Tuesday, January 28, 2014

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Cupcake Camp Miami Recap

I needed a full two days to recover from this weekend before posting the recap for my charity event, Cupcake Camp Miami. Last week was a blur with late nights, cranky children, and driving around Miami meeting with bakers. All last week I kept saying, "I just want it to be Saturday already because once it's Saturday, I have done all that I can do and it's a matter of people just showing up."

Saturday came and I was surprisingly very calm. I was at the event location, World of Beer-Midtown, at 12pm and everything was set up and ready for the bakers who started showing up at 12:30pm. My biggest concern was having enough people show up for the event. Like last time, this event was promoted through the use of social media and word-of-mouth. Unlike last time, I was invited to go on a local radio show to talk about the event and Give Kids The World. Talk about amazing!

The best part of the location was the foot traffic that the event attracted. I mean, how can you not want to spend $10 that will go to charity and eat unlimited cupcakes? The event was supposed to run from 2pm-5pm and, by 3:30pm, I was worried we would run out of cupcakes! I had asked each baker to make 100 cupcakes, which I thought would be enough for my estimated number of 125 guests. Luckily, we didn't run out of cupcakes, but some of the bakers did run out and at around 4:30pm there were only 4 or 5 bakers who still had cupcakes.

The event was a success and I was able to raise $1347 for Give Kids The World. This event was better than the last one because it was more organized, the location was better, and it was less stressful for everyone involved. I received a few compliments about the event and had people asking me when the next one was going to be held. My only regret is that I didn't get to taste any of the cupcakes! I was so busy organizing and checking people in, that I didn't get any cupcakes for myself. Next time!

If I hadn't done this event, I don't think I would be as close as I am to reaching my fundraising goal of $3,000. I still have more fundraising to go and I'm hoping I will have the last $563 raised in the next three days. To help boost donations I am dedicated a mile for every donor and yesterday I ran four miles for my four most recent donors.

I'm not good about asking for money or donations, but if you can donate, please do so! My kids will thank you! My Donation Page.
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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Giveaway Winner & Consolation Cookies

A solid two days late posting the winner. Yikes! I used to be a punctual person, but lately, I am always late. Late to school. Late for internship. Late to dinner. Late to blog. Late. Late. Late. To be fair, I have a lot going on. The 31st is my fundraising deadline and to help me reach my goal, I decided to plan another Cupcake Camp Miami event. Except, instead of giving myself three months to plan the event, I only gave myself one. So I've been busy and my priorities have been a little scrambled. I am so looking forward to stuffing my face with cupcakes this weekend!

According to good old random.org, the winner of the giveaway is Jessie Emeric!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway. Winner, make sure to email me at confessionsofacityeater@gmail.com so I can get that entry code to you.

For all my non-winners out there I bring you some chocolate chip cookies. I love trying different variations of chocolate chip cookies and couldn't resist this recipe that used sea salt. The finished cookie was a hit with Alex as it was crispy and chewy. I was just happy to have "regular" chocolate chip cookies in the house!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Savory Sweet Life 
Yields 48 Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1½ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2¾ cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. baking powder
2¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it is nice and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated. Finally add chocolate chips until well distributed.

Using a medium cookie scoop, drop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. There should be 2 inches of space between drops. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

Remove from over and allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and allow the cookies to cool before serving.
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

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I'm a Weekend Splurger & Vega One Review

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for free entry to any open wave at a 2014 US Spartan Race!

As part of Fit Approach and as a Sweat Pink Ambassador I was given the opportunity to review Vega One shakes, a plant-based nutritional shake. They must have known I was a vanilla girl because they sent me a 10-day supply of the shakes. I am always on the search for new shakes because I like variety and tire quickly of the same shake day after day, so I was really excited to give this shake a try. I've tried Isagenix, Shakeology, and countless protein powders before this and my mind was really open to Vega One's plant-based shake.
Before my review, let me tell you about my persona as part of the #OneChange campaign, the Weekend Splurger. I'm really good with my eating habits during the week, but there is always one really, really bad splurge meal on the weekends. You know that meal where it makes you feel like you have undone all the work you put in during the week? For me, that meal usually involves beer, burgers, fries, onion rings, and dessert. I didn't realize this was my persona until I started looking more closely at my eating habits and the pattern I get into on the weekends, especially on those long, hard days of parenthood when all I want is an easy answer for dinner.

One thing that has helped me combat the Weekend Splurger mentality is having a shake for breakfast. That, in a way, sets the tone of the day for me and reminds to me to be more mindful about what I am putting into my body throughout the day. With nutrition and eating, this is my #OneChange this year: have a shake for breakfast and get into the eating healthy mentality first thing. Whatever shake it is, whether it be a Vega One shake or Isagenix, I need to resolve to have a shake so that I am not regretting all my eating choices Sunday night.

