I Want S’More Please…

I’ve mentioned it before, but I think birthdays are SUPER important.

Especially when it’s a birthday of a family member. A friend. Or the guy in the cube down from you that you don’t care about, but there’s still cake in the break room because of it.

See? Always important.

So when it’s your friend and roommate?

Time to break out the big guns.

Err… mixing spoons.

I decided to switch it up a little with a layer of white cake inbetween two layers of chocolate. Yeah. It’s like a surprise when you cut into the cake…

My roommate Bailey had her special day yesterday. But we’re celebrating tonight. It was a planning and logistics issue.

Since we delayed the start of her birthday shenanigans, that just means we have to be that much more crazy.

Uh oh… is that marshmallow creme I see? Find a good marshmallow buttercream recipe that suits you- there are a million different variations. Or, you could just do what I do. And sub in a jar of this stuff for some of the powdered sugar you would have used…

And I’m not just talking about the dancing we’re doing tonight.

I’m also talking about the birthday cake.

Make the layers even. You don’t want a lopsided mess.

Obviously.

You know I heart quality time in the kitchen. Especially when Bailey says “go crazy with it”.

Chocolate ganache made simply out of whipping cream and chocolate chips. Because what’s a cake without a rich filling?

The beautiful thing is, cakes aren’t really too difficult to make. It’s the assembly part that makes it look hard. But it’s not. 

Just a thin layer of marshmallow buttercream and a few spoonfuls of chocolate ganache on the top of each layer.

Sure, it’s time consuming, but easy.

And your cake is built! I suggest throwing a wooden rod or two in there to keep the layers from falling. And then use your extra icing to fill in the sides to make them smooth and even.

Cake:
1 recipe of your favorite chocolate cake
1/2 recipe of your favorite white/yellow cake

Then use your favorite (or easiest) chocolate ganache and marshmallow buttercream recipes. I usually end up just getting an idea of how to start and do my own thing according to taste.

Finished “dirty icing” the cake. Throw it in the refrigerator so the buttercream hardens a little and you can then go over it with another thin layer of icing to make it all pretty and smooth.

Topping is just marshmallows and graham crackers drizzled with chocolate ganache. Easy Peasy.

Ta da! Sure, it’s not perfect. But I was working under a time crunch, people!

A S’more Cake!

This will be the richest thing you eat all year, so cut small slices. A big one will only leave you with an aching tummy and heart palpitations. Of that I know. Between the perfect chocolate cake, a layer of dense white cake, the chocolate ganache, and the marshmallow buttercream… there are just no words.

Beautiful.

And again, I must stress small pieces. No one wants to receive diabetes as a birthday present.

And in the refrigerator it goes until party time. I’m always weird about leaving buttercream out, so just to be safe, I keep it cool.

Now please excuse me. I have a sink full of dishes to tend to and a run to go on so I can still fit into a sassy lil’ number for tonight’s festivities. Balance. Can’t preach it enough.

Happy Birthday, Bailey! Thanks for being a wonderful friend, roommate, and partner in crime!

Keepin’ it real, yo.

Cheers!

A Little Sunshine

Sometimes it just makes us feel better.

Even if it’s raining as I write this.

And even though it’s been a crazy week and a half (does this explain my random absences?), looking on the bright side can sometimes be helpful. Or necessary. Depending on the day. Like today. As it continues to rain.

And rain…

Anyway… let’s try this, shall we?-I heart my house, although we’re still getting used to it. Creaking wood floors, the vintage-style (i.e. “tiny”) bathroom with the worst placement of the toilet paper holder ever, the sky light in my bedroom (ok, not getting used to it and trying to find a classy way to remedy the situation other than duct tape some cardboard up there). But all in all, it’s becoming “home”. Slowly but surely.

A few have requested it, and you’ll see a pic or two in due time. But there’s still much to be done. Patience… ;)

-As much as I want to bronze it up on Lake Michigan in sunshine and 85-degree weather, the cool down into the low 70’s has been extremely beneficial for at least one thing. My lunch running dates with my buddy. We’re still not quite sure how far we’ve been running (seriously only about 20-25 minutes), but I’m loving the little break up of the work day and am possibly becoming a little more fond of trail running (never thought I’d say that- road runner for life, ya’ll!).

