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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye, Hello

*Extra pounds
*Bad runs
Goodbye 2011

*Unconditional Love
*Love conquering all
*Hope for a future
*Fitness Goals
*5Ks and Half Marathon
*Quality vs Quantity
*Fresh Start
*Making a Difference
Hello 2012!!!

Out with the good, the bad and the ugly that 2011 had to offer. On to the anticipation of a great 2012!! I changed a lot in 2011. Some good, some bad. I became obssessed with getting married and became angry when rings and engagement didn't happen. I was frustrated with lack of time with friends. Jared and I argued more than I'd like to admit. I allowed black clouds of hurt, sadness and fear wash over me. I didn't fully enjoy all that God had placed in front of me.

Things will be different in 2012. I will be thankful for a man that loves me even when I am a monster. And yes babe, I was a monster at times. I will be thankful for the kind of love that only God can ordain in His perfect plan. A kind of love many hope for but never receive. I will look forward to the day I get to marry Jared, not count the days until it happens.

I will be thankful for the times I get to spend with my friends, not how much time. I will lose these extra pounds and I will keep them off. I will complete a half marathon. I may not run the whole thing but I will finish!

I will walk closer with God and dive deeper into His word. I will learn to be more like Jesus. To love like Him and react like Him.

These are not resolutions,they are lifestyle changes. Changes I want to see in myself. I want to be a better example for Christ and live my life to the fullest. I don't want to get caught up in the negative. I want to press on and achieve the positive. Not perfection, as I so often strive to do.

Here's to a better 2012. For all of us.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bumble Bee 5K

My race bib
A few months ago my friend, Katie Hotze, told me about this race. She was going to be in town from New York.So Katie, our friend Abby and I all signed up.

I knew there would be a lot of people at this event.

1) It was downtown
2) There was a parade afterwards
3) LOTS of people were still on break/vacation

I left my house at 745am. i figured that would give me plenty of time to get down there, find parking and warm up before the 945am start time.

I was really nervous about finding my way around downtown but not really about the race itself. I bugged Abby and my friend Nick about directions. God bless those two!

The traffic was insane. I went up and down the streets then looped around and did it again. ALL of the parking lots were full. At one point I was on the phone with Katie asking where I could go when I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a motorcycle cop. Then heard the blurp of a siren. Dang it...
I basically hung up on Katie and tossed my phone on the front seat next to me. I "Pulled over" (as best you can on a street jammed with vehicles). I rolled down my window and he muttered something about running a red light. (I'm pretty sure it was still yellow but whatever). At that moment I burst into tears and blurted out "I'm SO LOST!". Honestly I'm not to sure what he said after that. Something about how running a light wasn't the answer. Then he drove away. I took a deep breath and happened to look to my right. A parking attendant who was witness to the whole thing gave me a double thumbs up and mouthed "yay" to me. I just smiled. I finally found parking and paid $20 for the worlds smallest parking spot. It took me an hour to find that spot!

It was 15minutes before start time when I found Abby and Katie. I had to pee. Bad. We looked for porta potties but saw none so we made out way into the Holiday Inn hotel. Of course the Women's restroom had a line out the door. It was getting closer to the start time so I decided I was probably going to have to run 3.1 miles with a very full bladder. Sounds like fun, right? Someone suggested we check the men's room to see if anyone was in there. There was one person. Shoot. But he came out a minute later. Abby, 2 other ladies and myself ran into the men's room while Katie stood guard at the door. All of the ladies in the restroom were laughing that we all set a world record for peeing fast.

The gun sounded and we were off. The three of us agreed to meet up at the finish line. I started out pretty good and felt I was keeping my pace. At every race I've been to, they have big numbers marking what mile you're on. I never saw the 1 mile mark. I kept going but my stamina was shot. I kept up a walk/run through out but I definitely wasn't running how I had been in my training. By the time I saw the giant #2, I felt like this was taking forever. For whatever reason my right ankle was hurting really bad. I thought I was just starting the second mile. If that was true, I was in trouble. Then I hit the giant #3 and realized the numbers were marking the end of that mile. So I picked up my pace and ran through the finish line. Katie had already finished so she was already there cheering Abby and I on. It was awesome seeing someone I knew cheering me on at the finish!

Katie, Me, Abby
 I saw the clock at the finish and I was disappointed. I wanted to beat the time from my first 5K run back in March. I didn't do it. In fact, I was 1min 13 seconds slower. That is almost more frustrating. If only I had pushed a little harder, I would have beat it. I struggled the whole afternoon/evening with being disappointed with my time. I finally decided I will only compare races. I am feeling better about it now. In March I will run the "Finish Chelsea's Run" for the second time. I am determined to beat my 35min 58sec time.Next December I will run the Bumble Bee 5K again and I will beat my 37min 11sec from this year's Bumble Bee 5K.

