Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mystery Shopper

I have a secret. I am a mystery shopper and I get a rush from it.

I am new at it and I am still fearful of "getting caught." But it is awesome to get free stuff and paid to do the shop.

So far it is has been limited to coffee and bagel shops but at these rates that's a nice spare pocket of change.

I am not in desperate need of money even though my kids seem to take every last cent that I have. I do it more for the thrill of it and the free stuff. Today I did a lunchtime shop at a local bagel store. I bought some soup and coffee. It was so yummy. I got reimbursed for the items and then got paid $10 on top of it for filling out a survey. Not bad considering I have to eat lunch somewhere anyway.

I have signed up for a few restaurants and some electronic stores and I will soon find out if I get those. I am also going to sign up for a free eye exam because that is the only part of that my vision insurance does not cover. How cool is that?

When I was a little kid my mom was always involved in market research. Every so often someone would call our house for an evening event where you would go and test out products and give your opinions. You would get paid a certain amount of money and get a meal out of it. When I got older I would get to go on them. I really enjoyed it and now I am doing mystery shopping which is market research too.

Weekly Grocery Update

I scored big time this week with my best shopping budget since playing the grocery game.

Publix was awesome at a retail price of $90 and an out of pocket expense of $59. I then ventured over to CVS for my weekly stockpile items. There it was a retail price of $22 and an out of pocket expense of $1.

Looks like I hit my $100 budget easily with $40 to spare.

Now what shall I do with my extra $40?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

4 miles - no problem

I think my blog is turning into a marathon blog but that's only because I have a half marathon coming up and thoughts of it seem to be consuming my mind. I just got my race information in the mail today which tells me where to pick up my race day package and all the other information. It is all seeming too real at this point.

I breezed by my 6 mile long run on Sunday, rested yesterday, and then I was scheduled to do 2 miles today but I turned that into 4 miles because....well, because I felt like it??? Actually, I did just feel like it and it wasn't too bad. I never thought I would hear myself saying that 4 miles wasn't so bad. Let's see how I do in the 5K this weekend.

I only have one fear about the half coming up and that is I have not been training in the daylight hours and I know that most of the run will be when the sun comes up. I am going to have to somehow switch to pre-dawn hours in my long runs and that is scary to me because of the heat factor. It is so hot down here. Perhaps I will be blessed by some cooler weather that will allow me a heat break.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Homeschooling my Princess

Here is why I doubt I could ever be successful at homeschooling my princess:

Her: Mommy, I can spell the word "slow"
Me: Awesome. Spell it for me.
Her: L-O-W, Slow
Me: That's very good. You have the L-O-W part right except that it starts with an S so that would be S-L-O-W. OK?
Her (looking at me with a very mad face): Hmmmmfff...well, if you say that to me, I am not your friend anymore! Good Bye! as she storms off to her room.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My 6 mile long run

I did it in about 1 hour which isn't too bad. I am finding my groove more and more with each run. Today it happened around mile 4. My body seemed to settle into the run and it is something I really cannot explain. In lay terms, my breathing eased up and I was no longer panting. I could talk and sing through my running which is something new to me. I was feeling a little bit good actually. I was still sweating and my feet started to feel a bit sore but the tiredness seemed to go away and I was following a steady pace. After mile 4, I drank some water at each mile marker thereafter which actually felt good. In the last half mile I actually sprinted back to my house (the finish line).

I never stopped which sort of surprised me. I thought that at mile 5 I would have needed a rest. But I was only going to take one if my body told me to. It never did so I continued.

I am feeling a bit of momentum now that I am coming into my final month of training. Next week's long run is going to be a 5K race next Saturday morning...the Jingle Bell Jog...which was my first 5K run ever that I did last year. I am excited and anxious to see if my time has improved over the last year.

Marathon - Long Run 6 miles

I see on my countdown clock that I have less than 50 days before the half marathon and my training is in full swing. Sunday evenings are the long run of the week. Today it will be 6 miles. That means I am running from my house to my local CVS store and back. The only difference is this time I am not in my trusty van, rather I will be on foot.

