Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head."

Sorry for another long absence.  I am still working out, I've just been a little preoccupied.  I couldn't tell you how much weight I've lost in the last couple of weeks because I haven't weighed myself.  I can say that my size 7-8 jeans are loose and I need to start thinking about purchasing size 5-6 (not something I ever thought I'd have to think about).

I've been toying with the idea of writing this post for a while, but I've held off for some reason.  The "funk" that I've been in lately is actually major depression, mild.   It's been my diagnosis for years and years.  It's honestly not something that I'm ashamed of, if it comes up in regular conversation I talk about it freely.  It's a part of my life.  I have been on medication, on and off for ten or eleven years.

I am very blessed in the fact that I've never really struggled with suicidal thoughts and I've never hurt myself because I've been depressed.  For me it is kind of a soul-sucking leech.  It brings with it a ridiculous amount of guilt.  I've become pretty good at hiding it (or so I'd like to think).  It is often manageable with medication, but this time it has been insanely persistent regardless of my current dosage of anti-depressants.  I see a psychiatrist and a counselor.  I try very hard to be as proactive as I can. 

A lot of people are probably wondering why I'm even addressing this.  To be honest, I think there are a lot of preconceived notions about depression and the people who deal with it.  On Pinterest, I saw a pin that said something to the affect of "If you're depressed, it's because you're living in the past."  That person obviously doesn't understand that major depression is actually a chemical imbalance.  It often has little to do with the past, even though past or present events can trigger dark days. 

All of this to say, I'm trying really hard to work through this valley and I promise that when I do, I will get back to more positive and hopefully encouraging posts.  Thanks for sticking with me!

More info on depression:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Down 51 lbs and Still Kicking

I'm sorry that I've been MIA since out trip the U.S.  I've been through the wringer emotionally for the last month or so and our internet (and time) was spotty while in the states.  I will try to get back to my normal blogging schedule soon.  I definitely like keeping my family/friends in the loop.

In very positive news, I am down 51 lbs.  50 was a huge milestone for me, so I am happy to have met that goal.  Now, I am hoping that I can keep up the momentum and lose the rest of the weight I need to get rid of.  One of the best things has been trying on clothes that didn't fit this time last year and having them be either extremely comfortable or too loose.  I am in single digits in pants, and that hasn't happened since my freshman year of high school. 

Anna started Kindergarten after we got back to Wiesbaden.  We are very happy with her teacher and teacher's aid.  She's really enjoying school and her classmates!  Here's a picture of Anna on her first day of school.

My new favorite song is Florence + the Machine's "Shake it Off."  It's been on repeat lately while I try to get out of my current funk.  It's now on my running playlist :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Problem with Thinspiration...

I'd like to apologize for the fact that I'm about get on my soap box for a moment.  There is a scary trend on pinterest of women posting pictures of emaciated women and putting things like, "The body I want," or "My weight-loss inspiration!"  We're talking about women who look like they've been starved for months, possibly years.  Like I said, it's scary!  I want to lose weight because I want to be healthy.  For me, it's not about a certain pant size or being able to see each one of my rib bones.  I want to be able to chase after my kids and not have to worry about all of the health risks that come with obesity.  I do have a weight that I have set as my goal, but it is right in the middle of the healthy bmi range for my height.  I don't need to look like Paris Hilton, I just want to look like a healthy me.  Don't get me wrong, I love buying a smaller size clothing and I love seeing the numbers on the scale go down, but I'm trying to keep my mindset healthy along the way.  It is about so much more than be skinny. 

Enough of that ;)

I found out today the major source of my recent running woes.  I have bronchitis and a sinus infection.  That would explain why Saturday's 9 mile run turned into 4.5 miles of running and 4.5 miles of speed walking.  My chest and lungs felt like they were on fire!  Anyway, I'm on some antibiotics now and I'm hoping I'll be able to run 10 miles sometime this weekend :) 

Monday's run was pretty decent!  Here's what it looked like:

3 miles @6mph
2.5 miles @5mph
Cool down

Total miles = 5.81
Total calories burned = 1028

I lost one lb last week.  That was pretty great since I was sick and didn't get to run as much as I like to.  I decided to join Weight Watchers just so I can be a bit more mindful about what I'm eating.  I've used the program a couple of times in the past and I really like the way it works.  I've had a hard time figuring out how much to eat since I've been running/working out so much.  This ought to help me figure it out.

We're going back to the U.S. for vacation!!!!!  I am downright giddy about this trip!  We're going to start attempting to catch a hop on Friday.  I can't wait to see family, friends and Target.  There are so many people and things that I've missed since we left.  We love Germany so much, but it's always hard to be away from all of the things you've grown up with.  I'll try to keep up with the blog while we're on vacation :)

Confession: I am eating ice cream while writing this post.  I had enough weight watchers points left for the day, so I decided to go for it ;) 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Music & Medication

I'm sorry that I haven't kept to my typical blog schedule this week.  Due to the head cold that refuses to quit, my work outs haven't been anything spectacular.  Monday and Tuesday I took off because I felt like I could barely stand straight (don't you just love a fuzzy head?).  Wednesday, I went back, but had to keep it pretty slow on the treadmill because I was still feeling a bit light headed.  Today, I did about 100 minutes on the elliptical.  Certainly easier than running if you're not your usual self.

I've been adding a ton of music to my running playlist.  Here are some of the new songs:

"Hey Mama" Mat Kearney - Just a fun song with a decent beat. 

"Titanium" David Guetta featuring Sia - Great beat and I love Sia. 

"Pumped Up Kicks" Foster the People - This is a good warm up song for me.  It's kind of chill, but for some reason it works.

"Dark Horses" Switchfoot - Off their new album and it's SO good for running.  This song definitely motivates me to keep running.

"Mercy" Duffy - Nothing new, but it's a fun song for me to run to.

"Howlin' for You" The Black Keys - Just a cool song :).

"Sweetness" Jimmy Eat World - I've liked this one since college. 

"Brighter Than the Sun" Colbie Caillat - Just a song that makes me smile.  I like to run to songs that put me in a good mood.

"Your Love is a Song" Switchfoot - This one isn't very upbeat, but I really enjoy the song, so I added it to the list anyway.

"Wake Up" Arcade Fire - I love to start off my running playlist with this.  It starts off kind of slow, but the beat ramps up at the end.  It's great for warming up or stretching before a run.  You've probably heard it before.  It was the song in the preview for "Where the Wild Things Are" that made your heart swell and gave you hope that it might just be the coolest movie you'd ever see.  Ok, maybe it didn't do that for you, but that's how I felt when that preview came on.  Music has that affect on me.  The music in a preview can make or break my opinion of a movie before I even see it.

