Friday, August 31, 2012

Margarita Cupcakes: Let's get this weekend started!

Need a quick pick-me-up or fast party treat for this weekend's festivities?  If you answered yes, then I highly recommend these Margarita Cupcakes from Brown Eyed Baker. One of my co-workers sent me the recipe and I had to make it.  Next time I'll garnish the cupcakes with lime slices, but I didn't have enough limes to do that this time around. 

Here is how Michelle, author of Brown Eyed Baker, describes these cupcakes: 

"They are definitely not innocent. They are all things tequila and lime."

The hubs said almost the same thing when he acted as my official taste tester. 

Cupcakes Ingredients: Granulated Sugar, All-purpose flour, Salt, Butter, Vanilla Extract, Baking Powder, Limes, Eggs, Buttermilk, and Tequila 

You'll need two limes for this recipe.  1.5 limes for the cupcakes and then the remaining half of a lime to juice for the frosting.

I have a minor obsession with lime and lemon zest.  Anytime I can zest something I'm going to do it. I just love the smell.

I switched up the recipe and made mini-cupcakes rather than full size cupcakes. I just switched up the prescribed baking time from 25 to 18-20 minutes.

Frosting Ingredients: Butter, lime, course salt, powdered sugar, and Tequila.

You can definitely taste the tequila, especially in the frosting :)


I followed the directions to a T, except for a minor modification for the mini cupcake size baking time, and these came out great! I'll definitely be trying a few more recipes from Brown Eyed Baker in the future. 

What are you baking this weekend?  Any other favorite baking blogs you want to share? 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Signs your at a birthday party

Friday night I met up with friends, old and new, and celebrated Meaghan's birthday. The night had all the standard birthday party festivities that one would expect for a 25 year old. How are my friends so young? Wait, let's not pull at that thread. 

Back to the birthday fun:

1. Drinks aplenty at Southern Hospitality. I started the night off with a Sparkling Ginger (Prosecco, ginger infused Turbinado syrup, candied ginger served in a champagne flute) and it was so good that I need to figure out how to make this at home.

(amazing Sangria at Southern Hospitality in Adams Morgan)

2. Cool bar lights.  Seriously, I've always wanted a massive light in my house, but my low ceilings are not on the same page.  My parents have a massive two-story foyer and it's a life goal to buy them a huge light to show off their high ceiling.

3.  Fashionable clutches and pink gifts. Seriously, I think everyone at the bar picked up and coveted Ashley's gold clutch complete with gold knuckles.  I may or may not have said more than once that if a brawl started this was the clutch you wanted in your hands to protect yourself.  It seems I'm always mentally prepared to get out of a jam.

4-6. Cell phone & instragram mania, Happy Birthday singing, and candle blowing out traditions.

7. Food! Absolutely amazing pecan pie.  I should have gotten a picture of it, but almost everyone in our party got the Mac & Cheese and it received rave reviews.

8. Shots! These were some sort of coffee liquor shots and let me tell you after a long day of work and then heading out for dinner and drinks this was the perfect pick me up.

9. Smirky bartenders.

10. Girls nights with my train buddy! Friday night was out in DC and then Saturday night was PJ party to watch The Hunger Games in suburbia.  Thanks to Jodi for taking the picture above.  Chances are if I find a nice brick wall at a bar I'm going to want to take a picture in front of it.

Happy Birthday Meaghan! At 25 you can rent a car and not have to pay an underage fee. Welcome to your mid-twenties ... it's an awesome time.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Annapolis 10 Miler: 2012 Edition

(At packet pickup on Saturday afternoon)

The Annapolis 10 Miler was this past Sunday. I signed up to run the race last year, but unfortunately Hurricane Irene blew into town and the race was cancelled.  The hubs and I headed down to Annapolis on Saturday afternoon for the race expo and then had a yummy lunch at Galway Bay Irish Pub, which was our first meal at a Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives location.  

The weather wasn't great on Saturday. It was pretty humid out with spots of rain and sunshine. It didn't even come close to foreshadowing what was in store for us on Sunday morning.

On Sunday morning the alarm went off at 5:45am and the hubs was able to get the pups outside before the skies opened up and dropped a torrential downpour on our house. Then the thunder and lighting came and I thought, "awesome, maybe this whole A10 thing just isn't supposed to happen." 

I never had any intentions of PRing or all out racing the A10.  I've got my first 20 mile training running next weekend and the last thing I wanted to do was to race all out and be too tired this week.  The goal for this fall season is not a fast 10 miler or half marathon, but a strong 26.2.  However, I did want to run a smart race in the high 8s and/or low 9s.

The hubs came with me to this race because he was actually babysitting his friend's 10 month baby during the race so her mom could run.  I wasn't worried about running, I was worried about the hubs babysitting a baby all by himself for a few hours! 

Mother Nature was not in a good mood on Sunday morning.  It poured on and off the entire morning, but the rain slowed to a minor drizzle for the start of the race, but with thunder and lighting in the distance.  Somewhere around mile 1 the skies  unloaded again.  Honestly, I remembered running over a flat bridge and not only was it raining buckets of water, but hail was coming down too.  I don't think there were worse running conditions than at that point.  Getting pelted in the face with stinging rain and hail while getting pushed around by wind was absolutely brutal. 

