Jul 282014

The following is a review of the product SoftShell Ice Cream Ball by YayLabs!.  I was given this product to review, and was not compensated monetarily for this review.  The reviews are mine alone.

My kids were so excited when the UPS man came last week and delivered a big box to them!  They could hardly contain themselves as they opened the box to reveal our new YayLabs SoftShell Ice Cream Ball.

SoftShell Ice Cream Ball

SoftShell Ice Cream Ball

After inspecting all the parts and pieces of our new toy, we quickly made a grocery list and headed to the store to buy all the necessary ingredients.  One of the things I loved most about this product is the fact that our grocery list was quite short.  We simply needed to purchase heavy whipping cream, rock salt and ice.  Everything else required is a pantry staple.

 Vanilla Ice Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Ice
  • Rock Salt

Mix the first four ingredients together and pour into the canister.  Attach the lid and flip over.  Fill the other side with ice (we found it easiest to buy ice from the grocery store because it fit better than ice from our ice maker) and top with 1/2 cup rock salt. Shake and roll the ball for 10 minutes.  Open the ice cream side and stir.  Replace lid and open the ice side and refill with more ice and top with salt.  Roll for another 10-15 minutes until ice cream reaches desired consistency.


Zachary's ready to start!

Zachary’s ready to start!

Now that we had everything we needed to make our ice cream, we dove right in, mixed up the cream, milk, sugar & vanilla and poured it into the pint size canister inside the soft shell.  We tightened up the lid, flipped it over and then added the required ice and rock salt.  We closed it up, wiped it clean and sat on the floor and began to play.  We very quickly found out that the ice side of the  ball leaked.  After cleaning up salt water off my wood floors, we moved outside.

I have to be completely honest here.  The concept of playing with the ice cream maker was fun, but the actual playing  was not.  Once you put in the ice cream mixture, ice and salt, the ball weighs close to eight pounds.  Eight pounds doesn’t sound like much, but imagine pushing a bowling ball around with your children for 20 minutes…that’s what it’s like to play with the Softball Ice Cream Maker.  After the first 6-7 minutes of playing several games (Keep Away and Hot Potato were two), my kids gave up and left me to finish the job.

At the 10 minute mark you’re supposed to unscrew the lid and stir the ice cream with a wooden spoon.  This is a super messy step, especially with young kids. After you’ve done that, you add more ice and salt.


I set the timer again, and since the kids were long gone, I set out to roll the ball back and forth to myself.  The pro?  I got a great arm workout!  Because I used 3 parts whipping cream to one part lowfat milk, it took us about 25 minutes to get the ice cream to freeze.

Yummy ice cream!

Our ice cream was delicious, and in the end it was a fun summer treat.  We’ll attempt to make ice cream with it again, but next time we’ll start out in the backyard, and we will be better prepared for it to be a messy dessert!

YayLabs! has given you a great opportunity to win an ice cream prize package! Check out their Facebook page between July 16th and August 1st. They will be giving away 25 prize packages that include: SoftShell ice cream balls, Zak Designs ice cream bowl, Light My Fire Spork, and Organic Valley Free Product Coupons!

Feb 132014

If you missed Part One, you can read it here.

If you missed Part Two, you can read it here.

Happiness.  Once I got over the horror of seeing all the men scattering to pee, I was able to be in the moment and just be happy.  I was actually doing this.  Running in a huge Disney Race.  Something so many people wanted to do, but couldn’t for whatever reason.  I found my stride, focused and pushed forward.  Every so often I took a moment and scanned the crowd for Dan.  Because I’m slow and he’s quick, I was able to see him several times during the race! I can’t begin to describe what a great feeling it is to see someone you love cheering you on. There’s just a little push you feel in your heart to continue on.

Getting a little push from my husband to keep going!

Getting a little push from my husband to keep going!

Tears. Yes, I realize tears aren’t an emotion, but I’m not sure what word best describes what I felt over and over and over again while running this race.

I will never forget the person who gave me two thumbs up at the 4-mile mark.  Tears came and I got another push to keep moving forward.

Or the person who cheered for me and told me I was doing a great job as she ran with me for a while.  More tears and yet another push.

The person who told me to stay strong.  A few more tears and another push.

