Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Mainframe is Fried

And hello to you.

Not that this has even a smidgen of an impact on your day, but I have been having computer problems like it is 1994. My hard drive at worked totally crashed. The back-up laptop won't allow me to check my corporate email. The back-up hard drive won't accept my login. So the only alternative has been to use my iPhone, which worked until the battery ran out and I had to sit in my car in the parking lot to charge it.

FIRST. WORLD. PROBLEMS, people.

With that said, I appear to be up and limping running today. In the grand scheme of things, a crashed computer is not even a blip on the radar. But sometimes, when your work and often your support system is completely connected to technology, being without it almost seems as though I have lost a family member, like a second cousin or something.

Speaking of cousins, I miss mine. It has been YEARS since I have seen any of them. Truly, years. My trips to Alamosa have consumed free weekends when I could have spent them in Oklahoma, otherwise known as "God's Country." Thankfully, the aforementioned technology keeps us in touch, making them all seem a little bit closer than they really are.

However, just in case there is any confusion or perhaps you have not felt particularly included lately, dear cousins, let me set the record straight: YOU ARE INVITED TO COME HERE. I will promise you good food and excellent company. And you are free to wear only stretchy pants during your visit. Consider this your evite forever.

Now, onto the weather.

Even though it is supposed to start snowing again tonight (WHAT THE HECK, GLOBAL WARMING?!), this past weekend was absolutely divine! Not only did I freckle like a three-day old banana, I also got a farmer sunburn that will look particularly lovely in a tank top. Apparently there is a reason why the Irish live on an island where it rains all the time. Our skin just can't handle direct sunlight. We're like vampires, only with much cooler accents and normal.

And lastly, I am addicted to mangoes on Greek yogurt. I sprinkle a little cinnamon, a handful of walnuts and natural sweetener on mine and then I inhale it. It is so delicious. I encourage you to try it sometime. If you do not have access to fresh mangoes, any fruit will do. It's like summer in a bowl.

And now, I must try to find my email so I can connect to our server so I can re-route my mainframe to the millennium falcon. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Return to the Gym

Yesterday, after work, I went to the gym. I hadn't been in a veeeeeery long time. I have been semi-regular in my workouts at home on the elliptical machine. I have been extremely regular with my trips to the refrigerator. But the gym? Not so much.

Let me begin by saying that the gym still smells like stanky, stinky, funky, sweaty butt. No lie. As much as they spray it down and turn the fans on full-blast, you just can't cover up 24 consecutive hours of active human stench.

Other things have not changed either.

The girls in their teeny, tiny spandex capris, with their back tattoos and their sports bras, are still prancing on the treadmills.

The guys in their sweaty tank tops and their gym shorts are still flexing in the mirrors and walking around like someone pumped them full of helium.

And then there are the masses. Those who somehow crawled out of bed or out of the cars to try their best at doing something other than walking and sitting. These are the people who wear a holey t-shirt from 1997 and do not care what pants they have on just as long as they aren't jeans. Khakis? Maybe. Jeans? No. Too much friction. They sweat and pant and count down the minutes until their cardiac routines are over. They are not there for looks, for socializing, for caring what anyone else thinks. They are there for their health, whether physical or mental, and because today was the day they actually packed their running shoes in their car.

I applaud these people. I love their dedication, their humanity, their humility. I love that they come and put in their time and leave without looking at themselves in the mirror. These are gym warriors, not gym barbies.

I am a pseudo gym warrior wanting to be a gym barbie who somehow spends more time stressing over the gym than actually going to the gym. Or in other words, I am a gym avoider who fears failure but desperately wants to fit in without having to make the commitment.

Or in other words, I am a hot mess.

But yesterday, I came back, in all of my spandex glory.

As I was on the treadmill, busting out the routine I mentioned in yesterdays' post,  I noticed out of my periphery a girl on the treadmill next to me. All I could tell was that she was shorter than me and very fit. So, out of my insane competitive nature and my severe lack of common sense, I upped my incline and my speed, all in an attempt to show the world that a non-petite woman could out-run, out-walk, out-sweat a fit one.

And then I looked at her, for real this time, and noticed one tiny detail:  she appeared to be 15 months pregnant.

Well done, Warrior Princess. You just out-treadmilled a pregnant lady who could probably give birth the next time she sneezes.

The upside to this is that I got in a killer workout. The downside is that I am having trouble walking today. I would consider that a great first visit back to the gym.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Top Ten: Spring Favorites from Pinterest

Holy cow. It is Wednesday already. And guess what? It snowed again in Denver. Apparently we like to call our Spring "Winter" around here.

In spite of the chilly morning and snow on the ground, I am celebrating warm weather in my heart. And do you know why? It is because Pinterest told me I could. There is nothing quite like a virtual bulletin board to make you want to bust out your flip flops!