My feet were so heavy from all the water that it felt like I was running in my Hunter Boots.  Most of the streets in downtown Annapolis were flooded near any water drains, so the runners were forced to the sidewalks in order to avoid running in mid-calf deep water.  It wasn't ideal at all.

The rain would swell and then stop for the first five miles of the race.  There were a few minutes of rain on the back half of the race, but the real weather wonder during the last five miles was the sun and heat.  Yes, you have to love a race in which its brutally cold and raining in the first few miles, but then the sun comes out and it gets wicked humid.  

It's like Mother Nature was bi-polar on Sunday morning!

The last five miles of the race was a series of rolling hills, including a high bridge, but I like hills and actually ran negative splits on the back half of the course.  That's what I was most proud about during the race! 

Final time: 1:31:50 and that comes to 9:11 mile average.  I'm a bit bummed to be over 9 minute miles, but I know how slow I was moving in the rain during the first few miles, so I'm not too upset by the time. 

I was pretty pumped to see the hubs and the babe prior to the finish line.  I may or may not have told the hubs that he's never looked hotter. Dude was holding a smiling ginger baby at a race. How is that not attractive?

The hubs, babe, and I camped out before the finish line waiting for the hubs' friend to finish.  Look, I know all babies are sweet and adorable, but this kid is actually the coolest kid in the world.  She didn't nap, eat, drink, or poop while hanging out with the hubs for a solid 2 hours on a Sunday morning.  More importantly, she didn't cry or get fussy at all. The hubs didn't have a stroller because it was raining so hard and the ground was so muddy, so he camped out in the car during the downpour, but the rest of the morning he walked around and carried a little girl in his arms.  He didn't even complain that he had to carry a diaper backpack. 

While waiting for our friend to finish I got to watch the hubs dote on this little girl. The highlight of my day was watching the hubs' friend see us before the finish line and she came over and carried the babe across the finish line.  The babe was laughing hysterically and clapping as she crossed the line. It was so cute. 


Final Stats:
Overall Time: 1:31:50
Overall: 1627/3900
Average Mile: 9:11
Place AG: 52/185

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cerulean and White: A near death experience

I almost died twice while taking these outfit pictures.  I had a witty blog entry in my head connecting cerulean and "The Devil Wear's Prada," but then life happened and I nearly died. 

First, I found out the hard way that my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L is too heavy for my rinky-dink, old tripod. I almost died watching my camera dip down in slow motion. I'm pretty sure I out sprinted Usain Bolt because I'm still not sure how I got to my camera in time before it tipped over and fell to the ground. Of course I did this while wearing a white skirt and four inch heels.  You know those stories about women who lift cars off of trapped kids during times of crisis? I think it was one of those type of moments because my camera gear is my baby. 

So after the first brush with death, when my heart almost exploded, I marched inside and found my old kit lens for my camera.  I actually toyed with selling that thing and I'm glad I didn't.  Clearly until I upgrade to a cooler tripod for self-portraits the kit lens is the only one I'm putting on the camera.  

Five minutes later I took this picture: 

and thirty seconds after the shutter closed on this picture a stupid squirrel ran into my yard and that prompted Jax and Jewels to tear across the yard after the squirrel.  Jax, my beloved clumsy boy, took the most direct path he could take to the squirrel and that path happened to include the exact location of my freshly setup tripod.  He's also the same dog that will run into a wall in order to come down with a tennis ball which means I shouldn't be surprised that he took out a tripod. 

The camera actually hit dirt this time around. I'm going to take back every negative thing I've ever said about the previous owners of my house and how they made my backyard into one massive sandpit.  Sand is soft - very, very, very soft. It just so happened that my tripod slowly shifted in the sand and then gently landed on its side. 

At this point I don't know why I didn't call it a night and start drinking wine. It's probably because I wasn't wearing a single item of black and needed to document that for all prosperity's sake. Let's be honest, that's NOT happening again any time soon. 

Pups went inside and I took this outfit-post-party to the deck for some more sure footing.

I had to give this white skirt another run for its money before Labor Day comes and ruins the whole white thing.  Can I claim that I live south of the Mason Dixon Line and the "no white after Labor Day" rule doesn't apply? 

Top: Anne Klein // Skirt: Banana Republic // Belt: Unknown (borrowed from the hubs!) // Shoes: Tod's (scored for $29.97 at // Purse: Kate Spade // Sunnies: Cole Haan // Necklace: Stella & Dot // Watch: Citzen's Eco Drive // Bracelet: BaubleBar

Random sidebar: I need to stop thinking of my hair as in the "growing out phase."  I feel like I just chopped it into a bob a few days ago, when actually that happened in January... of 2011.  I've been stuck in this routine the past four years where I grow out my hair, chop it into a bob, grow it out, chop it into a bob, rinse, lather, and repeat. I think part of it is my belief that if I'm going to pay money to have my hair cut then I'm going to get it CUT! None of this trim crap. Cut it or go home.

