November 25, 2012

So Much To Be Thankful For


Sitting here on my couch with a stomach full of Thanksgiving leftovers, I’m thinking of all of the people & things that I am thankful for. I love holiday weekends because of all of the family time. This was my first Thanksgiving with the Boy and we had a blast combining traditions and kicking off the holiday season together.

As is our Thanksgiving tradition, my dad & I were up bright and early to run in Fast Freddies Five Mile Foot Feast. This is our 10th year participating. I always do the 5 mile run and my dad normally does the 2 1/2 mile walk. This year, he ran the 5 mile race…and rocked it! I’m so proud of him…pictures are coming soon!

After the race, I went to Huber Thanksgiving at my grandma’s while Justin went to his family Thanksgiving in Bardstown. There is always something exciting at Huber family functions. This year, we played on the monkey bars and took turns riding Kevin’s motorcycle (don’t worry Kevin, it is still in one piece!).

Even Katherine took the bike for a spin!

Justin came up and we had dinner with the Knox side on Thanksgiving night. We played board games until it was time to head out for Black Friday shopping. We must be getting old…or maybe just getting smarter…when we saw the lines to check out, we totally bailed! We did go to Kohls once we had some coffee in our system and snagged some great deals.

Friday night, Justin & I went to Light Up Bardstown with his family. I really can’t think of a word more fitting than “quaint.” There were carolers in front of the courthouse, we had hot cocoa, and Santa was there!


 Saturday night, we went to My Old Kentucky Home (who knew there were so many things to do in Bardstown haha). My Old Kentucky Home is where Stephen Foster wrote the Kentucky state song. We took a candle light tour and then had bourbon cake & hot apple cider while we walked through the old gardens.


To wrap up the holiday weekend, we went to Horseshoe Casino and crashed Justin’s parent’s 30th Anniversary date. Between the two of us, we only lost $18 on the penny slots. Not bad for 3 hours of gambling :)  I can’t believe the weekend is already over. Once again, Sunday has come around too quickly! Good news is – the Christmas tree is up, Christmas music is playing, and I have Christmas cookies in the oven. 
The holiday season is here!

November 21, 2012

Tailgating - Power T Style

When The Boy invited me to the UT/Missouri game earlier this year, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My thought process went as follows: football = tailgate = spinach dip…mmmm I love spinach dip…SURE! The day of the big event finally arrived and to my disdain, there was no spinach dip. There was however, breakfast casserole, chips & salsa, cornhole boards, and beer…lots of beer!

I've been to a few tailgates, but none as awesome as this one. We had a prime spot on top of the parking garage right across from the stadium. It was a little chilly when we got there at 5am (yea…you read that right…CRAZY BOYS!), but it turned out to be a perfect day for football.


We had great seats for the game. This is when it pays to date a Grad Student who gets tickets in the student section…no nosebleeds for us!


Even though UT lost in the 4th overtime (yes…I actually sat through 4 overtimes), we had a blast.  
  

Fun fact about Neyland Stadium: When full, Neyland Stadium holds enough people to be the third largest city in the state of Tennessee. Also, Peyton Manning played there (SA-WOON!).

Did I mention that we tailgated with the best dressed fan at the game?


Or that I now know all of the words to this song after listening to it on repeat for 12 hours:



On a scale of 1-10, the day was a 16 (which was Peyton's number at UT by the way).
GO VOLS

November 12, 2012

Fallin' for Fall

I'm currently sitting at the airport, curled up in a seat by the window, drinking a pumpkin spice latte, watching the rain come down. If I were at home, this wold be the perfect day. I'm going to choose to ignore the fact that my flight is delayed and focus instead on the many reasons I love this season.

1. Carving Pumpkins
The weekend before Halloween (another reason to love this season!), The Boy and I went on a hayride to pick pumpkins with friends. We had a blast coming up with ideas, carving our designs, and roasting pumpkin seeds.

2. Crunchy Leaves
Going for a walk in the early morning when the leaves are changing, there's nothing better. All of the colors are beautiful and chances are you'll find a crunchy leaf to step on!

3. Pumpkin
I just recently decided that I love pumpkin - pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin bagels with pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin rolls and pie! YUM!

