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Monday, June 13, 2011

Manic Monday: Snack Time!

Here is a recipe from the South Beach Diet to give you a quick afternoon pick me up!


Iced Vanilla Coffee Milk

Prep time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4 (1-cup)


Whipped topping turns this coffee milk into a satisfying, rich-tasting dessert. The cinnamon stick stirrer adds a light spiced flavor. You can also sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top, if you like. (Phase 1)


  • 3 cups strongly brewed decaffeinated coffee, chilled
  • 1 cup fat-free or 1% milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons granular sugar substitute
  • Ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup fat-free or light whipped topping
  • Pinch ground cinnamon for garnish (optional)
  • 4 cinnamon sticks for garnish (optional)

Nutritional Information:

50 calories
0 g fat (0 g sat)
6 g carbohydrate
2 g protein
0 g fiber
45 mg sodium


  1. In a pitcher, combine coffee, milk, vanilla, and sugar substitute; stir well. Fill 4 (10-ounce) glasses with ice. Pour coffee mixture over ice. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the whipped topping into each glass.
  2. Stir gently so that some topping mixes with coffee and some remains at the top of the glass. Garnish each with a pinch of ground cinnamon and a cinnamon stick, if using.

And my version!

1 Keurig K-cup in 'Donut Shop Decaf' - Decaf is important! Caffeinated drinks increase cravings!
1/2 cup of 1% milk
3 packets of Splenda
2 teaspoons Pampered Chef Pure Vanilla
Ice Cubes
Two swirls of redi-whip
Cinnamon doping- Cinnamon is important! Cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar!

Brew your K-cup, mix with ice to get cold.
Add milk, sugar substitute, vanilla, and ice.
Swirl whip topping on top and add cinnamon sprinkles. Add cinnamon stick, if desired.

*Remember, this isn't Starbucks! This is a diet drink!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Testimony Tuesday: The blessing in brokeness

Over the past few weeks, it has been brought to my attention, that I have friends and acquaintances with little ones experiencing physical troubles that are feared to be lifelong. Nothing breaks my heart more then a child that has to suffer some deformity, due to birth defects, or accidents, and to know nothing will ever be able to fix it. I do try to keep it in perspective, children are so resilient, and the number one way to ensure success in that child is by the adults who surround them. I feel lead to address this, I feel I offer some insight for the adults with these gifts from God in their lives. These children are not broken, they are fearfully and wonderfully made in God's image, even if it's not the image we had in mind.

Does the term Amniotic Band Syndrome mean anything to you? For most, probably not. It has only been in recent years that even I became aware of this specific term. This is significant to me because I was born with ABS. What this means is, I only have one hand! I am missing about three inches of my arm, my wrist, and my left hand. And I have never let that stop me from achieving my goals, but I can only attribute that to my family. I remember the stories my mom would tell me of how she didn't get to see me for three days, and how they told her I would be developmentally delayed, not to have lofty expectations. Talk about dashing a mothers dream! Fortunately, there was someone there who saw things differently, and no one can remember who that person was! My grandmother tells me of a conversation she had in the waiting room with whom she thought to be a Doctor. He felt I would be able to accomplish anything I wished, but it would all depend on my families attitude toward the situation. He explained how I would only be restricted in my achievements by limitations my family imposed on me. I do believe there was some divine intervention in that conversation, I believe it made all the difference in how my future would evolve. It hasn't always been easy, I have shed many tears over life with "little hand". I can remember some pretty mean things that have been said and done, but they made me stronger, and I was rightfully shy a good portion of my life, not anymore, ha! I never placed any limitations on myself, though scared to try sometimes. I remember wanting nothing more then to be a Cheerleader (instilled at birth, I am sure, by my Drill Team mom), how was I going to do that? The stunts, the tumbling, how would I hold the pom-poms? That fear, held me back a whole year. And when I did try-out, I rocked it! I had to think out of the box and be creative. I also had the support of an encouraging mother and amazing friends. I was just as effective at stunting as my two handed counter parts, and I discovered I could tie my pom-pom on with a hair scrunchy. Tumbling? No problem, I had long accomplished the basics, my first attempt at a spotted back handspring however, landed me on my head! My response, "Do I get to try again"?! My senior year of High School we were state champs, I cheered in the Shrine Bowl, Florida Citrus Bowl, and competed at the national level in Orlando, Florida, ESPN, baby! I also had the opportunity to try-out as a UCA All-Star, I made it. I didn't stop there. I then took my passion for Cheering to the next level and earned a spot on the Cheerleading Squad at Francis Marion University.

