Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I know this may cause some serious consternation for a few of you, but out of my undying loyalty to the most amazing team ever to strap on a helmet, I just had to show you this:

College football season really is the most wonderful time of the year!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recipe Round-Up: Monster Cookies

So, you should make these. Today.

I am pretty sure you will love them. And maybe eat them for dinner. I did. And it was magical.

Pre-fitness challenge, of course.

I had never made monster cookies before last week but I must say they are quickly becoming one of my favorites! And there is a huge debate going on in the monster cookie world about whether or not these cookies should have flour. Can you even believe it? A baked cookie without flour? It's like we are living in the future.

Well, I am a strong advocate for the flour-free camp because these cookies are amazing. AMAZING! And when you combine peanut butter with oatmeal and chocolate chips and M&M's and peanut butter chips, well...there really are no words, are there?

Nope, because you are too busy eating.

Let's bust these out, shall we?

Here is what you need. You know, the good stuff.

Throw some things in a bowl and do a little mixing.

Next, add the Lord's most perfect food.

Add a few more things and do some more mixing.

Finally, put the magical dough of goodness on a cookie sheet and find something to distract you for 10 minutes while they bake. I found that eating cookie dough was a good distraction.

And then eat them.  See? Super easy.

They are soft and chewy and full of flavor! They are flippin' delicious, is what they are. And you can add whatever you want to them. Dried cherries? Sure! Butterscotch chips? No problem! Nuts? Go for it! The sky is the limit!

Monster Cookies:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
4 1/2 cups oats (quick cooking or old-fashioned)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup M&M’s chocolate candies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat together butter and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and baking soda, and mix well. Mix in peanut butter until well-blended. Add oats and stir until combined. Mix in chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and M&M’s.

Drop cookies by spoonful about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 10-12 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheets before moving to wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Makes 4-5 dozen.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Fondue Should Be a Love Language

I am happy to report that I worked out hard yesterday. I cursed and moaned and panted and sweated but I came out on the other end victorious. And then I sat down for a very long time and wondered why my legs didn't work.

However, I am back on the right track and feeling good about the blood, sweat and tears that I left on my treadmill.

But then...

But then I went to the Melting Pot and ate my weight in cheese fondue.

But I have a good excuse: Abby and Natalie are turning 30 and nothing says "adios" to your 20's like four pots of bubbling cheese! The wait staff even brought us complimentary champagne. And it would be plain wrong to refuse anything that is free...especially in this economy.

And after the cheese course they brought out the flaming turtle chocolate fondue and the flaming peanut butter and chocolate fondue. Flaming chocolate is highly underrated but should only be handled by a professional.

Our professional's name was Chad. And I am pretty sure he had a great time serving seven women. We are a fun, if not extremely hungry, bunch, especially when you have three pregnant women in the mix!

I am pretty sure I can hear my treadmill mocking me from here, but I don't care. Life needs to be lived, birthdays need to be celebrated and things like pound cake and double fudge brownies need to be dipped into flaming chocolate.

Happy weekend, my friends!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'm Gonna Need More Spandex

Okay my friends, it's confession time: my Spanx are not quite doing the job anymore. And I am fairly certain this has something to do with the fact that I ate two desserts everyday in Ireland and that I like to eat monster cookies for dinner.

It's bad, people, real bad.

So, as much as I loathe the thought, it is time to get back in the game. It's time to spend some time on my treadmill from Hades, lift some weights at the gym and even bust out the P90X when I am in the mood for torture. And it is time to stop labeling kettle corn as a vegetable.

However, I also know that I have to find a balance between being a slave to the work-out and being a slave to baked goods. It is a fine line, peeps, a very fine line.

I thought I would never, ever, ever say this, but I am proposing a Fitness Challenge...of sorts. Nothing crazy like the last one I did, but something that will keep me motivated and accountable. Because let's face it, I need accountability otherwise I may start using my treadmill as a coat closet.

Besides, I have a feeling I am going to need to get a bridesmaids dress in the near future and I do want to look stunning. Or at least like I am not trying to smuggle couch cushions under my dress.

