Monday, December 28, 2009

I need YOUR vote!! I'm a FINALIST in the AGCO Christmas Photo Contest!!

Wow!  What a day!!  Never in my life have I ever won anything and now I'm a finalist in AGCO's Christmas Photo Contest.  Whatever happens, at least I'll be able to say, "It was an honor just to be nominated."

Somehow, Sue from AGCO happened upon my recent blog post about decking the farm for Christmas, and commented about how I still needed to submit my photos.  She even found me on Facebook and messaged me that way...that's good customer service!!  Thanks, Sue!

Turns out when I thought I uploaded my photos the other day, they didn't go through, but after the messages from Sue, I resubmitted and this time it worked.  It worked so well, that now I'm a FINALIST!!

So help me win this for my Mom & Dad by casting your VOTE!!

Go to on Facebook and "like" my's the one of my Dad on his 1958 Allis-Chalmers D17 in front of our barn.  Here's the picture you're looking for on the voting site:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Christmas Baking

Every year when December rolls around, I start baking whenever I can find free time (which can be difficult).  I just like to bake.  People tell me I'm good at it, but maybe they're just being polite. 

I'll keep this post short and sweet.  Following are the cookies I got around to making this year.  I had others on my list, but ran out of time.  Top priorities are the ones that family and friends claim as favorites!  If you're interested in any of the recipes, just let me know.

Clockwise beginning from the 1:00(ish) position:
  1. Mint Chocolate Delights
  2. Chocolate Chip Cookies with red & green M&Ms
  3. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
  4. Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
  5. Chocolate Pixies
  6. Oatmeal Scotchies
  7. Caramel Oatmeal Chewies
  8. Shortbread Cutouts
  9. Caramel-filled Chocolate Cookies
  10. Soft Sugar Cookies
  11. (in the center) Gingerbread Cutouts

Deck the Farm

This is the barn at our family farm. I think it’s the best-looking barn around. It’s just what a barn should look like. It’s a small barn as far as old barns go, but I love our barn. Each year, ever since I was in high school I think, I create a giant wreath to bedeck the barn. This post is going to be a pictorial journey of the construction of the 2009 edition of the wreath.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fitness Update

I’m still at it…hitting the gym pretty much every day. I’m running every other day, and I’m doing strength and cardio on the in-between days. It’s consuming my life, but

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I’m tired, but it’s all good...

I have some catching up to do! I haven’t written since before Thanksgiving...

Thanksgiving morning I was up early to go to the gym for a run. As I tweeted that morning, “Is that something a normal person does on this holiday that’s become known for gluttony and sloth?” The day’s run was the once-a-week sprint workout that my trainer prescribed. It was the first time for the sprint workout, and as funny as it may sound, it has since become my preferred run! It’s way less boring than just running…I walk briskly (4 mph) for 1.5 minutes, then I crank up the speed to 8+ mph for 30 seconds and repeat and repeat and repeat for 30 minutes.

After my workout, I headed over to Mom and Dad’s for a midday Thanksgiving dinner. We did a very low-key Thanksgiving, as I had to leave my house at the crack of dawn on “black Friday” for a trip to National 4-H Congress and I still had laundry and packing to tend to! Mom prepared Thanksgiving dinner, and Aunt Mary and Uncle John joined Mom, Dad, and me for a nice afternoon. Then, I booked it back to my place to finish my pre-trip to-do list!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

...miserable yet awesome.

Today was a LONG day… I worked in the morning, had lunch with some of my 4-H alums who were home from college for Thanksgiving, had a make-up fiddle lesson, assisted with the Area 4-H/FFA Crops, Entomology, & Forestry judging events in Plymouth, and then went to the gym to run. I just got home about 45 minutes ago and had a nice big bowl of Special K with granola on top for supper.

My run tonight was miserable yet awesome.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

5K Prep Update

The running preparations have been going pretty good since the last time I wrote. I’ve been doing intervals of two minutes of walking and seven minutes of running.

Old Crow Medicine Show is AMAZING!

My sister Anne, bro-in-law Jeremy, my friend Randy, and I attended our second Old Crow Medicine Show concert in Chicago at the Vic Theatre on November 19th, 2009. Shows like this are in venues that are standing room only on the main floor, so you have to be early. We were waiting outside the door when the doors open and got to be right down front; leaning against the stage the whole time…it was awesome!

