Best Vanilla Buttercream

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Happy Holidays!!

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May your holidays be as wonderful as mine, surrounded by family and friends!!  My little elf even dressed up for the occasion.  Merry Christmas everyone!!
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A little secret...

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I considered not writing this post-  mainly because people I interact with daily read this, and this happens to be a very personal topic.  Well, if this isn't the place for personal topics and helping each other, I don't know what is.

I have a stomach disease called Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and while it is not something I talk about a lot because people have certain embarrassing ideas associated with the disease (explosive diarrhea anyone??), I am painfully aware of what I eat.

The symptoms of this disease are varied.  Basically, doctors tell you you have IBS when they have ruled out everything else, but there is still something clearly wrong with you.  My main symptom is abdominal pain so terrible I can't even stand up straight.  The very first episode I had was so severe, I passed out in a hallway.  I also tend to struggle to keep weight on when I have bad episodes.  Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night with terrible pain feeling so hot that I am certain I will faint.  When do these happen?  When I am stressed, don't eat often, eat the wrong foods, don't get enough sleep...the list goes on....

I have looked online, but there aren't a lot of web sites people with IBS can use to get some help, so I though I might put some of the things I have learned on here to maybe help someone else out.

My symptoms seem to be under control, and this is what I do:

1.  Peppermint oil:  I take a pill every morning.  Every.  Morning.  You can purchase this anywhere, but trust me, it is much cheaper on Amazon.  when you take these, make sure to take them on an empty stomach or you will be burping peppermint all day.  Peppermint oil seems to relax your stomach in a way that is more efficient than peppermint tea.

 
 
2.  St. John's Wort:  Some doctors will prescribe a mild antidepressant for people with really severe IBS.  In Europe, doctors prescribe St. John's wort instead of Prozac as a medication for mild depression.  Although I do not take these for depression, I do feel a little more upbeat, although that could have a lot to do with the fact that I am no longer crippled with pain and fatigue.


3.  Peppermint Tea:  It is very important to make sure to get the version of this tea that has no caffeine.

Stash Herbal Tea Blends, 20 Count (Pack of 6)

4.  FODMAP Diet:  This is probably the most important thing on this list.  A low FODMAP diet can be a great tool to help you determine which types of foods make you ill.  If anyone would like to know, in more detail, what is involved in a FODMAP diet, please let me know and I will write a more detailed post on it.  I am lucky to be able to eat milk and yogurt to my heart's content, but anything else off this list is basically a no-no.  Most of all, I miss garbanzo beans and lentils....and broccoli...and garlic and onion. 

Source

5.  Drink a lot of water.  Eliminate every carbonated drink or any drink with caffeine.  Trust me on this.  That stuff isn't even good for you anyway....
Source

6.  Cod Liver Oil:  When I have frequent episodes, I tend to become zombie-tired and pick up any virus in the vecinity.  Since I started taking these, I have not had a single cold.  I went from having colds/flu symptoms about ten months out a year to a whole year of not catching anything.  My sister and brother-in-law caught an especially nasty and persistent strep throat, and, for the first time, I stayed completely disease free!!

Source
7.  Keep a food diary.  This is extremely important.  Until you can identify with certainty which foods make you sick, you absolutely have to write down everything you eat.  This is how I discovered that onions were my Achilles heel as well as hot dogs.  Oh hot dogs.  How I miss you....


I am sure I have left some things out, but will continue to update the list as I learn new coping mechanisms.  I am traveling back to my parent's house tomorrow, which means that I will have to make sure to cook my own separate food to avoid getting sick.  

I also have to let you know something that is a little bit sad.  I can't eat a lot of the pastries I post on here.  I may have a teeny tiny slice, but my body can't handle a lot of it.  If I want a double decker brownie supreme, I will make it, eat a t-spoonful or two and then give it to the a family member or friend.  I just can't make myself give up some of these things permanently, so I bake them for people I know will appreciate them. 
 
 I hope at least one person out there finds this post a little helpful.  For those of you out there feeling guilty about eating that hot dog or slice of cake, please savor it.  Enjoy every last piece.  You will never know how good some things are until you can't have them anymore.
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OOTD 121412

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I am trying out several dresses for possible Christmas outfits.  By the way ladies (and gentlemen), I am meeting by boyfriend's family for the first time this Christmas.  Gulp.  I am excited and nervous.  

