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Nurse’s Week Cupcakes

May 11, 2011

Nurse’s Week occurs from May 6-12 every year. May 6th is national nurse’s day and May 12 is Florence Nightengale’s birthday. Every year I make a treat for my mom’s OBGYN practice to celebrate her nurses. I have made many different cupcakes and cakes. This year my mom really wanted to honor the logo for the day:

I got really inspired by the hand/heart logo and I went through a lot of different ideas about how I wanted to tackle this. I finally decided to make my favorite Lemon Meringue Cupcakes and then make 4 different designs. I really love to bake. Though this was a gigantic amount of work, I had so much fun making these treats and I can’t wait for the nurses to enjoy them tomorrow.

Sarah’s Lemon Meringue Cupcakes:

The first step is to cream 2 sticks of butter (room temperature) with 2 cups of sugar. You know it’s ready when the butter and the sugar mixture looks like a puffy cloud!

Next add 4 eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Then add 3 tablespoons of freshly grated lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. This is my favorite Vanilla Extract. I like to buy the gigantic bottle at the Williams Sonoma Outlet, it’s only $10 there which is a serious steal!

Next you alternate adding dry and wet ingredients. The dry: 3 cups of flour, 1/2 salt (I like kosher or sea salt), 1 teaspoon of baking power. The wet: 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of buttermilk 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (I like to steal my lemons off my neighbor’s tree… Sorry Simon). Add them in 3 batches beating after each addition. You definitely don’t want to overmix. Just wait until the ingredients are incorporated. Once you are finished, scrape down the side and make sure the batter is well mixed. For instance:

Check out all of that lemon zest hiding on the beater!! Scrape everything to be sure you aren’t leaving any thing behind. You want all that good stuff in your cupcakes not left behind in the bowl!

I like to use an ice cream scoop to scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. It makes for cupcakes that are all the same size.

Look at how beautiful that batter is!!!

Once you have filled all of the liners you will have a little left over. This is seriously the most delicious batter, grab a spoon and dig in! 

Once you finish scooping the batter tap the pans on the counter to get out any excess air. It makes the cupcakes bake evenly. Put the cupcakes in a 325 degree oven for 25 minutes, be sure to rotate the pans halfway between cooking.
While the cupcakes are baking I put all of the dishes in the sink. Since I baked these this morning, I made a cup of tea and an english muffin and put my feet up. If it was late afternoon or evening I would have made myself a margarita or poured a glass of wine. For me, Baking is an indulgence and I don’t bother myself with worrying about the cleanup. Baking for my family and friends brings me joy and I like to enjoy the process. Enjoy the perfume coming out of your oven and tackle the dishes while the cupcakes cool 🙂

A Bismark Tip

Usually I make a homemade Lemon Curd to fill the cupcakes. However, the focus on these cupcakes was very much their decorations. So I used my favorite store bought lemon curd to fill the cupcakes. The best way to do this is is to use a Bismark tip. Attach the tip to your piping bag and then fill with the lemon curd. Stick the tip into the center of the cupcake and then as you remove it squeeze the lemon curd into the center of the cupcake. If you do not have one of these tips, you can cut a hole in the cupcake and then fill the center. Either method will produce a delicious product.

After this I spread a little curd across the tops to create a nice lemony glaze!

Ok so I did not take a lot of pictures of making the fondant decorations. You have to work quickly with fondant so it isn’t easy to take pictures unless you have someone else helping you. I bought my fondant from Michaels. I rolled it out with powdered sugar and used food color gels to tint it. I used an exacto knife to cut the shapes and then circular fondant cutters to make the polka dots and the fondant discs.

Now for the frosting!

Whisk 8 egg whites, 2 cups of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tarter in a mixing bowl.

Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until the sugar dissolves the mixture is warm to the touch. Then put the bowl into your standing mixer. Use the whisk attachment and set the speed on low and gradually increase it to high. Beat until stiff peaks form, then beat in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Frost the cupcakes immediately.

And Voila!