Here is my proposal to myself:
  • Cardio (get the heart rate up and my tush off the couch): 30 minutes/5 days per week

  • Weight lifting: (get toned, ripped, sculpted or at least able to do one guy push-up): 2 times per week

  • Eat healthy (as in green things and lean meats): 6 days per week

  • Cheat day (as in ANYTHING you want to eat): 1 day per week.

I don't think this is too crazy. I actually think it is normal and somehow I went off the deep end and thought walking to/from my car at work constituted as a work-out. And I don't want it to take over my life, I just want it to enhance the life I have. I know I will feel better. And I know I will once again have faith in the almighty Spanx.

So you are invited to join me! And you can make your fitness challenge look any way you want it to look. You don't have to do cardio 5 days a week. Shoot, you don't even have to do it at all! And if you love yoga, zumba, pilates, that is awesome! And don't worry, you don't have to weigh in and tell everyone. I am not into making nightmares a reality.

Or maybe you are already a fitness rockstar and don't even own a pair of Spanx. What a strange and beautiful world you must live in. But I would love to hear what works for you or work-outs you love.

I will blog about my progress periodically, spandex and all. And I would love to hear from you on what you are doing, how you are feeling, what you are eating or how much you hate me after week 3.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top Ten: My Thoughts on The Help

***Spoiler Alert! I am going to talk about The Help.  So, if you have plans to read it, watch it, or do not care at all about either, this post may not be for you. But I am still REALLY glad you stopped by! I really, really like you.***

Okay, peeps. Let's chat.

Last week, amidst the fog that was jet lag, I managed to read The Help. I knew I was going to see it on Saturday and I really wanted to read it before the movie clouded my first perception of the story. And let me tell you, it sucked me right in. RIGHT. IN. And in my Ambien-fueled stupor, I managed to laugh, cry and get angry all at the same time. I love when books do that.

And then I went to see the movie. It is always so tricky to see the movie version of a book, especially if you finished the book a mere 20 hours before. And while I really enjoyed the movie, I loved the book more.

But I would still recommend the movie.

And the book.

 Recommendations, all around.

The only thing I don't recommend is finishing the book and IMMEDIATELY seeing the movie. Your brain just can't shut off. It just can't.

Now, you should know up front that I have never been in a book club nor do I know how to properly digest and pontificate on the power, importance, analogy or symbolism of a book. I just know whether I liked it or not. So with that being said, here are a few of my thoughts. And I do have some thoughts.

1. As a history major in college, post-World War II American history was my focus, so I loved how this book followed historical events in this country. Truly, I cannot get enough American history. (Nerd. Alert.)

2. Aibileen is magnificent. In both the book and the movie, her vulnerability, courage and integrity drive the entire story. Such a strong, lovely character.

3. I now want to make fried chicken.

4. The movie version of Celia Foote was awesome. She was so honest and innocent (well, socially anyway). She loved like a child and there is something very refreshing about that! Plus, that girl had some killer heels.

5. Sissy Spacek as Missus Walters was the best casting choice of the year. Her character in the movie is much stronger than in the book and I think it only enhanced Hilly's evilness.

6. Hilly is such a sad, ignorant, fearful character. But you can't blame her entirely because she was not (and is not) alone in her pursuits. There is so much to say on hatred and racism and segregation and ignorance that it makes my head spin. Bottom line: it is wrong. Dead wrong. It makes me sad and long for a day when these words will never be uttered again. That will be a glorious day.

7. Minny could be one of my favorite characters of all-time. Her gumption (that's right, gumption), combined with her sassy attitude make her the perfect compliment to Aibileen's self-control and strength. I loved their friendship. And is it wrong that I want her to make me a pie?

8. What was the deal with the naked man in the book? Anyone?

9. Stuart is a pansy. His only redeeming quality is...wait, no. He is still a pansy.

10. I love that Skeeter is awkward. I relate to awkward.

11. Aibileen and Mae Mobley's relationship just about killed me. Seriously. So sad and powerful. I bawled. Like a baby. I am not kidding.

Yes, I know there were 11 but consider it a bonus.

So there are just a few thoughts. What are yours? They can be on the movie or the book or on something totally different and random. I would love to hear them!

Friday, August 19, 2011

What I Found on My Phone

It's Friday!

And I am almost over jet lag!

And I found these pictures on my phone!

And I like to use exclamation points!