Now the most important question:  what do I wear.  My preferred outfits for visits to South Texas are t-shirts and jeans since I will more than likely be found at the ranch or doing yard work (my mother likes to trade labor for lodging), but that may be too casual.  Now, if I dress up too much, I might come off as an uptight lady.  Maybe I am over thinking this, but he matters enough to me for me to want to get this right.  This would be easier if my pinterest wardrobe were my actual wardrobe.
  Sigh.




 Dress:  Forever 21
Shoes:  Guess

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OOTD 121312

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 Dress:  Forever 21
Boots:  Gifted


I wore this exact outfit to Central Market a couple of weeks ago, and a sweet woman asked me where I had gotten my boots because she liked them so much.  Excited, I quickly told my boyfriend when he came back from grinding some coffee for me.  He asked, "Those boots, really?!" How rude.  He's lucky he is such a sweetheart.  The man brings me coffee in bed to wake me up on weekends for Heaven's sake.  I was still tempted to walk around Central Market just so I could find a table to flip over, but all the tables were normal-sized, and I would have had to ask him for help to flip one over.

This brings me to my next point.  My mother always told me to take from fashion what was most flattering for me.  Just because something is in style or expensive does not mean it will work for your body type.  I believe this applies to people as well.  Sometimes someone may look great on paper and have a terrible effect on your self-confidence and happiness.

This is the season for giving and as the year closes, I always like to do a mental inventory of the way I treated and was treated by the people that matter to me.  I can't say that I am a saint, but I do try to be better, apologize first, be angry less even though I may not always be successful. 

I used to have a best friend that I loved very much, so much that when this person abandoned me in a fit of rage at a dessert restaurant one evening because he had not wanted to go there in the first place, I quickly forgave him even though I had to walk home at night with another friend.  He never apologized of course.  He also never apologized for telling me I was not good enough to date certain people, making me constantly feel ugly, and giving me a speech about how when I moved away from our city he was going to stop trying to maintain our friendship because it was not worth it. 

The final straw came when he came to visit me along with another friend.  He had asked me to proof read his thesis paper for him, but when he arrived, he had not even begun to write it.  I basically wrote the ten page paper for him in two days, and when he finally came out of the apartment to do some of the activities my other best friend and I had meticulously planned for weeks, he kept complaining about how boring everything was and how terrible it was to be sober for the first time in almost a year.  Great.  Perfect.

I stopped trying as hard to keep in contact with him after this.  I realized I was beating a dead horse with a stick.  For my birthday, my other best friend wrangled him into calling me.  I was in the bathroom when he called so I missed the phone call, and upon calling him back, was basically broken up with.  On my birthday.  By my best friend.  

My only regret is having wasted time being diminished by someone that clearly was not a right fit for me.  I am not attracted by the club/bar scene mainly because I don't drink.  On Monday I do go to a bar...to play board games.  Really nerdy ones where you defeat demons with potions or build houses by selling sheep...and I have a blast.  THERE.  I SAID IT.

I wish I could say I wish him the best, but honestly, I am indifferent.  I can say for a brief moment of time, I had the naive mentality that everyone has something beautiful inside of them that you can learn and grow from as a person, if you take the time to look for it, but I am starting to believe that this may not always be the case.  Some people will be mean to you, no matter how kind you are to them.  This is not to say that I have shut my heart down from the world but I definitely evaluate more, trust blindly a little less.

In this season, shower those that you love with gifts and kindness.  It is those that stay loyally at your side even at your ugliest and lowest that are the real gifts and gosh darn it I am going to bake up a storm to show them how much I love them.  Thank God for elastic waist bands! 
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OOTD 121212

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Okay, so I am obsessed with the beautiful little lady below.   Frankly, I would make this blog all about doggie pictures if I could.  It takes a great deal of restraint for me not to go around showing people pictures of the most beautiful dogs in the world (mine, not yours obviously), but mostly I just let the hair covering my clothes speak for itself.

When people see my little cow/pony, Maya, they typically run for the hills and rightfully so.  You should never simply walk up to a strange dog, especially mine.  She is a giant love bug when properly introduced and can frequently be found trying to subtly get onto people's laps.  Unfortunately, there is nothing subtle about an 80+ pound dog trying to remain invisible by avoiding eye contact.