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The way the Cupcake Crumbles…

May 10, 2011

Clearly it’s been a long time since my last post. I’ve kind of been in hiding because I got hurt training. It goes back to my back to back 8 mile runs that I did back in March. At the end of my second run I noticed some sharp pain on the outside of my knee on the last 1/2 mile of my run. It wasn’t so bad that I had to stop so I pushed through and finished. Then, as so became the custom, I started skipping my short runs during the week. I was so busy with school, wedding planning, family, and working 24 hours a week. It was so stressful and I started feeling like if I was at least getting my long run in then that was enough. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The following Monday I went out for a 16 mile run. At mile 14 the pain returned. It was all I could do to keep going past 15 miles. It was a sunny Monday and I had my favorite trail to myself. It could not have been more disheartening to have this pain return. I slowed down considerably and managed to finish at 16 miles. However, I could barely make it to the car. I decided to take a few rest days and run on Thursday before attempting my 18 mile run. Thursday came and went and before I knew it, it was the day of my 18 mile run. I decided to check out a new trail that is much longer and flatter than my usual trail. The pain that had creeped up on my long runs showed up after only 2 miles. I could not have been more worried. I took short walk breaks and started running once the pain subsided. The pain free moments were more short lived than I hoped. As soon as I started running the pain grew. I made it to 7 miles and decided I couldn’t go any further. I started crying and called my fiance Joe. It was a low moment when I was walking on the trail watching runners pass me effortlessly. Joe picked me up and we talked about whether or not the dream Marathon was salvageable. I decided I would cross train and attempt some smaller runs. I started doing Skinny Girl Yoga. I loved it. I felt as though my whole body was breathing. However, it did not affect the serious pain in my left knee that I came to know as the IT band. After 2 weeks I decided that the dream was over and I decided I would do the half marathon.

It was a really hard decision to step out of the marathon. I though about trying to run/walk it, but I knew that wasn’t how I wanted my first marathon to go. Before I knew it the race was here. Between filling in at work and finishing my nursing internship I worked a 62 hour week! I knew that the race would be ugly, but I was determined to stay positive an enjoy the day.

I met Joe and Robin after my last internship day for some yummy carb loading.

Don’t worry I changed out of those icky scrubs after the Kodak Moments!

After a delicious dinner and lots of laughs and smiles we all headed home. The race began at 6am and  we had to be shuttled to the starting line. My alarm went off at 3:15 and I had some major second thoughts about getting out of bed so early to essentially bomb a race. However, I managed to sleepily pull my hair up and change into my tight itty bitty running shorts. I love these teensy running shorts. They make my lower half look way more toned than it actually is. Feeling good about yourself is key!

I made it to Joe’s house by 4 and he made me a cinnamon raisin bagel with Nutella. Can I just tell you that Nutella is from heaven? It really is. I could eat it with a spoon…. one day I just might.

We got in the car and made it to the OC Fairgrounds fairly early. After a quick shuttle ride Joe and I made it to the starting line with enough time to stretch, use the potty, and relax! What a change! Normally we are so delayed because of parking we barely make it before the national anthem.

Once I made it over the starting line I began running. I tried to hold back and take it really easy. As I made my way out of Fashion Island I was greeted by this lovely view:

Wow! I told myself “You are so lucky to be in this race, seeing this sunrise, keep your chin up!” It was barely before 2 miles that my knee started hurting.

Mile 5:  The race had definitely become a run/walk situation. At least I had this incredible view to brighten my day!

I think this was Mile 6… so gorgeous!

7 miles: The Incredible Back Bay Road…. how I wished I could have given this trail the run it deserved. At this point I started to feel really down. I knew I was a better runner than this. I started wondering if I would ever feel better again. I decided to run as hard as I could until I got to the tree at the end o the trail. It hurt but I made it, and my spirits lifted a little.

