Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cheescake Dip >> get in mah mouth!!!

I tried a new dessert out on my coworkers a little while ago - Chocolate Chip Cheescake Dip. Doesn't that just make your mouth water? I found it on Pinterest - saw the name, saw the picture, and pinned immediately. Who cares what's in it or other silly details? It sounded and looked delicious. 

It was super easy! For the most part, the ingredients were baking 'staples' that I tend to always have in my cupboard. I also liked that I could start it, then set it aside for a bit while I cooked dinner, without having a huge mess or being preoccupied. 

Spoiler alert: the ingredients are not exactly the healthiest ingredients. However, I am a firm believer that a little indulgence every now and then won't kill you.

I started making it. Then set it aside while I cooked dinner. 
This actually worked really well because it's easiest to make if your butter and cream cheese are softened.
The night I made this I realized I may have a problem. Apparently this is my baking shelf of my freezer. 
I really could use a whole separate baking freezer, but there's no room for that in this little one-bedroom oasis.
Chocolate Chip Cheescake Dip!

8 oz. (1 block) cream cheese
*I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese and you couldn't even tell*
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Teddy Grahams
In a bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. 
Add sugars and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 
Serve with teddy grahams (or graham crackers).

Enjoy! Have you ever made anything similar?

Monday, April 29, 2013

My cry for help

I don't like change. I mean, really, who does? I'm perfectly content with my morning routine, the way I brush my teeth, and the brand of tampons I use. I always order a grande half-hazelnut half-marshmallow skim latte. I always walk around the track a few times before starting my workout. I always get a glass of water right when I get out of bed in the morning. If things don't change, then I know what to expect and I can always be prepared. 
That being said, I've been preparing to run one leg of the 4-person relay at this marathon! Exciting, right? Yep, sure.

My hubs, my brother, his girlfriend, and I decided earlier this spring that we should run the 4-person relay. 

The 26.2 miles are divided into 4 unequal parts. This was the breakdown:
Leg #1: 7.25 miles
Leg #2: 6.50 miles
Leg #3: 6.75 miles
Leg #4: 5.7 miles

Take a wild guess which adventurous leg I'm running... 

We decided my hubs should run first. He ran the half-marathon last year so 7.25 miles should be easy-peasy and he will know what to expect at the starting line. Then we decided my brother should run the next longest one, the third leg, because all he needs to do to train is throw on some tennis shoes and make sure he has a clean shirt to wear. That left me and Alyssa to choose between the last 2 legs. She's bad-ass and I'm a wanna-be so I think we decided that I would be the biggest asset to our team if I ran the final stretch (the important part being it was the shortest distance).

Ok, I can do this, I told myself.

This picture has nothing to do with this post.
First problem, I procrastinate. I should have been training for the past couple weeks, or even months, but have not been. Now it's 3 weeks until race day and I've finally realized the importance of getting in some good runs over the next few weeks. So I went to the gym this morning, ran 3.7 miles, and was feeling pretty motivated on our way home so decided to check out the marathon website for some information about the part of the course that would be my part, the final leg.
Imagine my concern when the website showed that the breakdown for the 4-person relay has been changed to this:
Leg #1: 5.25 miles
Leg #2: 6.50 miles
Leg #3: 6.75 miles
Leg #4: 7.7 miles

Sheer panic. Sweaty palms. (Actually sweaty all over because I just did cardio for 45 minutes). 
7.7 miles?! Everything I've been training for and expecting changed! I immediately e-mailed the director of the marathon for instructions on how (or even if) we can change our registration so that my hubs and I can switch places. I have not heard back. I will probably continue to stalk send this person daily e-mails until I get a response.

I don't know why I'm writing a post about this. 
Maybe it's my way of coping with the change and what is yet to come...? 
Maybe it's a cry for help...? 

In all seriousness, any running/race-day advice or tips from anyone with experience?

INSTAgood + a little loooooove

Happy Monday, friends! Another weekend has come and gone again. This weekend was finally full of some relaxation, down time, and family time back home. Highlights?

1. Spent the 5-hour drive enjoying the snow-less fields (finally!) and my Young House Love book
2. Champagne cocktails and 4-wheelin at my parents
3. Wine Penny Sale at Happy Harry's - buy one bottle, get the 2nd for a penny - 'nuff said.
4. Sitting in the sun & Arnold Palmers to celebrate the beginning of the spring/summer season

Without further ado, I'll let instagram take it away!

And because I just realized that today's date is April 29th, this is a big SHOUT OUT to my hubs. 8 years ago on April 29th, 2005 I said yes when he asked if I'd 'go out' with him. At the time, I didn't think it was possible but I love him even more than I did way back then. 
So here are some oldies but goodies from spring 2006. 
Don't we just look like youngsters? Jeesh, where does the time go?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Signs from God

Do you ever feel like you get a sign from God? Like, right when you need it? 

It's like you're feeling sorry for yourself about something stupid and then all of a sudden you hear of a coworker who lost a friend to cancer. 

Or you move somewhere new and 1 month later you're asking yourself, "What the heck did I do and where am I? What do I even like about this new, unknown place?" and then bam! absolutely beautiful sunset that could only have been created by the hands of God. 

Or you're feeling cranky because you have cramps. And you can't make a decision to save your life. And the coffee maker clogged, so you have to get to work early just to get a freaking cup of coffee. And who wants to start their day like that?
But some people don't even have a job. Or a home.

Or you're feeling discouraged, because you strive for perfection, rather than just striving for happy or grace. But then you see a video that reminds you that you're healthy and your life is full of good things to come and for that, you should be thankful.

This morning I got a pep talk {thanks to Cortne for sharing this video from the kid president}.
I'm on your team. Be on my team.
Stop being boring.
We got a heartbeat. That means it's time to do something.
I wanna be on the path that leads to awesome.
We can make every day better for each other. If we're on the same team, let's start acting like it. We got work to do. 
We can cry about it, or we can dance about it.

One day at a time. Today, I choose to dance. You with me?

Green Beans + Carmelized Shallots

The other night I tried out and tweaked a recipe that I found on Pinterest - it was super easy and deeeelicious. We love having cooked vegetables with our dinner so I like to find new ways to do them, aside from the Steam Fresh bags in the freezer section at the grocery store. So I was happy when I found this recipe because it only has 4 ingredients. How hard can it be?!

3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
12 oz. fresh green beans
salt + pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over low heat. Add chopped shallots and cook over low heat until they begin to carmelize, stirring occasionally. For me, this took about 30 minutes, but could take longer. You do not want your pan too hot or to cook the shallots for too long - this will cause them to turn out crispy. 

Pour remaining olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in a rimmed cookie sheet. Add green beans and toss to coat. Bake for 10-15 minutes. You will know they are done when they are tender and slightly browned. Remove from oven, top with shallots, and serve.

This side dish could pair nicely with any meat main dish. We had it were going to have it with chicken. A small fiasco resulted in the chicken not being done until about 1/2 hour after the green beans were done. 
My hubs enjoying his green beans for dinner. If you think he doesn't look like the type of guy who prefers only a simple vegetable for dinner, you're right. We made the most of it. I just referred to it as that evening's first course. That sounds fancy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

five things

I was tagged by the fun and beautiful Julie at Becoming a Navy Wife to join in the fun and share five facts about myself! 

Here we go. Short and sweet.

1. No, I do not want a lemon in my water. I want my ice water to taste crisp, clean, and fresh - not yellow, pulpy, and citrusy.
2. Yo hablo espanol. Not really. But I used to be really good at Spanish in high school and college and sometimes my weird brain will hear a phrase and for someone say it to myself in Spanish. Loco!
3. I'm stubborn. When something's bugging me I can not, by any means, let it go and move on to other things. 
Good, bad, or ugly, it's part of my personality.
4. I love math. I love numbers. I love making our budget and balancing our checkbook. 
I do not like things that use the other side of my brain - like art.
5. I used to dance - ballet, jazz, tap, and hip hop. It was my first true passion. Miss it like crazy.
So there you have it. Whether you wanted to know or not :)

Button Swap - if you've already grabbed my button for your blog you should grab my new one! 
New blog design by the talented Aubrey = brand spankin new button.

I've got some good eats & delicious recipes on this week's blog menu {pun intended}, so make sure you stop back!

Because who doesn't love pretty labels...

I'm also guest posting a related post over at Limited Space Organizing today so you should hop over there, too!

I love to organize. That's definitely no secret. There's something about a recipe binder or tubs of seasonal decorations organized by holiday that really make me swoon. I love it even more if it looks pretty, too. So when I was working on organizing our bathroom shelves and linen closet, I wanted something that was easy to maintain and fun to look at everyday. 

We have a cabinet on our bathroom countertop where we keep most 'everyday' things - i.e. contact solution, washcloths, medicine, etc. We also have a huge closet in our kitchen (which also happens to be right outside our bathroom; it's a one-bedroom apartment, people). This closet is quite the jack-of-all -trades - we use it as storage for rarely-used appliances / linens / pantry items / extra toiletries. I like to use under-sink shelving and plastic totes to store my toiletry items, and it works really well until my hubby can never remember where he got something so the travel-size contact solution ends up mixed in with my extra eyeshadow. Bless his heart :) 

So I decided to make some labels for our totes and got completely inspired when I saw this post here at IHeart Organizing. I finally learned what the funky font is that she uses (it's called Ultra - download it here) and I created some labels in Excel.

It was super easy and now I smile every time I see those little babies rockin out in our closet :)

Here's what you need:

Cardstock paper + Excel to make your labels
Scrapbooking / patterned paper
Laminator or laminating sheets
Velcro fasteners
Glue stick or double stick tape

1. Create your labels in Excel as Word Art. 
Insert Word Art --> Right-click the Word Art & click Format Text which brings you to this screen:
In this screen you can edit your Font (I used Ultra, size 96), Text Fill (I used different desktop patterns that I downloaded from the internet), and your Text Line which is the border around the font (I used all different combinations to keep them really colorful). None of the other options in this screen need to be used when you're just going to print the labels out.

2. Print your labels onto cardstock paper and cut them out. I was able to fit all mine on 2 sheets so there was minimal waste.

3. Use your glue stick or double sided tape to stick your labels onto patterned paper and cut them out. 
I used small sheets of scrapbooking paper that I bought at Target. When I cut out my labels I made sure to cut so that the unused part of the patterned sheet of paper could be used for a different project and not be wasted.

4. Laminate your labels. I don't have a laminator so I just used laminating sheets which was pretty easy since I could fit them all on one.

5. Cut out your labels. Use rubbing alcohol to clean the surface where you are going to place your labels. I used 3M Velcro Fasteners to stick the labels to the crate and they worked really well.
Pretty AND practical:

Do you have any favorite pieces that you use to organize or love the way you've organized a certain space of yours? Leave a comment or contact me and let me know!

Monday, April 22, 2013

hunters/gatherers + pedis + sneak peek!

This is what it looks like when a married couple + 3 visitors spend the weekend in said married couple's one-bedroom apartment:

Friday night. Celebrating Alyssa getting into the OT program:

Saturday while the boyos were hunting. Girly lunch, pedicures, and some drinks while we slaved away in the kitchen until our hunters & gatherers returned home. Sounds like a pretty traditional story you'd learn about in history class. Minus the pedicures.
Also, the center picture was taken on our way into the grocery store. We maybe should have done the grocery shopping pre - wet toenails + floppy flip-flops. And yes, we are extremely immature and could not stop laughing about the starter course menu.

Not pictured: we made delicious eats (homemade salsa, bruschetta, chicken wraps, and dessert) that will be shared with you soon. I can cross just a few more things off my gigantic Pinterest to-do list!

My perfect Sunday. After our guests headed home, I did a walk-through (picked up our place), threw in some laundry, and cleaned. Then I settled down to work on finishing my latest organizing project which will be featured on the blog AND at Limited Space Organizing tomorrow! Sneak peek:
Make sure you come back tomorrow to see how I made them!

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 19, 2013

friday's letters

this week's instagram action:

Dear Friday, I am so happy to see you this week. Lack of sleep has made this week feel like it's dragging. Dear Winter, go away. Everyone is so over you and wanting spring. Dear Husband, you are the best. Thank you for making me smile and making my life happy. Dear Wine, I tried to make a vow to avoid you Sunday through Thursday but you're like a clingy girlfriend that won't leave me alone and I just couldn't say no last night. You help me relax and bring me pure joy. Dear Readers, thank you. I am a new member in blogland just trying to survive :) No, but seriously, thank you for reading. I cannot believe how accepting and supportive you bloggy people have been. I absolutely look forward to learning much more, growing my blog, and meeting fabulous people. Dear Butt, get yourself in gear and get to the gym 5 days a week, you lazy shmuck. Dear Spotless Apartment, I love you. I just wish you weren't so needy and I wouldn't have to clean for 6 hours in order to feel this way. Dear Self, be grateful, let go of the little things, and soak up this fast-moving thing called life. Dear God, please watch over the people of our nation as those affected deal with the tragedies that have happened this week. Dear Friends, look for the good in life and spread love.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

42: sort of a review + prayers

"You want someone who doesn't have the guts to fight back?"

"No. I want someone who has the guts not to fight back."

"You give me a uniform. You give me a number on my back. 
I'll give you the guts."

This was my absolute favorite part of the movie. We went and saw 42 on Saturday night and it's one of those movies that just inspire you. There were funny parts, there were goose-bump parts, I cried, and I cringed. It's based on a true story about Jackie Robinson, the baseball player who was the first African American to play for a MLB team.

Rickey, the team executive for the Brooklyn Dodgers, is the man who decided to bring an African American into the white league. At the time, whites played in one baseball league, blacks played in a separate baseball league, and Rickey wanted to break this color barrier. Throughout the movie, you learn 2 reasons he wanted to do this: 1 // If the major leagues are supposed to be the best players in the nation, then it should include the BEST players, no matter the color of their skin. He knew that some of the players in the black league were far better than some of the whites playing MLB. And 2 // He wanted to make up for not standing up to an unfair situation due to racial segregation when he was playing baseball.

Rickey asked Robinson to join the white league and Robinson accepted. He played for the minor leagues, then eventually signed on with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the major leagues. Obviously because of segregation and racial inequality, all parties involved knew that it would not be an easy transition for anyone involved. Throughout the entire story, Rickey is there standing by Robinson, silently cheering him on, and motivating him to continue when Robinson feels like there's no way he can possibly put up with the verbal abuse.

The quote above is a conversation Rickey has with Robinson when he asked Robinson to join the league. I love the quote because it's so true that it takes more 'guts' or determination to not behave like cowards who are constantly putting you down. It's much harder to 'be the better person' in a situation than it would be to fight back. Robinson never did fight back. Rickey and Robinson's wife truly were his "rock" in any tough situation and helped hold him together. I'm not going to talk about too many more details because you really should see this movie. Robinson went on to be very successful, started being accepted by his teammates and other players, and the game of baseball was forever changed.

I saw this posted on instagram on Monday afternoon:
Then I saw it on facebook - about 14 times. And since then I think it's basically gone viral, but anyway. I had been planning on writing my post on 42. Then I thought about not writing it because it just didn't feel right to post 'So, I went to this movie. Loved it. Oh, and sorry about the whole Boston thing.' But really, Mr. Rogers quote can be relevant to many different types of "disaster".

With everything going on at the Boston Marathon since Monday, it's hard to feel like we even live in a world that has good people. There are sick people out there who do horrible things and it can be so easy to focus on that. What we forget, is that there are good people. In a world full of segregation and inequality, there was one white person who worked hard to break the color barrier in the sport of baseball. In a world of bombings and shootings, there are people helping. We have to remind ourselves of this in the midst of tragedies. It's not always easy, but if we don't the bad people win. If we don't remind ourselves of the good, life will be full of disappointment and despair.

If we don't focus on the good people, then what are we even living for? My prayers go out to Boston and my prayers go out to all the good people. I pray that you stay strong enough to live for the good. And you should go see 42.

Linking up for wildcard wednesday.

Monday, April 15, 2013

{weekend recap} the kind of weekends only grown-ups appreciate

another weekend has come and gone. 

i do like to be busy, but i honestly love the weekend where there's technically nothing on your schedule. nowhere to go, nowhere to be, you can just go where your heart takes you.
this was a great weekend - relaxing and extremely productive. it's the kind of weekend where you find yourself realizing that only 'grown-ups' truly appreciate weekends like this one. well apparently i'm a grown up because i was lovin it {loved marquis's post here about other ways you know you're a grown-up!} 

here are the highlights:
>> parks and i grabbed a bite to eat and enjoyed some fro-yo while running a quick errand at the mall. {More like I just had a Target craving so we grabbed a few 'necessities'.} got home, laid blankets and pillows on the living room floor to wind down with some Blue Bloods. << one way to combat becoming a grown-up: pretend like you're a kid again.

>> saturday morning i snagged the primo spot at the barnes & noble starbucks where i accomplished 3 things:
finally bought the young house love book!
did not purchase anything from their new vera bradley section
perfect and productive 'me' time
i won't bore you with the boring details of our saturday afternoon ... saturday night saw the movie 42 and it was phenomenal {review coming soon}.

>> i didn't leave our place on sunday. 
one reason, i was a cleaning machine. had some great coffee time in the morning to write some notes in my new blog 'journal' and read. then we went to town on our apartment. i like to call it remodeling, but you can't really remodel a one-bedroom apartment so it's more a combination of spring cleaning, organizing {my happy place :)}, and re-arranging. oh, and removing christmas/winter decor you can see below. you can also see a sneak peek of our desk area in our living room - making the most of a small space. in the near future there will be more where that came from.
second reason, it snowed and was blizzarding conditions here and no, i do not want to talk about it.

apparently this weekend i was instagrammin' like a fool so we'll let those take over from here.
for your viewing pleasure...

