The Friday Five - Smiles

Five things from this past week that made me smile

  1. The fact that my kids completely demolished the pasta dish I made on Wednesday night – pasta with roasted red pepper sauce, artichoke hearts and grilled chicken. In the past, such a combination would have elicited complaints and general “food drama”.
  2. Discernibly longer days, ie glimpses of the sunrise at 6:30am and daylight past 5pm! Here's proof - a photo taken at 6:30, on the cusp of daybreak:
Winter Morning #shirleyruns #seenonmyrun #Run #runhappy #goodmorning
Winter Morning
  1. Serendipitous radio play of two songs from The Soundtrack of my LifeFather Figure by George Michael and Sweet Sensation by INXS. Felt like I was in college again
  2. Hubby, who just started going to yoga class with me, mentioning he wants to go early so we can “get a good spot”. Hey, maybe I’ve converted him to this yoga thing.
  3. My daughter’s tweet about me: “Mom yelling downstairs: ‘Louie what outfit should I wear?’ (louie is our cat)”.
Yeah, Creeping on my Daughter

I want to clarify that this tweet isn’t 100% true. The exact quote was ‘Louie, what YOGA outfit should I wear?’

Seriously, don’t we all ask our pets what we should wear? After all, they don’t judge, give unconditional approval…

... and make the best post-run napping partners.

Hope you have a great Super Bowl Weekend!


Ironwood Book Club Recipes - Cinnamon Rolls

First of all, thanks to everyone who commented on my last post - I appreciate them and already know I'll snap out of my photography rut soon.

And in the meantime....With Super Bowl Sunday right around the corner, I thought I would share some recipes, courtesy of my Book Club friends. A year ago, I collected many of these recipes, with the goal of sharing all of them. Well, I think I got through half of the recipes before my attention got diverted to something else (I swear, even my blogging life shows signs of ADD).

Kellie made these decadent Cinnamon Rolls and they are perfect for a cold winter's snow day, with a steaming cup of coffee - a well deserved treat after you've shoveled 12" of snow off your driveway. Or after a 15 mile run (seriously, one of the main reasons I run - so I can eat this stuff without too much guilt). Of course, Kellie shared these with us several times last year since we had so much snow!


Note: The dough recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman.

Cinnamon Rolls
Dough: (two portions)
- 1 qt. whole milk
- 1 C vegetable oil
- 1 C sugar
- 2 pkgs. active dry yeast (.25 oz. pkgs)
- 8 C (plus 1 C extra) flour
- 1 t (heaping) baking powder
- 1 t baking soda
- 1 T (heaping) salt
- 1 1/2 sticks melted butter
- 2 C sugar
- cinnamon

1 1/2 Sticks butter
1 1/4 C Brown Sugar

Make the Dough:
• Heat milk, oil and sugar in pan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm.
• Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit on milk 1 minute.
• Add 8 cups flour. Stir til just combined, cover with a towel and set in warm place 1 hour.
• Remove towel and add baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 C flour. Stir to combine.
• Chill dough 1 hour or overnight. (Punch down if it rises too big overnight.)

To assemble rolls:
• Remove 1/2 dough and roll into 30 x 10” rectangle on floured surface. Roll thin.
• Pour 3/4 C-1 C melted butter over dough. Use fingers to spread. Generously sprinkle cinnamon and 1 C sugar over butter.
• Roll rectangle tightly towards you. Pinch seam together and place seam side down, making a log. Put cutting board underneath and make 1/2” slices with a sharp knife.
• Pour 1 1/2 sticks melted butter in a 9x13 pan.
• Distribute 1 1/4 C brown sugar over butter
• Place rolls on top
• Cover and let them rise a bit for 20 minutes while the oven preheats

• Bake for 15-20 minutes in a preheated 375 DegF oven until golden brown on top.

• Quickly flip over onto cookie sheet after baking.

Optional - go out for a 15 mile run while your friend (or husband or teenager) does all the hard work above. Scarf them down when you get back (after you've hopefully taken a shower!). Go into a sugar - running endorphin laden stupor...that is utter contentment...


The Rut

Confession time – I’m in a photography and blogging rut. I’m just not “into” it. I guess I should qualify the photography comment – I’m in a “formal” photography rut, ie, I’ve been neglecting my “big camera”. Looking at my flickr stream, it’s been over a month since I’ve uploaded anything from my DSLR. There are photos on my camera card I haven’t uploaded – photos from before Christmas.