I developed my training program from an internet website of a person who is a marathon trainer and former runner of many marathons. He recommends long run on Sunday, rest day on Monday, short run (2-3 miles) on Tuesday, medium run (4-5 miles) on Wednesday, another short run on Thursday, another medium run on Friday, and a rest day on Saturday. Each long run increases every other week by 1 mile. My long run will be up to 10 miles the week before race week.

The training is tough because I am training alone. I could have joined the road runners club and done it with others but I didn't want to do that. They run their long runs in the morning and I struggle with that. Plus I didn't want the added pressure of being with a group. I prefer to tough it out by myself. I am not sure why but I just do.

Being alone has its disadvantages. There is no one beside you to commiserate with. There is no one to talk to. There is no one to encourage you. It's just you and your thoughts (and in my case, my ipod). If your thoughts on that particular day are negative in any way that is sure to be a bad training day. There are so many days when I wonder why I signed up for this. There are days when I think about the race itself. There are days when I try to imagine breaking up the race into distinct segments (first 4 miles, next 5 miles, last 4 miles). I think about when I will get water and gatorade and bananas.

I wonder how it will feel when I cross the finish line. I wonder if I will drop to my knees or will I feel so elated that I will be on a high. I wonder what the medal will look like. I wonder if I will have enough energy to walk around Disney or will I have too many blisters.

I am not sure of the answers but this is what I think of when I am running and alone with me and my thoughts.

Some Days You Got It....

and some days you just don't. There is probably something really scientific about the fact that on Friday I could barely budge myself 2 miles and then yesterday I easily ran 4.5. I don't know what the science is but I find myself trying all kinds of different methods to make my running easier. I am trying to find that spot...the groove...the method that will take me from my 4.5 medium runs every other day to a 13.1 mile race in January. I haven't found it yet but I am getting close.

I have tried running in the morning on an empty stomach. No dice. That was the worst. I then tried running at night on a full stomach with no sun. Better. Half of my runs were completed at a rather steady 10:00 mile pace. But yesterday was the best so far. I ran at 5 pm which is late enough to miss the hot burning sun but early enough before dark. It was also before dinner on a fairly empty stomach. I made sure to eat some carbs an hour before to give me that extra boost.

It seemed to have worked because I did 4.5 miles with extra energy to spare. And then sat down to a nice post-Thanksgiving turkey dinner.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

I have been reading so many blogs and websites with people giving their own thanks. I don't think I can quite add much of my own that is of any great interest to my outside world but I think I would be remiss if I didn't at least give thanks for the 5 greatest blessings in my life.


and Them

The rest is just icing on the cake.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This Week at The Grocery Game

This was a pretty good week at the Grocery Game. I feel I did fairly well considering my "need" list was a bit bigger due to the Thanksgiving dinner needs. Although I tried my best to prepare for it, I still had a few leftover items.

For example, I was able to stockpile cranberry sauce (buy one get one free) last week at CVS and a few weeks ago I stockpiled white potatoes (.49 lb at Winn Dixie). I also stockpiled some frozen veggies, onions, spices, rolls, and bags of stuffing. The only need items I had left were sweet potatoes, mushrooms, milk, and the turkey.

A lot of items landed on my blue list which means more stockpiling opportunities. I am getting to the point where I am fairly well stocked on everything which means no more need stuff and I will only be shopping at rock bottom prices.

My retail grocery bill this week was $150 but my out of pocket spending ended up at $81 (almost 50% savings which is awesome). That leaves me with $19 for CVS today and I will easily hit that budget because of all the stockpile items and extra care buck offerings this week and my rolling extra bucks from last week.

This game is so much fun and if you want more information on how to join go here. They offer a $1 trial period which MORE than pays for itself and if you do join for the long haul (which I highly recommend because the nominal fee really pays for itself with the grocery savings) please give them my email address so I get a referral fee. My email address is mill2542 at bellsouth DOT net.