4. Hoodies & Boots
Currently the two most valued articles in my closet (suitcase). There is nothing more cozy than an oversized hoodie. I can't help but smirk at the lady sitting across from me in a dress and heels. I bet she's wishing she had remembered to pack a hoodie And boots in her carry on :)

November 8, 2012

I Am A MARATHONER!



Why yes, that is a finisher’s medal from the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon :) I did it! When I woke up on the morning of the big race, I was a bundle of nerves. I’m so thankful for all of my family members and friends who sent encouraging text messages and Facebook posts last weekend. My favorite was from my brother, reminding me of all of the training that led up to the big day and reminding me that I was ready to run!

“The miracle isn't if you finish, the miracle is that you have the courage to start.” – John Bingham

I’m also glad that my parents and the boy were there to put up with my race day nerves and to meet me along the the course (while it was sleeting) with signs and encouraging words. It really helped, especially during those last few miles!


 
Although I was a little slower than I wanted to be, it is still a PR and I am so glad I did it. Crossing the finish line was the best feeling ever. As for running another marathon? I’m undecided. There are a few destination marathons on my list, that if the timing was right, I wouldn't say no to.

I also wouldn't say no to the lazy Sunday that comes after marathon day! Justin and I barely moved off the couch and it was fabulous. I don’t get many of those days. Apparently, it takes running a marathon to get me to sit down and relax :) I did stand up long enough to make the best pot of Cheesy Potato Soup of all time. It’s the perfect soup to enjoy while watching hours and hours of football (Justin had control of the remote…my choice would have been Grey’s Anatomy reruns!).

Here’s what you need:
6 Potatoes, peeled & Cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup
12 oz of Velveeta cheese, cubed
2 tbsp of butter
1/2 tsp of garlic salt
1/8 tsp of pepper
5 cups of water
2 cups of milk

Here’s what you do:
In a large pot, saute the onion in butter
Add potatoes & water
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover & simmer until potatoes are tender
Stir in the milk, soup, garlic salt, and pepper
Add cheese & stir until melted
ENJOY!
This is Justin's bowl...he likes a little soup with his pepper :)

September 30, 2012

26.2 - A Journey, Not a Destintion

"The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every jogger can't dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon."
               - Fred Lebow, Co-Founder of the New York City Marathon

Back in January, I decided that 2012 was the year I would run a marathon. Of course, I put my name in for the New York City lottery and said a little prayer. In April, when New York didn't pan out, I decided that I would run the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis. I have had friends run it who have said that it is a great first marathon. Plus, it's in Indy --> my second home. The course actually runs through Butler's campus. How awesome is that!?!

For all of my Indy friends (and anyone else who wants to come to town & cheer me on, here's a map of the course.

Coaching Cross Country has made training extremely easy. Keeping up my weekly mileage and long runs were easy & fun. The marathon is November 3rd, so I started my longer training runs in September. 13, easy. 15, not bad, 18 - I might have spent the entire day in bed after finishing the run...and that brings us to today's 20 miler. 

After the Downtown Doubler (30K) two weeks ago, I was a bit nervous about the jump up to 20. What I remembered this morning, never underestimate the power of a running buddy. Kari & I met at 7:30 and started our 20 mile journey on the Ohio River Greenway (which I didn't know existed until today, by the way). I have run different parts of it on shorter runs, but didn't realized it connected for so far. Miles 1-16 were easy. By that 17th mile marker I was feeling myself start to slow down. Then I remembered that I only had a 5K left. Psh. 5Ks - I run those every day! 

It's such a great feeling - running 20 miles. It was an even better feeling when after a shower, lunch & 2 hour nap, I actually felt human! We'll see if that changes when I wake up this morning. If any of my co-workers are reading this - I might or might not be able to get out of bed and come to work tomorrow!

34 days to go. Only 1 final training run between now & then. It's so close, I can feel it. I can't wait to cross that finish line & cross the marathon off of my bucket list :)

September 6, 2012

Are You Ready For Some Football?!

