Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Animal Instinct

So, maybe not that extreme of animal instincts, but on this Tone It Up Tuesday we're going to talk about animal poses. Why? For two reasons: there's a little something that will carry over from the meditations book to today and it's almost Halloween....so "costumes".

On Days 34-36 of the meditations book Gates takes a break between yamas and indirectly addresses the practice of yoga and the vibrancy of our youth. Many of us suffer from some kind of physical or mental blockage that prevents us from living the life we want to live. For me I have many different muscle and joint issues that some days hinder my progress forward on my fitness journey. However, I feel the aching that he talks about in my bones and muscles to run and play and jump like I did when I was young. He talks about flowing styles of yoga and that in a true yoga practice the posture (or our work there) is truly never ending.

Awhile back I talked a little about a book called the Science of Yoga by William Broad. In his book he talks about telomeres in our DNA. They are this little measuring stick that tells the body how old the cells are and how many more times they can replicate before they just die all together. There are people out there whom, through poor choices in life, have telomeres that are far older than their calendar age. Then, there is the miracle of yoga! Did you know that science has proven that doing yoga can actually stop the degeneration of these telomeres and in some instances even regrow them?! Thus, turning back the hands of time!
Don't forget this happens this weekend if you live in a place that practices Daylight Savings.
Therefore, in an attempt to recapture some of our youth this Halloween season, here are a five of my favorite yoga poses named after animals. Remember that corresponding animal sounds SHOULD be included....scratch that; ARE MANDATORY during practice.
And a shout out for my friend Sarrah....please ladies, stop going out downtown on Halloween dressed up as "Sexy Kittens".

If you have kids check out this yoga book with lots of acting out the animals (click on the photo below). It's a great introduction to the practice for kids ages 0-5!

What are you going to be for Halloween? How do you celebrate your inner child?

Keep Your Hands Off!

Welcome back to Meditation Monday. I feel like I'm running on empty today after my long weekend. I got in early this morning and then got up early with the boys. I got in a nice long (4 mile) meandering walk with a couple of friends and their little ones. By this evening I was feeling so worn out that it was left overs for dinner and some snuggling on the couch with my tiny guys before I sent them to bed. There is no "catching up" on sleep with two kids under the age of 4, no matter how much I wish it were an option. And this got me thinking about the third yama: asteya or non stealing.

Gates takes so little time in the meditations book talking about this subject (3 days), but he does note one important aspect of the study of this yama. Life is about choices; choices of attachment or choices of faith. It is very similar in nature to one of the ten commandments, but goes even deeper than the traditional definition: not to steal someone's stuff. In yoga we note that stealing from others includes stealing their time and emotions; not to take anything that is not freely given. Asteya asks us to be contented with what we already have and not to ask, "What do I need?", but rather to find self-sufficiency and say, "What do I already have?"

This weekend I went to DD and ordered a pumpkin donut as they only come once a year. However, in my bag there were two pumpkin donuts. If I were truly practicing asteya I would have tried to return the second donut. It's the kind of thing I usually do and is a trait I picked up from one of my grandfathers. However, I was in a hurry and I let the external world dictate my choices instead of acting from the heart. I kept the extra donut and eventually ended up tossing it. This made me feel extra guilty. Not only had I taken something that wasn't mine, but then I wasted it as well. Asteya also teaches us that wasting is stealing from those who could have used those resources.

Every time that you toss out food, run the water while you brush your teeth, etc you are using up precious resources, giving into a lifestyle of abundance, and detaching from your moral core. It allows you to lose focus and look for satisfaction in the external world instead of from within. We become selfish and self-serving. One of the bloggers over at Green Mountain wrote this the other day that is also very relevant to the practice of asteya.

I told my students, the week that we covered this yama, that the moment that we emotionally unload on someone, without asking first if they have the time or emotional capacity to handle our problems as well as their own, that we have stolen from them. I feel like that goes for asking anything of our friends and family. Before we ask someone to help out with our burdens, do we consider how it will change their life? Do we think of others before ourselves? And, in turn, how often are we stealing from ourselves?

So, this brings me back to my original thoughts. How often do we purposefully overload ourselves with tasks that steal from us things like energy, sleep, and calm? How often do we choose to do things that waste our time instead of enjoying the real pleasures in life? I feel sleep deprived, but from all of my own choices. And in being sleep deprived I am stealing from myself again in that I could not fully enjoy the day with my kids. Then I stole from them because they didn't have 100% of Mom today.