On to other things that affect me/us...medications.  I have been an insomniac for years.  I have been taking sleeping meds on and off for a very long time.  My doctor recently put me on a medication that I'd never heard of.  I, being the excellent patient that I am, started taking it without really looking into the possible side effects.  Super smart, right?  No!  I've been on this med for a couple of months now.  After visiting a different doctor for serious muscle pain, I decided to go through and check the meds that I'd been taking to see if one of them might have been the cause.  My sleeping med just happened to be the culprit.  All that to say, make sure you're paying attention to the things you're taking and how they might adversely affect you ;) 

I'll leave you with this awesome work out towel found on Pinterest ;)  I'm pretty sure that it was made for me. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

8 Miles & -40 lbs

I'm a third of the way to my weight loss goal!  40 pounds down :)  I still have a long way to go, but I'm consistently losing, which is great!  Anna weighs about 35 or 38 lbs, so it's like I've lost a small kindergartner.  How's that for perspective?  Even better than the weight loss, I feel so much healthier (Ok, maybe not at the moment because of this head cold, but generally). 

Things I can do now that I couldn't before:

-Run for 90+ minutes without stopping to walk
-Keep my heart rate in the cardiovascular zone while running (it was off the charts before)
-Enjoy chasing after my kids at an amusement park all day
-Fit comfortably in pretty much any seat I chose to sit in
-Buy clothes in pretty much any store that I want to
-Look at a picture of myself without cringing

This is really just the tip of the iceberg.  I know there are a ton of other things, but I can't think of them right off the top of my head ;)

I ran 8 miles yesterday!  I had to do it by myself, on a treadmill, because T was going hiking.  I definitely missed her, and the great outdoors!  I have decided that running on a treadmill for longer than six miles or so is just the pits.  It's a bit too repetitive and boring for my taste, but I didn't stop to walk at all.  I had to re-start the treadmill about 4.5 miles in, but I kept my feet going so I didn't lose momentum.  The problem with trail running without someone else is that I am still new to running and running 8 miles by myself outside doesn't seem like a super safe idea.  Also, T is really great at keeping us on course out on the trails.  I would probably get hopelessly lost ;)

8 Mile Run

0.25 miles @4.5mph
1.75 miles @5.5mph (BIIIIIIG mistake.  Due to the congestion in my chest and overall gross head cold, I ended up with major cramps in my rib cage/chest.  If you're sick, try to take it easy.  Don't follow my example)
6 miles @4.5mph (I hated going back down, but it was the only way I was going to survive this one)
Cool down = 0.25 miles

Total Miles = 8.25 miles
Total Calories Burned = 1,503

Confession- I may have led you astray when it comes to the salad dressing for a breakfast salad.  The blush wine vin is really great, but when you eat it for breakfast repeatedly, you might end up with heartburn....ouch.  I discovered the err of my ways and switched to...
It's made by the same brand as the blush wine.  It's a poppy seed dressing, and it is SOOOO good!  It's excellent with the berries/spinach/nuts.  I don't know if you're like me, but every time I eat anything with poppy seeds I think about "The Shower Head" episode of Seinfeld.  Elaine takes a drug test and pops up positive for opiates because of the poppy seed muffins she loves ;).  It always makes me chuckle.  I figured it was just something silly from a t.v. show, but according to Snopes, it's true!  If you work at a place that makes you take random drug tests, you might want to skip this dressing.  Stay-at-home moms, feel free to indulge (within your caloric budget of course ;)).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another Hair Picture

Here's a better picture of my new hair color.  I was standing a few inches below a florescent light in the picture I posted yesterday.  It wasn't a great example of the color ;)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Hair, Cute Kids and a Good Run.

This isn't the best picture in the world, but I decided to change my hair.  I went to the salon yesterday and had two different colors of highlights put in.  This morning, I woke up and felt like it wasn't quite enough, so after my run at the gym, I went and bought a home highlight kit and added some lighter caramel highlights to it.  I really wanted a change and I'm liking the way it's turned out. 

These are my sweet babies.  The children who drove me to the brink of insanity today.  The pictures are from our day at Legoland.  I posted a bunch of pictures from that trip on Facebook a little bit ago.  If you're even slightly impressed by Star Wars, you ought to head over there and check out the insane recreations of scenes from the movies.  It's very impressive.  There are also more cute pictures of my kids.  It's hard not to love them ;)

I'm dealing with a super lame head cold at the moment, but I had an awesome run today.  Terilyn is a life saver on days when I am feeling crappy.  I was motivated to run, but I just wanted to spend the morning in bed today.  I can't sing the praises of my running buddy enough.  She's also the reason I was able to go to the salon yesterday.  She took care of my munchkins. 

Today's Run

0.5 miles @4.5mph (Warm up)
4 miles @6mph
0.9 miles @4mph
0.25 (Cool down)

Total miles = 5.65
Total calories burned = 941

Monday, August 1, 2011

Progress and Legoland

It's been exactly one month since I ran my first 5-K and really decided to give serious running a go.  I was ill-prepared for that first race, but I had so much fun running with T and sprinting through that finish line.  It was an incredible experience for me.  It definitely left me wanting to run more races.  I don't care all that much about beating anyone, but I love seeing if I can beat my past race/run.  I love seeing if I can run faster or longer than my last run.  I really look forward to my runs.  I kind of get bummed that I can't run more than three days a week, but I have to make sure that I give my joints a bit of a break and utilize the elliptical and bike on my off days.

Today was a running day :)  Last week I started testing the water as far as going 6mph.  Today, I found myself feeling good at 6mph.  Of course, I would have felt more relaxed at 5.5mph, but that's not why I run. 

Today's Run:
0.5 miles @4.5mph (I decided that I really needed to start warming up better)
3 miles (straight!) @ 6mph
0.5 miles @4.5mph
1 mile @4mph

Total Miles = 5.33
Total Calories = 822

I would definitely call that a successful run.  I was only planning on doing 2 miles @6mph, but once I finished the 2 miles I decided to keep going.  I feel great about the progress I'm making.