We have plans to run today, but it’s looking pretty dreary out there. Better luck tomorrow?- Working out a little during lunch also leaves time after work for things such as cruisin’ the new ‘hood with my new roomie. On Monday, we found a few interesting restaurants/late night haunts. Picked up some takeout menus. Mexican food until 4:00 in the morning? Where have you been all my life??? 

Then a bird pooped on her shoulder and that was the end of our walk. Win some/lose some.-Sometimes the internet stops working at your house (ahem, another reason I’ve been absent). When you get home at 10:00 at night and want to use it, this is a problem. Hopefully it’s just a minor issue that will be resolved soon. Otherwise, I guess it means I’ll just be that much more productive at unpacking the rest of the house tonight?

Bright side… breathe… there is a bright side with that one…

-Yesterday was my dear friend Annie’s birthday and I was invited over to her in-law’s place for dinner. They’re also the same family that took me in last Thanksgiving. I sort of love them. And love that her mother-in-law can make some ridiculously good fajitas.

I brought the cake.Obviously.

Annie requested a cookie cake this year. With my love of cookies and sugar, this was not a problem.  I just hope she doesn’t mind the simplicity- finding my way around the new kitchen was a little harder than I thought it would be (babysteps…).Happy Birthday, Annie!

The trip out to the ‘burbs to have birthday dinner with Annie and her in-laws worked out extremely well. Because I technically still have a lease at my old place, the opening was taken to swing by and throw down 25 minutes on the elliptical and walk a little on the tread while visiting with Mon (she’s holding it down at the complex still!) before showering off and heading to dinner.

Friends and fitness are important to me. I fit them in whenever I can.

Now, if only I could stop playing phone tag with a few other people…

*Oh and by the way, when it comes to comments:

- It’s true. I’ve mentioned it before, and yes, there are people out there that just don’t like fruit. I would be one of them. Or maybe I’m the only one. There hasn’t been an official headcount. There are exceptions to my “no fruit, please” rule. As in, think of the most nontraditional fruits you can. There’s a good possibility I’ll like them. Like avocados. Or coconut (nut or fruit? Jury is still out…). Or lemons/limes. And artificially flavored things like cherry twizzlers. But I’m thinking that probably doesn’t count. 

You have no idea how frustrating it is to go to a party or summer BBQ and the only dessert option is a fruit salad.

I mean, come on… you’ve GOT to be kidding me.

But anyway…

And I can’t believe so many of you have never been ghetto enough to do the wine bottle rolling pin! Pretty sure that’s all we used one year in college- none of us wanted to throw down the $5 to buy one. It made more sense to buy a bottle of wine for that much, use it for such, and ALSO get a drink while we’re at it.

Don’t ever question the logic of a college student.

You’ll only confuse yourself.

Have a good one!

*The cookie cake was made with Andrea @ Can You Stay For Dinner’s fabulous chewy cookie recipe (used 1 1/2 the recipe). She probably knows I stalk her recipes page often because her food is amazing. The icing is buttercream with a little milk added to make it easier to work with.

Friday Night Cupcakes

It seems I have been on somewhat of a baking hiatus.

Let’s blame the Vegas vacation, half marathon training, and overall crazy busy schedule as of late.

No worries- Friday night I recognized the severity of this problem and took efforts to fix it.A sweet friend of mine, Danielle, had no idea a surprise birthday party was being thrown in her honor over the weekend. I already had plans before the invite came through and couldn’t make it. So I did the next best thing and sent some love through cupcakes.

I had no idea what to make, but did know I wanted to use the peanut butter M&M’s I had picked up on a whim from Target’s Valentine’s Day clearance. Finally, I settled on brownies. My only issue was finding a recipe to use. There were SO MANY good ones to choose from. But because I was lacking unsweetened chocolate, it took time before I found this one that didn’t require any.

Can you believe I have every other kind of chocolate except for unsweetened? Unheard of!

Because I used milk chocolate, white chocolate, and M&M’s, the brownies were loaded with sweet. So the icing needed to counterbalance it just a little.

See how much thought I put into such things? Baking is taken seriously around these parts…

Who else would I go to but Paula Deen to help a girl out? Butter was being used and she is the queen of such things.  Aaaahhhh her cream cheese frosting… I lightened it up a little by subbing in some milk for a little of the butter. This is usually how I do it because I prefer the butter cream to be a little less heavy. 

