Friday, August 31, 2012

Run, Run, as fast as you can...

Usually in a blog post I try to find the best pictures to post. I'll take several at different angles of my cookies and decide which one is the best... This blog post I did the exact opposite and it was a little difficult. You see... I was trying to find a picture of myself that would show me at my heaviest, because I wanted to illustrate for you the changes I've made. I recently had a discussion with a group of cookiers about weight and how being a cookier can affect that (usually for the worse) and it made me remember the changes I made years ago and how easy it is to lapse back to how I was.

I'm not saying I was hideous, but looking at this picture is kind of hard and posting it is even harder because I feel like a different person now. It was even hard to FIND a picture of me because of the fact that I did not like to see pictures of myself. I would rationalize and say, "that is a bad picture of me... I don't really look like that." Camera avoidance was key for me.

My problem back then wasn't cookies. Actually cookies, ice cream, having babies and expecting the weight to magically go away was the problem, but I wasn't making cookies back then, so they weren't the main attraction.

The good thing about these pictures is that I bear little resemblance to them now and they are a great motivator for keeping the weight off. I don't have a specific date that all the extra weight I was carrying around magically dropped off, but it was roughly this time of year 8 years ago that I became a lot more comfortable with myself and my weight. It is my 8th weightaversary!

Now for the age old question: How did I do it?
and now it's time for the age old answer: I ate less and I exercised.

My exercise of choice was running. It didn't start out that way. It started out as me frustrated and suddenly ready to get healthy and a double jogger stroller that fatefully fell into my possession. It needed some help from duct tape, but it rolled. I strapped my two girls in the stroller, pulled on my dusty sneakers and started walking. It quickly turned into a daily routine because the girls enjoyed it so much. I started walking to the grocery store, the library, and the post office instead of driving. When we went downhill the girls would yell, "Faster Mommy!" Such good little coaches! I listened and started running down the hills because they got such a thrill out of it.


Pretty quickly I found myself running the whole route and pretty quickly my jeans were literally falling off. A beneficial side effect from running was that I was more aware of how I was fueling my body and a realization that I was using way more fuel than I needed. It felt so good to have energy, to not worry about "if I looked fat in this" and not feel the need to rationalize how bad I looked in pictures.

my kids cheering me on at my first 10K
After losing all the weight and running that first double jogger into the ground, I found out I was expecting our third little munchkin. I ran until it got uncomfortable and when it came time to deliver my largest baby (9 1/2 lbs), it was the easiest labor imaginable! (Entire labor and delivery was under 1 hour!) which I credit hugely to running.

Yes, this is my running uniform :D I HAVE to have my Superman hat when I run!
So, that's my running journey... but what does that have to do with cookies?
Well, since starting cookies, some weight has been creeping back on. It's not all from eating cookies, but I am a real stickler for quality control and because I'm so devoted to my craft I simply MUST test several one cookie through all the stages: raw cookie dough, a freshly baked one, and a frosted one... it HAS to be done and sure, I could pass that tedious job to someone else, but my palette is very discerning. I can't trust that to just anybody!

A plain and simple fact about decorated cookies is that they are time consuming and for me, they consume the late night hours when the kids go to sleep. After pulling a cookie all-nighter, the last thing I want to do is wake up and go running. Staying up late also affects the metabolism so cookie-ying is definitely a perfect storm of weight gain potential. In short I have been slacking!

The first purpose of this post is feeling the need to be accountable. I'm writing this because I see that I need to make some changes if I want to continue in my healthier lifestyle. Genetically speaking, my body wants to be fluffy! Hopefully posting this can help me get back on track and since it's taken me a couple of days to write this, I am proud to say I have laced up my sneaks and hit the road both days. {it's already helping me!}

The second purpose of posting this long-winded story/goal setting post is that I really hope it helps someone feel motivated to make healthy changes in their life. If someone told me 8 years ago that I would be a "runner" I would have laughed at them. Now I can't drive by someone running without getting "runner's envy" which is the thought: I want to go for a run right now too! If I can do it, anybody can.

