28 February, 2011

C25k week 3, workout 1, no swimming, and an app!

It's Monday!
I'm not sure i've ever looked forward to exercising  so much in my life - and that's really saying something. I hated to exercise. HATED. IT. Why? Because i'm a fatty and it's no fun to get up and get going only to get winded and feel embarrassed because my shirt keeps riding up my fat sides and back. It's no fun to be inhibited in movement because my skin and all the fat underneath it limit my range of motion. 
I remember how it felt to be slender and limber.

This weekend was pretty good. I ate a bunch of stuff i shouldn't have, of course, but on the other hand - i didn't over-indulge like i used to. I think that's a step in the right direction.
I had a hard day on Sunday. 
If you ask my brother or my nephews (who are all around my age - nephews, not my brothers) with whom i basically spent all my summers with after we moved to the lower 48 from Alaska - they'd probably be able to tell you that my favorite thing to do was to swim. 
Swimming for me is pretty much the most freeing thing... i love the rush of the cool water against my face as i swim under the water and i love how light i feel when i float on top of it, watching the sky. I love the way i can be the most graceful dancer in the water or i can be the worlds strongest woman... It's a beautiful thing.
Sunday, our friends asked us to go swimming with them at the community pool in Youghal. I was really excited before i remembered one thing: I'm still fat.
I have a bathing suit, but without even trying it on, i know that it won't fit. 
I have a treadmill for the same reason i can't go swimming in public - i'm ashamed of showing my body to the world. 
My husband could tell i was extremely bummed out - and he told me that it was a shame that i was raised in the society that i was. I suppose in Europe, being fat is not actually a big deal - and truly, i'm not enormously fat (as i make myself out to be)... just overweight and super sensitive about it.
I wanted him to go though, because i knew he'd have a great time, however, he would not go without me. So... i grabbed my book and went along with the group. I stayed in the chairs in the lobby reading and tried to ignore the gigantic wall of glass looking into the swimming pool, where occasionally V would smile and wave. I knew he was having a great time, and i'm really glad.
It was just hard to watch everyone having so much fun doing my favorite thing, and not being able to let myself participate. It was really, really hard to put on a brave face and ask my friends how their time was, and listen to them tell me how good the water felt and how fun the water slide was. 
It's silly to be jealous of them, because it's my own fault that i look the way i do - too much pie. haha but i keep reminding myself that the next time they go, i'll be able to enjoy myself right along with them. I'll be able to feel the water rush against my face and feel light as a feather, floating on top of it. 
No pity party for me, i'm losing weight. There's no time to feel sorry for myself - i've got to run!!!

Today's running plan (i've decided to stick with calling it "running"...) on the C25k schedule is to do two repetitions of the following (after a 5 minute warm up walk): 
  • jog 90 seconds
  • walk 90 seconds
  • jog 3 minutes (!!!)
  • walk 3 minutes
followed by a 5 minute cool down walk.

Last week, going into my first workout - i saw that i was going to run for 90 seconds and i'll admit, i thought i wouldn't make it. This week, looking over the schedule for this run - i saw 3 minutes and my eyeballs got about as wide as dinner plates. 
Because of the success of last week though, i felt that i could tackle this. 

I received a comment from a fellow C25K'er Katie. I went to have a lookie on her blog and see her progress - and discovered that there's an app for the C25K running plan! She has the iPhone app, (oh how i miss my iPhone...) but i looked it up and there's an Android version of it too. Score!
I downloaded it and used it today for the first time. 

The app plays music that i select and told me when to start running and walking... it was pretty great! After the warm-up walk, i was prompted to start running, and the timer started ticking down 90 seconds. I knocked that run out. I did really well, if i do say so myself, but the first run is always easiest. 
The first three minute run was over before i knew it. I focused on my breathing and the C25K app let me know verbally that i had 2 minutes left of my run, then after it was finished, told me to walk. I couldn't believe it! I just ran for THREE MINUTES!!! AND i think the best part about it was that i didn't feel like i was going to die. I was ready to keep on going!
My second three minute run was definitely harder, but not so much that i thought about quitting. 
Today i decided to be adventurous and wear my Vibram Five-Fingers Classics. My feet and ankles started to feel a little worn out about a minute into my three minute run - but i think that's because i've been running in regular tennis shoes up until today. Running in the VFFs, i actually run completely different - landing on the ball of my foot rather than my heel (i walk the same as normal though). Because that running style works a different set of muscles, i believe that is why my legs and feet got a bit tired.

Overall, i'm very proud of myself and really looking forward to my next run!!

We're going to England for the weekend so... i'm mildly concerned about my run. If worse comes to worse though, i guess i'll just run outside... maybe there will be some remote location. Eek!!!

