DIY Wedding: Cakes!

This time last year, I was blogging a lot about marathon training. And running. And lifting.

This year? There’s almost no running to speak of. I don’t have a race to train for and I’m enjoying finding all of the other ways my body can work – and trying to maintain a balance between work and extracurriculars and life.

I’m also knee-deep in wedding planning, which is proving to be a whole other adventure, let me tell you. A fun adventure, but definitely an adventure.

Because my fiance and I are trying to keep or wedding simple and small, and because we’re working with a very modest budget, we’ve decided to DIY a lot of it. Flowers, music, booze, desert, maybe even my dress. Fortunately, having a small wedding means that coordinating all of this won’t be terribly outrageous.

The thing I’m the most excited about DIY-ing though? The cake! I love to bake and while I had never made a wedding cake before, I felt pretty confident in my ability to figure it out. I’m no professional by a long shot, and I’m not even that well-versed in decorating, but I am preeeetttyyy good at following instructions and my Pinterest project success rate is super high.

In addition to baking a lot of cookies and bars and other treats, my primary preparation for this project has been to watch way too much of The Great British Baking Show (which is arguably the best show on television, and if you’re not watching it, what’s wrong with you?).

So, two weeks ago, while home alone for the weekend and having the kitchen to myself, I decided to get started. This is how much cake baking I haven’t done in recent years: I didn’t even own a cake pan. I went out and secured a couple cake pans and got to work.

So. Much. Butter. In. Here.

So. Much. Butter. In. Here.

This batter is so light and fluffy and YUM.

I started with a simple vanilla butter cake recipe, but I didn’t have the called-for cake flour, so I just forged ahead with AP flour and kept working. I also thought to myself “hey self, you’ve never tried to make fondant before, why not try now, since you have all of the ingredients.” I wish I’d thought to take pictures of THAT hot mess, because whoa. The mess was real. Melted marshmallows and powdered sugar literally everywhere in my kitchen. And then I threw together some vanilla buttercream frosting. The end result didn’t turn out half bad.

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The cake was slightly underbaked and a little bit more dense (thanks, AP flour), but the taste was great and everyone in my office who got to taste test enjoyed it.

For our second trial, I decided to play with flavors and still not worry too much about decorating or overall aesthetics. This time, I opted for some blueberry jam as the filling along with almond buttercream. No fondant this time and to keep it simple, I just did one size cake.

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I had actual cake flour this time around, so the crumb of this bake was a little looser, but the taste was just as good and stayed just as moist. The almond buttercream was a big hit and Clay (who famously doesn’t like cake) asked for an even bigger slice than the test one I gave him. He thought that there could be more blueberry – I tend to agree.

As the wedding gets closer, there will be more test bakes with a few more flavors and a greater attempt at decorating. Ultimately, I want a naked or semi-naked cake, so I’ll be working mostly with fruits and flowers to decorate. I’m still looking for other cake recipes, so if anyone has any reliable ones, I’d love to try them!

Alex’s Million Mile Team Kick-Off!

You know that us Chicks love to do good to feel good, and every September, we join super forces to help kids with with cancer keep fighting. Participating in Alex’s Million Mile event has become a tradition for us, and we’ve been ROCKSTARS in that we’ve raised almost $6000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

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The great thing about Alex’s #Journey2aMilion event is that there are lost of ways to participate. We’ll be tracking all the miles we run, walk, and bike to count toward the worldwide goal of 1 million miles.  You should totally do it with us and join Team Scootadoot! It’s easy, free, and you’re already training for a race anyway, right? Why not “donate” those miles to a great cause? And bonus, donations are tax deductible!

SuperChicksAMMOn September 1st, we’ll be social media-ing our 1st Mile along with other participants around the world to kick off this years event. You’ll see us tweeting and Facebooking throughout the month, and there will be  prizes and giveaways at the end of the month, so

stay

 

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Recipe box: Peanut Butter Energy Bites

I’m all about the protein lately.

Cottage cheese, edamame, peanut butter and piles of grilled fish. I’m sure the bean in my belly has something to do with it.

So when I was in full nesting mode last week, I started whipping goodies up in the kitchen. Banana bread, roasted potatoes, baked chicken, pasta fagiole.

Then a peanut butter-looking concoction popped up in one of my social media feeds. I realized I had all the ingredients and set to work to make PEANUT BUTTER ENERGY BITES!