They make me smile a lot. That and the fact that it is Friday and I plan on making double fudge brownies later tonight.

Instagram makes the world a better place, don't you think?

This is Katie and I on the bus on our way to Donegal. I miss Donegal. I do not miss that bus.

Chocolate chip cookie dough. I want to marry it.

My Daddio teaching Noah how to bowl. It must of worked because Noah had a higher score than I did. He's totally gifted.

This could be my favorite picture of Carr and Claire. It captures them. Perfectly.

This is Five Points in downtown Denver. Treehouse Sanctum performed at a club near here and totally rocked it.

Lizzy and I in Boulder. We were getting our granola on.

There's a lot being said here. And a lot not being said. I love everything about it.

Happy Weekend, my friends!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


One of my favorite little shops in Ireland was a place called Murphy's.

They specialize in ice cream and hot chocolate.

Um...yes, please. I'll have nine.

They have ice cream flavors such as reduced balsamic syrup, caramelized brown bread, Irish creme, and black currant sorbet. My favorite was sea salt. It could have been the best ice cream in the history of the world. And believe me, I was a history major in college so I totally know what I am talking about.

Since it was raining and cold, I tried the Aztec Hot Chocolate. It was liquid heaven. The ingredients were simple: dark chocolate, steamed milk, nutmeg, cinnamon and chili powder. If they would have had a vat of this stuff I would have brought a ladle.

You think I'm kidding? Think again, sister.

I would really love to open up a Murphy's store of my own. Even though I have no idea how to run a business nor do I have anything that even remotely resembles start-up money (Hello! I just spent it on a $7.00 cup of hot chocolate!), I do know what ice cream and hot chocolate should taste like. And the world needs more of these two things.

Who's with me? I'll pay you in various forms of cream and sugar.

Monday, August 15, 2011

La La Land

I am in that place. You know, La La Land. The place where your brain feels both heavy and light, where your eyes are bleary, your speech is a little slow and your arms seem to move in slow motion. If I hadn't flown across the ocean yesterday I would be calling a neurologist, or perhaps my brother to make some sweet YouTube videos, but I know it is just the effects of a little thing called jet lag. And when you combine that with a vacation hangover, you've got me.

I am currently catching up on Hulu, wearing yoga pants while eating peanut butter out of a jar. Attractive, no? I don't have any groceries, and even if I did, I have zero desire to cook.

And I am in serious withdrawal from scones with cream. Or perhaps it was more like cream with a side of scone. Whichever.

My day at work started out very productive as I read through all 138 emails that awaited me. But come 2:00 p.m., I found myself staring at emails that I had begun but had no idea how to finish (I am sorry if I sent you an email today that lacked any kind of intelligence). I am sure this has something to do with the fact that I woke up at 4:00 a.m. raring (I had originally written "rearing") to go even though I had no idea where I was. That is such a weird way to wake up.

But on the up side, it is beautiful outside. And it is still summer. And my mom is making me dinner.

And I have an Ambien.

Life is good...even in La La Land.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Full Circle

We have come full circle, peeps. We are now back in Dublin just packing up and getting ready to head to the airport. For most of you, it is o'dark hundred so by the time you read this we will be hanging over the Atlantic somewhere watching free on-flight movies. We are both tired and ready to throw away all of the clothes we brought. But we are also sad to leave this amazing little green island. It has been the perfect trip, rain and all.

True to form, Maggie made us the most delicious breakfast in Dingle yesterday morning. That woman is amazing. Her husband is a crab and lobster fisherman and she watches him come into the harbor every night. Seriously, I feel like her life should be in a book or something. Katie and I then had three hours to explore Dingle before our bus came and the epic return began.

Thankfully the sun was out at times. Unfortunately, we missed the regatta. Stinking sailboats.

Here are a few legitimate pictures. I HIGHLY recommend Dingle. I could have stayed for a week!

See you soon!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Drizzling in Dingle

There is something about being right near the ocean that calms my soul. And there is just something about Dingle that makes me want to buy a house and be the 2,501 resident. This place is breathtaking.

Katie and I left Killarney this morning just as it was starting to rain. And it rained during the entire hour-long bus ride and it rained when we arrived in Dingle and had to find our bags that were almost swimming in the luggage storage under the bus and it rained when Maggie, the owner of the beautiful Emlaugh Lodge Bed & Breakfast, picked us up and carried our sloshy selves back to her house right on the edge of the water. She is a keeper, that Maggie.