I am accepting that I can train, hydrate, fuel my body etc and still have a bad run day. Sometimes those will fall on race days. I am also trying to remember back to the very first run about a year ago.I felt like i was going to die when I was done. Running for 60 second and walking for 90 seconds was so hard. A year later, I've completed 3 races!

Thank You to everyone that has supported me! I know there were a few of you that wanted to be there but couldn't. Others were going to go but I ended up telling them not to because traffic was so crazy. I am pressing forward toward my next 5K race in March.I am excited about it!

Thank you to Abby and Katie for doind the race and being encouraging even after the race. You both inspire me so much!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Birthday #31

In a word, yesterday was... perfect!

I started the day with a 90 minute massage at Massage Envy. Definitely wasn't regretting that membership yesterday! When the 90 minutes is up and all you want to do is roll over and go to sleep, you know it was a great massage.

I went to Kohls and bought a new purse, a pair of running capris and a running shirt... all for myself! That's a rare thing. I'm way better at buying stuff for other people.

I answered over 100 (!!!) Facebook "Happy Birthday" wishes.

I answered probably 25 (!!!) "Happy Birthday " text messages.

My best bud wrote a heart felt, touching blog about me and gave my blog page a face lift (check it out! so perty!) I read this one in the parking lot of Massage Envy. I cried like a baby and laughed hard in many places.

Another good friend wrote this very sweet blog about me too! I was smart enough to read this post after I got home. I figured one cry-fest in my car is enough for one day. I cried as i read her sweet words and laughed too!

I am really lucky to have those ladies in my life! Thank You Jessica and Melissa! I love you both!

My love gave me some of these:

He also made me a delicious meal of Tilapia, Asparagus and Roasted Red Potatoes

And he got us some gooood treats for dessert!

He also informed me that he got me a Garmin Forerunner GPS watch as a gift! The post office sent it back for whatever reason so he has to re-order. Im excited!

We watched Big Bang Theory and cuddled. I answered more facebook posts and texts, we laughed at my cats... It was an incredible day!

Thank You for the sweet memories and wonderful/touching birthday wishes! I am so blessed and very thankful.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

to you, from me

[image source]

Hello there, friends!  My name is Jessica and in honor of our sweet Shannon's 31st birthday, I asked if I could borrow her blog for a little birthday surprise!  I hope you like the new layout, friend.  And if not, you know where to find me ; )

When I was a freshman in high school, I came from a private school that was pretty much my entire world and didn't know but a few souls at the new, giant, scary high school before me. And to top it off, I was assigned second period P.E.  Lucky!  I love smelling like teen angst and gym socks before 8:30 in the morning! There's something terrifying about being the new girl when your gym teacher tells you to split up into teams for street hockey and every teenage girl rallies around her main group of friends, leaving you on the sidelines alone for dead.  I'm not really sure how everything happened, but one group of girls must have sensed my awkward desperation and kindly asked me if I would like to join their team.  Oh! Yes, please!  That was the day I met a few of my favorite people that would make high school some of the most wonderfully happy and silly and innocent and boy-awkward kind of years you'll always remember when you make a "when I was a kid" reference.  And one of the girls in our hearts knitted together group was my Shannon.

Friend.  September 1995 was 16 years ago.  16!  And in honor of you today, I will attempt to summarize and/or remember my favorite memories of us from each year since then...