We spent yesterday at Legoland Deutschland.  I won a couple of tickets from the USO at the base's 4th of July event.  The kids had so much fun!  Daniel got to drive a car.  Okay, maybe he didn't really drive it...he ran it into the wall repeatedly until the ride operator sat on the car and did the steering for him.  It was pretty precious.  He did have a really great attitude about it even though he couldn't get the hang of it.  Anna got to go on one of the faster rides that was meant for bigger kids, with her daddy.  She thought it was so cool that she got to ride a big girl ride.  I have to say that as a parent, there are few things as wonderful as watching your kids discover something for the first time.  They were awestruck by most of the things at Legoland.  I really love being a mom.  It is a difficult and often frustrating job, but I can't think of anything that is more rewarding. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Miles, Pounds and Songs

T and I ran 7.1 miles through the German countryside this morning.  It was a great run.  We dealt with hills, sore bodies, a lot of animal feces and a misting rain.  I am so proud of us for sticking it out through all seven miles.  We even sprinted the last little bit.  The first three miles basically consisted of making sure that my body could do it.  After I established that even though I was in some pain, I could keep going, it took a lot of mental strength.  I had to tell myself at the beginning of each new mile that I could handle it.  I made sure to tell Will and a couple of other people that I was going to run 7 miles today.  I knew that having that accountability would make me push through a full seven miles.  We rewarded ourselves at the end of the run with iced chai lattes.  I'll even let you in on a little secret... I tried to reward myself with one of those sour cream doughnuts, but the lady at the cash register didn't hear that part of my order.  I'm taking that as a sign from God ;)

I finally saw some movement on the scale today!  It was even in the right direction ;).  I'm now down a little over 38 lbs.  I lost 2.4 this week.  I am really starting to think that the last couple of weeks have been due to my calorie deficit being out of control.  I made sure to get more (mostly healthy) calories in this week.  Hopefully I'll be able to keep that going!

I have some new running songs to add to my list on here.  I am so addicted to music, and I get bored with my running playlist quickly.  I'm sure I'll be posting new songs pretty regularly.

"A Little Less Conversation" (JXL Remix) Elvis Presley
     "A little less conversation, a little more action."  The lyrics say it all.  The beat to this is really fun to run to, also.

"Pain" Jimmy Eat World
    Maybe it's just me, but the title seems to be super appropriate for a running playlist ;)  Love this one.

"Run-Around" Blues Traveler
     I have always loved Blues Traveler.  This song is just fun.

"Canned Heat" Jamiroquai
     "Got canned heat in my heels tonight!"  This is another old-ish song that I've always liked.

"Check Yes, Juliet" We the Kings
     "Run baby, run!  Don't ever look back!" 

"Magic" B.o.B featuring Rivers Cuomo (Weezer)
     This song is so much fun and it gets me excited about running.  I've also loved Weezer since I was a kid, so I'm a sucker for Rivers Cuomo.

Ok, so those are my new running songs.  Does anyone have any other new songs in their playlist worth sharing?  I'm always open to new suggestions ;)

I'm kind of a nerd when it comes to information on running.  I seriously love researching exercise and running.  I was looking up ways to deal with running pain and prevent it.  I like to pass along what I've learned, but please remember that I am in not a doctor, nurse or anything like that.  I'm just sharing what I read from reliable sources.  On with the info.  Apparently, you're supposed to take a cold bath after running and save those hot soaks until 24 hours after your run.  I tried it today.  I was feeling a little blue lipped during the cold bath.  Hopefully it will help my legs recover a bit faster!  I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pain & Pinterest

So true.

Today did not go as planned at the gym.  I'm still dealing with insane cramps in my calves.  I was dangerously close to tears (and I have a pretty high pain tolerance...ask Will, he's been present at the births of both our children).  I managed to run two miles.  One at 5.5mph and the other at 6.  After that I jogged for a short stint and then walked at a pretty slow pace.  I just wanted to keep my legs moving.  I did get in 65 minutes on the treadmill, but each one of them hurt.  The plan for today was to run 4 miles, so I did feel like a bit of a bum.  

I needed to see this one today.

Since the pain has been pretty persistent through my last few work outs/runs, I did what any sane person would do...I called and made an appointment with the doctor.  Today she felt poked and prodded my legs (especially my bad knee).  She said that for now it seems like it's just your typical wear and tear from pushing myself.  She was very impressed by the work out system I have going and the types of food I'm eating.  She gave me a Rx for an anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxer.  I'm praying that the muscle relaxer works it's magic before Saturday, because I really want to do a 7 mile run outside with T.  I really need to have at least one solid run this week.

This is exactly how I felt when I finished my 5-K.

I have to share my love for Pinterest here.  If you're on there, I'm sure you've noticed my obsession.  I LOVE this site!  It's especially great for finding things that inspire you.  All three of the pictures on this post are from my "Running" board.  It's filled with quotes, pictures, and people that inspire me to keep running.  It may also have a few cute articles of work out clothing that I love.  You can see my running board here.  Once you check out the running board, feel free to check out the other boards I have going.  There are plenty :)  I love seeing all of my friends' favorite things.  It is really a fun website.  

I also want to say something about my husband, Will.  He is currently training for a marathon, and I have been so impressed by his dedication and consistency.  I love being able to run next to him at the gym because we like to cheer each other on.  I haven't mentioned it in a while here, but I am so blessed to be married to such a great guy :)  I can't wait to see him cross that finish line in Athens in November! 

One final thought.  I made the roasted cherry (or grape) tomatoes with quinoa pasta found here last night.  I wanted to include some lean meat, so I searched online and found Balsamic Marinated Chicken.  It was a very nice addition and it was so easy to make. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tiger Balm - "60% of the time, it works every time."

I'm thinking or re-naming the blog, "Diary of a Super Sore Mom."  Today was brutal!  I think that T and I might have gone a little overboard with the weight training on Saturday.  We spent over an hour using all of the weight training equipment.  No joke, my collar bone ached!  I have been using Tiger Balm and Icy Hot like clockwork and I'm counting on some Aleve to help a bit too.  I can honestly say that I have never wanted a professional massage as much as I do right now.  The good thing is that eventually, my legs should get used to running and the pain will lessen a bit.  For now, I'll stock up on Icy Hot/Tiger Balm/Aleve.

T and I decided to do a shorter run today since our legs were aching.  We went for 3 miles running and 2 miles walking.  My legs were cramping up the whole time.  Here's hoping that our legs will feel a bit better by the time Wednesday's run rolls around.  One exciting thing for me, I ran a mile @6mph.  It feels good to add a little speed and open up your run a bit.  I just need my lungs to catch up with my head. 

