This may be a long post BUT it has lots of pictures (and yes, a lot of food pics. Don't pretend to be shocked)!!! That means it'll mostly be pictures with my commentary. Muahaha!
Ye have been warned. Birthdays are kind of A HUGE deal for me. The bigger I can make it, the better. My pal Amy had her 24th birthday on the 23rd and the day before I had brilliant ideas poppin' out of my brain cells. I couldn't wait. These are the results:
*Eh hem* FIRST of all friends, let me just say I made my own caramel...WITHOUT a candy thermometer. WHABAM! And it was great! The author of the recipe said I could do it and she was right. Boy I felt like a million bucks. Also I'm glad because otherwise I would have had to make a late night trip to Wally-world (eh...) for caramels to melt (aka the cheapo way). Well, thank goodness it worked.
I felt it completely necessary that I "taste test" some so I put it atop some leftover brownies I had in the freezer and then thought, "what the heck?" and topped it with some sea salt and whipped cream, or "keem" as my darling nieces used to call it. Delish friends, DEE.LISH.
Now the point of making the caramel? Well, Amy's favorite candy bar, or one of, is Twix and I had pinned (I will admit, I am a Pinterestaholic. Yup. *no shame*) a homemade Twix recipe months ago and now had a reason to make them! YES! So I made 'em, cut up in attempt to make them kinda, sorta look like Twix bars and then got all crazy (this is what happens when I am scheming, the ideas just FLOOOOOW. It's amazing) and decided to wrap them up so they looked like candies.
AND THEN. I decided that Twix bars weren't enough, because, like I said, I like to go ALL OUT on birthdays. I decided to make some peanut butter pudding cookies. Amy and I had made these together months ago and I remember us both devouring them so I thought these would be a hit. Instead of peanut butter chips, which I didn't have because I kind of decided to make them on the fly, I just used Reeses Pieces, peanut butter M&Ms, and chocolate chips.
SOOOO YUMMY! And you know I taste tested that dough about 5 times. I gave her 24 cookies and she was kind enough to share. Mmmmm!
THEN. And this was the AHA! moment I had right before I left work on Monday and decided to gather all my goods to super surprise Amy on Tuesday: decorate her desk/half of our office. Oh I was bursting with excitement! I got to work super early and decorated and was so nervous she would come in extra early (she always beats me) and I would be in the middle of decorating. Well, as it turns out she was running late and ended up getting in loooong after I had finished. Thank goodness. She was surprised and I was pleased.
Now we decided to throw a birthday bash on Saturday and I got all crazy and made spinach dip (from a packet but it was from Mark from this fabulous store in Texas!) with homemade pita chips, and, now this is a big deal, guacamole. For the first time. By myself (which means without the guidance of Mark, who showed me how to make it). Now I realize it's not rocket science but I'm a baker, ok? This means I like specific amounts with specific ingredients and clear cut instructions. Cooking is a little more lenient in amounts and ingredients so I was a little nervous making this for the first time, and for a party no less. Fortunately, Mark is amazing and walked me through about 5 times. He even Skyped with me while I made a test batch. Yes he is that awesome. And yes I am pathetic. It's the curse of perfectionism.
THEN. In my attempts to get back into making dinners more consistently that are a little more wholesome than a PB/honey sandwich, cereal, or a Greek yogurt, I found a super easy salad recipe which involved black beans, corn, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and a homemade cilantro-lime dressing. Friends, it's off the hook good. I added some spicy tilapia and whoa buddy it was good. YAY for leftovers!
This shouldn't be anything new but I just am not feeling running as of late. I don't know why. Actually I do. April, well, after April 10th, April and I were not on good terms. No siree. Work sucked the life out of me (you work 3 weeks straight sans a day off and tell me how you feel. Yeah that's what I thought), I was recently asked to be the director of a girls camp my church does every year and usually the director is given this assignment months ago and I have kind of been thrown into the whirlwind of planning (with a mere 2 months to go until camp) while trying to get myself up to speed, plan, etc. etc. etc., while trying to maintain my personal sanity. This is no small task. I believe many of you would say, "Welcome to being an adult" or "Welcome to reality. Yeah well...fine. At least hand me some more cheese for my whining. Provolone preferably. Or sharp Havarti.