Last year, on one of those nights I couldn't sleep, I found myself watching reruns of The League on FX. After those first few episodes, I was hooked. Thanks to Netflix, coffee, & lack of a social life, I watched the entire show in one weekend.  I decided that I wanted to grow up and be just like Jenny MacArthur….until I remembered that my football knowledge revolved around Peyton Manning and the fact that we’re getting married someday (don’t tell Justin) and that usually by halftime of a football game, I am more focused on enjoying the spinach dip than what is happening on TV.

So I went back to Plan A: Cheering for the Colts and tweeting about how much I love the Drew Brees NyQuil commercials. It was working really well for me…and then I got myself one of those boyfriend people…who happens to know a lot about football.  


Which leads me to his Fantasy Football draft. I put on my Jenny MacArthur hat and reminded him daily, hourly in fact, that Peyton Manning was the way to go (no longer a Colt :( but still my future husband :) ). I can only imagine the number of eye rolls that happened over the phone & via text message that week. You can imagine my excitement when I received this text message on draft night…

 I got Manning….

In fact, my exact response was, “WHOOP WHOOP!”

I’m telling myself that my “statistics” helped him arrive at his draft pick (he’s so cute…did you see the Buick commercial…Eli is his little brother…I lived in Indy for four years...he likes oreos…of course that’s a real fact, just pick him!).

Jump ahead to last night’s kickoff game (fun fact: did you know that it was the first Wednesday night game since 1948?). I turned the game on for background noise while I was pinning new recipes, fabulous outfits, and decorating tips. I had just talked to Justin, and I swear I was listening when he told me who I should be rooting for. A few minutes into the first quarter, our texting convo went something like this:

Me: I already forgot who I’m supposed to be cheering for tonight…
 The Boy: Ahmad Bradshaw, number 44. Giants. Dez Bryant, number 88. Cowboys .
(What a good boyfriend, giving me numbers instead of positions so I would know who to watch for!)
                                               
…a few minutes later...

 Me: Eli is such a cutie. I think I’ll cheer for him instead :)
(I’m such a supportive girlfriend)
The Boy: Eli is a mouth breather
 (How rude! Talking about my future brother-in-law like that!!)
 Me: You’re cute. I’d cheer for you if you played football
 The Boy: I played in high school
 (Join the NFL, buddy, and we’ll talk)

Next thing I knew, it was halftime aka bedtime for yours truly. So I went to sleep dreaming about football season and all of the wonderful things that come with it…tailgating, chili, hot chocolate, hoodies, crunchy leaves, boots!, and snuggling with my awesome boyfriend on a chilly fall evening.

Who else is looking forward to Sunday? I sure am…Go Colts (and Go Peyton)





September 3, 2012

Celebrating Kentucky


It’s that time of year again…football is back! I don’t really consider myself a diehard fan of any team (although, I suppose I’m a UT fan this year!), but I always cheer for my hometown team, University of Louisville. Yesterday UofL kicked off their season playing the University of Kentucky for the Governor’s Cup. Justin and I went out to my uncle’s to watch the game. He was very brave rocking his blue shorts in a house full of Cardinal fans…luckily he forgot his UK shirt in Knoxville :) 


After we watched UofL kick some UK butt, we kept on celebrating the state of Kentucky. What a better way than having Kentucky Hot Browns for dinner followed by Derby Pie for dessert! I was a little nervous heading into the kitchen. No one wants to mess up the famous hot brown! Ours didn't turn out quite as amazing as The Brown Hotel's famous dish, but it was pretty freakin’ delicious. I used a slightly different recipe than what is on their website.

Here’s What You Need:
½ cup butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pound roasted turkey
1 tomato
8 slices white bread, toasted
8 slices bacon


Here’s What You Do:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in flour with whisk & continue to cook and stir until it begins to brown. 
Gradually whisk in the milk until all lumps are gone. 
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. 
Mix in ¼ cup of parmesan cheese & then stir in the beaten egg to thicken. 
Do not allow the sauce to boil once the egg has been mixed in!
Remove from heat & stir in heavy cream.

Preheat the oven’s broiler. 
For each Hot Brown, place 2 slices of toast into the bottom of a casserole dish. 
Layer turkey and tomato slices over the toast. 
Cover with sauce & sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.