26 February, 2011

C25k week 2, workout 3

Today's workout was sooooo good! I feel great and confident and the best part of all for me is that i'm starting to notice little physical changes in my body.

Originally, i wanted to do the workout yesterday, but my good friend came over for a sleepover and we ended up vegged out on the couch drinking too much beer. Cheers to the freakin' weekend.
I had plenty of water though, so i woke up without much of a hangover - though i still do feel off from the toxins that are hanging out in my poor, poor liver.
Truthfully, even though i want to work out today i was finding the motivation to actually get off my butt and DO it pretty difficult. That's the alcohol, i'd imagine. I should really be more careful with my body. The whole idea of getting into shape is not helped by excessive drinking. Note to self: think before you drink.

5:00pm rolled around and after i had taken a nap and updated my iPod, I marched myself right upstairs and plugged in the treadmill. I did my little warmup walk then started to jog to Alexis Jordan's Happiness. That, my friends, is a GREAT song to warm up to. With the help of her, Rhianna, Katy Perry, Eminem, Michael Buble, Tim Berg, and the Saturdays, i got through my entire workout without a single negative thought about how i felt. I didn't need to mentally encourage myself like i normally do, and possibly the greatest achievement this week was finishing my 20 minutes without ever "counting down the seconds" like i did at the beginning of this week. I watched the timer tick by absently, and looked out over the field behind my house imagining myself being able to jog all the way across it in one go someday soon!

There was a day this week where i was very discouraged, and may or may not have shed a few tears. We'll just blame that on hormones and move on. Looking back, i feel silly being discouraged so soon. I understand that though the body does change remarkably quickly, it does not change overnight and it was silly to expect so much from myself. As my dad says, "Rome was not built in a day."

I end this week being proud of myself, not only for making healthy choices, but for sticking to a routine and not letting myself get in the way of my goals. At the beginning of the week, i could barely jog 90 seconds in a row without feeling like my heart would explode. Today i'm ready to go into Week Three of the C25k program. Bring on the sweat!

ooh... i almost forgot to tell you! I've lost 1.5" off my waist alone since i've started this :) Complaints? I have none.

23 February, 2011

C25k: Week 2 Workout 2 and More Motivation

Today was my second workout in week two of the C25k program.
While this workout for me was not as painful as the last (thank God), i still huffed and puffed my way through it. All of it *back pat*.

Right around the 14 minute mark, my body was not a happy camper. I was short of breath, heart pumping quickly, sweaty... but never once did i think about quitting. Each time a negative thought flowed into my mind about how hard it was, or how uncomfortable i felt while running - i pushed it out of my mind with thoughts of how important this is to me and how i really, really want to be healthy and fit.

Today, i found a little more motivation as well!!! I'm excited to say that on my internet searchings, i ran across ( no pun intended) the Cork Running Blog showing races in my area for the whole year. I calculated when my 9 weeks of the C25k program would be up, and gave an extra week for cushion - April 18th is when i should be able to run 5k, more or less.
In looking through the races listed in April, there's one in one of my favorite Irish locations - Youghal (pronounced "Yohhlll" - not "yole" but a combination of "yole" and "y'all"...). A 4 mile beach run on April 26th.

While i realize what you experienced runners might be thinking - "beach run for a beginner?", the beach here is mostly packed sand and we'll be running in between high and low tide, so it will be like running on dirt, i think.

It gives me an extra couple weeks after my 9 week program to push myself that extra .4 mile (5k = 3.6 miles) to reach my goal and be ready for the race.

Obviously, i won't be running it as a race, but more as an achievement for myself. Even if i finish last, i finish and that is a wonderful thing to look forward to!

Are you starting the C25k challenge or currently going through it too? Leave a link to your blog here, in the comments! I'd love to follow your progress and leave you some encouragement!

22 February, 2011

Diet and Exercise

Weight has been a real problem area for me for the last several years. Even worse - motivating myself to do something about it!!!
It seems I always want to do something, but easily slip back into my bad habits. The other trouble is - i have a hard time finishing things that i start with personal projects. Recently, i've been getting better about it (because i finally admitted it to myself) but there are still times when, well... you know.

So here are all the posts where i complain about my weight, and try to start doing something about it:

  1. This is me. Honestly.
  2. Rats, Fats, and a little bit of Faith
  3. It ain't pretty...
  4. Calling in Fat... 
I don't mean to sound like a person who goes on and on about something and never does anything to solve it. In other situations, i am a solver of problems. When it comes to myself, i am not... I figure if i just leave it, i can come back to it later. This goes for many things in my own life; dishes, getting dressed in the morning sometimes, diet (obviously), fashion... but i decided that this is the year for change. Actual, real, change. I'm tired of being ashamed to look in the mirror. I'm sick of feeling self conscious when i shoot a wedding or go out in public. I am over disliking my body and not loving myself because of my own poor choices.

