Scenes from the Pumpkin Prediction Race

Hi Friends! Sorry things have been a bit quiet around here lately…life has been hectic and I haven’t been on top of my blogging game.

But I have some exciting news to share!

A couple of weeks ago there was a little race in my town… it’s actually something they do all over the country, but this was the first year I participated.

It was called the Great Pumpkin Prediction Race… I absolutely love the concept. Basically, when you sign up, you have to guess what time you THINK you’re going to run the course in. Whoever gets the closest to their estimated time wins the race. And of course, it supports a local charity.

How cool is that?

I love it because, even if you aren’t the speedy kid, you can still win prizes.

Anyway, the race was held at the local civic center. The start and finish were indoors and then you ran either a short (about a 5k) or a long (about a 10k) course on some nearby trails.

This was one of the most organized local races I have been to. I was impressed. And the swag was awesome, but we’ll get to that later.

My friend Kristy and I signed up a few days before and decided to dress up.

I headed over to Kristy’s house a couple of hours before race time (we had pre-registered so we weren’t super worried about arriving early) and she got to work on doing my face.

She did an amazing job… 

Pre-Race

Pre-Race

But we weren’t paying attention to the time, so we ended up running late (no seriously, we were pinning on our numbers/signing our waivers when the gun went off!). Oops!

Anyway, we got ourselves situated and took off, sprinting after the group that had already started. Thank goodness I remembered to take my ENERGYbits!

It was cold and windy, especially being so close to the lake. I had neglected to ditch my sweatpants before we started running, but honestly, I was glad to have them on. It was drizzling out, but the rain held off until we finished, thank goodness! The course was relatively flat but interesting, we ran by the beach and even saw people on the lake! Crazies!

Kristy and I took it relatively easy, mostly because we both haven’t been running regularly, but it felt good to just run for fun and it was good to catch up and talk about random things (such as homemade laundry soap, facial toner, and all-natural makeup).

One of my co-workers happened to be taking photos that day, so he hooked me up with our finish photos. The last one is hilarious to me.  (Photos courtesy of Jeremy Miller)

Coming in....

Coming in….

Crossing the line

Crossing the line

Do you like how we kind of match?

Finish Photo... what's going on with my hand?!

Finish Photo… what’s going on with my hand?!

After we finished, we checked out our runner bags (a cloth Target shopping bag, black and red. I’ve been using it to carry my lunch/snacks ever since!). Inside was a pretty sweet t-shirt, a $10 gift certificate to Fleet Feet, a bottle of water, 6 raffle tickets to be used on our choice of raffle and a meal ticket. Yes, we got a meal, Subway, cookies and apples (it is the North Country after all). I’ve had worse.

Kristy and I meandered over to check out the raffles and our official finish time. We happened to notice that Kristy’s estimated time was wrong, so we let the race director know.

It’s a good thing we did because Kristy ended up winning the race! And guess who got second. This girl! Can I just say, I was ridiculously excited because I never win anything.

Post-race

Post-race

The prizes were awesome. Kristy won a pair of Merrell Trail Shoes (heck yes!) and I won a $25 gift card to Fleet Feet. In addition, we both got a pair of Vermont Darn Tough wool hiking socks and a $15 Road ID gift certificate. Awesome. Again, ridiculously excited because I never win anything!

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After we received our prizes, we stuck around to see if we’d have any luck on the raffles.

Good decision. I won a coffee gift basket from a local café. It had a 1/2 pound of locally roasted coffee beans, five $1 off coupons on any beverage, coffee mugs (Farmer Ben was super excited about adding these to our already full glass/mug cabinet) and a hazelnut syrup (which Farmer Ben and I have already disposed of because the first ingredient was corn syrup). Score!

So, I’d say we did pretty well considering we didn’t even make it to the start line on time. I’m definitely adding this to my (ever-growing) list of races for next year!

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All of the swag/prizes.

The best part about this little race? It gave me the bug. I’m anxious to fit in a few more races by the end of the year. This time of year is usually when I want to crawl into my XL sweatpants and hide under the covers until late spring…but I’m feeling motivated. I want to get out there and run!

Kristy and I are already planning on doing the 10k loop of the Turkey Trot this year and I am scoping out some end of the year half-marathons…. I’ll keep you posted!

Thanks to Kristy for doing the race with me! And thanks Jeremy, for the photos!

Happy Wednesday!

Best prize you’ve ever won at a race? Ever shown up late to a race? What did you do? Any end of the year races on your calendar? Which ones? Are you a winter runner or would you rather hibernate like me?!

