Fall Centerpiece

Good morning and happy Friday! I’ve been feeling a little under the weather but it’s all getting better now. The prospect of the weekend always puts me in a a good mood. I’m especially excited for this one because I get to see my best friend’s baby, who is a ball of pure cuteness and I haven’t seen him in a long long time. I also have some girls only activities planned with Ryan’s family while the boys go pheasant hunting. Should be fun!

Fall Centerpieces

So, I’ve been slacking a little on decorating the house, mainly because it is not done yet. There’s nothing on the walls yet, the furniture is everywhere, it’s kinda a mess and not conducive to wanting to decorate. But I know I needed a little something festive in my life, so I made a quick fall centerpiece.

All you need is a wreath (I had mine already), a couple of vases, filling for the vases (I went with pinecones and beads), a small pumpkin (second hand store find!), a candle, some ribbon, some gold paint, glue.

Fall Centerpiece materials

First up, the wreath itself. I used to put this fall wreath over my kitchen sink, but now I have a window and I like it too much to just get rid of it. It is perfectly decorated already, so it’ll go as the edge of my centerpiece. It’s pretty old, but I believe I got it from Michael’s.

Fall Centerpiece wreath

Next, the candle vase. Take the shortest vase and fill it with beads of choice. I got some red beads with gold tones because I thought they would be perfect to reuse for Christmas. Place a tea light candle in the middle and done.

Fall Centerpiece candle vase

For the tall vase, half of the cones went into the vase as is. The other half got a coating of gold spray paint. To accentuate the difference I made a loop with some green felt trim I had and placed it between the two colors.

Fall Centerpiece pinecone vase

Finally, my favorite, the gold pumpkin. I found this small ceramic pumpkin at a second hand store for 99 cents. Perfect! Put a gold coating of Krylon’s Short Cuts paint and it turned out great.

Fall Centerpiece pumpkin

Once all items are placed, the centerpiece comes together and makes my house a little bit happier and in tune with the weather outside. Love it!

Fall Centerpiece

Have a great weekend!

Fall Centerpiece closeup

2014 IMT Des Moines Half Marathon

I still can’t believe I did this! The training for this race was better than for my first 10K for some reason. I really put my all into it, ran even if I didn’t feel like it and kept up with my training as best I could. The days I couldn’t run, I biked. On most of my off days I either did yoga or a small strength routine. Definitely put a priority on resting on Sundays. Even when my runs weren’t the best during the last week, I felt ready for the challenge come race day.

Was I a nervous wreck before? Yes, especially on Friday before getting to Des Moines. But I just kept telling myself: do what you can, have fun, don’t pay attention to the time, just keep swimming, trust your training.

Bib Number

Saturday morning I was shaking like a leaf, which made it a challenge to brush my teeth, but I was super excited at the same time. On the way there, I ate a toast with almond butter, couldn’t stomach a second one. Once Ryan dropped me off, I had about an hour to start so I drank some water, walked around and stopped at the restrooms before heading to the corrals and lined up at the 11 minute pace to make sure I didn’t start super fast. Definitely was feeling overwhelmed with emotions and just kept picturing the finish line.

DSM Morning

And off we go! The first few miles were kinda tough. My legs took their time to adjust and I was running a route I wasn’t familiar with, just kinda going with the pack. I knew Ryan would be around mile 4, so I kept on trucking.

Pre Race Pic

Once we got to WaterWorks park, I started to ease into my pace. I was a little more familiar with the area because it’s where we got some of our wedding pictures taken. A little after mile 4 I saw Ryan and Mike, my father-in-law, cheering me on. By this time the sun had come up completely and it felt pretty good, plus being able to see them was awesome!

Start Finish

I was enjoying the entertainment they had, walking through the water stations, reading the signs, smiling at the cameras, high fiving waiting spectators,  just taking it all in.

Some of my favorite signs:

  • Run now, poop later. Never trust a fart.
  • My arm hurts (as the lady was holding the sign up)
  • Run like someone just called you a jogger
  • What did the fox say? Run Run run run run
  • You’re my hero
  • Go ninja go
  • Run like you’re in a buffalo stampede being chased by a pack of hyenas

A little after halfway, I did make a bathroom pit stop, there’s a ton of water stations. I actually ended up skipping a couple at the end. For fuel during the race I ate three Clif Shot Bloks, which I had tried during my long runs during training and loved.