But I have the option tonight to sleep and to wake up tomorrow and be fully present. I have the chance each day to think before I dial the phone and unload on someone. I have the ability to be preservative of nature's abundance and to live minimalistically so that I don't overuse. And I have the power within me to make the world a better place by being a better me.

Have you ever stolen anything? Stolen something lately? Have you ever thought about what you steal from those around you? Have you ever stolen something from yourself?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Brought to you by Pepto Bismol....because it's PINK!

None of my posts are sponsored at this point, but this one should be as my passion for food has met it's match....and it's October which is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I've blogged exactly nothing about that so far. So, here it is:  
That may seem a little harsh, but I do think that it's VERY important to do those regularly because you just never know.

So, it's Sunday afternoon and I'm sitting at UMass Lowell waiting for the participants of this weekend's workshop to finish up taking their PT Cert Exam. I had a great group of all guys this weekend who put up with my crazy antics and loud teaching style. I believe they will all pass and make great trainers! If you're one of those guys and have found your way here....welcome....I don't say that about every group I work with.

Here's my adventure for the weekend; food included. Friday night I arrived in Boston and began my drive out to Lowell only to have my GPS not work because of all of the tunnels and a drive that should have taken me about 30 minutes took more like an hour and twenty. I was involved in 7 almost accidents and eventually arrived at the Raddison in Chelmsford. This has been one of my least favorite hotels to stay at. There just wasn't anything about it that would make me want to pay $109/night to stay there. Maybe I'm cheap and inflation hasn't caught up to my brain or vice versa....

I grabbed a little Panera to play it safe Friday night and got settled into my room, showered, set my alarm, and fell asleep while watching Modern Family on USA. I have a hard time sleeping when I'm alone...it's too quiet and the bed seems too big for just me. So, I piled the pillows up next to me and set the sleep timer on the tv so that I could hear noise as I drifted off. Saturday I treated myself before the workshop to Dunkin Donuts. I'm pretty sure that Lowell has a DD every mile....it's one of the many reasons I love that town more and more each time I go there. This was a particularly wonderful morning in Lowell because the fall colors were everywhere (I can't wait to upload one of the photos I took) and the air was crisp, but not too cool. My workshop was phenomenal in the morning and then I called in my lunch order to Moe's. This is where everything starts to fall apart.

I ordered a black bean and rice junior burrito on the wheat tortilla with corn salsa, guac, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, and cilantro. I would order more veggies, but I'm particular about the way they should be cooked and Moe's serves mushrooms. I'm allergic so I have to be cautious. I ate my lunch on the drive back to campus and saw the most beautiful house sitting next to the water near Pawtucket Falls. Doesn't that sound so New England?
It was a nice drive with the windows open, but my burrito was awful. Too spicy and hardly any beans. I'm not sure what happened, but by the end of the workshop my stomach was doing flips.

I took it easy back in my hotel room and worked hard on grading and writing since I was ALONE for the night. I usually eat at one of my favorite Greek restaurants while in Lowell. It's kind of become my Saturday night tradition, but I was so distracted in working that I no longer felt like driving across town for the sampler when I finally decided to eat. So, I ventured downstairs to the bar and grill which was touted as a favorite hang out of the locals. It was empty and I ordered some food to take back to my room and eat alone while I watched Hocus Pocus. Big mistake...I MEAN HUGE!

My stomach just couldn't hold it together enough for me to insult anyone like Julia Roberts did. I spent the rest of the night running to my little hotel bathroom and even had to jump out of the shower at one point. It wasn't fun to say the least.

This morning I just skipped breakfast all together because I was too tired to eat and I didn't want to press my luck. But, by lunch time my physical hunger got the best of my mind and I went and picked up the Greek Sampler that was now less than half a mile away. Another poor choice on my part, but not for the reason you would assume. The sampler is really meant for two people to share and I never eat the WHOLE thing, but a good portion of it because I rarely get to indulge in Greek fare. It has spanakopita, dolmades, moussaka, meatballs, and pastitsio. Yum! Except this time the meat in the moussaka, dolmades, and pastitsio were not cooked all the way. YUCK!