1995: Bulldogs on our gym uniform.  Sometimes Looney Tunes on our sweatshirts. AOL, LOL, and all that jazz.
1996: Orange tic tacs.  A spiral bound notebook to exchange between classes filled to the brim with notes, notes, notes! 
1997: Romy and Michele, prank phone calls, butcher paper choir sign painting, and synchronized swimming poses.
1998: Jobs at Pizza Hut and making "mess-up" pizzas. Choir and plays and work and choir and plays and work! Intentionally wearing rollers in our hair at school.
1999: We graduated!  We survived!  Whatever shall we do? Celebratory picnic at the park with an insanely angry duck.
2000: The start of a new century and the big move you made to far, far away! We always said we'd never be those kind of friends that say they'll stay BFF's but aren't after high school is over, but I was worried still what the distance would mean for our friendship.
2001: E-mail and phone calls!  What's new with you?  Can you imagine the quantity of texts there would be if that had even been a thing in 2001?  Or maybe I just wasn't hip to it yet?  I am kind of slow. P.S. I met a boy and he's "the" one.
2002: Do you remember this year?  Maybe I was too busy making out with the soon to be Mr. ( I apologize.)  Even more phone calls and e-mails and "What's the latest with you, friend?" conversations.
2003: So I got married this year.  And you kind of helped with everything.  Addressing invitations in your pretty cursive, flower arrangements, retrieving wedding favors on wedding eve from the angry UPS, making a ginormous wedding cheesecake.  By the way, what was I thinking requesting something so crazy from you?  And how you didn't slap me is a testament to your loyal friendship.
2004: You're home!  You're home, you're home, you're home!  And baby Noah is here!  Now this is getting all kinds of good.
2005: You work.  And you work.  And you work some more.  I don't know how you do it. Catching up over chips + salsa, water with lemon, and sharing a chicken ceasar salad.
2006: A baby Jack to join the family and you are so sweet to sneak me away for a pampering pedicure. Heaven!  You made me feel like I had this whole mom thing down.  And even if I didn't keep it together, you never let me feel discouraged.
2007: This will go down in history as our collective party planning year.  Bridal showers, birthday parties, weddings, baby showers, oh my!  I think most of our "dates" were at the scrapbook store or talking over coffee about our latest party planning ideas.  And it was so. much. fun.
2008: This was the year I got to traumatize you with an up close and personal view of childbirth!  Thanks, Lucy!  And thank you, friend, for being at the hospital before we were, for bringing Christmas cookie magazines to inspire us for the holiday season before us, to be there to laugh, and cry, and encourage, and walk, walk, walk, and all of what it took to get my first little girl here.  I will forever remember it.
2009: Oh, 2009!  The year of love!  It has brought me great joy to see such a kind + wonderful man guard and protect your heart!  (Sorry for The Bachelor reference, but it's just so true and that Kasey knows a thing or two about love!) To see the smiles on your face and Jared's face when you're together is like every morning is Christmas!  I love it.  Alot.
2010: Our lives are nuts, friend.  They're just bananas.  You're busy.  I'm busy. There's a new baby Claire! The world doesn't seem to stop spinning but we've always had the kind of friendship that just picks up where we left our last conversation and that I really, really love.
2011: And here we are!  This year one of my favorites was our unexpected movie date to see Breaking Dawn!  I love how sometimes plans just happen.  Popcorn for lunch, talking loudly through previews, laughing at our own jokes at people that forgot to silence their phones.  It's like we're still a couple of 14 year olds. Well.  Minus major soda spillage. ; )

And so, dear friend, as the clock is nearing midnight on this your birthday eve, I set aside my late night snacks of Sweet Tarts + Cheetos (wishing they were Pringles) and want to wish you the happiest of days as we are, officially, grown ups.  And my heart is full to overflowing with the blessing of having a friend that I have very much so grown up with.  And I have a funny feeling that there is still more growing up for us in the years to be.  Thank you for being there through it all.

Love, Jessica

P.S. And to you, reader friends, I'd love to hear your favorite memories with our birthday girl! Happy, happy birthday wishes are the best!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

Once again, Christmas has come and gone. I had my "Holiday to do list" and I got almost all of the items checked off. I didn't actually attend a toy drive but I did raise money for a bicycle drive we had at work. So I think that one can be crossed off the list. I didn't get the chance to watch any of the holiday movies with my nieces and nephews but that's ok.

Christmas started on Friday December 23rd for my family. I can't remember the last time we celebrated a holiday on the actual day. Sometimes I prefer having it on a different day. Stores are still open, we don't have to rush off to someone else's house and no one has to leave early/come late because of work. The siblings, Jared and I decided to surprise my parents this year with a gift. The adults had "agreed" to not draw names and exchange gifts but we schemed behind their backs. My parents are not prideful people and they would be honest if you asked how things were this past year. Money has been tight and it has been a struggle for them but they have held their heads high, worked hard and have accepted help when it has been offered. They'd be the first to help someone else out. We ordered a food package from Omaha Steaks for them. They were sooooo excited! It felt good to give back to them. They've always done so much for all of us kids!

The youngin's had a great time tearing into gifts. Peyton decided to tear off the wrapping paper one square at a time. It was cute and maybe just a tiny bit annoying. Tyler still wasn't 100% sure what to do but he had fun. Alissa and Justen are old pros at it so they tore into their gifts like champs.

The adults, alissa and Justen did a chinese gift exchange. We all bought 5/$1 gifts, wrapped them and put them under the tree.
We drew numbers then began choose and/or stealing gifts from each other. We laughed so hard and had a great time switching the gifts around between everyone.

Christmas Eve morning Jared and I spent some time at brian and Katie's house. We had breakfast and visited with a couple friends. I finished up some cinnamon rolls then we headed to jared's best friend's house to hang out. I had to leave for work but Jared was able to stay and hang out. His other friend, Brandon, was in town so the three of them had a guys night.

Christmas Day I slept for a whole 2 hours then went to carlsbad to celebrate with Jared's family. We had a great time hanging out and talking. Jared's cousin, Kortney, flew in from New York. It was great to see her. All of the kids played and played, opened gifts then played a little more. It was nice getting caught up with everyone. We also found out Jared's cousin, Kasey, just got the lead in Wizard of Oz. She was sporting darker hair for her role as dorothy. I almost didn't recognize her. We always draw names with Jared's family. Jared drew Nana's name and he got her some DVD sets of a few of her favorite TV shows like Castle and NCIS. When she opened the "Castle" DVDs, she squealed like a little girl. She was SO excited! It was cute.