Now, on to the Vega One shakes. First time I tried it I had it with a cup of almond milk, a tablespoon of  almond-chocolate spread, and ice. That shake did not impress me. It tasted chalky and like liquid popcorn. The next time I made a shake I made it with a cup of almond milk, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a banana, and ice. Wow! What a difference. This was a shake I could actually drink and enjoy and I found myself thinking about drinking it again. I didn't even bother making any other recipes because I was so in love with this combination. I'm happy I found this combination that I like because now I can add a new shake to my shake mix. Even better, Whole Foods sells the packets of the powder!

I have so many goals and changes this year that it feels good to have this #OneChange set. What will be your #OneChange this year?

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Monday, January 13, 2014

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Fun & Fit: December

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for free entry to any open wave at a 2014 US Spartan Race!

Considering I just took down all my Christmas decorations yesterday, I don't think it's too late to look back on December and what was achieved fitness-wise.

The month started off with The Challenge Mud Run. I actually forgot I even participated in this run and had to look at my calendar to remember. Parts of the run were great and parts of it were not so great. I did this race with Alex and a group of friends so that was great but I didn't like the winding paths. I love doing the longer runs, but I don't like zig-zagging the distance. I also don't like waiting a long time for obstacles, but that is something that happens at all these races. By the time we reached the final set of obstacles I was done. I was hot, my patience was running low, and I wanted my beer. This means that when I saw the long line for the rope-wall climbing obstacle, I threw a bit of a hissy fit and refused to do it. Maybe that's why there aren't any pictures of me at the event?!

The other event I did in December was a half marathon, Live Ultimate Half Marathon. I originally signed up for the quarter marathon, but my friend convinced me to upgrade to the half. The course took you through South Beach and was definitely a challenge with two miles or so of the course being running on the sand. What I loved about the run was the location and the people. What I didn't love was that there weren't enough volunteers on the course and we kept getting confused about where we had to run. I also didn't like that we had to wait in line for 20 minutes to grab a bag of granola after the race. This race taught me the importance of running with a friend and having someone to push you when your brain starts saying, "you can't do this."

Aside from that, I focused on getting better with yoga and participated in another yoga challenge. These are my two favorite shots from December:

How cute is Elina here?
This month I only have one race planned and that was this past weekend's Superhero Scramble. Other than that, my focus is on getting stronger with yoga and meeting my $3,000 fundraising goal!
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

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Anniversary Celebration with a Spartan Race Giveaway!

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of my first obstacle course race. I don't think I will ever forget the jitters I felt right before that race. I don't think I will ever forget how much I doubted myself. And I will definitely never forget the pep talk I got from my friend that convinced me I could do the race. I hope you all have a friend out there who helps you get past the speed bumps and road blocks in your mind. Looking back, I laugh at my apprehension. My friend told me there would be people on the course who would help me with the obstacles and he told me that the worst thing that could happen would be burpees.

I was so nervous the day of that race. I had Alex and the girls waiting for me to finish so I knew I had to finish. I started running because of the girls after all, so they needed to see me smiling as I crossed that finish line. The very first thing I did was make friends with two other girls and ask them if I could join them during the race. Just like my friend said they would, they said yes and getting to run with them helped me overcome the obstacle of running. After finishing that race I felt so empowered and like a complete badass. I completed six obstacle course races last year. For some that may not seem like a lot, but considering I also ran six half marathons, I'm impressed with myself. A year ago, right before that race, I wouldn't have thought I'd be as in love with these types of races as I am today.

To celebrate my one-year anniversary I am going back to where the romance began: Superhero Scramble. This time, however, I'm bringing along two of my own friends and I hope to meet someone like the person I was last year. If you see The Powerpuff Girls in the 11:30am wave make sure to say "Hi!"

The celebration isn't just for me though. You get to celebrate too by entering a giveaway for a free race entry to any open heat in any 2014 Spartan Race in the US. It doesn't get any better than that and, if you haven't heard of Spartan Race, you need to watch this:

Spartan Race is on my bucket list of races (except I'm crazy and would want to do a Spartan Beast) so I'm really happy to be able to host this giveaway. For my Florida people and those looking for a different kind of Spartan challenge, the next Spartan Race is the Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint on February 15th. The race will have all that you want out of an obstacle course race with running, mud, and crazy obstacles, but with the added touch of Special Ops Forces. If you're curious and want a killer workout there's even a Spartan Workout with Johny Hendricks this Saturday, January 11th in Tampa. 

Here are the giveaway rules:
  • Go to the Spartan Race website
  • Come back and tell me why you'd want to race Spartan and which race you would do (make sure to leave your email address). 
  • For an added entry, like my Facebook page and come back and tell me you liked the page.
  • Giveaway is only applicable to 2014 US races. 
  • Giveaway ends January 20th, 2014 at 5pm eastern time. 
  • Winner will be announced by 10:00pm eastern using random.org. 
If you can't wait until the 20th and want to register right now, use this LINK for 15% off any Spartan Race

This giveaway is brought to you by the good people over at Spartan Race. All the opinions are my own. Happy running and racing everyone!
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Whiskey-Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't let bacon go to waste so you know I saved the bacon used in my whiskey infusion. I also don't like to let bacon fat go to waste either so I had a container in the fridge just begging to be used. Enter this recipe and we have a match made in bacon heaven. I had always been curious about bacon chocolate chips and really didn't know what to expect out of these cookies, especially since the bacon wasn't regular bacon but whiskey tasting bacon. The cookies are definitely a novelty and not anything I would be able to eat a ton of in one sitting, but they sure were good. Alex didn't like the cookies but everyone else who tried them did like the cookies. If you want to start a conversation, definitely give someone one of these cookies!

