Half Marathon Recap-Yeehaw

This last weekend I accomplished something I never thought I would do.

I completed my 5th half marathon.

Not only did I complete it, I finished it 20 weeks pregnant.

(I really must be crazy.)

I have to say thought that it was one of my favorite races to date.

I signed up for this race back in December long before I knew that George would be in my belly at the time of the race.

Even then, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to ever beat my PR time. So I came up with the idea of just having fun with this race and doing a scavenger hunt with my sister-in-law, Emily.

But then life happened, and the pregnancy took it’s toll on my body during the first trimester. I debated whether it was even a good idea to keep this race on the docket. Finally though, the morning sickness lifted, and I could exercise again. I began testing how far I could walk. The most I had done in the past month was 6 miles. Even up to last week I was unsure if I could do this. I talked with my doctor about running, and she said as long as I listened to my body and stayed extremely hydrated she was not concerned because I have an active past.

Emily and I decided to just go for it. We knew our options if we wanted to stop and knew that a truck would pick us up if we went too slow. I had been feeling great the past couple weeks, so we figured why not give it a whirl. We just wanted to have fun with everything!

And we did it full out! (Get ready for a ton of photos.)

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Emily and I before the race began.

I have to say the costumes were the best part of the race. About every 5 steps someone shouted/pointed/showed their extreme jealousy at our awesome cowgirl get-up. We pretty much won the best costume award! We are waiting for them to ask us to be the next year’s poster girls! (only slightly kidding)

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This is our favorite shirt from the day.

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This was at the beginning of the race. 30,000+ runners (and walkers)! Such a beautiful day for 13.1 miles!

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The first band of the day.

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Some of the bands were good, and some were not so good.

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It is a naked statue behind us.

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Walker selfie in front of the Brooks man!

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In front of Belmont University! We ran about 20% of the race, which were mostly on the downhills. It gave our legs a change of pace every once in awhile.

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This was one of our favorite signs. And yes, we both pooped that day. There were also a lot of signs about peeing. This was the first race that I used a Port-A-Potty, and I used it three times because I was chugging water like there was no tomorrow to stay hydrated. Each time there was no toilet paper…awesome.

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There weren’t many of us in costume for the day. These were some gals we passed a couple times before they eventually left us in their runner dust.

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Giddy Up!

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This was our favorite!

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No beer for the preggo. Sad day.

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One of the coolest parts of the race was going through Music Row where all the recording studios are. We were starry-eyed so we didn’t take pictures of hardly any of them. Whoops. In our defense, this part of the race was also on a downhill, so we were taking advantage of that momentum.

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You can’t read it, but this is a wedding chapel.

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A little praise band action!

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Very cool!

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Just a little bit country.

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And a little bit rock and roll.

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I think this was around 8 miles.

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The studios were surprisingly small.

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This is where we both started hurting a little. Also, I was starving. I needed carbs. I got some snicker-doodle cookies from a stranger and some jelly beans I had. I eventually had to ask a medical tent if they had a granola bar. George was hungry! And then soon after they had orange peels. They need to space this out more.

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The bump making an appearance with this lovely cop who was cheering us all on!

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This was a pleasant surprise! It was fun to shout a little Clemson love! Tiger Nation!

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Only two miles left. We can do this!

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The capital building.

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Emily tried out for American Idol here.


We did it, and with smiles on our faces!


Knowing there was food at the end got me through the last 2 miles. I took two of everything.


I just have to say, I love my husband for coming and capturing our moment of crossing the finish line and also driving us back to our car. However, what this picture captures was my least favorite part of the day. The guys said this was the only way back to the car, barring walking another mile or so around the road barricades. This was a steep hill that I had to take my concrete legs and pregnant butt up. Not a happy camper! Tom loving braced me and pushed me up the rocks as I muttered curses at him all the way up. We did make it safely up this hill, but it was not a pleasant experience! I really am thankful for them coming though!

All in all, we had a blast. I feel really accomplished after this. It is funny that each race has brought it’s own challenges that I have had to overcome. It is one of the things that I love about race days. You really get to see what you are made of.

The participants were great. Besides Disney, you really can’t beat the atmosphere and environment Nashville brings (at least of the races I have done, I am sure there are other great race destinations). The organization was fairly good for the race. My only complaint is the lack of food throughout the race and the location of port-a-potties.

We didn’t really follow our scavenger hunt list we made previously. Instead we just took pictures of whatever moved us, and looking back we did get a lot that was on our list. We also saw a lot of things but didn’t take pictures of it like a barefoot runner, cheer team, and every water stop we took advantage of. We finished with a time of 3 hours and 41 minutes, which I would say isn’t too bad for walking pretty much the whole thing and making a ton of stops!