I have this big aversion to undercooked meat. Just the look of it served on a plate makes me want to vomit. So, I did what I could to down the cooked portion of my meal and discarded the rest. It was really the icing on the cake...
And now all I can think about are the cupcakes that Charlotte over at Commitness to Fitness was talking about and wishing I were home with the cookies I baked on Thursday! Which brings me to my baking fiascoes for the week on this Simple Simon Sunday: Why cookies can't always be baked on Stoneware.

Click here to see how beautiful Soft Batch Apple Cider Gingersnap Cookies should look. Kristin Porter my hat is off to you! I usually make great cookies, but these turned out to be flat, runny messes on my stoneware and that is why I am not a food blogger. However, my children and I still like the flat runny messes as they did bake all the way through and so we've been enjoying them (me before I left; them while I am gone). I think things went wrong because I made a substitution...or three.

First, I don't keep molasses in my house, so I used real maple syrup. I think that's where the runny came in. Second, I don't use cloves unless they're in already mixed pumpkin pie spice, so I added some nutmeg that wasn't in this recipe because a fall spice is a fall spice. This just made them more delicious in my eyes. And third I used my stoneware because I don't ever have parchment paper around and only own one cookie sheet. I'm going to gives these cookies another go in the future, but will have to invest in some appropriate staples to make it work out better. Give them a try and tell me how yours do.

Do you eat at chain places or local places when you travel? How does your stomach do in strange places? Do you want some cupcakes? Have you ever baked on a stone?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stand Up, Sit Down, Fight, Fight, Fight!

It's football season and my alma mater isn't doing so well (2-5), but that doesn't mean that I can't get in the football season spirit....right? Well, it might be fall where you live, but it was 80F again here today. I miss the years where October meant jeans and sweaters, hot cocoa in the morning, and football games where a giant turkey leg and a funnel cake were mandatory to keep you from freezing to death and losing 20lbs from shivering.

But, alas, those days are gone for now and instead we are at Tone It Up Tuesday! If you're not much of a planking person, then last week's move might not have been for you. But, if you like football, or Catholic church, this week's move might be right up your alley! I went basic again this week with another body weight exercise. I like to work with body weight exercises not because I'm a fan of Jane Fonda (actually a little too young to have been in her fan club), but because I don't believe in weighting an exercise that you can't perform correctly without weight. So this week we will be looking at the SQUAT! 

Please don't let the squat scare you off! I know my posts can be kind of lengthy, but I'm going to give you a few quick reasons why the squat is a good....nare I say GRRRREAT exercise to add to your repertoire. Okay Tony the Tiger....you may ask....why is the squat so wonderful? Well, have you ever sat down? Have you ever had to get back up from sitting down? Then you squatted! It's a functional exercise and as we age it becomes more and more important to do functional training. The squat can be done in so many different ways and is amazing at practicing that motion that we already do about a billion times a day. Squats require NO EQUIPMENT, so you can do them ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE!

Let's start with some squat basics....

Hip Width Apart
Find that bony point on the front of your hips....dig down...I know it's there. That is your ASIS or anterior superior illiac spine. Nice right? Yeah, that's your HIP BONE and measures how wide your hips actually are. You know that friend of yours (not naming any names) who always stands with such a wide stance? Unless he/she is pregnant with triplets, their hips are not that wide and you need to tell them to reel it in some. Okay, so now we found our hip bones...place your heels directly underneath them. I don't care what kind of luggage you may have outside of those bones, but this is hip width apart for YOU....enjoy it for a moment.....you're entering anatomical position and your body was meant to be here.

 Booty Down, Head Up
When you actually get to the squatting motion (talking about that in a moment), you want to make sure that your rear end goes down and back and your head and chest stay up.....kind of like they would when you actually try to sit into a chair (or get out of one). That's why this exercise is great to be practiced with a chair that is pushed up against a wall or is heavy enough (and doesn't have wheels) not to be moved by your body weight falling into it.