Monday, November 19, 2007


is the noise I make after a long run that lasts an hour and goes for 5 miles.

That is how I felt last night between the hours of 8:30 and 9:30 pm. I was really proud of myself. I ran the distance without stopping. Just last week my long run was also 5 miles but I had to stop in between and walk a portion of it. The difference was building of my stamina but it was also because yesterday was a night run. What a difference the hot Florida sun makes.

The problem is that race day will begin somewhere in the wee-hours of the morning and therefore, at least one hour of running will be in the sun and I don't know how my body will respond. I am hoping that the laughter of Mickey and friends and the numerous bands and goings-on including cheering sections will help to compensate.

In the meantime I prepare all week for next Sunday's long run which will now be 6 miles. Ooooffff-aaahhhhh.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Remembering the Day

Today is a special day to me because it is the birthday of two very special people in my family who are now singing with the angels in heaven.

My mother

and my father-in-law

I am praying that they are having a party for themselves.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Growing Up Is Hard On...Me

A special teary eyed moment for me this morning as I watched my little baby get on her preschool bus and head to the park for a field trip. She was so excited as was her friends and I tried to capture all of the moments on camera. I am still wiping away the tears.

Later today the Special Olympic foundation is coming to my home to take away the baby furniture that my toddler has outgrown. That is another tough one. He is growing so fast.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Going Back in Time

I ran into this blog post that made me laugh hysterically.

Then I realized I could add a few 70's pictures of my own ...except these pictures are real...they are of me and my brothers. I really can understand now why we were picked on as kids. These clothes were originally from Zayre's (pre-Walmart store).

This is my brother getting an award circa 1976. And that suit actually was one of the better looking ones.

Big belts and crazy arrows...

Then there was the matter of dressing alike. I am not sure what that was about but it seemed to have been a trend back then...But at this point we were still young enough for it to be cute.

But then it developed into a sickness...

That followed us on vacation...

And to the beach.....

And every Christmas...


After year...

My mom even tried to get me in on the act...

It seemed to have never ended as we grew up...

But fortunately for us it did and I am happy to report that my brothers no longer dress alike.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Marathon Update - 5 mile long run

AAAGGGHHHH!!! is the best way to describe this treachery. I am so NOT a morning runner. I am not even a runner at all. I run and I am training for a half marathon but that does not in any way qualify me to be a runner.

My program is going along smoothly and I am getting in about 15-18 miles each week. This past week was progressive and I am finally getting into my stride which is a very confident 10:00 mile pace. Which means that if I can keep it up on an average during the actual race, the officials might not pick me up for being too slow. My biggest fear is having Mickey Mouse approach me and say "um, ma'am, the race was over 8 hours ago. Your family is looking for you."

I run so much better at night but my long run was today and I have to be somewhere tonight which means I had to do my long run this morning. Dread. That means I have to run while the sun is coming up and I am not liking that. I did it...5 miles...but I had to walk 1/2 mile because the sun was beating down on me and I did not bring drink with me. But I made it through in true "Bruce" fashion to the tune of "Born to Run".

More updates next week as I work to increase my weekly total to 20 miles.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The High Road

I have heard a lot of expressions in my life regarding the high road but the high road has always been a confusing place for me.

First of all, I have never understood what it meant to say that the high road is paved with good intentions. Maybe I am just not a literary and I don't understand hidden meanings. Whatever.

I CAN tell you that the high road is a very lonely place. It's so lonely in fact that I frequently find myself walking it alone. Sometimes when I am walking down it I am crying. Sometimes I am laughing and happy. Sometimes I am extremely frustrated too. But most of the times I am quite lonely.

As a believer in God, I often ask myself why is it that he chooses to make the high road a lonely place, at least for me. I was raised in an environment where I was taught to walk down this road often yet so many times I felt alone during my walks with no one to talk to me or help me to solve my deepest problems.