We waited out the rain for a while but then decided to face the drizzle and venture forth. We first found a small coffee shop were we ordered big bowls of soup and scones and tea, (otherwise known as the reason you will have to roll me on and off the plane on Sunday). The rain had then let up a bit so we walked by the fishing wharf just as a boat tour was about to set off. So we jumped on board and spent the next hour braving the huge swells in the sea, searching for the prized dolphin of Dingle named Fungi.

Who in the heck names a dolphin Fungi?

Apparently this dolphin lives in the bay and tolerates dozens of porpoise-seeking tourists on a daily basis. He was actually quite cute but the best views came from the surrounding coasts. There are now words for it, it is simply stunning.

And actually, there are no pictures for it either because I didn't bring my camera because of the rain. So the pictures you see are ones I stole from the Internet. No biggie. But I will tell you that these pictures don't do this place justice.

After the boat tour, we did a little shopping and ducked into the Chowder House for dinner where I had one of the best meals ever. (I seem to say this often...). We both finished off the meal with sticky toffee pudding and a brownie sundae and then attempted to walk it off by trying to stop in as many stores as possible before they closed. I totally worked up a sweat.

We finally finished the night with a stop at O'Flaherty's Bar. It is located a block from the harbor and looks like it has been there for centuries. I had a half pint of Guinness and toasted my grandpa, knowing he would have fit right into the place that bore his name.

We are now tucked in for the night. The wind is howling and the sea is raging just outside of our window. Tomorrow starts the Dingle Regatta, which boasts two days of races from sail boats around Ireland. I hope the weather cooperates! And I will also try to snap a few pictures so I am no longer plagiarizing other tourists who just happened to have a rain-free visit to Dingle.

But tomorrow also starts our epic journey back to Dublin where we will board a plane on Sunday to head home. I can't believe how fast this trip has gone!! But tomorrow we will see a huge part of this island as we head from Dingle to Killarney to Limerick to Dublin. There is nothing like a good dose of flat-butt to make you appreciate an hour on the treadmill.

Well almost.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kickin' It in Killarney

This morning Katie and I slept in until 9:30. As in we didn't set an alarm. As in we let nature wake us up as God intended. It was heaven, people, heaven. The latest we have slept since we started this trip was 7:45 when we slept through our alarms so today started off with angels singing.

We didn't have any plans today except to return to Murphy's Pub for dinner, which we will do shortly. So we took our time getting around and had the best breakfast to date: crepes, bacon, eggs, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, juice, coffee and tea. (Claire, thanks in advance for cooking this for me on Monday.)

SIDE NOTE: if you plan to travel in Ireland, bed and breakfasts are the way to go. They are affordable and friendly and make some of the best food around. We booked all of ours online before we left and all of them have been fabulous! Let me know if you ever need any recommendations.

Now, where were we? Oh yes, food. It's so very, very good. Where the British have lacked, the Irish have flourished.

After breakfast we walked the few blocks to the town center and shopped. This place is a tourist haven but it has some of the best shopping in Ireland. Katie and I were both fairly successful. It fed our souls.

In the afternoon Katie rented a bike and rode while I walked to Ross Castle, which is about 3 miles outside of town in Killarney National Park. I figured it was better to stick to my own two feet. The do drive on the left, you know. And the walk was awesome and now I can totally justify having two desserts today.

Ross Castle is so beautiful! And while we were there a wedding party showed up to take their pictures. I have now added "castle" and "Ireland" and "hot Irish guy" to my list of future wedding essentials. I like to keep things simple.

After our walk we dropped in for tea and dessert and heard the the latest obituaries on the radio. So you know, that was fun.

And now, here is my random self portrait for the day. Apparently the zoom was a little close.

Tomorrow we head for Dingle, a small fishing village by the ocean. (I guess it would be difficult to have a fishing village not by the ocean.) It is hard to believe we only have two more days in Ireland before we head home. We are not ready to leave even though we are in need of a wardrobe change. But we are pretty sure we will try to cram in as much as possible in the next 48 hours. Dingle won't know what hit them.