Who knows if I will ever do another one, but this was a great one to add to the books.

**As a caveat, if you are pregnant and planning on doing races, I would seriously think about your past activity and talk with your doctor. It is an individual decision, but it can be done! Just make sure you are taking all the necessary precautions and doing what is right for you and your baby’s health.

So I Lied

I may have said that every half marathon that I have done will be the last. Time and time again, I make some grandiose statement to Tom that this “one” means this to me, and this is why it will be my last. And I will promise no more!

I lied.

Not intentionally though. I really do mean it in the moment.

But then things happen.

After every race, I am on a high and go searching for that next race. After a few weeks, I begin getting stir crazy and want to have another race to aim for. I feel it in my gut to go after that next medal.

I am addicted to race day!

Although much like my last race, I need to be realistic about how I train and how I run. I probably will never PR again because I want to be able to use my knees when I am forty.

So what is a girl to do?

Get creative.

I have signed up for my next race in April. This one in Nashville will be my fifth half marathon.

There is a twist though.

I ran my very first half marathon with my sister-in-law. “With” being an operative word. She came in under 2 hours, which is much faster than I ever hope to run.


We ran to honor her birthday back in 2011.

But the fact is she was a big reason that I started running and signing up for races in the first place, so I suggested doing this one actually with her, especially knowing her infatuation with Nashville. Plus, neither of us really grew up with a sister (we both had younger pesky brothers), so it will be fun to do some sisterly bonding with her.


Instead of running for a PR, we decided to do a scavenger hunt while on the course.

Yes you read that right. We are going to do a 13.1 mile scavenger hunt.

We will run some of it for sure, but it is meant to be all for fun and doing something different together.

So for 13.1 miles we are going to be on the lookout to pose with just a few things.

  • port a potty
  • someone dressed as a character
  • cheer team
  • band
  • a cop
  • someone in a military uniform
  • best road signs
  • historic places
  • Nashville icons
  • best road side snack
  • beer stop
  • water stop
  • start/finish

We may not find all these, and we may add others along the way. We will be taking tons of pictures regardless.

We are also going to be dressing up in costume to fit the Nashville country theme. So that will be entertaining.

I am really looking forward to it.

And who knows maybe this will be my last one. I like that it would end on my fifth race. Five is a nice round number to me.

We’ll see a couple months into the summer how I am feeling after the fact.

Here’s to Em and I taking over Nashville one scavenger hunt item at a time!


Do you have ideas to add to our list? Anyone else running a race soon?

Every Day Should be Race Day

This weekend I finished my fourth half marathon.

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Before the Go Commando Half Marathon

This was a brutal race.

It started raining in the middle of mile one.

It did not stop until after mile twelve.

The rain fluctuated from sprinkling to blinding downpour. My clothes were soaked through by mile four.

There was a hill (or 2 or 3) in every single mile.

So I was soaked, cold (it was below 45 all morning), and my source of music was out since I was afraid of drowning my phone. I was feeling defeated every turn staring up at the road at another hill.

Here I was running with just my thoughts for 13 miles. Why did I do this to myself?

As you see on my shirt, I chose to run this race for T.J.

I was able to raise a $615 dollars for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. It wasn’t quite my goal, but still awesome to see the outpouring of love and support. I have left it open for anyone else who feels compelled to donate.

I didn’t run the whole thing. Many times, quite frankly I wanted to quit. Between the hills and rain, I was miserable. But then I remembered TJ, and a smile was put back on my face.

I started to really take in the race, more than I had for the last three (even Disney). Shocker I know.

Running for two and a half hours gives you a lot of time to be with yourself. It is a lot of time to criticize that I wasn’t going to PR, or focus on the cramp in my leg, or wonder if the liquid running down my face was rain/tears/snot.

But having TJ in the back of my mind made me run in a totally different way.

I had so much fun on this race despite being cold and sopping wet. I saw parts of Clarksville that are absolutely gorgeous in the fall. Since I wasn’t worried about time (well only to get into dry socks), I was able to observe things and be in the moment. We often try to rush to the end goal, so it was nice to take in the process. I was running somewhere between a walk and a hard pace. And I was quite content with that.

I think “every day should be race day.” And here is why.

1. People are constantly cheering for you. Who doesn’t love compliments like “You doing great.” “Work it girl.” “You are strong.” Some people even hold signs for you or come out in the road to give you a high five. Seriously, can these people come to my office all day?