Whiskey-Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Slightly adapted from Recipe Girl
Yields 2 dozen cookies

Half of leftover whiskey-infused bacon
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup bacon fat, chilled
6 Tbsp granulated white sugar
6 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp whiskey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large eggs
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder.

In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter, bacon fat, sugars, whiskey and vanilla. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Beat in the flour mixture. Then stir in the bacon and chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment or silpat-lined baking sheets- about 2 inches apart. Bake 9 to 11 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned.

Remove from oven and let stand on the cookie sheets for about 5 minutes, then remove the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely

Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or store in a covered container or zip bag in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.
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Monday, January 6, 2014

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Bacon-Infused Whiskey

I'm going to admit something: we are bacon freaks. As in, we love bacon and will try anything that has bacon as an ingredient. A few months back we had seen an ad for a bacon vodka  and it got us thinking about how hard it could be to make an infused liquor like that at home. Christmas rolls around and we decide to give infusion a try as a gift for the whiskeylover in our lives. A quick search yielded plenty of recipes and, while all seemed similar, I went with this recipe because I liked its thoroughness. Getting everything together was easy, filtering out the fat was just plain tedious. We filtered ours three times and each time took between 45-60 minutes. The end result was pretty spectacular as the whiskey really picked up the bacon flavor and the bacon soaked up the whiskey flavor. I think you can get drunk off of eating the bacon bits alone.

Bacon-Infused Whiskey
Source: Adapted from Matthew Walrath on What Is Bacon

1.75 liter bottle of whiskey (we used Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey)
16 oz bacon
Large jar
Coffee filters

Cut up bacon into 3-inch strips. Over medium heat, cook all the bacon until slightly crispy. Yes, cook all of it.

Place cooked bacon and all of the bacon fat in the large jar. Pour in whiskey, seal jar, and store at room temperature. For the next 48 hours, shake the jar every 4 to 6 hours.

After 48 hours, place the jar in the refrigerator for a few hours. This is key as it helps the fat solidify so that it is easier to remove once you start filtering. Spoon out whatever fat you can (there was at least an inch worth of fat accumulated on top of the whiskey for me) and, using coffee filters, begin filtering out the leftover fat into another container.

Filter at least two times or until you get a semi-clear liquid. Pour whiskey into a new container or back into its original bottle. The bacon can be saved to garnish drinks or for baking (recipe coming soon!).

Serve and enjoy! Our whiskey lover served it with orange juice and said it was like breakfast in a cup.
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Thursday, January 2, 2014

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I'm Coming for You 2014!

Happy New Year! Since we found out that we'd be moving to Chicago in July 2014, the year 2014 has seemed so abstract to me. Now that we are in 2014 I feel as if a fire has been lit inside of me and I can't help but plan and dream big. I even chose the word "adventure" as my word for the year and my hope is to treat everything like an adventure. I want to have fun and enjoy this crazy rollercoaster of a life in 2014. Now that it is 2014, I have been emailing schools and places of employment (!!!) in Chicago and we are planning our trip up there to find housing. So many things happening that I feel I might explode with excitement.

2013 was an amazing year. It had its ups and downs like all years, but everything that has happened has made me really appreciate where I am today. I am still striving to be a better parent, person, friend, spouse, and professional. I am striving to be happier, more content, and more graceful in the face of stress. I'm a work in progress and that's ok with me.

2013 was the year where I actually started taking care of myself. Running has been the single biggest change in my life because it has given me that time to myself. I have found a love of something that belongs to me and is for me. Sure, it has benefits that extend to those around me and that I can see taking root in the hearts of my daughters, but running has been my release and my form of freedom. In 2013 I ran a total of 21 races: 6 half marathons, 8 5Ks, 6 mud runs, and 1 duathlon. My legs carried me over 650 miles. I am amazed and in awe of myself.

My running goals for 2014 are 2:00 half marathon time, 12 half marathons, 1014 miles, and the Chicago Marathon. My professional goals are to pass the comprehensive exam, graduate school, pass the licensing exam, and get my first real job. My personal goals are simple: love in the moment, enjoy each minute as the gift that it is, blog more, laugh more, and do something memorable to celebrate turning 30.

2013, you were good to me. I'm sorry we have parted ways, but we had to because 2014 wasn't going to wait. 2014, I'm coming for you to make you the best year yet!

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