Wednesday, January 30, 2013


As I mentioned on Friday, this past weekend was the 10th anniversary celebration of Women's Group!

Natalie, Rachel, Heather, Abby and Jenn

I first met these girls in January, 2003 when I was still relatively new to Denver. My mom and Jenn and Natalie's mom had been in Bible study together and thought it would be fun for us to meet. Thankfully, we all hit it off splendidly and a friendship was formed.

Well done, moms.

Jenn and Rachel had grown up together and, between the two of them, somehow knew all of us yet we did not know each other. So, the WG was born out of a way to bring us together. And without it, many of us would have never crossed paths.

Like myself, some of us are not from around here.

Kim had just moved from Iowa to take a teaching job. Abby had just been married, graduated college and was beginning a teaching job far away from her Chicago childhood. And I was knee-deep in studying international something-something while also recovering from mononucleosis. Needless to say, my social life needed some help.

For the others, Denver was home.

Jenn was just returning from college as a nurse, Natalie and Rachel were already working and Heather was busy as a teacher in a nearby school district.

There have been a few other girls that were part of WG at one time or another, but they had to leave for various reasons. But the seven of us of have remained.

So, to commemorate these past 10 years, we decided to spend a night away from our normal routines and celebrate! (Sadly, Kim could not join us because of her schedule.) We packed our bags and we all piled into one hotel suite downtown. A few of us had facials and manicures, we all thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary drinks and appetizers at the hotel and then, miracle of miracles, all six of us got ready in one bathroom and hit the town for dinner.

It rained that night, which is highly unusual for this time of year, or any time of year for Colorado. But we didn't let that stop us as we headed to one of the best restaurants in town. We dined on fresh cheese and bread, salads and hand-made pizzas.

And to keep things classy and frugal, we hit up Walgreen's for chocolate and crashed in our room, talking until 2:00 a.m.

(The two big questions of the night:
1. If you could do any Olympic sport, what would it be?
2. If you had to have cosmetic surgery, what would you get done?

I chose swimming and a butt reduction, in that order.)

The next morning, we slept in as late as possible while still giving us enough time to eat breakfast at the buffet downstairs. And then we sat, talking and laughing, some of us crying, until they started vacuuming around our table. We decided that this must become an annual tradition: 24 hours of togetherness, without husbands, babies (or nephews) and lots of time to eat, talk and celebrate.

It's the least we can do after investing so much time together!
To read more about this fun weekend, feel free to visit Abby's blog too!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Breakfast of Champions

So, this was Noah's breakfast on Saturday:

Bacon and maple-glazed donuts.

Amen and amen.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Happy 3rd Anniversary

Did you know that today is our third anniversary?!

The Frustrated Cowgirl has been going strong for three years, thanks to you. You are the best readers a girl could ask for.

For the next year, I promise more chocolate, more fashion quandaries, more travels, more confessions and more trust in His promises.

I am also hoping for less embarrassing moments, bad dates, broken body parts and trips to Alamosa.

I have a feeling it is going to be a good year, my friends. Thanks for keeping me company.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Weekend Itinerary

Do you know what I love? I love that you all care about hair and understand the complex relationship we have with it, almost like it is a third arm or a child or something.

Thanks for the advice, warnings, encouragement and cheerleading. If I actually do go through with it and cut it off, you are officially invited to come and hold my hand. Or sit and knit. Whichever.

Speaking of which, I am also loving this cut:

There's a little more to it, not so drastic. But it is still short and funky and feminine. It's really darling, don't you think?

Moving on to more important things, let's talk weekend plans. It is Friday, my most favorite day of the week! I love this day because anything is possible when we are unencumbered by our daily routines.

Unless, of course, you work on the weekends.

Or, you are a mom.

In both cases, today is just like any other day. Hang in there.

This weekend is going to be special. Women's Group is celebrating our 10th anniversary! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? Well, you probably can since I have only been blogging for three years and many of you still think it is weird that we call ourselves "Women's Group."

Regardless, we are going to spend the weekend downtown and enjoy a little pampering, fine dining, and an overnight stay where we all stay in one hotel room! It is going to be highly entertaining followed by very little sleep! It should be fabulous!

First, however, I am entertaining an overnight guest: the son of my brother and the nephew of my sister. He is 7 going on 17 and has already placed an order for all the bacon he can possibly eat for Saturday breakfast.

He is my most favorite boy.

To round out the weekend, my plan is to nap before and after the WG excursion and to catch the latest episode of Downton Abbey on Sunday night before I fall into bed and pray for a snow day on Monday. Let's just hope poor Edith continues to recover from being jilted at the altar by a very old man.