Place the dish under the broiler and cook 5-10 minutes until the top is speckled brown. 
Remove from broiler and arrange 2 slices of bacon on top of each sandwich.
Serve immediately & ENJOY!



To Make the Derby Pie, Here’s What You’ll Need:
½ cup melted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup of chocolate chips
¾ cup pecans
Pie crust  (9 inch)


This is such an easy recipe! Here's What You Do:
Here’s What You Do:
Combine all ingredients and mix
(Slip in an extra 1/4 cup of Chocolate Chips when Justin's not looking)
Bake in pie crust at 350 for 45 minutes
Serve & ENJOY!

Our Taste of Kentucky meal turned out wonderfully! The best part was the leftovers that we got to enjoy today. We took our Holiday seriously and spent the entire day relaxing and eating. I hope you guys all had a fabulous, relaxing Labor Day too :) 

We're really, really bad at taking pictures of ourselves :)

August 6, 2012

Paint is Taking Over My Life


Since I don’t get enough paint at work during the week, I joined a bunch of my friends last weekend to experience the awesomeness that was the Color Run here in Louisville. If you have never heard of the Color Run (I’m not sure what rock you’re living under), you should check out their website and definitely take advantage when the event comes to your city.





Team Color Blind went prepared – dressed in white with sunglasses that can only be described as awesmazbrillfabuful (The super word formed from awesome, amazing, brilliant, fabulous & wonderful. Look it up. It’s totally in the dictionary).  The 3 mile course had 4 color stations where volunteers coated you in color. It was so much fun….a little difficult to breathe…but totally fun J 

 At the end of the course, there was a color festival that everyone could participate in. We each had our own color packet and every 15 minutes there would be mass chaos as everyone gathered and threw color in the air.


 We spent a lot of time in the color mosh pit, but also stood outside of it a couple times to see this awesome site. The Color Run was a one of a kind event and I definitely recommend everyone check it out.


July 31, 2012

Somebody Get Me A Calendar

I can’t believe July is over! It seems like just yesterday I was figuring out my homemade pizza recipe and sharing it with you all. Then again, so much has happened over the past few months. I could write a 10 page blog post and still not cover everything! Let’s see…what were some of the highlights this Spring/Summer…


1)      In April, Justin ran and PR'd his first half marathon here in Louisville. I also had a PR this year! The KY Derby Festival definitely knows how to put on a great race. It was a fabulous event and I got to share it with some pretty fabulous people.




2)      May was a busy month. Justin & I both went to Derby for the first time (Infield was fun, but we’re doing it BIG next time J), we traveled to Chattanooga for a friend’s wedding on top of Lookout Mountain, and the Runner of the Year series kicked off for me.



3)      June was an extra athletic month. Cross Country conditioning kicked off, the Summer Running Series kicked off, I had 2 Runner of the Year races, and Justin competed in his first Triathlon. We got to stay in Indy for a weekend with my college roommate Claire which was so much fun. If I had one more weekend in every month, it would definitely be spent in Indy. I miss the city so much! We also went to one of my closest friend’s wedding in June. It was so beautiful and I am so happy for her!




4)      To recover from a busy June, we spent 8 days on the beach doing absolutely nothing but watching the waves and playing cards in July. It was the best family vacation ever. Before we headed to Orange Beach, we stopped in Panama City to visit Kevin. I hadn’t seen him since Christmas! I missed him like crazy & it was so good to finally check out where he lives. 



      Since we can’t sit still for too long, Justin took off for New Orleans and I was headed out west to Arizona. Another July highlight was dinner with the Dream Team. I miss my Zesto girls like CRAZY and it’s always fun to get together. Justin came to visit again the last weekend in July (3 out of 4 weekends this month…I’m getting spoiled!). Of course we spent most of the weekend watching the Olympics, but we did spend a lot of time with family and friends. More on this adventure later…but we also ran the Color Run in Louisville which was hilarious.



