Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why Wednesday - Creatures of Habit

WHY do I seem to always run the same routes? Like a mouse in a maze, I run mindlessly, turning on the same roads depending on the mileage for the day dashing for my "cheese" (the finish). I'm always saying "enjoy the journey" but I think I'm missing out on some of the journey seeing the same things day after day.

We live in a small town and I find that I always run from my house (which is soooo awesome and I owe the CRC a big thanks for running from here) seeming to be a creature of habit choosing to run the same roads day after day. It's not so bad until you start training for longer races and then you find yourself circling town multiple times. Maybe a new view might help the runs pass a bit quicker.

So today I made a new rule for the 8 retracing my steps and running the same road twice with one exception; the block that I live on. It was fun, mentally mapping out my run trying to make sure to always choose new roads all the while trying to estimate mileage and then finding additional roads when I ended up .80 of a mile short. In the end, I actually finished 8.2 miles at 9:30's sprinting the last 1/4 of a mile just because I could. :)

Run On! And discover a new route or two this week...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The last treats I baked for the holidays turned out to be three cheesecakes...I was in such a rush since I had to wait until the week of Christmas to get them made that I failed to take any pictures of them and since they are a secret family recipe I won't be posting the recipes here but I will give you some details to make you drool.

Cheesecake #1: Of course I made the original Plain Cheesecake since that is the go-to favorite for many. Rich but not too rich, creamy, smooth, and fresh (thanks to the lemon juice). It had a graham cracker crust with a hint of cinnamon but it could also be made with ginger snaps.

Cheesecake #2: A hit from last year had to be brought back and tweaked to make it even better. I call it a Caramel Pecan Cheesecake but should maybe call it a Double Sugar OD. This year I spread thick Smuckers Caramel/Butterscotch topping all over the Pecan Sandie crust and then poured the plain batter in swirling more caramel through the top. After baking it and topping it with the normal sour cream topping I spread chopped Pralined Pecans (recipe I found in Southern Living) over the top and drizzled on more caramel topping. Talk about a sugar overdose! Think next year I will make my own caramel sauce now that I know how to make caramels.

Cheesecake #3: You have to have chocolate so I went with the Chocolate Almond Amaretto (Disorrano) Cheesecake. This is a recipe from way mom has been making this one for years. Not too much chocolate and not too much amaretto; a nice balance baked in a Oreo crust topped with chocolate sour cream topping, almonds and a drizzle of semi-sweet chocolate. Will let you in on one secret ingredient - coffee - just a shot, but oh how it wakes up the chocolate flavor.

The reason for the three cakes is that I give them to three sets of family's and each gets a third of each flavor. If you are wondering how they turned out all I can say is I had no complaints and had reports that one of them is already gone.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from Greyson, Brooke & Michael

Greetings, Hope this letter finds you all well this Holiday Season. I can't believe it has been almost two months since we checked in with everyone about Greyson but since he hasn't had any doctors appointments we didn't have anything major to share. "Buddy" has continued to shrink a little more in the front and under his arm from the sclero-therapy. The spots in his hand and arm seem to be a tiny bit bigger but it hasn't seemed to slow him down any.

Greyson continues to get physical therapy and visits from a special instructor to make sure he is staying on track developmentally. He is still scheduled to have surgery at Children's Mercy on January 27. We expect he'll stay in the hospital a few days but we aren't sure. We hope he will get to stay in a regular room so we can stay with him. I will keep everyone posted with his progress through this page during surgery and recovery.

Greyson is doing just perfect and keeping Michael and I hopping. We have gotten into a great routine and Greyson is developing faster than ever. He grows and changes daily. To catch you up, he is almost 8 months old (on the 7th of January), he weighs a bit over 18 pounds, and is more than 27 inches long. He is smiling all the time and laughs with and at Michael the most. He loves to stand up with one of us holding him and is just now beginning to sit on his own and play with toys tipping over occasionally. He rolls onto his belly a lot from his back and can pivot around. He is now figuring out how to roll over "buddy" and is working on getting back to his back. He is a great eater - eating lots of vegetables and fruits but not really enjoying meat yet. He has started to learn to eat finger foods with a little more texture and is trying to drink from a cup but we have a long way to go.