I understand that not everyone can run or will love it, but I have seen the benefits in my life and would LOVE LOVE LOVE if my friends (cookiers and non-cookiers alike) would join me in getting active 30 minutes a day. While I'm not setting a weight goal this time, I am setting a goal of getting my butt moving for 30 minutes, 5 days a week.

So, who's with me? Pick your poison exercise and git r done for 30 minutes a day! Set a reward or an event that you are looking forward to. It can be as simple as "I want to look amazing for Halloween" to "I'm going to knock em dead at my high school reunion."

My big reward??? Feeling confident at CookieCon in November!
I am doing this. Are you?

* Added 9/3: Because of the enthusiastic response to the fitness challenge, a group has been formed on Facebook to help everyone stay motivated, share their triumphs and struggles, and just plain feel the support of others who are ready to get moving. We're doing this together! XOXO

Join the Sugar Army here! To post your progress and cheer on others.

To read a great motivating post from Cristin of Cristin's Cookies go here!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Play With Your Food!

Mama always said, "Don't PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD.
Sit up straight and don't be rude.
Don't slouch, speak up! 
Don't pee in the pool..."
Come Monday morning we'll be breakin' some rules.
             ~Vicki Taylor {aka Sweet Tweets}

It's Monday morning!  It's time to break some rules as promised... well, how about breaking one rule?  But I promise it is broken A LOT and in incredibly creative and amazing ways!  Seriously, the sets in this virtual party will change the way you think about cookies.   

The awesomely talented and funny Angela of Oh, Sugar! Events got some cookier friends together to play along with her in a cookie collaboration themed "Play With Your Food".  Each of us raided our game cabinets and reached into the dustiest corners of our brains for inspiration.

The item I chose to play with were my paper dolls.  As with most of my childhood memories they inevitably involve at least one of my 5 siblings.  This one in particular is all about my sister Becca.  We each got a book of incredibly detailed paper dolls one Christmas.  We pored over each detail, squealed over each vignette and delighted especially in the accessories that were included on each page.  These books had none of that perforated punch-out silliness.  We are talking paper doll purist pages that we carefully snip snip snipped our dolls to freedom.  

the era is a bit early for playing with scissors, but it's one of my favorites
We debated re-creating the above picture, but thought it best to show a little less skin.
When I look back at this, I realize how incredibly GENIUS my mom Santa really was.  My sister and I would both be in our room quietly snipping away with our scissors for hours and then happily playing... for hours... with paper.  Do not underestimate the ingenuity of Santa!  

So, after cutting each shape out by hand, flooding each with royal icing, and lovingly painting on each little elbow dimple and ruffle detail with food coloring, I knew there was only one person who above all, would truly understand and appreciate  these cookies... and I shipped them off to my old roommate, my laugh till I hurt compadre: my sister Becca.  

I chose to recreate this "Dolly Dingle bakes a cake" page for obvious reasons.  I don't know if you realize this, but I kind of like to bake and it just so happens my sister does too.  Dolly is shown here baking a cake, but I'm sure there is a good sugar cookie recipe in that book of hers and she'll discover the joys of decorating cookies soon.  Before we know it she'll have shelves dedicated to sanding sugars and a serious cookie cutter addiction.  I'll send her Karen's Cookies latest discount code and we'll be besties!

I hope you enjoyed playing with your food with me!  SOOOOO many incredibly, jaw-dropping projects are included in this collaboration.  I hope you're in the mood for being toyed with, playing some games, and breaking some rules because we are playing with our food like never before!  So try one more outfit on Dolly Dingle... that's it... bend the tabs over...   and then head out to play with your other friends.

Go here to Oh Sugar's blog with links to all the projects!  
or go to individual projects here:

Word Search and Cross Word - Palestine Painted Cookie
Cards and Poker Chips - Mt. Lookout Sweets
Scrabble - Flour Box Bakery
Candy Land - Life's A Batch
Pin The Tail On The Donkey - Sweet Tweets
Twister - Jill FCS
Dominoes - Sweet Dough
Wooly Willy - Oh, Sugar! Events
Words With Friends - The Cookie Countess
Miss Pac-Man - Flour-de-Lis
Hungry Hungry Hippos - Cupookie
Marble Maze - Oh, Sugar! Events
Fisher-Price Classics - SugarBelle
Horseshoes, Jacks, Marbles, Pick Up Sticks - Sweet Hope Cookies


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How does your garden grow?