This little lady literally does cartwheels in the air every time a cold front hits, which is not really a side a lot of people get to see of the "regal, serious Akita".  Our favorite game involves me jumping at her.  Let me explain.  I hop towards her, making sure to slap my bare feet on the floor so she can hear it.  She "jumps" back by slamming her little paws on the floor, and then I run until she comes and tags me, vice versa.  In the picture below, she is trying to get me to play with her by slamming her front paws on the floor.  I love that goofy face.


Ducky was standing guard at the door while his ladies played.  Men.
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Lentils

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On weeks when I have tons of tests, papers, and, well, basically responsibilities that I can't put off, I always make food in bulk that I then freeze in single servings in small mason jars to be eaten in a pinch.

One of my favorite soups to prepare in advance for cheap (hey, I am a college student after all) is lentil soup.  It is easy, healthy, delicious, and basically fool proof.  For this version, I added egg, but you could add bacon, beef, or chicken.  It is such a versatile soup that it pairs well with anything, including a grilled cheese sandwich.






Lentils
Ingredients:
1 bag lentils, thoroughly wash and drained           
1 small clove of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 egg
Salt
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
Chopped green onion
Chicken Bouillon


Directions:
1. In a large pot, add the lentils with enough water to cover liberally.  Remember that as the lentils cook, they will expand, so you will need to add enough water to compensate or keep a watchful eye on them.
2. In a separate pan, fry the clove of garlic, onion, and tomato in the tablespoon of olive oil.  If you are new to frying, first heat up the oil, then add the garlic and onion.  Once the onion is semi-transparent, add the tomatoes.  Remove from heat once the tomatoes start to turn mushy or look integrated in the mixture.
3. Add the vegetable mixture to the lentils once the lentils are soft to taste.  This should take anywhere between 30-60 minutes.
4. Add the chicken bouillon and salt to taste.
5. Serve the lentil soup with a fried egg and chopped green onion garnish or freeze for a later time.



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Carrot Cake

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For Thanksgiving, I was given the task of bringing dessert since, you know, that's what I do best.  Nobody can get food poisoning from a cake....I think...Anyway, this year the requested flavor was carrot.  I have to say, this cake is incredibly dense so it may not be for everyone, but I loved it.  The cheesecake frosting was a little soft for piping, but everyone loved it.  I made sure to put on a minimal coating of icing because everyone usually takes it off since I put heaps of it, but everyone complained that there was not enough icing.


 The icing was not perfect.  Let me explain.  What happened was this....I was dancing with a spoon to a tribal song (true story) from a commercial with a wooden spoon.  The wooden spoon went flying SMACK onto the cake....but my dancing was pretty epic if I do say so myself....





HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!


CARROT CAKE
Ingredients:
3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with
juice
1 cup raisins
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8x12 inch pan.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture and mix well.
4. In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins.
5. Using a large wooden spoon or a very heavy whisk, add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.
6. Pour into prepared 8x12 inch pan, and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour. Check with toothpick.



 CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Ingredients: 
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese,
softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

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OOTD 11152012

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Before Alterations


 Top:  Express- $9
Bottom:  Victoria's Secret- $6
Boots:  Gifted

I bought some black pants from MJRSales.com, which is closed now.  I shed some tears, but ultimately, you just have to let the things you love go, and if they come back, it's meant to be....Okay I kid, but they did close the web site which is awesome because I would get all sweaty and itchy when I saw something I wanted and the urge to yell CHARGGGEEE IITTT would creep up like a clingy ex-boyfriend...I digress...

I bought these pants in a size that was too big for me, and since it was the second time I ordered them (the first time I got them four sizes too small), I decided to take them to my favorite seamstress.  I have mentioned her here before.  I call her Mom, and she basically works for free.  All I have to do is give out some kisses and bake some goodies, which I do anyway.

She took in the inside seam of the pants and eureka!!  They are fixed!!   The first picture really does not show exactly how hideous and unflattering they looked on me, but I assure you they were extremely tight on the ankles and loose everywhere else.  Weird.

On another more serious note, as this semester draws to a close, I am really starting to hyperventilate.  I generally put silly little things on here because my original intention with the blog was to use it as a means to dress better or ummm...reduce the ratio of sweat pants to normal clothes I used in the week (reduce not eliminate..I am a student after all), but I think I may actually include some more personal information every once in a while. 

