will appreciate it if you see them and let them pass. (A kid playing outside will appreciate that too--at least his/her parents will!) My (incredibly unscientific) experience has been that about half of drivers don't carefully check both directions before progressing down the driveway.
Thanks for sharing the streets with runners!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Six Word Saturday: Cow edition

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's great blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

"Will Moo For Food. Moo. Moooooo."


Yesterday was Chick-Fil-A's Cow Appreciation Day. Any kids who dressed up like cows got a free kids' meal, and adults who were brave enough to go bovine got free sandwiches. We were lucky that Chickie already had cow PJs. I cut spots out of brown faux suede fabric from my stash and hand-basted it to white shirts for Zoodle and me. (It'll be very easy to take them off.) We all three had dark noses (though I hadn't colored mine yet when we took this picture.) It was such a fun way to get free food!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Running partner

Wednesday we had weather that wasn't quite as hot as usual, and the kids and I went to the park. I pushed Zoodle in the stroller, and Chickie ran with me. It's almost half a mile to the park, and she jogged the whole way. (In fact, she jogged barefoot, just like me!)

She's impressed me with her running endurance a couple of other times too, like when she did the kids' Fun Run at my first 5K. That little race was probably about 1/3 mile.


Another time, we did a charity walk/run, and Chickie jogged along with me for quite awhile--probably 15 minutes or so. (I would have felt like I was going to die if I'd jogged for 15 minutes straight when I first started running!)

Kids her age tend to be so naturally active--I'd better nurture that now so that maybe she won't outgrow it! So I've asked Chickie if she wants to sometimes get up early with me and run with me. I'm not going to take her along for a three-plus-mile run, but I know she'd enjoy coming along for a portion of some of my runs--maybe a mile or so. It'll mess up my pace, but you know what? That's okay! In fact, since I'm starting to do a little barefoot running, going slowly will be a great way for me to focus on learning proper running form.

It's exciting for me, because I have a lot more fun taking Chickie along when I'm doing something I enjoy, than agreeing to do something "preschoolish" with her. (Please tell me I'm not the only parent who finds lots of excuses not to play Candy Land!)

Did your parents let you join them in some of their hobbies? If you have kids, how do you involve them in the activities you enjoy doing?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Survey says...

Earlier this week we got a letter in the mail from the Centers for Disease Control. Naturally, I was curious--why would they want to contact us? It turned out they'd randomly selected our home phone number (linked to our address) and wanted to conduct a survey regarding childhood immunizations. It just so happened, they specifically wanted information on kids age 12-35 months...Zoodle's age range.

So I called them. Yep, I actually called to take a 20-minute survey. I kind of like surveys. Is that weird?

Some surveys just seem genuinely important to me. I did a fairly lengthy phone survey last year that I think was being sponsored by some political party or someone in government--it was all about our family's health insurance, what I expect from the government regarding health care, etc. I was happy that I might have had some input into the future of American health care. I also felt the CDC survey was worthwhile. I believe in the importance of childhood immunizations, so I was glad to be able to share Zoodle's immunization history with them.

Beyond the importance of surveys, I just kind of think they are fun and interesting. I did a survey recently that I'm pretty sure was sponsored by our Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Our state has a governor's race coming up that promises to be hard-fought, entertaining, and expensive. It was fun to give my political opinions to those who are shaping one of the campaigns (assuming I drew the correct conclusion about who was funding the survey!)

What about you? Do you participate in surveys, or avoid them?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Running: I'm putting my sole into it!

Not long ago I blogged about the site I use to track my running and exercising, DailyMile. Well, I've also started using DailyMile to track my running gear.

I've got 42 miles on my Camelback hydration backpack (wonderful for longer summer runs!)

Camelback hydration backpack

My Asics have 296 miles on them.

Asics GT-2140

But I'm most excited about some gear I've just started using this week. I have about 2 miles on these:

barefoot running

Yes, of course I've been using my feet for every mile I've run, but now I'm starting to use them just as you see them here.