So, while I wait for the snow to melt, I am here to share my latest favorites for Spring:


1. Statement Necklaces:
Isn't this GORGEOUS? Granted, you can't wear it with everything, but you could plan your entire outfit around this necklace. I am a huge fan.







2. Floral Print
I am a sucker for floral print. It is ultra-feminine but can still be paired with a chunky belt and denim shirt. Love!






3. Chevron.
I love chevron. The end.






4. Coral Bedrooms
I am always in the mood to re-do my bedroom and right now, I am drooling over the neutral/coral/turquoise combination. I could take a serious nap in these rooms.







5. Colorful Bags
I feel like I am perpetually on the hunt for the perfect bag. It is so hard to find the right combination of size, utility, material and color. But these two? I would take them both!







6. Salads
You all know that I am a girl who likes her food. But right now, I am so sick of hot, heavy meals. I yearn for quinoa and kale and fresh corn and fruit. Apparently, I am becoming a rabbit. And I am totally okay with that.











7. New Work Outs
I am always looking for ways to avoid change-up my workouts. Right now, these are the two I am tackling and I love them both. They go by so quickly! If my glutes are hating me then I know I must be doing something right.


Hike It Off: Treadmill Workout from Self Magazine: Set the treadmill at 3.6 mph, and toggle between inclines to simulate hills.
Minutes: 2  Incline: 0 Minutes: 1  Incline: 4
Minutes: 3  Incline: 8
Minutes: 2  Incline: 12
Minutes: 1  Incline: 3
Minutes: 2  Incline: 10
Minutes: 1  Incline: 12
Minutes: 4  Incline: 7
Minutes: 2  Incline: 12
Minutes: 2  Incline: 6
Total: 20 minutes





 



8. Flats
Flats are where it's at. Don't get me wrong, I adore heels, but flats make your life so much more comfortable. And there are so many cute ones out there right now!



9. Twirly Skirts
I love skirts in the spring and summer. And I especially love them if they twirl.






10. Parties
There is nothing I love more than a big backyard party! And once the snow melts and the ice drips off the roof and the ground thaws out and I can once again feel my toes, I am throwing a big backyard bash. Oh yes I am!







Happy, happy Spring, peeps! May you bask in the warmth of the sun today, even if you are wearing a down-filled coat.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Beautiful

Like so many others, I have struggled with my physical appearance my entire life. So much time, energy and emotional stress has been consumed and often wasted over the thought of what I look like. The thought of that makes me so sad.

I do not believe that is the way God intended for it to be. A God of freedom would not ask us to wrap ourselves in chains.

For so many reasons, I love this video.



Bravo, Dove.

Bravo.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Faves: Spring Beauty Products

For those of use who live in the Denver area, we would do anything for a few days of warmth. These last three days of snow have been brutal on my psyche as well as my hair, because I only go from one full-blast heater to the next.

However, the sun is shining today and the snow is melting and I only wore two layers of clothes instead of three! Things are looking up, people! And on top of that, I had a mango for breakfast, which nothing screams "warm tropical breezes" quite like a mango.

Unless, of course, you were actually experiencing warm, tropical breezes.

To help my mood and my overall appearance, I have found several new beauty items that I am LOVING. Not only am I smelling particularly delicious these days, but I find nothing perks up my spirits quite like a new nail polish color or sugar scrub. I really am a low-maintenance girl.

So, without further ado, here are my top five new spring beauty products. And guess what, you can buy them all at Target.

Naturally.

1. J.R. Watkins Sugar and Shea Body Scrub: Grapefruit
I just discovered J.R. Watkins products last week and I will tell you that I am COMPLETELY HOOKED! They have a variety of products and flavors, but this sugar scrub in grapefruit is amazing. It is perfect for all of us girls who have come out of hibernation and started shaving our legs again. And the shea butter stays on your skin for two days! This stuff is fabulous! I am wanting to buy the lotion next. And it is completely natural, without chemicals or parabens. It's like your skin is eating all-natural, organically grown goodness.




2. OPI Ridge Filler
Confession: I do not have the best nails in the world, they are ridgy and easily split into layers. But this OPI Ridge Filler is fantastic for giving my nails a smooth finish and extra strength. Plus, if you put on two coats, the color comes out a creamy whitish/pink, perfect for a spring manicure. OPI usually runs on the pricier side of nail products but this stuff is worth it! And it can last a long time.




3. G√úD Red Ruby Groovy Natural Body Wash
This is a brand new product from Burt's Bees and I have never smelled anything like it! As you can tell, I love the scent of grapefruit and this has the most refreshing, delicious grapefruit smell ever! It is the perfect thing to wake me up in the morning. A little goes a long way but it leaves you smelling wonderful, without thinking you smell like a fruit salad. And as a bonus, it is also without harsh chemicals or parabens.