February 12, 2011 marked a milestone in my life. Perfect timing - as it would have been my mother's birthday. We bought a treadmill. Nothing fancy, second hand, but something I will use.
February 13th, 2011 marked milestone number two. After being continually being inspired by former wedding client-now friend, Emily - I started the Couch-to-5k program which promises that i'll be able to jog 5k (3.6 miles) in just 9 weeks.
It is a program that is perfect for me, couch potato that i am.

Here are the articles i have written as i have completed a workout:

Week One

Week Two:
Workout One
Workout Two
Workout Three

Week Three:
Workout One
Workout Two
Workout Three

Week Four:
Workout One
Workout One (take two and three)

And while i'm working on this, here are some other people's blogs who are going through or have completed the C25K program! Check them out! Be inspired.

The Daily Garnish
The Resolution Revolution
Fat Girl Running

I encourage you to join me on my journey! If you have a blog and are also doing this program, link to it here in the comments section and i'll add you to the above list as well as follow your blog and give encouragement!! Best of luck.

21 February, 2011

Couch-to-5k: week two, workout one

Today, the routine for the C25k program is a brisk 5minute walk, then alternating between 90 seconds of jogging and 2 minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Ladies and gentlemen... i almost died today.

Well... not really. But i felt like it.

I stretched a little, warmed up - and did my 5 minute walk... then my first 90 second run. That was fine. I walked two minutes at a brisk pace, then cranked up the machine to jog for another 90 seconds... This was less-than fine...
The jogging got increasingly harder as my 20 minutes ticked by, and by the end of it i was pushing myself through the 90 second intervals by counting down the seconds until i could walk again. I laugh now, but at the time (about an hour ago) i felt like i was going to die.
Thoughts of quitting went through my mind, i won't lie.
At about 14 minutes, i thought "who would notice if i just didn't finish this run today?" but i persisted.
At 16 minutes, more thoughts of stopping early... but i persisted.
at 19:30 minutes (walking), i thought of starting to cool down early, but was almost at 2km... so i persisted.

at 20 minutes and 15 seconds, i hit 2km, and started to do my cool down walking.

On Saturday i felt so triumphant that i had gone 2.16km in 20 minutes. Today, i barely hit 2km and was exhausted!

On one hand, i feel great that i pushed myself to complete the daily goal.
On the other, i feel a little disappointed that i jogged more and had less mileage. I suppose i did end up walking more too. Maybe i'm right on track :)

At any rate, tomorrow is a walking day for me, and i'm excited. I saw some spinning classes offered in the village so i might ring them tomorrow and see what they cost.

4 Tips to Start Up Your Running Season | Active.com

I read this article today (the beginning of my second week for my C25k plan) and really enjoyed it. Have a look: 4 Tips to Start Up Your Running Season | Active.com

to be creative, one must be inspired.

The title really says it all.
As much as i love and appreciate what my mother did in life, something i learned from her was how i do not want to set up my living spaces. My mother was a frugal being. She very, very rarely ever bought herself anything new for the home. She worked with the things she was given, already had, or found for super cheap at a thrift store/garage sale/bargain bin.
While i believe wholly in working *with* a space, i have come to the decision that furniture comes and goes - and except for those pieces that are near and dear to your heart, it's ok to sell and give away pieces of furniture that worked in one living space, but do not work in your current place.

Throughout my life, my little family of three always had a huge amount of stuff. Just... STUFF. I remember growing up that my closets were always filled with boxes on one half - leaving me just a little room for my clothes and our garage was stuffed to the brim.
Why did we have all that stuff?! I believe that a lot of it was emotional. My parents each had children prior to meeting each other and adopting me - so they had boxes and boxes of each of their previous lives. A huge amount of stuff they didn't use or look at anymore took up tons and tons of space in our houses just because they couldn't bear to part with it.

I can't say that this is true for them anymore, but i definitely grew up in this mindset - that it's OK to hold an emotional attachment to gobs and gobs of stuff you never use or look at. I know someone who used to hold onto every single scrap of clothing they ever wore. This person's closet was SO jam-packed with clothes, that it was difficult to hang their clothes UP after they had been washed. I think they held onto all their elementary, junior high, and high school clothes in the hope that it would come back into fashion when their child was a teen...
I've learned that the odds of that actually happening are slim to none, and in the mean time - i don't want to cart around a crapload of boxes whenever i move somewhere new. I don't want to buy a home the way my parents did - big enough to store all of their STUFF.

