Thursday, February 24, 2011

In preparation for a long weekend

This weekend is going to be a nice long, four day weekend. Hooray!!! Jay and I and my friend Anne and her hubby Josh and a bunch of others are heading up to Copper Mountain for a long weekend of skiing, snowboarding and other shenanigans. Anne is the super duper planner of this extravaganza, and put me in charge of bringing dessert for the weekend festivities. Since I am not one to just go buy a pack of cookies from the store... it meant lots 'o' baking!!! My mom joined me in this endeavor....

First up.... BROWNIES!
Chocolatey goodness
I made this recipe last week and brought them to work. They were gone in no time. I saved one for Jay to try...his request? "Can I have a whole pan of these?" Done and Done.

Second dessert...CANDY COOKIES!
       Candy Cookies are a creation of The Pioneer Woman.  I made them a couple times before... but they are dangerously yummy. And seriously easy to make.  You start with the tube of premade cookie dough from the grocery store. Slice it. Then quarter the slices.

Mmmm....cookie dough
 Then you unwrap candy of your choice (mine was pb cups, of course)
 It is always nice to have a willing helper...
Hi willing helper!
 Stick the cookie dough in mini muffin tins and bake in the oven for a few minutes
 Then when they're all piping hot, stick the unwrapped candies in the middle.
 This creates a yummy, gooey, crunchy, chocolatey explosion of tastiness in your mouth. Seriously. Like drugs. But better.

 I made these around the holidays... but thought they were so tasty that I could easily bring them up to the mountains to share. I didn't actually bake them last night but.... thanks to my new (although quite old - no really, its old) standing mixer (THANKS MOM!!!!) I was able to quickly whip up the dough for the cookies.
Hello beautiful
The dough was chilled, rolled out and slathered with nutella. The rolled up cookie logs are sitting in my freezer...waiting for me to come home tonight after dance and slice and bake!

Depending on how timing goes... there will also be blueberry muffins in the oven tonight... but it all just depends. Either way, I have a boatload of tasty treats to share this weekend. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the crystal-ing process

Since I spent a better part of my Sunday morning gluing down crystals on my dance dress... I figured I would photo document how its going... and use it to step back and see what I like and where I want to add more crystals. So... for those of you who care where I glued down crystals... a photo documentation:
red crystals added to the neckline

a close-up of the cuff of my sleeve and part of my skirt

super close-up of the neckline

the whole dress...
I definitely will be adding more crystals to the cuffs of my sleeves. I wasn't sure how it would look, but I like it. I have the third color of crystals (fire opal) that I haven't used at all...mostly because I am not sure where they would look best. Suggestions, comments, etc., are always welcome. I know I have a whole lot more gluing ahead of me!

Monday, February 21, 2011

It cures what ails you...

What is that exactly? That would be one of those weekends that turns out to be unexpectedly great. Why so great? Well... I shall tell you.
Friday night was girls night! It was originally planned with Claire, Stacey and Julie... but ended up being just Claire and I. (Stace and Julie... we will plan another!!!) Claire and I decided to head to this bar right down the street from me, Charlie Brown's, since neither of us had been there before.

Neighborhood bars are great... this was true for us on Friday night. Claire and I had a great time gabbing, drinking, and taking in all the sites.

Saturday morning (not sure how) Claire and I got up and went for a short and sweet little run through my neighborhood. Despite its early morning chill, it was great to get up and go running... and gave Claire and I even more girly time!! Saturday afternoon consisted of me heading to dance and working my butt off. It was really great, but made me realize how much I still had to work on!! Jay had a pool tournament all weekend long...
So I finally got him to myself Saturday night so we could have dinner. Spicy Basil! Yummmm, thai food!

Sunday morning...he was back up and at it again. I kept myself amused my adding some crystals to my dance dress! Sparklies! I bought myself three different colors to be added to the dress...
Cobalt Blue
Fireopal and Siam Red
I purchased said sparkly additions at Tami's Place which I found while perusing the dance forums. Beautiful crystals and super quick delivery!!!
A close-up of the colors of my dress

Ignore my crazy face...but for this competition I had just a few crystals on my dress
 I added more all over the dress and could easily have spent all day gluing down those teeny-tiny crystals. Luckily... I had planned a private lesson for Sunday afternoon, to work on all those things that I haven't been doing well... and didn't know how to do at all.

The first thing on the lesson plan? Learning to do toestands. What is a toestand? A toestand is essentially this:
Only we do them in our hardshoes. Its basically the same concept (so says my teacher), you plant your shoe into the floor on the tip and pull up. Plant and pull. Like a giant rubber band. I understand the concept, but the actual maneuver is not quite there (without the help of a ballet barre for balance). But it will be.... I am determined! In the meantime, a few shots of our more experienced dancers doing toestands.

Toestands are not just for standing in one place... they are usually integrated into a step and therefore must be done while continuing to dance and move. Like I said.... I am working on it!!!
Sore leg muscles are my intro into this week... but it was totally worth it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Taking Advantage

This is what the 5 day forecast looks like:
Tonight Feb 17          Fri 18                    Sat 19                 Sun 20           Mon 21
Partly CloudyPartly CloudyPartly CloudyFew ShowersPartly Cloudy
Partly CloudyPartly CloudyPartly CloudyFew ShowersPartly Cloudy
Chance of Precip:
Chance of Precip:
Chance of Precip:
Chance of Rain:
Chance of Precip:

Why am I giving you a weather report? So you can understand that the last 5 days before... have been even NICER!!! No, really, believe it.

So I have taken advantage of the beautiful weather.