Today's run:
1 mile @ 5.5mph
1 mile @ 6mph
1 mile @ 5.5mph
2 miles @ 4 - 3.5mph

Total miles = 5.02
Calories burned = 775

Now on to dinner.  Tonight we had chicken vindaloo with
Persian super basmati and plain Greek yogurt.  I could only eat about 3/4 of this serving, but it was good (even if the spiciness made me tear up a bit).  The Greek yogurt is excellent at cutting the spice in Indian food.  It also makes it a bit creamier and adds a ton of protein.  We love ethnic food at our house :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

10-K, Recipe and New Songs

I ran 10-K with my running buddy, Terilyn!  We planned on running six miles, but once we got to the gym we decided to add the extra 0.2 and go for the full 10 kilometers.  We ran hard for the last minute.  It was a really enjoyable run.  We took our pace down a bit so we could last longer. 

10-K Run:
6 miles @ 5mph
0.2@ 7.5mph

Total miles = 6.42
Total calories burned = 1,175

Today was a weigh in day.  I lost 0.2lbs.  Definitely not what I was expecting, but I think that part of my problem is that I'm not getting in enough calories, so my body is trying to hang on to every lb.  It's not that I'm not eating, I'm just eating mostly low fat/low calorie foods.  I have been eating mostly vegetables, nuts and fruits.  Also, I did more extensive weight training this week, so that might have something to do with it.  We'll see what happens next Saturday with the scale.  On a VERY positive note, I am now three sizes down in jeans. 

Last night's Dinner:
This is roasted grape tomatoes on quinoa pasta with a little fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.  It was delicious!  I was very impressed by the quinoa pasta.  I get tired of whole wheat pasta, so I wanted to try something new.  The kids didn't even notice that it was different.  My mother and father-in-law passed along the recipe for the roasted grape tomatoes.  I'll do my part and pass it along again ;)

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

2 pints grape tomatoes
3 garlic cloves pealed and thinly sliced
2T olive oil
2T balsamic vinegar
1/2 t kosher salt
1/8 t freshly ground pepper
1/4 t fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Combine all the ingredients except the basil in a roasting pan.
Roast for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes
are just bursting.
3. Carefully transfer the tomatoes, using a slotted spoon, to a serving bowl.
4. Transfer the liquid from the roasting pan to a small saucepan
and cook on medium high heat for about 5 min.  or until slightly thickened.
5. Drizzle some of the thickenid balsamic sauce over the tomatoes.
Top with fresh basil and serve with toasted french bread or with cooked

I've added a few new songs to my work out playlist. 

"Monster" Paramore

"Run This Town" Jay-Z, Rihanna & Kanye West (clean version)

"Devastation and Reform" Relient K

"Ain't No Other Man" Christina Aguilera

"White Tooth Man" Iron & Wine

"Boy With a Coin" Iron & Wine

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dinner, Weird Breakfasts and Tomorrow's Goal

A couple of nights ago we had goat cheese stuffed salmon for dinner.  It was really delicious.  Thanks for the suggestion, Seanna!  Anna loved it, but Daniel wanted nothing to do with it.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some!  We also had some roasted zucchini and hummus with pita bread.  I'm going to try to make some home-made hummus this weekend.  I was thrilled to find tahini at our commissary!  Yesterday's dinner was a simple marinated chicken.  Tomorrow we're going to go see Harry Potter at the movie theater, so I will probably make some sort of pasta.  I bought some noodles from the commissary that are made with quinoa.  I figure they're worth a try!

I finished Born to Run today.  It's been a busy week, so it took me a few days to finish it.  I definitely think that it could have been put together a bit better, but it's a great book for people who love to run.  This is where my weird breakfasts come in.  In the book, McDougall suggests having salad for breakfast.  It's supposed to help hydrate you after sleeping, give you a huge burst of antioxidants first thing in the morning, and it's loaded with good carbs that will take some time to burn off.  It's supposed to give you energy for your run and keep you full without feeling weighed down.

My breakfast salad:
A couple large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
6 or 7 blackberries
Handful of blueberries
Handful of sliced almonds
Sunflower seeds
Brianna's Blush Wine Vinaigrette

I have been LOVING this breakfast salad.  It is full of protein and antioxidants.  It also tastes great!  I've never been a fan of fruit in salads, but with this salad dressing, it's amazing.  The almonds and sunflower seeds give it some great texture and they're a great source of protein (which my doctor said is a necessity when you're losing weight at a decent pace).  I don't eat meat until dinner time, so I get most of my protein from almonds, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.

Wednesday's run was great!  I wore my Vibram Five Fingers, and it made the run a lot of fun.  I did end up with a few blisters and insanely sore calves.  You run differently in minimalist shoes than you do when you're wearing Nike's that are supposed to correct every flaw in your run ;)  Hopefully I'll be back in the Vibram's next week (with a bit of moleskin acting as a buffer between the shoe and the blister areas).

Wednesday's Run:
4 miles @ 5.5mph
1 mile @5mph
Remaining time @4mph

Total miles covered = 5.53
Calories burned = 981

Tomorrow's run goal is 6 miles @ 5mph.  It will be interesting, but I think that by staying at 5mph (which is really comfortable for me now) I'll be able to lengthen my run.  Hopefully I'm right.  Will says that after running a couple of miles it ends up being mostly a mental battle.  I've definitely found that to be the truth.  I just have to make sure that my head is in it :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dinner, New-er Book, and Success

This was our dinner tonight.  I didn't finish all of it, but it was good!  It is parmesan encrusted tilapia (a huge hit for everyone in our house), Persian super basmati rice, and steamed broccoli with a little Molly McButter on top.  The kids can't get enough of the parmesan tilapia and they love rice plain.  Broccoli, on the other hand, is only a hit with mom and dad!

I know that in one of my recent posts I said that I was going to read Ultramarathon Man.  I had every intention to do so, but my great sister-in-law said that Born to Run was the buzz book at the moment.  I went to and looked it up, and the premise was much more interesting than UMM.  I'm about 80% done with BtR, and I LOVE it.  Christopher McDougall did a great job with the book.  It feels more like a narrative than a running how to book.  He definitely favors barefoot running.  It makes me a little excited to take my fivefingers out for a run soon.  He looks into the science and history of running in an interesting way.  Two amazing runners who have inspired me (thanks to the book) are Emil Zatopek and Scott Jurek.  They were/are amazing people who happen(ed) to also be great athletes.  They're definitely worth looking up on Wikipedia.