All lined up in a row.

Ready to try this super easy recipe? Here is what you will need:

  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2  Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds (I used ground chia)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Cover, let chill in fridge for 30(ish) minutes.

Grab a handful of oats and a few chocolate chips and scatter them on a clean cutting board. Roll the chilled mixture into bite-sized balls, then roll over the cutting board for another layer of oats and chips.  My batch made 20 teaspoon-sized bites.

Store the completed energy bites in an airtight container in your fridge. ENJOY!

Even my brutally honest husband liked these. I’ll be making them more often for sure.

What’s your go-to protein snack?

 

A Quick Five to Massachusetts

A quick five day vacation, that is. Over the past few years, it feels like that only trips I’ve been on lately have been RACEcations. This trip was solely to relax and spend time with semi-retired Chick, Bec, and her family.

People, I did not even bring a sports bra! There was nary a Garmin or Spibelt in sight. I’d be lying if I said I missed any of those things. We really didn’t have much on the agenda and that was a-okay with me.

It was so good to just kick back, watch Bad Moms, eat yummy food, and enjoy each other’s company. (And the air conditioning because holy crap, it was hot.) Sometimes you just need to be with your people to recharge your soul and that’s exactly what we did!

We visited Hornstra Farms where we played with the barn cats and cows. And ate delicious ice cream (twice!).

Purple Cow = Black Raspberry with chocolate and white chips

Purple Cow = Black Raspberry with chocolate and white chips

We shopped a lot and bought random things. (Not these though - we just liked that our initials were together.)

We shopped a lot and bought random things. (Not these though – we just liked that our initials were together.)

I got to see the town where she grew up. You know, on the beach. #nottooshabby

I got to see the town where she grew up. You know, on the beach. #nottooshabby

You can "adopt" the carousel horses and the one I was one was named "Merry". Kismet? I think so.

You can “adopt” the carousel horses and the one I was one was named “Merry”. Kismet? I think so.

Fun house mirror... but I really am that much shorter than Bec and her daughter. Whomp whomp!

Fun house mirror… but I really am that much shorter than Bec and her daughter. Whomp whomp!

On the hottest day ever, we decided to go to Boston. I think a part of me is still there, melted on the pavement.

On the hottest day ever, we decided to go to Boston. I think a part of me is still there, melted on the pavement.

Worth melting for!

Worth melting for!

After 3 days, the cats came out of hiding. Cleo even let me pet her!

After 3 days, the cats came out of hiding. Cleo even let me pet her! #judgingme

We took a goodbye picture with pouts and frizzy hair but this one is much cuter.

We took a goodbye picture with pouts and frizzy hair but this one is much cuter.

My traveling doesn’t stop there! Later this week, I’ll be heading off to Europe for 10 days with my husband. We’ll be doing fun things there, including visiting Blindekuh (that would be a restaurant where you eat in complete darkness) and potentially doing this…

Oh! One more thing. As per usual, I hang out with some awesome people. Here are a few that you might be interested in checking out!

  • Are you into gardening? Do you want to be? This is a hot off the presses blog from Sonya, the brilliant friend who helped us start our home garden. I adore her!
  • My dear friend, Bernadette, is a mom who is kicking cancer’s ass. She wrote a children’s book to help little ones that have a mom with breast cancer. Check it out here.
  • Jersey Girl in the South is an awesome home decorating blog from Tracy. If only she lived closer – my house could use her expertise!

Happy Wednesday and happy middle of August!

All About Girl Power in Rio

I don’t know about you, but the Olympics are easily one of my top five favorite things in the whole world. Winter or Summer, it doesn’t matter. I enjoy watching everything from snowboard cross to figure skating to soccer to beach volleyball. We’re only five days in to the 2016 games, and I’ve spent an immodest amount of time glued to my television.

Swimming. Gymnastics. Rugby. Volleyball. Soccer (I’m watching right now!). Water Polo. Basketball. Field Hockey.

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One of my childhood (and current) besties reppin’ USA Rugby in Rio!

I don’t discriminate. I love it all. And in this year’s current political climate, I love it even more because the Olympics gives us (or me, at least) a reminder of what pride feels like. It gives us the opportunity to come together and cheer for a common goal – it gives us something to be excited and happy about.

