Friday, October 29, 2010

J & A Chronicles: Anniversary of Our 1st Date

Every year on March 25, J and I go on a date.  We do this to commemorate our 1st date, the day that started it all.  This was the 2nd anniversary of our first date.  J told me he had a surprise for me and was taking me somewhere nice.  I was THRILLED!  He had planned something and it was a surprise and I had nothing to do with it! WOO!!
He told me to go and get a new dress, shoes, the whole nine yards.  What would any NORMAL girl think?! That's right --I thought that would be the night.  I was so excited.
He took me to an amazing French restaurant.  It was quiet and romantic and had the perfect ambiance. At the time, I thought he seemed nervous and he kept putting his hands in his lap.  In retrospect, he may have just done this because it was a little warm in the place. He looked so good that night and I just could hardly contain myself!
We had seared Tuna as an appetizer.  I had the steak and he had chicken coq au vin. Everything was amazing - even the vegetables!  After dinner we ordered creme brulee -- it was my first ever. We were very pleased with the food quality and service. After our 3 course meal, J paid and we went home.  We walked in the house and he changed clothes and plopped down on the couch. To say I was surprised is an understatement.  I really thought he was going to ask me.  *sigh* Oh well -- I knew he would I just didn't know when, which is how it should be.  Little did I know I would only be waiting another 15 days!
Hanging out After Our Big Date

Thursday, October 28, 2010

::Recipe:: Brown Sugar-Pecan Cupcakes & Caramel Frosting

Dessert HAS to be my favorite part of a day.   I LOVE dessert and anything sweet.  I prefer cupcakes to cake, which is why as part of my Day Zero Project, I decided to make 20 different kinds of cupcakes. This is my second cupcake recipe!


{FOR THE CUPCAKES}Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
Please pardon my crappy phone pic - I couldn't find my camera

1. Place rack in bottom third of the oven; preheat to 350*F.  Spray  muffin pan with nonstick spray. Line with muffin cups.
2. Whisk both flours, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt in medium bowl.  Stir in chopped pecans.
3. Beat butter in large bowl until smooth.  Add brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions.  Beat in sour cream and vanilla.
5. Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed just to blend.  Divide batter among muffin cups.
6. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes.

1. Stir sugar and 1/4 cup of water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.  Increase heat to medium -high; boil until syrup turns deep amber, swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, 6 to 7 minutes.
2. Remove from heat; add cream (mixture will bubble up). Stir over low heat until caramel bits dissolve. Whisk egg yolks in medium bowl. Very gradually whisk hot caramel into yolks. Cool to room temperature.
3.Using electric mixer, beat butter and salt in large bowl until smooth.  Beat in caramel. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  let stand at room temperature until thick enough to spread, about 1 hour.
4. Spread frosting over cupcakes. Place pecans on plate. Roll edges of cupcakes in nuts.

The cupcake part is AMAZING! I ate one this morning without any topping! it's so good!  I was a little skeptical while making the caramel topping ... the white sugar was going to turn amber?! It did! I think next time I will add more than the 1 cup of powdered sugar to have more of a frosting rather than a topping but it was DELICIOUS!

::Recipe:: Chicken Pad Thai

A couple weeks ago a friend of ours hosted a party where they served a variety of Thai food.  At the end of the party, we were provided with a copy of the recipes.  My favorite was the Chicken Pad Thai. So I decided to make it for J and I one night this week.

4 ounces Thai Kitchen Stir-Fry Rice Noodles
2 tblps vegetable oil, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
6 tblsp Thai Kitchen Original Pad Thai Sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup coarsely chopped unsalted peanuts
  • Bring 4 cups water to boil in medium saucepan. Add rice noodles; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until noodles are tender but firm. Rinse under cold water; drain well. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large skillet or wok on medium-high heat. Add egg; scramble until set. Remove from skillet. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add chicken; stir fry until cooked through. Add rice noodles, Pad Thai sauce and green onions; stir fry 3 to 4 minutes or noodles are tender.
  • Stir in bean sprouts and scrambled egg. Place noodle mixture on serving platter. Sprinkle with peanuts. Serve with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.
We really enjoyed this dish and it's fairly simple.  I probably would have added more of the Thai Sauce but it was really wonderful.  I even took it for lunch the following day =)

 **You can find this and other recipes at the Thai Kitchen website

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wanton Wednesday

There a lot of things that go on in my head -- lots of various thought and random happenings in my life.  Today I am sharing some of that with you...not so much the random thoughts but just an amalgamation of crap. =)
{1}If anyone watched the pre-game shows on NFL this past Sunday, they may have had the fortune (or mis-fortune depending on your team) of seeing this:

If nothing else -- it made me laugh - A LOT. and made me cheer a little inside. MOSTLY because the owner of my company lives and breathes Romo and a girl I work with thinks Manning is amazing. I of course, think otherwise, but it was nice to see 'professionals' agree with me =) PS -- it's ok if you disagree, to each their own =) AND clearly, these men are good at what they do or they wouldn't be NFL players.

{2} J and I accidentally crossed a movie off our Day Zero Project movie list.  It was on USA without commercials! YES!
Pretty Woman
Isn't Julia just MARVELOUS!?
{3} Monday morning I ran out of my all time FAVORITE eye liner!! It's by Pop Beauty and the type is Cat Eyes. I love the shape of the tip and the color: Black Dahlia.  It's ALMOST black but it has a hint of deep purple in it so it doesn't look so stark.  I LOVE it! This eyeliner is a good investment for me because it's relatively inexpensive and lasts a LONG time -- long as in about 10 months! That is like $1.80 a MONTH! Not bad =)

{4} My cousin, Corley, is getting married next year, and asked me to design their wedding invitations.  Her and Eric are using a petal 'envelope' and these are the 4 designs I sent them after a few back and forth emails with Corley. I won't tell which they picked because some of our family follows and I want it to be a surprise.  Oh also, they are colored but I'm telling what the colors are either =)  Each has a different font that she was able to choose from -- and I left off the last names and place of their wedding.  I will post the final product once we receive our invitation.
{5} Now that I have run a race, I find myself checking out others. I want to run more. I want to group run and most of all, I want to continue training with my girls!  It's so nice to have that time to ourselves -- I know i feel super productive.  Not only are we working out together but we get to catch up on things! YAY!

{6} Some of you know that I have been hunting for a new face wash.  It seems like what everyone else is using, doesn't work for me -- dries my skin out, makes me peel/red, breaks me out.  Well I finally found something that works for me! My skin is clearing up so nicely and it's a lot less red! WOO! I'm not saying it will work for you but it did for me =)  The product is: Clean & Clean Foaming Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin!
{7} Our one cup coffee maker pooped out on us just when I discovered a creamer I enjoyed.  Monday night we were out shopping and decided to get a 5 cup coffee maker, as it's the same price as the 1-cup.  NOW we needed to find a coffee to take home or a creamer.  I found a new coffee that I LOVE!! Too bad it's seasonal -- maybe I'll just need to stock up on it before the end of the holiday season.
{8} I determined a couple nights ago that I have a really difficult time focusing and being very productive on 3 hours worth or sleep.  Studies have shown that the average person does need more than 5-6 hours of sleep..although I have a very good friend who requires 8 hours or she'll punch you in the face haha! Just kidding - she's just a lot less social without 8 hours. I love her with or without her sleep =)

{9} I adore Darius Rucker.  I have been a huge fan since he was with Hootie and the Blowfish! For those of you unfamiliar with country music or living in a box, he has gone solo in country music.  Two years ago, he released his first album, Learn to Live, and two weeks ago he released his second: Charleston, SC Circa 1966.  I LOVE it! The cd is more fun and more uplifting than the first.  I think he was playing into the melodrama that country music tends to be but this album is amazing! PLUS I LOVE his voice -- it's so distinct!

{10} Is it sad that I am super impressed with my happy alliteration title?! My little sister is a teacher and blogs about it over at Chronicles of a First Year Teacher.  She corrects me a LOT for my spelling/grammar/made up words/etc.  It has been a lot of fun seeing what a teacher goes through, especially within the first year of adjustment.  She JUST started teaching at the beginning for the 2010/2011 school year.  Check her out -- it's very intersting and she just started a page called "Kids These Days" -- random quotes/funnies from her students.  I can tell you this -- I had NO idea how much is involved in planning/grading/etc. 

{11} I found a photo editing software online that is close to Photoshop! It's  I really like the features they give -- like I said it's very similar to photoshop BUT there isn't nearly the learning curve. AND it's free =)

I guess that does it for me for now.  I hope you all have a Wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

M's Birthday

This past weekend was M's birthday.  J took him and a couple buddies fishing first thing Saturday morning -- first thing being they left the house at 5 AM! good thing I had to be up that early already for my run/race.
That night, CC (M's wife and my good friend) had the great idea to have dinner and fondue at their house.  Everyone chipped in to help with the cost of all the food and we all brought some drinks.
M (birthday boy) & CC

My Little Sis

CC's rice krispie treats -- they are ADDICTING!
The fondue made the party interesting.  CC bought chocolate chips to melt in the fondue pots BUT no one read any kind of directions.  i didn't know what you were supposed to do with fondue that wasn't the baker's chocolate...EVERYONE had an opinion/tip to give to us.  In the end, we added everything from milk to butter to Bailey's Irish Cream to a liquor to rum&coke!
You can see in the back of this picutre - a friend adding his rum and coke to the mix!
How many people does it take to make fondue?!
It ended up being really yummy but it was quite the comedic event -- seeing how many people it took to make fondue and what ingredients we ended up using.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My First Race

SO this past weekend I ran my very first race...ok so not my VERY first. I ran cross country my sophomore year in high school but that was like ten years ago!  I haven't raced since that year, though I have threatened to several times. 
My very good friend Christina has talked me into a 1/2 marathon.  In theory, this is awesome and fabulous! In reality, it scares the crap out of me! How am I going to be able to RUN 13.1 miles?! "Easy" she says - "we'll train"!  You will have noticed that I have tracked my running since that fateful day that she asked.
October 23rd was our 8 mile day. Christina's fiance, (also a) J, and his company were running a 5k and needed participants.  She asked me and I agreed.  We still had to get the first 5 miles in for the day though.
We (Christina, her J and I)  met bright and early on Saturday morning and drove to the race site. we were well over an hour early to make sure we had plenty of time to run the 5 miles. 
And time we had! We ran the five miles mostly in the dark -- yeah it was that early lol. I felt good...our pace was a little sporadic but that's ok, the three of us were tired from lack of sleep the night before.  We finished and had THIRTY minutes to stand around and wait for the race to start.  ICK! My legs were starting to feel heavy and my energy was dwindling.  How would I SURVIVE?!
We met up with people from J's company and some of his family who were joining.  I tried to keep moving and not remain stationary.  At last it was race time!
I felt pretty good for the first 1.5 miles -- although I had Thunder Foot running right in my ear.  You know that person, the one that runs so LOUDLY you think they are coming to get you and stomp you in the ground.  Luckily he wasn't able to keep our pace by 1.5 miles. 
We hit the 2 mile mark, and though I was feeling winded and my quadriceps hated me, I was still feeling good.  Then we hit 2.5 and I wanted to burst into tears! I was tired, my legs hurt and I needed something to drink in a terrible kind of way.  Christina and her fiance were trying to be so supportive and I love them for that but I HAD to slow down a little.  I was also mad at myself -- I know I had a million reasons why this felt hard but I feel I'm in pretty good shape and, still, I had to slow down. 
They finished a whole 11 seconds in front of me -- it would have been more but I dug deep and strided out the last tenth of a mile.
For the 8.13 miles we ran that morning, we timed 1 hour 18 minutes, averaging JUST UNDER 10 minute miles. I think I would have felt a lot better had we not had the break for 30 minutes. For the race, I finished 9th in my age group and 28th of 165 female runners.
In two weeks we are doing something similar to this again -- 6 miles and then a 5K. Hopefully we can time it a little better so the waiting time isn't so long.

Friday, October 22, 2010

J&A Chronicles: The Strawberry Festival

Every year in Plant City, there is a Strawberry Festival and every year that I have been with J, he has taken me.  It only lasts about 10 days and is a fair filled with food, crafts, vendors, carnival rides/games, and musicians - some of which are big names!
The first year, we went just the two of us.  We had a blast and ate more than we care to remember -- but that's part of the experience!
The second year we went, we took J's parents.  They hadn't been before (shocking since they have lived here forever) and I think we all had a really good time together! =)  I am already looking forward to going back this year.

Don't forget, if you go -- try the fresh chocolate covered strawberries and YOU HAVE to get the strawberry shortcake! YUM! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

DIY Headband: Tutorial

I was over at Skinny Runner (last week?) and she was hosting a giveaway from  They are these SUPER cute bands that you wear on your head, that don't slip off and they hold your hair back.  I, of course, jumped at the chance to win one!  These would be just PERFECT for running (it's what Skinny Runner uses them for too) I didn't win, no surprise lol.  After staring at the picture she posted of hers for a bit, I determined I am crafty enough that I could probably make something similar!

Velvet Ribbon
Sewing Machine

1. Cut the Ribbon and velvet to length.  I used about 2.5" of elastic and made sure it would stretch far enough to stay on my head well - but not too tight or loose.
2. Lay ribbon and velvet together, wrong sides together.
3. Sew the elastic end between the velvet and ribbon ends.
4. Sew along the length of the ribbon, attaching the velvet to the ribbon.  I suggest using a longer stitch to keep the ribbon from getting too tight and rippling at the edges.
5. When you reach the end, repeat step 4 and then 3. 
I went running immediately after making this and it didn't move AT ALL! I was impressed.  I will end up making some fashion head pieces as well as a variety of workout pieces.  These are quick, cheap and so fun!  My sis already asked me to make her one.  The possibilities for themes and colors and patterns are endless! =) YAY!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DIY Halloween Mask: Mini-Tutorial

So finances are tight here in our household BUT we are invited to a couple Halloween parties, ONE of which we are not allowed to attend without costume.  So what could we do???  We don't need to be spending lots of money on a costume that we will only wear once...  I know! A masquerade type theme!! AND I already have the perfect outfit: a hot red dress and some amazing black shoes!  Now all I need is a DIY mask! 
Anngela, from Anngela's Pretty Little Things came over and we set out to collect supplies! She is making hers for a themed bachelorette party: how fun!

Paint (optional)Lace
Sparkle trim
Hot Glue gun and glue
Spray adhesive

As you can see from our picture -- we had WAY more than we needed.  We weren't sure what would and would not work.  I cheated on mine and bought a gold mask.  Anngela bought a plain white mask and painted hers pink. 
First -- (Anngela painting hers was first but I didn't paint mine so this is my first step lol!) I cut some of my lace and decided how I wanted it on my mask.  Then I sprayed the adhesive onto the mask -- holy cow it was THE stickiest spray adhesive EVER! I proceeded to glue down the lace onto the mask.
The next step was adding the feathers -- I part my hair from right to left so I put the feathers on the right side.  We used the spray adhesive when adding the feathers
We decided to add some lace trim, using our hot glue gun, around most of the mask but thought it looked a little awkward going all the way down on to the face and nose so we nixed that portion.
Our final touch was a little bit of sequin trim around the eyes -- we thought it gave it a really finished look. =) 
We are super excited with the finished product and are considering having some sort of themed party or girls night out so that we can wear them again! WOO!
I can't wait to wear the full outfit!! Now I need to add some accents to J's hat so that his costume will tie in with mine!