Success- I met my running goal for today!  It was so pretty exhilarating :)
Here's a breakdown of my run:
4 miles @5.5mph
0.5 miles @5mph
0.5 miles @4.5mph
The rest @4mph

Total miles = 5.51
Total calories burned = 986

I have to say that I am incredibly grateful for my running partner, Terilyn.  She's the reason I was able to finish my first 5K in just over 33 minutes, and it is so much easier to run 4+ miles with her on the path or treadmill with me.  If you're trying to pick up running, a running friend is invaluable.  I'm good at pushing myself, but I am more determined when I know that someone else is counting on my to reach the goals I've set for myself.  Having a blog to keep me accountable has also been great.  I appreciate all of the blog comments, e-mails and Facebook comments I receive from people who read my posts.  It definitely helps me keep my eye on the prize.

Terilyn and I are scouting out 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons!  It's possible that we will attempt a half marathon in the fall :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sometimes the Scale is Not Your Friend, and that's Okay

Today when I weighed in I was surprised to see a 0.7lb gain.  It really didn't bother me because I knew that it wasn't from lack of exercise or watching what I had consumed.  I was expecting weeks like this because I've lost weight before and I know that sometimes your body needs a week or two to breathe and take in the ridiculous amount of change you're forcing on it.  Hopefully I'll have a really great loss next week, but if I don't, that's okay too.  I know that I will reach my goal.

Things that are improving in spite of the scale:
- I had to buy new work out shorts because most of my old pairs are falling down when I run
- My small jeans are starting to get a bit loose
- I can fit into shirts I haven't been able to in years
- I can wear my engagement ring for the first time since Daniel was born

I met my running goal for Friday!  I was really proud of myself.
This is what my run looked like:
3.5 @5.5mph
0.5 @5mph
0.5 @4.5mph (I can actually walk at this pace now...weird)
The rest @4mph until my 5 minute cool down

Total miles = 5.32
Calories burned (according to the machine, taking into account my weight and age) = 921

This week, I'm going to aim for 4 miles @5.5mph.  I might even try to throw in a little bit of 6mph in there.  I am really hoping to be able to run a 10K in the near future.  I am seriously enjoying running.  I used to scoff when someone said they ran for 8 miles.  Now, running eight miles sounds like a blast!

*Fun Fact*
According to an expert in Runner's World Magazine, if you work out for longer than an hour, your body needs electrolytes.  On my running days, I never felt like I could get enough water (even when I was drinking 4 liters per day).  Apparently, I needed to get some electrolytes in after working out.  Another fun fact, peaches are a great natural source of electrolytes.  I just picked some up at the commissary today ;).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dinner, New Book and Goals

  Here's a picture of my dinner tonight.  Dinner consisted of baked herb-lime salmon, a little Persian super basmati rice and baked sweet potato fries.  It was all really good.  The salmon wasn't the most exciting recipe I've tried, but it was pretty quick and easy.  We're trying to eat fish on a regular basis, so I'm trying all kinds of recipes.  If anyone has an awesome tilapia or salmon recipe, please shoot it my way ;)  My favorite snacks right now are low-fat cottage cheese, almonds and blackberry Greek yogurt. 
Photo taken on my iPhone

I decided to buy a new book on the Kindle today.  It's called Ultramarathon Man.  I never plan on being an ultramarathoner, but I am hoping to run a marathon next year and I think it would be interesting to see what he went through to become the crazy runner that he is today ;).  It's supposed to be a running "classic."  I'll let you guys know once I finish it. 

I have been working on setting goals for my running days.  It really helps keep me motivated.  I'm trying to up my speed and endurance, so it's good to know what to aim for.  Yesterday, my goal was 3 miles at 5.5mph, 0.5 miles at 5mph and the rest of my time at 4mph.  I felt so proud of myself for pushing through all three miles at 5.5.  I beat my 5K pace :)  Tomorrow, my goal is 3.5 miles at 5.5mph, 0.5 miles at 5mph and 4mph for the rest.  Next week, I'm going to start working on 6mph.

As far as weight goals go, I would like to lose over 100 lbs by the time all is said and done.  I've still been mulling over the idea of posting before and after pictures on here.  I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to post my month by month pictures once I've lost about 60 lbs. 

Saturday is my weigh in day.  I'll try to post a blog so I can update on my progress :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

-36, New Running Shoes and Today's Run

As of Sunday morning I've lost 36 lbs :) I tried to post a blog yesterday but Blogger kept acting up.  Super lame.  Anyway, 36 lbs down feels like a huge accomplishment.  I have so much more to lose, but I'm making great progress.  I took my month two picture yesterday night and there was definitely a marked difference from last month's.  I'm thinking that when I get closer to my goal I'll post my month by month pictures so people can see.  For now, there are four or five people that I send the pictures to.  It helps keep me accountable and it reminds me that I have a great support system in place. 

I got new running shoes on Friday!  The shoes I had been running in were not really intended for running, and they were a couple years old.  I decided to try out Nike's new LunarGlide+ 3.  Here's a picture

They're a bit louder than my typical exercise shoes, but they fit great and the cushioning is excellent for long runs.  I think I still need to break them in a bit, but overall, I think they're great.

Today I decided to add a bit of length to my run and try to kick up the pace a bit.  Here's what my work out looked like:

1 mile @ 5.5mph
1 mile @ 5mph
1 mile @ 5.5mph
.5 mile @5mph
1.5 miles @4mph
Cool Down
Weight Training

It is amazing that 5 mph feels pretty easy for me now.  A few weeks ago I was struggling to jog @4.5!  I'm really hoping to make my way up do 6+ mph.  Will and I were running next to each other today and he had his treadmill up to 8.4 for a little bit and I was green with envy.  I can't wait to be able to run that fast even for a few minutes! 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Current Running Playlist

I promised my running playlist, so here it is :)  I want to preface this by saying that this list isn't indicative of my general taste.

"Till the World Ends" Britney Spears - I've never owned a Britney Spears album in my life, but for some reason this song makes me want to run.  Double was also written by Kesha (I refuse to do the dollar sign ;)).

"I Wanna Go" Britney Spears - See note above ;)

"Parachute" Ingrid Michaelson - I love her, and this is just a fun song.

"Stronger" Kanye West (Clean) - "Tha-tha-tha-that don't kill me can only make me stronger"  It's something that I like to be reminded of when I'm starting my second mile ;)

"Starry Eyed" Ellie Goulding - I love her!  She's British and I really fell in love with her version of Elton John's "Your Song."

"Lights" Ellie Goulding

"Hate On Me" Glee Cast

"Gold Digger" Glee Cast

"Crazy in Love" Beyonce & Jay Z - I just love this song.