Nana, Kasey, Kortney
 The I was off to work. The day shift crew made dinner for everyone and it was goooood! My partner, Ali, and I brought some stuff in Saturday night for them to make on Sunday. Early Christmas morning I put fresh cinnamon rolls in the oven and baked them for those working day shift. My partner had laryngitis so I answered the phones and the radios. Poor thing, she sounded aweful. She was a trooper though and made it through the night.

It was a great holiday weekend! I am blessed to have 2 incredible families and a work family. I feel like I really soaked in the Christmas feeling this year. I tried to tone it down on the gifts (I failed) but I had so much joy buying and wrapping every single gift. I know Christmas is not about gifts but I do think part of the holiday is the giving spirit. Whether it is gifts, your time, opening your home, donating, being courteous to people etc; it all follows the Lord's command of "Love one another". After all, it is love that caused God to bless Joseph and Mary with a tiny baby that would eventually give the ultimate gift so we would have eternal life.

Merry Christmas, friends. Here's to a wonderful 2012!!

**And stay tuned tomorrow! There will be a special guest post from my best friend!***

Friday, December 23, 2011

Annual King Family Christmas Cookie Day!

Every year the ladies of my family put together a cookie day around Christmastime. Usually we spend the day baking with some of our dearest friends and family members. The only problem was that we'd be so busy baking we'd barely have time to talk and hang out with everyone. We also kick the guys out during the baking and let them come back for taste testing later in the day.

This year we changed things. We turned the baking day into a cookie exchange and let the guys stay. I think I liked it better this way. Everyone brought cookies that were already baked, we had a ton of snack and everyone had a chance to visit. The kids played until they were exhausted then played a little more. Just about everyone that brought little ones said they slept in until about 8am the next day!

We had sugar cookies for the kids to decorate. Most of them weren't too interested.

Peyton wouldv'e stayed there all day if we had let her. She was ready to decorate cookies the moment I walked in the door that day. Most of the kids decorated 3 or 4 cookies then went back to played. Not Peyton though. She must have decorated a dozen cookies.

TJ had fun decorating too. Uncle Jared helped him out. He pretty much just decorated one cookie. He put frosting on it then a mound of spinkles. Then he would eat most of the sprinkles and some of the frosting then start the decorating process again. he must have consumed a full bottle of sprinkles by the end. It was fun to watch him.


I love having this get together every year. It is such a nice time for everyone to get together and visit. It made things easier to have everything already baked this year. I am thinking we should do a springtime cookie exchange also. Why not? It would be fun!

Marshmallow Snowmen

These are such a fun addition to any holiday party. The original picture I saw used striped paper straws as the stick but I used lollipop sticks instead.

What you will need:

1 bag Large Marshmallows
1 Bag Twizzlers Pull n Peel
1/4 Cup Chocolate Chips
Round orange sprinkles
18-20 Long Lollipop Sticks
1 tooth pick

1) take 3 marshmallows and put them in a row on each lollipop stick
2) pull off 3 strings of twizzlers and wrap it around the marshmallows and lightly tie it in a knot

3) melt the chocolate in the microwave
4) dip the toothpick in the melted chocolate and poke it into the top marshmallow, creating eyes and a mouth
5) sip the tooth pick again and make "buttons" on the second marshmallow
6) use a small dab of chocolate to get the sprinkle to stick as the nose.

They really take no time at all. I used these to add the finishing touches to the Christmas gifts I made for Jared's co-workers. I made dozens of cookies and put them in cute boxes:

I got some cute (and inexpensive!) coffee mugs, coffee and hot chocolate and wrapped them all up. It was an easy, thoughtful and inexpensive way to say Merry Christmas to jared's co-workers. 

Proud Auntie!

I remember back to my childhood when December was filled with Choir and Musical Theater performances. It was a busy month but oh so much fun.

Now I have the pleasure of watching my growing nieces and nephews as they share in the love of the arts.

A few weeks ago big Tyler had a dance performance in downtown Lakeside. There was a huge crowd of people and we could barely see him. I was unable to get any pictures and the video his mom, Amanda, took wouldn't load for me :( . Anyone know a trick? I'd love to post it. anyway... the kid has rhythm! BIG TIME! He looked so smooth and in his element up on the stage. He was the best dancer up there. Flawless.

Justen is in beginning band and plays the Sax. He's learning and seems to really love it. He was in the very back of the band with the rest of the Sax players but I was able to get a picture of him. The Saxophone section had their own little group solo and they sounded great! I am excited to see Justen's improvement over the year.

Alissa is in her third year of Orchestra and is now First Chair playing the Viola. For those of you not familiar w/ Orchestra, first chair is considered the "premier" sitting spot. Basically you're one of the most advanced players and usually you have most of the solos. Alissa did have a small solo in one of the songs and she sounded wonderful! I remember the first time she played Viola for all of us. We were at my parents house and she played some random song. It was... clear she was new. The difference between now and then... wow!

