Falling in Love with Fall & a Recipe for Pumpkin Donut Holes

It’s fall in most parts of the country right now. Here in Arizona, fall makes me want to get out my, well, t-shirt and shorts. Yes, we pretty much don’t get to start the fall wardrobe wearing till just about Thanksgiving. It is like the opposite of growing up in Ohio. There, when it reaches 50 degrees in the spring, people start getting out their jean shorts and bikini tops. Here, when it gets down to a breezy 65, we break out the long sleeves and jeans (and then suffer miserably through most of the day!). In the meantime, I am trying to get my “fall” on in a variety of other ways. I start to get out the Halloween decorations, I light the pumpkin spice candles, I merit the pros and cons of wasting half my daily calorie consumption on a new “fall” drink at Starbucks. (Seriously, who are these demons of torture? Salted caramel latte, anyone? You had me at hello!) During the rest of my downtime, I peruse the J.Crew catalog and wonder how many days I can actually wear the sweaters in there over the winter and using some homemade mathematic ratio that is completely fair and balanced, I decide yes! I should have that cable-knit in Angora, please. I also drool over these boots in all colors and combinations.

One of the more productive things I have done, though, is to start baking anything and everything that includes pumpkin. Productive for my productivity and for little mouths around me, not for my thighs, exactly. However, recently I came across this recipe for Pumpkin Donut Holes and they are actually pretty healthy. These donuts are not fried and include plenty of real pumpkin. The whole family loved them and they are one of my few non-guilty fall pleasures. Take them to the kids’ fall parties at school, take them to a Halloween get together, take them to book club or the Rotary! (Does anyone go to Rotary anymore? What is Rotary?) Let’s get started; here’s what you need:

Pumpkin Donut Holes

1 Cup all purpose flour

3/4 Cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tso sakt

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 Cup canned pumpkin

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 Cup skim milk (or almond, rice, or soy milk)

Topping:

3 Tblsp butter, melted

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray each cup in a mini muffin tin with baking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. In a larger bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until smooth. Add dry ingredients  and mix until just moist. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Transfer to wax paper. Topping: melt butter in one bowl and combine sugar and pumpkin pie spice in another. Brush each donut with butter and roll in sugar mixture to coat. Place back on waxed paper to set and then store in an airtight container. Of note, if you are not serving donuts until the next day, wait till then to do the topping. Enjoy!

A Mother’s Love

Mom and me...back in the day

Sometimes I really believe my mom thinks I am still her little girl. I know it breaks her heart that I have chosen to live across the United States from her.  She will tell me, “you have to live your life!”  But I know she would prefer my life to be in Arizona not New York. My mother was a young pup when she had me, just barely 23 years old. So we have somewhat grown up together through the years. But she never let me forget who is boss. Nowadays, the disciplinarian is somewhat gone… but don’t think she doesn’t scold me when she doesn’t approve of something I have done (let’s be honest… she doesn’t need to know everything!)

Now when I call her in tears, her hug isn’t there to mend my broken heart or soothe the pain. Instead, she offers advice that usually makes me even more annoyed because all I need is to hear her voice to make me feel better. Except when her voice is telling me… “You can’t always get what you want,” which sometimes comes out in a song.  That’s when I get even more annoyed.

My favorite is when I tell her I went out last night and I can just see her shaking her head as she tells me “Katrina Ann, you should know better!” She has given up on asking me about my dating life. Smart move!! And while, unlike my friends who talk to their mothers once maybe twice a week, I talk, text or email mine at least a dozen times a day.

What can I tell you, I love the woman! She may drive me crazy, nag  me, scold me and sometimes forget that my umbilical cord was cut 31 years ago but she is my mom and in my opinion one of the best around. So on this Mother’s Day weekend… let me leave you with some of Melody’s favorite sentences to her daughter.

*I love you
*Did you make your bed?
*You can’t always get what you want
*Katrina Ann, you should know better!
*I love you
*Did you call your Grandma?
*Are you dressing warm enough?
*When are you coming home?
*I love you
*You need to take better care of yourself
*How’s (insert name of one of my friends!)
*I love you
*Don’t give up
*I miss you
*****You are the BEST daughter EVER!!****

Ok, maybe not the last one… but I know she thinks it!