"Wonderman" Tinie Tempah &  Ellie Goulding - My friend Seanna introduced me to this song.  I'm such a dorkie anglophile, so I was in love from the moment her rapped the word petrol ;).

"Set Fire to the Rain" Adele - Adele is probably my favorite vocalist.

"Uprising" Muse

"Airplanes" B.O.B. & Haylie Williams

"Dog Days are Over" Florence & the Machine

"Hallelujah" Paramore

"Love Stoned/I Think She Knows" Justin Timberlake -  A lot of his songs would make decent running songs, but I like this one.  If I play it at the end of my work out the second half makes for good cool down music.

Okay, that's all I have for work out music today.  I am now down 35 lbs!  I'm keeping to my schedule, but today I got to go to the gym super early (5:30) and without the kids.  It was nice not having to be in the family room because the equipment there is somewhat limited.  This morning I shortened my bike ride a bit and added 10 minutes on a rowing machine.  I love rowing machines!  I'm hoping to add some rowing on to my work out at least once a week :).  I hope that everyone is doing well!  I'll try to post again on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Work Out Plan for the Week

I have been surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response to my last post.  Since I've been getting messages from people wanting me to continue on the subject of getting healthy/losing weight, I thought that I'd go through my typical week as far as work outs go.  I took some notes the last couple of days so I could share. 

Monday - Wednesday - Friday

- 65 minutes on the treadmill
     - Run 3 miles @5mph (my knees are still a bit sore from the 5K, so I'm saving 5.5mph and above   for next week)
     - Walk for the rest of the 60 minutes @4mph and then do a 5 minute cool down
- 3 sets of 12 reps on all of the weight training machines
- A ridiculous amount of stretching
- At home - 150 crunches on a work-out ball

Tuesday - Thursday - Saturday

- 65 minutes on an elliptical
     - The interval setting at a decent pace (typically burns about 780+ calories)
- Bike 35 minutes with a bit of resistance (typically burns about 160-170 calories)
- At home - 150 crunches on a work-out ball
     - A couple of rounds of Wii boxing

It may seem a bit excessive to some, but it's working really well for me.  I actually love to work out.  I'm able to spend so much time at the gym because our base has a family room with a children's area.  I  work out while watching my kids :)  I push myself really hard, so my legs are typically a bit on the sore side.  I told my mom that I end up walking around smelling like a tic tac thanks to icy hot.  According to her, my new perfume is Eau de Icy Hot :) 

I asked people on Facebook to share some of their favorite running songs the other day, so I'll try to share some of mine in the next few days.  I absolutely have to have music while running or it feels like a chore. 

I'm still trying to work up the courage to post my month by month pictures on here.  I have the first month's pictures, but I am taking the second month's after pictures on Sunday. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I ran a 5K! *And other thoughts on working out/being healthy*

Here's a picture of me in all my sweaty, tired post 5K glory :)  I still can't believe that I did it, but I actually ran a 5K!  I'll get into the race in a minute, but first I'm going to explain how I even ended up running it.

I started working out really hard at the gym 6 days a week about two months ago.  I was in TERRIBLE shape.  The worst in my life.  I would (and still do) work out for 1.5-2 hours each day, and I really pushed myself.  It hasn't been easy, but it's been ridiculously rewarding! 

In the past two months I've:

*Lost 32 pounds (thanks to the exercise and changing my eating habits pretty drastically)
*Gone down two jean sizes
*Yesterday I got to order a pair of jeans from American Eagle in a size that I haven't worn since early high school!  I'm just getting into the lowest size I currently own :)
*I can run after my kids without feeling like I'm going to collapse
*I can go up multiple flights of stairs without feeling winded
*I can run!  5.5 mph for 3 miles!
*I actually like going out with friends again...I'm not completely ashamed of the way I look
*My mood has been 100% better

Honestly, that list could go on and on.  There are a ton of things that have improved since I started exercising more regularly, but I want to get on to the 5K.  I started jogging about two weeks ago.  I have never been a jogger/runner.  Even in High School when they had us do the mile run test, I would speed walk and when the gym teacher would look at me, I'd add a bounce to my step ;).  In June, my sister-in-law ran her first full marathon.  Her knee went out on mile 3 and she kept running. I couldn't believe it.  I decided that if she could finish a marathon with a bum knee, I could at least try to jog one full mile!  So I went to the gym and made myself jog a full mile at 4.5mph.  Will was running next to me and he was cheering me on, which was so great!  From there I started trying to add distance until I finally got up to jogging 3 mph without stopping at 4.5mph. 

Friday morning, I got a facebook message from a friend saying that a race that was supposed to be a 10K was changed at the last minute to a 5K.  At first I wasn't going to run it, but I changed my mind when we pulled up to the gym.  I'd only ever jogged on a treadmill, so I was a little nervous.  Luckily, my friend was there and we were able to run the race together and encourage each other.  She was so great at getting me to push myself!  I finished the race at 33 minutes and 29 seconds which is about 5.5mph!  That's a full mph better than I have ever done on the treadmill.  I'm planning on running more 5Ks as the come along and hopefully working up to 10Ks soon.  I want to run the Dublin marathon in October of 2012, so I'm working my way up to that!

I think this blog will probably be a mix of cooking/baking and a way to keep myself honest about weight loss and exercise.  I've been so busy working on getting healthy that I haven't had a ton of extra time lately, and I wasn't sure that anyone would be interested in a blog about exercise. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts on the day.

"As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live" Ezekiel 33:11
This morning I woke up to find out that Osama (Usama) bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan.  I know that a lot of people were over-joyed at this news and felt relief and/or closure.  I didn't feel any of those things.  I felt unsettled.  I certainly understand why people reacted that way.  It is a victory for our nation and justice has been served for the massive loss of life that we sustained on 9/11.  Part of my problem is that with terrorists, the loss of one person, no matter how influential, will not stop them.  Their goal is bigger to them than just Osama bin Laden.  They will continue to carry out their acts of terror and could even go after the U.S. more aggressively.  This is a cycle that will not be stopped by a few deaths.  I don't feel any safer now that Osama bin Laden has been killed. 

I guess the major thing for me is that I have a hard time with the idea of killing someone because you take away their possibility for redemption/salvation.  It is why I struggle with Capital Punishment, too.  I am certainly not infallible and have no right to judge anyone or take that opportunity away from them.  I think that most people would agree that Osama bin Laden deserved death for the terrible things that he did and the callous way he treated the lives of thousands.  Just because he deserved it does not mean that we should relish in it. 