And it’s much easier to mix this way.  Just a dab on top did the trick. ;)

We tested two of them just to be sure.The cupcakes go lovely with a dry white wine.

Not that I would know or anything…

Danielle informed me that she even had one for breakfast yesterday after the party.

I approved. One thing great about birthday weekends- anything goes. 

All the sugar from my baking adventures is probably what helped to propel me through yesterday’s workout. Not sure if anyone noticed but myself, but the strength training was horribly lacking. The Shred was popped into the dvd player with a little apprehension. It had been at least 3 weeks. It wasn’t going to be pleasant.

The workout itself wasn’t awful. But as I sit here and type this today, my thighs are burning.

Sorry Jillian… I’ll never ignore you for this long again.

I also did a little elliptical work to get the blood pumping and spent some time as the “cell phone talker” as I walked on the treadmill.  Multi-tasking!

*If it happens when no one else is in the workout room, it doesn’t count as rude. That’s my rule.  ;)

Question of the day… how did everyone sleep last night? Well? Or did Daylight Savings get the best of ya?

I definitely did not go to bed until about 30 to 40 minute later than usual. Not much you can do when you’re just not that tired!

Rolling My Eyes

(Source)

Not to start off your Thursday with a post of complaints or anything…

But dude- sleep is not wanting to be my friend.  What did I do?  Was it something I said?  I swear I was joking when I said sleep was overrated

Please come back! I miss you!

I blame anxiety. (Insert sarcastic sigh and eye roll.)

Anyway… yesterday was pretty dull. Nothing overly crazy happened. Nothing of major excitement value. Ho hum…

Geez… is anyone even still reading this?

You are?  Hooray!  You get cake!Talk about a balanced meal.

This was that leftover cake from an office birthday I mentioned yesterday.  Every time I opened the refrigerator it stared me down. When I went to grab my lunch, I opened the door and the half-cake said, “let’s party”.

You don’t have to tell me twice.

Afterwards, I rolled my eyes and said to myself, “there goes my run”.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of sugar in my daily diet. I’ll own up to it. But I like to space it out like a responsible sugar addict. Buttercream does not allow for this.  This particular afternoon wasn’t so bad- no real sugar crash. Not surprised- with my lack of sleep, everything else is out of whack. *Eye roll*

The workout didn’t seem to suffer.  As soon as I got home, The Shred was thrown in the dvd player and started. Another round of Level 1. But I’m *this close* to attempting Level 2 with the 8-lb’ers mixed in. Nervousness.

After that, because it’s a strength training AND run day, I headed to the treadmill. A light 3-miler. Did a little chatting with some people in the gym as I was going. The girl next to me just started running less than a year ago (6ish months?) and has shaved closed to 2 MINUTES off her pace time. Isn’t that insane?

Anyway, I was able to average an 8:29 pace. Which is fine.  Although I’m completely aware I’ll have to push a little more on some of these shorter runs if I ever want to beat my pace from the Rock n’ Roll half marathon last year. Nothing new there. *Eye roll*

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep or just the fact that it’s my early week at work, so I’m constantly feeling rushed.  Why is it that it always happens on one of the days that I’m rushing to get to work on time that when I start my car, the gas light pops on?

What would really be helpful is if it goes on, but then proceeds to start blinking once you’re less than 5 miles.  So it goes from “this is sort of important” to “HEY YOU- get some gas or I quit right now. I’m not playin’ around”.

Either way, I stopped off for a quick fill-up because I’ve played that game and was not in the mood to stand on the side of the highway calling for help if I lost.  Because, among other things, it’s flippin’ cold out there.

And of course, since I’m rushing, I totally spazz on which side my gas tank is on. 

Yes, I’ve owned my car for over three years.

Not only did I roll my eyes in this case, but everyone standing around their cars did, too. Stupid female drivers… 

*Oh and I’m aware I freaked a few people out with my discussing (and dismissing) a traffic accident the other night without much detail. Don’t worry- everyone’s fine.  I say this because it looked like it was just a fender bender. Throw that and a tow truck in the mix and you’ve got quite an issue in the express lanes (there are only 2 and the first exit out of them was still very far away at that point).

Important question of the day- Who’s going to replace Regis?!?!?

Better Now

Sorry guys.  I’ve been ranting a lot as of late.