Looking at the calendar for the rest of 2012 is a little daunting! There is something going on pretty much every weekend. Between weddings, running, work & school…you’re going to have to check in often to Keep up with Kimberly. I promise I won’t leave you hanging as long next time J


March 23, 2012

Playing House

Even though I’m no longer in school, I was beyond excited for Spring Break to come this year. The Boy was headed north to Southern Indiana. For an entire week! We’ve become so accustomed to the 48 hour weekend dating life that we were both pretty darn excited that we’d actually get to see each other on a weekday…in “real life.” Walking around the block after dinner, folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, grocery shopping…how very conventional :)

We managed to squeeze in a ton of fun into the week – March Madness, St. Patty’s Day shenanigans, a 10K race, 4-wheelers, and football to name a few. Probably one of my FAVORITE parts of the week was attempting to make homemade pizza and wings…from scratch…

For the Pizza - You'll Need:
1 Package (.25 oz) of active dry yeast
1 cup of warm water
2 tbsp of canola oil
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of sugar
3 cups of all-purpose flour
15 oz of pizza sauce
**We cheated and bought the pizza sauce pre-made…the dough was adventure enough for one night :)

Our Favorite Toppings:
½ Pound of ground sausage (cooked & drained)
LOTS of pepperonis
1 medium green pepper – chopped or sliced
1 ½ cups of mozzarella cheese (or more if you’re named Kim or Justin)

Here’s How You Make It:
1) In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
2) Add the oil, salt, sugar, and 2 cups of flour
3) Beat at medium speed for about 3 minutes
4) Stir in more flour to form a soft dough

5) Spill flour onto the kitchen counter (this is the easiest part :))
6) Knead dough for about 6-8 minutes until smooth
7) Place the dough in a greased bowl – turning once to grease the entire dough ball
8) Cover and let rest for 10 minutes

9) Divide the dough in half (this recipe makes 2 medium sized pizzas)
10) On the floured surface, roll each portion into a circle
11) Attempt to throw pizza dough into air and catch it (this step is optional, but highly recommended)
12) Transfer to greased pizza pan & build up the edges slightly
13) Sprinkle parmesian cheese onto the dough (thanks to mom for the awesome tip!)

14) Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes – or until lightly browned
15) Spread sauce over the crusts
16) Cover with toppings of your choice (I’m a pepperoni & green pepper fan. The Boy likes sausage & mushrooms. Luckily for us, this recipe makes 2 pizzas!)
17) Bake for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted

Onto the Hot Wings – You’ll Need:
2 lbs of chicken wings
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of black pepper
2 tbsp of hot sauce
2 tbsp of canola oil
1/2 Stick of butter
1 ½ cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup of buffalo wing sauce
Non stick canola oil spray


Here’s What You Do:
1) Place the wings in a large bowl
2) Add in the salt, pepper, hot sauce & oil – toss to coat evenly
3) Put the flour in a plastic grocery bag and pour in the chicken wings
4) Twist the top of the bag closed and shake to coat wings in flour

5) Cover a baking sheet in foil & spray with canola oil
6) Place the floured wings onto the pan & spray the tops with canola oil
7) Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes
8) Turn wings and bake for another 30 minutes or until crispy

9) While the wings are baking, melt a half stick of butter into the buffalo wing sauce (props to The Boy’s dad for the secret ingredient!)
10) Remove the wings from the oven and put them in a large bowl
11) Toss with the buffalo sauce while the wings are still hot
12) Transfer to serving plates and let the wings cool for 5-10 minutes

PAY ATTENTION -- this is probably the most important step in the process...
While the wings are cooling, open a bottle of wine, turn up the summer songs playlist and prepare to enjoy the best homemade pizza and wings of your life :)



Oh, and Kari is awesome

March 3, 2012

Nothin' Like A Runner's High

As a person who often wears jeans and a hoodie when it’s 75 degrees outside, I have been especially thankful for this mild winter. There have been very few mornings that I had to warm up my car, snow has not delayed any of my winter travels, and there has not been one day that I have been forced to run inside on a treadmill (because of weather…late nights at hotels is another story. Blah).

This winter was perfect (and I seriously hope I’m not jinxing us all) for running. For the past few years, I’ve participated in The Polar Bear Grand Prix here in Louisville. I love this series of races. It’s perfect for staying active and competitive in the winter months. My goal for the PBGP was to blow my last years times out of the water for all three races. Now only did I dominate over last year Kim, I won my age group for all three races and the series overall (time for a little bragging…go me :) ).

