Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Greetings Friends! Did everyone have a fabulous Christmas? It's always nice to have a few days to spend extra time with family and friends. It's a perfect time to recharge and reconnect after the hustle and bustle leading up to the holidays.

Anyhow, a few days off meant I finally got to do some baking. Several months ago, my good friend Alysha, from She's on the Run, brought some Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles to my apartment for a get together. They were so delicious, I immediately added them to my list of must-make desserts. 

Although Christmas is over and past, these treats would be perfect for a New Year's Eve or Day gathering or really any occasion. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
(adapted from Paula Deen and She's on the Run)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)
1 bag white chocolate chips
Half and Half

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla, then gradually mix in flour and condensed milk. Stir in semisweet chocolate chips. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator. 

Melt white chocolate chips and add half and half as needed to thin the mixture. Using a toothpick or fork, dip the chocolate chip cookie balls into the white chocolate coating, then place back on the cookie sheet. Return dipped truffles to the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the coating to harden. 

Note: Finished truffles are best stored in the refrigerator. 

Did anyone else make any treats over the holiday break? Or, what's on your must-make desserts list?

- ST

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My 2012 Run Recap

A few weeks ago, I realized I forgot to do a post about my two year running anniversary. So, what's there to say about year two? Let's just say it was exciting and challenging, with a few surprises along the way. 

At the start of 2012, I set a few goals for myself. These goals included:
  • Run a sub-22 minute 5k race
  • Run a sub-1:43 half marathon race
  • Complete a marathon race
  • Race a new shorter distance (ex. mile, 4 mile, 8k or 10k)
  • Increase weekly mileage to 50-60 miles

I fell short on both the 5k and half marathon goals and I have to say, the 5k one especially kills me - I'm only four seconds away! As for the half marathon goal, it just wasn't my year for racing this distance. Two of my races were greatly affected by heat and humidity, another effort was done in by a case of a nasty side stitch and my last attempt ended in a DNF after I got injured around mile 10.

These two goals will go on my list for 2013, but instead of dwelling on how I didn't accomplish everything I wanted, I'm going to instead focus on everything I gained this year:

New running friends! In 2011, I was a runner conquering the roads on my own. This year, I learned how to run with others, connected with more experienced runners who I can turn to with all of my running questions, and also made some new friends who love running as much as I do. Our conversations tend to revolve around running, racing and eating. To a non-runner, that's probably not very exciting, but to a runnerd like myself, it's heaven :)

At Riviera Maya with Laura, Melissa, Alice and Sheila

Joining the Oiselle Running Team. My excitement about this one still hasn't worn off! I am thrilled to represent such an amazing brand and can't wait to wear my new apparel and racing gear at every 2013 race. 

Seeing Mom finish TWO half marathons. My mom is amazing - she is 62 years old and just started running a little more than a year ago. This year, she completed two half marathons. It amazes me how fit she is - more fit than a lot of 20 and 30 somethings that I know! 

There goes Mom - happy even during a half marathon :)
Confidence that I can run higher mileage. Much to my surprise, my body felt great running 50-60 miles per week. I felt extremely strong during those weeks and had some of my best training runs. The trick to running more miles was increasing mileage conservatively and keeping most of the miles at easy pace. In 2013, I'm going to up my mileage to 60-70 miles per week using the same principles.  

You have to earn every second. Gone are the days getting a new 5k PR that's minutes faster than the last. Now it's about shaving off seconds at a time. During my first year of running, it was easy to make progress by leaps and bounds. Year two meant struggling and hitting a few plateaus. It made me work harder - I like to think I spent the year laying the groundwork for a successful third year of running!

Finishing in 22:03 at my last 5k race

Accomplishing more than I ever thought possible. Finishing my first marathon, running a 22-mile long run, winning my Age Group - these are all things that once seemed out of reach. But I've learned you can't ever count yourself out - in fact, you're the only person that needs to believe in you to achieve your goals. Aim high and achieve more :)

How did 2012 treat you? Did you accomplish your goals or are you still working to reach them? What was your greatest achievement this year?

Wishing you a fabulous holiday season :)

- ST

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bulu Box Review

I just adore receiving packages in the mail :) My most recent one was a Bulu Box - a vitamin, supplement and general health monthly subscription sample box. 

Plenty of goodies in this box

Recently, it seems like there have been a lot of similar sample boxes (Love with Food, Birchbox, etc.) and I think they are a great idea because it allows you to try products you might not otherwise buy.

The Bulu Box was the size of a hardcover bestseller so I didn't know what to expect as I opened it. For a smaller package, there were a lot of goodies inside. According to the company's website, each box contains 4-5 premium samples from top brands. These samples include products for men and women, including vitamins, weight loss, protein, energy, natural remedies and more.

My box contained the following:

  • FRS Healthy Energy Chews
  • Almased, a metabolism booster
  • Reserveage CocoaWell True Energy with AdaptoStress3, fatigue and stress fighting capsules
  • drinkwel, a cocktail lover's multivitamin
  • Immuno-Viva Defend+ Energy, cold and cough prevention
  • Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant

The only one of these items that I'm familiar with is the FRS Chews, which are pretty tasty and great before a workout. I'm excited to try the other items and see what they are like. I gave the drinkwel vitamins to my friend, Lisa, a musician who definitely loves cocktails :)

I'd definitely recommend Bulu Box, particularly if you're into health, fitness and/or vitamins and supplements. At only $10/month, it's a pretty good value! 