The moment I rounded the corner and began mile six.  It was in that moment that I shed the most tears.  Because that moment is when I saw just how many people were still behind me.  It was then that I knew for sure I would not get swept.  That I would absolutely finish this race.  It was the final push I needed to run harder, run faster and finish what I had started so many months ago.

Disney Bib - 61216

Disney Bib – 61216

Joy.  Crossing that finish line and receiving my medal?  Pure joy.

Disney 10K Finisher!  My time was 1:32.  Not the fastest, but I managed to stay in the top 2/3 across the board (age, gender and overall).  I'm happy with those results!

Disney 10K Finisher! My time was 1:32. Not the fastest, but I managed to stay in the top 2/3 across the board (age, gender and overall). I’m happy with those results!

Pride. Yes, I am most definitely proud of myself.  I worked hard to run this race.  I overcame surgery & setbacks in recovery, injury, and life to train for this race.

But just as important, I felt great pride because I ran this race to support Team Up! with Autism Speaks. With the help of family and friends I raised $775.00, which not only goes to support Autism Speaks, but also allowed me to be one of the top fundraisers during Marathon Weekend!  If you donated, thank you, thank you, thank you!  Your generosity will help countless families as they navigate the waters of autism.

(Left to Right) Top Row-shirt, awards dinner, starting line Bottom Row-running, certificate, finisher pic

(Left to Right)
Top Row-shirt, awards dinner, starting line
Bottom Row-running, certificate, finisher pic

Feb 122014

If you missed Part One, you can read it here.

Warning:  This post contains potty talk.  Literally!


Horror.  I’ve shared this with pretty much everyone who’s asked me about the race, but I think it warrants talking about one more time.  Let’s be honest for a minute.  The one thing that has scared me about races more than anything, and I mean ANYTHING, is the port-o-potty.  After having a dozen or so races under my belt I have since gotten over my fear of them.  Anyway, when the fireworks went off and my corral was off and running, we weren’t two minutes outside of the starting line before the men in the race started running off course to pee!  Seriously.  It was ridiculous.  I was truly horrified at how many men I saw peeing all over Disney property.  I thought, “Can they not wait until they get to the port-o-potty?  They aren’t that far away!”.

And then…

I was about a mile in to the race when I passed the first bank of potties.  The line was crazy.  Men and women alike were waiting.  I had no need for one, so I kept on going.  Mile two brought another potty.  ONE potty and another line.  And that’s when I changed my tune.  I thought, “Why are these men taking up precious space in line when they can go pee in the bushes right behind us?!?”  Dan has found great pleasure in retelling my tale of horror to everyone.  In the end, I would prefer to not see men (and the occasional woman) pee in public, but I certainly appreciate it when the line isn’t long for the potty when I need one!  (Oh, and for those wondering, that first bank of potties I passed?  There was an 18 minute wait to use them!  Don’t tell anyone, but I might have found a bush if I’d needed to go and there was an 18 minute wait!

To be continued…

Feb 112014

It’s been a little over a month since I ran my first 10K.  There are days I walk past the medal I earned and still can’t believe I ran 6.2 miles!

It was truly an amazing experience, and I don’t know that I will ever adequately be able to express what it was like to participate in it.  I’m pretty sure I experienced every emotion possible the day of my race.

Nerves.  I was so nervous and my stomach was in knots.  I’d spent the weeks leading up to the race both training for it AND having nightmares of getting swept for not going fast enough. And then I have the privilege of meeting Jeff Galloway, and he   eased my nerves and told me I would be just fine.  After all, I’d followed his training method, and he’s the expert.

Jeff Galloway - world class athlete and runner.  Author of the running program I used to train for my 10K.

Jeff Galloway – world class athlete and runner. Author of the running program I used to train for my 10K.

Second Thoughts.  We walked around the expo and all I could do was think about the next day.  What was I getting into?  And then I saw the words of Christopher Robin reminding me that I am brave, I am strong and I am smart.

Brave, Strong and Smart.

Brave, Strong and Smart.

Excitement.  I was so excited that I could not sleep the night before.  We went to bed before 9pm because we knew the alarm would ring at 3:15am.  I tossed and turned and dozed for an hour and eventually I pulled out a book and read until I finally fell asleep.

Inaugural T-Shirt sold at the Expo.

Inaugural T-Shirt sold at the Expo.