I have to apply to graduate school.  I feel like a giant is sitting on my chest.  Please, won't someone take me...I have to make a decision that will affect the rest of my life, including the relationships I have with those that I love.  I am freaking out.  Also, I am a really shy person.  People like to describe themselves as shy very liberally, but I get anxiety attacks just walking in front of a classroom.  As a result, I doubt professors know my name, even if I do have good grades, so for the next two weeks, I will be visiting professors in their office hours attempting to establish some sort of relationship so I can get letters of recommendation.  HOW DID I LET THIS HAPPEN?!?  Thank God it's the weekend already....time to set up a plan of action.  I may have to bake a lot of cakes next week for uh, bribing and stuff.  

Anyway, have a great weekend everyone!
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OOTD 11132012

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 Top:  Thrifted via savers
Jeans:  New York and Company
Shoes:  Gifted


Okay so I'm obsessed with these boots. :)

I had never been to Savers until about two weeks ago, so there I go signing up for their e-mail update services.  As it turns out there was a fifty percent off sale this past Monday.  I have never been more excited to receive an email from a stranger.  

This was epic.  I managed to squeeze in some shopping between classes and exams.  I think there may have been about a hundred people in the store.  Thankfully, there weren't many 5'2 ladies there an hour after the store opened, so I managed to snag soooo manyyyyy thingssss.  I bought about twenty items of clothing for $50, including some ridiculously expensive leather glitter shoes.  I need to take some pictures for you guys (probably on Friday).  Some sucker put those back on the rack right in front of me, and I ran over there so fast...

I may sound like a cheapskate, but I actually purchased some items for several family members for Christmas.  We're talking white Gap trousers, Ann Taylor items, etc.  I crossed off three people from my Christmas list, and because I am notoriously terrible at gift giving, I have made them try on every item before I wrap it to ensure a safe experience for all involved.  Cue me running away in tears after everyone hates their gifts.

The blue shirt I am wearing was something I spotted on the way to the cash register.  Love at first sight.  It is possibly the softest blouse I own.  For $1.50, it is perfection.  Unfortunately, the cat has already punched a hole in the front with her crazy nails, but I will just pretend like I do not see it.  The top button also seems to pop open easily when tugged.  Luckily, I managed to wear a nice bra today so the crowd of UT students that I flashed won't be too traumatized.  True story.

Have a wonderful day everyone!


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OOTD 111212

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 Top:  Kenneth Cole Reaction via Ross
Bottom:  New York and Company Jeans
Boots:  Gifted


Honestly, most of the time, I just pair a white shirt with whatever jeans I can pull out of my closet.  Normally this would work except I keep wearing my knee high boots in anticipation of the return of cold weather...and it's about 90 degrees outside.  It's supposed to be cold people.  I got the memo, but no one else did.

In other news, I baked A LOT this weekend.  I wish I had something pretty or edible to show for it (just a bunch of dishes), but a lot of the stuff I baked was just incredibly artificial tasting or bland.  Basically I tried several recipes that were nothing special so I know I will not be putting them on the blog.
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Some Western Lovin'

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Painted Shoes

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Ever since I came back to college, I have found myself having to become more creative in terms of wardrobe.  Since I do not have a flowing income, and numerous bills to pay, I have to find ways to stretch my current threads.  

I was stalking searching through pinterest and saw some black platform shoes made my heart skip a beat.  That's when I remembered that I had a blue pair of platform shoes that I had really not used very often because I was really not in love with the color.  This was one of those shopping impulses that was not very well though out.  So out came my black acrylic paint and here is the result:




I have painted shoes before (once a few years ago), and they have not chipped or discolored at all, so I am not worried about it being a disaster.  Now I just need a reason to put this babies to use!!
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Chai Tea

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Some days, you just need to come home to a giant bottle of tequila margarita.  Given that I don't really drink, this has become my latest obsession. My sister enjoys hers with sugar and soy milk, and I am sure traditionalists will scoff at the recipe, but I happen to love it prepared this way.  It is fast and delicious.