I am seriously so incredibly proud of these kids! I can't believe how big they are all getting.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Braving Black Friday

I've come to realize that people have very strong opinions about shopping on Black Friday. Me? I don't really care about it either way. Sure, there are things on sale and a few killer deals out there but chances are, I am not looking for any of that stuff. Plus, most of the items will continue to be on sale until the end of the Christmas holiday.

On the way home from Nana's house I thought I'd cruise by a few stores, just to see what it was like. Jared is a sweetheart and offered to go to Toys R Us with me Thursday night. He was worried about me being out late by myself. The line was insane! I mean, wrapped around the building and the whole nine yards. Lines longer that those at Disneyland. No thanks! Plus it was cold and I am a wimp when it comes to cold. I didn't need or want anything that bad.

I slept toasty warm in my bed then heading to KMart Friday morning about 6am. Unfortunately I have aquired the "early riser" trait form my mom. So I wandered the store and found a few things that I had been looking at. The store wasn't busy at all. I had zero waiting in line to check out.

My oldest brother, Jimmy, called to let me know a particular item I had been looking for was at the Target in Escondido. They grabbed one for me and I went down there. I was shocked at how empty the store was. I thought it would be crazy. I walked around for a bit and checked off more items from my list. It felt like a normal shopping day at Target. The shopping center also had a Toys R Us. I was a little more nervous to go in there. People can be down right nasty when it comes to toys.

Much to my surprise, the store wasn't busy. Similar to the crowd at Target. I walked around and found everything I wanted. People helped me get things down that were too high for me, I helped someone pick up a display they knocked over. A few of us joked around about this and that. It was actually... fun. I know I won't get this lucky every year but I am happy with how this year turned out. It is really the first Black Friday I've ever tackled. I may or may not do it again next year.

I think a big part of it was my attitude. I didn't have to get anything or everything. I didn't have to spend hours upon hours looked for the one special item. I had a "well, let's see what happens" attitude. I have a lot of fun Christmas shopping. I know Christmas is not about the gifts but it is one small , fun, part of it. What really made my day great was being extra nice to those working at the stores and thanking them for their help and working on such a crazy day. I can only imagine the mean things people said to them at the wee hours of the morning.

With all that said, shopping is fun but I definitely don't want to miss out on the true meaning of the holiday: The Birth of our Savior, time with family, time to give, time with our friends, cherishing sweet moments. Every moment.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I had hoped to snap picture after picture at our Thanksgiving get togethers but I was too wrapped up in the happenings. And you know what? I am perfectly ok with that!

My family celebrated the Saturday before Thanksgiving Day because of other holiday plans. I made my Grandma's stuffing and my fabulous Caramel Apple Pie. We had more food than we knew what do do with but it was oh so good!

As I sat on the smaller couch next to my oldest niece, Alissa, I took in everything around me. Things like:
*The fact Alissa is 13,sitting next to me having an adult conversation
*TJ running all around and being his normal fun loving 18 month old self.
*Justen teaching Peyton how to play Texas Hold'em.
* Peyton clinging to Justen because he is one of her best friends
* My siblings, parents and Jared all joking around and talking
* Playing games and laughing so hard you almost pee yourself
* Having the love of my life sitting next to me
* Alissa now playing the games with the adults because she's no longer a little kid (how'd that happen?)
* Endless hugs and kisses from TJ
* Justen telling me I'm beautiful
* Jessica's first turkey (it was awesome!!)

Thanksgiving Day was spent at Nana's house (Jared's Grandma). My parents joined us for the evening and again... so.much.food. I made the turkey. Scary. I made one turkey about 7 years ago and that's the extend of my holiday turkey making. To brine or not to brine... that was the question. So i kind of tweaked the brine recipe from the Pioneer Woman. I basically made the exact brine but reduced the salt to about 1/4 C instead of a cup and a half.

I'm glad I did. The turkey was incredible! Can I say that about my own cooking? oh well. It really was fantastic! :) I used a brining bag and put Mr. Thomas Turkey in there on Wednesday morning. I was cooking it at Nana's house so I just left it in the brine all the way to Nana's. Any idea how a brining bag fairs in a car? Not so great. Especially if you don't secure the twist tied opening so it doesn't hang over the pan. Know why? It drips. It drips for the entire 40 minutes you're driving and for the full 10 minutes you're in the grocery store. It makes your car smell of oranges, apple juice, garlic and rosemary. It drenches your seat (because you weren't smart enough to put it on the floor). yeah... secure the brining bag if you plan to travel with it.