So there you have it. I hope your weekend is full of wonderful things too!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Input on Going Short

So, friends.

I have this inkling of a desire to do something drastic with my hair.

Even as I type this out, I am starting to get nervous. The kind of nervous you get when you go on a blind date, when you don't know if the person around the corner is going to be unbelievably amazing or make you call your big brother for back-up.

Apparently haircuts are riddled with anxiety.



I have been thinking of lightening the load.

And doing something like this:

CHEESE AND BISCUITS, that is short!!

But I kinda love it.

It screams "I am awesome and confident and feminine!"

Would you ever do it? Have you? Will you knit me a hat if I don't like it?

Thank you for your input.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

FC Flashback: The Bowl

Do you remember this picture from yesterday's post?

Notice something familiar?

I have posted this picture before but I just felt it needed repeating.

You can't beat a sturdy bowl.

Nor an Aztec-inspired jumper.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Recipe Round-Up: Chocolate Ganache Tart

This could be, hands down, the easiest dessert ever.

Essentially, it is a crust and chocolate, which in my book, equals perfection.

I have made this so many times I have lost count! This is my go-to recipe when I need something decadent and beautiful. And it is perfect for dinner parties, birthday parties, bridal parties or pity parties.

Believe me, I know this.

So, are you ready to whip this up? Of course you are.

For the crust, you can always use store-bought. That would make this recipe even easier! But, if you prefer the homemade kind like I do, here is how I do it:

Grab your favorite pie crust recipe (I'll give you mine), a large bowl, a tart pan, a rolling pin and flour.

First add flour and a pinch of salt...

...and some shortening.

SIDE NOTE: I realize that there is a world-wide debate going on about shortening vs. butter in pie crusts. And here is what I have to say about that: do whatever floats your boat! I grew up making shortening-based pie crusts but if you have one that includes butter, that will work beautifully as well!

Mix together using a pastry cutter.

Add 1 tablespoon of COLD water at a time until you get the consistency you desire (usually about 4-6 if you are making a 10" pie crust)

And mix until just combined. Do not over mix or the dough will become tough.

Cover dough and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Once dough is s chilled, sprinkle flour on a flat surface.

And shape dough into a disk, like so.

Sprinkle the dough and the rolling pin with flour and roll out until it is large enough to fit your tart pan.

SIDE NOTE: If your crust tears, don't stress out! Just patch it together and roll again. I am all about low-stress cooking and pie crusts should not cause ulcers.

Once your crust is the desired size, slowly roll it up on the rolling pin, loosely.

And then slowly unroll it on your tart pan.


Mold the crust into the tart pan, trim the edges and using a fork, poke holes into the bottom of the crust. This will help it to not puff up while it is baking.

SIDE NOTE: If you have left-over pie crust pieces, lay them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top and pop them in the oven until golden around the edges. This makes for the most amazing mid-baking snack!

After you have poked a few holes, line the crust with foil...

...and fill with pie weights or beans. I use beans. They are cheaper. And I reuse mine over and over again until they are no longer look like beans...more like burnt pebbles. These also help to keep the crust from puffing up in the oven.

Place the pie crust on a cookie sheet and bake.

Now, to make the chocolate ganache or as I like to call it, "liquid heaven of all that is right in the world":

Heat heavy cream and pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan on medium-low until the cream begins to simmer around the edges.

Next, add your chocolate. As always, I prefer Ghiradelli's 60% dark chocolate but you can use any good-quality chocolate you can find.

Remove from heat and slowly stir, allowing the chocolate to melt.

The end result will look like this: smooth and shiny. And very, very delicious.

This, my friends, is how you make ganache.

Pour the ganache into the baked crust...

...and spread out.

Try not to stick your face in it.

Now, set the tart in the refrigerator until the ganache is set, about 2 hours.

When ready, cut into wedges and serve with fresh fruit, whipped cream or a dusting of cocoa powder.

You will be the most popular person ever.

Well done, my friends, well done.

Basic 10" Pie Crust:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
4-6 tablespoons cold water

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Blend flour and salt in medium mixing bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture, using a pastry blender, in an up and down chopping motion, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some small pea-sized pieces remaining. Sprinkle one tablespoon of the cold water over the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir and draw flour from bottom of bowl to the top, distributing moisture evenly into flour. Add more water by the tablespoon, until dough is moist enough to hold together when pressed together.

TIP: Test dough for proper moistness by squeezing a marble-sized ball of dough in your hand. If it holds together firmly, do not add any additional water. If the dough crumbles, add more water by the tablespoonful, until dough is moist enough to form a smooth ball when pressed together.

