Monthly Archives: February 2012

Photography – Baby Vaylin

I got to play with another newborn the other week. 🙂 This is Vaylin. She is a super cutie, so I had to share a few of her photos.


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Homemade Laundry Detergent

Have I mentioned before how I think Pinterest is super great? Well, I do. At the beginning of the year, I stumbled upon a recipe (??) for laundry soap. About a month ago, I finally made a batch. While grating three bars of Fels-Naptha with a cheese grater was not the most fun I’ve ever had, this may be one of the greatest internet projects I’ve ever made. I started with a full jar, and after a month of laundry (we wash a lot of clothes around here with all the gym clothes, school uniforms, etc.), it’s still 3/4 full. AND I have almost half of a five-gallon bucket left waiting in the garage. In the original recipe post, she says it will last for 9 months. 9 months! And it cost me less than $20 to make. Take that, expensive laundry detergent!

Do you want to give it a try? Click here.

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Eat – Red Beans & Rice

In honor of Mardi Gras, I decided to upgrade from my lazy person’s red beans and rice (think Mahatma, Zatarain’s, etc.) to a homemade version. I’ve lived in Louisiana for going on seven years. It’s about time I learn to make them myself, don’t you think?

I found a non-scary slow cooker version to try. It comes from Southern Living. This recipe makes 3 1/2 quarts, or 14 1-cup servings.


1 pound dried red beans

7 cups water

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 pound andouille sausage, sliced

3 tbsp. Cajon seasoning (I use Tony’s)

hot cooked rice

garnish:  sliced green onions


To make:  Place beans, water, pepper, onion, celery, garlic, sausage, and Cajon seasoning in a 4-quart slow cooker. Cook, covered, on high for 7 hours or until beans are tender. Serve over hot cooked rice. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Oh, my goodness. It was wonderful. Do you know what’s even better? I tallied it up, and this recipe is low calorie, too. One cup of the red beans/sausage jumble is 216 calories, plus however many calories are in the rice you choose to serve. Not too bad.

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Running – Bulldog Bolt/10K

Several days ago, I started stalking the weather reports. Why? Because my first 10K was this morning, and by Wednesday, I was seeing 100 percent chance of rain on the weather. 100 percent! I mean, come on. How can they be that sure? By last night, the chance was 80 percent, but the giant cloud looming on the radar didn’t look too promising.

They were right. When I woke this morning, the back yard resembled a swimming pool, and the sky showed no signs of relenting. I got dressed and headed out to tackle the 10K in some mighty cold rain. And when I say mighty cold, do remember that I am in Louisiana, where 45 degrees is cold this winter, because we haven’t seen it too often. I expect no pity from my northern friends.

Here I am, ready to go…sans shoes. (I pulled the old ones back out. I didn’t really feel up to soaking my shiny new shoes through just yet.)

On a normal day, my husband probably would have brought the kids out to watch, especially since part of the course came through our neighborhood. The weather being what it was, they stayed dry and warm and watched cartoons instead. Baby girl was not happy about this. She pouted and clung to me until her daddy peeled her off me so I could leave. At least she got her own bottle of Gatorade out of the deal.

I will not lie. The race was tough at the beginning. I hadn’t taken gloves, because I knew after a mile or two, I wouldn’t want them. The rain poured, and the wind blew directly at us. I stuck with a friend, which definitely helps the time pass more quickly, and it isn’t bad to have someone to commiserate with. A few miles in, the rain let up a little bit, and we didn’t feel so bad – except for the squish in our shoes.

I finished in 1:03:54. I was the fourth female in my age group for the 10K, which is probably largely due to the fact that the weather kept lots of folks home. I am proud of my effort. I would love to be faster next time, but I feel very good about getting the first 10K under my belt.

I made my husband take post-race pictures at home. Neely was very happy to see me back. We did a happy dance together…or maybe I was dancing and she was looking at me like I’m a crazy person. The second is what you get when you’re used to being behind the camera and someone points one at you for too long. It’s too bad I didn’t get a photo of the gnarly, curly ponytail I had going on in the back thanks to the rain. That took some work to get combed out.