Anticipation.  We arrived at the corrals about 4:15am.  I made the HUGE mistake of crossing the line to use the port-o-potties reserved for the runners.  I had no idea when I crossed over I would not be able to go back.  The security guard let me hand off my extra stuff to Dan and then off I went to spend the next 90 minutes alone.  I wandered over to my corral (C – the third corral of five) and sat down and waited.  At one point a man stood in front of me and his shirt said, “Determined”.  I embraced the word and let that carry me through to the start.



To be continued…

Jan 312014

I’m participating in a challenge to take a photo every day of something for which I am grateful.  Some days I’m grateful for BIG things, like my husband, my kids and my church.  Other days I’m thankful for little things, like kleenex, green smoothies and warmth.  Here’s a collage of some of the things I was grateful for in January!

#365 Grateful Project - January Edition!

#365 Grateful Project – January Edition!
Dec 012013

Back in August when we decided to pack up our family and fly to Minnesota for Thanksgiving, the first thing we did after booking our tickets was look for a Turkey Trot in the Minneapolis area.  Who knew we would find so many of them!? After poring over course maps, location to my in-laws house, and terrain we settled on a small race in St. Paul.  Turns out we chose an Inaugural year for the Minnesota Running Series for their Turkey Trot, which mean we got a fun shirt and a medal! (I’m starting to love medals more than t-shirts!) We thought it would be fun to invite Kate, Dan’s sister, to join us.  She jumped at the chance to do it with us, and she spent several months running and training for the race!

Fun morning with family!

Fun morning with family!

When we left Orlando on November 23rd/ it was 80 degrees and when we landed in Minneapolis it was 10.  TEN DEGREES.  Crazy.  Turns out it was colder there that week than it had been in any of the 16 years I’ve been visiting Dan’s family.  This Florida girl was not used to weather that cold! Thankfully it warmed up to 20 degrees by race day!

This is how I dressed for the race!  Knowing that breathing in all that cold air might be bad for this asthmatic, I played it safe and wore that thing over my mouth and nose.  Lifesaver, for sure!

This is how I dressed for the race! Knowing that breathing in all that cold air might be bad for this asthmatic, I played it safe and wore that thing over my mouth and nose. Lifesaver, for sure!

You can see that I bundled up pretty well to go out into those 20 degree temperatures.  In case you wondered, I wore a long underwear shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a running jacket, tights under my running tights, awesome knee length compression socks, gloves, a hat and whatever that thing is called that’s covering my face.  Can I just tell you that I did not sweat at all the day of my race?  It’s true.  Not a drop anywhere.

My awesome pink argyle compression socks. Did I mention they are awesome? Yeah, they are.


I think it’s safe to say that we all had a good time that morning.  Dan pulled off a 10K in 47 minutes.  Kate ran the 5K in less than 29 minutes.  And slowpoke that I am, I ran the 5K in 50 minutes.  But, I did it.   I ran in temperatures I will likely never experience in Florida, on ground that has more roll that we have in Orlando, and with more clothing/equipment that we need down here.

I did it! 5K in 50 minutes in 20 degree weather!

Slow and steady.

One foot in front of the other.

Over, and over, and over.

And the reward?  An awesome medal and a big Thanksgiving dinner!




Oct 272013

Just a quick check in for my second week of 10K training!

10K Training: Week Two

Monday:  2.16 miles (Outdoors)
Wednesday:  2.21 miles (Indoors – speed training)
Friday:  3.80 miles (Outdoors)

Week Two total:  8.17 miles

There’s a great yoga class at the Y that I take every Tuesday morning.  It’s a mixed level yoga class, so there are people like me, who have no idea what I’m doing, and there are others who can do headstands.  I’ve been going for several weeks now, and every week I can do a little bit more, or stay in a pose a little longer.  This week’s accomplishment is that I didn’t fall over when I was sitting in some crazy lotus position.

The best thing about Week Two is that the weather finally changed in Florida.  What a huge difference it is to run when it’s 65-75 degrees outside versus the 85-90 degree temperatures we’ve had so far this Fall.  The temps will rise again next week, but for this week it was beautiful outside and I enjoyed every minute of it!


Oct 232013

We’re just over a week away from Halloween.  Since we have a four day weekend starting tomorrow I had the brilliant idea that the kids and I would sit down and finalize plans for their costumes and then shop for supplies this afternoon.  We made a list and headed out to our first stop:  Wal-Mart.