To this day, I remain active as a Nationally Certified Fitness Instructor, I know my class gets a kick out of me tying my weight on with my pink bandanna. I even have my coffee mug handle fitted snugly on my arm as I type. There are ways around things. And my three children know full well, "I can't", is not language I accept! I have come to a place in my life were I have gained the understanding that I might spend a lifetime one-handed, which I wouldn't change, but I will spend eternity two-handed. That said, lets move on from my story. If you have questions, just ask.

I feel pretty confident in saying, when your child doesn't exactly meet your vision, you probably place blame on yourself, wondering what you did wrong, or could have done differently. You have to remember, God does not make a mistake. Once you can get past the guilt and isolation you feel you have to get creative. There is no time to consider the what if, take your what is and get moving. You have the blessed opportunity to learn more from your own child's special needs then you ever thought possible, and remember, your attitudes and actions will shape your child's image of themselves. With that in mind, it's important how you refer to them. Using language like, "He suffers from.....", "She can't do....." will affect how they see themselves. Building a vocabulary of positivity and encouragement is the best gift you could give any child. You have been given a grand assignment to care for a child with a special need, and you will never be given more than you can handle. I want to get across how humbling it should be that you have been entrusted with the care of an exceptional child. Finally, I know all situations are different, and can be difficult, but it takes the same tenacity, courageousness, and Faith, regardless of your circumstance. No one is broken, just unique, and all our gifts are given by the same spirit.

                                                                           Go Gators!

                                                                   Holding a 'Chair'

    I couldn't resist! A day at the Magic Kingdom while cheering in the Florida Citrus Bowl.

                                                    Me & My family today.

No matter what you do, always remember to.......Keep the Faith!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Twofer Tuesday: Spring forward inside & out!

Winter is over, spring has sprung, and with it,  the desire to spring back to life yourself. Why should this time of year be dedicated only to the blooming that occurs in nature? After all, we Moms deserve the opportunity to refresh, renew, and "bloom" ourselves. Unfortunately, after a winter of personal "hibernation", it can be tough knowing were to begin. To get you started, I have comprised a guide to help you spring forward for a season of awakening. I have include an Easter basket of my favorite products to boost your personal confidence levels, and, a few points on what God has to say about your personal relationship with him. A complete awakening requires not only a focus on your outward appearance, but an inward assessment as well. We are God's creation, and while it's important we put Him first in all things, taking care of what He has sovereignly created, is an act of love and stewardship. Yes, beauty is fleeting and charm is deceptive, but we have been entrusted with the fragility of one body and one life. God expects us to maintain this gift. Let's spring back to life!

Spring is in the air! The blossoms are out, the days are longer, and we're ready to get out and about. But wait, your arms and legs haven't seen daylight in months. Your smile has dulled from lack of fun in the sun, and your overall look could use a Spring pick me up. Fret no more, here is a list of products to get you bloomin' again.

1. Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub. Shed that winter skin by gently exfoliating. This product is gentle enough for daily use- even sensitive skin types. It's also designed to even skin tone and texture. Exfoliating will reveal smoother, fresher, more radiant skin. This step will also prime your skin for step two!

2. Jergens Natural Glow Healthy Complexion Daily Facial Moisturizer. This is a daily moisturizer designed to gradually create a healthy glow. No Umpa Lumpa orange here! The color really does give a sun kissed look. In addition, you can get a color to fit your skin tone- I have the fair/medium, no surprise there! The addition of SPF 20 gives it another plus in my book! Don't forget to exfoliate so your not blotchy, and blend, blend, blend, or you will end up with a massive line of demarcation!

3. Jergens Natural Glow Foaming Daily Moisturizer. This is for the body, and meets all the standards of it's facial counterpart. It may be purchased in lotion, or foam, and again, has a shade for every skin tone. What I prefer about the foam is how quickly it dries over the lotion. Also, the foam seems to have no offensive odor, as most products containing self-tanning agents tend to have. The foam also bears the approval of allure magazine, with an editors choice award. Again, don't forget to exfoliate to keep your look streak free. Oh, and, wash your hands!

4. Crest White Stripes Premium. Don't forget those pearly whites! The premium brand of stripes offers the same whitening ability as the original, but in seven days instead of 10.