This is not a blog about my Christian views or anything like that, but I did feel that it was right for me to speak about this because it has been on my heart since I got up.   I'll try to get back to more light-hearted fare soon!  Sorry I've been MIA lately.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Late St. Patrick's Day Dinner

We managed to have our late St. Patrick's Day dinner last weekend.  I was crazy sick the whole week before.  Luckily, I was on the mend in time to disinfect the house and get the corned beef, root vegetables and dessert parfaits together.  Our friends brought over an insanely beautiful bouquet from the farmer's market in downtown Wiesbaden.  If you're curious about Alton Brown's corned beef that I blogged about making here, I thought it turned out great!  We didn't have the salt peter necessary for the nice, pink color that most corned beef has, but the flavor was great!  I also served root vegetables with a garlic herb butter.  I had never tried parsnips before.  They're kind of like a mild carrot.  Interesting stuff.

My favorite part of the meal *because I'm a sugar junky* was the mint fudge brownie parfaits.

YUM!  I found the recipe at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.  It's a great blog!  I searched a ton of stores (a friend did a lot of searching for me, too) for cute jars to make these guys in, but it didn't work out.  Apparently caning/jarring isn't super popular in Germany in early spring.  Hopefully I'll manage to snag a few dozen during the summer months.  I even had some cute green ribbon to tie around the year!  This year I had to make due with regular glasses.  I think they turned out pretty cute :)

Thanks to a friend we even had some delicious Irish Soda Bread. She brought it pretty much straight of the oven and it was amazing.  Here's a picture.

*****EDITED TO ADD*****
Meredith's Irish Soda Bread Recipe!
Irish Soda Bread
prep time: 15 min / cook time: 50 min
    •    4 cups all-purpose flour
    •    4 tablespoons white sugar
    •    1 teaspoon baking soda
    •    1 tablespoon baking powder
    •    1/2 teaspoon salt
    •    1/2 cup margarine, softened
    •    1 cup buttermilk
    •    1 egg
    •    1/4 cup butter, melted
    •    1/4 cup buttermilk

    1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
    2.    In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf.
    3.    Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30 to 50 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.
 *****End Edit*****

Another friend brought over a really great cake with berries baked into it.  I didn't manage to get a good picture of it but it was lovely!

I'm sorry that this post wasn't super exciting.  I'll be posting new pictures of our house and of course silly stories about my kids this week.  :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"BUT, I want to celebrate the family!"

Anna is our early riser.  She wakes up WAY too early and insists that everyone wakes up the instant she does.  The other day she woke up at 5:55 on the dot.  She said she had to go to the bathroom, so I told her to go quickly and then head back to her bed.  She finished in the bathroom and decided it was time to stage a protest to the whole heading back to bed thing.  I told her that it was definitely too early and she needed more sleep.  She replied with, "BUT, I want to celebrate the family!"  I couldn't help laughing.  What does it mean to "celebrate the family" and who wants to do it before 6 AM?  I love that girl.

The kids like to talk about future professions.  Anna's go-to career is dentist.  She says that she wants to become a dentist so she can fix the holes in kiddos teeth.  She's never had a cavity.  I'm guessing that her passion for dentistry came from being deeply moved by an episode of "Sid the Science Kid."  Because Anna wants to be a dentist, Daniel walks around saying that he wants to be a dentist, too.  Anna's side job is super hero.  I guess she'll be the female version of Clark Kent someday.  Anna Kousma D.D.S by day and Super Anna by night!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The More You Know ;)

I was checking out my status feed on Facebook this morning and the general theme of the day was Daylight Savings Time.  All of a sudden I started worrying about the fact that we seemed to forget it.  After a little of research on my husband's part, we found out that Europe sets their clocks forward the last Sunday of March instead of the second like North America.  Crazy stuff.  It's not of much use to us today anyway because we're all feeling a bit under the weather.  We'll be sticking close to the house today. Anna didn't sleep from about 3 AM on.  We're SERIOUSLY looking forward to nap time today ;).

Dan the man has taken to adding a speech impediment when it suits him :)  When he really wants something he'll say (in his cutest voice) "Pwitty, pwitty pwease?!"  I've never been a fan of baby talk, but he looks up at you with those big blue eyes and your heart melts a little.  He knows how to work the system already!  This could be trouble.

Our kids love The Muppets.  We bought Muppets Treasure Island while we were in California and it came with a little sticker book.  Anna and Daniel were going through the stickers and playing with them one day when they came across these guys
Anna said that no one would want that sticker because they were just mean guys that no one liked.  I told her that I actually liked them and you should have seen the look of disgust on her face!  She took out the sticker and handed it to me.  "I guess mommy can have this one because she LIKES *scoff* the mean guys!"  She just couldn't conceive of anyone liking Statler and Waldorf :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Current Favorite Songs...

I figured that after two posts in a row about food I needed to mix things up a bit.  Here are a few songs currently making my playlists recently.

"Sigh No More" - Mumford & Sons
"Love will not betray,
dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man
you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment, a cry,
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love
as it was made to be"

"MarryYou" - Bruno Mars
I love the sound of this song even though I can't say I agree with the view on marriage ;)

"Forget You" - Cee Lo Green (the edited version ;))
This is another one that I really love the sound and feel of.  It can make me smile even when I'm in a super crappy mood.

"To Build a Home" - The Cinematic Orchestra
An incredible song.  I love the way it builds and swells.  I could listen to this song on repeat for hours.

"In These Arms" - The Swell Season
Such a beautiful song.  Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova sound so great together.

"Flightless Bird, American Mouth" - Iron & Wine
Love this song.  It's so chill and very pretty.

"Someone Like You" - Adele
I'm slightly obsessed with her new album, and this is my favorite of the whole cd.  A beautiful song.  Daniel sounds pretty cute singing the chorus ;)

"Parachute" - Ingrid Michaelson
It's a pretty big departure from your typical Ingrid Michaelson, but it works and it's fun to sing along to.

"Transatlanticism" - Death Cab for Cutie
This was the song I listened to all the time when I was in Hamburg for three months in college.  It's still one of my go-to songs when I'm missing the states and my family.

"Canvas" - Imogen Heap
I love her music.  This song is so great.

"Blood Bank" - Bon Iver
I can't get enough of Bon Iver.  This song is often stuck in my head.

"Wake Up" - The Arcade Fire
An amazing song.  Hearing it on the preview for "Where the Wild Things Are" made me want to see that movie.

"Norwegian Wood" - The Beatles
I don't think this one needs an explanation.

"Paris (Ooh La La)" - Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
I downloaded this before we drove to Paris for Christmas.  It's a really fun song.