I’m just not into it (gah, I never thought it would be this way). I need inspiration – normally found in something pretty and glittery outside (hello, where is this winter’s snow? Why does the North east get all the fun?). And I’m tired of my usual standby of flowers in winter.

I obviously need a kick in the butt, maybe a photography challenge. Maybe I just need to get outside at sunset (which, unfortunately, falls during dinner prep time). Maybe I need to drive to the local park and see what is revealed to me.

Or, I could be satisfied with what I’ve been capturing on my iPhone. After two months with the iPhone 6, I think I've gotten used to the new camera. I tend to take photos while I’m out running, but I’ve snapped a few randomly here and there:
Fanned #clouds #sky #enjoyillinois #goodmorning

Contrasts and Textures

Or, I can trust that this lull will soon pass, that I will find inspiration again.


First Snowfall

After a mild and green December, winter decided to wake up, giving us our first winter storm complete with bone chilling temperatures and sub zero windchills.

This highly anticipated storm ridge was reminiscent of last year's January blizzard, although not as extreme. The snow started swirling Monday evening, giving the kids plenty of hope that winter break would be extended by another day. But the forecasters correctly predicted the precipitation would stop by 3am, plenty of time for the anxiously awaiting snow plows to clear the road in time for the morning rush to school.

I, too, was looking forward to this significant snowfall - I would finally experience my first snowy run of the season! I often receive the stink-eye "you are crazy" look when I tell people about my love of running in the snow.

So, what's so great about running in the snow?

  • It's peaceful- during a gentle snowfall, the snow in the air muffles harsh sounds - white confetti sprinkles stick to the trees, your hair and face. A pure Winter wonderland.
  • Snow underfoot is soft and cushiony. In fresh snow, you forge your own trail across that unadulterated, pristine canvas of white.
  • Snow is a challenge to run in - the nature of its unevenness forces you to slow down and be more deliberate around your footing. Those hips get a workout. The slippery spots rev up those balancing mechanisms.
  • You build confidence - there was a time (not too long ago), when I wouldn't consider running out in the snow. I feared slipping and falling, I didn't want to get my feet wet or cold and mostly, I feared it would just be too hard. Like most activities, with practice you overcome those apprehensions. I realized I had to slow down, I had to wear the proper gear and concentrate on my footing. In time, it got easier and then enjoyable.
  • Snow brightens the brown winter landscape, reflecting the sun's rays, offsetting the short days. Sunny snow days are so bright, you almost forget about winter.
And, unrelated to running in the snow, sometimes you get treated to a post storm, pink sunrise.
Daybreak #snowday #sunrise #nofilter

Look Outside and See the Gift of Today #sunrise #winter #sky #chambana


Along My Run | 11 - Dark December

The winter solstice, dark mornings and evenings, constant cloud cover and no snow made for a dark month, one quite different from last year's icy and snowy December. While I don't miss running on ice, I do love running in snow and miss having it around.

December 2014 Runs

1. That Time Of Year , 2. Full Moon Run on the Buffalo Trails, 3. Dancing In The Wind , 4. May We Get to See the Sun Today, 5. Through the Pines , 6. A Picture Perfect Day. I couldn't pass up a Run

The darkness and constant grey skies didn't present many unique running photo opportunities, hence this month's small collection (disclaimer - one was taken after a yoga class, but too pretty not to include). I also came down with my yearly December head cold-flu illness, which took me off the streets for about a week. Unfortunately, that week's hiatus meant I would miss my 100 mile goal.

December Stats: 88.9 miles, 9:11 minute / mile average pace

Memorable run: my first full moon run trail run. The local running club has a group that runs an old Buffalo trail each month during the full moon and I finally got to one. After several rainy days, the clouds cleared off just in time for our group to see an orange moon rise. As it climbed higher into the sky, its bright light illuminated the prairie and forested path (although I really could not see much when we were in the woods!). Hopefully, my schedule will permit me to attend future Full Moon runs.

As always, here is a collection of running quotes that inspired me this month:

For me, as for so many runners, there really are no finish lines. Runs end; running doesn't.
– Dean Karnazes

The more I run, the more I want to run, and the more I live a life conditioned and influenced and fashioned by my running. And the more I run, the more certain I am that I am heading for my real goal: to become the person I am.
– George Sheehan

Every day is a good day when you run.
-Kevin Nelson

A Good Day, Indeed



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