Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I know I promised to be back on the 29th, but life has a way of getting past me during the holiday season. I haven't been near the computer in days and I have so much to tell you, but it will be tomorrow before I can take a breath!

For now,

Happy New Year!

May 2010 be a year of health and happiness for you all! (P.S. I'm throwing in a few wishes for prosperity, too!)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I had good intentions to check in with you all this week, but in the run up to Christmas, it just didn't happen. Here it is Christmas Eve, however, and I couldn't let you think I haven't been thinking of you all. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I started this blog at Christmas time last year, when we were basically snowed in with 80 inches of snow, I was suffering from cabin fever, and wondered if anyone would read anything I wrote. It turns out this blog has helped to keep me sane through a year of ups and downs. This blog has helped me stay connected to friends and family far away and some of the bloggers I've met this year have become treasured friends themselves. I truly feel blessed by all that has come my way through blogging and, though I've been a bit absent this week, I want you all to know I appreciate your comments, your emails, and your visits.

To my friends in real life who use this blog to keep us connected, I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my posts and staying part of my life and allowing me to stay part of yours, even though we're separated by so many miles.

To my bloggy friends, every single comment you make encourages me. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. Some of you have become friends who've helped me through some challenging times and I'll always be grateful that you opened your hearts to me.

So, my dearest wish for you all:

I wish you the merriest of Christmases, filled with all that is sacred and special about this time of year.

P.S. I'll be back on the 29th...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Making Your Home Sing Monday (Christmas Is Coming Edition)

Can you believe Christmas is Friday?! I can't believe it! Of course, I have so much that is coming down to the wire, despite my best efforts. So much is going on and so much is yet to be done, but ready or not, Christmas will be here on Friday.

Making Your Home Sing Monday?! Seriously? Oh, yeah. This is the kind of week where attitude is everything. With the amount of pressure moms feel to make the holidays bright, with the hectic social calendar, and the adrenaline-filled behavior of our children, joyful and busy and can easily turn into overwhelmed and cranky. Throw in the normal concerns like getting your house ready for guests, keeping to your budget, and getting your regular chores done and this week can be daunting. For me, this week can easily spin out of control.

Keeping that in mind, I will be doing everything I can to keep the reason for the season in mind: LOVE. At its purist, most simplest interpretation, this season is about love. I will keep this message in the forefront of our minds by filling our house with signs of love: Christmas carols filling the air and the sweet smell of baked goods tickling our senses. Chores will get done, but silliness will be part of the schedule. I will be mindful of my children's growing excitement as the week progresses and remember how much of what I do is designed to feed that excitement and create those feelings of anticipation in them. My children are excited because I've worked so hard to make them aware of just how special this time of year is. They are excited to give to each other and beyond. They are excited to spread that love beyond our family and do random acts of kindness. I will not let my tiredness bring them down...I will lead by example and not forget why I do what I do: LOVE

So, this week is a love song, from start to finish. From the giving to the baking to the is all a love song.

Super Cute Snow Men - Corrected Flour Amount

The shopping and baking continue. I thought I'd pause to share another gratifying recipe before I head back to the trenches (okay, the kitchen!). This recipe is a family favorite. It is quick, easy, and super cute. Who can resist these adorable snow men?

Snowmen Butter Cookies
Makes - 12

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon water

Red and green liquid or paste food coloring
Black/brown jimmies and red hot candies (cinnamon candies) (eyes and noses)


In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla extra together.

Gradually beat in flour and water.

Place 1/2 cup of dough in each of two bowls, reserving balance in separate bowl. Add red food coloring to one bowl and mix thoroughly. Add green food coloring to one bowl and mix thoroughly. Shape the uncolored dough into twelve 1-inch balls and twelve 1 1/2-inch balls.

Place one smaller ball above one larger ball to form the snowman body and head. For each snowman, then form the hat and the scarf. For hat, roll 1-inch ball and a flat disk for brim. Place on head. For scarf, shape 1/4 teaspoon of each color of dough into a 3 inch rope and twist together. Place scarf around snowman's neck. Insert jimmies for eyes and press the red hot in for the nose.

Bake at 350 F for 15-18 minutes until set. Cool on baking sheet.

Come on! You have to admit that these are super cute!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One Week Left! Christmas Baking Time

Can you believer it? There is only one week left to get ready for Christmas. In the last day and a half, I've done my very best to get the Nagle family Christmas celebration on track. I've been doing some last minute shopping and I'm looking forward to a weekend of sewing and baking.

It has become our tradition give our friends and neighbors platters filled with yummy baked goods right before Christmas. I'll be sharing our recipes with you all weekend, so you can add anything you fancy to your own celebrations.

Tomorrow morning (Friday), I'm going to be making Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls...I remember my mom making these 35 years ago, so this recipe is definitely a keep. Be prepared to fall in love, because these are more like a home-made Reese's Peanut Butter Cups than anything else. As soon as I get them made, I'll share some pictures with you, but if you want a head start, here is the recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
from Erin's mom - makes about 100 balls

1 cup butter - softened
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup angel flake coconut
1 lb powdered sugar (approx 3 1/2 cups)
1 cup chunky peanut butter (you can use creamy with no problem)

12 ozs chocolate chips
1/4 cake of paraffin wax


1. Beat butter until creamy. Add in graham cracker crumbs, vanilla extra, coconut, and powdered sugar. Mix well.

2. Stir in peanut butter with wooden spoon (or upright mixer...this will be too stiff for a hand mixer).

3. Shape into 1" balls and place on cookie sheet. (Note: If you take the time to insert toothpicks into each ball at this point, it will make dipping them in chocolate much easier.) Chill for at least an hour.

4. When balls are chilled, melt chocolate chips together with paraffin and mix well.

5. Swirl peanut butter ball in chocolate and set on waxed paper to cool. Store in freezer or refrigerator.

As I said, I've been making these for years and year and my mother before me made them for years. They are always a big hit and repeat favorite.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

30 Day Shred - Day 30 ( The "We Did It" Edition ) is here! Day 30 of our 30 Day Shred Challenge and Valiant and I saw it through to the end! I can't believe we did it. We didn't skip a day, we didn't shirk an exercise...we did the whole thing! I feel amazing. I'm so glad I did this challenge for myself. I am super proud of Valiant for sticking with me the entire way...I know it wasn't easy.

I'm sorry it made my blog so boring, but don't worry...I'm done posting about exercise for a while. (Okay, not quite done...I have some closing reflections about the challenge, but that will be it!)

For now, however, I'm doing a Happy Dance and going to frost Superman's birthday cake! Yes, you read that correctly. Today is Superman's birthday! Happy Birthday, Superman...thanks for all the support!

Monday, December 14, 2009

30 Day Shred - Days 28 and 29 (Craft Party Edition)

Well, it took me until 4:00 p.m. on Sunday to do Day 28, but I did it.

Day 29 had to be finished early today, as the kids and I were excited to be invited to a craft party this afternoon. Valiant and I did our 25 minutes of cardio plus our 29th Day of the 30 Day Shred before 9:00 a.m. this morning. We spent the afternoon at a friend's house painting Christmas was so fun!

Anyway, do you know what this means? It means tomorrow is our last day of the 30 Day Shred Challenge! Seriously...we're already has already been 30 days! Where did the time go? 30 days will have passed already and it occurs to me that it easily could have been another 30 day period where I talked about getting up off my rear end and ended up doing nothing about the state of said rear. It wasn't a was a commitment to myself and it feels really good.

It is never too late. And to those of you who have emailed me letting me know I've inspired you to make your own commitment? I think you so rock! You make sharing the journey worthwhile. Thank you!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Food For Thought

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~Melody Beattie

Jamie@ Beach Family Updates is posting an inspirational quote every day for a year. This one touched me so much that I thought I'd share it with you.