Cover and rrefrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Once chilled, sprinkle flour on a flat working surface and form into a disk. Sprinkle disk and rolling pin with flour and roll out until desired size. Transfer dough to pie plate by loosely rolling around rolling pin. Center the rolling pin over the tart pan, and then unroll, easing dough into the tart pan. Line tart pan with dough and trim edges. Using a fork, poke holes in crust. Line with foil and fill with pie weights or beans. Place on baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Chocolate Ganache
8 oz. heavy whipping cream
10 oz. good-quality dark chocolate, chopped or chips (I love Ghiradelli's 60%)
pinch of salt

Heat cream and salt over medium-low heat in a heavy sauce pan until cream begins to simmer around the edges. Pour in chocolate. Remove from heat. Let sit for 2-3 minutes. Slowly stir until combined, melting the chocolate as you stir. Continue stirring until thoroughly combined and glossy.

Pour ganache into baked crust. Refigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve with fresh fruit, fresh whipped cream or a dusting of cocoa powder.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

All Grown Up

Nothing makes me feel more like an adult than having my own book of stamps.

It is freedom in the self-adhesive form.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thoughts From The Couch

Yesterday, I worked from home. This migraine continues to linger and my schedule was void of any sort of meeting, gathering, conference or seminar at the office.

Besides, if there is one thing that modern technology has done for the work force it is to allow it to be productive remotely. And by remotely, I mean my couch.

God bless Al Gore for creating the Internet.

As I was sitting there, checking email, sipping coffee and eating cookies for breakfast, I collected a few thoughts that I wanted to share with you:

1. P90X is nuts. I saw an infomercial for it yesterday and once again concluded that Tony Something-or-Other is a little bit on the cray-cray side of life. I once attempted P90X, (or I should actually say, P38X, because I was only able to do it for 38 days), and concluded that it was way too time-consuming for my very busy life. For a brief moment, I was tempted to try it again yesterday, but then I remembered that my left elbow still only functions as eye candy and my ability to tolerate Tony's pep is almost non-existent. But, you have got to give the man props for doing so many pull-ups.

2. Life is better in pajamas.

3. I am in the middle of designing my Gourmet Girl to Go website. It is both exciting and mind-numbing. Exciting, because I can't wait to officially launch it and mind-numbing, because website templates may be the death of me. But I am loving the process of starting my own business. Wowza.

4. Sunshine has the ability to change your outlook on life. For the first time in many days, the temperature rose above freezing yesterday and the sun had a huge role to play in that. I am a summer girl, through and through.

5. Sara's Oatmeal Cinnamon Bliss Bars continue to rock my world. So simple yet so delicious. I had dinner with Sara last night and we both concluded that while cinnamon chips seem to only be a seasonal item, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, dried cranberries or nuts would all be equally amazing in the recipe. The possibilities are endless, really. Basically, the dough is a blank canvas and you are the artist. Go forth, creative ones, and bake!

6. My hair is slightly out of control. And that may have something to do with the fact I haven't washed it since Monday.

7. Kim Kardashian and K-Middy are both due with their babies in July. I am not sure how I feel about this. I really don't think those two should ever be in the same sentence together. But what is even more alarming is that I have opinions about this.

8. When I was younger, I had a horse named Honey. I had a cousin who liked to call her Hiney. We keep things classy in Oklahoma.

9. I am slightly concerned about saving for retirement. I really don't know how to do it. I mean, I am invested at work, but after that, it's like speaking Chinese. I either need to figure this out so I don't live with Claire when I retire or I need to marry rich. I think we all know which is the better choice here.

10. Someone sent me a greeting last week that said: "Happy birthday, Sarah. I hope this year is much better for you than it was for Jesus at your age." 

Apparently being 33 is fraught with danger. I think I will avoid Jerusalem this year.

Happy, happy Thursday to you!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Was Going to Tell You

And hello to you.

I had the grandest of plans to write a long post yesterday. I was going to bore you to tears about my birthday and the days following and the weekend and Downton Abbey.

I was going to tell you that my birthday was really, really wonderful. And that is largely due to the fact that I have really, really amazing friends and family. I mean, really. I literally had a gastronomical tour of southern Denver, going from breakfast at the office to lunch with Melanie to dinner with Lizz and cake with my mom. I went to bed happy, content. And to be honest, those nights can seem few and far between.

I was also going to tell you that I had scheduled a baking party with my Women's Group for Thursday night. We were going to have a cupcake class (how fun is that?!!), but I ended up being stuck in traffic for over an hour and there was no time to change clothes, swing by the grocery store and make it to the other side of town in 30 minutes. I was super sad and disappointed but the girls rallied and took me to coffee instead. It was the next-best thing.