But enough about THAT.

Watching the Olympics also makes me want to try (or go back to) like, 6 different sports. Watching volleyball reminds me of high school and summers spent at camp with my teammates. Gymnastics reminds me of tumbling and swinging around the gym as an 8 year old, pretending I was Dominque Moceanu. Swimming makes me want to go jump in a pool and track and field has me wishing I was a speed demon sprinter.

And this year? Despite all of the latent sexism in the commentary and coverage (I’m looking at you, Dan Hicks), this year’s games are about girl power. More than 50 percent of the US team are women, and a record 45 percent of the total competitors are women! And those ladies are badass.

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I was supposed to write about yoga today, but instead I’m camped in front of the USWNT playing Colombia while I wait for the primetime coverage of the women’s gymnastics and swimming – all of these women are inspirational in their own ways. Whether it’s Mallory Pugh scoring goals, Simone Biles crushing everyone in the gym or Katie Ledecky smashing records in the pool, I’m on board with the ladies of Team USA.

Race Recap – Stomp the Grapes 5k

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A little under an hour from my home, tucked away in the town of Egg Harbor City lies a winery that hold a special in my heart: the historic Renault Winery. 

Nearly 15 years ago my husband proposed marriage to me in the gourmet restaurant; We hosted our wedding in its banquet hall 13 years ago in May. We’ve been back many times since then for festivals, wine tours, dinners, and brunches.

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But I’d never been there for a run before! When Chrissy (my long-time friend and running partner in crime) asked if I would be interested in doing the DQ Events Stomp the Grapes 5k at the Renault Winery, my immediate response was YES!

Chrissy and I have been on a bit of a training run hiatus for the summer months so I was really looking forward to meet up with her! As an added bonus, the Renault Winery is exactly the same travel distance for each of us, so it made perfect sense.

There was day of packet pickup which is always appreciated. We got our cotton t-shirts (originally the description said they were supposed to be tech t-shirts so we were a little disappointed with that change) and our race bibs.

We met up nearly an hour before the race began so we were able to take our sweet time and meander around the grounds for a bit.

We stared longingly through the gift shop window, which didn't open until 10am.

We stared longingly through the gift shop window, which didn’t open until 10am – thankfully we were able to visit after the run!

And relaxed on the patio with a fan whirling overhead.

Relaxing on the patio with a fan whirling overhead.

It was great to take that hour to just nose around the area and catch up on each other’s lives. We wandered around, chatted with other runners, and eventually found our way to the starting area.

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This wasn’t the start line but how much fun is Prohibition Alley? The Renault is one of the oldest continuous running wineries in the U.S.A.

It was a chipped course but there was no mat at the start so your time began when the clock did. We lined up near the back of the 250 participants and waited for our instructions. We knew that the course was an out and back and it was mainly going to be on a dirt trail.

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I haven’t participated in any 5ks recently so it was a nice change to get back to a shorter distance, especially in the hot summer months.

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However, I will say that this course was no joke! The dirt trail was sand, rather than compact dirt, so each step was an effort that seemed to slog on longer than it should. The humidity didn’t help either and while the trees gave us nice shade, the air was soupy.

I was a little disappointed because while the run takes place on the Renault Winery grounds, I thought we might be running a bit closer to the vineyards. This course didn’t have much of a winery feel. How can I stomp the grapes if I’m not near any grapes?

This was the only portion of the run near the vineyards - right at the very beginning and very end of the course.

This was the only portion of the run near the vineyards – right at the very beginning and very end of the course.

The volunteers along the course were great and we made friends while we were running with people keeping the same pace as us. We pushed along, walking for little spurts but mostly running and reminding ourselves that it would be over quickly and then we’d be getting our reward of wine!

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The finishers wine glass with celebratory wine. There was also a meal option for an additional $10 which we opted not to pre-purchase.

There were 3 wine choices and both Chrissy and I went with the Pink Lady. It was refreshing after a hot run! And we also got a chance to go back to the gift shop once it opened. For the record, I got Blueberry Champagne, a favorite among the wedding buddies back then and now!

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You say banana, I say bah-na-na!

I’m already counting the days until Chrissy and I start our weekly training runs in Atlantic City again in the fall! I’ve missed this girl like crazy!

The fall races I’m registered for are in November: Run the Bridge event and the Philly Half. Who wants to make a bet that I’ll sign up for more in the interim? It’s probably a sure thing.