5. Cover Girl Outlast Lip Stain in Saucy Plum. These lip stains rock! They provide beautiful color without being sticky like the outlast lipstick. And choosing stains that fall under the berry, or plum category, actually make your teeth appear whiter! Double bonus! My favorite colors are Saucy Plum and Cinnamon Spice. Buyer beware... they can also be very drying, make sure you are using a lip conditioner on your pout when not wearing the stain.

6. MOROCCAN OIL. Don't forget your tresses need pruned, too! Start by getting a good trim, especially if it's been more than 3-6 months since your last snip. Once you have your hair back to life with a trim, it's time to maintain with a fabulous hair oil for all types. The intoxicating light sent and instant absorption will leave all hair types shiny and conditioned. No rinsing necessary! My hair tends to be dry, frizzy, and I have a lot! Living in the humidity of the south sure doesn't help my cause. Using MOROCCAN OIL is a must for my mane!

7. Cute pair of the seasons hottest shoes. Lastly, we turn our attention to the feet. Now, I KNOW your peds have been neglected through the winter. Get ready to bear those piggies again with an at-home pedicure. Soak them, scrub them, clip them, and then paint then your favorite spring time color. Next, follow up with some of this seasons hot trends in shoes. Consider a sassy pair of T-Straps, Wood Soles, Peep-Toes, or my favorite, Wedges. With a cute pair of shoes on your feet, you can conquer anything, one step at a time.

And there you have it. An Easter basket of goodies to help you feel refreshed, renewed, and ready to bloom.

Now, we turn the focus to a beauty secret that is imperishable, inner beauty. Being beautiful begins within, regardless of the season. What better time of year then Spring to begin afresh and anew? While our outward appearance is not God's priority, letting yourself go does not proclaim the fact our Father is King of Kings. Even the Proverb 31 women described in the bible, is dressed in fine linen and bears an appearance pleasing to her Husband, as she represents her family and God. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, we are not to be consumed with our outward appearance. 1 Peter 3:3-4 reminds us not to let our adornment be only outward- that will only go so far- we are to seek an inner beauty that is imperishable. By maintaining both an inner and outward beauty, and demonstrating a quiet and gentle spirit, we become the ultimate in "power under control". This means we are able to control ourselves, our words, and our actions. We are powerful, respectable, and strong, and at the same time we are quiet and still before God. This is the imperishable beauty secret, and will serve women well, in any season of life!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Twofer Tuesday: It CAN be done!

Some inspiration for your Tuesday, touted as the most productive day of the week. What steps will you take in the climb to your goals? Remember, it's easy as ABC! To Achieve, you must first Belive, then Commit to seeing your Dreams to fruition!

Take a RISK,
Take a CHANCE,
JOIN the Club,
Join the DANCE,
Learn to FLY,
Learn to SOAR,
Strive for JOY,
Strive for MORE,
BE BRAVE - Just DO!  
Be Brave - be YOU!

-My favorite refrigerator magnet

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't" but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, as he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one we know has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle right in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That cannot be done, and you'll do it

-Edgar Guest

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Princess Diaries: I went to the Ball!

Friday, February 25th.

I've made it! Months of anticipation and training have finally reached their pinnacle! Disney's Princess Half Marathon weekend has finally arrived. I couldn't be more excited to be participating in this grandest of  Balls! Although, my glass slippers have been traded for a pair of running shoes, and my tiara is affixed to a ball cap, I have never felt more like a princess!

Cinderella Castle, as seen from our room at Bay Lake Tower.

Our adventure begins by checking into our "castle" for the weekend, Bay Lake Tower. Our room comes complete with a view of the castle that started it all, Cinderella Castle. Next stop, Disney's Fit for a Princess Expo, where we receive our running princess packets. I have been placed in Corral C, along with my Sister, Princess Shasta. In addition to running the 1/2 marathon, we will also be participating in the Beauty & the Beast Family 5K, making for a lot of packets to retrieve. Once this is complete, it's time to dine. Our carriage (family car) transports us to Sanna, at Animal Kingdom Lodge's, Kidani Village. We dine on an amazing selection of Indian style breads, Tandori short braised ribs, and chicken with red curry sauce. We conclude the day with some down time at our castles pool area and a Signature Dining experience at the California Grill, at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Um, have you ever had a steak that could melt in your mouth? I did! To cap off a great day, Wishes, from the California Grill!