It was a hard lesson to learn, to be honest, but one that i've taught myself time and time again. I have moved several times, and each time - i move less stuff. The thing is - when i pack it all up, i can't bear to throw it out, but after i move it and unpack it, i wonder why i even kept it at all. Why did i think this was useful?!
I remind myself of this lesson often when i waiver on donating something or selling something.
What memories does it hold? Will it last another season? Will it fit somewhere nicely and not look like my childhood closets - full of junk?

As a young adult, my living situation has never really allowed for a space for me to call my own. Truly my own. I've always shared a space with someone. In my apartment, my bedroom was "mine" but it was also my storage space. In the last (drafty, nasty, smelly) cottage i lived in, we were severely limited by budget, and therefore on how we could store our things. We built a huge shelving unit all along one wall in order to have space to put things away, but it always looked awful... no matter how neatly we stacked things and tried to make it look aesthetic.
It just always looked like a wall full of random things to me. Because it was.

Now we have this amazing new place to live with three bedrooms to sort our stuff into. So far it's been pretty successful - as we've determined a room for the office and crafts, a space for a guest room, and our own bedroom.
Somehow, i managed to turn my sewing room into an office. An office with craft supplies in the closet, out of sight.
I blame the desk.

Though it served us perfectly well in our old place (and served V well in his bachelor pad), i think that it will only ever be an office desk. It used to be an "L" shape, but i removed the corner piece hoping that one long space would make for more inspiration.
It made a long office desk.
As much time as i spend at the computer editing photos, this space does not really inspire me. Neither does our small bedroom. As i believe i mentioned before, i think we'll be switching our guest bedroom with our own bedroom eventually. In the mean time, i've been gaining inspiration for how to decorate these spaces. I believe that your home should be a place that you're proud of - a place that inspires you and relaxes you at the same time. Here are some of the photos i've found for possible decorating/organizing ideas eventually:

 I like this room for how bright it is. I really like the high counter for cutting and pinning - though i realize that will probably not be a possibility in my small sewing space. I really like that there's space for the computer so the office and sewing room are somewhat combined. (source)

I really only like the pegboard in this room, and that's about it. I have a TON of Fiskars scissors with cool edges (i think over 40!) and with them being so colorful, it would be nice to display them. Out of sight, out of mind - and that's not good for crafting. (source)

 Mostly, i like the colors here... (source)

In this space, i really like the colors as well as the natural wood counter - and the re-purposed curio/sideboard cabinet. (source)

Okay i'm seeing a theme here... Turquoise and red... re-purposed curio/sideboard/cabinets to store fabric... but this one also has a space for a computer, and a high counter for cutting... Hmm... maybe i can fit a higher table in there after all. I love this space. (source)

Then of course, there is the bedroom to be done. 
This photo is off the Ikea website. I just love it. Nice bold colors, yet it's still so cottage-style... i would LOVE my bedroom to look like this.

What are some of your plans for decorating or redoing your space?

19 February, 2011

Couch-to-5k: end of week one

I just finished my last workout of week one of the C25k program... whew!

I did a sort of mid-week blog about it, but now that i finished the week, i can blog again! Right?! Yes.
Well, i must say that a week ago, i wouldn't have fathomed that my out of shape body would have been able to walk/run more than a mile in under 20 minutes.
This week's workout consisted of a brisk 5 minute walk, then alternating between 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes each time.

During the first workout, i didn't even think i was going to be able to finish - and i don't think i even went a mile when 20 minutes was up! That was just last Sunday.

Monday, I walked for a good 30 minutes at a fairly quick pace, while reading a book.

The second workout on Tuesday was noticeably better for me. I was able to finish, even if i did have to push myself through the final 2-3 minutes - but i did it and felt pretty proud of myself. That day i went 1.85km and decided that i would start keeping a little journal of my distances and times.

I walked again on Wednesday, but only for 25 minutes, as that was all i made time for.

Today is Saturday. I've been keeping busy with doing the costuming for this year's play by the Ballyduff Drama Group (see here) and with tonight being opening night, I had to make sure that all the details were finished. So i missed Thursday and Friday. I thought i might have lost some of my progress, so i went into today's workout a little hesitantly.
To my great surprise, i found myself turning up the speed and being able to keep up a fairly fast (for me) pace! Usually i walk for 90 seconds at 4.8 (speed) on my treadmill, then bump it up to between 7 and 7.8 for my 60 seconds of jogging. That's pretty much as fast as i could manage. Today, i grinned to myself when i felt good walking at 5.5 (speed) and bumping it to 9 (!!!) to jog!
Today was also the first day i ran with any sort of music - since i gave up my iPhone to my husband to use (it's a long story...) i've had no iPod. I was amazed at how much i actually used it as an iPod! Well today, i broke out my old 2nd generation iPod and rocked out to some Rhianna during my workout and the minutes were gone before i knew it.
Not only did i push myself, but i felt great during the workout (though i still get winded and out of breath during the jogging) and REALLY great afterward. Today i jog/walked 2.16km (1.3miles) in 20 minutes and did a little "woot!" when the distance of my previous workout ticked by on my treadmill.