(The trip to the theatre is another whole story, since Randy and I had to get from a conference at Purdue in West Lafayette to the Vic in Chicago…it was all going good until we hit traffic. I really don’t know how people deal with that traffic on a daily basis. It was hell.)

If you're unfamiliar with the Old Crow Medicine Show, you should become familiar with them...they're awesome. I'm especially enamored with Ketch Secor, the fiddle player. Actually, “enamored” might be too weak of a verb. Ketch is amazing and thanks to our great spot against the stage, I was probably not 7 feet away from him!!

If you want to know why I'm enamored with Ketch and his fiddle skills and why this is an awesome band to see live, check them out on You Tube or check out this live footage on their website:

I took a BUNCH of pictures. Here’s a link to my photos from the show…

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Today's Lesson: Don't Eat and Run?

A few weeks back I joined the Valparaiso Noon Kiwanis Club. The club meets every Wednesday at noon (thus the name) at Strongbow’s for lunch. So far, I’ve been enjoying meeting some new people at the meetings and trying to get the hang of how this organization operates. Each week there’s a different program. (Side note:  If anyone who's around Valpo ever wants to consider joining Kiwanis or just coming to a meeting to see what it's about, let me know!)

This week we heard from one of our very own Kiwanis members who is retired from the United States Air Force. She presented a very intriguing program about a segment of the military for which she worked that accounts for service men and women who were lost during past military conflicts. During the years at the end of her career, she was involved in accounting for those lost in the Vietnam War. I found it all very interesting. She gave us a few web links to check out to learn more about these efforts: and

I just wanted to mention that, now I’ll get back to how Kiwanis is playing into the originally intended theme of this blog which is my “Fatty to 5K Quest”…

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some Hoosier “Double” Trouble: 2007 Spring Turkey Season

The following story was written by my hunting mentor, Randall L. Dickson, of Thrill Kill Decoys. The Thrill Kill blog is full of lots of turkey hunting information, photos, and videos:

It was a typical spring morning in northern Indiana, with a crisp chill creeping under my skin while a clear blue sky materialized overhead. I’d been back in my Hoosier homeland for a week, following 15 days of barely-interrupted turkey hunting across Tennessee and Kansas. But the itch hadn’t gone away, and I couldn’t stay out of my favorite turkey woods on this Sunday morning, with Indiana’s season opener looming just 3 days in the distance.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I've been at it for two months now...

Though it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here, rest assured that I’m still involved in my “Fatty to 5K Quest”. I haven’t given up yet.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Opening Day 2008 - Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

My anticipation for my fourth turkey season (and hopefully my third longbeard) really began to escalate a few weeks ago when I visited the at-home gun range of Thrill Kill Decoys creator, Randy Dickson. There I had the opportunity to interact with 14-year old Baleigh, Randy’s niece. The two of us spent some time that day patterning and practicing under Randy’s supervision. Following a late afternoon walk through a Starke County woods to look for signs of turkeys, I was definitely anxious for the impending season opener.

My "Fatty to 5K" Game Plan

Several people have asked me what my game plan for what I refer to as my “fatty to 5K quest”. I began training in early September 2009, roughly six months prior to the Disney Royal Family 5K on March 6, 2010. Rather than wade through the multitude of various training plans that one can find on-line, I chose to just adopt the plan that worked for my sister Annie and brother-in-law Jeremy. They are no more built like runners than I am, and by my starting point, they had already been working out for six months and had been on a run as long as six miles (I think they’re up to 10 miles as of now.)

First Journal - 9/12-9/17/09

Saturday, 9/12/09

A month and a half ago my sister asked me if I wanted to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon with her in March of 2011. “Sure!” was my response. The date was so far off that it didn’t seem realistic so it was easy to agree to. Furthermore, this all came about when I was shoulders-deep in the county fair in my role as the Porter County 4-H Extension Agent, so part of my eager agreement was probably related to a long-term lack of sleep or just the thought of a vacation…albeit a vacation that involved running 13 miles. I kept the thought of becoming a runner in the back of my head as I finished up the county fair and headed off to the State Fair to work the 4-H Beef Show for a week.

Then a few weeks ago my sister asked me if I wanted to join her and her husband Jeremy for the Princess Half Marathon in March of 2010. “WHAT? You said March 2011 before! I can’t run 13 miles in 6 months! Maybe cumulatively over 6 months I could run 13 miles!”