Directions:

1.  Pour some hot water on a bag of Chai tea of your choice.
2.  Add French vanilla coffee creamer.
3.  Add 1-2 teaspoons of honey. 
4.  Stir and enjoy!!
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Mud run recap

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May I suggest that anyone who is a couch potato not attempt a difficult 5K race that is filled with obstacles before they actually are able to run maybe for one mile...


This was our little racing team.  My older sister intelligently chickened out at the last minute, but Gloria managed to convince me that it would get warmer as the day went by and the obstacles would not be all that difficult.  SHE LIED!  When we left the house, it was 50 degrees outside.  At the time of the race, it was 44 degrees.  With no pants.  NO. PANTS.

We were given scarves that I attempted to tie around my head a la Rosie the Riveter but did not achieve quite the same effect.  Let's face it, she had Photoshop and a giant dose of pretty.  She cheated.

...and so the race began...


This sucker almost took me down.  When it was my turn to attempt it, I reached the very top and just hugged it for dear life.  My arms were shaking so hard, probably from the cold, but mostly I was just pumped full of Spartan adrenaline fear.  I began to plan my reverse route.  Momma didn't raise no fool.  There was no rope on the other side and no amount of CPR can bring you back when you break all your bones.  Luckily, a kind woman, whose head kept making contact with my booty as I attempted to scale back down, started to calm me down by telling me that I was doing so well, and I was so close to the finish line.  Two miles and four obstacles later, I would come to find that she lied to me.  To be fair, if someone kept making butt to face contact with me, I probably would have done the same.



The final obstacle was a giant water slide.  I ended up with seaweed everywhere, even in my shoes and underpants.  How they got in there is still a mystery to me.  I felt like a champion until I realized that I could not feel my legs.  Seriously.  Off we ran to the car where I saw a nude man changing out of his wet clothes.  Luckily, he offered to take our group picture after some initial awkwardness.

Overall, I had a lot of fun.  For most of the weekend (except for my Halloween excursion), I basically hibernated.  My body did not seem to enjoy the race as much as I did.  Will I do a race like this again?  Maybe.  Probably.  Definitely not in the winter again. 
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Halloween

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If you have been here long enough, you probably know I am the wildest of party animals, so it should come as no surprise that on Saturday the younger version of myself decided we were long overdue a night out at the famed Austin 6th street in order to celebrate Halloween early.  For those of you who don't know, sixth street can often be found littered with drunken young people on weekends (and sometimes week days) because it is covered in bars so much so that they close the street at night causing madness with traffic.  

This momentous occasion would mark the first time I visited this legendary location.  At about midnight, wayyyy past my bedtime, we took off dressed as Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck.  For almost two hours we searched for parking to no avail.  At this point we decided we had had enough. 

As far as I'm concerned, I partied hard.  Laughing in the car with my little Daisy Duck was more fun than I could have had in a crowded bar filled with strangers.  Please don't tell anyone.  It may ruin my street cred.

Happy Halloween everyone!!
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Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Ingredients

1 cup margarine or 1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Quicker Quaker Oats or 3 cups Old-Fashioned Quaker oats, uncooked
1 cup raisins

Directions

1.  Heat oven to 350°F.
2.  Beat together margarine and sugars until creamy.
3.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
4.  Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.
5.  Stir in oats and raisins; mix well.
6.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
7.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
8.  Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.
9.  Makes about 4 dozen.
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Masochist

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I fell off the p90x wagon again.  I will be restarting today.  Why you say?  This is why....

Mud Factor Obstacle - Triple Threat
Mud Factor Obstacle - Mud Crawl
Mud Factor Wire Crawl
Mud Factor Obstacle - Cargo Net


See, what happened was this...We bought the admission into this race a looonnnggg time ago so clearly I had already forgotten about it.  In comes little sister with her have you been exercising face, and proceeds to show me what I actually signed up for...and that IT IS THIS SATURDAY.  

http://gifsoup.com/webroot/animatedgifs/294143_o.gif

So, here I am putting on my shorty shorts about to turn on the workout video...because four days of exercise is clearly enough time to prepare for a race that someone apparently took from the depths of my nightmares...There's barbed wired people.  I may have to resort to showing up, bypassing the obstacles and just rolling in the mud before the finish line...Just kidding!  I will do EVERY SINGLE OBSTACLE, even if it takes me hours to finish or the barbed wire ends up taking my life.  Stay tuned for an inevitable hospital post....
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