Knee Troubles
As you start to lower down we need to keep some focus on the knees. Remember that they are now hip width apart...and should stay that way. We don't want to bow our knees out like we're mounting a horse, nor do we want them pressed together like you're doing the potty dance. The knees also need to stay over the heels and behind the toes. If you have knee problems and still attempt a squat (not recommended), you will exacerbate this condition by allowing that knee to go forward of the toe. If you don't yet have a knee problem and your knees travel in front of your toes...expect one to develop. Keeping your body weight resting firmly in your heels will help keep the knees from traveling. You could also place a small sand filled medicine ball or Pilates ball between the knees to keep them from moving all around like one of those toys that you push the base and the animal falls over.
I couldn't find a pic where they had fallen over....but these guys look ready to squat with us!
Now that we've got basic alignment covered, let's just talk squat. You can practice the squat in four different ways:

Isometrically - This is a fancy way of saying do a wall sit and hold the squat position. It's a great place to start because you can do a few little wall sits and get the same effect on newly broken in muscles as if you did a million of the next exercise. Plus, it takes up less time and we all know time is a lie we tell ourselves to get out of doing things like wall sits. (See yesterday's post on Satya)

Dynamically with Body Weight - Dynamic exercises just involve movement.....so do a squat. Squat to your chair, squat with a ball behind you, squat in the middle of the room, squat with a partner....squat, squat, squat.

Dynamically with Load - If you're really great a squatting and need more resistance you can start to squat with a load. The Smith Machine is the mode I would choose because you're locked into the rack and that provides a little safety. You should also ALWAYS have a partner spotting you and if you take one of my workshops on Personal Training through NETA I will show you my secret squat spotting technique.

Plyometrically or with any kind of Challenge - Ever heard of squat jumps? Yeah, that's a more advanced squat. Squats on balance discs, foam rollers, BOSUs, etc are all an added challenge. Single leg squats and all other variations that throw off your balance, coordination, or require you to produce force or speed while doing a squat should be reserved for when you're pretty well trained and have the right instruction.

A few final thoughts on squats....
Squats are great for toning your legs and butt, but also engage your core and pelvic floor and we all know I'm all about the core and pelvic floor.
Squats are used in almost every form of exercise in some way/shape/form. In yoga we do them in Chair pose, Sunflowers, Moonflowers, Garland pose, and probably some others I'm not thinking of at the moment.
Squats help pregnant women prepare for giving birth and are one of the most natural positions for delivering children (think gravity people).
They are super functional and may save your life someday and even a baby can do it!

What's your favorite type of squat?
Favorite place to squat?
Bad squat experience?
Excuse for not doing squats?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Meditation Monday - Truth and Giveaways

If you notice two posts today it's because I am not quite skilled at the whole "set to post" aspect of blogging yet and my Sunday post appeared this morning instead of yesterday. Oops! Well, here we are at Monday again. I am now only 50ish posts behind catching up on all of my favorite bloggers and have gotten a significant amount of work done outside the house, inside the house, and for work. I have still not "caught up" on life and know that I never really will. However, in my attempt to get to the point where I truly feel at peace with myself and my place in life, I'm still working on my meditations, my yoga, my fitness, myself.....

Here are some meditation thoughts for you that I haven't yet had a chance to post about:

Days 23-30: The second Yama ~ Satya
 The second yama in the 8 limb path of Raja yoga is Satya or truthfulness. The yamas (if you recall) and niyamas are basically a code of ethics by which you should live. The first 5 (yamas) are restrictions while the second five (niyamas) are observances. Think about them as the yoga 10 commandments because they kind of align with the Christian ones.

In being truthful you need to keep your word, speak only the truth, and abandon all embellishment, minimization, self aggrandizements, omissions, rationalizations, and exaggerations. So, pretty much anything you ever use to tell any kind of story what-so-ever. This is hard for us and even harder if you have children. Think of all of the books you read to them that tell them untruths. Think of all the ways you "protect" them from life with white lies. Satya is so much more than this though, it's avoiding untruths while letting go of your own pretense. It's about humility that you feel when you have balanced your fear with your ambition.

In thinking about these concepts and trying to discover how to live in truth I came to a few conclusions and questions to ask yourself:

  1. Telling the truth about yourself to another is the hardest and most necessary thing to do in life. It may be easier to do to a stranger on a plane or through a blog than to the one you love, but all truth finds you again and if someone really loves you it won't matter to them if you seem "uncool" sharing who you really are. Are appearances more important to you than honesty?
  2. When we truly examine our lives we find that we have misaligned priorities that add to the nontruths in our lives. Saying you don't have time to do something in truth is I am choosing to do something else and not making the time for this. Are you fully connected to the truth you are living?
  3.  It is important to know yourself as a whole by practicing right action day in and day out. Know that you get what you need in life by not selling yourself short. Your journey is something you must discover on your own through hard work that cannot be done for you. And in the end you must let go and realize that there is nothing left to do....just move on. Am I ruled by a desire for pleasure, a desire for success, a desire for community, or a desire for liberation?