I was talking to Amy, who is running a marathon this weekend and another in Philadelphia in November. I was telling her I didn't really want to run the Myrtle Beach mini-marathon (half marathon; I don't know why they call it a mini-marathon because there is nothing mini about 13.1 miles thankyouverymuch) in October. I didn't like the course and, I donno, just wasn't feeling it. Amy suggested I run the half marathon in Philly when she runs the full.
DONE. I am slightly more motivated though probably not until after the chaos of June is over. But still. Now I have a goal. AND it's my first distance race. We're making a little trip out of it and driving up with a group of friends, a few others who are running the half and a few coming to cheer us on. I am pumped! And you better believe I will be running up the Rocky stairs!
Next month this cutie will be back in NH to live with my brother and sister-in-law permanently. I'm a little heartbroken because I love him so, but I think it'll be better for him: more room to run around and two people to care for him. So I busted out his dreaded carry-on bag to get him ready for the flight home. I can already feel my stress level rising.
Per the request of Amy, I made rolo cookies for her because this week has been a bust for us both. Like I'd turn down a request for cookies and the opportunity to bake. NEVER!
And now for today. I had yesterday and today off. Yesterday was devoted to errands and today was my fun day. I let my mane go free--and it was windy so I looked like a human Mufasa--and busted out my mint cords and loafers, and you know that means I'm in for some serious fun.
The fun started with Iron Man 3. Dude. First showing of the day cost me a whoppin' $4.75. That pleased me GREATLY. And hooooooly catscans it was a GREAT flick. Robert Downey Jr. is one of, if not my favorite actor. This role was made for him. Go see it. You will not be disappointed! Then I went to get froyo for lunch. It's been awhile since I had some. I got hazelnut, chocolate, and vanilla froyo and topped it with--ready for this??--chocolate chips, brownie bits, chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds, cocoa puffs (why not??) and topped it off with chocolate jimmies (or for those of you not from New England, chocolate sprinkles). Ooooooh yes I loved it! AND this makes me SO excited to go home in June to a) see Heath and Emma and my New England family and b) go to Lagos, the best ice cream place EVER. I'm drooling already. OHMYLANTUSIMSOEXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Then I decided to "pop in" to Anthropologie. Right. Pop in. Ha. I don't shop at Anthro for their clothes. Not quite my style, though cute. I shop for their kitchen stuff, sometimes home stuff, and random books/literature/note pads/writing stuff. I honed in on this cup and plate (pictured left) when I walked and I ended up walking up with that plate because I have an obsession with nautical stuff and therefore I had to have it. I also loved these little ceramic sailboats (pictured right), but what would I really do with them? Eh. Not worth $24. But still cute.
LOVED this tape dispenser.
And my eyes popped out of my head a little when I saw these AH-dorable sticky notes. And hello! There were 480 in there! But I told myself I have enough stationary/sticky notes (For now. But that's a lie. It was a tactic to talk myself out of them and it worked...this time).
Then I got home and the top I had ordered for my new bathing suit had arrived!!! My new suit is ready! Now, woman to woman--or hey if you're a man, woman to man but let's face it, what I am about to tell you is probably more exciting and understood by a woman--I had to order a smaller size in my bathing suit bottom. Yeah. I almost died with happiness. You know that feeling right? Oh yes. AMAZING.
Now. May I please just tell you how much I adore my brothers. I can't even tell you. There are no words except to say I am the luckiest sister ever. I love and adore and admire these fine men. They are some of the best friends I will ever have.
Heath (on the left) graduated from Brigham Young University the end of April in Electrical Engineering (WAHOO!!!!!), was accepted to the University of New Hampshire's law program, and got a scholarship. I am SO freakin' proud. And I get to see him and his fabulous wife in a month. We're going to have some serious sibling time. I CANNOT wait.
Dane (on the right) is rockin' and rollin' as a missionary for our church--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is doing very well and I am SO proud of him. You can read about his experiences and adventures here.
Finally, OneRepublic came out with a new album in March and friends, it is AAAMAZING. I LOVE IT. Michael Buble also came out with a new album in April, but, to be honest, I like OneRepublic's better, at least right now. And I found a really cool recipe for homemade rosemary soft pretzels. I think I'll give 'em a try tonight. And I thumbed through a macaroon recipe book at Barnes and Noble today (and used my iPhone to snap some of the recipes; does that make me a bad person? I did't want the whole book!), and I think I might try to make some macaroons tonight, or tomorrow. Hmm...baking and listening to OneRepublic? Yup that sounds like a swell evening to me!