Let’s just say it did not go so well.  Even though each kid has known what he wants to be for Halloween for a while now, today no one could commit to said costume choice.

Matthew, who wants to be Peter Pan suddenly decided he wanted to be… Candy Corn. A Peacock. Peter Pan. A Lego.

Zachary, who has been asking to be the Tick Tock Croc for months decided he wanted to be… Rock Paper Scissors.  (Seriously.)

Nicholas, who was willing to be Captain Hook to keep with the theme, changed his mind and wanted to be… A White Ninja.  Ninjago. Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I thought I might lose my mind.  I went so far as to turn the car around and head home because nobody would stop talking about what they wanted to be for Halloween.  It was bad.  Tears were involved, especially after they realized the car was heading towards home.   Eventually I turned back around and went to Wal-Mart but we came home empty handed.

The last thing I wanted to do when we got home was make dinner, but we had to eat.  So I dug around in the pantry and pulled out a bag of quinoa.  It’s become a staple in our house in the last couple of years and I knew I could pull together a quick meal with it.  I tried out a new recipe tonight, and here it is…

Quinoa Pizza

Quinoa Pizza

  • 1½ cups quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups pasta sauce
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping
  • your favorite pizza toppings (pepperoni, sausage, veggies, etc)
  • salt, pepper, garlic and Italian seasonings, to taste


  1. Rinse quinoa well. Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer and cook about 15 minutes.
  2. Prepare any toppings while quinoa is cooking.
  3. When quinoa is finished, add pasta sauce and toppings and stir to combine.  Then add shredded mozzarella. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and Italian seasonings.
  4. To serve, spoon the quinoa mixture into bowls and top with more mozzarella cheese, if desired.

Quinoa Pizza takes all of 20 minutes to make and it was a big hit with two out of three boys. Dan liked it, too.  I consider that to be a success and it will go into rotation around here, especially on crazy baseball nights, or to follow disastrous afternoons like the one we had today.

Tomorrow is a new day, and will be filled with new adventures.  Say a prayer for us as we venture into the local craft stores and attempt to make Peter Pan, Tick Tock Croc and Captain Hook come to life!

Recipe inspiration found at Girl Makes Food.

Oct 192013

Before I share about the first week of training, I need to share how I spent my summer.  Shortly after Dan and I ran the Expedition Everest Challenge (a 5K with obstacles at Disney’s Animal Kingdom) I restarted a Couch-to-5K program I had used to start running.  The goal was to increase my speed, because I run S-L-O-W-L-Y.  Not long after restarting C25K I started having pain in my right knee.  Fearing I had torn something, but not knowing what was going on I went to see an orthopedic surgeon.  Two appointments and an MRI later we found out that my knee was fine, and that I was suffering from a little arthritis in my knee from overtraining.  I spent the remainder of the summer in physical therapy.  I was released from physical therapy in August and given the go ahead to run three times a week.  I am also allowed to do yoga, ballet barre and strength training.

10K Training: Week One

I finished the first week of Minnie 10K training!  Here’s a quick breakdown of what my week looked like…

  • Monday:  2.12 Miles, Outdoors
  • Wednesday:  2.15 Miles, Treadmill
  • Friday: 5.50 Miles, Treadmill
  • TOTAL: 9.77 Miles

Week one went really well.  Really, really well.  Especially my Friday run.  5.5 miles is a ridiculous distance for someone who hasn’t run more than 3.1 miles ever. The best thing about Friday’s run is that when I was finished, after 82 minutes, I felt like I could have kept going!

In case you’re interested, I am using Jeff Galloway’s Injury Free system.  Specifically I am using Easy 10K with Jeff Galloway, an app I purchased for the iPhone.  I LOVE this app.  He tells me exactly what to do.  When to run, when to walk.  He tells me to pick up the pace and to slow it down.  He even gives me pep talks and tells me that I am strong and I can do it.  (Those messages make me laugh!)  This app even takes the music I choose from iTunes and speeds it up/slows it down as necessary to keep me running (or walking) at the right pace.  Pretty cool for something that only cost me $3.99.  It’s customizable as well.  The traditional Jeff Galloway method for a beginner is to run a minute and walk a minute and that’s what I did week one.  As I get further into my training I can change my ratios for longer runs with the occasional minute of walking to recover.

Here’s a quick snapshot of me after my first long run on Friday.


Post first long run shot!