2. Along the same lines, I have never felt that these races are competitive. Constantly you are cheering for your fellow runners on. I always end up running in the same group. You ebb and flow. Sometimes I was ahead of the rest, sometimes I was at the back. But the common theme was that we cheered each other on when we needed it most. We gave each other a heads up if the turn around was ahead. We made jokes to take away the fact our body was cramping. We ran along side each other to give the other person strength to take the next step. I think things in life would go much smoother if we took a lesson at this. Support each other even if it means you wont “win.” We are all living, so technically we are all winning. Comparison is the stealer of all joy. Run your race, and don’t be jealous of what others have.

3. Work hard and put in a solid effort, and you will be happy with your results. I am really proud of what I did today, and I worked for those 13.1 miles. No one can take that away from me.

4. No one criticizes what runners wear. Actually the more neon the better. I wear a fanny pack people. I would be ostracized if I wore a fanny pack to work or out and about. Think about it, these races are super accepting of all people.

5. Puddle jump. Oh hey rain. You tried making this race all about you? Well take that and puddle jump. Seriously enjoy life. (Why I realize that this doesn’t occur on most races, but I think there are ways to make every run fun…my interpretive dance walks are a big indication of this.) So take a moment to enjoy what you are doing in the here and now.

6. Do something to challenge yourself. This race was grueling with all the challenges, but the biggest challenge was the mental game. Being able to say you accomplished something challenging like this is a huge confidence boost. You also learn that you can do things if you just believe in yourself. We can do more than we realize.

7. There should be cookies at the end of everyday. Run for the cookies. Live for the cookies.

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13.1 miles later and feeling like I was about to board Noah’s ark, I made it!

Going Commando

A few weeks ago, I wrote about T.J.

His story continued to weigh on my heart especially as I am trying to re-define my own personal dreams and trudge through some of the work.

Then I saw an update on his support page detailing a visit to several specialists.

As I read through his reports and saw what was going well and what was expected, an idea dawned on me.

Why don’t I run for T.J?

I had been going back and forth whether or not to run another half marathon. I like the idea of the race, but not always the time it takes to put in working up to that mileage.

(Is that a metaphor for getting your dreams or what?)

I knew that I wasn’t going to get a PR. I have sort of accepted that fate, knowing that trying to push myself too much would ruin my knees. And to be perfectly honest, I am just not that committed to giving away so much of my personal time to running to knock off minutes to my PR. But the fact is that races do inspire me. Having a race to work for does get me out and logging miles that I would never have thought I could do. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and strength. There is something in the air on race day that makes you feel alive and a part of something bigger. And I do like running in small increments–between 3 and 6 are my sweet spots. It’s fun to get your legs moving for a few miles. And it is a great way to have some Grace time while getting her some exercise too.

But I was plagued with the idea that if I could not beat my time, would a race really be worth it? Competition with myself has been a lifelong battle..

And have you seen the hills in Clarksville, TN?

Running vs running up hill!

So yea, I was teetering more towards not doing another half marathon for a long while, if ever.

But reading how T.J. so bravely meets with these doctors telling him what is working/not working in his body stirred something in me. God was telling me something. He wanted me to use my ability for this. Live it up and stop making excuses.

So I signed up for the Go Commando Half Marathon here in Clarksville.

I wanted this race to be more than just a race. With the undertones of what we are willing to do for our community and it being a military focus, I knew this would be more than just a race. It had to be more than just 13.1 miles.

I have started a fundraising page to help raise funds to find a cure and new medical practices for T.J. and many like him. I figure that if 90 people donate at least $10, I can reach my goal of $900, which is a $100 for each of his birthdays. So if you are feeling up to it, you can sponsor me. Yep just like those fundraisers in elementary school. You can think of it as a dollar per mile per say! Click this link if you are able to help me reach this goal. It should show up to my personal fundraising page.  Any amount is appreciated, and I would be grateful for the support!

Donate to End Duchenne!

If you are not familiar with Duchenne, it is a fatal genetic disorder that causes muscles to weaken rapidly. It occurs mainly in young boys, and most live only until their early 20s.  I was not aware of this disorder until I heard of T.J.’s story, so I am sure there are many out there that have never heard of it. There are about 20,000 new cases each year. If you would like to learn more visit http://www.endduchenne.org/.

T.J. is my inspiration when I feel like I can’t do that last mile or when I am struggling to break away from the couch. I am going to do these 13.1 for him whether that I finish it walking or running. If he can pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals (I won’t judge him for not going to the Royals), I can run a few miles.


I “Go Commando” for him.