My truth is that I'm not perfect. I try to be as open and honest and exposed as possible. I try not to lie to my kids and my friends. I hold back sometimes and that is an expression of me as a nontruth in my life. It hurts me to be that way and I try to move forward and rectify that situation and not repeat it. It's hard work for me every day as it is for everyone who tries to live in truth.

The truth also is that if you post a giveaway on your blog, I'm going to enter to win. So, Kristin Porter, challenge accepted! I totally want to find new ways to use rice in the ways that I eat and I want to win a $500 gift card to Amazon so that I can give my munchkins a swing set for Christmas that I couldn't otherwise afford. If you want to know more about what I'm talking about, check out her post here and I will be talking about my porcupine meatballs some Sunday this fall. See you tomorrow for another installment of Tone It Up Tuesday!

What is the truth in your life? Do you enter giveaways? Do you tell your kids that there's a Santa?

Simple Simon Sundays

Do you remember that nursery rhyme:

Simple Simon met a pieman
Going to the fair;
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
Let me taste your ware.

Says the pieman to Simple Simon,
Show me first your penny;
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
Indeed I have not any.

Source: Extraordinary Nursery Rhymes and Tales: New Yet Old (1876)

My topic for today made me think about that nursery rhyme. I think there are a lot of  "rules" out there in the health and fitness industry regarding desserts, sweets, and snacks in general. I've mentioned before two things that are pertinent to this conversation and are my guiding principles for sharing this "feature" on Sundays in the near future.

The first is that I love to bake! You can see my cakes here and know that this post will contain another. I love to bake brownies and cookies and pies and I've even talked about a few of the recipes I've been trying out regarding desserts from time to time. I love to read food bloggers who take a little bit healthier spin on things and those who tell you it's okay to indulge. To me, healthier means using real food and real ingredients. This is the main drive behind my shameless indulgence.

Second is that I don't feel guilty when I eat these things because I use the principles of Mindful Eating that I learned during my internship at Green Mountain at Fox Run. I encourage you to pop over to their blog to learn more.

My only rules regarding sweets are as follows:
1. Eat only what you really want.
2. Enjoy (experience it with all senses) what you're eating.
3. Don't judge yourself for eating it.
4. Stop when you're full.
5. Try to keep it real (real ingredients that you know what they are and where they come from).

Thursday I mentioned that I was working on a 4-day cake for my niece and yesterday was the big reveal day. She loved it! Here are some pics regarding the cake:
This was the inspiration for her cake....and if you thought it was the cake I made, you were wrong, because I'm just not at that level yet....
Main reason this wasn't the cake - I don't work with fondant....or rather, I hadn't yet.
This is the version we got. So, how did we get through 4 days of cake making?

Day One: Color Flow
First I made leaves and the duck commander symbol out of color flow icing. It needs 2-3 days to dry really well, so Wednesday afternoon it was made so that it could go on to the cake on Friday night or Saturday morning (depending on my schedule).

The duck broke and originally looked EXACTLY like the image above, so that was disappointing. Color flow icing can be very difficult to work with if you're not careful as it is VERY fragile...even when dry.

Day Two: Fondant
The bow is made of fondant that I bought at Hobby Lobby. Normally I do not buy pieces of the cakes I make, unless necessary, but I haven't made my own fondant and needed it to work. I rolled it out on Thursday and cut it into strips. Then, I folded the strips into loops and pinched the ends together. I set them on their sides to dry as they take 1-2 days to harden.

Day Three: Baking and Icing
I took some left over color flow icing and tinted it pink and put the ribbon together following these instructions. I intended to let it dry overnight as I attempted to make the rest of the cake.

I made Betty Crocker's Silver White Cake recipe with a few tweaks (3 batches of it to make 10" and 2-8" cakes). I sub unsweetened applesauce for the shortening and often use vanilla almond milk for regular. This time I was out of almond milk and used whole milk and the cakes came out way too dense and a little rubbery. This could also be a result of the dark colored pans I baked them in. I need to invest in some real cake pans instead of using my spring form pans for rounds. Things just don't rise as well in them.