I chugged along.. and then there was this sign. I loved seeing my name on a sign, even it wasn’t for me! The next few miles crawled. I was really struggling. I kept trying to run as long as I could and then walk to recover. After mile 12 I saw something that nearly made me fly…

LULULEMON!!!! They make the cutest signs, it was just what I needed! I kept trucking along and made the last 1.1 miles, my official time was 2:44 average pace 12:30 per mile. Crossing the finish line was bittersweet. I had achieved my personal worst time but on the other hand I was glad it was over and proud that I had stuck it out when so many odds were stacked against me. I was so excited to see my Joe cross the finish line with a massive PR. I also found out Robin PR’d too. I couldn’t have been more happy for my friends.

After the race we all met for pizza and then Joe and I took a few well deserved days off together. It was fabulous. I have since returned to the gym to work on trying to heal this injury. The results have been great and I can’t wait to share what I am doing, but I will save that for another post. Until then…..

Hugs,

Sarah

Miles and Macarons

March 21, 2011

Well I am so sorry to say I haven’t blogged in 2.5 weeks. That is terribly sad. It has been a crazy month, and I can’t believe it is almost over! Since my last blog post I put in a good 15 miles and bad 15 miles.

The Good 15 Miles:

I know, I know,  good and 15 miles in the same sentence doesn’t sound quite right. However, this was seriously one of those runs that you pray for. The sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot. The bike trail wasn’t too crowded. I had my favorite Cliff goodies in my belt. The stage was set and I took it. As I completed the first mile I felt groggy and my legs were cement. Ugh. I kept trudging along and with the help of a new playlist I entered that “zone.” Love when that happens. Once the bike trail ended I was in new territory. I knew where to turn around for 13 miles but where was I going to turn around for 15? The first part of my run is uphill so when I got to 6.5 miles and the next part of the road was a HUGE hill I was less than pleased. I decided to improvise so I made a quick right. I went up a little speed bump of a hill and then kept going until I reached 7.5! I turned around and sailed back. There was never a point where I was hating running or wanted to stop. It was a beautiful thing! As soon as I stopped my legs were really hurting. I did a cool down and then went to 7 Eleven for ice, 2 Gatorades, and a smart water. After an ice bath I met up with my nursing school Wife for a Chipotle burrito bowl and some serious studying. It was a great day!!

The Ugly 15 miles

Let’s just say life got in the way a little. After 2 nursing school tests in a row and finishing my last clinical I had a hard time working my last 2 long runs in… I’m so embarrassed to even write that 😦 So I knew I wasn’t ready to go up in mileage but I thought I could step it up with some hill training. Wow…. I sure did deliver. I chose to run from my house to Dana Point. I felt as though if I wasn’t going up a hill I was going down. Some hills were so steep I couldn’t run them the whole way. I have to say, cresting the final hill after Dana Hills High School and seeing the ocean for the first time was an awesome moment. It was so amazing in fact that I missed the turn for PCH and ended up running down to the harbor. If you have ever been to Dana Point Harbor you know about the massive hill leading to it. Yep, so there was another hill I added. FAIL. Once I got back to PCH I hit my stride again. I ran a few miles back to Crown Valley Pkwy. Then I hit a wall and one of the steepest hills of the run…. eek. It was a very hard run. I think it was harder than the first half of the San Francisco Marathon. Since I added that gem of detour to Dana Point I hit 15 miles much earlier than I planned and ended up walking 1 mile home. In pouring rain…. yeah. I have the most supportive fiance. He called me as soon as I finished, Joe:”I’m so proud of you, you are so strong!” Me: “I’m in so much pain right now” Joe:”That’s ok! That’s how you are supposed to feel.” When I got home I collapsed for a good 30 min. I drank a whole bottle of Gatorade. It was glorious. Then I made 2 cups of tea, put on a beanie and a sweatshirt, and did my ice bath torture. Though the ice baths are miserable, they really do help with the soreness.

This weekend I made 2 attempts at french macarons. I love them. The beautiful smooth domey tops. The spongey feet. But they are very difficult to master. I think my 3rd time will be a charm so stay tuned, this weekend I will be giving it another shot 🙂

Tomorrow I start preceptorship. For those of you not familiar, preceptorship is like an internship in nursing school. You follow one nurse and by the end you should be taking most if not all of the nurse’s assignment. I’m excited to be doing my preceptorship on a floor I love, pediatrics! But I am nervous too. At least tomorrow is just the first day and my instructor said it was ok to get your bearings before jumping in full force.
Love and Hugs,

Sarah

Week 1 of Training, and 13.1 things about my 24th year!