30 Day Shred - Days 27 and 28 (Church Supper for the Family Edition)

Day 27 of the 30 Day Shred Challenge has come and gone. Given that yesterday was Saturday, we were more in the mood to lounge around. Fortunately for me, things were on the schedule: a friend was stopping by at noon to drop something off and Buttercup had to be ready to go to a birthday party at 12:15 p.m. and, finally, our family was invited to a wonderful Christmas supper at a the church of some friends of ours. What did that all mean? It meant I couldn't procrastinate all day. Nope, I got the Shred done by 11:00. Admittedly, that was all the exercise I did yesterday, but still, I got it done.

The Christmas dinner? Fabulous! Valiant's Boy Scout pack sang some songs, Buttercup's youth group did a song, the program was inspiring and the food was wonderful. We were made to feel very welcome and, as always, a church program is just the ticket to get me fully in the spirit of the season.

Today? Well, today I'm paying the price for eating too much junk food yesterday and not getting in enough exercise. I woke up with a stomach ache that I totally earned. Jumped out of bed and got my workout clothes on. I've already done 24 minutes on the Life Cycle and run a mile in under 10 minutes. I haven't actually done my 30 Day Shred, but I will (I'm waiting for Valiant to wake up).

It is Sunday, so I'm turning off the computer after I finish posting. I'll see you tomorrow.

Friday, December 11, 2009

30 Day Shred - Days 25 and 26 (Passing It Along Edition)

I cannot believe we've already complete Days 25 and 26 of our 30 Day Challenge. On Tuesday, we'll be done completely! Valiant and I would not have guessed how quickly the time has gone. Only four more days and we'll have completed the challenge. Unbelievable. The best part? People are being inspired to jump start their own fitness routines and moving their bodies. How cool is that? We're actually passing it along...

Last night I gained renewed inspiration from my friend A, who has struggled with a lifelong weight problem. At our Christmas party she told me she was behind on on her blog reading and just discovered I was doing the 30 Day Shred. Wednesday, during our almost-weekly "Biggest Loser recap conversation", she told me that she and her husband were committing to each other to make serious changes in 2010. She had plans to start canvasing Craig's List now for a treadmill and a bike.

After dinner last night, I heard from Superman that Mr. R was giving away his treadmill! Seriously!! I called A immediately (at 8:00 o'clock at night) and said, "Were you serious? Do you want a treadmill for free?" She said, "I'm getting in the car right now," and proceeded to do so. The best part? She told me that she'd put in the 30 Day Shred video earlier in the afternoon, did 4 minutes and walked away...but that she didn't allow herself to quit and she came back to it and finished the entire level. Isn't that fabulous? A, I am so proud of you for doing this. I know how hard this video is and the fact that you made yourself finish it is something to be proud of! (P.S. A, don't forget about adding a towel under your knees for the girl push-ups...older knees just aren't as forgiving as younger ones!)

As for our Challenge, Level 3 is difficult...I won't lie. It is not as if it gets easier with each level. Jillian knows what she is doing and each of the moves you do in Levels 1 and 2 are preparing you for the demands she's going to place on you in Level 3. I'm wrung out by the time I finish it and a lot of the time I have to do the "easier" version. The reward? My clothes are fitting better, my posture is better, and I feel better. And Valiant? He's stronger, more coordinated, and his stamina is increasing. Even Superman is noticing a difference, and he's only 13 days into it.

If you're at all tempted, A told me that you can get the video at Costco for $5.99 if you use a $2 coupon they've got in their current mailer. Honestly, if you choose to do it, it will be difficult, but you won't regret it.

So, what are you going to do today to make yourself feel proud?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

30 Day Shred - Day 24 ("I screwed up the bank account" edition)

Okay, so today was one of those days. You know the kind. The kind where you think you'll have smooth sailing for a little while and then you realize, "uh-oh". My uh-oh? I forgot about some payments I'd scheduled automatically out of our bank account. Yep, I scheduled them and then forgot I scheduled them. I can't even blame it on direct debit snafus. Nope, it was all me. The end result? I overdrew our account and cost us $75 in fees (or, as Dave Ramsey says, "stupid tax").

I called Superman to let him know and to apologize profusely. I called my sister to cry on her shoulder about being an idiot. It derailed my entire day and it was all my fault! Oh, I know how it happened, but that isn't much comfort. The truth? I'm spreading myself awfully thin and I have a lot going on right now and I lost focus.

Even more truth? This is life. Life happens. If I'm going to achieve my goal of getting fit again, I'll have to do it even when life is happening. I've watched with great interest as Melissa at 365 Days of Exercise grapples with her goals and the reality that she's back at work full-time (something that wasn't in the plans for this year long journey). I've watched with a heart full of compassion as Jen at Prior Fat Girl struggles to continue her journey after the devastating and unexpected loss of her mother. My heart goes out to Marcelle at South African In Germany (yeah, I shortened it) as she struggles with crippling loneliness, but doesn't lose focus. I've kept my fingers crossed as my friend Generations Gone By has continued to exercise, even as she feared she was going to hear that she had serious health problems. All of these women's stories highlight for me a singular truth: everyone struggles. Those who succeed transcend their struggles. They don't deny them, they push past them. I'm am honored to be able to learn from their lives.

My 30 Day Shred Challenge? Oh, I spent a good hour feeling sorry for myself. Feeling embarrassed for screwing up our finances. I cried, I lamented, I regretted. Then I got the exercise bike and I pedaled. When I was done with that, I got the treadmill and ran. Finally, I pushed play and I did Day 24 of Level 3 of my 30 Day Shred Challenge. Why? Because when it is all said and done, if the worst thing I ever mess up is money, my life is truly, truly blessed.

Nutter Butter Santa Cookies (aka Quick and Easy Festive Recipe)

Who doesn't want cute, quick, and easy cookies to bring an air of festivity to a gathering? This recipe fits the bill completely, even if you don't normally bake. One caveat: If you're worried about peanut allergies, this recipe won't work for you.

Nutter Butter Santa Cookies

1 package - Nutter Butters
3 or 4 blocks of Almond Bark (found in bakery section of your grocery store)
Red Decorating Sugar
White Chocolate/Vanilla Chips
Red Hots
Mini Chocolate Chips

Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Open package of Nutter Butters.

Melt Almond Bark in microwave according to directions on package. (Hint: use a taller, narrower container as it will make it easier later on.) Put decorating sugar in a cup.

Dip each Nutter Butter about 3/4" into the melted Almond Bark. Then dip the same end into the red sugar. Lay on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until all cookies have been dipped. (Move relatively quickly, as you don't want the almond bark to cool before you're done.)

Once all the cookies are laid out on the cookie sheet, get a toothpick or small knife and dip it into the Almond Bark. Use melted Almond Bark to coat the bottom of a white chocolate chip and add the "tassel" to the Santa hat. Do the same for the mini chocolate chips (the eyes) and the red hot (the nose). Repeat for all the cookies. Let them cool completely and you're done!

10 or 15 minutes from start to finish and you have super cute Santa cookies, sure to please everyone.

Note: On the cookies pictured, we used Royal Icing for the tassel (no white chocolate chip) and as the glue for the eyes and nose because we had made Royal Icing for the gingerbread houses and cookies. As you can see, use a squirt bottle and it works just as well.

Peanuts? Peanuts!

In case you hadn't guessed already, our Christmas Party is like Game Night on steroids. We still keep it casual and inviting and easy. Through trial and error, I've discovered that the men really love to have peanuts in the shell for Game Night. My problem for the Christmas Party? How to have those peanuts available, but make them festive.