On this Christmas Day we are reminded about all the family and friends that have kept Greyson in their thoughts and prayers and we wanted to thank you all and wish you the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years. We appreciate you all and count ourselves very lucky to have you on Greyson's support team. We look forward to seeing and hearing from you soon.

We love you,
Brooke, Michael, and Greyson

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why Wednesday - Clutz

"Brooke, WHY are you laying on the ground?" you might have asked if you had come upon me at 6:45am this morning.....

WELLLLLLLL, that would be because this morning I officially* fell for the first time on a run. Guess I was in a zone and not paying attention to the road when all of a sudden I felt my body fling forward and before the message could get to my arms - scrape, skid, bump - I was down. Luckily, I instinctively turned to one side so I didn't get my face but I did bang my knee, shoulder, and head pretty good. Had my gloves on so my hands didn't get torn up but did sting a little. As soon as I landed I rolled to my back to assess the situation (and make sure no one saw me) and looked back to see what obstacle I missed in the road. Funny thing, all that was there was just an uneven spot in the road that I have run over 100's if not 1000's of times. Thinking maybe I should pick up my feet a bit. But no worries, I'm not really hurt, just a bruise or two ;-) so all is well. Should be ready for my long run (15) on Friday. Hoping the weather holds out for me.

Run On!

*I have fallen one other time on a run but that was trail running and that doesn't fall into the same category - you know, roots, rocks, ruts...who wouldn't fall down ;-)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why Wednesday - Running With "The Girls"

*I apologize in advance if there are any men reading this that I offend (don't really think there are many people that read this anyway so I think I can be candid:)....

Before every run, when I get my clothes together, almost every time I forget one of my bra tanks/sports bras. How could I forget 1 you say?????....that would be because I now have to wear 2! My little sports bras that I have had for years don't seem to be doing the trick anymore (they haven't for more than a year) and it now requires two sports bras to "hold things together".

It is a well known fact that when you get pregnant, and then if you decide to breast feed, your boobs get big huge. For some ladies, this is not such a big deal because they were used to boobs to begin with, but for me, someone that had basically nothing, this has been a big huge change...and I hate to complain cause I know that I will wish them back later, but I'm really not that fond of them. Although Michael would probably like to plead his case.

So this brings me to my WHY ........... 
WHY don't I just break down and buy a few new running bra tops?

This whole issue of not having enough bra's and only needing to wear one would be solved if I would go buy a couple of bigger, more supportive, sports bras but for some reason I keep putting it off. Not really sure why....Maybe I am thinking that as soon as I go buy some the new "girls" will know it and disappear as a cruel joke. But most likely I am just a cheapskate and won't spring for any knowing that when I am done breastfeeding (which will be much sooner than Michael's 2 years idea), they will shrink and then they won't fit anymore and will be a waste laying in my drawer like the 1 maternity tank my sister gave me. I do have plans to pass that tank on to a friend but not sure if she, or anyone, would want my "hand-me-down" bras ;-) .....Just saying....

Run On!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sugar Cookies

First off, I owe this whole post to my friend Cherona who shared this recipe with me a few years back when we used to have the best Maple Leaf Parade Parties. I ruined the tradition of course when we moved off parade route and it hasn't been the same since. A few of the 10 years we lived there, she made the cutest maple leaf shaped frosted sugar cookies and shared her recipe with me. I swear this is the best sugar cookie recipe I have found to date (sorry mom - yours are 2nd). These can be rolled and cut out of cute shapes or simply rolled in a ball, tossed around in a bit of sugar, flattened down, and baked.

This year I found that I have a shortage of time to do all of my normal Christmas cooking so I decided to go the non-cookie cutter, non-decorated route. My friend Martha shared a tip to brush them with a bit of water after you sugar them and they will come out shinier and a bit crisp. I even added a touch of coarse decorators Sparkling Sugar (Wilton). The best part for me this year is that I don't need to frost them so that will save me lots of time (but I do say they are even better and cuter with a bit piped on top).

