WeVerb14 – Day 12: Savor

Day 12: savor

What was your favorite food item/ingredient in 2013? What do you want to eat more and less of in 2014?

I’ve got one (overused) word for you…no, I’ve got a song for you:


Bacon.

Oh how do I love thee, Bacon. Let me count the ways. You make everything amazing. Cheeseburgers. Potatoes. Pancakes. Macaroni and cheese. Brussels sprouts. Ice cream. Is there anything you can’t do? I know bacon has been the ingredient du jour this past year but it is just simply delicious. If there’s bacon in it, I’ll want to eat it. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about bacon right now.

Because I am.

Something I want to eat more of in 2014 is more vegetables. I don’t hate vegetables, I just don’t go out of my way to eat them. If they’re there I’ll probably eat a little bit of them, but I’m perfectly happy eating a plate full of proteins, starches, and carbs with an itty bitty amount of vegetables. Maybe. Basically I’m disinterested in vegetables even though I enjoy them roasted or grilled. And I’ll eat salads. I’m just really kind of weird about the whole thing. But I’m hoping this year I can start turning my overall disinterest into mild, simmering interest.

Maybe I should add bacon.

WeVerb14: Day 5 – Sing

Sing: What song or lyrics will be forever tied to 2013 in your mind? What songs are you excited to keep with you through 2014?

There were two songs that will forever tie my mind to 2013, both of which, incidentally featured Pharrell (was 2013 the Year of Pharrell or something?): Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and Pharrell’s Happy.

I don’t really listen to the radio anymore, outside of the 70s and 80s station I occasionally listen to but these two songs managed to reach me. I’ve been a fan of Daft Punk for a while now and have been looking forward to their latest album and I came across ‘Happy’ through Despicable Me 2. Both songs just make me ridiculously…happy and want to dance. Even in the car. Which I’ve done. I know they were definitely “songs of the moment” with plenty of radio airplay but when a song makes you smile, dance, and sing along then it’s a good song despite the conditions.

At the moment, I’ll probably carry both those songs with me into 2014. They still make me smile and dancey whenever I hear them and I do look forward to having them played at our wedding because they make me happy.

WeVerb14: Day 4 – Rebuild

Rebuild: What do you plan to pick up or rebuild this year?

health-quotes-sayings-being-healthy-lifestyle

[source]

We can rebuild her. We have the technology. We can make her better than she was before. Better…stronger…faster.

Our work is never over.

Ahem. Sorry, Daft Punk has that kind of effect on me.

So in 2014, my plan is to rebuild myself. I won’t lie – I’m not in a very happy place with my weight at the moment. Even though I carry my weight well, I’m extremely self-conscious about my waistline. I alternate between grabbing and trying to conceal the extra bulge. I get nervous and anxious when the mister hugs me and rubs my back because “The Bulge!” This is not a good way of living.

My goal is not to become skinny but to simply be healthy. I miss the confidence I had in myself when I was healthier, I miss not worrying about “The Bulge,” and I definitely miss the energy I had. My plan is simple two-step process: snack less and move more. Genius, right?

Part 1: Snack less. Since I started working from home, I noticed  my snacking grew exponentially. When I was at an office, I only ate what I had on hand in my desk so often I’d just suck it up and push through any slight craving. But now that I’m home and have access to the kitchen, if I feel even slightly hungry, I head to the kitchen for something. While I’m not sure if I can reduce the amount of snacking I do, I can at least swap my snacks of whatever’s on hand (usually toast) for fruit or small servings of cheese. Also, I’d like to inject some more vegetables into my diet just because.

Part 2: Move more. I always feel better when I’m being active, whether through sports or working out. I always run into trouble during the winter months when I don’t run and I need to find some outlet for movement. That was why I started going to the gym. But then I realized that I’m not accountable to the gym and because it was just a “weight and machine” only gym (which was why it was only $10 a month!) I became bored quickly and didn’t want to go anymore. So I quit the gym (thankfully it was less painful than that) in favor of classes where the routine changes and I’m held accountable for attending. The barre classes I’m taking are amazing and I always feel pumped after class. It’s surprisingly tough (especially on the thighs!) but I feel so accomplished when I manage hold a plank longer than before.

My plan isn’t revolutionary but it will hopefully lead to healthier habits and a lifetime of feeling fabulous.