With this recent heat wave our tomatoes have really started to come in which makes me SUPER happy since tomatoes are my most favorite food ever!  Especially when they are freshly picked and you suck the juice out and it's still hot from the sun.  

But I really didn't mean to tell you about my tomato vampire ways.  I wanted to share these garden themed cookies I made recently.  Cari had me make these for her sweet mother-in-law's birthday.  Her name is Anne, but Cari and the kids usually refer to her as Noni and she is the dearest lady.  I had so much fun making these for her!  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to School!

I can't believe the countdown is here for my kiddos to go back to school!  This summer has been so crazy and I am glad to get back to the daily schedules and routine of school.  If you find yourself not too excited... just wait a minute.  I have something for you that will get you in the mood for freshly sharpened pencils and class schedules.  My lovely friend Penny got some of us cookiers together for a cookie collaboration.  Each of us got to pick a subject and cookie it.

Get to all your classes!  Check out all the sweet projects here:

Home Ec by Salsa Sweets:
Music by Arty McGoo:
Geography by TheRedCooky:
Political Science by Lucky Penny Cookies:
Teacher Gifts by Glorious Treats:
Math by My Cookie Couture:
Art by Sparkling Sugar Sweets:

I chose Music and doing these cookies brought back so many memories.  I LOVED lining up and walking over to the Music Room in elementary school where we got to try out different instruments.  Mrs. Klemm made music so fun.  I will never forget tapping the rhythm sticks together and the whole class in unison chanting out the TA-TA-TEE-TEE-TAS!  {I hope this makes sense to someone else!}  In 4th grade I had to earn money to buy my very own flutophone!  I treasured my white and red instrument and faithfully practiced, which I'm sure was not in any way annoying or shrill.

 Mr. Schmutz taught me to play my first real instrument in band.  Starting in 5th grade, I lugged that trumpet on the bus every day after my friend talked me into it {and then never showed up!}.  He was very patient with me and such a sweet man.  When I began to slack in my trumpeting duties in 6th grade he called me at home and we talked, and I made excuses, and then I cried.  I found out he passed away a couple of months ago from cancer.

Mrs. Stoddard was my first choir teacher and was so wonderfully engaging and dedicated.  She even sent out report cards and wrote encouraging sentiments that brightened my sixth grade self's singing heart.

Then in Junior High I was reunited with Mrs. Klemm as a choir teacher.  I learned songs there that I still know every word to and sing them out in my car.  Mrs. Klemm would be proud of my projection.

In High School, Mrs. Lorimer took over choir teaching duties.  I got my first solo "It's in His Kiss" as a freshman and stuck around to enjoy all four years of choir tours, show choir choreography, singing in sequins and memories and friends that I will treasure forever.

During my brief stint in college I was lucky to have Ms. Kennamer teach me music theory and she even created a class of 6 to create a chamber group where I got to perform challenging piano pieces with our very own band.  Okay, so our "band" was a violin, viola, cello, a flute, a clarinet and me on piano, but we totally rocked those chamber pieces!  It really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I learned so much.

Mrs. Girolo and Colleen Aceto were my Musical Theater teachers and that was just plain fun.  We put on a 60's musical review complete with costumes, dancing and a band... and set the stage for me to meet Mr. John... but THAT is another story...

I know that was quite the walk down memory lane, but I just want to say, THANK YOU to all who helped shape my love of music.  I was so lucky that every one of my music teachers was beyond dedicated and inspired me so much.

Oh! and I have to mention my mom who was an incredible piano teacher.  Hundreds of kids {and some adults} came through our house, learning a new skill thanks to my mom and the sound of emerging pianists playing will forever be a part of the soundtrack of my life.  She taught me all the basics and let me go at my own pace and helped me when I needed her... even after hours.  Even though she is retired now, she has a select few students that she has taken on: MY kids!

Go hug a music teacher!

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