Besides that, it was a wonderful holiday. Some of my favorite parts:
*Having my parents join us
*Nana and Grandma Loretta. They are such sweet women and have filled the void in my heart. I miss both of my grandma's. I love having both of Jared's in my life.
*My parents getting along so great with Jared's family
*Jared's cousin Nicole, Step-sister Britt and nephew Trace being present. We don't see them enough.
*The fact that even if we tell Grandma Loretta to just bring one pie; she brings 5 pies, stuffing, sausage and a ham.
*Endless laughs

I love both of my families. I feel like this year I was finally able to take in everything and realize how blessed I am. I've always known I am blessed but it really sank in deep this year. I couldn't have asked for a better holiday. I think of my friends, family, co-workers and I can't help but just say "Thank You Lord". Sometimes I wish I could say more than that because a simple thank you just doesn't seem to be enough.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Being Thankful

The rush of the holidays, the buzz of shopping, the constant traveling and endless cooking can sometimes over shadow the true meaning and joy of the holidays. If fact, life can over shadow daily blessings.

I'd like to be the first to admit I am "Guilty as Charged". Many times I think about all that I want and things I don't have instead of remember all of the things I do have and that so any things that I have wanted in life, have happened.

Last week I had a fantastic visit with my old oldest brother followed by a stop at my parents house. I had lunch with a good friend yesterday (aka Drill Sgt ...remember him?) and we had a great talk. Another friend stopped by work today. I am realizing more and more that quality time with my family and friends is really what I want. I have so many wonderful people in my life and so many good things, how can I be down about anything?

 I look at what I have with my love, Jared. Man, he really loves me. Sometimes we argue and get annoyed with each other but it just makes us stronger. He sees the beauty in me that I have never been able to see in myself. He makes me laugh , a lot. We have fun doing anything and everything together. He's a good sport when one of my recipes doesn't go exactly as planned. He stifles a laugh when I trip but would be the first to help me up if I fall. He opens doors for me, picks up the check, wipes my tears away and holds me close. Since I started running, Jared has been my biggest supporter and never holds back telling me how proud he is of me. I couldn't have asked God for a better man in my life.

I have my older brothers that have always been there for me. No matter how old they we get, I will always be their baby sister and they will always protect me. They are my voice of reason when I need it and they have always always believed in me. My sisters in law are just as wonderful and I love spending time with them. They allow me to vent and cry and I return the favor when needed.

My parents are some of the most caring people I know. Especially when it comes to their kids. To this day, they will drop everything to help one of us. Not many people can say that. Especially once they are adults.

I have some pretty incredible friends. At any given moment, they are ready with words of encouragement, hugs, laughter, good food, etc. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for my friends. Even if we don't get to spend loads of time together, our hearts remain close.

I am so fortunate to be surrounded by love. Incredible love. Unconditional love. There is so much negative in world these days like stress over money, job worries, divorces, death of a family member... it really makes me stop and think about all that I have.

Thank you for being part of my life. Thank you for bringing a richness and a joy to my life that no one else can. What are some of the things you are thankful for?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cookies for a Cure: Update

This is a little late in coming, oh well.

I thought I made a lot of cookies last year. I was wrong. This year I made a lot of cookies. I am still in shock over how the orders just poured in. The first weekend I worked on cookies, I thought I was maybe starting to lose my mind by doing these cookies. By the following weekend I was sure I had lost my mind for doing this.

If you remember, I was making and selling cookies to raise money for Autism, Breast Cancer and Leukemia/Lymphoma

For Autism $60 was raised
For Leukemia/Lymphoma $25 was raised

I knew the Breast Cancer awareness cookies would be the big fundraiser. It always is. The grand total raised this year was:
$700!!!!!!! That is just amazing! A few people donated but did not order cookies with their donations. This year I made 62 dozen cookies.

SIXTY-TWO dozen cookies. I did the math for you... that is 744 cookies! All hand decorated and personalized. It was a lot of work but when I think about my friend Tanya's best friend that just passed away last month from breast cancer, Nancy who is like a second mom to me, my good friend Cory's mom, Katie's Aunt, my former Captain Chris, those that have found lumps that have turned out to be nothing and those who are waiting to hear what those lumps are... it is all worth it.
Here are some pictures of the cookie madness. Want to know whats even crazier? Not a single one of these pictures is a duplicate. There's one picture from each batch of cookies I made.

Look closely and you will notice cookies are stacked by 6 on the tables

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Special Gift

I have this friend. She's pretty darn amazing. I met her back in high school (maybe even Jr high?). We were choir nerds together. That's a bond that can stand the test of time.

Her name is Katie.

We are both grown ups now and live on opposite ends of the country. Thanks to a healthy addiction to social networking, we got back in touch. She is a runner but at one point in her life, she wasn't. She set out on a journey to lose some weight, which she did. She started running about 2 years ago and she has been unstoppable ever since.

