Tomorrow I leave for Madagascar! Well, that is not entirely correct. Tomorrow I leave for South Africa where I am visiting my bestie, and from there we are headed to Madagascar for her Spring Break! Yes, my bestie teaches in South Africa–how awesome is that?? And I am finally going to visit! The last time I saw her was in June 2012 when she came to visit me in Blacksburg! (Pictures from her visit below!)
I can’t wait to see this lovely lady! It has been waaaayyyyyy too long!
I watched the movie Madagascar for the first time ever in preparation for my trip! So cute! And I can’t wait to see lemurs!! My cameras (yes, plural) are fully charged and ready to go! And can I say that I am sooo excited for warm weather! We are expected to get 2-4 more inches of snow in Madison tonight!! Ew!
I fly out of Chicago tomorrow (Wednesday) at 4:30pm and arrive in Joburg Thursday at 10:05pm. Hello, long airplane ride! And I have a three hour bus ride from Madison to Chicago prior to that. But I have several books set aside as well as some articles for work to read, so I will have plenty to keep me busy! And I am hoping to sleep some on the plane, although I usually do not sleep very much on planes. My coworker suggested I take advantage of the wine they offer on the way over. I may have to do that to get some shut-eye!
On Friday, I get to go to Sam’s school and meet all of the children she teaches! I am ecstatic! She has been telling them about me, so they are (so she says) very excited to meet me! Because it is Spirit Week at school, we get to wear our favorite sports team jersey on Friday (Go, Pack, go!), and the school has a 5K scheduled that I get to run in with the kids! Yay! So, I will get a little bit of running in on my vacay!
Running–haha–yes, my training is going to be derailed for the next 10 days. I am hoping to get a longer run in on Friday before leaving South Africa, but once we leave for Madagascar all bets are off. Maybe it will be good for my legs to take a break from running. Yesterday, I ran 800m repeats, and once again my legs were aching about half-way through. Ugh. I want the pain to go away for good!
I talked to my running coach about missing so much time during the peak of my training. Her response, “Wow. That’s a toughie.” Yeah, tell me about it. But basically she told me to put in a solid week before I left (which I did), stay as physically active as possible while I am there and then take a week to re-ramp up when I get back. I am taking resistance bands and a jump rope with me as well as about two dozen body weight upper and lower body strength training exercises. Sam and Robyn (one of Sam’s friends who is also coming with us) will probably think I am insane as I do my morning/evening routine to keep my cardiovascular endurance up! I am also bringing my running shoes (and running clothes, of course) should the opportunity arise to run.
Don’t worry–there will be PLENTY of pictures posted upon my return!! I am not sure I will be able to blog much while I’m on my trip, but if I get the chance I will!
Miss Callie will be boarded for the first week I am gone, and then my sweetie is being picked up by THE most wonderful couple who will take her to a Flyball tournament in Iowa while I am gone. She probably won’t want to come home to me–Mom (who leaves her at a kennel) vs. Williams-Osting’s (who rescue her and take her to play Flyball). Tough choice there…
Anyway, remember that Praline Bacon that I posted about? Well, one of my best friends had the AWESOME idea of adding it to cupcakes. I will admit–I was very hesitant at first. But then after tasting the bacon, I knew they would turn out great! And I decided to add maple extract to my cream-cheese frosting recipe to give it a little extra oomph! The Flyball team LOVED them on Sunday, and I have been receiving compliments on them all day at the office! I have even gotten a few requests for the recipe!
The cupcake batter used is a Paula Deen recipe. I have my “go to” yellow cake and chocolate cake recipes, but I have yet to find a white cake recipe that I love. So, I decided to give Paula’s a try! It was pretty good!
White Cupcakes with Praline Bacon Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
– 1 cup whole milk
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 ¾ cups cake flour
– 1 ¼ cups AP flour
– 2 cups sugar
– 1 tbsp baking powder
– ¾ tsp salt
– 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, softened
– 4 large eggs, room temperature
– Position rack in the lower third of oven, and preheat to 350*. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
– In a small bowl, stir together milk and vanilla; set aside.
– In a large bowl, beat flours, sugar, baking powder and salt at low speed with mixer until thoroughly combined. With mixer on low, add butter, a few cubes at a time, mixing until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
– Increase mixer speed to medium. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add milk mixture.
– Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
– Bake for about 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean.
– Cool completely before frosting.
– Make cream cheese frosting with maple extract instead of vanilla extract, and stir in praline bacon pieces.