oil makes it real runny
used the mini scoop instead of rolling, then rolled in sugar and flattened
sprinkled on after flattening, then brushed with little bit of water
Sugar Cookies:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Cream butter, oil, and sugar in the mixer on low speed. Add eggs and vanilla, mix until combined. Combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, soda, cream of tarter) in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients 1/2 cup at a time. I added between 1/4 and 1/2 cup extra flour to get the dough to come together and not be runny (all the oil causes the dough to be very runny but adds to the crispiness when cooked). Refrigerate the dough overnight. Roll out dough with a rolling pin to 1/4 in in depth and cut out using your favorite cookie cutter or roll into 1 inch balls, roll the balls in sugar, place on a cookie sheet and flatten using a spatula or bottom of glass. If rolling in sugar and flattening, brush tops with a little water and sprinkle with decorators course sugar. Bake at 300 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes. Cool and remove from cookie sheet. When completely cool decorate with frosting.
finished product

Last Minute Deals on Snapfish

Not that I have waited this long ;-) but if anyone else is still needing some gift ideas Snapfish is running some great deals today and tomorrow.

Calendars: Buy 1 Get 2 Free (only 37 hours left on this deal as of Monday 12:45pm)
Coupon Code: MERRY1213

Books: 50% off all Photo Books (4 days left)
Coupon Code: 1211MERRY

I might better throw something together tonight!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pecan Balls - A Family Tradition

For as long as I can remember my Grandma Roberts has been making Pecan Balls at Christmas time. It is the only time of year we ever have them and when I started baking for the holidays I added that recipe to my list as well. They are a tradition and a must at Christmas.  Even if we don't have a white Christmas we will have these little snowballs.

Pecan Balls:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar. Blend in vanilla and pecans. Add flour and salt. Mix until smooth. Form into1-1 1/2 inch balls and back on un-greased cookie sheet at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. While warm, roll in powdered sugar. Allow to cool.

The ingredients are simple and even easier to bake. I don't think I have ever messed them up.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Almond Butter Toffee

Inspired by a recipe and lovely pictures I found on one of my favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman: Lia's Butter Toffee...that's it; I had to make some. After looking at her recipe it occurred to me that I have made this recipe before so I started looking through my recipe books and figured it out. Lia's Butter Toffee is basically the same as my mom's Almond Butter Crunch.

It was as easy as I remembered - like the caramels; just dump all ingredients into a pot and bring to 300 degrees (must use a candy thermometer), stirred in toasted almonds, then poured it into a greased pan, after letting it cool until firm I sprinkled some chocolate chips on the top and when melted I spread it over the toffee and sprinkled on the last of the almonds. Delicious!

Almond Butter Toffee
1/2 cup melted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon water
1/2 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon corn syrup
1/2 cup chopped, toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  1. Mix all ingredients in a pot and bring to 300 degrees (must use a candy thermometer)
  2. Stir in 1/2 of the toasted almonds
  3. Poured it into a greased pan and let it cool until firm 
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips on the top and when melted spread it over the toffee
  5. Sprinkle on the last of the almonds. (can repeat steps 4 & 5 on other side if you want)
  6. Break into pieces and store in container.

Why Wednesday - Chronic Overdresser

WHY can't I figure out what to wear when it's cold outside??? It's not like I am new to cold weather running; shouldn't I know better? When am I going to learn?

It's winter time again and the temperatures have dropped well below the norm for this time of year. I haven't yet headed in to the Y to start putting in my time on the treadmills so that means braving the unpredictable Mother Nature here in the mid-west.

Last week Chanti and I ran one early morning at what the Weather Channel said "felt like" 18 degrees and then on Saturday morning with the temps around 30 degrees and the wind straight out of the north at 20 mph gusts - brrrrrr....Debbie and I thought our faces were going to freeze off.

So what do I do to combat the cold - well....I layer on the clothes. Today the temp was 40 degrees, no wind, and full sun and I was heading out for 8 miles. As I stepped outside it felt like I had the perfect amount of clothes on but by the time I was 2 miles away I was shedding the layers.

Here is what I started with...
And here is what I finished wearing....
When am I going to learn? Maybe I should make a warm up loop around the neighborhood and swing back by after a mile to drop off some layers before heading on for the rest of the run.

Run On!

