Sunday, September 28, 2014

#sweatpinkautumn challenge

I recently participated in a challenge on Instagram from Fit Approach, one of the fitness organizations that I am an ambassador for. It was a five day challenge that included a different fall-favorite theme for each day: pumpkin recipe, exercise, accessory, scenery, and activity.

Here is a photo recap:

Favorite pumpkin recipe: Pumpkin Breadless Pudding
I promised a bunch of internet strangers that I would include a recipe for the Pumpkin Breadless Pudding. It's actually an adaptation of my favorite three-ingredient Cowgirl pancakes...except pumpkin made the batter too wet, and the pancakes never set. I ended up scraping them out of the pan and put each 'pancake' into a ramekin. I topped them with whip cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

1 egg
1 banana
1 T smooth peanut butter 
1 cup pumpkin 
1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 nutmeg
2 T dark chocolate chips

Turn batter out into pan as if making medium-sized pancakes. I used coconut oil to keep batter from sticking to pan. Cook over medium heat, turning after 3-5 minutes. Note: This is where things get interesting since the batter doesn't set firmly enough to turn pancake neatly. It's going to be messy, but the end goal is to make sure the egg is completely cooked; it's all fun and games until someone gets Salmonella.  

Transfer each 'pancake' to a ramekin and top with cream. Yields 3 ramekins of gluten-free pumpkin pudding.

Favorite fall accessory: vests
I used to think vests were stupid. It never made sense to me to wear a jacket with no sleeves. However, I have changed my thinking. They keep my core nice and cosy, and I can add layers for extra warmth. In Southern California, it's pretty much all you need. 

Favorite way to #sweatpink: spin class
This deserves a blog post all it's own. Spin class is pretty much my favorite exercise, period. It's such an efficient workout, and the low-impact nature makes it a great workout for anyone with the ability to pedal a bike. Since the fall months are what I consider our 'second summer', working out indoors is sometimes a better alternative. 

Favorite fall scenery: our mission
This view never gets old.
I don't have much knowledge about mission history in general, but I'm a sucker for beautiful architecture. I have a 4-mile loop from our house, and the mission is my halfway point. This stunning view is postcard-worthy, and my caption says it all: it never gets old.    

Favorite fall activity: decorating for Halloween
The next best thing to fall decor is when world's
collide. Let's start calling Halloween 'HalloWars'
or 'Starween' going forward, shall we?  
Halloween is probably my favorite holiday. This probably deserves it's own blog post, too. I'm CRAZY for Star Wars. Jack-o-Yoda? Yes, please and thank you!

What is your favorite thing about fall?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

My Silpada Designs giveaway closed on Friday, Sept 19. It's time to announce the winner!!

And the beautiful rugged pearls bracelet goes to...


...Rebecca P. of Washington, DC. 

Congratulations, Rebecca!! ::applause::

I wanted to thank everyone who entered my giveaway. For my first go at a raffle, I think it went swimmingly. I am working hard at gaining more followers on my social media sites and, obviously, more traffic to my blog. What I didn't anticipate was that it would work both ways: I discovered some amazing blogs and Instagram accounts. Two of my new favorite blogs are MarathonHarry (a lovely young marathoner living in the UK) and From Ice Cream to Marathon (hosted by an gracious woman named Katie, who hails from Kentucky and was super nice when I asked her about her gorgeously formatted header. That sounds like it's code for something suggestive, but I promise it's not). 

I also discovered that I'm not very good at promoting myself. There is definitely an etiquette to social media, but I am convinced that most people have a greater understanding of different platforms while I'm bumbling along, offending people as I go. For example, I didn't want to post too many pictures to promote my giveaway on Instagram. My own son 'unfollowed' me for posting more than one photo in a day. I suppose the rules for adults and teenagers are somewhat different, though. There are many accounts that I follow that post more than once a day. Unless it's incredibly excessive or one of those fake accounts that is a front for those wretched body wraps, I am happy to see their photos. Thankfully, my son followed me back.

I want to give a special shout-out to Kelly at Silpada Designs. She was really excited when I approached her about donating a piece of jewelry for my raffle, and was such a pleasure to work with. Kelly was very encouraging and super fun to chat with while we worked out the details of the giveaway. Success!

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Last March, I wrote a post about my daughter's best friend, Sam. That post generated more traffic than anything I've written since I started my blog in 2009.

Originally hospitalized for pneumonia, the doctors discovered that Sam had a virus in his heart. He was immediately sent to UCLA for a battery of tests. The community rallied around Sam, and a benefit concert was organized last April to help cover the cost of a heart transplant. Jeff Bridges and The Abiders (yes, that Jeff Bridges) performed along with Dishwalla to a sold out crowd at the beautiful Lobero Theater. 