On Sunday November 6, 2011 Katie finished the New York City Marathon. She ran and completed TWENTY-SIX miles!!! How many of us can say that? Not many! I tracked her run through out the day on the ING website. It was pretty fun to check up on her progress and cheer her on from Southern California. I "watched" closely at the end as she crossed the finish line. I even cheered a little.

I am extremely proud of Katie. Running a marathon is no easy feat and she inspires me to keep running. Katie has been a huge motivator and resource with my running. She's passed along a training plan for a half marathon, which I intend to follow in order to complete the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in June 2012. She asks me how my training is going, gives me pointers, reassures me when I feel like giving up or I can't do it. I am blessed to have Katie and a few others that run to help me along the way.

Because I am proud of Katie and think completing a marathon is a pretty big deal, I wanted to do something special for her.

I happily follow  this blog and came across a recipe for "Marathon Cookies". Follow the link I attached and it will take you to the original recipe. I swapped out a few items ( I just couldn't find Chair seeds and the through ofbuying dates makes me gag...sorry Liz!). The recipe has 26 ingredients: 1 ingredient for every mile ran.

I watched Peyton and Tyler the other day so I had Peyton help me out with the cookies while Tyler was napping.

She's 3, almost for so she's a "big girl" now and can help pour stuff into the mixing bowl. I plopped her onto the step ladder and we started working.

As I chopped some of the items, she informed me that I could put them in the measuring cup and she would dump them into the bowl.

She tried to scoop the flour and oatmeal, all by herself,  out of the containers. It took about for scoops from each container to reach the amount we actually needed to add. She did great scooping the dough onto the cookie sheet.

I explained to her that these were special cookies for my friend Katie. "That's my mommy's name!", was her reply. I told her they were called Marathon Cookies and she repeated the name a few times. After the cookies were out of the oven I asked Peyton what kind of cookies we made. "Chocolate Chip".  Oh the brain of a 3 year old!
I couldn't let her make cookies and not let have one...What king of auntie would that make me?

Shortly after they munchkins went home, I packaged the cookies up and shipped them off to New York for the marathoner to enjoy.

Congratulations Katie! I am SO proud of you!!

Here's my version of the Recipe:

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup quick oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup chopped peanut butter cups
1/4 cup chopped pretzels
1/4 cup chopped banana chips
1/4 cup chopped apple chips
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the butter, peanut butter, and sugars until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla; mix until creamy.

In separate bowl, stir the flour, graham cracker crumbs, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until combined. Fold the remaining ingredients into the cookie dough.

For large cookies, use a 2 1/2-inch cookie scoop to drop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 12 to 14 minutes, until deep golden brown.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Holiday To-Do

I love the holidays. Mostly Christmas but I enjoy Thanksgiving also. I feel that the Thanksgiving holiday gets the shaft every year. We amp up for Halloween then speed race past Thanksgiving and dive right into Christmas. I want to savor every moment I am able to spend with the people I love.

So I thought of some things I would like to do between now and the end of the holiday season. In no particular order:

* Host a "Crafts and Cocktails" night
* Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger
* Give to someone in need. i.e. "angel tree" or the like
* Linger in the mall while Christmas shopping, enjoying the decorations and music
* Spend an afternoon listening to Christmas music and wraping gifts
* Watch "Elf", "The Holiday", "A Christmas Story" and "The Family Stone"
* Watch classics like Grinch, Rudolph and Frosty with my nieces and nephews
* Bake cookies
* Attend December Lights
* Drive around neighborhoods, checking out Christmas lights/displays
* Make a special dinner for Jared and spend an evening decorating the Christmas tree
* Volunteer for a toy drive or charity
* Drive up to Julian and nibble on Apple Cider Donuts and sip hot coffee with my dear friend
* Mail Christmas Cards
* Attend Alissa and Justen's Choir/Orchestra/Band winter concerts
* Roast a turkey

It is a tall order but I am excited about it! What are some things YOU would like to do this holiday season?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fall Fun!

Oh dear. I am so behind in my blogging! 

Every year my family goes to the Pumpkin Patch at Bates Nut Farm. The place is crazy on the weekends but the fun we have more than makes up for that fact. Alissa is a teenager now so she's a little "too cool" to hang out with the family and look for pumpkins. She still goes along with it though (because she doesn't have a choice). Justen is still really into it even though he is getting older as well.

Peyton is almost 4. She is ALL about the Pumpkin Patch! This year she was anxiously awaiting the trip and once she got there she was ready to dive feet first into pumpkin hunting. Unfortunately Jared and I were running a little late so every time she asked " When can we go look for our pumpkins?" The reply from the other adults was "As soon and Tee Tee and Jared get here". We were only about 10minutes late (darn bicyclists on Lake Wohlford Rd!!) and when we walked up, she grabbed my mom's hand and headed for the pumpkins. She was clearly upset with us for being late. No hugs, no smiles... nothing. Who knew a 3 year old could hold such a grudge. especially when it came to pumpkins? She finally eased up on us and we received hugs,smiles and giggles from her.

