Wednesday, February 29, 2012

#1 Happiness Trick

Good Morning and Happy Leap Day! I was reading the new issue of Health and it said that people who wrote down what they were thankful for once a week ended up feeling happier, healthier, and even exercised more. Not a mind blowing study by any means- but a happy one. And who doesn't need more positive, exercise inducing thoughts in their life? So every Wednesday- I'm going to write down 5 specific things I am thankful for that week.





1) The opportunity to spend tons of time with my little brother lately. In high school we were super close, but as time went by we kind of grew apart- my moving 3 states away didn't help either. But since he's been out visiting, and Danny's been working, we've spent a lot of great quality time together which I am so incredibly grateful for. That's us cross country skiing last weekend.

2) Strawberries. I've been eating strawberries by the truckload since I gave up chocolate, candy, baked goods, etc... for Lent. They've helped keep me sane during all of my crazy cravings

3) Snow- we've been getting so much this week- pure awesomeness

4) The new Chinese place in town. I've never been a big fan of Chinese food, but my brother wanted some take- out from there the other day. The lady was soooo nice! She totally reminded me of my Grandma, and fed us tons of free apps while we were waiting for our food. I'll be back- Arnold style

5) I tried out a side braid yesterday and as soon as my husband got home- he commented on how much he liked my outfit and hair- score!


What are 5 things you are grateful for today? Who knows- maybe if we see eachother's it will make us doubly happy and even more apt to work out

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Let's Go To Kauai... Part 1

Oh Kauai... how I miss thee. Your gorgeous blue waters. Your hot, sticky air. The fact that I could wear a tank top every single day while my friends in Wyoming were wearing layer upon layer upon layer.

But that was back in November... and now as I sit here in the cold... wearing layer upon layer upon layer- I'm ready to go back. Because no matter how many times you tell yourself to be fully present and enjoy every single minute of vacation... it goes by so fast. And it isn't long before it feels like a dream... a really good dream.

I took this picture while lounging on a hammock

Danny and I are usually go go go. So this vacation was all about relaxing. We spent a portion of every single day hanging out on the beach... it was perfection
In addition to doing nothing, we also explored around the island a bit. Our hotel was located in Kapaa (pronounced Kaw-Pah-Ah), a city centrally located on the island- making it a great starting point for our adventures.
We also ate at a lot of great places while we were there, but I'd have to say my favorites were always the hole in the wall joints. We ate at this great stand called Chicken in a Barrel- my chicken literally kept falling off the bone while I tried to eat it- so good! And then the carts selling plate lunches on the side of the road were fantastic- here are some yummy carnitas tacos we indulged in


And then we'd call it a day and go back to lying on the beach... not a rough life for 10 days

Up Next: We explore the Napali Coastline (shown below), Waimea Canyon, and my favorite town of Hanalei



Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscar Night: Red Carpet Dresses

There were a number of gorgeous dresses gracing the Red Carpet last night. But the ladies below wore my absolute favorites

Starting with my personal favorite of the night: Giuliana Rancic in Tony Ward. The detailing on this dress is GORGEOUS.


Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton and Milla Jovovich in Elie Saab Couture.

Gwyneth Paltrow in Tom Ford and Angelina Jolie in Atelier Versace. Both of these ladies got mixed reviews: Paltrow for her "cape" and Jolie for her white skin and high slit- but I think both women looked beautiful.

Battle of the nudes. Kristen Wiig in a J. Mendel Gown (love her black nails against the dress) and Cameron Diaz in her Gucci Premiere Gown. The bottom of both of these dresses are stunning.

Emma Stone in a Giambattista Valli Couture gown and Octavia Spencer inn Tadashi Shoji.


And my second favorite of the night: Alexandra Edenborough with Gary Oldman.


Who wore your favorites of the night?

All images via Yahoo

Friday, February 24, 2012

To the Weekend!



This weekend: My little brother's stopping by one last time on his way home to California. And if the weather stays good we're hoping to get in some cross country skiing- I've never tried it so I'm super excited. I also will be going grocery shopping (sticking to the outside of the store to avoid any sublimely, sweet goodness). And... then I have some orders that need to go out earlier than usual that I need to finish... but I love my job- so I don't mind in the least.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend full of adventure, relaxation, and super good food. See you back here on Monday!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Red Velvet Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting... Got That?

I want you to know that posting this recipe while I'm on my 'No Sweets for 40 Days' is pure torture... and a testament to how much I really love all of you.

A while ago I came upon Stephanie's recipe for Cake Batter Cookies and stashed it away for a rainy (err... snowy in my case) day. Then, when I got the craving for cookies and didn't have yellow cake mix on hand- I decided to tweak her recipe just a bit to incorporate the ingredients I did have... and that my friends was when Red Velvet Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting was born. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • red velvet cake mix
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • cream cheese frosting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together cake mix and baking powder. Add eggs and oil and mix until well blended. Can get a bit crumbly if doing by hand so I beat mine on low in my mixer. Stir in chocolate chips. Doesn't it look like blackberry gelato? Yum...


Drop by rounded spoonful onto cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes.


Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.


Spread on cream cheese frosting and Enjoy!



