Monday, February 14, 2011

Ready For Romance: Kisses In The Kitchen

Ready For Romance: Kisses In The Kitchen: "

This recipe is from the Hershey's Website. I tried it out, and it was rather delicious. If I get the chance to try them, I will probably post more Kisses recipes from the Hershey's site..




  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 36 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates or HERSHEY'S HUGS Brand Candies
  • 1 can (16 oz.) vanilla ready-to-spread frosting


  1. 1 Beat butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt alternately with milk, beating until well blended. Cover; refrigerate dough about 1 hour or until firm enough to handle. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  2. 2 Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolate pieces.
  3. 3 Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Spread frosting onto cookies, leaving about 1/2 inch around outer edge unfrosted; place chocolate piece in center of each cookie. About 3 dozen cookies.


RPM Explained: the workout and the certification process

RPM Explained: the workout and the certification process: "

Many of you asked about RPM after I did the training 2 weekends ago. This posts goes over what RPM is and how the training/certification process works, plus some of my thoughts on Les Mills and the RPM training itself. This is a pretty text-heavy post but I hope it helps those of you who were interested!

What is RPM?

RPM is the indoor cycle program developed by Les Mills. In RPM, you ride to the beat of the music and the workout is choreographed (like all Les Mills groups fitness classes), meaning it’s the same format every time. The music and specific choreography changes every 3 months with new “releases” but the overall format always remains the same – you’ll have a warm-up track, flat speedwork, mixed terrain, hills, mountains, cool down and stretching. You won’t necessarily have to listen to the same songs over and over for 3 months since instructors can mix in songs from old releases to keep things interesting. rpm49orgBecause the format stays the same, you can always know what to expect, can guage your progress and know that you’ll get a great workout, instead of dealing with hit and miss instructors, music, preparation, etc.

Wait, so what is Les Mills?

Les Mills is a New Zealand-based company that creates choreographed workouts, trains instructors through a rigorous certification process who then deliver the classes in gyms across the world. A gym has to be licensed with Les Mills to have the classes in their facility and a Les Mills certified instructor cannot teach at a gym that is not licensed. les_mills

The thing that makes Les Mills programs different than a regular group exercise class you’ll take is the research behind the programs; the entire company is devoted to creating effective workouts. They have medical professionals, fitness professionals, and a whole bunch of others at the top of their respective fields that help create the 8 programs that Les Mills offers (ranging from cycle to weight training to a yoga/pilates mix to martial arts). For example, some of the contributors to developing RPM are professional cyclists. Pretty cool.

Why did you, Ms. Teri Zawrotny, want to get certified in RPM when you already teach cycle?

I started taking Body Pump (the Les Mills weight-training class) last February. I’ve always considered myself in pretty good shape from all the running I do and, at the time, was teaching a weight-lifting class at another gym. However, within just a month of doing Body Pump just 1-2 days a week, I noticed visible changes in my body. Within 3 months, I had definition in places I never had before, particularly my hamstrings and shoulders, which I loved. I was hooked. In addition to Body Pump, I started taking Body Flow and became a 100% believer in Les Mills programs. The Les Mills programs motivate me like no other group ex class has before and I always leave feeling like I got a great workout and I’ve developed many friendships from going to Body Pump so I especially looked forward to going.o_bp62

As I learned more about RPM from other instructors, the program sounded very similar to how I try to develop my cycle classes: music driven, challenging but accessible, and capable of delivering results. I have spent hours listening to music to determine the best part of the songs for climbing, for sprinting, for recovery based on the musicality and beats of the music. Oh hey, that’s very similar to the RPM program. RPM uses the music to enhance workouts and motivate, not simply as background music. Les Mills also works with instructors to become GREAT instructors, and I was ready to step up my game as a instructor and really get to a place where I could help change peoples’ lives. RPM delivered on all aspects for me: music, coaching, connecting and results. And they even make it easier for me since I don’t have to spend hours and money on iTunes, building my own playlists.

How does the certification process work?

First you have to have a gym to “sponsor” you; it doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily pay for your training but they are the gym that is licensed with Les Mills and will (likely) hire you to teach. You can only sign up for the training if the gym you select on the website approves you to take the training. Les Mills does this to prevent their program quality from getting diluted; they want to know which gyms they are working with to know that everything is being delivered the way they intend.

Next, you’ll attend a 2-day training (8 hours each day) for RPM (it’s longer for some programs). On the 2nd day, you have to teach an entire track from memory (I was assigned the Mountain Climb). So, you’ll spend the entire night after Day 1 memorizing your assigned track.