March 1, 2011

Well week 1 is officially over. I can’t believe I ran 33.5 miles in total! I know for you seasoned marathoners out there that it may not seem like that much but I am amazed I had it in me. I ended up skipping a lower mileage run because I knew I was tired and I am trying to listen to my body, especially since these higher mileages are new for me. So here are the runs I actually did: 5 miles (Easy), 8 miles (Interval), 7 miles (tempo), 13.5 miles (medium long). I am taking an extra rest day because I just had two clinical days in a row and I am really tired. So I will be getting back out there with an 8-10 mile run tomorrow. I plan on seeing how I feel, I’m really glad I have so much flexibility in my training plan. A huge part of my week was my birthday. This past weekend I celebrated with friends and family and I was thinking about how incredibly lucky I am to have all of you in my life. I can’t believe how far I have come in the last 2 years. In fact, in September 2009 the farthest I had run was 4 miles. In 2010, my 24th year, I ran SIX…. SIX HALF MARATHONS! Since 13.1 was huge part of last year I decided, with some inspiration from the Chic Runner, to reflect on 13.1 things about my 24th year.

1. I got engaged to the love of my life and my best friend. I love you so much Joe! Thank you for inspiring me to be my best at everything and encouraging me to push myself to my limits. I couldn’t train for this marathon without you!

2. I am almost a nurse! I can’t believe how much nursing has changed me as a person. I’m so glad I found a career that challenges me and allows me to help people. I love working with my patients it is so rewarding. 

(Sleepy on the first day of clinical)

3. More than ever I have come to realize how important family is. I am so lucky to have them in my life and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

4. My nursing posssee….. I LOVE YOU! There are no words!

5. I went to San Francisco for the first time to run the first half of the San Francisco Marathon. It fell in love when I ran over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was so “worth the hurt” and I can’t wait to run The San Francisco Marathon… as in the FULL!

6. I qualified for California Dreamin’ Status. I love this medal and the jacket. I would wear them every day if the medal wasn’t so heavy.

7. I climbed Half Dome for the second time! It was a lot harder this time… must have been the 90 degree weather! The view and the company was completely worth it.

8. Joe and I went to Yosemite in the Fall. It was gorgeous and we even went on a haunted Halloween cemetery tour! So much fun!

9. I ran the Las Vegas Half Marathon and it was awesome! I loved running down the strip and seeing myself on the hotel screens.

Keeping it classy in an ice bath… with the medal still on

10. I ran Surf City 201o and Surf City 2011, and unofficially……. BROKE 2 HOURS!!

11. I planned most of my wedding!!

12. I still had set backs. The nursing job market makes me scared of graduating. I had some tough things happen in my family and future family that were really heartbreaking to me. But in the end, I have so much to be thankful for and I am ready to meet the coming year head on.

13. I registered for BIG SUR!!!

.1   I started a blog… it’s the .1 because I am hoping I can keep it up 🙂

Love and Hugs,

Sarah

A Birthday Cupcake Crawl

February 23, 2011

Yesterday, February 22, I turned 25. I was a little depressed about it because I had a simulation + a HUGE test to study for yesterday. It was not a day that I could take time to celebrate.

Regardless, birthday morning I woke up and decided that this was still my birthday and I was going to have a GREAT day anyway! I rolled out of bed and decided I was going to eat cake for breakfast because being an adult means you get to do stuff like that. Then I got an even better idea, I was going to eat a cupcake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Though I knew where I would be getting my cupcakes for lunch and dinner, breakfast was a little bit of a challenge. With a few frantic phone calls I found an open bakery.

Cupcake #1 Daisy Cupcake from French’s

This was not in Costa Mesa, it was in Mission Viejo.

The bottom shelf has all of their cupcakes

Voila! I chose the Daisy cupcake because Daisies are my favorite flower.