Do i feel triumphant? Yes! Do i feel ready for week two of the C25k program? Heck Yes!! Bring it on.

Here i come, healthier, more fit me. Here i come.

17 February, 2011

How to roast garlic...

All too often, i come across a recipe that calls for roast garlic. Alternately, i just want to make some to eat on its own because it's super delicious... But, i always have to pull out mom's recipe card and check how to do it. It seems like it's too simple not to just remember, but! There you have it.
I hope this little tutorial will help you remember, as well as tattoo it into my own brain!

Step One: Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C (400 F).

Step Two: Pick out your head(s) of garlic. I only did one for this tutorial. Also, this was one of the heads of garlic we grew last season! We're so happy to have enough from our own crop to last until at least this summer, and it's somehow more delicious to eat the fruits of your own labor.

Step Three: Peel away the outer layers of the garlic, leaving the individual cloves' little skins intact. We don't want to roast them completely naked.

Step Four: With a knife, carefully cut off 1/4th an inch (more or less) off the tops of the cloves. I usually just lay it on its side and cut straight down so they're all even - then go around and cut the ones i missed.
*optional* eat the little leftover chopped-off bits... mmmmm garlic breath. OR save them for your anti-vampire perfume.

Step Five: Grab your muffin pan, and enough foil to enclose your head of garlic in completely. Put your garlic in the center of the foil, and place it in one of the muffin trays. Alternately, you can use an oven-safe bowl or just a regular ole cookie sheet, since you'll be covering it completely.

Step Six: Add enough olive oil to cover the cloves. About 2 Tablespoons (or less) should be enough for each head of garlic.

I usually use my finger to make sure that all the little naked tops are covered in oil...

Step Seven: Close up your foil with a little twist at the top (or however you want... a twist is easiest for me)

Once your oven is finished preheating, stick your garlic in, on the middle rack for about 25-35 minutes, depending on your oven. They're "done" when they feel soft when pressed.

Step Eight: Take your garlic out of the oven and open up its little foil blanket - and voila! Yummy, perfectly roasted garlic. Enjoy!

The Rock of Cashel and a Giveaway!!

Last weekend, we went on a little outing together. It was really fun and romantic! It was nice to get away and just enjoy each other's company without the thoughts of work and chores and life sitting on our shoulders.

 We visited the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary! 

 We even saw signs of spring... What a welcome sight indeed.
Built around the 12th century AD, this structure is a truly inspiring place to behold.

 Looking out doors and windows that KINGS looked out of...

 ... and viewing what remains of thousands of year old paintings...

The stonework is beautiful and masterfully done to have lasted through the ages. Even the littlest details were not forgotten. This (chapel?) area was the most impressive to me and it is currently under renovation, as they try to restore some of the paintings and artwork to their original glory.  

 The sun even peeked its head out for a little visit, though it did not stay long.

Ireland just takes my breath away. It's fun to live in a country with such a rich history and with monuments to show some of its amazing past. It gets me every time.

This is my TWO-HUNDREDTH POST!!!! I can't believe i've written more than 200 posts (some of them have been privatized, some remain in "draft" form because what i wanted to say was not what i thought needed to be read...) and even more so, i can't believe that this month marks the two year anniversary of my little space on the internet!
SO i'm throwing a little party.
Just for you.

There are two ways to enter:

1.) Leave me a comment on this blog (not on facebook, dear friends)
2.) Post a link to this giveaway on your own blog, then come back and leave a comment with the link!


Now... i assume you'd like to know what you're up to win, eh?

One winner will receive their choice of one of these birdie brooches handmade by me:

Tweet Little Birdie

"Hoot" Barn Owl

Cute Snowy Owl

This contest is open to anyone, anywhere! Don't make me hunt down a winner though like i did with one of my last contests!!! eek!!

Contest ends February 28th at 11:59pm GMT, and i will announce the winner shortly thereafter! Good luck!

15 February, 2011

the mile high club

I know what you're thinking. Stop. This is not about sex in airplanes.

For the past several weeks, i have watched, horrified, as my waistline expanded to what it was before i moved to Ireland. I couldn't stop it, and i couldn't stop myself from shoving fistfulls of chocolate into my mouth whenever it was placed before me. Self-control is hard for me, especially when it comes to foods that i like.