WeVerb 14: Day 1 – Compose

 

Creating new habits can be tedious but rewarding (unless they’re bad habits; then they are easy and not really rewarding). And while I’ve treated my blog like a neglected new year’s resolution, the desire to write is still present so I’m hoping that through encouragement, I can get myself back in that writer’s saddle. In another effort to restart my writing, I’m going to participate in WeVerb14 this year.

The first prompt is: Compose. Here are my haiku for 2013 and 2014:

2013

Now after 8 years

The distance finally bridged

He’s here by my side

2014

A new year is here

We become husband and wife

May will soon be here

 

You can’t outrun pancakes and bacon

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you. Without a dope post to read through.

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

You remember my last attempt at running the Healdsburg Half last year and how I spent the majority of the race alternating between being pumped and being miserable while pretending to run and then ultimately walking? To make up for that laughable experience, I was determined to turn in a better race this year (that competitive nature of mine strikes again) and spent the summer training. I was serious about it: I signed up for 2 races (a 5k and a 10k) and set up personal mileage goals to keep me motivated, bought a new pair of running shoes to reduce blisters (my other shoes were too tight) and even accidentally picked up fancy custom insoles (yes, accidentally). See, serious. I hit a good stride with my training and was well on the way of meeting my goal of 13 miles by the end of September, leaving me with enough time to hit 14 miles before the race. Needless to say that didn’t happen.

Even though my last month of training stalled due to weird weather systems, weddings, birthday parties, visitors, and general oversleeping, I still felt pretty good that I would be able to deliver a decent performance this time around. The morning of the race soon came and I dragged the mister out of his warm bed so he could stand around in a random vineyard too early in the cold, dark morning with a bunch of strangers. That’s love.

Trentadue Winery - Healdsburg Half

The calm before the storm.

I was very awake very early in the morning.

Soon we were off and I was feeling really good. The race directors created a new route so I couldn’t really gauge where I was in reference to the end of the race, but we did run through parts of last year’s course so that was fun. Aside from seeing what other people dressed up as, one of my favorite things about this race are the girls from Girls on the Run at the aid stations throughout the course. They were always ready with cheers, smiles, and encouragement. I looked forward to seeing them while passing an aid station and was a bit bummed when I passed a station and they weren’t there. Those cheers does wonders to a runner’s soul. At the last one, some of the girls gave out stickers to runners so I stopped to get some (also, it gave me a great excuse to walk).

hbh 2013 - stickersEnjoying my new stickers
[Source: Finishers Pix]

Overall, while my time was longer than last year (my official time was 3:16:03), this was a much better experience. I was in such a good mood and feeling my music so much that I wanted to stop for a dance break in the middle of the race. Instead, I ended up singing along to a few of the songs, but not too loudly since  I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Anywho, since I wasn’t busy bemoaning how miserable I felt, I spent my time thinking about food. Around mile four, I started thinking about how amazing bacon would be. Then somewhere around mile six I started obsessing over pancakes. Bacon. Pancakes. Pancakes. Bacon. OMGIWANTBACONPANCAKES!

Then I started singing the Bacon Pancakes song:

Do you know how distracting it is trying to run while thinking about pancakes and bacon? I was so hungry that the race felt like it was never going to end. Each step brought me closer to pancakes and bacon. I started counting down the miles separating me from pancakes and bacon around mile nine. Four miles until pancakes and bacon. Three miles until bacon and pancakes. Two miles until pancakes and bacon. I nearly lost my mind when I passed the 13 mile marker.

hbh 2013 - finishI’m excited for two reasons: 1: I’m done and 2: PANCAKES AND BACON!
[Source: Finisher Pix]

My phone promptly died shortly after crossing the finish line so I don’t have my customary post-race photo, or one of my stickers, or of my plate of pancakes and bacon from IHop. Yes, we stopped at IHop on the way home because when you’ve been thinking about pancakes and bacon for almost 10 miles, you get pancakes and bacon.

And they were the best pancakes and bacon ever.

The wedding bells, they are a’ringing

“When are you getting married?”

If I were to create a FAQ for the mister’s and my relationship, this would be the first question we addressed. We’ve heard this question almost the entire length of our relationship and the answer was always the same, “We’ll let you know when it happens.” I’ve alluded to this a couple of months ago, I’m happy to finally reveal that yes, a wedding is happening. Next year in fact. In May.

So, uh…we’re engaged!