"Cosmic Love" - Florence + the Machine
I love the epic feel to this song.

Okay, that's probably enough for now.  I listen to A LOT of music, so there are plenty of songs making the rotation these days.  ;)

Corned Beef

Will and I caught an episode of Alton Brown's show on Food Network around this time last year.  He was making his own corned beef.  We decided that the next (this) St. Patrick's Day would be a great chance to try making our own corned beef.  Well, yesterday I made the brine and trimmed the massive 8.5 lb brisket we bought from the commissary.  It's insanely easy.  The biggest issue for us was the fact that our commissary isn't very well stocked with herbs and spices, so we had to go looking at the German store, Real.  We love Real, but spices have VERY different names in German than they do in English.  We spent a good twenty minutes in the spice aisle before we left with the correct spices. 

We're celebrating St. Patrick's Day a couple of days after the 17th because I'm going in for another sleep study on the actual holiday.  The beef needs to sit in the brine for 10 days.  I'll be posting a follow-up once it's done in the brine and it's been cooked and served.  It's a five star recipe on Food Network and it has 57 reviews.  Pretty impressive, Alton ;) 


  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons saltpeter  *We used Morton's Meat Tenderizer*
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 12 whole juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 pounds ice
  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) beef brisket, trimmed *In my case, 8.5lbs, so I did 1.5 of everything in the recipe*
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped


Place the water into a large 6 to 8 quart stockpot along with salt, sugar, saltpeter, cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, bay leaves and ginger. Cook over high heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the ice. Stir until the ice has melted. If necessary, place the brine into the refrigerator until it reaches a temperature of 45 degrees F. Once it has cooled, place the brisket in a 2-gallon zip top bag and add the brine. Seal and lay flat inside a container *I had to use a rubbermaid container and use a smaller container to weigh down the meat because it wouldn't fit in any ziplock bag*, cover and place in the refrigerator for 10 days. Check daily to make sure the beef is completely submerged and stir the brine.
After 10 days, remove from the brine and rinse well under cool water. Place the brisket into a pot just large enough to hold the meat, add the onion, carrot and celery and cover with water by 1-inch. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Remove from the pot and thinly slice across the grain.

*My notes in asterisks

Side Note:

Will brought these home for me yesterday :)  Such a sweet thing to do.  I am spoiled.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

I stumbled upon this website the other day and found a recipe for Dulce de Leche cupcakes and decided that I needed to try them.  Baking has been interesting here due to the way the oven in our house works.  It's basically a glorified broiler, so I'm having to learn a bit along the way.

A friend came over and helped me make these.  First, we tried the old fashioned method for making dulce de leche which involves poking some holes on the top of a can of sweetened condensed milk and letting it simmer in a pot of water for hours, but it didn't work out so well for some reason.  Then, I stood over the stove stirring the condensed milk for over an hour to make dulce de leche, but I made it too thick.  Once it cooled it was more like dulce de leche fudge.  It tasted amazing, but it was not going to work for frosting.    The third, and final method, was pouring condensed milk into a microwave safe container and microwaving it in very small increments of time until it became dulce de leche.  This method worked, but made my microwave an absolute nightmare to clean.  *All that to say* If you live near a store that has dulce de leche in a jar, I would definitely take advantage of it!  :)  If you're like me and can't find a jar of dulce de leche anywhere near you, here's a link to an article that tells you all of the different ways to make it. 

Here's the recipe:


3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup dulce de leche, plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper or foil liners.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter and sugars.  Beat on medium speed until fluffy and pale brown, about 3 minutes.   Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one egg.  Beat on medium for one minute.  Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute between each addition.  Stop the bowl and scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract.

Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture.  Beat on low speed and slowly drizzle in the buttermilk.  Beat until just incorporated.  Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients.  Beat on low speed until just incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and finish incorporating with a spatula.  Try not to over mix the mixture.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake pans, filling each liner about two thirds full.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.  Let rest in the cupcake pans before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cupcakes should be completely cooled before frosting.

To make the frosting:

Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds, until very soft and pliable.  Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the butter and dulce de leche.  Beat on medium speed until well incorporated.  Stop the mixer and add the salt and powdered sugar.  Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and lighter in color. Generously spoon frosting on top of cupcakes, or use a large frosting tip to pipe on frosting.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Let's try this again...

Ok.  I'm starting to feel semi-settled in Germany, so I suppose it's a good time to get back to the business of blogging!  I'll be posting pictures of the inside of our new home around the end of the month.  I am waiting on some canvas prints of pictures I've taken to put up on the walls.

Once I really start baking and cooking I'm planning on posting some recipes here from time to time. 

In an attempt to get back into the swing of things I'm going to post a recent picture and 15 facts about me.

1.  I am a nerd....some of you may already be privy to this information ;)
2.  I am the youngest of three children. 
3.  I have always wanted to live in Europe.  We (Will) joined the AF because we were hoping to get the chance to live in Europe. 
4.  I am insanely proud of my husband.  If you give me an opening to talk about him, you might regret it because I can talk your ear off on that subject.  He is the most intelligent, witty, and amazing guy I know. 
5.  I have two children and they are hilarious.  In some ways they're SO alike, but in many ways, they are polar opposites.  I kind of like it that way.
6.  I randomly get the theme song from Lord of the Rings stuck in my head.  I seriously end up walking around humming it almost daily.
7.  Thanks to the way my brain works, it is VERY easy to get a song stuck in my head.  My husband thinks that it is the funniest thing in the world to get super annoying songs stuck in my head...I do not appreciate this ;)
8.  I am quirky. 
9.  I love to act, but I haven't done it in years.  I am hoping to be able to get back into community theater at some point.
10.  I really want to get my nose pierced, but my husband thinks that it's really gross, so I won't ;)
11.  I really love to travel and hope to do a ton of it while living in Germany. 
12.  My favorite shows are Arrested Development, Flight of the Conchords, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks & Rec, Modern Family, etc.
13.  I am totally OCD about the way I play the game Solitaire.  It's weird, and I know that.  I'm pretty sure that if someone who didn't know me watched me play Solitaire, they would worry about me. 
14.  I love comedies.  If you ask what I'd like to watch, 9 times out of 10 I'm going to say a comedy.  I love Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Will finds my nerdy love for those movies endearing...thank goodness!
15.  Our recent visit to Prague was on my "Bucket List."  I am 25% Czech and my family came from Prague, so it was a really big deal to me.  I loved being there!  What an incredible city :)