Now that the winter series is over, it’s time to focus on the Triple Crown and begin training for the DerbyFest MiniMarathon. I set a couple big goals for this spring...all part of the plan to make it to New York in the fall.

The Anthem 5K was this morning. My goals: Under 22:00; Top 10 in Age Group; Top 100 Women. Today's results: 21:56; 4th in Age Group; 55th in Women; 415th Overall (out of 8,496 finishers!). I was pumped. The weather was perfect, the course was flat, and I finally got to run with the gang again. 
 Chuckie's Duckies are AWESOME!

Here are the goals for the rest of March...wish me luck!
Rodes City Run (March 17th): Under 46:00; Top 5 in Age Group; Top 100 Women
Papa Johns 10 Miler (March 31st): Under 1:18:00; Top 5 in Age Group; Top 100 Women

Since I’m talking about running, I have to share these "Motivational Posters" from Runners World. These posters make me laugh, because we've all had those days :)

February 20, 2012

Tour De Knoxville

By now you guys have probably figured out that I love traveling and exploring new places. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time in Knoxville, TN. Why Knoxville? Well since you asked…let me officially introduce you to Justin, aka “The Boy,” a new character who will be frequenting my blog posts...hopefully for a long time :) The Boy is currently living in Knoxville which allows me the perfect opportunity to get out of Indiana for a while and go explore a new city.

There are some really cool places in Knoxville, and the city has some neat history. Knoxville in January & February can be a little cold (no worries, The Boy is great at scraping car windows…smile!).
The afternoon weather was perfect to get out and explore the city both weekends I was there. If you’re ever in Knoxville, you should go visit these places:

1.       The Sunsphere @ the World’s Fair Park: The Sunsphere is a giant glass ball in downtown Knoxville that was built for the World’s fair in 1982. You can ride up to the top and see the entire city. Plus it’s located in a really cool park that would be perfect for picnics in the spring time (**hint hint**).
2.       Neyland Stadium: Tailgating is one of my favorite fall activities. Outside of that, I could really care less about college football (yea. I said it.). I was super pumped however, to visit Peyton Manning’s old stomping grounds…I wonder if I can somehow get this off the side of the stadium and hang it in my living room?
3.       Old City: Old city is a historic district with tons of unique shops, boutiques, and restaurants. The Boy and I went to a great gastropub called The Crown & Goose where we tried out a European Cheese Board. With the help of our amazing server, we tried out some crazy cheese & wine combinations (Would you ever think to pair cheese with peach preserves & walnuts? Me either, but it was awesome!).
4.       Market Square: It’s exactly like it sounds. Lots of unique restaurants and cafes - great places for a date night. Speaking of…we tried out this great place called Oodles Uncorked. The food was incredible (and the wine was good too :) ) Definitely a place to check out if you visit Knoxville. I also recommend Blue Coast Burrito…you can never go wrong with Mexican food!
5.      The Greenway: Knoxville is very runner friendly, which I love. There are over 50 miles of paved greenway in Knoxville for runners & bikers to utilize. I’ve only explored a few miles and have stayed pretty close to home, but I think I’ll add another running goal to the list: Run all of the Greenways in Knoxville. The greenways run along the river, through parks, and past historical sites so the runs are very scenic which I enjoy.

Side note --> The Boy happened to be in Louisville the night of the Bachelor premier and I (of course) forced him to watch it. He was a good sport and only made fun of the show every other minute as opposed to every minute :) He even remembered that I was rooting for Kacie B, and while we were walking downtown, he pointed out the Tennessee sign that they showed in her introduction video. I think he’s a keeper!

February 17, 2012

Do You Know Stephanie Plum?

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read at least one book per month. I promise that I really did start & finish this book a book in January (I just got super lazy about blogging). January’s book? Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich.  Janet Evanovich is one of my authors and her Stephanie Plum series is my favorite book series. The first book came out in 1994 (I was 6 years old haha), but I didn’t get hooked until high school. I spent my entire summer break laying by the pool reading the first 10 books. I started looking forward the Tuesday in June when the next book came out like I look forward to Christmas every year! Then, in 2011, Stephanie Plum fans got a treat– TWO BOOKS!! 