Photobucket

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Paige in Purple
     My baby left me.  Just walked right out of the house in the middle of the night for the desert and dry air of Arizona.  Okay, so it wasn’t quite THAT dramatic….but it sure seemed that way when we were skyping from RI to AZ and she was was more interested in jumping on the couch than talking to her mama!  My husband looked at me as tears started to stream down my cheek.  I quickly wiped them away, so Paige wouldn’t see.
     When My husband suggested he escape the frigid New England air for two weeks to see family in Arizona, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get some work done on this website, maybe even catch up on some sleep.  What I hadn’t anticipated was the emotional toll of being away from her and my husband.  Now, I like my alone time.  In fact, for much of our marriage my husband and I have worked different shifts–at times–even in different states.  Heck, even in different countries!  How do you think we’ve managed to stay married so long, moving state to state, job to job?  (I kid.)   But throw the little one in the mix, and that’s a one- two punch this mama just can’t handle.  Seriously, I was a wreck 75% of the time they were gone. 
     They get back tomorrow and I know my heart will skip a beat when I see them at the airport.  Just like it did when I met my husband at that BBQ in college and when I saw the yes sign on that pregnancy test. (oh, yeah…I got those tests, I wasn’t foolin’ around with the plus/ minus nonsense).
     What’s the longest you’ve been away from your kids?  Was it easier or tougher than expected?  Join the conversation…we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Why Runners Get Hooked

People are always amazed at how much I love to run. But it didn’t start as a love affair….it started more as a silly boyfriend you date solely because he has amazing eyes. There was only one thing I loved about running in college, and that was that it gave me a maximum workout in minimal time. Sometimes, I hated every step. I don’t remember any run being over five or so miles, and most were more like three. I have to admit, though–that even early on, there had to be that post-run endorphin thing that I got, perhaps even subliminally, because nothing else is going to get you out in the freezing sleet and snow in rural Ohio, even if it is a “good workout.” Although I was athletic in high school, running was never a part of the game.

Typical Ohio day...

Typical Ohio day...

My running started to evolve a bit as I ventured out to Arizona for graduate school. Suddenly, I was mapping new routes.

Typical Arizona day

Typical Arizona day

I found some new friends to run with, and I entered a 10k. Shortly thereafter, I entered a half-marathon, and some duathlons (running and biking), and then, finally in 2000, my first marathon. I still wouldn’t say I loved running, I wasn’t even sure I liked it. But I am a creature of habit. I thrive on discipline and routines, believing that these things actually allow me to be more spontaneous. In my masochistic mind, working hard makes the playing more fun, and then being spontaneous seems like a deserved reward.

My first marathon was everything it shouldn’t have been. Any normal person would have thrown in the towel. To start with, it was an inaugural race. This is a bad idea because the race directors have had no time to figure out what “works”. I will tell you what didn’t work….the route. It was on a rural course where we sometimes saw no one for miles. People got lost. They ran out of water. Farmers were cutting alfalfa. I had an asthma attack due to said alfalfa. Then I got rocks in my shoes and re-tied them too tightly. Then I felt my feet bleeding. Then I threw up. Then I shuffled, hot, tired, sweaty, and yes, triumphant through the finish line….about a half-hour later than my projected time. And yet,  I wanted to do it again.

I now have 8 marathons, 6 or 7 half-marathons, 2 ultras (longer than 26.2), 6 triathlons, 3 duathlons, a dozen or so other distances and 3 or so bike races under my belt. Marathons are my fave….ultras are even better….and trail ultras? Don’t even get me started.

I still don’t always love it. There are days that 4:30 am is just too stinking early. The hills seem to have gotten bigger overnight, every step feels like small tree trunks have been attached to my ankles, and I look at walkers and think, “Hey, walking seems nice….I can carry coffee if I walk.” However, more often than not, even on the days I think I will have a bad run, about half way in I remember why I do it. I remember why it is important to work hard, because hard work reaps benefits. The benefits for me are those days when I simply cherish the sound and cadence of my steps, when I can focus on praying without distraction, when I get to catch up with a girlfriend and no one is asking me for a snack, when I get to solve the oil crisis and the rest of the day seems to unfold before me, limitless with its’ possibilities. At times I am in awe of the beauty of the landscape before me, of the sun rising in the desert as I am alone on the trail, seemingly alone in the world; of the wind whipping my ponytail and the feeling of accomplishment I get when I put in 12 or 13 miles and most people have yet to rise. And don’t get me started on the endorphins. They are my Zoloft and my Prozac and my drug of choice….these indescribable little feelings that leave me smiling and content, even if I am spent.

So I would venture to say that this love affair has been a long time coming. But now, it is more like the boyfriend you love because he is good for you. He makes you feel better, he may not be perfect every day, but he will never turn on you. You love him for everything he does for you, not just one thing. He may not be easy to catch, but not much that is, is worth the chase.

How about you?  Are you an avid runner…or maybe you’re just getting started and you’re having trouble staying motivated.  I’d love to hear how you got started, your favorite race,  or any questions you might have.  Leave me a comment below!

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