If you don’t pass the initial 2-day training (passing is determined by a number of criteria, including the presentation of your assigned track), you may just have to work on certain aspects over the next month or so until you do pass, or you may have to retake the entire 2 day training. You’ll know at the end of Day 2 which pass level you fall into. If you do pass the training, you’ll then work on memorizing the entire choreographed workout (typically 9 songs). Within 90 days, you must send in a DVD of you teaching the entire release and mail it to Les Mills, where they will evaluate your knowledge of choreography, technique, coaching, etc. If you pass, you’ll be ready to teach on your own!

Did you enjoy the training?

YES YES YES. It was incredible. We were lucky enough to have an RPM trainer who lives in Winston Salem so many of us knew him beforehand. He was so inspiring and really made me want to become the type of instructor that makes workouts fly by, that are fun, that get people coming back and that change lives. We all know those kind of instructors; but that doesn’t happen overnight. Our trainer was so encouraging and when giving feedback for improvement, he never made anyone feel bad or embarrassed (even when watching video of ourselves!). The program itself is great, but I feel our trainer made the weekend…dare I say…magical. Winking smile

How can I get involved if I’m not an instructor and don’t want to be? Go to the Les Mills website and click “Find a Class” at the top to find classes offered in your area!

Other notes if you are going to a training:

  • I used 3 changes of clothing each day. Having 4 would have been nice to change into dry clothes at the end of each day.

  • Pack a lunch – you only get 30 minutes to eat and you’ll want that time to listen to and study your assigned track.

  • Bring a small DVD player if you can. But it’s not necessary.

  • Bring snacks. You’ll want more food than a usual day because you work hard and you work all day.

  • Your butt is gonna hurt. Nothing you can do about it.

  • Have a good attitude! Be friendly! Get to know the others in the training. It’ll be more fun that way.

Phew! Catch all that?

Does your gym have Les Mills programs? If so, what’s your favorite? If not, does it interest you or does the “repetitive”/choreographed nature turn you off?

*Note: This write up includes my personal thoughts and explanation of Les Mills and RPM from my experience. I do not formally represent them and they are not paying me for this glowing endorsement.


this week's honor roll - reuse your christmas lights

this week's honor roll - reuse your christmas lights: "christmas time is OVER. bittersweet. i'm not that big into christmas decorations (i.e. red and green EVERYWHERE), so i'm glad those are gone, but i do love christmas lights. i wish we could keep them up all year round without neighbors thinking we're either lazy or white trash. hehe. :)

so, i've been thinking of different crafts or decoration ideas where i could utilize my christmas lights all year round. and this is what i found on the interwebs.

1. cute wall hanging from me and my bucket.
2. i know, it's a long way until halloween, but isn't this crescent moon pumpkin from country living great?
3. i love this paper pennant garland from once wed.
4. amazing round string lanterns from sallygoodin.
5. this lighted piece is like lite-brite for grown-ups! from of paper and things.
6. learn to make flower lights at craftser.
7. this heart wall lamp is perfect for valentine's day! from paper, plate, and plane.
8. pretty and easy-to-make fairy light centerpiece from wandering mist.
9. these doily lights are so delicate and pretty! from the slightly obsessive bride.

hope you enjoy!


Friday, February 11, 2011

Paint Chip Clock

Paint Chip Clock: "

This clock is one of my favorite projects. It's a paint chip craft taken to a different level. There are some really awesome paint chip projects out there, but I was determined to come up with something a little different. That's when crackle medium entered the picture and this paint chip clock was born!

Read more and get the instructions >>

Sunday, February 6, 2011


 More on how Tru's potatoes grew

THE COLOSSAL POTATO TOWER VENTURE - "UPDATE": "So my potato tower has gotten a resurgence. In fact there are more flowers on now than there were before. As I need some potatoes, I just dig a couple out, and leave the rest. I figure until it get too col, the best place for them is in the ground. They are elevated, so are well drained and should not rot in the ground where they are situated. I am; however, getting a little anxious to break that baby open!



I haven't taken any pics of my potato tower for a while. It's been so hot, I didn't feel like doing much. Anyway, here's what it looks like today. Some of the plants have died back, but some are still growing.

From what I've researched on this, it says you can rob a few potatoes from the died back plants. So, I harvested a few for supper tonight. These are from the top layer. They look good enough to eat! I think I will, thank-you very much!

gardenMay15,2010 gardenMay27,2010
gardenJune8,2010 gardenJune18,2010

PhotobucketJune29, 2010



THE COLOSSAL POTATO TOWER VENTURE - "UPDATE": "I haven't harvested any potatoes for awhile, but today I decided to dig a couple up for supper.
This is the first potato I dug up. I put a coffee cup next to it, just to give a perspective of the size. It is the size of

2 large potatoes.