As my last pair of "fat jeans" became too tight, i finally resolved not to buy bigger clothes, but to make my body smaller.
Ok... ok yes. i did buy one pair of bigger jeans - but it's just to get me through until i can wear my regular ones again. I can't be going about in sweats all the time! Hopefully by this time next month, i'll be able to fit my regular jeans again!

On Monday, inspired by my friend Emily, i started my very first ever training routine - the Couch to 5K program!
I have to say that i've always been impressed by the body's ability to change itself, but i am SO amazed that just on my second workout, i feel completely different than my first.

On Monday, my first workout was hard. I am completely out of shape, so the jogging was especially hard for me, and i felt like i wouldn't be able to finish the first workout! Nonetheless, i pushed myself through it, and felt awful afterward. Out of breath, heart racing, a little weird...

Tuesday, i grabbed a book and walked for 30 minutes at a pretty brisk pace. I couldn't believe how fast the time went! I set my treadmill to a "rolling hills" mode so i was going up and down during my walk, and afterward, i felt pretty decent.

Today was my second workout with the Couch to 5K program which is the same as the first - and i made it even further than last time before i felt like i was really pushing myself. At the end of it, i had gone 1.85k (just over a mile) in 20 minutes, and i felt pretty good after my stretch and when i caught my breath. I'm so proud of myself that i walked/jogged a mile today!! It may not sound like a lot, but for me, who has a hard time with stairs in my own house (if i have to go up them more than once in a row), that is a huge thing. I'll be riding that high all day!

Tomorrow will be another brisk walk, but i think i'll bump it up to 35-40 minutes, and Friday will be the last jog/walk for week one of the program! I'm so excited!
The fact that my body feels different (even if only slightly) after such a short amount of time is very heartening and encouraging. I only hope i can hold onto the way i feel (encouraged) right now throughout the whole process! Wish me luck!

***Edited to add***
A day later, i realized that i had made a mistake in my week! I lost a day! Don't you hate that. So! With that in mind... start over - Monday was really SUNDAY, Tuesday was really MONDAY... etc. Sorry to slow you down. haha

05 February, 2011

food for a rainy day

Have you ever made the perfect batch of cookies? 
I'll admit, that when i saw the ingredients of these cookies, i was a bit skeptical. I thought they'd turn out too sweet and that i'd inevitably end up giving them away. That's right. I give away food. Especially if i make too much of something. Might as well feed the world, right?
There was a TON of brown sugar that went into these, and the dough ended up being more sticky than what i'm used to: a more batter-like cookie dough. I've made some pretty awesome cookies with batter-like dough.
But these... 

Melt in your mouth, chocolate chip (thank you, Obergs!), sweet with a hint of salt... 
The most perfectly delicious cookies i have ever made. Great for this rainy Irish weather we're having.

You can find the recipe to make them yourself on my blog soon! I just need to make some tweaks before I share :)

04 February, 2011

Talent: Genetic or Byproduct

As many of you may already know, I was adopted as a baby. I grew up in a very loving home and understood that i was adopted from a very young age - and that it didn't make me less of a person.

My mother ("mother" as i refer to her, is my adopted mom... but i hate to call her that) was an exceedingly talented individual. She could sew, paint, draw, knit, crochet, camp, hunt, cook... and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I daresay, had i been given the opportunity to get to know her as an adult, i would have discovered even more amazing things about her.

She taught me almost all the things i know how to do. I can cook, clean, paint, sew, crochet, camp, hunt... all because i grew up learning these things from her.

I did not grow up in a relationship with my biological family. I knew they were out there, and i knew i wanted to meet them someday when the time was right. When i was little, my parents scheduled a play date with my biological grandparents and all my aunts and uncles and cousins. I don't think i knew that they were who they were at the time...
When i was 17, i went to visit my biological family and ended up staying in Alaska for my senior year of high school so i could get to know them. What a wonderful opportunity. I grew so very close to my grandparents, and met a cousin who almost became my sister (not in a Deliverance way... she was up for adoption too and my parents wanted another couple who weren't able to have babies have the opportunity to raise a child together), and several other beautiful, wonderful family members.
Truthfully, i do care for my biological mom very much, but i became very close to my biological grandmother
(From here on out, i'll be referring to her as my Grandmother or just Gramma... i really don't like that word "biological"...).

They say that genetic traits can skip generations, and often do. While i look strikingly like my biological mother, my gramma and i share common interests and ideas. I believe our personalities are very much alike. Sometimes i think we even look alike in some ways. Boy... if i look like her when i'm her age, i will count myself lucky! Not that she's old...

Anyhow - the point is, i didn't know my biological family until i was in my late teens, having grown up in my regular household learning all these cool skills and traits - then i find my grandmother and discover how talented she is too! A gifted photographer, a sharp businesswoman, a mother of 9 (!), a talented quilter and knitter... a loving, amazing woman. Very much like my mom - even though they're from two completely different backgrounds.