Recipe adapted from Stephanie Cooks


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Good- bye my Sweet


Today marks the beginning of Lent. And even though I'm not Catholic, I still participate every year. I think it's good to give up something that's difficult for 40 days, and for God. Last year I gave up biting my nails. Years past I've given up fast food, bread, chocolate, soda, credit cards, etc...

This year- I'm giving up ALL sweets. And seeing that I just made Red Velvet Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies yesterday... yah you read that correctly- it's already been a difficult morning. Off to the neighbors they go. Thankfully I indulged a bit yesterday. I'll also be posting the recipe tomorrow for those of you wondering about their decadent deliciousness.

Anybody else giving up something for Lent?


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Movie Review: The Artist


Gah! We finally saw The Artist last night and it was sooooooo good! As someone who loves old movies I was pretty sure I was going to like it- but I was a little uneasy about bringing my husband with me. We're both movie nerds... but he usually draws the line at b&w movies... and then add in that it was a silent movie- I just didn't know what to expect with him.

The theater was pretty empty when we arrived. Seeing that it was a Monday night showing in a small town at 9:15pm , I wasn't surprised. And the people that were there were young teenagers roiding out on popcorn and candy getting ready to see Ghostrider. So we bypassed the youngens and headed over to our movie... which was empty save a few older women. Things were not looking promising for my husband. But once the movie started, none of it mattered anymore. My husband loved it.

The acting was phenomenal. The music: fantastic. And oh goodness the wardrobe- can I please go back to the 1920's? I LOVED The Artist- and I very highly recommend seeing it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Bars

I've said it before and I'll say it again- My husband L-O-V-E-S coconut. So on Valentine's Day, I decided to make him the homemade version of one of his favorite candy bars- Mounds Bars. The only difference is that I used milk chocolate instead of dark, but you can use either.

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup (150ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1.5 cups (375ml) shredded coconut
  • 7 ounces (200g) milk or dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) canola or grapeseed oil

Mix the condensed milk and coconut.Shape into bite- sized pieces and place them on a piece of parchment paper. I used a melon scooper to make little balls. But you can shape into bars to resemble a Mounds bar as well. Let your imagination run wild with shapes :)

Once done, freeze for 2 hours.
Melt the chocolate and oil in the microwave.
Using a fork, dip the coconut pieces into chocolate to coat. Yum...

Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Once cooled, I cut around the bars with a pizza cutter to give the bars a more rounded (instead of splattered!) shape... which in turn gave me the respectable job of eating the leftover chocolate scraps. It's a hard job but someone's gotta do it.




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Friday, February 17, 2012

To the Weekend!



Today my darling love gets home from Big Sky, Montana. He's spent the last 3 days snowboarding and hucking himself off booters... so I'm glad to have him back where I don't have to constantly be worrying if he and the rest of the guys are being more dangerous than normal. And plus I just miss him... so I'm definitely a happy girl that he's finally on his way home.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Slow Cooker Cranberry Roast Beef

4 ingredients is all you need- And then just throw them in a crock pot and Bam! You have dinner! I actually liked it even more the next day too. Eat alone or use as a filling for pulled beef sandwiches or tacos. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 pounds beef or pork roast or stew chunks
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes, or 1 medium yellow onion, diced (I used both)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (La Choy and Tamari wheat-free are gluten free)
  • 1 (16-ounce) whole berry cranberry sauce (mine wasn't whole berry and it tasted just fine)

Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Plop in the meat (mine was partially frozen), and add the onion and soy sauce. Pour in the entire can of cranberry sauce over the top. Do not add water. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 5-6 (mine was fine between 4.5 and 5). If you are cooking on high, you may need to "help" the meat break apart by taking it out an hour or so before serving by cutting it into chunks, then returning to the sauce.

Recipe from Stephanie O'Dea

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!


Source: oprah.com via Laurie on Pinterest


Happy Valentine's Day lovelies! I'm on my way to a massage- courtesy of my amazing husband. I hope you have one fantastic day as well! xoxo

Monday, February 13, 2012

DIY: Brown Paper Flowers for Your Home

Happy Monday! Today I have one crazy awesome and easy diy project to share: Brown Paper Flowers. I used mine to decorate the large empty wall next to our bed, but you can use them anywhere.

I was watching an episode of the Nate Berkus show (love him and totally up for being his best friend when he asks... which I'm assuming will be very soon). and Destiny from A Place for Us was on with this fantastic project. It's super easy. And the fact that I could make all the flowers while watching a show on tv just made it all the more better.

I love how it livened up our empty wall!

Materials needed:
  • Brown paper lunch bags (I used 29, but use as little or as many as you need)
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • Adhesive for attaching to wall (I used scrapbook glue dots)

Instructions:

Cut a petal out of the brown paper bag. Cut from the end with the opening (You'll use the bottom portion of the bag later). I also started cutting from more than one paper bag at a time to speed up the process.

You will end up with petals like ones on the left, as well as folded pieces like the ones on the right.

Get your glue stick and begin gluing the petal ends together. Make a cross shape with the first four leaves. Then repeat with four more covering the diagonals. Finally, repeat with creased petals.

And pretty soon you'll have a bunch of these pretty things...

I was able to cover the top corner of our wall with the flowers.

I wanted them to come a little further down though so I repeated the above steps with the bottom portion of the brown paper bags (the folded part). And got this!

I love it! Our room looks so much happier now... and since I already had all the materials on hand- this little upgrade was totally free.