(If you didn’t watch that promo video, please know that I am not a creeper who is going to go naked. Clearly, I will be wearing Ranger panties.)


Since moving to Ft. Campbell, I have been on and off with my commitment to working out. I am suffering from NOtivation.

 I could line up the excuses:

  • Work from 8-4:30
  • Desire to hang out with hubster
  • Getting up at 5 am to exercise worked for 2 weeks and slowly went down hill. Not happening. My workouts just suffered, and I got cranky.
  • Need to clean up/set up house
  • Still recouping from moving and figuring out my life
  • No gym membership so I wasn’t feeling guilty about not using that access that I had paid for

I started feeling gross and sluggish. Is there such a thing as couch sores? If so, I was getting them. So last week I did a workout with Tom since he was cleared from con-leave after surgery. I thought I was going to throw up afterwards. Looking at my running history, this hill routine should have been easier than it was for me. I put on my running shoes again last night for my first official run since moving to KY. Let’s be honest, you could barely call it a run. No actually you can’t. Grace and I walked half of the 3 miles that I logged. I only ran when I saw a car coming because I was embarrassed/ashamed that I was walking along the barracks route. I kept making excuses for myself that it was hot, too much hill, and trying to keep Grace from running after a deer. Um that huffing and puffing means that you are out of shape dear and need to start small again. At least I got off the couch for once though right?

So I have made a new plan and have it displayed on our fridge. This way I can cross each day off once complete. The achiever in me likes to cross things off lists! Yes accomplishment!

Also to spark that motivation, I decided to do this link up today. It is a fitness survey thanks to Mallory here. I am hoping that it gets my head in the game and will get me jazzed again about being fit.

1. What did you eat for breakfast? greek yogurt and granola

2. How much water do you drink a day? 3-5 bottles of water

3. What is your current favorite workout? walking Grace. She has gotten really good on the leash, and she accompanies me on most of my runs.

We love having family walks exploring outside.

I mean seriously who wouldn’t want to hang out with this sweet gal?

 4. How many calories do you eat a day? I have no clue. I am not really keen on keeping track of this stuff. It stresses me out.

5. What are your favorite healthy snacks? fruit (apples, peaches and strawberries are my favs)

6. What do you usually eat for lunch? Since I pack my lunch every day, I rotate between a deli turkey sandwich or a salad to stave off any food boredom. For sides, I usually have  cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and a peach. Really it is a grab bag of whatever fruits and veggies we have in the fridge that week. Then, I typically have a funsize treat like a snickers bar or a Ferrer Roche.

7. What is your favorite body part to strength train? Arms. These workouts make me feel powerful, even though I have chicken arms, and in reality absolutely no strength.

8. What is your least favorite body part to strength train? Back. I inadvertently ignore it. It’s behind me…haha (not funny?)

9. What are your “bad” food cravings? Thin mints, french onion dip and chips, peach-o rings, pretty much anything chocolate that has nuts in it

10. Do you take vitamins or supplements? I take a women’s multi vitamin daily.

11. How often do you eat out? We eat out once a week for our date night.

12. Do you eat fast food? Occasionally, and it usually coincides with date night. Or it is that day before we grocery shop. I guess McDonald’s french fries can be added to a bad craving. Sometimes I just need that salty potato goodness.

13. Who is your biggest supporter? Tom. He keeps me in check and in touch with reality when I am having a down on myself kind of day. He is also really committed to his own fitness which helps boil over to me as we create a healthy family lifestyle.

14. Do you have a gym membership? Not right now. We are trying to cut back on some spending, and that was something that was cut from the budget. I am going to really try to do this workout from home thing for the next few months to see if I can just motivate myself and save some cash along the way. If anyone has some helpful hints here, I would love to hear them. Like I said, I printed out a workout schedule with goals and what not. I have also been scouring Pinterest for at-home workouts to spice things up. I just brought home some newly purchased resistance bands to get me excited about strength training again without having to worry about the bulkiness of weights and bars. It is also forcing me to be creative with my time, such as doing my strength training while watching TV with Tom. Double whammy.

15. How many hours of sleep do you get a night? 6-8 depending on the day

16. Do you have a “cheat” day? I don’t know if I would call it a cheat day, or if it is just a day to relax and indulge a bit. This usually will coincide with date night. This way I can focus on Tom and I’s relationship and strengthening that instead of feeling like I am ignoring a needed workout. And we all need a day to rejuvenate and rest our mind and body.