But it seems I’m not the only one with traffic issues.  Seems that we all deal with some frustrations when it comes to such things.  Even when I still lived back in Mid-MO I was quick to get frustrated.  In high school, when driving from my hometown to my summer job, you have no idea how frustrating it was to get behind a dude on a tractor. 

Yeah, that really happens.  And I’m pretty sure my friends from home who read this can definitely back me on this one.

Anyways.  I’m chilled out.  I got home (we shall not discuss the traffic again after this point) and ran quickly to the gym.  I wanted to get my lounge on, and that was not happening until I worked up a little sweat first.  So I did.  Not with ease, though.  There was a birthday in the office- happy birthday, Jaime!!!  I had a really really big piece of this:(The pics are here two little lovely dogs that I absolutely adore and even doggysat for back in the Spring!)

I giggled a little as we sang because Jaime  doesn’t embarrass easily.  BUT, she does turn extremely red in the face when a break room full of guys start to sing to her.  Don’t worry Jaime- it happened to me, too.  :)

The cake was chocolate and buttercream and delicious.  It also gave me a bit of a sugar rush that didn’t help me out one bit mid-workout.  You can’t sustain energy with butter and sugar?  Really?  Huh.  Whew knew?  :)

Either way, I did 2 miles at an 8:35 pace and finished off with 20 minutes on the elliptical.  I had wanted to do The Shred, but took the intensity down a notch and did the resistance bands instead.  They’re still a really good workout for my arms.  Plus, the circuit I like to do ends with sets of planks.  And I love me some workouts that trim the tummy!

After congratulating myself for getting through a decent cross training session, I showered and started my wild and crazy night in.  Yes. Wild. 

My cravings recently have really headed the direction of comfort foods- but not one certain one in particular.  Last night, it was BBQ.  Aaaahhh!  Naked chicken!  Well- almost.  It’s covered with a bbq seasoning and frozen peppers from Trader Joe’s.  I’ve used the peppers before, and everyone else who tried them agreed- they’re handy to have for mixing in to something.  Because they don’t have that crisp that make them good on their own.

I also add mucho red chili pepper flakes.  Because it’s delicious that way.  No other reason.Ah much better.  Sassy lookin’ chicken.  Just because summer’s over, it doesn’t mean I’m retiring the sauce… A little cheddar and ranch go a long way. 

That’s life advice, folks.  You should write that down.

And who doesn’t have a Friday night dinner without a glass of wine?Beer may have been a better choice, but I wasn’t really feeling it.  Wine got it done.

I spent the rest of the night catching up on shows I had missed during the week thanks to OnDemand. 

Does anyone watch Community?  Drew Carey was a guest star.  But I spent the first minute or two trying to figure out if it was really him- he’s lost 70 pounds!  Seriously- he’s barely recognizable…

Clearly I haven’t been watching enough of The Price Is Right to notice.

Ok I’m off.  I’m pushing it with my free time this morning.  Gotta get a long run in before heading to a food and wine fest with Mon.  Not sure how long the “long run” is actually going to be. Somewhere between 6 and 8.  That’s the plan.  Wish me luck!  :)

Enjoy your Saturday!

Shake it up!

Yea for Friday!!!!  We made it… just barely!  ;)

My friend Mon also had her birthday this week (Tuesday) and we had planned an official send off of our birthday month for last night (because we were both busy on both of our birthdays).  Original plans were to get all sorts of dolled up in cocktail dresses and go out to a super nice dinner and eat fabulously.

Then we realized the state of our finances by the end of the month.  I took a serious hit with the random car repairs and Mon also had a few big weekends.  So… um… instead of the lavish dinner out, we settled for lounging with a piece of chocolate cheesecake and a redbox movie.I also bought Mon some chocolates from Whole Foods because we were drooling over all the goodies there a few weeks ago.  And snuck a candle from work.  Sssshhhh!

The redbox we selected for the night was Chloe.  Have any of you heard of it?  It’s a drama with Julianne Moore (love her- she’s soooo pretty) and Amanda Seyfried.  Basically, Julianne thinks her husband is cheating on her and gets it in her head (somehow!?!?!) to hire Amanda (a prostitute- yet a classy one) to tempt him.  It was intense.  And sorta dirty.  But I really liked it because it kept you glued to the screen (because you wanted to know what’s happening next, not because it’s dirty- let’s make that clear).

Mon and I both gave it a thumbs up.