The icing was Betty Crocker's Vanilla Buttercream recipe again using usually almond milk. This time doubled the recipe then split it in half again to tint different colors. I did the bottom half in a khaki green made with the brown Wilton tint and kelly green Wilton tint. You can't tint frosting properly with food coloring. Just an FYI. The bottom was then covered with crushed Oreos and then the leaves. I stacked the top layer on and originally planned to frost and then sprinkle with pink sugar crystals, but decided instead to mix them in....big mistake! I mean HUGE MISTAKE!

This made the icing way too thin for some reason and it started to "fall off" the cake to the bottom layer. This made me very nervous and I kept "pushing it back up" until it dried enough to stick. I should have stopped there for the night, but wanted to push on so that I could enjoy Saturday instead of working on the cake more before the party. Instead I grabbed the duck and it started breaking into a million pieces. I eventually got it "stuck on" to the best of my ability, but had ruined the most perfect piece of the whole cake.

I took the last of my pink icing and my tinted color flow icing and mixed them together to make rosettes, but my heart was sad and my body tired, so they are not the best ones I've ever done. Finally, in desperation to see the final product, I picked up the mostly dried bow and slapped it on the top. Surprisingly enough, I felt a little better at that point.

Day Four: Delivery
This day was supposed to be both assembly and delivery, but hey, just getting this heavy cake across town on one of the hottest days of OCTOBER with my husband driving was feat enough for one day. The cake was not as light and airy as it usually is, but everything tasted good and the niece was happy. So, overall a win in my book.

This week we will be attempting some fall cookies to send to the in-laws while I travel to Boston. Check back in next Sunday to see if we score another win.

What is your favorite thing to bake? What was the hardest thing for you to bake? Do you have any rules about eating sweets?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thinking About Thursday

In my attempt to come up with some themes for the days of the week to help my writing, I decided that Thursdays are going to be a lot of whatever is going on in my head. Enjoy!

Fitness Continued
I'm still planking every other day and so glad that today is not my plank day. Yesterday I planked in my son's bedroom while trying to get him to fall back asleep. Sometimes just my presence in his room is enough to help him shut his tiny eyes and drift off. However, yesterday it was more of a feat in sanity to try and plank through his pleadings to get out of bed. I eventually gave in and got him out of the crib and abandon the rest of my plank. I am fairly proud of my effort considering that I had just finished making about 30 leaves and a Duck Commander symbol out of icing....more on that at the end.
Playing Catch Up
This week, in my "down time", I am trying to catch up on the different blogs that I love to read. As of this moment I have at least 70 posts to read to get caught up from last Friday. This tells me that I have underposted in the last 7 days and also spent more time away from my computer. That's not necessarily a bad thing and I will only be concerned with that when my laundry starts to pile up for a week at a time...

Random Mom Thoughts
Don't you hate that moment when you're changing a diaper and it looks like peanut butter is in there and then you feel some left over crunchy peanut butter between your teeth from the lunch you just ate? Yeah, that just happened to me this afternoon and I think I'll be taking pbj sandwiches out of the lunch rotation for a few extra days.

Throw Back on Books
A lot of bloggers do a Throw Back Thursday special and this week mine is going to be about books. My husband's niece (also technically my niece) is turning 9 tomorrow and we always get her books for her birthday or Christmas. This year she has really started to read more chapter books and has not read (nor heard of) most of the books I enjoyed as a child. Therefore, I chose two that I thought were good for her age:
Charlotte's Web
Pippi Longstocking
Each of which features a female character that I find to be impressive. Granted the spider (Charlotte) is not a human, but Fern does her share too of being a strong lead.
Which books do your 9 year old selves wish you were still reading?

Wait for it....CAKE!
That's right....because it's my niece's birthday I am making another cake. This one is a challenge as her "theme" this year is Duck Dynasty and the cake she picked out has A LOT of fondant on it. I don't regularly work with fondant, so this week I am teaching myself some new techniques, creating a cake that I can manage, and hoping to impress a bunch of 9 year olds with my caking skills. Be prepared for the photos next week.

So, what are you doing this Thursday? How do you spend your last day before the weekend? Did you plank yesterday?