Saturday, February 26th

Today brings a 4:30am wake up call! We must have the carriage rolling toward Epcot by 5:15am, leaving us one hour to get parked and to the 5k staging area by 6:15am, for a 7am start. Belle & Beast encourage us as we begin our 3.2 mile journey around and through Epcot. I was so proud of my family! They did amazing and had so much fun in the process! With such any early morning, I was skeptical we could pull it off. In fact, I remember saying, "For the record, I think this is a bad idea, it's just too early, especially for Brooks". I was proven wrong. Upon completion we headed back to the resort to park our carriage and change our shirts. Then, it was off to Magic Kingdom for a day filled with, well, MAGIC! My neurotic self was a bit worried. According to my @TouringPlans crowd calender, MK crowds were anticipated to be at a level 8.9 out of 10, in other words, busy! But, I had a plan we stuck to and we got it all in! We ended the evening at MK with a perennial favorite, Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade. Last, but most definitely not least, Wishes, this time from our room! I must say, Tinkerbell must have sprinkled the children with Pixie Dust, because they could not have been better troopers!                                

Sunday, February 27th

The morning of the Ball has arrived and I hardly slept a wink! My 2:45am alarm, turned into getting up at 2:38am anyway! Not staying at a "host resort", we were responsible for our own transportation to the ball. Hence, the crazy wake-up time. I didn't know what to expect as far as traffic and road closures. Luckily, I know my way around the "World", so we had no problems. Once parked, I am taken aback! Spotlights galore, pink and blue flags, music blaring, and a red carpet entrance, my anticipation was mounting! I quickly ate a banana, took a Nuun hydration tablet, and we head for the party. As we waited in line for a picture in the staging area, the DJ kept reminding us to start heading to our corral. Now, I know why! The start line was about a 30 minute walk from the staging area, especially with a herd of 17,000 princesses trying to get there. We finally made it to Corral C, worming our way toward the front. And now, the moment we all have been waiting for, 6:01am....and we're off, 13.1 miles of magic here I come! There were DJ's, characters, acrobats on trampolines, and music- "I've got the power", by snap, was playing at about mile 11ish, I so needed that! Mickey, Minnie, the Princesses, and even eye candy in the form of a few firemen, also graced the course! And all along the way, spectators and VoluntEARS, there to encourage, hydrate, and even call you by name! Ya, I know they read it off my bib, but still! I even received a bit of a surprise, running into a co-worker from Charleston! I knew she was there, never thought we would actually "run" into each other, but magic always abounds at Disney!! More importantly, women encouraging other women to not give up. Mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends alike, all running together. Maybe it was to beat the odds, maybe it was in memoriam, or maybe just to try something new. Whatever the reason, for 13.1 miles we were all Princesses united! After a sprint to the finish line (I was told you're not supposed to do that, anyone know why?), I was no longer a "Princess in training", I was an official Princess! And it felt fantastic!

After re hydrating and changing out of a sweaty tutu, we headed into Epcot to "walk off" our run. I love Epcot, World Showcase, specifically! I could spend hours just exploring each pavilion, sampling each country's fare, and taking in the entertainment. What a marvelous way to bring closure to a most magical weekend!

Official 1st 1/2 marathon Princess time: 2:24:08, with photo ops.

Lastly, overheard at Disney's Princess 1/2 Marathon, "Oh, look at all the lovely tutus! I want a tutu, but with my shape it would need to be a four-four!" - Fairy Godmother.

For more information on Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend, or other runDisney events, please visit
For information about Disney's Worldwide Outreach Program, VoluntEARS, please visit

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Thirstin' To Run

As I approach my first half marathon my training is in full effect! In fact, I completed my first 10 miler this past week-end. I must say, I was proud of myself, I had never ran 10 miles in my life. I am not a runner, though I consider myself to be in great physical condition, running is just too....boring, too...mental for me. So, I guess it's natural to have questioned myself a hundred times as to why I would choose to run ANY race.

Why did I chose to run 13.1 miles anyway? Why would I deliberately decide to tackle a challenge I really had no passion for? Well, here is the answer: It's in Disney World, and it's the Disney Princess Half Marathon, Hello! Yep, I can totally run around in Disney World. I must say, the idea of running this race was nothing short of a personal epiphany. As I drove home from teaching a kick-boxing class this past May, I begin to tell myself I needed a new challenge, a goal, something that needed training and preparation. For some reason I was restless about finding this said challenge. Then, at a red light, it happened, "I should run the princess"! I didn't know when it was, or any of the details surrounding the event, I just knew that was what I should do. As soon as I got home, I was on the computer looking for information. I came across the promotional video and I was done! That video had cemented in me the desire to run this race. I was so excited I felt like I could have ran it right then! I call my sister, fill her in, send her the link for the video, and insist we do this thing! She's in! Now, how to sell my husband? First, he says no....then, decides it's a matter of me going to Disney without him...ha ha...truth comes out. Finally, I sell him on it, and at the end of the day....the whole family, plus my sister, will be Disney bound!