I was just reminded today how much talent the matrons of my special little family have when i pulled out these wonderful little cardigans. My mother made them all. Two were given to me, and two were given away and returned to me once our friends' little ones grew out of them:

Funny that little knitted cardigans that my mom made for my future kids remind me of my grandmother, isn't it? I don't think so. To me they each hold a significant part of my heart.

So, knowing my mother and grandmother being so separate and yet, so talented - makes me wonder - is talent genetic or a byproduct of a certain way of life? I guess i'll never know, and truthfully, i'm happy to think that it's both :)

Under the weather randomness

Boy, January always seems like the month that everyone gets sick. I was hoping to avoid it this year, but no. This cold came on sooo suddenly too! I was completely fine, running around and feeling great and on Wednesday morning, i woke up completely sick. We're talking stuffy nose, runny nose, hot and cold flashes, shaky, irritable, and here's one not everyone has - my skin gets super duper sensitive. Fun times.

Actually, being sick has me more creative than usual, so that's a good thing. I've been planning projects and researching supplies... doing photography work. Speaking of which, I took part in a challenge on a message board i post on with the subject being "red". Here's what i came up with:

The last one is my favorite :) Just a piece of red construction paper rolled in a cone. Photography is fun.

Speaking of RED... today is National Wear Red Day in the states, to raise awareness and funds for heart disease in women! Who's wearing their red? Donate now!

I am not complaining about my radiator-heated home in any means... i do love being warm... but i honestly miss the glow of my wood stove, and the ability to cook on it. I loved the heat that thing produced.
What i don't miss is all the ash and soot it created. That was sort of a nightmare. Especially for my allergies. Our previous place was dusty anyway, but add a wood stove and a draft... i was pretty miserable unless i was on allergy meds. Maybe on second thought, i don't miss it that much.
I barely ever sneeze in this new place. Thank you radiators.

In other news... i have a crush on this shelf:

You can buy it here. But i'm seriously considering commissioning one in plain wood, then painting and distressing it. It would be super cute in my new sewing room for all the little jars of stuff i have... like buttons and needles and... ahem... batteries.

I keep most of our rechargeable batteries in a jar. If we need them, we just go take them from the jar, then put them back when they die. 
It's not a great system. I know.

We have many ugly books.
They're good books, just well loved, mostly purchased second hand, mostly paperback... some have just been read about a million times. Downstairs, we have a new cabinet, and i have forbidden any ugly books from going inside. I feel like i'm neglecting them though. You know how when you finish reading a really good story, and you're sort of disappointed that the story ended? It's kinda like saying goodbye to a friend. Our books are my friends and even though they're ugly, i still love them and i want to put them on a shelf somewhere. Perhaps i shall commission another wall shelf... for ugly books.

Recently, i've been thinking about swapping rooms. Our guest room is the master bedroom, and our bedroom is pretty tiny. No offence to our guests, but i think i'd rather have the larger room. I like to spend time in my room, but since ours is so small...
We didn't set it up this way. When we moved in, the bed was already in the room we're in so we just left it. I truly think we'll probably just leave it some more... until we can afford to get a new bed. 

I'd like to get a Fouton for the guest room instead of the twin (single) bed that's in there. A fouton offers a comfy place to sit and doubles as a bed. I think that's a great idea. Not all foutons are ugly, either... I know my first several impressions of foutons were that they were dowdy and old... ugly and smelly... until i saw my friend Heidi's non-ugly fouton. 
Ikea knows what i'm talking about:
Sofa, single bed, bed for two, and storage. Functional, not ugly, and super useful!

Apparently, i am on a white furniture loving kick. It's completely unintentional. I do like wood furniture and cloth furniture too... in other colors. 

Annnnnnd i need to design some new business cards. It's like people at weddings EAT them. They just go, and I don't notice until i'm out. Best get to work!


02 February, 2011

Ruby Posy Pin

Last post of the day, I promise :)
New brooch added to my etsy shop!
Same as before, there's only one so get it while you can.

Fancy Purple Posy Pin!

Cute new brooch added to my shop!
Buy it now, there's only one!

01 February, 2011

Things I miss in America

A long time ago, i discovered that i am actually comforted by food. Call me an emotional eater if you like, but i like to say i'm just a fan of food.
Here are some things that i love, and occasionally wish i hadn't taken so much for granted, in no particular order:

TCBY white chocolate mousse soft serve frozen yogurt. That is a mouthful in more than one way. It's so delicious, surprisingly good for you (if it's eaten as a treat on occasion) and is pretty much the best soft serve i've ever tasted in my life. 