Yet I am 42 years old and still taking this lonely road day after day after day. I am certain that my faith has a lot to play into this. Perhaps God is with me on this road and I am never really alone. Perhaps this is an area I need to work on because so many days I feel little strength on this road. I feel a lot of forces trying to beat me down off of the high road yet I struggle to stay on it. Many times I succeed in staying on it but not usually without a fight.

Why is the high road such a hard place to walk? I am not sure and may never figure it out. For anyone out there who struggles with the decision on whether or not to take this high road, you should because then we can walk it together.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My New Blog

I am launching a new blog that is going to be where I go to blog about my gift basket hobby. I could go on and on about it here but I will just add the link and invite you to come along and enjoy my designs.

I have always loved gift baskets since I was a little kid and I have always thought about different kinds of themes that I could create for different occasions. I always gave them as gifts in different forms such as baskets, decorated boxes, baby bathtubs, etc. I even made a baby basket once out of diapers. That was really fun.

While I won't use the blog as a way to sell my baskets nor am I currently using the blog for advertising purposes, I will certainly create and ship an order on any design you see that you would like.

Enjoy my Posh Baskets and if you have any future ideas please feel free to email me at mill2542 at bellsouth dot com.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Marathon Training...what's the big deal?

According to my blog, it is 67 days until I run in the Disney Half Marathon. I am excited about it. I am training for it. I am up to running 4 miles each day and working to increase by 1 mile each week for the next 8 weeks until I am up to my full 13 miles that I need. Last night I did my 3.5 mile goal and I felt like I could have gone another 3 miles. I felt really great. The temperature at night has dropped to the 60s and low humidity and I hardly broke a sweat.

I have gone to many websites where marathoners are training right now and discussing all kinds of strategies. I feel a little bad because I don't really have a strategy. I am using a really good novice half-K program that I found on the internet and it seems to be working. Every additional mile I run seems to be a little bit easier than the last.

I am not taking this goal lightly. Marathon running is NOT easy by any means and one really needs to be in general good physical condition. I am believing that the race will probably be more of a mind over matter when the actual day really comes and when I reach mile 10 and struggle to go that last 3.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Changing seasons

Today is the first day of Autumn....that is for those of us who live in sunny South Florida. Hurricane Noel assured us of that. Thank Goodness because this is my favorite time of year...Halloween to New Years Day. During this time I feel a total change in myself. I am more energetic than ever. I play more outside with my kids. I run better (which is a blessing because Disney Half Marathon is coming up in a few months and I need to pick up my running mileage).

The temperature is 69 degrees right now and while that is warm by most standards it is not here. Humidity is 81%. Joy of Joys. I don't consider that cold, in fact I am wearing a tank top and shorts as I write this. But I am excited that all of the windows are open and the A/C is off.

I love preparing for the Christmas season. This weekend I will start to get down the Christmas decorations. I will load up the car with Christmas CDs. I will start to plan the Thanksgiving Day menu. I will start Christmas gift shopping. This year I will start to plan my gift basket gifts...and I have a lot of ideas floating in my head. I will start to plan all of the goodies that I will make during the season such as cookies, muffins, and unique cupcakes.

I love the joy that the season brings me because it always reminds me of home and family and I love that most of all. Now that my brother and his family live closer that is all the better for us.

This year I will focus less on the gifts and more on the things we make and the memories we will share together. I will focus more on packaging the gifts so that the recipient fells ultra-special and especially loved. Because that is what this season means to me. Home, family and love.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween

I have decided that my top holidays of all time besides Christmas and Easter is Halloween. I really got into it this year. At the last minute I went to Party City and bought some really scary things for the front of the house including a fog machine, some scary screaming CDs for the CD player for approaching trick-or-treaters, and some scary signage. I was reminded by my older kids that our house was too nice and pretty boring and it needed to be more scary. I even bought a costume for myself so I could get into the mood. I was the Greek Goddess Venus.

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