Mile 4

Then, I was set to do a negative split. I picked up my racing, but not a whole lot because I wanted to leave energy for the push at the end. Saw Ryan and Mike once more at around mile 8 before heading to Gray’s Lake. Here, around mile 9 or 10, the would be marathon winners passed by in a full sprint. Seriously?!?! This guys are amazing!

Mile 8

Around mile 11, my left knee started bothering enough to make me think about taking a quick walking break. But I fought it off for two reasons. One, I just decided to take the walks during the water stations and two I just wanted to finish. Thank goodness my phone was listening to my thoughts because my favorite songs to run to came on my playlist for the last couple of miles.

Home Stretch

Once the mile marker for 12 came along I sped up considerably. I ran all the way to the finish line. Since I did a negative split, Ryan and Mike caught me just in time on my last stretch. Crossed the finish line smiling. I felt a super calm sense of accomplishment. It wasn’t like a surge of emotion like I thought it would be, it was more of a quiet pat in the back to yourself.

Almost there

Got my medal, posed for some pics, hugged Ryan and Mike, scarfed a couple of sandwiches and drank some water. Needless to say, I was a hurting unit afterwards. My muscles didn’t really feel sore until Monday, but my left knee, right hip and right foot would have preferred to not have any weight on them for a week.

My chip time for the first half was 1:15:07 (11:33 pace) and finished in 2:20:25 (10:43 pace total, 9:53 pace for the second half). It was a great experience and I would probably do it again. Already thinking about next year…

Half Marathon Finish

What would I do different?

  • Keep a running journal to track miles, pace, how I felt, what I ate (not for calories, but for how it affects my energy and stomach), time of the month, other activities that would affect my energy, time of day, etc
  • Do an actual rehearsal of waking up, waiting, drive time, etc before race day. I kinda did this, but not quite.
  • Get fitted for shoes. If I’m staying serious about this, I need to get properly fitted and get the right foot for me.

So what’s next? During winter I plan on emphasizing strength training doing a couple of strength days and a couple of run days during the week with a long run day on the weekends. I hope to keep my long runs at around 6 miles (4, 5 and 6 in rotating weeks). During the weekday runs, I want to do some more speed work to slash my time a little. Not going for any world records here.

Half-Marathon Weekend

Hi! Hope you had a fabulous weekend! Mine was pretty awesome considering I ran my first half-marathon ever! Sooooo excited and happy about it. It’s something I never thought I could do, but with effort, discipline and a little sacrifice I got it done!

DSM Marathon

On Friday, I was a nervous anxious wreck. I worked on a job site so I got some manual labor done, which I would have avoided before a race if I had a choice. I was so tired after worked that I stopped at Coffeesmiths for a quick pick me up. It’s a great local coffee shop and the caffeine was delicious, but apparently got me a little too wired and it was  a battle between the caffeine going through my body and how tired I was. After a quick yoga session I fell asleep for about an hour.

Coffeesmiths

The nerves were getting the best of me and I wasn’t feeling too good. I kinda felt nauseous and beat up. I gave myself a quick pep talk, jumped in the shower and got to work. I finished the load of laundry I had going, I packed for the race, cooked dinner (frozen pizza, super hard work), cleaned up the house a little and then rested. I would’ve just gone to bed after yoga, but knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I at least didn’t pack my bag. Stupid nerves.

Pre Race

Saturday, it was off to Des Moines. First stop was the Expo to pick up my packet and then over to a friend’s house where we were staying overnight. Once we got to Des Moines, I was surprisingly calm and ready for race day. I think the anticipation was just killing me on Friday.

Packet PickUp

We had lunch at Chipotle and then the group went golfing. I just hung out because I didn’t want to get sore before the race. It was a beautiful day so it was fine by me. We had dinner at Eatery A in Des Moines. Sooooo good. We had an olive appetizer, pizza and dessert. I crashed happy and ready for race day right after dinner.

Golfing

Woke up on Sunday calm and determined. Ryan dropped me off and the nerves set in once again. But I ran the course, super happy and super proud of myself and the time I put in to accomplish this. It was great. (I’ll go into more race details on my recap on Wednesday). After the race was over, we had lunch at Macaroni Grill with Ryan’s family (his mom and sister walked the half for the third straight year).