That's right, I'm venturing into the exciting world of barefoot running.

No, this isn't a belated April Fool's Day joke! Sure, barefoot running is still on the fringe in modern America, but humans ran barefoot for a long time before shoes were invented, and in parts of the world, barefoot is still the norm. It seems to be gaining popularity in the U.S. too!

I started getting intrigued by the idea of running either barefoot or in "minimalist" shoes that mimic barefoot running, as I heard from others online who love this type of running. At first I just read with interest, even as I planned to purchase another pair of running shoes. But the more I researched, the more I realized it was something I wanted to try.

You can find lots of information online about barefoot running, but the basic idea is this: Our feet were made to be barefoot; shoes are a (relatively) modern invention. When we run barefoot, our running form naturally improves. Many believe that those who run barefoot are therefore less likely to suffer from running-related aches, pains, and injuries, though studies need to be done to confirm that hypothesis.

Many runners also use minimalist shoes, designed to mimic being barefoot while still protecting the soles. I will probably get some of these funky-looking Vibram Five Fingers. If the ground is too cold, too hot, or particularly difficult to run on, I'll still be able to run with proper form in Vibrams. But this article convinced me to start out totally shoeless. By letting my sensitive soles feel the ground completely, my form naturally improves. Proper form is more gentle on the feet, so our bodies naturally try to figure out what that proper form is when our feet can feel everything.

So twice this week I've gone outside and done warm-up walks and short runs, barefoot. I've run on both the asphalt road and on concrete sidewalks. My soles need to toughen up, and I'm still learning to have a better running form, but so far I love it! My feet feel so light, and in this hot weather my whole body is cooler when my feet are free from shoes. I like the feel of not striking the ground first with my heel. (Running shoes encourage a heelstrike.)

I'm easing into it, so that I don't injure my muscles or the soles of my feet. Over and over, I have read that it's wise to make the transition from shoes to barefoot slowly. But yesterday when I had run barefoot for 14 minutes and I put my shoes on to finish my run, I was shocked how awful the shoes felt. My feet felt heavy; my body felt hot; running just felt suddenly harder. It may take several weeks for my body to be ready to run only in bare feet or minimalist footwear, but I am so excited to get to that point!

People tend to have a lot of questions about barefoot running--safety, mechanics, just-plain-weirdness, etc.! This FAQ is really helpful if you'd like to read more.

I've always put my heart into my running. Now I can put my sole into it too!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review of a new hair conditioner

On my review and giveaway blog, I just wrote a review on Dove Damage Therapy Intensive Repair Daily Treatment Conditioner. Click here to read it!

And in case you missed it...I blogged today about a fun cake I made for Independence Day. That post is here.

A patriotic cake

Some people go all out on Independence Day to show their patriotism--wearing red, white, and blue from head to toe. Others may look plain on the outside, but they're full of patriotism inside.

Kinda like this cake. Plain on the outside...


...but patriotic on the inside!



I found the tutorial for this cake on this blog, and I knew I wanted to try it. I did learn some lessons that I'll put to use next time I make it. (In other words, I made some mistakes!) But I ended up being pretty happy with the final product!

Hope you enjoyed your Independence Day weekend!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

This 'n' that

I wrote this blog post Friday night....

I'm kind of pooped from painting Chickie's wall. Which brings me to my first point of a "this 'n' that" blog post....
  1. I don't like painting rooms. I'm not that great at it. (Please don't look at the edges!) The set-up is boring and time-consuming. The clean-up is boring and time-consuming. The middle part (actually painting) isn't so bad, but as I's not my forte. If painting only involved the center of walls--no edges--it would be kind of fun, or at least more bearable.
  2. I do like decorative painting. I'll have fun painting the dinosaurs on Chickie's wall. Some of you had great suggestions for non-permanent ways to get dinos on her wall, but I don't mind them being permanent. I like the look of it, and it's really not permanent at all. It's easy to paint over something like that because it's in the center of the wall. (See #1.)
  3. Did you know you're not supposed to use paper towels in the microwave unless they're labeled as microwave-safe? I've safely used paper towels for years, but today one caught on fire in my microwave. Yikes. Thankfully I safely got the fire out, but it was weird.
  4. I got one of these for $40 at Home Depot today:

    I had already been planning on buying one, but the paper towel incident lit a fire under me, so to speak (har har.)
  5. The reason I was at Home Depot was because I needed a second quart of paint to complete Chickie's wall. I loved the Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint, but that stuff is expensive, and the estimate for how many square feet can be covered with one can wasn't even close to being accurate for me. So...great paint, but assume you'll need more than the can says if you have textured walls.
To sum up my day...
Painting walls is not very fun.
Microwave fires are less fun than painting. But more exciting.

Oh, and...happy Independence Day!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's great blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Long weekends make this mama happy.

It'll be so nice to have hubby home on Monday! We're going to hang out with some friends that day. I'm not sure whether or not we'll do anything special Sunday for Independence Day. Going to a community fireworks show sounds good until I think about parking and the craziness of big crowds and a toddler who likes to run. Sitting at home relaxing that night doesn't sound so bad either!

What are you doing this weekend?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Of dinosaurs and butterflies

I decided yesterday I was ready to go buy the paint for Chickie's room. I'm going to paint one accent wall. (I don't really like painting walls, so one wall is preferable to four!) I was also planning on painting butterflies and flowers to match her Dora bedding.

I asked Chickie what color she wanted the wall to be. She told me purple, which somehow is a color that doesn't appear at all in her colorful bedding. But she really wanted it, and I figured that while it may not match her valance and comforter, at least it won't clash.

"And you want butterflies and flowers on the wall, right?" I asked.

"Well, Mommy," she said, "You already put butterflies and flowers on the curtains." Apparently this meant they shouldn't be on the wall, because she continued, "I want dinosaurs on the wall."

Dora...and dinosaurs? I groaned inwardly, trying to decide if I should stick with the flowers and butterflies, which actually make sense, or indulge her rather eclectic taste. I tabled the issue for a little while.

On the way to the store to get paint, I decided to ask an open-ended question, to see if perhaps her opinions had changed again. "What do you want me to paint on the wall?" I asked her.

"I want letters," she said. That's fine; I was planning to paint her name, which just so happens to be comprised of letters. "And dinosaurs, and trees, and flowers, and butterflies." She paused. "Oh, and I want you to paint a blue car too, Mommy!"

Who was the idiot that thought of asking her an open-ended question? Since I am not a surrealist mural artist, I told her, "Chickie, that's going to be too much painting." Realizing that there could indeed be a worse theme than Dora and dinosaurs (namely, Dora and everything else), I asked, "Do you want flowers and butterflies, or dinosaurs?"

"Dinosaurs!" she replied happily.

So behind her Dora bed will be a purple wall that doesn't match anything else in the room, and on it will be painted dinosaurs. But they will be dinosaurs in lovely shades of pink, turqoise, green, orange, and yellow...the colors that just happen to appear on that bedding. Score 1 for Mom's sense of order. (And score about a million for Chickie's sense of creativity.)

The room won't win any decorating contests, but if it's a place where my girly tomboy feels at home, I'll be happy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blueberry Streusel Bread: The whole wheat version!

It's blueberry season! Last July I posted a recipe for Blueberry Streusel Bread. It's super-yummy, but not the healthiest bread in the world (to put it mildly.)