I think my solution was inspired, don't you? (Excuse the fingerprints...people had already been in it by the time I snapped the picture.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

30 Day Shred - Day 23 (-2 Degrees F Edition!)

Can you say cold? It was -2 F when Superman left for work this morning and back down to 5 F at 7:00 p.m. this evening. Boy, am I glad I don't count on being able to go outside to exercise. -2 is super cold, even if you don't mind the cold.

Valiant and I did Day 23 (or Day 3 of Level 3) and we sailed through it. I am amazed at how much stronger we've gotten in three weeks. If you're considering jump-starting your exercise program, a commitment to this 30 day program is just the ticket. I can't say enough about how different I feel inside. I'm more flexible, I have more stamina, my balance is better, and I have rediscovered muscles I thought lost forever. And it is not just me...Valiant is getting stronger, his coordination has improved and his stamina is fabulous. This journey has been a win-win for both us.

Now, I've got to go sit by the heater and watch the Biggest Loser Finale! See you tomorrow...

Do you want to see some pictures from our party?

Yeah, I thought so!

The star of the party arrived early on. Look at this proud daddy. Mrs. M gave birth to baby Kaleb on the 20th and she brought him to the party! Did you notice the adorable Santa outfit? As you can imagine, a 2-week old baby did not lack for arms to hold him.

Miss Sue got him first. (If you look at the first picture, she barely let Mr. M get into the house...see? She's peeking right at the baby as Mr. M walks in and she's sitting on the stairs with Kaleb.)

Then Angela got him (she was the other one who ambushed Mr. M when he first walked in, but she had to get that darned jacket off, costing her valuable time in the baby race!). Joy made Angela give him up so she could have her turn while she joined in the reindeer games. She kept Kaleb while Mrs. M looked on. (Wasn't she awesome to even come to the party 2 weeks after giving birth? I think the fact that we live one block from each other helped!)

Finally, finally, I got my turn and my friend Mrs. R. got a picture when I was blurting out a guess in our annual Men vs. Women Pictionary game. (Look how little he is!)

This is what the table with the gingerbread houses looked like when it was surrounded by children.

Did I mention the Men won the Pictionary Game this year? As you can see, they weren't having any fun at all.
(This is James attempting to get someone on the Men's side to guess "The World's Fair" - it didn't take long.) Doesn't Superman make a good easel?

Serious thought is going on here!

P.S. Tricia, don't doubt it for a minute: if you'd been here, you'd have been at the party!

Monday, December 7, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 22 (Manic Monday Edition!)

I cannot believe we're already 22 days into our 30 Day Shred Challenge. Valiant has kept up with me the entire way and is now my official workout buddy. Monday always finds the Nagle5 doing chores and returning the house to a state of order after the weekend. This Monday was no different. What was different, however, was that we could hardly wait to get done with our chores and get to our exercise. Seriously.

We love Level 3! If you're even considering jumping on board and committing to doing this video, all we can say is that you need to push through Level 2 to get to Level 3. Level 1 is gets you used to working after no working for years (!), but Level 2 just seem tedious. When you get to Level 3, it is like the sun has finally come out.

Don't misunderstand me. Level 3 is really challenging, but the truth is that it leaves you so invigorated when you're done. I told Superman Level 3 reminded me of aerobics classes I took when I was younger. Back then, I'd pick my classes based on the teacher. The hardest classes that managed to be fun were the ones I picked. I wanted to feel like I worked, I wanted to be tired, but I didn't want it to feel like drudgery.

So, there you have it...Day 22 is done and we have only 8 more days to go until Valiant and I can say, "We did it!". Pretty cool, isn't it?

A clean house, enthusiastic exercise, and a husband who did his first day of Level 2...that is what made me proud today!

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Have you noticed that it is snowing on my blog? Have you noticed the gorgeous Christmas-themed background? Both the snow-effect and the new background are courtesy of Just wanted to give credit where credit is due.

Oops, I Made Butter!

I've been meaning to tell you all about this for a week now, but life has a habit of moving faster than I notice! On Thanksgiving, I decided I absolutely had to serve home-made whipped cream rather than store-bought with my home-made pies, so I pulled out my food processor, added a bit of vanilla and a bit of powdered sugar to the whipping cream and turned it on. I was so excited as this was the first time I'd done this. Unfortunately, I didn't pay close enough attention to what was going on and, in the blink of an eye, I'd made butter!

Seriously. It is that easy. Obviously I didn't have a butter mold and if I'd known I was going to make butter, I wouldn't have added sugar and vanilla, but still, this took no more than 2 minutes.

Since I'd added the vanilla and powdered sugar, we saved it and used on on our French toast the next day and it was fabulous!

So, am I the only one who didn't know it was this easy to make my own butter? Seriously? Why didn't you all tell me? This was fabulous. I can hardly wait to do it again!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

30 Day Shred - Days 19, 20, and 21 (Christmas Party Edition!)

You'll have to take my word for it, but I really did do the 30 Day Shred on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I spent much of Friday whining to Generations Gone By about how much I loathed Level 2, but when Superman called at 2:45 p.m. and told me he was leaving work at 3:30 p.m., I got my butt in gear and did my time on the LifeCycle and did my 20 minutes so I could be done before he got home from work. The rest of the evening was spent in preparation for our annual Christmas party being held the following day. Bathrooms were cleaned, the coat closet was emptied to make room for the coats of our guests, and the boot caddies were put out. We got the meat cooked for our wontons, the gingerbread cookie dough was made and put in the refrigerator to chill, the sugar cookie dough joined the gingerbread cookies in the frig, and the Santa cookies got their hats. We even found time to hit the grocery store for the last minute ingredients we needed.

Saturday was crazy busy. We got up and got cleaning. Vacuuming, dusting, and getting ready. The "gingerbread" houses were assembled and placed on the plates that we'd threaded with ribbon and tied an ornament to, the royal icing was placed in squeeze bottles for the kids to use, and the candy decorations were placed in bowl. The gingerbread cookies were baked and cooled, so the kids could decorate those, too. The tortillas were cut and fried for tortilla chips, and the wontons were assembled and fried, too. The serving table were laid out with napkins, paper plates, and cups.

In between all that, we all did our exercise...Valiant and I did our last loathsome day of Level 2, as well as getting in our 25 minutes of additional cardio. Superman did Day 9 of Level 9 and his cardio.

All that planning made me feel like we were ahead of the game, but...apparently I was the only one who thought our Christmas party started at 6:30 p.m. Everyone else received invitations that said 6:00 p.m.!! You guessed it...our guests were arriving while we were putting finishing touches on everything. Thank goodness I'd showered and gotten dressed and ready early! Lesson learned.

Today? Today was our day to take a deep breath. Still, Valiant and I were excited to try Day 1 of Level 3 and we loved it! Seriously, we actually felt invigorated when we were done. Superman finished Day 10 of Level 1 and is unenthusiastically anticipating doing Day 1 of Level 2 tomorrow. ( Guess we should have kept our dissatisfaction to ourselves!)

Andrea at The Train to Crazy commented that she is maintaining order in a house full of little girls and wonders if that counts as doing something that makes you feel proud? Oh, yeah! There is no way I could be doing this if my kids were younger. Truly. You can have everything you want in this world, but you can't have it all at the same time. Pat yourself on the back Andrea! Getting your house cleaned with toddlers is something to be proud of!

Melissa at 365 Days of Exercise is struggling to figure out how you balance life as a wife, mother of a toddler, and full-time worker with a burning desire to transform your body. She posted that she slipped up a bit this month and her measurements reflect her split focus. You can clearly see the effects of all those steps she's taking at work, however, as those calves are getting smaller and smaller. Melissa, after much reflection, I've come to the conclusion that you can only devote yourself to "x" number of things at a time. Why am I now getting back into shape? Because my youngest child is 10, not 2! I feel less torn when I spend time on myself now than I did even 3 years ago. Cut yourself some slack, celebrate your successes, and view the situation with honesty. You've done a fabulous job this year and you have a super cute haircut! What else does a girl need?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 18 (Church Supper Edition)

Sorry for the late post, but my day ran away with me and by the time I could get to the computer, it was time for me to leave for a Ladies' Dinner at the church of my friend, Joy. She kindly invited me to join her for this holiday dinner and it was wonderful. There must have been 20 different kinds of soup to choose from, salad, bread, and cheesecake for dessert. There was a wonderful story to remind us of the power of human kindness and service to others, prayer, and hymns. It was a wonderful welcome to the season.

When I inquired about the dress code for this dinner, Joy laughed and said, "No workout clothes and you have to be done being sweaty. A shower would be appropriate!" That tells you how everyone sees me these days. Everyone understands I'm committed to getting fit and that means most weekdays finds me in workout clothes most of the day. (I don't think she really thought I'd attempt to show up in workout clothes, however!)

So, about the Challenge. Day 18 was our 8th day of Level 2 and I still don't like this level. It is actually a bit easier than Level 1, but it seems a bit boring to me. Valiant and Buttercup feel the same way. I know it is working my legs, though, because they are feeling super tired at the end of the day. Today I did my other exercise (24 minutes on the LifeCycle and 25 minutes on the treadmill -- than translates to 8.7 miles on the bike and 2.3 miles on the treadmill) before the video because the video just wipes me out. Valiant agrees that this was the way to arrange our exercise, so I think we'll be doing it this way going forward (at least until we're done with Level 2).

Checking in with everyone else: Superman is still going strong and finished Day 7 of the Challenge. LoveAphid is back in the game and did Day 11, which means she did Day 1 of Level 2. She has to stay with the program because she's traveling for the holidays, so she's got to get done by the 23rd. My friend Tricia is trying to talk the Pilot into joining her when she starts the challenge after December 7. Joy is trying to get her 20 minutes in each day and staving off her husband's requests that she take up running. She says she's finding herself tempted to try the video when I'm done with it. (As soon as I told her it was pulling in the lower abdominal pouch that seems impervious to exercise, it was all over!) Generations Gone By is getting 20-30 minutes in on the Wii each day, despite have her house torn up with remodeling projects that must be done before her holiday guests arrive on the 19th. Melissa at 365 Days of Exercise is focused on her challenge to lose 10 pounds in December and end the first year of her challenge to herself on a "low" note (pun definitely intended!).

I can't believe how much everyone is doing to take care of themselves. It makes my heart happy to see it.

So, what about you? What did you do today to make yourself proud?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

30 Day Challenge - Day 17 (Museum Day Edition)

Well, it is Day 17 and Museum Day. What does that mean? It means we had to get our workouts done in time for us to leave the house before noon. Since we figured people would be more inclined to sit near us if we showered before we headed out, that had to be scheduled in as well. That makes for a hectic morning.

So, here it is 11:27 and Valiant is in the shower. Day 17 is done. The video wasn't a problem, but I am so tired today. Seriously dragging. I'd say I was tired enough to skip it, but that never occurred to me. Instead, I was wishing I could have two or three more hours before I did it. The bike nearly killed me. Today's workout was one of those where all I can say is, "It is done and I am done and that is all there is to it." So, there.

Day 17 is finished... no whining, no complaining, but not exactly exhilarating.

My friend at Generations Gone By got in her 30 minutes on the Wii yesterday (yes, she did extra) and my sister LoveAphid swears she'll be starting up again today. She hasn't done it since the today is going to be a humbling experience! In the meantime, you should head over to Gens and see if you can't help her find Baby Jesus...he's gone missing. Also, my friend Melissa is back on track after a difficult few weeks...go say, "Hi"...she's got less than a month until she's done 365 Days of Exercise and she's starting a push to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year...pretty impressive, don't you think?

Okay, I'm headed for the showers...see you later...

What will you do to make yourself feel proud?

A Win- Win Trade

I traded this:

for one of these:

Isn't that super cool? My friend, A, had an apple peeler, corer, slicer she wasn't using. When I mentioned last year that I'd started making my own apple pies for Superman but that I had borrowed an apple peeler, corer, slicer, she offered me hers in exchange for a pie for her husband. By the time we did the trade, however, everyone was sick of baked goods and the kitchen tool sat in my cupboard until Thanksgiving.

Today is Museum Day and A will be there, so that beautiful apple pie is coming with me. Do you think she'll like it? I think it is beautiful. (The pies I made for Thanksgiving were just warm-ups for this beauty!)

This trade was win-win for both of us!

P.S. If you want to make a perfect apple pie every time, check out this site: Step-by-step directions with pictures the entire way. I've been making these pies for two years now and have never had one fail. The crusts are perfect, the fillings are perfect and I feel like a star. (Her pumpkin pies are terrific, too!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 16 (Did you think I forgot? Edition)

I didn't forget, I promise! We had a power outage right at dinner time and posting took a back seat to panicking over bread rising with no oven to put it into and worrying about what we'd do if the power didn't come back on. (Hey, nights under 30 degrees means you care about your heater!)

Anyway, today was Day 16 of this 30 Day Shred Challenge! Day 16! Can you believe it? I am so proud of myself and my family. Valiant has kept right up with me, Buttercup has just finished her first day of Level 2 (so Day 11) and even Superman has already completed his Day 5. I can't tell you how much it makes me smile to see my family trying to get fit right along with me.

You might have noticed that I haven't mentioned weight or dieting at all during this challenge and that was deliberate on my part. Did you know we don't own a scale at our house? Seriously, we don't own a scale. Why? The numbers can make you crazy. Did you lose 2 pounds or gain a pound? Up and down all month long and having your mood determined by an arbitrary number. The truth is that you know when you're carrying to much weight and you don't need validation of your success by a scale. How many times have your heard someone say (or felt yourself) that they were in a really good mood and feeling fit until they stepped on the scale and discovered they didn't lose any weight or they gained a pound? A pound! Water weight, hormones, whatever...a pound on a scale sends their mood plummeting. Why? If you need measurements, use a tape measure. It will tell you what kind of progress you're really making without making you crazy day in and day out.

So, now you'll never hear me mention weight. I don't really care what I weigh because it isn't really relevant.

Day 16 is done!

Monday, November 30, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 15 (Halftime Edition!)

I've done it! I just finished Day 15 of my 30 Day Shred Challenge. That means I am half way done - already! Can you believe it? If you've been on the fence about jumping on and doing the 30 Day Shred video, I urge you to just do it. After 15 days, I can definitely see and feel a difference. My legs are stronger and more toned, my arms and back are stronger and more toned, and my lower abs (you know the ones: the ones you think nothing will help because you've had 3 kids) are pulling in and getting flatter! Woo Hoo! It's working!

I won't is challenging. Not because the moves are particularly complicated, but because Jillian works everything and she does it in 20 minutes. By the end of those 20 minutes, you can't believe how much she's crammed in and how tired and sweaty you are. And the first 3 days? Seriously, they stink. I won't lie. Superman just finished 3 days and this morning (his day 4), he agreed that the worst is finally over...but for three days? He couldn't figure out why he'd agreed to try this workout.

So, if you want to get fit, just try it. It will be a tough 20 minutes every day, but you won't regret it. I promise!

As for the rest of my exercise, today is also the last day of November and I did it, I've worked out every single day in November. Now, I don't plan on working out every single day in December (Christmas Day? I don't think so!), but I wanted to jump start my fitness routine and I came up with this challenge to help me change my habits. Making a 30- day commitment and sticking to it really helped.

Another thing that helped was logging my progress on the Transcontinental Trail. In November, I rode my bike 224.5 miles and I ran 52.2 miles for a total of 276.7 miles covered under my own locomotion! Since I've been keeping track, I've already covered 513.2 miles and this is what I'd see if I was actually on the trail.

513.2 mi - "6.96 mi to Rosedale, VA", Russell County

The day is young...make it count.

As for me, I'll be back a little later with Making Your Home Sing Monday (The Christmas Card Edition!).

See ya!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 14 (Sunday Edition)

No whining, no complaints...I just did my workout and got it over with. Day 14 was also my fourth day of Level 2. Superman did Day 3 of his own 30 Day Challenge, too. We spent the rest of the day putting up more of the Christmas decorations.

I'll be back tomorrow!

Food for Thought

"Winter is the time for comfort - it is the time for home."
- Edith Sitwell

Saturday, November 28, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 13 (Whining Edition)

I really, really, really didn't want to exercise today. Seriously. I spent the first five hours of the day whining to myself about how much I didn't want to exercise today. It was the theme of my conversation to myself as I was cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen, and even putting up the first of the Christmas decorations. "I'm tired. I'm really tired." "I've been working out every day since October 26...I can take one day off." Then, of course, I'd practice what I'd write on my blog to explain why I didn't do Day 13 of the Challenge. After all, you guys would understand tired, right? You guys would excuse me on the basis of cleaning, right?

The problem? I'd be breaking a commitment I made to myself.

It took me until 3:00 p.m. to convince myself to workout. "20 minutes, that's all," I told myself, "I can do 20 minutes, but I won't do the other 25 minutes that I'm supposed to." So, I psyched myself up and did Day 13.

As you might imagine, I was really proud of myself for doing those 20 minutes. So proud, in fact, that I got my butt downstairs and jumped on the LifeCycle and did my 24 minutes on that, too. Even better, when Superman finally made it downstairs to hit the bike, I moved on to the treadmill and did 24 minutes on the treadmill to keep him company. I didn't run, but I kept moving for 24 minutes and logged more than a mile and a half! Woo Hoo! I did it!

So, now you know what I did to make myself proud today. Not only did I clean and decorate, but I exercised and kept my commitment to myself. That is a good feeling! I hope your day was equally as productive.

Thanksgiving Images

Thought I'd share some pictures from our quiet Thanksgiving celebration. They are a far cry from the boisterous Thanksgiving's we'd have back in So Cal, but we still try to do it right.

Superman cooked everything but the dessert. He says I cook for the family all year long, so he can take over on the holidays. (What? You think I'd argue? Are you crazy?)

Buttercup took over the reigns and decided to do our tablescape. I told her whatever she did would be perfect and I think she did a terrific job. (This is the first year she's done it and she came up with the entire thing on her own.)

As always, we had the bear-bread massacre at the table. Somehow my kids have decided that ripping apart little teddy bear breads (with sound effects!) is a good thing!

Finally, with Charming's plans for the future, it is entirely possible that I won't have all three of my kids together next Thanksgiving, so I had to get a shot of them. Aren't they gorgeous? Biased? Me? No way! (The photo isn't terrific, but it is good enough for me.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pasta E Fagioli Soup

I promised you this recipe a few days ago, but Thanksgiving got in the way. This is a copy cat recipe meant to taste like the Pasta E Fagioli from Olive Garden and I'd say it comes pretty darned close.
Now, my one disclaimer: This recipe is a soup recipe, but my picture will look more like stew because Superman and Buttercup like a LOT of pasta in their soup, so ours ends up having more of the broth absorbed by the pasta. Other than that, I follow this recipe and I encourage you to do the same. So, better late than never, here is the recipe for Pasta E Fagioli.

Pasta E Fagioli for the CrockPot
(Serves 12-14)


2 lbs ground beef (I use one package of ground turkey - roughly 1.5 pounds)
1 onion , chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (16 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (16 ounce) can white kidney beans, drained
3 (10 ounce) cans beef stock
3 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons pepper
5 teaspoons parsley
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)
1 (20 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
8 ounces pasta


1. Brown beef (turkey) in a skillet.

2. Drain fat from beef and add to crock pot with everything except pasta.

3. Cook on low 7-8 hours or high 4-5 hours.

4. During last 30 min on high or 1 hour on low, add pasta.

Notes: I used a stock pot on the stove and simmered it on low all day.

Did you notice? There is nothing bad for you in this soup! It is like a garden in a bowl. A perfect soup for a cold day...try won't be disappointed.

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 12 (Black Friday Edition)

Did you hit the stores at 4:00 a.m. this morning? If you did, I hope you got what you were after. I have friends who make a day of it and look forward to Black Friday each year. If you're one of those, I hope it was super fun and you always found a parking space near where you wanted to be. As for me, I can't imagine a) getting up early to go shopping and b) fighting those kinds of crowds.

No, I stayed home and took down all the autumn decorations in preparation for putting up the Christmas decorations. Superman put on Christmas music to accompany our breakfast. And, of course, I exercised, first doing my second day of Level 2 for the 30 Day Shred. Today was Day 12. Day 12? Day 12! I can't believe I'm already at Day 12. What a difference 12 days has made. Seriously. I can feel abdominal muscles that I forgot I had. My thighs are stronger and calves are showing definition I haven't seen in more than 20 years. Even better? My stamina is increasing.

You'll never guess what happened today. Seriously. Superman decided to jump into this challenge and did Day 1 of Level 1 today! Valiant did it with him to keep him "man company". Superman's conclusion? This video is deceptive because each of the moves is simple, but the combination works EVERYTHING. It is not "dance-y" and it is not difficult to follow. It is straight forward and in the end, you are tired and have worked everything. Superman, I'm so proud of you!

So, what are you waiting for? (Okay, Tricia, I know what you're waiting for...) Start is never too late. You've already been following along with me for 12 days.

So, what are you going to do today to make yourself proud?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 11 (Thanksgiving Edition)

Another Thanksgiving is coming to an end. The food hast been eaten, the leftovers are in the fridge, the dishes have be done, and the turkey carcass is boiling on the stove. Everyone is feeling happily stuffed. We don't watch football, but a screening of The Incredibles is currently playing on the Nagle5 television. Oh, did I mention we made homemade whipped cream and that half a pumpkin pie went home with Charming? All in all, it was an awesome Thanksgiving.

Before Thanksgiving, however, Valiant and I stuck to our schedule and we did Day 11 of our 30 Day Shred Challenge. Today was our first day of Level 2. We'd heard that Level 2 was easier than Level 1, but we really didn't believe it. I'm happy to report that it was easier! Seriously. I couldn't believe it. So, even though it is Thanksgiving Day, we did it...Day 11 is put to bed!

Oh, one more thing. Superman and I have been sharing a personal challenge and yesterday marked our 30th day in a row of exercise. You read that right...Superman and I have not missed a day of exercise in 31 days! I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but we're so proud of ourselves, I just had to share.

If we can do this, you can, too. We're out of shape and overweight, but we're not letting that stop us. Our secret? We're taking it one day at a time and at the end of the day, we're making ourselves proud and making our children proud of us.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you're feeling positive as we head into the holiday season.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving...

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilde

I Guess It Is A Good Thing...

...that we're not having any guests for Thanksgiving Dinner. Superman and the kids couldn't wait until Thanksgiving Dinner for the apple pies (one with a crust and one with a crumb topping because I didn't make enough crust).

Sigh. At least they didn't cut into the pumpkin pie or the pumpkin swirl cheesecake.

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 10 (Level 1 Finished Edition)

I cannot believe that we are already done with 10 days of the 30 Day Shred Challenge. Seriously. We are one-third of the way through our 30 Day Challenge. How cool is that?

Level 1 was tough those first few days and I know some of you are getting up the nerve to jump right in and challenge yourself with it, but are a bit intimidated. I won't lie. It was hard...seriously hard...for the first three days. After that, I noticed that I got further and further into the 20 minutes before I hit the "I'm going to die!" phase of the workout. By today, Day 10, I knew I could do it and I just did it.

So, what have I learned so far by doing this challenge? Quite a bit.

First, I was reminded that the time passes either way and each day I make a choice about what I will do with my time. In ten days time I grew stronger, fitter, and more capable.

Second, I was reminded that uncomfortable doesn't mean you don't do it. Parts of this workout remained really difficult for me, through all 10 days. I didn't give myself the luxury of skipping them and, you know what? It didn't kill me to tough it out.

Third? Watching my kids bicker with each other as I am waiting for death during the workout is a good distraction! Wait! No...that is not what I meant to write...

Third, I have been so impressed with the fact that my kids have voluntarily (with not even a hint from me) just jumped on the program and made the commitment to see this through with me. I'm proud of them. (But it is funny to watch them fight through the workout. I'm impressed they have the energy to go at each other while Jillian goes at us!)

Finally, outing myself with regard to this challenge has given me the opportunity to hear from new people and to get closer to people who are struggling right along with me. I need the support and I appreciate the camaraderie that this challenge has created. So, thank you for being there for me. You can't know what it means to me.

Tricia and Sande, when you're ready, just let me know and I'll be right here on the sidelines cheering you on. I won't lie to is challenging. But seriously, it is so worth it.

So for Valiant and I, tomorrow we start all over again - Day 1 of Level 2! I'm so excited! (oh, and scared...but I know I can do it!)

P.S. I know I owe you a Pasta E Fagioli recipe and I promise I'll post it later tonight. I have a pumpkin pie in the oven, and two apple pies ready to go, and pumpkin swirl cheesecake in the queue. Can you tell we don't worry about what we eat on Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 9 (Adding Weight)

We're already done with Day 9 of our 30 Day Shred Challenge and this time we added more weight.

Valiant and I both mixed it up a bit, by adding weight to certain of the exercises. I moved up to 12 pound weights for the chest flies and used 8 lb weights for the squat and press and the lunge with bicep curls. Adding more arm weights made it so I was mentally whining about my arms instead of my legs! Valiant moved from 2 lb weights to 5 pound weights for all the same exercises. The girl push-ups? They finally felt do-able, but they were still a struggle.

I can't believe we only have one more day at this level and then we bump it up to Level 2 Thanksgiving Day. (Terrific timing, isn't it?)

In other randomness, the Pasta E Fagioli soup is on the stove simmering away and the fresh bread for tonight is already out of the oven. (I know I had planned to make Butter Dips, but fresh bread just seemed to fit better once today arrived.) I'll be sharing the specifics of the soup recipe later today and you won't want to miss it because it is that good. (It is a copy cat recipe that mimics the Pasta E Fagioli from the Olive know that is good!)

I'm excited that we're already done with exercise and dinner is already pretty much done, so I can actually get some sewing done. Fingers crossed that I'll have some stuff to show you tomorrow.

P.S. Did you know there are only 30 days until Christmas?

Monday, November 23, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 8 (Wow!)

Did you do it? Are you right there with us? Valiant and I are happy to report that we've completed Day 8 of our 30 Day Shred Challenge. Buttercup has made up one of the two days she missed, so she's finished Day 7. I can't believe we've only got two more days at this level. I'm still struggling with girl push-ups and those anterior shoulder lifts, but I can definitely feel myself getting stronger. How weird is that? Only 8 days into and I can feel a difference. I can only imagine what I'll be saying after the full 30 days.

I've been chatting offline (via email) with a few of my friends about this challenge and it occured to me that none of us stopped caring about our health or our looks or our fitness. What happened is simply a case of 20 years of benign neglect while other things were more important to us. The ugly truth is this: Women today can have it all. Truly. The myth comes into play when women think they can have it all simultaneously. Choices have to be made, priorities established and I know the choices I made, the areas I prioritized and the areas I put on the back burner. Thin thighs or a paycheck? Hmmm...flat stomach or a kid's activity? Carrot sticks or a cool ethnic meal out with our spouse?

Obviously, other things were more important to us. The urge is always there to second guess yourself, to try to add more to your to-do list, but you can reach a certain point where your to-do list is so long that trying to do everything means you aren't doing anything well and that is the point when things like fitness start to fall off the list as you pursue balance. I think we all do the best we can with the constraints we live under. The great thing is that priorities change and years of benign neglect can become months active rehabilitation. When the time is right and I'm finding myself in that time and place now.

I'm not trying to find my 20-year old thighs (although, if they show up, I'm not turning them away!) and no matter how trim I get, the "baby-came-out-this-way" stretch marks across my stomach won't be going anywhere. Nope, for me, and for those of you I've been talking with, this is more about feeling like you're caring for your body, appreciating what it can do for you and ensuring that it will continue to do it for a long time to come. We're dusting away the cobwebs and reacquainting ourselves with parts of us we tucked away long ago.

Exercise makes you feel energized inside. It sounds so cliche (but cliches happen for a reason, right?), but it feels good to get your blood pumping. That is why it isn't as important what you do as much as it is that you actually do something. The years pass either way. Do you want to be talking about 30 years of benign neglect or do you want to look back and remember when it was time to start taking care of yourself again.

So, I'm done with Day 8 and super proud of myself. What about you? What have you done today to make yourself feel proud?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

It is Menu Plan Monday. We got snow on Sunday, so now I'm really in the mood to cook cold-weather "comfort" foods. This week's menu plan will be heavy on comfort food for cold days.

Monday - Meat and Potato Pie
Tuesday - Olive Garden Pasta E Fagioli Soup with Butter Dips
Wednesday - Bee Rocks (Meat Pastries)
Thursday - Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings...
Friday - Leftovers!
Saturday - Salad (time to lighten the load)

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 7 (One Week Completed!)

Can you believe we're already putting one week of our 30 Day Shred Challenge to bed? I can't believe this is Day 7. Jillian promises it gets easier and Valiant and I both noticed a big difference in our stamina today, so I can assure you she is telling the truth and if you're a few days behind, just keep going, IT DOES GET EASIER!

Finishing the 20 minutes leaves me tired, sweaty, and proud of myself. Yes, I am still struggling with push-ups (and, Nan, these are girl push-ups!) and those anterior shoulder lifts. I could definitely use heavier weights for the chest flies and rows (I use 5 lb weights), but I still struggle with the 2 pounders on those darned shoulder lifts. I'm thinking tomorrow I'll bring the 8 pounders upstairs and just keep the 2 pound weights for the shoulder lifts. Other than that, I am just plugging away and not feeling any urge to whine and cry! My legs don't hurt at all any more.

On another front, I am still keeping up with our PE requirement, which means I need to get at least 45 minutes of exercise in each day. So, in addition to my turn at the 30 Day Shred, I am also running on the treadmill and riding the LifeCycle. I put in 55.7 miles last week - 44.4 of those were on the bike and 11.3 were running miles!

In my transcontinental journey, I'm proud to say, I've gone 431.2 miles! Can you believe it? It just goes to prove that you need to take these things one step at a time...if you'd told me that I could log 431 miles two months, I would have smiled politely and thought you were crazy!

Yet, here I am, 5.83 miles away from Ruaral Retreat, VA! It is never too late to start...if you want to log your steps or your miles, click here and start your own journey. One day at a time starts to add up!

So, what have you done today to make yourself proud?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 6 (Saturday Edition)

Wow! I can't believe we've already finished Day 6 of our 30 Day Shred Challenge. I was a bit concerned about how Saturday was going to go, but I've really gotten a lot done today. In addition to doing Day 6, I did my 45 minutes of PE, did two loads of laundry, dusted, vacuumed, and even took a load to Goodwill to get it out of my house! (Now I'm hurrying and posting, then I've got to get a treat made for Game Night!)

Day 6 was easier...seriously, it really was. I still have trouble with the shoulder lift/side lunge movement and push-ups are still really hard, but overall it is getting easier. Again, both kids did it with me.

Buttercup made me laugh when the video started. The standard "consult your doctor and quit if you have discomfort" disclaimer rolled on the screen and she exclaimed, "Wait! I have discomfort, so I get quit?!" Um, no!

So, I've got to go and make treat for Game Night, but I just wanted to ask, "What have you done today to make yourself proud?"

(Tricia, I'm so proud of you for getting the video - you can do it! I promise. Melissa, I am so jealous that you find Level 1 are a star!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fertilizer Friday - Greenhouse Edition

It is Fertilizer Friday, the time Tootsie asks us to share our gardens, our inside plants, or anything else we're using to beautify our homes as we long for spring.

This week, I'm ready to share images from my greenhouse. I've finally figured out the temperature maintenance and my plants are recovering from the freeze they experienced right before we got the greenhouse finished.

My petunias are blooming.

My geraniums are coming back.

My Gerbera daisies are recovering, but not yet back.

Even Buttercup's tomato plant is trying to give us a tomato.

Things are definitely looking up, but I desperately need Tootsie's help! Tootsie, I can't get a handle on the moisture level in the greenhouse and I'm struggling with powdery mold (the white stuff) and, I presume, other fungus issues. Most days the greenhouse is only getting up to 60F...should I be aiming for higher to dry out the air? Help!

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 5!

Woo Hooo! Day 5 is put to bed! Yes, you read that correctly...I am already done with Day 5 of the Challenge. To put it another way, I only have 25 more days to go!

We're heading out in a few minutes to go to the oral surgeon for Valiant's extractions, so we knew we had to do it early. Valiant and I got up and got it done.

Did you notice, however, that I didn't include Buttercup in that sentence? You did? Really? Go figure. Curiously, Buttercup didn't think starting the video at 7:40 AM was a fun idea, so she bagged it and stayed in bed. She says she going to do it later today, but we're skeptical. We'll keep you posted.

In other challenge news, Karen (and her daughter, Miss J) have returned from the great void and say they're joining up four days late, so they'll be finishing up four days late. Hey, Miss J, tell your mom I'm keeping track! (Hey, Karen, did I cheat on you by moving someone else's furniture?)

Generations Gone By is feeling better. A trip to the doctor and some magic medicine got her back on the treadmill and she's getting her 20 minutes in each day. (Hey, T, I knew you were teasing me...I was just sending you virtual love!) LoveAphid rules the world and is just plugging away, cheerful as all get out about getting encouraging emails from one of our brothers and his lady. Melissa is figuring out how to fit this challenge in with a toddler, a puppy, and a full-time job; oh, and a recently-sprained ankle.

So, have a terrific day and remember to ask yourself, what have you done today to make yourself proud?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Extra

P.S. If you have a moment, will you head over and give my friend Generations Gone By a virtual hug and let her know that I am NOT trying to kill the entire internet with this challenge? She's been trying to do our challenge via her Physical Therapy for her arthritis (it is 20 minutes of special exercises) and I'm so proud of her...she is muscling through and she doesn't have to...I don't want her to hurt! (Just taking care of yourself is good enough for me!)

Random Fun Stuff

Well, you already know that we had dental appointments yesterday (look, Ma, NO cavities), but did you know that we also got to go to our friend's house after the appointment? Well, we did. My friend K generously offered to make lunch for us and we enthusiastically accepted her offer. the kids were so excited because K's kids are homeschooled, too.

K's family has "acreage" which is home to a barn and several outbuildings and Buttercup was enchanted to discover that they did, in fact, have barn cats. Bob, the girl cat, was her big favorite. Valiant, on the other hand, was a trooper and built Lego forts with K's boys. Me? Well, I don't think K understood that I don't do well feeling like "company" so within about an hour, we were rearranging furniture and totally transforming her family room/living room/dining room. Seriously, I have a problem with stuff like this. Valiant came downstairs, saw what we were doing, and said, "Oh, Mom, really? During our very first visit to their house? Did you have to?" The real problem was that K's husband, G, heard of my ideas and ran out and got the tape measure and said they'd work and then left the house! Well, K and I couldn't resist after that!

We rearranged a piano, a hutch, a book shelf, a chair, and some little tables. We added a loveseat she'd been storing and couldn't figure out how to get into the room. This is my idea of fun! It worked out beautifully and her living space made her smile. Best of all? She won't have to completely rip apart her house to host her weekly Bible study. How cool is that?

So, K, thanks for letting me play at your was super fun! (And your directions for getting back to the city were perfect!)

Other random fun...

Have you met Marcelle? She's 47, mother of three, and grandmother to four(I think), and recently lost 50 lbs. I think it is fabulous that she's my age and made such an awesome change in her life and her triumph encourages me every day. Wait until you see her awesome before and afters! She's also struggling to keep in touch with her kids and her grandkids from a great distance and shares all of those issues, too.

My friend Andrea @ Hatch is already posting some terrific tutorials for quick baby gifts...since I have a friend having a baby tomorrow, I'm definitely going to be whipping up this little diaper bag.

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 4

I can't believe it is already Day 4 of our 30 Day Challenge! Have you been following along? Have you been doing it yourself? Well, after our early start yesterday, we took it easy today and didn't get to the video until late in the morning. Again, my kids have joined me. They've decided to make the 30 day commitment right along with me and I am so excited to have them along for encouragement and accountability.

We all agree that Day 4 marked the first time we really felt a difference after the fact. Our legs don't hurt as much, our muscles don't feel as stiff, and we feel like we really understand the moves. Interestingly, we all have different areas of difficulty. Valiant still struggles to bend his knees and struggles with lunges. Buttercup struggles with the lunges (both kinds). Me? I struggle with push-ups and the arm lifts that accompany the side-lunges. All of us agreed, however, that the video was over faster than we expected. I guess we're getting stronger without even noticing it.

Tomorrow Valiant will be getting some teeth pulled, so he's requested that we again get up early and do the video before the appointment, so that he doesn't miss a day. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for doing any video at 7:15 a.m., I'm darned impressed with is commitment, so we'll be up bright and early tomorrow to get Day 5 under our belts!

LoveAphid has been right along with day at a time. (Seriously, she called while we were doing the video today, so we basically hung up on her and she completely understood!) She's already noticing differences in her abs and her legs.

So, what have you done today to make yourself proud?

(Karen...hey, is awfully quiet...where are you? You committed, my friend, so I'm encouraging you to chime in here!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 3

It is Day 3 of our 30 Day Shred Challenge!!!

Woo Hoo! We're done! We're already done with Day 3!

Today we have to be at the dentist's office at 10:00 AM and we have a 45 minute drive to get there, so we've got to be ready to leave right after 9:00 AM. That means we had to be finished with the 30 Day Shred by 8:00 AM!!!!! Oh, did I mention it is Museum Day? We won't be home again until 5:00 p.m.

How was it? It was easier than it was yesterday! (Especially given that I got started at 7:10 a.m. to do it!) Oh, my quads still hurt and my wings still didn't like the push-ups, but the quads hurt less and the wings didn't complain quite as much. I'd say that is progress.

Since were still committed to 45 minutes of exercise a day, I'll be coming home and doing 25 minutes on the LifeCycle or the "dreadmill" after dinner. As for now? We've finished Day 3 of our 30 Day Shred Challenge. We so rock!

Don't forget to ask yourself, "What have you done today to make yourself feel proud?"Have a great day!

Melissa? Today is Wednesday and you finally get a day off, so fill us in with what you've been doing! Karen? Where are you? Katie? Have you been bicycling? Generations? Did you get your Wii Fit out? Let us know...

P.S. For any Biggest Loser watchers out there - spoiler below - stop reading if you haven't watched it yet!

Can you believe they kept Liz another week? She is mean. Oh my gosh! Didn't Rebecca look amazing in the follow-up? I was so proud of her. I cried with her when she was running that half-marathon. What a triumph! Did you stay up to see her on Leno? And what is this about her dating Daniel? Isn't he only 20? Doesn't he have a boatload of issues? She's 25...he's too young for her, even if they have this shared experience. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

So, I promised you a recipe...

And here it is: Super Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies. This recipe comes from Take It and Like It and I know it sounds so basic, but what caught my eye about this recipe was the Brooke's promise that they were truly chewy. I like my chocolate chip cookies chewy. I don't like them crunchy...ever. Since that was basically what Brooke promised, I had to go for it. But, in an effort for true transparency, I must confess that I've never made them...even though four batches have been made at our house. Yep, you read that correctly. I'm not the one making cookies in the Nagle kitchen these days. Instead, it seems like both Valiant and Buttercup have taken over cookie duty. (Could that be because I'm more focused on getting fit than trying new dessert recipes? Is that even possible?) Anyway, Buttercup has fallen in love with this recipe and I have to agree with is a terrific basic chocolate chip cookie recipe that never fails.*

So, without further ado, here it is:

Super Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Brooke at Take It and Like It

Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1 1/3 cups butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar (we used light brown sugar)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour
5-6 ounces (1 cup) chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

In a large bowl o
r stand mixer cream together the butter and sugars, then beat in eggs and vanilla.

Stir in baking soda and salt, then mix in the flour until well combined.

Add chocolate chips.

This dough will be quite stiff, so if you have a stand mixer use it! Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet. (We used our Pamper Chef medium scooper.) Bake for 8-9 minutes or until light brown (the centers will be soft), then remove to cool on cooling rack.

* Okay, you can have an issue if you forget how to do fractions, but that tends to be a 10-year old problem and I think most of you should be fine!

(No pictures - Blogger isn't letting me upload them right now.)

30 Day Shred Challenge - Day 2

Well, the euphoria of starting this challenge has worn off and my muscles hurt this morning! My quads are sore and my wings (you know, the part of your back right above the band of your bra?) felt stiff as I pulled on my workout clothes this morning. Nevertheless, I knew we needed to get a jump on our workout, so at 9:15 this morning we did Day 2 of our 30 Day Shred Challenge.

How was it? (Updated: LoveAphid now calls it the 30 Day Dread--I think that says it all.)

Well, let's see. As Jillian started her intro, I was enthusiastic. When Jillian had us doing windmills, I started being concerned. When I hit the ground for my girl push-ups? I wanted to cry! Squatting for standing rows? Ow, ow, ow! Those side lunges combined with lifting weights to shoulder height? They almost did me in.

What about Valiant and Buttercup? Valiant eschewed the weights this time and did better...he's working on form and trying not to be all over the place. Buttercup? She said her legs her, her back hurt, and it wasn't so fun today!

What about you? Have you done your workout yet? Did you wake-up stiff and wonder why you even thought this was a good idea? I KNOW you can do it...seriously...taking care of yourself is a gift you give not just to yourself, but to those you love. So, get out there and put in your 20 minutes.

Oh, and if nothing else persuades you? Look at it this way: we've only got 28 more!

Have a terrific day!

P.S. I'll be back later today with an awesome chocolate chip cookie recipe...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 1 - 30 Day Shred Challenge!

It is Day 1 of our 30 Day Shred Challenge. Did you do it? Did you move your body for 20 minutes today? It is not too late. It is not even too late to run out to buy the video...Target has it on sale for $9!

I know LoveAphid did it because she called me and said, "Tell me again why we are doing this?" (She was panting in my ear!) She hasn't blogged about how much fun it was, though...I wonder why? I'm waiting to hear from Melissa at 365 Days of Exercise, but we know she's dedicated! (She's also super funny...she posted a picture of the Wii fit age she earned yesterday because it was 9 years less than her real can see her little Mii jumping up and down!) My friend Generations Gone By wants to know if she can get credit for shopping for baby girl clothes (um, no!) and Alicia and Andrea say they're in, but none of them have yet shared with us their 20 minutes today. Even my neighbor said she was going to join the Challenge to move 20 minutes a day! (And, Alicia, she's got five kids, too!)

So, what about me? Well, I did it! Not only that, Valiant and Buttercup have joined in on the challenge, too. My feedback? 20 minutes feels like a really long time! My quads hurt while I was doing it and my arms got tired by the end. Did I mention this is Level 1? Buttercup said it was fun (and said she should use weights tomorrow)...Valiant said it was hard, but he doesn't bend his knees which made every exercise more difficult (because his mother kept saying, "Bend your knees!"). Actually, I'm just excited that the Challenge has begun and I'm not alone.

So, what have you done today to make you feel proud? Remember, tomorrow comes either will be what you make of it! You CAN do whatever you set your mind to.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

30 Day Shred Challenge Reminder - We Begin Monday!

Just wanted to remind you that we'll be beginning our 30 Day Shred Challenge on MONDAY! I know LoveAphid and Melissa will be joining in and I know K back in So Cal has committed to do it, too. Alicia is on the fence, but I hope she jumps in! I also heard that Katie is biking every day, so she needs us to encourage her habit. Even one of my neighbors here is game. I hope more of you are considering this 30 day challenge to get moving.

To recap:

This is not a pure 30 Day Shred Challenge because my goal is to encourage my friends to get up and move for at least 20 minutes a day, every day, for 30 minutes. If you don't want to, or can't, do the 30 Day Shred, that is fine with me. It is so easy to get out of the habit of moving every day that just committing to doing something is huge!

So, if you've got a Wii that you haven't been using, get on it! If you've got a stationary bike, pedal it! A treadmill? Walk. A sidewalk? Pound it! Do something for 20 minutes every day and come share here and on your blog. I'll support you and you'll support me and together, we'll make ourselves proud of the way we've cared for our bodies.

It Finally Came, But It Didn't Stick Around

The "measurable" snow we were promised finally arrived yesterday afternoon. As you can see, it was just enough to make everything look as if it had been dusted in powdered sugar, but not enough to get in our way.

As the afternoon wound down, Buttercup and her pals suited up in snow gear and started playing the snow on the other cul de sac, leaving the serenity of this scene unchanged.

By the time night fell, the temperature had dropped enough that it wasn't melting away immediately and even the road had a dusting. What does that mean? Ice in the morning!

Winter is on her way...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fertilizer Friday

It is Fertilizer Friday, hosted by Tootsie at Tootsie Time. We're supposed to be sharing our amazing blooms, but I don't have any right now. What I can share is that my garden is confused!

This is what the front yard looked like a few weeks ago. The weather experts were sure that inclement weather was here to stay and we were glad we got everything cut back and ready for a long winter's nap. Snow had finally arrived...

It dusted the post that had so recently housed a profusion of petunias.

It feathered the tops of the sad little box hedges.

And definitely made itself known in the backyard.

Unfortunately, "they" were wrong. The sun came out and the weather stayed warm. Warm enough the plants are confused.

They just don't know what is happening...does this look like Fall to you?

Snow was predicted for today...with a high of 37F. Since we're already at 38F and there is no snow to be seen, I suspect we won't be seeing any and the confusion will continue...

Head over to Tootsie's to see what everyone else has blooming these days!