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Foodie Penpals, August

Hi There!

It’s the end of August and Foodie Penpal Reveal Day!

FPP, courtesy of the Lean Green Bean

FPP, courtesy of the Lean Green Bean

I got pretty lucky with my matches this month. I sent my package to Alyson in Philadelphia, click here to check out her blog!

As for me, Mary from NC sent me a box. She’s a physician and I had so much fun talking with her! I loved hearing about all the different foods she’s tried–including raccoon and groundhog! Crazy!

Unfortunately, with my crazy schedule this month, I was a bad foodie penpal and haven’t been able to try some of the items in my package. I also don’t have a photo as I write this…, but I will be adding it later today…

You better believe that I enjoyed this package!

This was a breakfast themed package. My favorite meal, any time of day!

Inside, we had pre-cooked bacon (this was a first! love it!), some syrup, jam, COFFEE (!), along with a variety of different pancake mixes, ranging from red velvet, to an Indian variety (favorite so far!), to a chocolate macadamia nut. Yum!!!

I was so excited to see such a variety and the makings of my favorite meal of the day.

Huge thank you to Mary, it was a pleasure getting to know you and I so loved the box I received! You’re great!

Interested in Joining FPP? Here’s some more info:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions. -You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!  -The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination! -You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!) -Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.  -Foodie Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for September, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. 

You must submit your information by September 4th as pairings will be emailed on September 5th!


Confessions: Coffee Heartbreak

Today is not going well, friends.

I stepped out of my car this morning and immediately dumped my coffee all over the parking lot (and maybe the passenger side door of a co-worker’s car…oops). Needless to say, I was heartbroken. It was a full-to-the-brim, large coffee and there was a mere sip left after I scrambled to pick it up. I am almost ashamed to admit that I took that last sip– I had to!

I don’t know if I’ve told you about the coffee at my workplace…if I haven’t, I’ll fill you in: It’s awful. And, for whatever reason, there is only non-dairy creamer available (what is that anyway? Corn starch?! I don’t even know…) unless I remember to bring my own half and half…and when I do, I have to hide it in the community fridge because it tends to disappear.

This morning, I got out of the house early enough where I had time to go through town and treat myself…so I stopped at Stewart’s.

If you are unfamiliar with Stewart’s, it’s an upstate NY/Vermont chain…a gas station/mini-mart deal. They have good, no-fuss coffee, on the cheap.

So, you can imagine my disappointment, when, upon opening my car door, I immediately dumped my entire coffee all over the ground…granted, it was only a dollar or two, but still! It’s the principle of the matter.

And there I was, a coffee river at my feet and unable to process what had just occurred. So after entering the building, I went to the community coffee pot and filled up.

Heartbroken in Upstate NY,

Noelle

PS. Luckily, I had some half and half stashed in the fridge…still not good.

Coffee Talk: Have you ever had a coffee heartbreak? Workplace coffee, good or downright awful?!


Confessions: Life, Lately

This weekend went by entirely too fast… that seems to be the story of my life for the month of August… So, here’s a random update, Noelle’s Notebook style….

We found this little guy in the pumpkins on Sunday. He even held a pose for me!

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Speaking of the garden, you’ll be happy to know that I’m still on my giant salad kick.

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Lettuce, radishes, cukes, tomatoes (!), adzuki beans, carrots, avocado, scallions, rice, cheddar and a chipotle yogurt dressing

I bought a bathing suit this weekend for the first time in about 2 years…it was on super sale. I also bought a cute summery dress. Yay for end of season savings!

Like a BOSS

Like a BOSS

I got a grand total of 12 hours of sleep between Saturday and Monday morning (between a bachelorette party, long run, church, work and watching old movies). This makes for a very grumpy Noelle…my apologies.

In spite of a serious lack of sleep, I managed to come into work very early yesterday … I broke my streak of not buying coffee and treated myself to Starbucks during lunch. Unfortunately they messed up my order. S-Bux FAIL.

I tried to get up early and run THIS morning…but I failed miserably and hit the snooze button a few more times than necessary. This means that I will have to go for a run tonight when I get out of work…oops.

Also, PSA Time: PLEASE Pay attention to the road when you are driving. I was almost in a major accident yesterday because of someone not paying attention.

Allow me to explain;

My company is located on a pretty busy road, the highway entrances/exits, 3 gas stations, the state police station and an airport are less than a mile down the road in either direction, along with several businesses.

I was coming back from lunch and put my signal on to turn left into the parking lot. There was on-coming traffic. As I am waiting to turn, I see a car speeding up behind me…my car is obviously not moving and the other car was NOT slowing down. Unfortunately, there were still cars coming and I was starting to get very nervous because I had nowhere to go.

Long story short, the other car got very close (to the point that I could see the driver’s face in my rearview mirror!) before the driver slammed on the brakes. To–BARELY–avoid hitting me, she had to veer to the right (cars were still coming the other direction). She hit the brakes so hard that she not only went completely off the road into the grass, but she also spun completely around. I was able to turn at the last  possible second and pulled into the parking lot (I HAD to get off the road).

I stopped to make sure the other driver was okay and what did I see? She pulled back onto the road and sped away–without even looking to see if there were any cars coming…SERIOUSLY?!

Anyway, I don’t know what she was doing, but again, PLEASE pay attention to the road. IF not for your own safety, then for others on the road.

End Rant.

On a brighter note, some really great things are happening lately!

1. I signed up for August’s Foodie Penpals after taking a long hiatus and I am pretty pumped. I got two awesome match-ups.

2. I had a really honest and encouraging email discussion with a company that makes a running fuel. I learned a lot of interesting information about the manufacturing process and was able to give them some feedback.

2a. I ordered a sample pack of this product to try…it should be here soon…can’t wait to try it on this weekend’s long run! I’ll be sure to let you know how I like it.

3. I won a giveaway! I NEVER win anything so you can imagine that I was not only shocked, but pretty darn excited! Brittany was hosting a Simone France giveaway and I entered on a whim…so glad I did!

4.  The hubs and I went on a late night Price Chopper run… we picked up the essentials: Annie’s Mac & Cheese (there was a 10 for $10 sale!), Chipotle Tabasco sauce and cottage cheese (Tabasco, cottage cheese and black pepper is one of my favorite snacks in the world).

I don't know how to feel about this.

I don’t know how to feel about this.

5. This weekend is my 20-miler! Yes, I’m a little nervous…but I feel ready.

6. Speaking of running, my foot and tendon pain have almost disappeared. I still notice it if I have a super busy night at the restaurant, but otherwise, my feet are feeling pretty good.

7. Next week the hubs and I celebrate 2 years of marriage. Time flies!

8. Our dear friends are tying the knot on the 24th. I am so excited to share in their special day…AND to show you what they chose for a wedding dessert.

9. One of my sisters will be in town next week. HOLLA!

10. We have tomatoes… Another week and they will be coming out of our eyeballs. I CANNOT WAIT! This is not one of our tomatoes, but ours are/will be similar

Can't wait!

Can’t wait!

11. Fun fact: I am currently the same weight that I was my junior year of high school…weird.

 
What are you up to this week? Ever won a giveaway? Favorite wedding dessert? Worst driving pet peeve?  How about your favorite snack?

Happy Tuesday!


Is That a Challenge?

I don’t know about you, but I love a good challenge. Lucky for me,  November seems to be the month of Challenges!

There is a little trend on some social networking site, where people post one thing that they are thankful for each day of November. I’ve decided to accept this…and to take it a step further. I’ve created a page on this site where I will post my items.  Check it out!

My second challenge? I joined an online group!  I don’t usually like to join groups on the sites I use… but I have a huge goal that I am finally going for in the next few months (more on that later…) and decided that this would be something to help me on that path…and to keep me accountable.

So, I took the plunge and joined a group called the “50 day Challenge!!” on MFP. Basically, it’s to help members stay on track to reach a personal goal by December 18. I am aiming to shed a few more pounds or a pants size, but more importantly, I just want to stay active. I’d hate to see all of my hard work from the last few months go to waste. Because of this group, I’ve added a lot of MFPals in the last week or so…and it’s great, although I do find myself distracted by all of the activity on my page.  No matter, I have people to keep me on track. Boom.

 We also started a new series in our small groups and at church. It’s called The Circle Maker.

In our first meeting, we were challenged to pick something to pray about for 21 days (“drawing a circle around it,” if you will).  We were to come up with an end goal/dream/request and ask God to help us attain that end result. Every day. I have a couple of things that I could pray about, but I’ve got it narrowed down.

So, here I am, doing this. I do pray every day. But I don’t typically ask for something for myself, so this is definitely a new experience. I’m learning as I go.

I’ve also got a race coming up! The hubs and I will be running the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and I am pretty excited. Lots of running to get in before then and I am hoping for a PR!