If you haven’t read a Stephanie Plum book, it’s probably because you live under a rock. If you’re one of the few living under the rock, let me introduce you to the world of Stephanie Plum. This series has it all: interesting characters and a great plot full of mystery, romance, and laugh out loud humor.

When we first meet Stephanie in One for the Money, she’s single, unemployed, and living with a hamster. She blackmails her cousin Vinnie into giving her a job as a bail bondsman…aka…bounty hunter. Stephanie is 0% qualified for the job, and that is what makes the story so hilarious. She manages to get herself into all kinds or ridiculous situations and has to figure out how to get out of them. Throughout the 18 books, one way or another, Stephanie Plum always gets her man! Usually, it’s with the help of friends, family members, and the two smokin’ hot men in her life!

One of the reasons I love these stories so much is because Stephanie Plum is so relatable. Outside of her ridiculous career choice, Stephanie Plum and I have a few things in common. There is usually a day of the week where her cabinets are bare and she mooches dinner from her parents, she hangs out with her grandma to catch up on the latest town gossip, and when she’s stressed out…the bakery is her happy place J

I guarantee that if you pick up a Stephanie Plum book, you won’t be able to put it down. From exploding cars to planning weddings…from creepy stalkers to the Ranger/Morelli love triangle…these books have something for everyone. Check out the author's website for more info on all 18 books. It'll be the best decision you make today.

The movie version, One for the Money, came out in January. It’s on my list of movies to see. Fingers crossed that it is as awesome as the books!

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

I love all holidays…including Valentine's Day. I’m a believer of telling your friends and family that you love them every day, but I see no reason why there can’t be a day of the year designated for over the top gestures of love and friendship…plus…everything is pink. I have my box of Hello Kitty valentines filled out and ready to distribute at work today (I’m such a grown up) and a delicious pasta dinner for one planned for this evening to be followed by the GLEE Valentine’s Day episode & a tall glass of chocolate milk. Exciting plans, I know J

I actually celebrated Valentine’s Day early this year since the 14th is on a Tuesday. The Boy and I decided to make gifts for each other. Since I’ve been in a super crafty mood lately, I had tons of fun with this plan. I also got to use this as an excuse to find another cupcake recipe to test out. The Boy loves coconut & his favorite candy bar is an Almond Joy…challenge accepted…

Almond Joy Cupcakes:
Here’s What You Need:
For the Cupcakes…
1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
¼ cup of Canola Oil
¼ cup of Apple Sauce
3 egg whites
1 1/3 cup Lite Coconut Milk
¼ tsp Coconut Extract

For the topping...
1 can Whipped Vanilla frosting
¼ tsp Almond Extract
Sweetened shredded coconut
Chopped almonds

Here’s How to Bake Them:
Preheat the oven to 350
Line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners
In a large bowl, add cake mix, oil, applesauce, egg whites, coconut milk, & coconut extract
Mix until smooth
Evenly divide batter into each cupcake cup
Bake in oven for 22-25 minutes (test with toothpick. When it comes out clean, cupcakes are ready)
When cupcakes are cool enough to touch, move onto baking rack and allow to cool completely

Meanwhile…
Scoop your frosting into a bowl and add almond extract
Mix until creamy
Pipe frosting onto cupcakes starting around the edges and working towards the center
Top cupcakes with coconut/almond mixture

Tip: Next time, I think I’ll use a bit more coconut extract in the cake batter. If I presented these on Cupcake Wars, Florian would be the first to point out that the flavor wasn’t strong enough J

I used a combination of recipes to make my Almond Joy cupcakes. Some day I’m going to be a good enough baker to break free of the boxed mixes and create my own recipes. Until then, I’ll continue reading as many baking blogs as I have time to and using other recipes as my starting point. I’ve found tons of great baking blogs. I usually START HERE and explore until I find what I’m looking for.

By the way…The Boy rocked the homemade Valentine’s Day present.
He wrote The Story of Justin & Kim…Mad Libs style. How awesome is that? There are 5 stories in Volume 1. I’m already looking forward to Volume 2 J