I’m sad to say I wasn’t impressed by French’s. There staff wasn’t too fun either. Let me give you an excerpt.

“Hi can I have a daisy cupcake?”

“Just one?”

“Yes”

“What is it someone’s birthday?”

“Yes it’s my birthday!”

“You are buying this for yourself?”

“Yep, I’m starting early”

Awkward silence then followed. His cupcakes tasted like they were from Ralph’s so he shouldn’t cop such an attitude. Regardless, I loved the daisy on the top and I was so excited to have cupcakes all day he couldn’t bring me down!

After school my bestest nursing school friends, Amanda and Neil, took me to lunch! I LOVE them, and then we went to Frostings

Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

 

They are actually all about cupcakes!

Cupcake Porn….

I chose a raspberry truffle…. it was delicious even though it fell over in the bag

 

After a study sesh I headed to the house I am watching and out for a run. It was a beautiful afternoon and I really enjoyed running in a new area. Then it was dinner time and my sweetie picked up a dark chocolate cupcake from Sprinkles

It was my favorite cupcake of the day!

I’m pretty sure my mom is making me some for this weekend too!

Like I always say there is absolutely nothing (even an all nursing school birthday) a piece of cake can’t cure!

Love and Hugs,

Sarah

Marathon Training Plan

February 20, 2011
I have never made a training plan before. The first one I ever used was from the Half Marathon Special Edition of Runner’s World. I followed the long runs religiously before I ran the Long Beach Half but I didn’t commit so much to the speed workouts. So before Surf City I focused heavily on both speed and distance and it really worked for me. There were not any premade plans that had everything I wanted  so I decided I try out my own plan.
Some things I really wanted in my plan:
-30 mile low range and 50 mile high range
-I wanted to do 2 20 mile runs
-Flexibility in the midweek runs
Since I will be training for the race in the final stretch of nursing school and in preceptorship I may have to trade around a lot of runs. Also, since I have 2 work weekends to worry about I had to put my long runs onto a Friday and a Monday on those weeks.
This was really hard to make. Thank God for Aron of Runner’s Rambles whose blog gave me tons of ideas and places to look. I found she was doing a lot of the same things I was she is just way more organized and had names for it. In addition to her blog I used the new adidas MiCoach program (more on this below) and a few different websites.
Here is a quick key:
Easy: easy runs that are about recovery. I have a hard time keeping it slow but this is the goal!
Interval: these are runs I am going to do with short bursts of speed over a few minutes. I am going to use the adidas MiCoach to decide what paces I want to do each week.
Tempo: My first week I will be doing a tempo at half marathon pace and then I plan to step it up. I will also use the MiCoach for these runs. Per my friend Laura’s request, I will be doing a post on how to do a tempo run soon 🙂
General Aerobic: These runs are supposed to be all feel.
Long Run: Long, Long, and Long. These runs I do by feel and try to keep it slower
Medium Long: Previously I have been doing this for all of my long runs especially with my focus on my half marathon PR. I usually take the first few miles slower and then at half way at the latest I speed it up and take the last mile as hard as I can.
So that’s the plan I will update you all through the process as it kicks off… tomorrow!
Mi Coach Review
If you haven’t seen MiCoach it is pretty cool. It is alot like the Nike Plus but it’s main difference is it’s major focus is pacing and time. When you make a training plan it takes into account where you want your pace/overall time to be and then makes a plan based on it.
Pros:
-A green, yellow, blue, and red zone that are assigned to goal paces for your runs
-An assigned time so that no matter how your effort is going you always run to that time. This will be awesome for those days where I want to go by feel and effort rather than mileage.
-Hookup with the Iphone 4, 3GS, and 3g. I was able to transfer these workouts to my phone. Once you open it on your phone you can customize your settings. Aside from setting a playlist you can also customize a coach’s voice. I chose Reggie Bush because I like to watch Keeping up with the Kardashians. If you don’t have a compatible phone you can also buy a pacer which will connect with your MP3 player and give your time elapsed, heart rate, and coach you to get to your desired level. They also have a MiCoach Zone armband that will display the color zones of the work out as well as the time elapsed and heart rate.
Cons:
-The schedule was a little hard for me to work with
-Instead of being able to put in a distance focus it only puts in the elapsed time you should be running. I prefer to be able to control my milage a little more.
-The kits are a little pricey, but they are also optional
Love and Hugs,
Sarah

Penny Lane is in my heart!