During the last four months, Sam endured severe diet and water restrictions. His heart's inefficiency to circulate blood properly combined with a myriad of drugs, creating a fluctuations of up to 15 lbs. of water a single day. After having a stroke last March, Sam never fully regained sight in his left eye. 

A week and a half ago, Sam received a partial mechanical heart with the end goal of receiving an heart transplant in three months. His mom Judy noticed almost immediately that his feet were warmer and his color had improved. Although Sam was no longer sedated, the medicine remained in his body due to his poor circulation and liver function, and he continued to be delusional. The nursing staff asked Judy who 'Girldoll' was, and they told her that he had been saying her name. We were invited to see Sam last Sunday, in the hope that it would reset his memory and help him transition out of his dream state.

The morning we were supposed to drive to Los Angeles, I received a text from his dad that Sam had scheduled a gall bladder surgery that day. About 20 minute later, a second text came in saying that Sam's surgery was rescheduled for the following day. Were we able to come after all? 

We were on the road within 45 minutes of receiving his text. 

I was warned that Sam was still pretty loopy, so I prepared Girldoll that he might not make sense. I assured her that he would recognize us. Sure enough, Sam's eyes lit up when we came into his hospital room, and he was thrilled to see Girldoll. 

True to form, Sam was hilarious; he joked about the small size of the hospital bed, while his feet dangled off the end. When Girldoll asked how many fingers she was holding up, Sam held up his middle finger and replied, "Oh, I don't" He moved in and out of lucidity; one moment Sam was present, and the next he was asking if we went to his 'Halloween garbage birthday party'. The room couldn't contain his dry sense of humor. We stayed for almost two hours, and I was surprised at how quickly the time passed. 

On Wednesday, just three days after our visit, Sam's body crashed. His team performed CPR and re-opened his chest to massage his heart - right on his hospital bed, in the same room we had been standing in only three days earlier. They took him to surgery to repair some internal bleeding, and ended up operating on Sam for 9 hours. He never regained consciousness. 

Thursday morning, I was devastated to see that I had missed a call from Judy. Sam had lost brain function, and they were taking him off life support. It is apparent where Sam got his extraordinary compassion from; even through her grief, Judy reached out to our family so my daughter didn't have to read on Facebook that her best friend had died. 

The last three days have been very difficult for Girldoll. My daughter gave the gift of friendship - only to be repaid tenfold. All I can think about is seeing Girldoll and Sam holding hands, their faces close together. It is not lost on us how blessed we were to see Sam in the hospital, one last time.  

The whole community is in shock. We attended an informal memorial last Friday night at the beach. A hundred people released flowers into the ocean, and later in the evening several kids began playing guitar and singing Samo's favorite songs:  

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift
Yourself up off by the floor

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here

Dare You To Move by Switchfoot

Sam 'Samo' Osterhage
Oct. 29, 1996 - September 19, 2014
Always in our hearts.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Big News

I am excited to announce my very first give-away on my blog! 

Like most good ideas, it came to me during a run. A friend of mine recently became a representative for Silpada Designs, and she has been posting some gorgeous jewelry on her Instagram account. I worked up the nerve to approach Kelly and ask if she'd be willing to donate a piece to raffle off on my blog...and she said yes!

This may or may not have been my response after I got her message. (Okay, it wasn't really - even though I do a mean 'vogue'.) Suffice it to say I was STOKED. Kelly generously gave me three items to choose from, and I settled on this beauty:

Rugged Pearls Bracelet
Kelly models the bracelet.
The bracelet stacks beautifully with other pieces.
Since this is my first go at anything like this, it's also my first time using Rafflecopter. I figure if it's good enough for my girl Danielle at the T-Rex Runner, then it's good enough for me:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please enter to win! Each follow on our social media sites increases your chances of winning, and you can also tweet about the contest daily for additional entries to the raffle. On September 20, I will announce the winner of this gorgeous bracelet. 

If you are interested in seeing Kelly's whole Silpada line, feel free to check out her site. 

Happy raffling!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Disney Half Marathon

I ran the Disney half marathon over Labor Day weekend with Girldoll and her friend, Kaycie. Kaycie and I also ran the Tinker Bell half marathon together in January 2013. 