Afterwards, we were feeling a little “eh” from the sweets consumption, so we broke out the new workout equipment Mon decided to purchase.Yeah, that’s the shake weight.  She brought it over for laughs.  I really didn’t think it gave me much of a workout… but I guess if you do it for a long time?

Let’s steer clear of “that’s what she said” jokes please… It would be too easy.  Don’t be cheap.  :p

I felt like Ellen on this one…

Anyways…

Did you catch that I mentioned Whole Foods earlier?  Yeah… I bet you did.  And seriously, I was there after work, right at dinner time.  What else am I going to eat?Here is my reason for staying away from Whole Foods.  Because I can’t pass up their crazy and amazing food bars!  The noodles have a peanut sauce- I wasn’t a huge fan.  After the first bite or two, I immediately got rid of them.  I knew if I kept them in the salad, I’d eat them even if I didn’t really enjoy them.  And that’s kind of pointless.  Especially when I’d be perfectly content after this amazing salad.  Romaine, sweet potatoes (hello sp’s- you’re hanging out a bunch this week), cabbage, red onion (wanna make out?), pumpkin seeds, some bacon bits, carrots, and peas.  Yep.  Loaded.  Yummy.  Gone.

Oh and I got bit by a mosquito in Whole Foods.  Yes.  In the store.  I felt something and smacked my cheek real quick.  Look at my hand- mosquito.  Ewwww…

Obviously, from my busy day, it became a rest day from the gym.  It’s ok.  I’m going tonight for a really easy two-mile run and a bit of walking.  And then we’re calling it a wrap on the half marathon training.  It’s been fun, but I’m ready to do this thing!

Happy Friday everyone!  It’s been a long week in my nook of the world, but I am glad to report that it’s obvious we made it out alive and totally deserve our two days of freedom!  Go enjoy yourselves!  Like right now.  K-Bye!

Office Space Moment

When we celebrate birthdays in our office, it’s pretty much your stereotypical scene.  Everyone crowded into the break room- which was a bit balmy because it’s overcrowded.  Candles won’t light.  Off key singing.  Etc, Etc…

Is it weird I kinda like it?Yes, this year I switched it up by requesting cookie cake.  You guys know- I love me some cookies.  Can’t help it!

Besides- it’s my birthday weekend.  I can do what I want.  :pThese fellas made me smile.  And wouldn’t stay lit worth a crap.And check out our bling!  Woot woot!  These were from the second cake.  It was cute, too- and had ladybugs on it, but sadly it was massacred before I got the pic…

Either way, the cookie cake was delicious.  Like worth two huge pieces delicious.  No regrets. 

Until I got home.  I got jittery.  The coffee I had during cake time probably did not help make this issue better.  Do you know the feeling I’m talking about?  It’s uncomfortable!  And you know it’s from the sugar…

So before Mon and I went gallivanting off to the mall (I had a few birthday certificates I needed to use- but had no luck.  Woommmmpp woooommmp), I had a quick dinner:An asparagus wrap and some cheddar chips.  The teeny tiny pop chips bag was from the Fleet Feet Women’s 10k last weekend.  There were more that I grabbed.  Alas- they are gone.  Because they’re freakin’ delicious!  I knew I’d love them- hence the reason I never bought a bag when I first stumbled upon them.  But now I’ve ruined it.  I have fallen in love… oh dear.  Have you guys had these? Fantastic!

Yesterday was indeed a rest day.  Unless you count strolling the mall?  ;)  But I think I’m good today and ready to run!  Sadly (like painfully sad), I am sticking to the treadmill.  The rain outside right now looks extremely inviting.  But according to the weather, it’s a mean trick and will turn into thunder and lightning at any moment.  Granted, when have they ever been right when I’ve relied on the weather? 

Whatever, I’m not taking any chances…  At least I know I’ll be running during Regis and Kelly.  :)  And that’s cool.  If I had been up earlier, I’m sure I could have gotten the outdoor run in.  But instead, I opted to sleep in until 7:30 (GASP!!!) and officially get my first 8 hours of sleep in WEEKS.  Well-rested…. this is what it feels like, huh?  That’s neat.

I’m going to go enjoy the rest of my random day off now.  Probably enjoy the running part, but I still have to clean before my friends get here and pack my bags because we’re off to have a little city getaway for the weekend!  Happy Friday everyone!

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