February 17, 2011

My father is a lot like the soup nazi in Seinfeld. Only, instead of soup he is very safety minded. So when the runner in Laguna Hills (very close to my usual running route), was recently attacked my parents were very concerned about my safety while out running. I try not to run at night ever. I will mostly just go to the gym if I can help it. However, there is a big difference between the treadmill and the pavement so in my opinion there is just no substitute for running outside. Let’s face it I signed up for a 26.2 mile death march so I have to get serious about my training consistency.

The first thing I did was buy one of these from Road Runner Sports (my favorite running store ever!). However running with pepper spray was a great idea for defense but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a way to deter attackers. For the most part have just been running in broad daylight and keeping my music only so high that I can still hear my footsteps. I was discussing my predicament with my mom the other day when she suggested I take the family dog. I immediately laughed. Penny is a King Charles Spaniel. She can sprint, but it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon hehe 🙂 I wasn’t planning on crushing any records yesterday I just wanted to run 5 miles. I knew Penny had been cooped up all day because of the rain. Reluctantly I decided to give it a shot.

This is Penny Lane. She is not a ferocious dog.

 

She is full of mischief, not terror.

 

There had been splotches of rain all day and I wasn’t sure if we would actually end up being able to go out. I used to hate running in the rain. When I was training for the Long Beach Half Marathon we had a ton of rain and I was forced to confront my fear. Since then I’ve kind of fallen in love with it. Penny is a child of nature, she rolls in the grass and eats sticks like they are dog treats. She would rather drink from the hose then from a bottle and any day she is outside is the best day of her life. I’m sure this sounds like your typical dog but our Pug is actually part human and will not go outside unless he is assured he will be let in soon after. Anyway, things finally started drying up and at 4:30 I decided to make a run for it. I pulled on a warm pair of running tights and my new Surf City Half Marathon shirt. I decided to put my pepper spray and my phone into my iFitness belt so I would have them if I needed them. I grabbed Penny’s leash and we headed out.

I was not surprised that she sprinted the first mile. Even going up the first big hill she was hustling.  A few times she ran in front of me and it took some maneuvering not to trip over her. It was a little frustrating because instead of focusing on my running I was always focused on what she was doing. We got to the nature center and as we curved around the wooded path she finally started to relax. I yelled some words of encouragement to her and almost in a cheer back she panted away with the biggest doggy smile. We started running down the dirt path to the lake and Penny and I were finally in sync. The weather however had other ideas. Suddenly it started raining. The drops weren’t big but they were definitely noticeable. I stuck it out for a little while and when I got the lake I clicked off my Nike Plus and stopped to put my headphones in my belt. Penny started crying. She wanted to keep going! As soon as I had put my phone back I clicked the Nike off pause and Penny and I took off. It seemed like we took giant steps and the scenery was flying by! The rain stopped and the clouds turned a brilliant shade of orange. All I could hear was Penny and I breathing together and our feet crunching in the wet sandy dirt. We had the whole lake to ourselves and we made the most of it.

As we came back up to our neighborhood I looked up and noticed a brilliant rainbow across the sky. We bounded up the last 2 hills home and then took a cool off walk for about a 1/2 mile. I was so proud of this little dog despite the weather we managed to run 5 miles with an average pace of 8’45 a mile. She was covered in mud and she got a bath the moment I got home. I expected her to sleep the rest of the night but she didn’t act like she had been out for a run at all. Finally at 8 she started slowing to a sleep.

Finally taking a breather!

Whether Penny was a deterrent or not I can’t really say, but I enjoyed taking her out and I can’t wait to do it again.

Love and Hugs,

Sarah