The training started really well - that is, until late July when Girldoll had her wisdom teeth removed. Neither one of us anticipated the nightmare of having four teeth removed would be for her. Girldoll ended up developing dry socket. If you don't know what that is, I assure you that it's as horrible as it sounds: the blood clot that forms as a barrier between the bone and nerves becomes dislodged, leaving exposed nerves and creating excruciating pain. To make matters worse, she was misdiagnosed as having a reaction to the pain medication - so the doctor told me to have her stop taking it. My daughter was in excruciating pain...with no pain control. I was beside myself with worry and frustration.

futurama gif
As a matter of fact, this is exactly what I look like when
I am beside myself with worry and frustration. Why do you ask?
Despite missing over two weeks of critical mileage due to Girldoll's wisdom teeth, we were able to get one more long run in before beginning to taper before the race. It was the first time Kaycie joined us during our training, and the farthest my daughter has ever run. 

Girldoll and Kaycie after finishing our long run. So fierce!
Oddly enough, the race was the 'easy' part. We ended up being plagued by several setbacks shortly before and during the race, which had the potential for disaster. 

Right off the bat, Girldoll discovered her phone was missing before we went into the corral. She originally thought that she had left her phone in the car. After mentally retracing her steps, she remembered where she set her phone down: in the port-a-potty. Yeah, I know. #allthegerms

We went back to look for her phone, but it was already gone. Even though it was very early, a woman told us that she'd seen a custodial crew cleaning the potties. It almost spoiled the event for Girldoll because she was worried about having to replace a stolen phone. I told her that there was nothing we could do but wait until after the race, and hope whoever found her phone had turned it in to a volunteer.

Since this was Girldoll's first race, we decided to play it safe and start in the last corral. At 5:30am, the emcees began announcing the release of the runners. For every corral that was released, the Frozen theme song was played. This was kind of novel the first two or three times...but after listening to 'Let it go! Let it go!' eight times in a row, we were over it. Oddly enough, it was a fitting mantra after the cell phone drama:

Enough already.
You can't contain this much cute! 
Babydoll, Girldoll and Kaycie - ready to roll!
This is probably TMI -- honestly, when has that ever stopped me? -- but, due to the early hour, I didn't get to take my pre-race poop (PRP). Ordinarily, that isn't a concern of mine: I have a gut like a billy goat. When the PRP didn't occur, I just shrugged it off. That is, until we hit mile 7. Things were starting to...shift  and I was beginning to struggle. I kept trying to put it out of my mind, but after another half mile with no port-a-potty in sight, I was starting to panic. I desperately looked for a store that would be open, despite the fact that it was 7:30am on a Sunday morning. Thankfully, we spotted two potties set off the course in a parking lot. 

Kaycie said that she would keep going, but she would walk slowly until we caught up to her. I should have known better and told her to wait; Kaycie and I got separated during a potty break during the Tinker Bell race, and we never found each other until after the race was over. 

I'm not sure why I expected a different outcome, other than the fact that it's the hallmark of alcoholic thinking: doing the same thing, but expecting a different result each time. To think that that we could easily find Kaycie among 16,000 runners was ridiculous. Except this time, we had no way of reaching each other. Since I anticipated both girls would have their phones, I left my phone (and room key) with Kaycie's mom - who also happened to be our ride. When we still hadn't found Kaycie by mile 12, I was starting to worry. It occurred to me that we had no way of contacting them, no way of getting back to our hotel, and no room key. Even if I borrowed someone's phone to text or call them, we didn't know their phone numbers without looking at the address book on our own phones. 

It was a good lesson in staying in the moment and focusing on the task at hand. I decided to put it out of my mind, and concentrate on running the race. After running through California Adventure and Disneyland, there was a tough point where we were just slogging it out on the freeway and through residential neighborhoods. There was little to see and it made the miles feel longer for both of us. 

Around mile 9, there was a huge vintage car show parked along both sides of the course: Model T's, muscle cars, vintage Mustangs, vans from the 70s, and movie themed cars. My favorite was the hearse that was decorated like the Nightmare Before Christmas movie. We moved off the street and ran along a dry aqueduct that had a long, sketchy drop down before reaching Angel's Stadium. I was completely unprepared for the thousands of spectators in the stands. It was a highlight of the race...aside from running through the castle, of course:

I still can't get over the fact that we ran
through Tinker Bell's castle!

Kaycie (and photo bomber) at the castle.
Babydoll, Army Man, Girldoll and Kaycie
The last mile felt more like tacking on another 5k to the race. As we reached the finish line, Girldoll surprised me by reaching for my hand as we crossed the finish line together. 

Out of all the races I've run, training with my daughter and running the half marathon together was sweeter than any PR or race that I've done alone. Like all good fairy tales, everything had a happy ending: someone had turned my daughter's phone in to the information table, and we ended up finding our friends. Hooray! 

And they all lived happily ever after...