This week I got a good deal on blueberries at Costco, so I decided to make the bread again. But I wanted to make it a bit healthier. Instead of using regular challah dough (with all white flour) I used the dough recipe for Braided Challah With Whole Wheat and Wheat Germ from pages 258-261 of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

I'm not going to claim the bread is now healthy. It still has a lot of fat and sugar, and I'm a little scared to know what the calorie count is. But now 5/8 of the flour is whole wheat, which adds healthy fiber. (I used White Whole Wheat which is just as healthy as regular whole wheat, but has a lighter color and flavor.) And it's got a bit of wheat germ in it, which gives you folic acid, vitamin E, and more fiber. I also made this challah dough with canola oil instead of butter (though the streusel topping still has a lot of butter in it!) In other words, it's still a treat, but it's a treat with more nutritional value than the original had!

As for was delicious. The original is so sweet and I liked that the sweetness was tempered with the hearty taste of whole wheat flour. I'd feel confident serving this even to people who don't normally eat a lot of whole grains. (If you have a Fourth of July party to attend, you might be the host's favorite guest if you bring this!)

Luckily, the recipe for the dough is on the Artisan Bread in Five/Healthy Bread in Five blog. So I can share this recipe with you even if you don't have the book! (But if you don't have's a great one for your cookbook library!)

First I'll tempt you with a photo of the finished product....

Blueberry Streusel Bread

Now I'll give you the modified recipe, and below that I'll include the photos I took for the original blog post. Just know that your dough will look darker than the dough in the photos, thanks to the whole wheat flour.

Blueberry Streusel Bread with Whole Wheat and Wheat Germ

1 to 1 1/4 pounds Challah With Whole Wheat and Wheat Germ dough (See #1 in Instructions below.)
Blueberries (to taste, about 1 to 1 1/2 cup)
Streusel topping

Streusel topping ingredients:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup old fashioned oats

1. Make dough in advance--it should be refrigerated for at least a few hours prior to using. The recipe can be found in pages 258-261 of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Or you can use the recipe for Whole Grain Challah With Cranberries and Orange Zest from the Artisan Bread in Five blog--just don't use any cranberries or orange zest. The dough recipe makes a LOT. If you make the whole dough recipe, you'll need about 1/4 of the dough for this bread. The rest can be stored in the fridge for up to five days and used for delicious braided challah bread, using the instructions from the book or the blog. Or you can just divide all the measurements by 4 and only make as much as you need.

2. Lightly grease a full-sized loaf pan.

3. Make the streusel topping. Mix flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Use pastry blender or food processor's "Pulse" mode to cut in butter until crumbly.

4. Stir oats into streusel topping.

3. Sprinkle dough surface with flour. Break off a 1 to 1 1/2 pound piece of dough (grapefruit-sized or a bit larger.) Cover with flour, then quickly form into a ball. Place on flour-sprinkled surface.

5. Use hands and rolling pin to stretch/roll dough into a rough rectangle. You may need to roll it out partially, then let it rest for a few minutes, if it's "bouncing back" too much as you roll. Short side should be about as long as the loaf pan; long side should be about 12-16 inches.

6. Liberally sprinkle dough with blueberries.

7. Liberally sprinkle blueberries with streusel topping.

8. Carefully roll dough, starting with short side. When done, gently pinch edge to the body of the roll to seal it.

9. Place roll in loaf pan, seam side down.

10. Let loaf rest for 1 hour 20 minutes. Near the end of this time, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

11. Liberally sprinkle loaf with streusel topping, gently pressing the streusel into the top of the loaf. If some topping falls in between the loaf and the pan, even better!

12. If your bread is near the top of the loaf pan, place pan on a cookie sheet to catch any streusel that falls off when the bread rises in the oven. Bake about 55 minutes; it should be nicely browned. Let cool a bit on a rack.

13. Cut...and enjoy!


Making the streusel:

Streusel before oatmeal has been added:

Streusel with oatmeal added:

The ball of dough:

Rolled-out dough:

Dough + blueberries = Yum. (But do try to avoid including any blueberry stems unless you want to add even more fiber. Can you spot the one I missed?)

Dough + blueberries + streusel = Double yum.

Big ol' roll of yumminess:

In the pan!

Sprinkled with streusel and ready to bake: