Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Betty Crocker Baking Set Giveaway

Eating Gluten Free isn't always easy, and baking, can be really hard. Personally, I don't eat or make a lot of gluten free baked goods because of the crazy amount of sugar and carbs in the pre-made mixes, and I have yet to master many gluten free recipes from scratch. When I do make things, it's usually me trying to convert recipes myself (which sometimes works out great, sometimes is a disaster!), or if I really need a gluten free baked good to bring to an event I'll grab a mix from either Trader Joes or Betty Crocker. I've found both of those brands of mixes to taste great, and be relatively no fuss.

Betty Crocker came to me with this awesome prize package below that is a great addition to using with their gluten free mixes, and now they're giving one away to a reader as well!

The prize pack is pictured below and includes a Baking Tool Set that includes: a rolling pin, basting brush, spatula and kitchen timer, plus, an 8" Square Cake Pan.
Prize Package
To enter for a chance to win the prize package, leave a comment with what your favorite gluten free recipe is, whether for baked goods, or a regular meal, along with your name. You have until 11:59 p.m. on Friday May 31, 2013 to enter. For an additional entry, tweet about the giveaway with a link, and referral to my twitter handle (@AlexaTC) and Betty Crocker's (@BettyCrocker) and leave a separate comment telling me that you've tweeted.

One winner will be picked and will have until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4 to send me their information to: AlexaTaleof2Cities@gmail.com or a new winner will be chosen.

**The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Baby Cush Update

In a few short days, my gorgeous little man will be seven months old, seven months old! I can hardly even believe it. I can't imagine life without him, but I also feel like he was just this little ball of an infant, curled up in my arms.

Everyday is a new adventure for him, he can almost sit up on his own, and is now in love with his new exersaucer.

 Also, I write a lot about what I eat, but now Austin is developing a pallet of his own as he eats more and more foods beyond his former straight milk diet. My friend Sarah recently wrote a post about what her daughter Lola eats, and I thought it would be fun to write about my little guy's expanding tastes. He is now eating two "solid" food meals a day, and the best part of my day is feeding him. Austin finds such a joy and excitement in food, that it's so fun to watch him open his mouth in anticipation for each bite and reach out for food.

As a house hold with two full-time working parents, we do not have the time to make my own baby food (and not just because we work, I know a lot of parents who stay home who don't have time for this either). I depend on packages of it mainly, and then also add in other things like mashed banana, yogurt, pancakes, scrambled eggs, etc.

Austin's favorite food by far is Yo Baby Yogurt. A half carton is the perfect addition to his lunch or dinner, and he LOVES it! Ben is a big yogurt eater (a carton of key lime yogurt in his lunch, everyday--not sure how that doesn't get old!). Austin's least favorite foods are carrots and avocados, and he gets a rash on his face and neck from sweet potatoes. So all of those foods are currently not part of his diet.

He is also learning to feed himself more with Puffs and Mum Mum Crackers.

Mmmm, Mum Mum Cracker
I am so lucky, Austin loves almost all foods, and is a natural eater. We literally have to hide bottles from him until it's time to eat, or he will freak out with a happy dance, and making monkey like sounds of, "oooo, oooo" when he sees it because he is so excited to eat. He even gets jealous over other kids bottles at daycare, even if he's just eaten. This kid has no off switch!

Loving his bottle with Dad and Cooper

I also can't speak highly enough about the highchair we chose, the Boon Flair Pedestal. It's so nice to be able to wheel around from place to place in our house, and clean up is easy as well. I highly recommend it!

And what have I been eating? I've been mixing up new and old recipes lately, including:
I have a great Give Away coming up on my next post from a vendor I love to use, so stay tuned!
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

My First Mother's Day

I've always felt Mother's Day was kind of a sham. My mom never got into it, and I guess it rubbed off on me. I think it's funny when people treat it like a real holiday, as if it's Christmas or Easter. I never understood when people couldn't get together because they had to celebrate Mother's Day.

The weird thing is, I'm fiercely sentimental and emotional about many things. There are random times I get misty eyed just looking at Austin and realizing how much he's grown, or that these moments with him as a baby slip by so quickly. But Mother's Day, brings out nothing. I think because it's forced emotion, not that kind that occurs naturally, but something you're supposed to apparently feel on this Sunday in May.

Honestly, I feel like everyday is Mother's Day. I don't need flowers, brunch or jewelery to feel appreciated as a mom (and wife). I'm so lucky just to be a mom, that I don't think there needs to be a day to celebrate it.

That said, Ben listened to my request to do nothing, and treat it like any other day, and oh was it ever.

We started the day out as any other weekend, we went for a nice family walk.

Two Boys Ready to Walk

Then, we had to tackle a mystery smell from our garage. That's right, that's what happened on my first Mother's Day, I went after a nasty stink coming from our garage.

When I say nasty, you have to know, it was beyond awful, it was gag worthy, and I did gag a few times. Yesterday, I thought it was the garbage, so I cleaned out the garbage cans and recycling bin, thinking it could be something that spilled in there.

This morning, the smell was worse than ever, and spilling into the house, and I said to Ben, "I think something is dead out there."

And after some investigation in the garage, I spotted something, poop. Small animal poop. Yup, something was surely dead in our garage.

At some point, we decided to pull out the refrigerator in the back of our garage, thinking it could be coming from there. Fridge pulled out, but nothing to be found, then Ben said, "It smells like it's inside the fridge."

I started pulling up the bottom flaps that cover the electrical coils on the back of the fridge with my foot and suddenly, there it was... a huge, dead rat. The creature had obviously been electrocuted and it's huge eyes were staring out at me!!

When I saw it, I ran out of our garage screaming. A couple neighbors came over to see what was up after I went screeching into our driveway and I showed them the dead vermin.

In the best Mother's Day gift a man could give, Ben grabbed a couple garage bags, and he graciously pulled the rat out from the refrigerator himself and got rid of it. Thank goodness, because there was no way I could touch that thing, even with layers protecting my hand, bleh.

So there we go, that was my first Mother's Day.

I'm hoping Father's Day doesn't involve hitting a skunk with the car or something.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nike Women's Half Recap

What is it about the Nike Women's Races that kick my butt so badly? I guess because both races I've done of the Nike series were  true challenges, and I had to dig deep to finish both. The first Nike Women's event I did was the Full Marathon in San Francisco in 2010. It was my first, and at this point, my only full in 2010, here's my recap of that race.

This half last Sunday felt very similar to the full. Like running my first full marathon with an injury, I was trying to accomplish something that seemed nearly impossible at some points, completing a half marathon six months and one day after giving birth via C-Section.

I'll give away the ending right now, I crossed the finish line. I did it. It wasn't pretty, but I did it, and here's how...

Friday night, Lynne and I went to the expo to pick up our packets in Georgetown. It was an awesome expo. Free Luna bars of all varieties ran aplenty, samples of Nun hydration drink, and since it was a women's race, Paul Mitchell would do your hair, and Bare would do your make up.

This guy was really excited about his job with Luna
 Besides the usual traffic congestion that is Georgetown, the packet pick up and expo were seamless, and I'm glad we went on Friday night to avoid the Saturday crowds.

Sunday morning was the usual early wake up, 4:35 to be exact. I pumped, ate some oatmeal with berries and peanut butter, got ready and was out the door at 5:25 a.m.

Lynne and I met at a metro station, where we parked and took the train into the District. The train was efficient and got us to the starting line quickly, where I then had the challenge of finding where to drop off my bag, that was the only stressful part of this pre-race process. The streets were packed and they kept announcing that bag check was closing, making it even more stressful!

During the hubbub to find the bag drop, I did run randomly into my old friend Chantelle from Wisconsin who told me she would be cheering at the race, but I never thought we'd actually see each other!

Chantelle and I Pre-Race
After getting my bag dropped off, we stood in our coral, and watched the sun rising over the Capitol surrounded by 15,000 runners. It was awesome.

Lynne and I, ready to run
The race got started and was great, the first half felt wonderful, despite quick the congestion of runners for the first 1.5 miles.

There were many good things about the route, the cool feeling of running under the Memorial Bridge, and great sites throughout the course. There was were great crowds most of the race, fun bands, and many funny signs from spectators.

One pitfall of this race were the water stops at the beginning, they didn't have volunteers proactively handing out cups of water the first half, you had to go up to the table and get a cup, or go pour your own at the table--not ideal. I skipped the first water stop because of this, which was not a good idea in the long run.

About half way through the race, my body really started to hurt. My ankles and arches hurt (read: I need new running shoes) and my legs were getting heavy. Mentally, I felt defeated at several points after mile 11. My body was telling me no in every way. I couldn't keep any liquids down in my stomach after that point, forget any shot blocks or sport beans.

Then, around mile 12, I started to feel very woozy. I told Lynne I had to walk, running wasn't going to happen. I tried running a couple more times, but every time I did, I saw spots and sparkles.

With the finish line in site, I got the chills, not because I was excited to finish or feeling all euphoric or something, oh no, but because my body was freezing cold and I was shivering. I knew at that point, I was dehydrated. I leaned on Lynne, literally, a lot that last mile, because felt like I was going to pass out, but I had to finish.

At mile 13, I told Lynne we had to run it in the last .1 miles. And we did, and then as I crossed the finish, my body crumbled nearly in a heap on the ground, I leaned on Lynne again, and she ushered me to the Medical Tent, where I was placed on a stretcher, had some water, and then received half a bag of fluids through an IV. I felt better quickly and bounced out of the tent after about 15 minutes to find Ben and Austin at the finish line, and of course get my Tiffany necklace!

At the Nike Women's Marathon in SF they had Fire Fighters in tuxedos handing out the necklaces, at this race it was ROTC students from Howard University, which was kind of weird since most them were about ten years younger than me!

Looking back at the race, I didn't plan ahead enough for how many more calories and fluids I would need to consume during the race because of nursing, and that is why I believe I became so dehydrated.

Training for a race like this with a newborn is hard, and frankly, I was not trained enough for it because of all my commitments. There is a whole other post I will have to write about that, about HOW one trains when you work full time, and parent full time, but still have goals like this you want to accomplish. After all, you can't forget who you are when you have kids, and have to keep doing what you love.

In the end, I'm proud I ran this race. Proud of what my body can accomplish in so many ways. I won't be running another distance race for quite some time, but I'm glad that if I'm taking a break from longer distances, this was the race I went out with.

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