Hey, have we connected via all the social media outlets? Drop a note with your blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter links (click on the words to find us at each!).

Race Recap – Vacation Races Elk Double at Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park

I want to let you know that this will mostly be a picture post, because this race is just sooooo pretty. Also, I want to formally declare my love for Vacation Races, and this event in particular. VR, I LOVE YOU. If you’re reading this, pleeeeeeeease let me be an ambassador for your race series. Since I live within driving distance of  six out of nine of your events, I would make an excellent representative because I plan to run them all in the near future. But my first love for your race series will always be the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon.

This was the second year I’ve run the #RMHalf. They even added an extra special challenge this year, the Elk Double, which consisted of a 5k on Friday night, followed by the half marathon on Saturday morning. Three medals for two races means I. AM. IN. Many of my fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador Sisters were also running the races, and created a team. Team WTF? Where’s the Finish? I was so stoked to run with a team; I usually run races all by my lonesome.

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Packing for the big weekend and Coach Lily the Pug approves of my outfit selections.

In the interest of transparency, I want to state that in my (limited) half marathon experience, this group puts on the best races with the BEST Medals. Dare I say it, even better than runDisney.

I dared and said it. I retract nothing.

For proof, they had free smores and hammocks at the race expo. They had water, electrolyte drink, and Honey Stinger Gels at EVERY half marathon aid station, and at three of those stations, they also had bananas, orange slices, and porta potties.  VR really takes care of their runners!

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I was excited to try my new Skirt Sports skirt with bib magnets built in for the 5k. I was expecting to have to adjust my bib as I ran, but nope! The magnets kept it perfectly in place and I didn’t have to put safety pin holes in my new skirt. I was winning at life!

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5K Outfit: Skirt Sports Race Magnet Skirt, Electric Tank, Injinji socks, NB Shoes

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At the 5k Start

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Spirit of the Rockies: Anglers, Canadian Geese, and runners share the natural beauty!

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Even the geese were cheering for us!

Here in Colorado, they don’t give out medals for 5ks. They just don’t. Not sure why, but maybe it has something to do with the commonly seen “140” oval stickers on cars. I guess folks here don’t really get behind the 5k distance. So, I’m VERY proud of my first and only 5k medal!

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Ummm, so on a “related to the Rockies” note…my high school BFF lives a half a mile from the start line for the races, which was awesome, because I stayed at her house and walked to the 5k start. What wasn’t as fun was navigating the bear in the tree a few houses down from said friend’s house. I think he was sleeping, and he had the cutest bear butt. As long as that butt stayed in that tree.

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You can see a casually hanging paw and adorable tail.

I found out later that team WTF? finished in FIRST PLACE for the 5k!!!! No thanks to my slow arse which finished in 38 minutes, but yeah! So I got 2, 5k medals and I cannot even. I had to get the gold 1st place medal from my WTF? team mates the next day, but I was stoked!!  Then it was time to rest, fuel, sleep, and get up at 4:30 for the half marathon!

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Flat Me for the Half: Skirt Sports Eclipse top, Cougar (Lioness) skirt in Free Love print, two pairs of socks; Injinji toe and PROcompression.

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I only smile this early in the morning on race days. Trust.

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Mountain valley mist rising as the sun rises in Estes Park

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The weather was perfect, and the course is so gorgeous!

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I saw an Elk whilst doing the Elk Double! Life is complete!

I always love seeing mile marker 6 because it means I’m almost halfway done!

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In the middle of the dreaded looooooong (3.5 miles-ish) low grade hill.

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*heart eyes*

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This view is worth the altitude.

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The course takes you right past the most haunted hotel in America!

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Coming up on the finish

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The cutest!

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Just a few more steps!

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Team WTF? Where's The Finish

Team WTF? Where’s The Finish

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That bling, tho!

Done

This was my big event for the season and there was no doubt in my mind that I’d enjoy the race, but the fact is I came away with a lot more than I expected. My goal was to push myself and I did. I shaved five minutes off my time from last year. But the best part by far was I got to know my Skirt Sisters better, and together, we placed in the race. That’s because #REALwomenmove. Especially together.

What is/was your big race this season? Do you runs with a team at races? Did you visit a National Park this summer? Let’s discuss below!

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