4. Cover Girl Natureluxe Gloss Balm with SPF 15
I have actually had this product for a while, but I find that I use this gloss most often when the sun is shining and I am wearing something other than wool. It goes on light but lasts a long time (compared to most glosses and balms) and feels great on your lips! Plus, it doesn't gunk up, making you feel like you have a bug trap on your face. My personal favorite is Cabernet, but they have a plethora of colors from which to choose.
5. Cover Girl Smoothers Concealer
I do not leave home without this little gem. I came across it one day in the grocery store when I looked like I had been run over by a truck and desperately needed something to perk up my face. It is super easy to apply, available in any drug store and only costs about $5. Plus, it will last forever! Because my skin is so fair, it only takes one late night for dark circles to appear under my eyes and this product covers them right up without looking like I have applied spackle to my face. Plus, it gives you a more even skin tone. I, of course, use Fair, but they have five other shades to help compliment your skin tone.


When the sun is nowhere to be found and water is not doing the trick, these are my new go-to products for spring! So, what are some of your favorite products this time of year??


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Recipe Round-Up: Italian Cream Cheese Cake

This cake.




If I ever need to impress future in-laws, I will make this cake.
If I ever need to a woo a handsome boy with my mad culinary skills, I will make this cake.
If I ever need to drown my sorrows in something delectable, I will make this cake.
If I ever need a reason to sing for joy and clap my hands, I will make this.

This cake. It's magnificent.

This cake has a stellar reputation, ranking right up there with the chocolate sheet cake and oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough as one of the most beloved desserts in my family. It takes a little time but it is oh-so worth it. And since it is Sam's favorite cake, it made an appearance this weekend.

Let's tackle this sucker, shall we?






First, add sugar, shortening and butter into a large mixing bowl. Mix until creamy.




Now, add egg yolks, reserving the egg whites in a separate mixing bowl. Trust me on this, these eggs make the cake moist, rich and decadent.

Amen.


Mix in the egg yolks until it is a dreamy yellow. Doesn't that color just make you scream?

No?

Well then, carry on.





Add flour, baking soda and buttermilk.
Mix.
Add coconut.
Mix.
Clap your hands.
Do a round-off.
Hi-five your sister.



Beat the reserved egg whites with an avocado green mixer circa 1976...or any color mixer you choose.




Once peaks have formed, like so...



Fold into the batter with a large rubber spatula.

And WA-LA! Your cake batter is complete!



Pour into three floured cake pans...



And pop those suckers into the oven!
They only take 12-15 minutes to bake, just enough time to mix up your cream cheese frosting, otherwise known as: dinner.


Next up: Cream Cheese Frosting.







Beat butter and cream cheese.
Add powdered sugar and mix
Splash in some vanilla
and a sprinkle of salt
and whip it up.

Finito.

Now, frost that baby!










Bravo!
Go ahead, stick your finger in the frosting. You deserve it!

Now, all you have left is to sprinkle more coconut on top and the sides.








ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?






Behold: Man bait.


I am pretty sure I am drooling.

Let's dive right on in.





This cake is ridiculously good.
Cake.
Frosting.
Cake. 
Frosting.
Cake.
Frosting.
Coconut.

Where's my fork?



The cake is moist and flavorful. The frosting is creamy with a hint of tang. And the coconut adds the perfect sweetness and texture.

A big cup of coffee or hot tea is perfect with this.
Sometimes I add rocky road ice cream, because, why not?

The best part? It needs to be shared! So invite some friends over and whip this up!
They will love you forever.


Italian Cream Cheese Cake:
(High altitude directions in parentheses)
2 cups sugar (minus 6 Tbsp)
1/2 cup shortening (minus 2 Tbsp)
1/2 cup butter 
6 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (plus 4 Tbsp)
1 cup coconut
6 egg whites beaten until stiff peaks

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour three cake pans, set aside. Cream together sugar, shortening and butter. Add egg yolks, reserving egg whites in a separate mixing bowl to beat until stiff peaks. Beat egg yolks into butter/sugar mixture. Add flour, baking soda, buttermilk, and coconut. Mix. Fold in egg whites with rubber spatula until just incorporated. Divide evenly between cake pans and bake for 12-15 minutes or until middle springs back with touched and the edges pull away from pan. Let cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
32oz powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt (about 1/2 tsp)
1 cup coconut
Chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:
Cream butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla and salt and mix. Generously frost cooled cake. Sprinkle top and sides with coconut. Sprinkle with chopped pecans if desired.

ENJOY!!