I was then going to tell you about how I had a whopper of a pity party on Friday night. I did, all by myself. No one else was invited. In my pathetic pity-like state, I did what any good self-absorbed wacko would do: I sat on the couch and refused to do anything I didn't want to do. It was awesome. And I felt so mature. And to be honest, I have no idea why I was having a pity party. For some reason a big, blue cloud of funk settled into my brain and camped out. And I felt entitled to wallow around in it for a while.


It wasn't my finest hour.

Thankfully, Saturday rolled around and His mercies are new every morning and somehow I made it to Bible study and then drove all the way to Alamosa. I was going to tell you that it is colder than the backside of Antarctica in that town and that somehow my lips didn't freeze together. I was also going to mention that my Dad is doing great and we had the best artichoke spinach dip ever and that we spent an hour and a half in Walmart while everyone else was watching the very sad, very depressing Broncos game.

And then, well, Sunday rolled around and my plan was to tell you all about how I finally did a load of laundry because all I had left were my ugly clothes and the world does not need to see me in those. Plus, I saw my home girl Tara and we talked about boys and traveling and boys again. Then I watched Downton Abbey and cried for Edith and somehow related to her being the middle child and jilted in love. (Sigh.)

I was going to tell you all of this yesterday then something happened: my fingers began to tingle. My vision became blurry. I felt sick to my stomach and could no longer focus on anything. And that was all before the pain hit. And then it did, like the force of a mac truck on fire. A migraine, and all of its side affects, hit me at work yesterday and it felt like a magma-hot poker was deeply embedded into my right frontal lobe.

Thankfully, my office is sympathetic towards frontal lobe issues and I somehow made it home and slept for five hours.

Today is a much better day! Just don't ask me to do a cartwheel. I am pretty sure my brain would fall out of my ears if I did that. plan was to tell you all of that.

My plan was to tell you that at one moment I can be at peace with life and the next moment I can be completely discontent and angry.

I was going to tell you that sometimes you get stuck in traffic and your big plans for night are changed.

I was going to mention that driving 3.5 hours each way is totally worth it if you get to eat dip with your dad.

And I was going to tell you that ugly clothes should never leave your closet and sometimes you really do get jilted in love.

And I was also going to say that sometimes God brings pain into your life just so you can rest.

Maybe I'll try to write that all out tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

BFF Birthday

It just so happens that I share a birthday with one of my closest friends in the world: The Duchess of Cambridge, Her Royal Highness Catherine Middleton.

But I just call her Kate.

Or K-Middy.


It is amazing how much we have in common. For instance, we both love red.

And we both ride horses.

And I am definitely into hats these days.

Oh, and I tend to dress up in prom dresses balll gowns periodically.

Plus, "Sarah" means "Princess." So, there's that. 

And I love scones.

Obviously, we just get each other. I am sure she would say the exact same thing.

Every Vote Counted

I am here to give you a humongous THANK YOU for voting for Treehouse Sanctum yesterday!

Although they came in second place, the duo were super stoked by all the love. I may even get a raise for all of my PR work.

For those of you who voted and actually read the announcement, you will have seen that the top 5 had their songs played on the radio, not just the #1 song. Somehow I failed to notice this and all of my anxiety about begging people to vote was for nought. However, I am nothing if not somewhat stressed most of the time.


"Freedom" hit the airwaves at 5:20 yesterday evening and I admit that I was totally proud of that brother-o-mine and his amazing counterpart.

Bravo, Treehouse! Way to be musically exceptional!

And bravo, voters! Way to be supportive and gracious about my obnoxious marketing skills!

Yet again, you guys rock.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Vote for Freedom

As the PR Manager and Most Amazing Sister Ever, I wanted to let you know that Treehouse Sanctum is in a contest for their song to be on the radio!

This is big news! They are on their way to being much more famous than they were previously!

The song is called "Freedom." Along with Danya, Sam wrote this song about my dad.

(I have big, fat tears rolling down my face as I write this.)

(Keep it together, Sarah! There's no crying in PR Management.)

You can listen to it (along with a few others) here:

Many of you have already voted on Facebook, in which I say, you are the wind beneath my wings.

But, if you would still like to vote, just click HERE. Currently, they are eight points behind the leader. It would be a crying shame to lose by eight stinking points.

Besides, voting is what makes this country great.

Thanks, people. You are totally terrific.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A List About Blue Horses and Buttercream

It is Monday.

How did that happen?

Where did my weekend go?

Why is the sun so bright?

Why I am wearing this outfit?

Why don't I eat more bagels?

These are things currently running through my mind right now. Sometimes Mondays do this to me. They slap me around and expect me to be productive. Well, that's just ridiculous. Doesn't it know that my bed was particularly warm this morning?

Apparently not.

I am thinking a list is in order.

1. Last night I picked up a good friend from the airport and once again I drove by the blue demon horse from Hades. For those of you who do not live in Denver nor have flown into our glorious airport, we unfortunately have a very large blue horse with glowing orange eyes to meet you at our terminal. Don't ask me why. It does not scream "Welcome to our beautiful state. Enjoy your stay!" Rather it says, "I am evil and will snort fire on you. Don't ever visit again." Well, that's inviting.

2. I had the privilege of catering my friends' party on Saturday. It was so much fun! They were amazing to hire me. And I am really starting to love vanilla bean buttercream. So much so that I may use it for lotion at night. That's not weird.

3. I am trying to drink more water.

4. Today, I felt a hint of that feeling you get when it is spring. You know, that feeling of warm, fresh, soft, sunny goodness? Yep, I had it today. And it is only January 7. I love when that happens.

5. I had tiramisu yesterday. It never ceases to amaze me at how good it tastes. I mean, it tastes really really great.

6. I saw "Argo" last week and I absolutely LOVED it. I LOVED IT. I told my mom that I was only 27 days old when all that went down so I don't really remember it happening. But I was captivated and inspired by the entire story. I felt very proud to be an American and to have Canada as our neighbor. Bravo, Ben Affleck. You just made up for "Gigli." Well, almost.

7. I really enjoy you. Thanks for reading.

Okay, that's all. Like I said, it is ridiculous for anyone to expect anything from me today. Except my boss.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Recipe Round-Up: Sara's Oatmeal Cinnamon Bliss Bars

Don't worry. I didn't misspell my name. These bars come to you from the delicious kitchen of my fabulous friend Sara. 

She's so rad.

The weekend before Christmas, I invited myself over to Sara's house so she could share this amazing recipe with me. A few weeks prior, her dad (my boss) brought in a pan of these beauties and after the first bite I knew I needed to learn how to make them. 

You guys, these things are UH-MAZING! They are soft, chewy, comforting, and delicious. They are not too sweet, which is the perfect transition food as we slowly detox ourselves from the holidays.

(Yes, there is such a thing as "transition food.")

Plus, they are really, really easy to make. I made two batches in the last week and I already passed on the recipe to Melanie. They are that good.

I am a huge fan of Sara for many, many reasons but one of them would be that she has a lime green mixer.

This makes me want a lime green mixer. Actually, I would like to have a mixer in every color but the impracticality of that is slightly mind-numbing, not to mention a bit out of my budget.

So, grab whatever color mixer you have (or a bowl and a hand-held mixer) and let's bust these out.

First, add sugar and brown sugar.

And a couple of sticks of butter...

...and mix.


Next, add a couple of eggs...

...and some vanilla and mix again.


After a thorough beating, add your dry ingredients: flour and baking soda.

And...(wait for it)...mix again.

Now add your oats. You can use either old fashioned or quick, but not instant. Just say NO to instant.

And give it a quick turn around the bowl.

Finally, add your cinnamon chips. Now, do not be scared of cinnamon chips. They are the perfect ingredient for this recipe. To be honest, I had never heard of them until this recipe but I found mine at Walmart (naturally) by the holiday baking aisle.

SIDE NOTE: If you cannot find cinnamon chips, add 2 teaspoons of cinnamon instead. You can also add dried cranberries, walnuts or even chocolate chips.

Once the chips are incorporated, scoop dough into a greased pan.

The dough is thick and sticky so you may want to use your hands to spread it out. And as a helpful trick, spray your finger tips with cooking spray so it spreads easier.

And then pop those suckers in the oven and wait for your house to smell DI-VINE!

Oh man. These are so dang delicious!

Once they are cooled, cut into squares and dive in! 

The cinnamon chips melt pefectly into the dough, creating a richly flavored treat that warms your soul and makes you sigh with contentment.

(That should be on a Hallmark card.)

Hot, black coffee goes great with these.
Hot tea is also magical.
And if you add a Diet Coke, you have dinner.

You're the best, Sara!

Sara's Oatmeal Cinnamon Bliss Bars:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2.5 cups oats
6 oz cinnamon chips (can use more if you'd like!)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and two types of sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Combine flour and baking soda, add to butter/sugar/egg/vanilla mixture. Stir in oats and cinnamon chips.
Spread batter into lightly greased 9x13 pan. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown.  Enjoy!

I just made this with milk chocolate chips and chopped pecans and it was fabulous!