Hubby was with me and we both started to laugh. I said, ' I guess that's supper .'

Anyway, I'm still debating whether or not to break the whole thing open 'cause there is still quite a lot of green going on up top. We haven't had a killing frost in our area yet, so I guess that explains why these tater plants are hanging on for dear life. I'm also waiting for my horseradish to turn brown to harvest that. I suppose it will all come at the same time.

Have a Great Evening !


I want to try potatoes in the garden this year. This looks like a fabulous way to plant them.

Potato Skyscraper/Tower here:

This is what it looked like when I first planted it...

This is at peak growing...

And this is just before I broke that sucka open. It really shrunk down.

It didn't exactly all fall out, like the guy said it would, but close enough. I could brush the soil away with my hands where the potatoes were growing.

I don't know if you can tell or not, but I raked about 2/3 of the soil back into the spot to compost over the winter. That way I'll have my first layer for next spring already there.

Here's my harvest. About 7#. Add to that about 5# we harvested earlier, it comes to about 12# or so. So, I doubled my input, 'cause I planted 6# originally. So It comes to about 25 cents a pound for fresh potatoes. That's not too terrible. I did expect a better harvest, but this is certainly better than the none I was able to grow in the ground before. Add to that no digging to harvest and I think we have a winner.

Here's my largest potato...

And here's the smallest!

So, to recap:
It didn't take up much space
It looked pretty good as an architectural planting
It was pretty maintenance free, except for watering and a couple of 'wheat' weeds from the straw
The harvesting was easy
I actually got a harvest

Not as good of harvest as I would have liked

I plan to do this again next year, but I think I'll skip the Kennebecs. We weren't real thrilled with them and prefer the Reds and Yukons.

Friday, February 4, 2011

On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs, and Heroes

On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs, and Heroes: "On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes

On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes by Robert J. Morgan is a unique new resource. I received it to review a few weeks ago and I'm excited about the possibilities.

About the book:

Amazing stories of faith from twenty centuries of church history.

From the Roman Empire to the Reformation, St. Valentine to St. Francis, Martin Luther to Billy Graham, On This Day in Christian History introduces readers to a parade of preachers, popes, martyrs, heroes, and saints from 2,000 years of Christianity.

This introduction to 365 of the most interesting men and women of faith brings a year's worth of inspiration and spiritual challenge and offers an enjoyable glimpse into church history. Each day includes a related Scripture reading and a simple, colorful story about history-making events in the lives of people who loved God wholeheartedly.

My thoughts:

What a fantastic resource! I can think of multiple ways this book can be used by different people. Pastors and teachers will find it a great source for illustrations, it makes a wonderful addition to history studies for homeschoolers, and it works well as a daily devotional too.

Author Robert J. Morgan explains why he wrote the book:

'Contemporary Christianity is interested in recent trends, current challenges, and modern methods. So am I. But nothing braces me to face these days like visiting the cloud of witnesses that comprise church history.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn observed, 'If we don't know our own history, we will simply have to endure all the same mistakes, sacrifices, and absurdities all over again.'

'How shall we labor with any effect to build up the church' asks Philip Schaff, 'if we have no thorough knowledge of her history? History is, and must ever continue to be, next to God's word, the richest foundation of wisdom, and the surest guide to all successful practical activity.'

This is one of the reasons I'm providing this armchair tour of the chronicles of Christianity in a devotional format-to inspire, amuse, challenge, and deepen the soul with two thousand years of anecdotes from an alphabet of characters from Ambrose to Zinzendorf.'

I've mentioned before that a knowledge of our history is a priority for me with our children:

'I think being familiar with the history of the church and major figures in it's history is incredibly valuable for children. It's important for them to understand how we got where we are now and give them a sense of heritage. Not to mention the incredible examples some of the church fathers, missionaries and other figures set for us!"

The same applies to adults! A lack of knowledge of church history seems to be the general rule in many churches today. A resource like this is step in the right direction! The entries are short...each date takes up just one page, so each one provides just a brief snapshot. Still, there's a broad range covered here, from ancient to recent times, that will certainly whet the appetite to learn more. Just flipping to a few significant dates for our family for a sampling covers these:

  • The origin of the King James Bible

  • Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms

  • Scottish giant of the faith Robert Murray McCheyne

  • The Spanish Inquisition

  • Missionary Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire fame

  • The Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Churches

  • Jonathan Edwards

Our entire family has enjoyed what we've read so far. My plan is to add it to our daily reading and make a timeline as we go through it using our History Through the Ages figures. I look forward to continuing to use this as a resource for a long time. I highly recommend it!

(I received a complimentary copy of On This Day in Christian History from Thomas Nelson to review, but all opinions expressed are my own.)