Christmas Tree Up

Not the best picture (don't even get me started about our camera) but it pretty just the same. Greyson loves all the lights of course. The tree does lean a bit but as long as you look at it from the front then no worries ;-)

Check that off the to-do list. Seems like so much to do in so little time this December....ahhhhhh. On the list today:
  1. Label and mail Christmas cards
  2. Finish MIL and niece gifts and mail
  3. Make sugar cookie dough
  4. Scrapbook mug gifts
  5. Work
  6. Help friend plan a SMART Board training
  7. Run 8 miles
Wish I could turn back the clock and give myself a few more hours.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Homemade Caramels - So Easy

Yesterday I made caramels for the first time EVER and they were SOOOO easy....and delicious. Yes I have eaten a ton.  Basically you dump all the stuff in a pot, bring it to 250 degrees, pour it in a pan, let them cool, cut them apart with a pizza cutter, and wrap them in wax paper. I ended up using a recipe found on All you need is a dutch oven pot, wisk, candy thermometer, pizza cutter, and a 12x15 baking pan. Be careful ....this stuff is licking the spoon.
Creamy Vanilla Caramels
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1cup melted butter
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a medium sized pot and heat on medium to high heat. 
  2. Monitor heat with candy thermometer until it reaches 250 degrees. (took me 10+ minutes)
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into greased 12x15 pan. 
  4. Let cool (took mine 2 hours) then cut into 1x1 1/2 inches pieces using a pizza cutter and wrap in wax paper.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Goodie Plans

I can't believe it's already December....the days are moving fast and it's time to start planning not only the Christmas presents, Christmas card, but also the goodies we will share with loved ones. Below are some of the recipes I am thinking about. Some of the traditional go-tos and some new ones.

Pecan Balls (Mexican Wedding Cookies)

 Sugar Cookies

Cheesecakes: plain, mocha madness, caramel pecan, raspberry white chocolate

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I've Commited (Have Me Committed)

On your mark, get set, go!
Looks like Little Rock Marathon is on the official Brooke Race Calendar for the Spring. The festivities will begin at 8am on March 6, 2011. The sister has twisted my arm just far enough to get me to commit (and I am wondering if I should be committed since I have heard it is hilly). She swears it will be fun and I also have another friend planning to run so at least I won't be alone. Running Little Rock will also get me my 5th marathon in my 5th state. A couple of highlights.....a huge finished medal and we can drive. There is some apprehension on my part because what I most most worried about is being alone for my long runs. I have had the great luck of having local friends running the same marathons as me for the past 4 so I have always had at least one person to put in the miles with. This time it looks like I will be on my own :( I know the CRC will be with me for some miles but not like usual. Oh well...I did my first marathon training alone... I can do it this time and bonus.... it will get me ready for the Ozark Greenways Adventure Race in May.

Other races possibly on the calendar:
Eric's Run - Jan. 9??? in Carthage (5K)
Run with the Wind - Feb. 26 from Sarcoxie, MO to Carthage, MO (30K)
Brew to Brew - April 3 in KC (44 mile relay)
OCK Marathon - May 1 (26.2 miles maybe with Debbie)

Run On!

Why Wednesday - Trying Something New

Here's my thought: if I create some sort of ritual posting I will be inclined to keep up with my blog. It seems that my mind seems to wonder when I am putting in the miles and I come up with lots of thoughts, ideas, questions, and more. Maybe I should start writing them down to remember them for future reference. So this is the birth of the "Why Wednesday" post. If you can answer some of my questions please comment; I need all the help I can get.


WHY is there so much trash on the side of the road? Is there some reason that people feel like trash is better placed on the side of the road instead of toting it home and putting it in their own trashcans? Can they just not stand to look at it on the floorboard of their car for one more second and so they must eject it from their windows immediately?

And WHY is most (I estimate 90%+) of it recyclable.... never making it to the recycle center at the city dump? And what % of our local citizens actually recycle? Which takes me to my next question...WHY does our small town not have curbside recycling? Is it too costly? Is our future world not worth it?

So finally, WHY don't I go pick it all up? Is there some sort of "runners recycling backpack" I could purchase (or invent) that has a vacuum hose so that when I run past it all I could just reach out, not even breaking my stride, not that it is fast or long, and suck up all that trash? WHY don't I patent that? I'm imagining leaf blower meets hydration pack ... :)
*images found on Flickr under the Creative Commons license.

Run On!