Now? I will do my very best to stay warm and dry for the remainder of the day.





















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Photo – Candy Hearts

Most days, I have the sweetest little boy in the world. I glanced at the bowl of Valentine hearts the other day and saw one that said, “My Boy.” I saved it for him and presented it to him after school. A little while later, I noticed him spending some time rifling through the candy bowl – reading the messages. (He is in kindergarten this year and just learning to read.) A little while later, he brought me a heart of my own. Even something as simple as a piece of candy can be good for the soul. It was so precious that he took the time to choose one especially for me, since for him, it required some extra effort.


Project 52 – Emotion

My Project 52 theme for the week was emotion. This is a much more difficult concept to capture in a photo than I originally thought. When emotions are running high around here, the last thing I usually want to do is grab the camera. Instead, I asked Neely to portray a few emotions for me this afternoon. I got mad, happy, and sad. It’s light-hearted. It’s not deep or thought-provoking, but that’s fine by me. It’s fun to see what my little one thinks those emotions look like.

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Run – Rainy Day

When I woke last Friday morning, my long run day, the sky looked like this:

I was battling a pretty gnarly cold at the time, so I accepted it as a sign to take an extra rest day before attempting a long run. I ended up taking three extra, for a total of four. Yikes! I felt like a lazy person by Monday, when I regrouped and started training again. I saved last Friday’s mileage for today.

When I woke up today? That photo can pretty much sum it up again. It was 45 degrees and rainy, and the weather man wasn’t predicting anything else for the day. Neely and I recited the ever-popular poem, “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day,” for good measure. By the time I left the house to start ferrying children to school, it was no longer pouring, but I was still afraid of getting a few miles in and ending up soaked to the bone. I’m no weenie, but I’m not about to go begging for that cold to come back.

After dropping the first round of kids off, I made a last-minute decision to swing back by the house and pick up my gear. I’m so glad I did. It sprinkled a bit as I set out, but the rain held for my entire 10-mile run. That’s right. I made it to 10. We’re into the double-digits! The even better news is that I pulled it off in 1:48. That’s a 10:48 per mile pace, which is right on track with where I want to be for the race in March.

And the rain? It started back up again after I got home. It’s almost like it stopped just for me. 😉

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Running – What do you know about pronation?

I must confess. Before I started the hunt for new shoes, I new practically nothing about pronation. I’d heard the word. I knew if you over-pronated, you were doing too much of something. I just didn’t know what. I figure I can’t be the only runner out there who is/was ignorant of what my feet are doing, so I’m going to share what I’ve learned.

Pronation is defined as the “rotation of the medial bones in the midtarsal region of the foot inward and downward so that in walking the foot tends to come down on its inner margin.” (Source:

Say what?

To simplify, pronation is how you move your foot when you walk or run. Everybody starts the motion by putting their heel down, and everyone’s next step is to begin to turn the middle of their foot inward before pushing off with the front of your foot.

Ideally, your foot will roll inward 15%, and you will push off evenly with the front of your foot. If you over-pronate, you are rolling your foot inward more than the ideal amount, and when you push off, you’re mainly using your big toe and second toe to push off and propel yourself forward. Some people under-pronate, which is not rolling the foot in enough and using your smaller toes to push off at the end of your stride. (Source:  Runner’s World, “Pronation, Explained”)

I am pretty sure that I pronate normally with my left foot, as I have never experienced any toe or joint pain on that side. With my right foot, I most definitely over-pronate. It explains why my toes were sore in my old shoes. I never really thought about which toes they were, but I was mostly feeling pain in my big toe and its two nearest buddies. I think the over-pronation of my right foot was also causing my knee and calf pain. I’ll be more sure of this once I’ve put a few more miles on the new shoes, but I’m hoping the pain does not come back.

If you haven’t experienced any pain running or just want another way to check your pronation, look at the inside edge of your shoes. I’ll show you a couple pair of mine.