On a side note, I was given the opportunity to receive a free Bulu Box through my Sweat Pink Ambassador role. Sweat Pink is run through Fit Approach, a community focused on fitness and health. It's about women working hard to achieve their goals and believing that assertiveness, strength and ambition are the ultimate feminine qualities. To learn more about Fit Approach and Sweat Pink, visit the website!

Share time! Have you ever tried any of the "sample boxes" such as Bulu Box, Birch Box, Love with Food, Lollihop (when it existed)? If so, what did you think? Are there any you would recommend?

I'm always up for trying something new :)

- ST

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'm Running for Oiselle!

 You may have recently noticed a new badge along the right side of my blog. 

About a month ago, I was checking out new running apparel on the Oiselle (pronounced wa-zell) website and stumbled upon a section featuring the brand's running team athletes. There was a map that showed where the athletes are located around the country, and I noticed there wasn't anyone listed for Wisconsin. On a whim, I decided to email the contact listed and find out more about the criteria for joining the team. 

The team manager, Kristin, emailed me back with an application and more details about what Oiselle looks for in potential team members. After reviewing everything, I felt it would be a perfect match. I've been a fan of the brand for awhile - the gear is functional, yet stylish and feminine - and the more I learned, the more passionate I felt about it. The company is named for a French word for bird and, as taken from the website, "it alludes to that feeling of weightlessness that most runners know and love. That sense of flight – when the legs go fast and the heart goes free." Love that.

I also love that the brand was started after the founder, Sally Bergesen, had a lot of difficulty finding shorts that fit properly. I've had a similar struggle since I began running, but Oiselle shorts fit just right!

I submitted the application materials and after that, it was time to sit back and wait for a decision. I'm not the most patient person, so I was definitely on pins and needles while I waited to hear back. Earlier this week, I got the email I've been waiting for:

Subject: Welcome to Oiselle Racing Team!!!!

Eeek! I was so excited! I am thrilled to represent such a fantastic brand in both training and racing throughout 2013. In fact, I can't wait to wear the Oiselle singlet at a race and show off how proud I am to be a member of the team.

If you are not yet familiar with this awesome brand, I highly recommend checking out the website. Here are a few of my current favorites that are featured in the Shop area:

Even during the winter months, I often run in shorts!

Stay cozy during your winter runs

My plan for every 5k

Love that these have thumbholes

Because every runner needs a little race bling

These are too fun to resist!

After you've checked out the website, tell me what items are your favorites! Also, anyone else run for a team? Or, does anyone have any other exciting news they must get off their chests? :)

Tell me everything and more!

- ST

Monday, December 3, 2012

Milwaukee Santa 5k Race Recap

Want to improve speed in a small amount of time? My suggestion is to do a series of short races. I've done just that by racing five times in a the past 30 days. The result? A new 5k PR and ending up just seconds away from my goal time. 

Last Saturday's race, the Milwaukee Santa 5k, was great. The weather was perfect, I know the course quite well and it was a smaller race so there weren't tons of people to dodge throughout the race. It all added up to a new PR and a 3rd place AG award!

A new medal for my collection!

Here are my race stats:

Time: 22:03
Average Pace: 7:07
Overall Place: 28/697
Gender Place: 11/488

Age Group Place: 3/80

Since the race start was close to my apartment, I ran over and used it as my warmup. I met up with my incredibly fast friend Sheila just minutes before the start. We lined up and then took off! 

Sheila pulled ahead right away. I knew I wouldn't be able to catch her, so made it my goal to just keep her within my sights throughout the race. There was a ton of goose poop along the first mile, so along with trying to maintain pace, I was trying to dodge the droppings! 

Notice the ground - total obstacle course!

About half way through the course, I hit the Mason Street hill. I knew it was coming, but that didn't make it any easier to climb! I know I lost a bit of time here, so it's time to start doing more hillwork again. 

The last mile of the race, I was just trying to hang on the best I could. I kept telling myself, "I breathe in strength. I breathe out weakness." I also reminded myself it was time to pay the price! With the finish line in sight, I sped up until I crossed the line. As usual, I felt like collapsing in the grass, but I saw Sheila right away (she finished 2nd in our age group!) and also the ground was covered with goose droppings. Ew. 

While I was thrilled with the PR and age group award, I am a tad disappointed to have missed my goal time by a mere four seconds. Looking back at the race, I can identify where I probably could have shaved off that time - I was sloppy on two turns, didn't push as hard as I should have up the hill and started my kick into the finish a tad too late. 

This leaves one more race in 2012 to get my goal time and join the "21 club" as Sheila put it. If it doesn't happen this year, I look forward to chasing it down next year :)

Up next I have back-to-back 5k races: Run Into the New Year (Dec. 31) and the Polar Bear Dash (Jan. 1). Anyone else running these events? OR, anyone have any tips for running back-to-back races? 

I want a great time at both events!

- ST