Tyler was still a little unsure what to do but he had a great time "pushing" the wheel barrow.

There's always tons of fun with face painting (apparently she's not too cool to do that every year).
The Petting Zoo

Horse Carriage ride
And the annual King Family photos.

The following day we did our annual Baking and Pumpkin Carving. Peyton and Alissa joined us in the kitchen this year while the men folk wrestled the pumpkins into carving submission.

Alissa manned the cupcake making. The batter was a little thicker than normal and none of us older ladies are sure why, exactly, that happened. But hey, they tasted good!
Peyton helped Tee Tee make turtles. She placed the pecans on the cookie sheet for me. She was quite proud of herself. She learned what a Pecan was and that they didn't taste very good by themselves. Once I told her they taste better with caramal and chocolate, she was excited about this news and quickly shared with her daddy.

At the end of the day we celebrated my dad's 85th 58th birthday.
It was a super fun-filled weekend. I love my family!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Turkey Meatballs

Some people wrinkle their nose at the thought of using ground turkey instead of ground beef. If you cook it right, it is delicious! Have you tried my turkey burger recipe? Even my best friend's husband like them!

I am still trying to lose weight but more importantly I am simply trying to eat better. I have a weakness for all types of junk food and if I am not careful, I will end up on The Biggest Loser. I'd rather make changes now and avoid crying, screaming and sweating on national television!

Tonight I wanted spaghetti and meatballs. That's a rare thing for me but tonight it was my dinner of choice. Here's what I threw together: (amounts are approximate because I didn't measure as I went, sorry)

20oz Lean or Extra Lean Ground Turkey
1 1/2 C bread crumbs
2 Eggs (or you can use just egg whites)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp Ground Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt - Just a dash or two
2 tbsp italian Seasoning (or a mixture of dry basil and oregano)

1) Preheat oven to 375
2) Line a baking pan with foil and lightly spray with non stick spray
3) In a medium size mixing bowl, mix eggs and ground turkey until well comined
4) Add the bread crumbs to the mixture until well combined
5) Add in all of the seasonings and mix well
6) Scoop up about 1/4c of the mixture and form it into a ball. Add more for larger meat balls or less for smaller
7) Place meatballs on baking sheet, evenly spaced apart
8) Bake 20-25 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle.

Next time I might add a little bit of onion, shredded zucchini and  shredded carrots to bump up the nutrition value.

I ate mine with whole wheat pasta and tomato basil pasta sauce. Happy Tummy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Running Truths, As I Know It

Have I mentioned that I am a "runner" now? I don't even know if I can be put in that category quite yet. I am working on it though. You know what I have learned so far?

1) It's hard. Really hard.
2) I sweat a lot and its gross
3) Sometimes I have to mentally push myself
4) Sometimes I have to push myself physically
5) I'm a heavy breather. Atleast for now. Hopefully that will change
6) I don't know if I can do this, most days
7) I feel good when I am done with a run
8) I am going to stick to this and not give up
9) The shoes are the most expensive shoes I've ever owned and ever will
10) It requires a whole new wardrobe
11) My recovery after a run is WAY better than it was when I first started running. I am thankful for that.
12) When I finish the 15K, Half Marathons and multiple 5K runs, I will have accomplished many things that I never EVER thought I could do.
13) A support system of friends and fellow runners is absolutely essential
14) Properly hydrating and fueling my body is necessity
15) It's hard. but I am doing it!

I'm learning and pushing myself and growing. It is a conscious decision to get out and pound the pavement every day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More Change

Yes, I changed the design (again). I wasn't sold on the last design. The green was a little much for me. It was cute but didn't seem quite right. So here I am, playing around with things. I am a simple girl. So... what do you thing about THIS design comapred to the bright greenw/ polka dots and a bow?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Farmer's Market

I've been wanting to find a good Farmers Market for some time now. Produce in the grocery stores can be expensive and it just doesn't last very long. When Jared and I went to the Strawberry Fields last year, we were amazed at how long they lasted. The ones I get from the grocery store last only a couple of days.

I also like the thought of more organic produce. I am not going to go crazy and buy organic everything but it definitely can't hurt to buy more than less.

My friend, Heather, and I went to the Rancho Bernardo Farmers Market a couple weeks ago. I was on the hunt for some white flowers for Michelle's Baby Shower.

I first heard about the Rancho Bernardo Farmers market from my friend, Morgan. She goes frequently and always raves about it on Facebook. So I asked her if they sell flowers at that one. She said they do and told me exactly where to go.

I was in flower heaven!!

They smelled amazing and I found exactly what I was looking for!

Heather even found some gorgeous gerber Daisies for her mom.

We explored the produces and it all looked so incredible. I didn't have enough cash on me so I didn't buy any but I definitely plan on going back! I mean, look at this... how can you resist?

Pardon me... I must go. I'm drooling...