On my Nikes, which I’ve only been using for 6-7 months, you can look at the shoe on the left (which is my right shoe) and tell that the tread is a little bit more worn. It’s not super obvious, since these shoes aren’t really that old, but it’s still noticeable.

I have an old pair of New Balance that I used to run and cross-train for a while, but I’ve mostly been using as my walk-around, wear-with-jeans shoes for the last few years. On these shoes, it’s very apparent that I over-pronate on the right. The tread is really worn out on that side.

What are my new shoes doing to help me? For starters, the bottom is flat. The flat bottom makes it much harder for me to turn my foot inward too much. There is also extra arch support inside, kind of helping to create the arch that I don’t have, and again, keeping me from over-pronating. The only downside is that my left foot doesn’t really need it, so while it doesn’t hurt, it feels weird. I’ve put 7 miles on them now, and each time, it takes me a mile or two to really get going. I’ve been too consumed with thinking about what my feet are doing. I know I’ll stop doing this once I get them more broken in and am more used to the shoes, but it’s super-obnoxious right now. My brain is thinking about my feet too much!

In the past, I would have told you I didn’t think it really mattered what shoes you put on your feet to run, as long as they feel pretty good and don’t give you blisters. Now, I truly believe it can make a big difference between injuring yourself and not. Running distance is hard. People hurt themselves training for races all the time. I don’t want to be one of them. I want to give myself every advantage I can and take care of myself as best I can to prevent injury. If that means shelling out the big bucks for shoes, I’ll do it. (But to be completely honest, I had some gift cards left over from Christmas that paid for most of my shoes. Thanks, guys!)

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Run – New Shoes

In the last few weeks, as my long runs have gotten a little longer and more challenging, I’ve begun to feel some pain. If it were just typical soreness and the same in both legs, it would not have concerned me. However, my left leg always felt fine. My right knee, calf, and toes were constantly sore, and it was beginning to affect my shorter runs as well. No amount of stretching before and after my runs was helping.

I’ve been running in a cheap pair of Nikes last July, so my first thought was to replace them. We have a sporting goods store here, called Sportspectrum, that will fit you for running shoes. I’ve never had this done. I’ve always just bought what was on sale or what I could afford. BUT I’ve never trained for a long-distance race before, and if ever there is a good time to take care of my feet (and legs), this is it.

The gentleman at the store told me I am flat-footed and that I over-pronate. He recommended a few different pair of motion control shoes, and I tried the ones they had in my size. I chose a pair of Brooks Addiction 10. Of the ones I tried on, they felt best to me in the store.

That night at home, I wore the shoes around the house to start breaking them in. Oh, my goodness. The pain. My feet hurt so badly. All I could think was, “He’s wrong. I am not flat-footed. No one has ever told me I’m flat-footed. Wouldn’t I have been in a lot more pain wearing regular shoes before now if I were?” I was all set to march back in to the store and get a second opinion.

The next day, I did the wet foot test on myself. Grab a piece of newspaper. Dunk your feet in the bathtub, and make footprints on the newspaper. If you can see the entire bottom of your foot with no arch, you’re flat-footed. I am not. I have very, very low arches, but I am not flat-footed. I can see how it would have been hard to tell, just watching me walk around barefoot for a few minutes.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I figured I still probably need the same kind of shoes. I ALMOST have flat feet. I wore the shoes around the house again, for longer this time. And I loosened the laces a bit, thinking maybe they had been too tight before. They had. They felt better the second time around. No pain at all, actually.

I wanted to go on a short run over the weekend to try them out, but the times I wanted to, it rained. I finally got to take the shoes on their maiden voyage on yesterday morning. Brilliant. No pain in my right leg. At all. Hallelujah! They’re going to get some getting used to on the left side. They don’t hurt. It just feels a little weird. I’m glad to have been able to fix the problem simply by replacing my shoes, though.

Tomorrow, I’ll come back and talk about this “pronation” word. I’ve been learning a lot.

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