Macaroni Grill

Once we got home, I was an achy mess. My knees hurt so I iced them while watching the Cowboys beat the Giants (!!!! the little things that make me happy). Had nachos for dinner and went to bed early. Thankfully, I can walk a little better today than yesterday. Here’s to a good recovery week!

Half Marathon Ladies

Pumpkins and Chocolate? Yes, please!

Because it’s Friday and I love you, I’m sharing this recipe I found which combines everything that is good in this world. They’re Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles and it’s the second time I’ve made them in a week. I took a batch to the tailgate last week and they were a hit. This one is just because I want to.

Pumkin Chocolate Truffles ingredients

First up, melt 1/2 cup of white chocolate. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Keep repeating this process until it’s nice and smooth.

Pumkin Chocolate Truffles white choco

Stir in 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin and 1 ounce of cream cheese until smooth.

Pumkin Chocolate Truffles liquids

Add 2/3 cups of crushed graham crackers and 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar. Stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

Pumkin Chocolate Truffles solids

Once ready, roll dough into 1 inch balls and place in parchment paper lined cookie sheet. If dough feels sticky, powder hands with flour. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Pumkin Chocolate Truffles roll

Melt 5 ounces of dark chocolate. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Keep repeating this process until it’s nice and smooth. Dip pumpkin balls into melted chocolate using a fork or toothpick. Place in fresh parchment paper and top with crushed graham crackers if desired. Do this one truffle at a time.

Pumkin Chocolate Truffles dips

Let truffles harden on counter top or fridge. Once set, trim any excess chocolate at the base with knife. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Pumkin Chocolate Truffles set

Let me tell you, these are delicious!

Pumkin Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles

makes about 18 truffles

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white chocolate
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 ounce cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup crushed graham crackers, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 5 ounces dark chocolate

Steps

  1. Melt white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl by heating for 30 seconds and stirring. Keep heating and stirring in intervals until smooth.

 

  • Stir in pumpkin puree and cream cheese.
  • Add graham crackers and powdered sugar. Stir.
  • Cover and refrigerate until firm, for about 3 hours.

 

 

  • Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  • Melt semi dark chocolate in microwave safe bowl  by heating for 30 seconds and stirring. Keep heating and stirring in intervals until smooth.
  • Dip balls into melted dark chocolate using toothpicks or a fork. Place in new parchment lined cookie sheet and top with crushed graham crackers if desired.
  • Let truffles harden on counter or in refrigerator. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Recipe modified from the original recipe on Dixie Crystals.

 

Magnetic Bookmarks

These magnetic bookmarks are super easy to make and very customizable. They’re prefect for keeping your spot on a book without having to fold pages, which I hate doing. Also, the fact that they’re magnetic means that you can throw your book around and it won’t fall off. Super helpful when you’re travelling and just throwing things in your bag. I always use one on whichever book I happen to be reading.

Another great thing about it is that you can mark multiple pages with it. For example, I keep one in my planer, one side marking the monthly calendar and the other side marking the weekly pages.  Makes it easy to reference whatever I want.

Materials needed:

  • paper or cardstock
  • sticky magnetic strip
  • scissors
  • optional decorations: embellishments, colored pencils, markers, etc.

Magnetic Bookmarks supplies

First up, come up with your design and dimensions. For this one, I went with a gingko theme since the leaves are currently changing.

Magnetic Bookmarks draft

Next, cut your cardstock into desired height, the length will be cut later. Transfer the front of your design to the leftmost side of the cardstock strip. Fold cardboard over and cut backside to match.

Magnetic Bookmarks preparation

Finish your design as desired. Coloring pencils for me!

Magnetic Bookmarks design

I also made a couple of other designs, some with glued embellishments and one with a permanent marker graphic.

Magnetic Bookmarks options

Ok, back to the bookmark. Cut two magnetic strips to the height of your bookmark and glue to the backside of magnet. Note: make sure you test your strips’ position because you want them to connect properly, sometimes magnets don’t align perfectly depending on polarity.

Magnetic Bookmarks magnet

That’s it!

Magnetic Bookmarks views

Mark your book where you left off and never worry about missing your spot again.

Magnetic Bookmarks

Some other options? A bookmark aligned on the top of a page. Even a bookmark with an arrow to mark your spot within the page, specially handy for following knitting patterns or a step-by-step method.

Magnetic Bookmarks others

Happy reading!