Lastly, the hubby and I have been eating a lot lately. We’ve been eating out…And not very well…so I am challenging myself to eat better, cleaner and cheaper this month.

No, I won’t be depriving myself of all the wonderful goodies that come from November (Hello, Turkey and Pumpkin Pie!!!), but I will be paying attention to what I eat and challenging myself to eat at home. This means getting up in the morning to make breakfast, planning my lunch the night before and–gasp!!!–making coffee/tea at home instead of going to Starbucks. It’s on!

It’s going to be a month of self-discipline. But I am ready!

Do you have any challenges/goals for this month?  Tell me about them!


October Foodie Penpals

I’m a day late, but I am so pumped to tell you about this month’s foodie penpals!

I sent a package to Susie in Indiana…she recently moved there from Chicago and couldn’t be happier!  I have to say that this was the first time I received an email from a foodie penpal that made me laugh out loud. Major props. I sent her some of my favorite (and local) items from our co-op.

To see what other Foodie Penpals received, check out the Lean Green Bean’s Post.

This month I was paired with Mary from Wisconsin. She describes herself as a “food enthusiast” and teaches chocolate making classes in her spare time. How awesome is that?!

I received her package when I arrived home from my trip to DC (for the ATM!) And it was AMAZING. Seriously…I think this was my favorite package ever. Thank you, Mary!!!

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Penzeys and coffee and chocolate! Oh MY!

Not only did I get a small note for every item in the package, I also got a copy of Penzeys Spices latest catalog (which has some great recipes in it, btw!), a variety of recipe cards, little post cards (also from Penzeys) and some new knowledge about the company-Did you know that they are out of Wisconsin?! Mary wrote in one of her notes that she has watched them grow from a small shop into an awesome company. I love stories like this!!!

Along with some great Penzeys recipes, I also got some of Mary’s favorite spice blend, Northwoods (Ben and I tried some the other night. Very tasty) and some natural high fat cocoa, which I put this in some pumpkin cupcakes and it gave it that extra little something.  Mary also sent her recipe for cappuccino thins, which I will definitely be making soon!

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I’m all about new cookie recipes!!!

Other items in the package included:

– Mary’s favorite coffee blend (a chocolate roast mixed with an orange roast and tossed in cocoa-heavenly!)

-Wisconsin Truffles filled with beer. Also delicious.

-Her family’s favorite Fall snack-a trail mix which includes dried cherries, nuts and other wonderful goodies. This is really good. I’m trying to make it last a long time…but I don’t think that will happen.

Like I said, AMAZING!!!

Mary, you went above and beyond. Thanks again!!!

And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals:
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes! Most of the time it takes 2 days to go anywhere in the country!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.
If you’re interested in participating in November, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.
You must submit your information by November 4th as pairings will be emailed on October 5th!


Pumpkin Coffee. Need I say more?

Yesterday, I talked about a homemade and healthy version of the quintessential fall caffeinated beverage: the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

I used this recipe from Eating Bird Food. I made a few small tweaks, but the main parts are the same. I love that she shared this and that it doesn’t contain any artificial colors or …other ingredients.  Mad props!

This is not nearly as sweet as your Starbucks go-to. But it’s tasty. Try it!

Here is what I did.

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Goodness

adapted from the above link

What you’ll need:

Brewed Coffee of your choice (French Roast, anyone?)

About 1/2 cup milk. I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk as the post suggested, but I’ll use half and half or whole milk next time for a creamier taste/texture…because I’m naughty like that. 

A few spoonfuls of pumpkin puree–I usually try to do my own, but if you don’t have time for that, this stuff is organic and contains only pumpkin. Just my style.

Cinnamon-a couple of good pinches or grates on the microplane.

Nutmeg--go the fresh route. You’ll thank me later! Again, just a few good grates-the fresh stuff is strong!

Allspice--just a pinch or two.

A good splash of vanilla

Creamed Honey or Maple Syrup-a small spoonful. This would also be amazing with maple cream or brown sugar.

What to do:

Combine pumpkin and milk in a small saucepan, heat over medium-low heat. Using a spoon, break up the pumpkin and stir.

Once mixture gets to a simmer, add in your other ingredients to taste, I just did a pinch or a few good grates of each. Stir.

Pour coffee into a mug.

Using an immersion blender, blend mixture until milk is frothy and foamy. You can also use a regular blender-anything that will fluff up your milk.

Pour mixture over coffee.

Top with ground cinnamon and whipped cream if you’re feeling fancy.

Drink with your hubby or friends over a good book.

Happy Tuesday!