17. Do you drink alcohol? Occasionally. Wine and apple beer are my weaknesses.

18. Do you have a workout buddy? As of right now, no. I have considered joining a running club here in town, but we’ll see how that goes. I am a little intimidated by the idea of it to be honest. Maybe once I become more consistent with my running again. Tom occasionally is my buddy, but that’s only if I really need to be pushed, or don’t want to walk the next day. He doesn’t give me any slack, even when I remind him that I am not in the Army. Then he usually tells me that my body can do more than I think it can, and he’s right. Grrrr.

19. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a healthy lifestyle? My first 5k I ran/yogged at a 15minute pace. I never dreamed that I would be able to run a half marathon let alone three of them. I always thought I didn’t have the strength mentally or physically to run that far. Crossing that finish line after my first half was one of the most exhilarating experiences. It showed me that I can do more than I thought possible if I just put enough oomph and will power into it. That feeling was addicting and is what keeps me lacing up the running shoes and hitting the pavement again and again. It’s given me a reason to push myself to be healthy and try new things. Exercising has also become an outlet to help me in some really stressful times with Tom being gone for various Army things.

Half Marathon #1 (St. Louis, 10/2011)

Half Marathon # 2 (Kansas City, 4/2012)

Half Marathon #3 (Orlando, 2/2013)

20. What was the last healthy thing you did? My run/walk last night and renewing my commitment to being fit

I think everyone can make little changes in their life to finding a healthier you. You just have to figure out what works best for you and not worry about what the next person is doing. It’s your body not mine. I have to tell myself this a lot to not get discouraged. And then Tom has to tell me that to not get discouraged, because I usually do not listen to my own pep talks. I have really tried focusing on just doing better than I did yesterday and jumping that next hurdle to a PR or fitness challenge. I am working on my exercise baggage and this honestly helped perk up a little competitiveness inside me to show myself what I can do.

And hey maybe half marathon #4 will show those results…

I have a recipe to share today for the crafty side.

I am not able to eat large portions otherwise I get sick from over-eating. So very rarely do I eat a dish that is bigger than the size of my hand. Sounds great right? Well in theory yes, except I get hungry every couple of hours and that can make me light-headed and very sick. So in order to ward off dizziness and nauseousness  from not eating and the bloated feeling and nauseousness from over eating, I am always prepared with snacks. I have a snack drawer at work, and I have snacks in my bag at all times. I am the snack lady.

But I want to make sure that these snacks are healthy and easy.

So I searched for a an easy recipe for a muffin, bar, cookie that I could have for a mid morning snack using bananas that Tom and I can’t seem to eat fast enough. (Tom and I both like bananas with a hint of green in them. So inevitably, they go bad before we can eat them all. I do love making banana bread with these left overs, but that can get time-consuming to do each week.)

I wasn’t able to find anything that I particularly liked or thought was easy. I wanted a recipe that had things that we would always have stocked in our panty. We do not always have almond milk, agave, and cashews. So I made up a recipe that can be flexible depending on what you have. It’s all about trial and error.

  • bananas
  • about a cup of oats-These are to thicken the batter up, so you can use more or less depending on how much pb and bananas you put in there.
  • several spoonfuls of peanut butter-I used chocolate peanut butter to test it out, I have a weakness for chocolate and the nutritional value was pretty similar when I looked at both labels if not better in some areas. So I imagine you could use regular peanut butter, or Nutella instead. I also just kept throwing in spoonfuls until it looked like everything was held together nicely. Really, there was no science to this recipe.
  • half a cup of dark chocolate chips-this step could be skipped or adjusted to nuts, raisins, or other mix-ins you so choose. Did I mention that I love chocolate though?

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Mix this all up and add whatever you feel necessary to make the consistency like a pasty dough. Like I said it is not really a science, you just want it to be thick enough that you can make balls out of them without it being all over your hands.

Once you have it all mixed, make a spoonful worth into a ball and put it onto a baking sheet. They don’t need to be neat by any means. Heat the oven to 350 and then bake for 15 minutes.

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I will admit the chocolate makes them seem like treats, but they are much healthier than other things I could be eating. Next time I will try the plain peanut butter to see how that goes over. They are a good source of protein and a perfect little pick-me up mid-morning or mid afternoon. Two or three of them have been perfect to hold me over to the next real meal.

They look like no bake cookies, and are very similar. They are a bit spongy, so if you are texture person, just be aware of this. I think it is a good thing myself.

I believe they are delicious and will be definitely something I make again! Tom isn’t the biggest fan, so they may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I wonder if he is just saying that though so I will turn back to making banana bread with the left over bananas. I do make a mean loaf of banana bread…

Thanks for joining me on my link-up today!

Mal Smiles