hope you had a great weekend! 
i also hope you're wearing spring sandals and ankle pants so i can live vicariously through you :)

you should follow me here so you don't have to wait until mondays to see my riveting weekend instagrams.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

after reading this you might not want to be my friend anymore

what are you passionate about?

there have been many times i've asked myself that question. why does it seem like such a hard question? i could tell you some of my hobbies, but am i passionate about them? i used to dance in high school and college. i was definitely passionate about that but it's not really a large part of my life anymore. my life is pretty average. a normal day includes exercise, work, a little cooking or cleaning, relaxation, and bedtime. i'm not in any clubs or sports or the like.

what are you passionate about?

it's super easy to answer that question for someone else. for example, my husband: he's passionate about hockey, sports, lifestyle wellness, and working with kids. i could go on and on and on about the reasons why i can tell he feels strongly about these things and wants to influence others in these areas. oh, and i'm sure he's passionate about me too :)

one night when i was thinking about this question i asked him what he would say i'm passionate about. who better to ask then my best friend in life and love? so he looked at me with that sort of huh? look and of course said "what do you mean?" and i said, "well if you were to describe to someone the things in life that your wife is passionate about, what would they be?" and here's what he said - and he numbered them in this order:

1. budgets
2. blogging
3. shopping
4. her husband's interests
5. being clean
6. family
7. being at the lake

hah! i laughed! how laaaame do i sound? budgets? being clean? serrrriously???

so he's just sitting there like what did i say that's so funny and then, i stopped laughing, looked at him, and said "well i guess you're right, though." because he is right.

1. i love budgets. i got my college degree in math so i love numbers, i like creating budget guidelines. (i don't so much like following them but you gotta get rich somehow!) i pay bills and manage our budget because i really kind of like doing it for the most part. and i'm pretty darn good at it, too.

2. blogging, obvs. i'm new to this whole other world in blogland but i love reading people thoughts, getting new ideas, and meeting new people. i can't wait to learn more and more as i continue.

3. he's right, i do love to shop. i love clothes, accessories, shoes, candles, bedding, even cleaning supplies (see number 6 above). target is my haven.

4. i think this is just part of loving someone. their interests become your interests. i would give anything for my husband to fulfill his dream of someday owning and running his own wellness facility. when you see someone's eyes light up when they talk about something you realize that you will do anything to help them get there.

5. i think that he meant being clean in our home and not things like showering and wearing deoderant. i don't mind cleaning and i like to live in a clean space. i do mind cleaning if it involves the bathroom for some reason. i always head into that baby fully-covered in rubber gloves up to my elbows.

6. my family are seriously my best friends. i feel so lucky for my relationship with my brother, the fact that we both enjoy our parents like they're our friends, and that my brother and i have both found love with 2 people who fit in perfectly.

7. the lake is my paradise. if everyday of my life was sunny, 80 degrees, and spent at the lake my life would be complete.

so maybe my passions are lame and maybe my life is just average but, man, am i blessed or what? i urge you to think about the reason you're here, acknowledge your passions, and celebrate your life. capeesh?

so maybe i'm boring and you might not want to be friends anymore and maybe you'll stop following me on bloglovin ;) but this is my life and i love it.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

H54F #4 | high five for friday!

it's one of those weeks for me where it's friday, but it feels more like thursday. which is great, because friday is toooootally better than thursday. 

1 // up until last night i was an essie virgin. never worn it, never bought it, never even held a bottle of it in my hands. i'm a huge opi fan, myself, because of the great colors and it's good quality and it lasts. but so far i am loving this muchi muchi so i hope it holds up well.

2 // i love this picture i snapped the other night just looking out our window. what i love most about it is that it was after 8:00 pm. having more hours of sunshine each day is oh-so-good for the soul.

3 // limited coupons came in the mail (with a lot of pictures of spring trends i am loving). i guess i'll have to go shopping. note to self: buy more at the limited so i get these coupons more often.

4 // i'm running a marathon relay in may with parks, my brother, and his girlfriend. my leg of the race is 5.7 miles which sounds miniscule compared to the 26.2 that the marathoners are running; however, right now i can run about 3. race is in 5 weeks. so there's that. tips appreciated.

5 // time with my husband last night. he didn't even realize i took a picture because he was so engulfed in the frozen four hockey game last night. my husband is a hockey fanatic, therefore i am as well. 

this weekend i'm thinking time for some spring cleaning [even though IT SNOWED HERE LAST NIGHT]. but you might remember i'm boycotting winter. so spring cleaning it is and maybe we'll even have some margs on the patio just to persuade mother nature to get her crap together.

how was your week? do you still have snow too or are you busting out spring sandals?
have a happy weekend!

linking up with lauren!

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