Now, our engagement story is befitting the nature of our relationship. It’s…different. Different in that there hasn’t been an official proposal with a ring yet. We’ve known for many, many, many the years that we would be getting married (that’s the reason why he gave me the promise for our first anniversary) and we’ve talked about it constantly. It was going to happen; we just didn’t know when. So when the mister moved out here in March, we knew things would start moving towards that goal. After several more discussions, we decided to just go ahead and get the ball rolling. So we picked a date and have been planning all summer.

Yes, we’ve been engaged since May and I’m just now announcing it. I know it’s a little strange but at first I wanted to wait until we had an actual proposal story to share but now that we’re closing in on 8 months until the big day, we realized that we would have to start telling people anyway since we need to get addresses and send out invitations. It would be a little weird for our friends to receive an invite to a wedding they had no idea was happening. And I’ll admit that I was worried about what people who say when they heard the news and I didn’t have the typical proposal story. It’s silly because a ring doesn’t make us engaged; the fact that we’ve decided to get married makes us engaged. Plus, this way just makes a lot more sense for us.

It took me a little bit to come to that conclusion, many thanks to the mister’s constant reassurances. He’s great like that. I should marry him. Oh wait, I AM!!

So there will be a proposal story in the future and I’ll share that when it happens. But until then, we’re prepping and getting things in place for our May wedding. I can’t believe I’m writing that about myself.

Of course I’m blogging about it so you can check out the wedding planning posts here at lovetalda.wordpress.com.

We’re getting married!

In the Kitchen: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

Every so often I get the urge to bake. Usually it happens when there’s rain on the horizon but considering it’ll be in the 80s for the next week or so, that doesn’t seem to explain this latest baking craving. I’ve been adding new dessert recipes to my Pinterest board but just haven’t had a chance to buckle down into the kitchen to bake anything – I’m still trying to figure out when to make cookie dough for the freezer! I have a fairly ambitious baking wishlist:

  1. Chocolate chip cookie dough
  2. Peanut butter cookie dough
  3. Sugar cookie dough (maybe?)
  4. Mini cherry tart cookies
  5. Apple cider doughnuts
  6. Challah bread

I knew something was up because, seriously? Challah bread? I’ve always shied away from breads because I am kind of intimidated by yeast. It can’t be too warm or too cold (like Goldilocks, this yeast). But there’s something about it that’s so enticing.

Anywho, I finally managed to make some time in the kitchen while my nieces and nephew were visiting to try out a recipe I’ve been hoping to try since I first found it: Cinnamon Toast Crunch cupcakes. I originally saved this recipe because Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the mister’s favorite cereal and I thought this would be a great dessert to make for him. Dessert and breakfast all in one? Sign me up!

Of course, time passed and I still hadn’t made it but the stars aligned and on the hottest day we’ve had so far this year, I cranked up the oven and made some cupcakes. I never said decision making was my strongest virtue.

The original recipe called for boxed cake mix and while I have no qualms with using box mixes, I wanted to avoid going to the store (which was silly because I ended up going to the store anyway) so I used a vanilla cake recipe and added cinnamon for the cinnamon cake base and followed the recipe for the Cinnamon Toast Crunch cream cheese frosting.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch cupcakes

 

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes
Adapted from Your Cup of Cake

Cinnamon Cake Base
(based from Sweetapolita’s Fluffy Vanilla Cake)

5 large egg whites (150 g), at room temperature
1 whole egg
1 cup whole milk (237 ml), at room temperature
2-1/4 teaspoons (12 ml) pure vanilla extract
3 cups (345 g) cake flour, sifted
2 cups (400 g) sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (17 g) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 24 even pieces
1 1/2 teaspons cinnamon (this is added to make it a cinnamon cake)

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup Cinnamon Toast Crunch powder – (Crush the cereal in a bag and then sift out 2/3 cup)

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment, and flour two round 8-inch pans.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter one piece at a time, about every 10 seconds, ensuring it’s cold (you can keep some in refrigerator while you’re adding pieces). Continue to mix on low until the mixture is a fine crumbly texture. Add milk, and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches, mixing until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. (You want to ensure that the batter is homogenous.) Fold once or twice to ensure the batter at bottom of bowl is incorporated.
  5. Scoop batter into cupcake tins, filling about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating the pans after 10 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs when inserted into the center

For the frosting:

  1. Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add Cinnamon Toast Crunch powder. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Adjust the consistency using milk if it is too thick.
  2. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with cinnamon sugar and Cinnamon Toast Crunch squares.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch cupcakes