So, the months go by and with five weeks to go I finally start actually running, seven weeks after my proposed training schedule advises I start. EEK! It has been hard trying to fit in my runs with teaching my group fitness classes five days a week. I do get a work-out, but I am so conditioned for them they barley make a dent in trying to train for a half-marathon. You must condition for that too! As of now, I still only fit in two runs a week. And I confess, I am a bit stressed about the whole thing. I am so competitive, but I don't want to miss out on all the on course activities because I am worried about my time. I must get pictures with the characters slated to be at every mile! I guess that's where the training comes in!

I have had a few more epiphany's in the process. 1) I run like I teach my classes. 2) My husband and I should go alone and run the Wine & Dine in October. 3) I actually LIKE running, it's not sooo boring. 4) I feel fantastic- maybe it's the endorphins talking?

With that, there are some other confessions too! I would be lying if I didn't say I know exactly where the trees and bush's are that hide me (for a quick break), and I would be lying if I didn't say I was hoping that light up ahead would turn green (again, quick break). And lastly, I would be lying if I didn't say; I am so excited to gain the personal statisfaction of accomplishing my self-imposed new challenge in the "Happiest Place on Earth"!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

9th, 10th, 11th, & 12th Blessing of Christmas

Well, my ambition got the best of me. I really had plans to flip the script the 12 days prior to Christmas with my 12 Blessings of Christmas. But, here I am a week into the new year and still trying to get it done. So, lets consider the positive, I am nothing if not determined to finish what I started. Even if it's a wee bit late.

The Blessing of Giving
Don't you just love to watch the look on peoples faces when they open a gift from you? There is nothing more gratifying than finding that perfect gift. Even the anticipation of waiting to give it is part of the fun. And have you noticed the gifts you are the most excited to give also get the most attention in the wrapping? For that moment you become the bearer of happiness, the bearer of joy, the bearer of excitement! Not only that, but what about the happiness, joy, and excitement you receive as the giver? Well, that is the blessing of Giving. Giving by it's very nature is the offering of yourself. It can be in the form of a gift, a favor, a task, a service, or even a smile. So give freely of yourself and the gift will be yours!

Here is an interesting tid-bit from Germany, since my lineage suggests I am three-quarters German ;) German history indicates children received Christ-bundles as gifts. They usually included things such as: a coin, a toy, a tasty treat, an article of clothing and a small stick as a reminder toward good behavior. Hum.... in the South we call those switches!

The Blessing of Family
You will never hear the phrase "going home" as much as you do at Christmas. To "go home" for Christmas is to go home to family. For many it's a natural rite to journey back to the comfort and joy that awaits them. It's a natural urge we satisfy in returning to our roots-an urge to celebrate the passing of time. We once were the children passing out the gifts, running a muck, without a care in the world. Now, we are the adults, making the food, wrapping the gifts, trying to maintain the images we have in our minds of how things "used" to be. So, let those little ones run through the house, a cookie in each hand, with rosy cheeks, and twinkling eyes. For it will all but be gone before you know it.

The Blessing of Peace
Christmas eve has finally arrived, along with the magic that transcends into the dawn of Christmas Day. All the preparations of this Yuletide path of been completed and now it's time for an shift in attitude. It's time to give your heart over to the blessing of Peace! Take time now from hassle and haste, time from trouble and worries, and time from everyday tasks that numb you to the miracle of your very existence. This is a time of celebrating the birth of Jesus- and the birth of you! Let it be a day of gentle thoughts, considerate voice, and patience. Let it be a day of Worship, family, and contentment. Let it be a day of peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

The Blessing of Hope
Now that Christmas is winding down, we begin to focus our sights on another bright occasion poised just ahead. A time of new opportunity awaits, and with it comes new Hope. Fresh from the spiritual enrichment of Christmas, there is no better time to prepare ourselves for the journey of a new year. It's a time of taking inventory of the past year and "resolving" to do better in the next. We have a heart full of Faith and confidence in ourselves and others and in the future that lies before us.
                                                      Tomorrow stands before us now
                                                        What will the New Year bring?
                                                      It brings the song that's in our hearts
                                                         And the tune we choose to sing.
                                                                                  - T.J Mills
A little black-eyed peas couldn't hurt either!