Do you know what happens when you have 60 degree days and you live only 7 blocks from work? Lunchtime runs. I start from work, and run until I need to be at home to shower and walk back to work. Perfect system. You know what else is so perfect about this system? I can literally see my running improve. The first day, my run was short (distance) because I ran out of time before having to head home and shower. The second day... just a little bit longer. The third? Even longer. It is the greatest motivation tool... watching an actual progression of betterment! (Is that a word?) Tomorrow? Should be even better.

What's more... while perusing the dance forums, I learned that the best cross training for Irish Dancers is to mix distance and speed. Sprints are great because thats what we do when we compete. We literally "sprint" through a dance, rest then "sprint" through another. Since I cannot run alone with my tunes to keep me going, I switched over to my dance music near the end of my run yesterday to try out "sprinting" for the length of my steps. It was nice! Counting out four 8 counts of music totally distracted me from my burning legs and lungs. Having the short rest between steps or "sprints" was perfect and let me cover more distance in my normal lunch hour.
I am looking forward to continuing to push the distance during my lunch runs and sprint through my dance timing. Hopefully it will result in longer runs and better stamina during dance. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Post Valentine's Day Post

Sometimes... I crack myself up. Post Valentine's Day Post? Hahahaha... sorry. I digress. Valentine's Day has come and gone... thankfully. But, being the chocolate lover that I am, I could not pass up the opportunity to indulge in more chocolate when I came across a recipe that required oreos...nutella...chocolate...and cream cheese.  Oreo Nutella Truffles!!!!
I managed to snag a picture of the remaining puppies before everyone in my office ate them:
In addition to these chocolate lovelies... I also received my V-day gift from my dad!! What does every Chicago-transplant want? Why... deep dish pizza and Eli's Cheesecake, of course!!
photo courtesy of Tastes of Chicago
Every once in a while... Dad will splurge and send out some yummy Chicago-style fare to his poor children in Colorado. Poor in the sense that we no longer have delicious deep dish pizza to assault our taste buds. So Dad heads here... to satisfy our cravings. Yum!!!

Double the treats to look forward to!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

I dislike this holiday, greatly. I always have. Mostly because until last year, I had never been with anyone on Valentine's Day. But also, because of the fact that its stressful on singles as well as couples. I mean, its the one day of the year that being single is just plain crappy. But, if you're in a relationship, its stressful to live up to the expectations of the holiday.
This year, Hallmark caught my attention with their "I love us" commercials. Because really, thats what loving someone is about. You love them but you love them with you. Jay agreed with me on that fact, and so we decided to "celebrate us" this weekend.
The "celebration of us" started off with a yummy homecooked meal on Friday night. It was our own version of surf-n-turf. Jay cooked up some steak, while I whipped together a mango salsa to top our yummy brown butter sauteed scallops! Paired with some linguine... it was a perfect dinner!
mango salsa...a first for me!
Saturday was breakfast out...followed by a fieldtrip to a basketball game. Jay's friend is coaching a young boys team, so we showed up to lend our cheers.
Saturday night we headed to dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange. While the food was tasty (rattlesnake, elk, buffalo, quail and ostrich!), the front of house service was subpar. I was pretty disappointed. Le sigh.
Sunday... was a lazy day. Slept in late, made homemade crepes with nutella (my fave!) strawberries, blueberries and bananas!!!! This was followed by an afternoon trip to Yogurtland...
so yummy!
And the weekend ended with a dinner out with beautiful Miss Stacey and her hubby Joe. We headed to Lola's in the highlands for that tasty meal. Not to be confused with Lala's in Capital Hill. Because... there was much confusion.

All in all, it was a great weekend to "celebrate us". I still dislike the Valentine's holiday and the stigma and social expectations it forces on the consumers of our time. BUT... I have to be pretty thankful, grateful and happy with the weekend of celebration.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A great thing...

...about living in Colorado is the never-ending supply of great tasting microbrews. Seriously. Beer is good :)
This is a tasty microbrew Jay and I tasted on Friday night. We each had different kinds, but there is nothing like a good burger and even better beer.

Red, Plaid and Blue

It was the name of the show that the Air Force Academy Brass and Percussion and the Shriner Pipes and Drums, the Rocky Mountain Highland Dancers and the Pipe Band Irish Dancers put on for the city of Cheyenne on Saturday night.

It was a long day, but the show turned out well. Considering we had practiced only twice altogether before.  Jay took the pictures of the show (and won himself yet another BEST BOYFRIEND EVER award - I may need to invest in some trophies or something). Here are a few from the show....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I don't know whether to be grateful that I no longer live in IL and am getting bombarded with snow... or jealous that everyone has a snow day.

We got snow on Monday. But only about 3-4 inches, not the massive amounts like the midwest is getting. No... we've just been dealing with subzero temperatures. Yesterday when I walked to work it was -19. Today, -15. Ummm.... can't we have a "cold day"? No work due to extreme cold? The schools in the area seem to be following this idea... sadly, not work.

Sigh. Monday... I snuggled down with the kitties and some comfort food - mac 'n' cheese! Yum. Last night... after the bitterly, bitterly, frigid and arctic temperatures... I decided that it was high time I learned how to make soup. Yes, soup. I got a nice big soup pot from my dad for my birthday (thanks Dad!).  Mr. Jay drove out in the cold night to be my guinea pig and snuggle with me since it was so cold.

Here was my (successful) attempt at making soup:
Tortellini soup!!!! I added some shredded cheddar to mine

Jay went with the plain jane soup
I picked up a loaf of crusty Italian bread and stuck it in the oven to warm... so for dinner, we had homemade Tortellini soup and warm crusty bread. Next time I am going to try making my own bread. :) Jay had no problems being my guinea pig, especially since he's feeling a bit under the weather. Which is in fact, totally my fault. Sorry, babe!!
Now to add more soups to my repertoire!!