Here, they have soft serve ice cream all over the place, and it is a thing of beauty, let me assure you. The soft serve in Ireland actually tastes like sweet cream and is absolutely delicious, however, a special place remains in my heart for TCBY. 
Partially because i grew up eating it all the time as a kid and partially because as i said, it's the best soft serve ever.

It's a shame it doesn't travel well.

Ahh Chipotle. How i love you. I used to eat Chipotle about once a week for a while there. I'd always get the same thing, unless i was splitting a burrito with my friend, Mayo (Ashley). Without fail, it was always a vegetarian burrito - meaning stir fried veggies, salsa verde, pinto beans, extra guacamole, some sour cream, cheese, and lettuce. If Mayo and i split one we'd "rock, paper, scissors" for if the beans would be pinto or black. Either way, it's a good way to get a couple meals if you're not all that rich. 
I could just eat a gigantic bowl full of their guacamole with some of their lime-flavoured chips, but that might just be me.


 Oh yes. Border sauce. I miss this stuff more for the fact that i love putting it on my own homemade tacos than eating out with them. I used to have a couple in my glove box and a couple stashed in my silverware drawer at home, but alas, not anymore. Too bad the nearest Taco Bell is in New York... 

 I would have to say the same thing goes for Arby's sauce. As a kid, i used to love their food, but either as i got older, my tastes changed or the quality of their food changed... not that it matters. Their sauce is always yummy. In recent years, i would get a hankerin' for a roast beef sammich, head on over to the deli and slice some super thin roast beef, drive over to Arby's and get a drink and some sauce packets, then go home and create my own (i believe healthier) version of their Roast Beef Sandwhich. If i felt really adventurous, i might even order some of their curly fries to go. 

mmmm kool aid. My mom would make Kool-Aid for me as a kid. Occasionally, we would make Kool-Aid popcicles during the summer. It was a thing of beauty. One day, i went to a friend's house for a birthday party and partook of their version of Kool-Aid. Oh. My. GOODNESS! It was just basically sugar, with a bit of water and a Kool-Aid packet thrown in. Ew.

I learned that my mom always made the Kool-Aid and cut the sugar by at least half or more. Once you cut the sugar, it's actually pretty good. I enjoyed this powdered awesomeness as an adult very rarely, but now that i don't have it, i sorta miss it.

(image source)

Sushi is another thing that i took for granted in the states. I lived near an amazing super market that made fresh sushi daily. Once or twice a week, i would head over to Jungle Jim's at lunch and get a box of California Rolls or whatever else looked yummy that day, and take it back to work to graze on throughout the rest of the day. My friend also used to make her own sushi at home which was exciting when i was invited to partake.
I have not seen any really good-looking sushi, since i've lived in Ireland. It's a shame, really. Perhaps i should start making my own!

Cincinnati Chili is another delicious (but occasional) food that I enjoyed. I dont know why but a big plate of spaghetti noodles, some beans, a bit of Cincinnati's own strange recipe of  "chili", a dab of hot sauce, some chopped onion, and some saltines really hit the spot now and then. A friend of mine recently sent me some Cincinnati Chili seasoning packets, and i must say, it was pretty amazing. This doesn't take the place of the chili i have grown up on - Texas Style chili, but it's still a pretty yummy thing. I never really understood why they called it "Chili" though... it looks more like meat-sauce to me.

Other non-food related things that i miss are as follows:

Customer Service. I definitely think that a little smile can go a long way in the service industry. I wont say that all my customer service run-ins were pleasant in the states... they weren't. In fact, some checkers, tellers, and the like are just downright rude! But the service in Ireland, for me, leaves something to be desired. Especially at restaurants. My waiter/waitress here doesn't make me feel like (s)he cares. In fact, most often i worry a little that they'll spit into my food! Haha! Perhaps it's the fact that people don't tip here, so there's no real incentive for the wait-staff to be nice!

Late opening hours. This is something i both miss, and don't. I like the convenience of going to a shop for forgotten dinner items at 8pm, or running out for a quick dessert at 9:30pm. I miss having a full day of errands and not being limited by what time the shops closed - meaning i could get a late start, if i needed to. I don't miss it because part of me likes having to schedule my day. I remember it being like this when i was a kid. Nothing really was open past 8pm and even less was open on Sunday.
It's like that here. I like it, but every now and then i miss the convenience.

Sidewalks. Sure there are sidewalks here, but nobody really maintains them. They're usually covered in debris and super bumpy/overgrown/cracked. Also, they're few and far between. If I need to walk somewhere (like to the local village or grocery store) i would have to walk basically in the hedges, while straining to hear if a car is coming from around all the bends in the road so i don't get run over. People wear hi-visability vests whenever they walk around out here for just that reason! It's insane.


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