This could be why I trusted only my dad to cut my hair as a kid after some horrible woman chopped it off when I was in the third grade. I don't think it was until after I graduated from high school and I donated 16 inches of my hair that I actually let someone else besides my dad cut my hair.  I'm very weird like that.

I think I need to take a friend with me to get my hair cut and have the friend be adamant to the stylist, "do not give her a bob and whatever she says do not give her bangs!"

That sounds like a solid plan. :)

Anyone have a mid-length hair style they highly recommend? Clearly I'm in the market. 

Thus concludes the most random post ever. Honestly, I drank two glasses of homemade wine my neighbors brought to the pig roast  after the whole heart nearly exploding, twice, events of the evening. That could be why it's kind of random. :) 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Caprese Panini: No Panini press needed

My stomach has been craving a panini lately, but I kept thinking, "I don't have a panini press so I guess that's not going to happen." Really, that was my stumbling block!  I mentioned making a panini to the hubs and it took him 2 seconds to come up with a makeshift panini press.  This definitely goes down as one of the positive perks of being married to an engineer. 

Over the weekend I was at Wegman's and saw this amazing Jalapeno and cheddar loaf of bread and I immediately thought, "I'm going to use you to make paninis." 

Tools: Griddle, Small Cast Iron Grill Pan (Here's ours - Made in the USA!), and Aluminum Foil 

You're going to cover the cast iron grill pan with aluminum foil so it won't stick to your paninis when they're on the griddle. 

Ingredients: Thick-sliced Bread, Mozzarella Cheese, Basil Pesto Sauce, Tomatoes, and Olive Oil 

I slathered on some basil pesto sauce on both pieces of bread and then piled on the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.  I lightly brushed on some olive oil on the outside pieces of bread in order to make the bread "crunchier" when it cooked on the griddle. 

Warm up your griddle to medium low heat and throw your paninis down on that bad boy.  Place the cast iron grill pan on top of the paninis and press down.  The aluminum foil keeps the grill pan from sticking to the paninis and you can press down on the aluminum foil without getting your hand hot (honestly, I didn't test it out, but the cast iron pan itself shouldn't be too warm either!). 

Cook for a few minutes on each side. I really pressed my paninis down when I flipped them.  

Eat when done! I like to slice my panini in half, but that's totally up to you. 

These are perfect for lunch or a light dinner.  I added in a small side salad and I was good to go. I wish I would have figured this out earlier in the summer because these are such a quick and low-energy meal that they're perfect for the heat of summer. 

Any other panini recipes you'd like to share?  Now that I have my method together I need to make a few more paninis. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Athletes: What fuels you?

I had to pick up more running fuel over the weekend and the display above was just one of many at a local sporting goods store.  

Needless to say, there are a TON of options out there for athletes. I'm trying to experiment more with my fuel intake this training season in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon, but my sensitive stomach keeps me reaching for my tried and true products rather than taking a chance on something new. 

One thing I won't be reaching for: Gatorade.  I've never been a huge fan of the stuff and then after a horrible experience during the Philadelphia Marathon I haven't touched the stuff since. My guess is it's the high sugar content in Gatorade and my stomach just can't handle it. 

The hubs, on the other hand, freaking loves him some G2.  He used to do straight Gatorade, but he's since become a bit more conscious of his own sugar intake that he's made the switch to G2.

On thing the hubs won't drink: plain water. It's the weirdest thing, but he insists on having flavored water rather than regular plain water.  I feel like we're constantly having this battle in our house: 

After a few hit or misses with various fuel products I came across these Sport Beans. If I'm completely honest, I think I tried them for the sole reason they were listed at being available somewhere around mile 18 during my first marathon.  That was really my fueling strategy for my first marathon - try everything available on course and see what tastes the best.  

The watermelon flavor is my absolute favorite! However, I can't usually find it everywhere so when I do I tend to buy lots of it. 

Next in line is the assorted packages and I can usually find them everywhere. 

I love that the Sport Beans come in resealable packages, so it's not a messy to open them up an hour into a race and then keep dipping back into the package throughout the course of the race.  They also fit perfectly in a wrist pouch or back pocket.  

Just a few weeks ago I bought my first package of Nuun  Active Hydration Lemon+Lime tablets. I saw these at my grocery store of all places and I've heard of Nuun before so I thought I'd give them a try. 

I picked these up because they were marketed as an electrolyte supplement without the sugar of most sports drinks.  The sugar has always been my issue with Gatorade, so I thought if this was like Gatorade, but without the sugar then it might be perfect for me.

So far so good! I break a tablet in half prior to running and drop it in my CamelBak. Then, when I refill my pack on the back half of my run I drop another half a tablet into my pack.  I really like the flavor and I haven't had a problem yet with my stomach.

The only concern I have is I don't race with my CamelBak. Instead, I rely on the water on the course to quench my thirst during a race.  I thought that would be fine because that's what I've done for my previous races, but now that I'm liking the Nuun so much I'm having second thoughts. I can't figure out a way to get Nuun on the course without carrying my own water.  I think relying on the hubs or a family member to toss me a bottle of water with Nuun in it during a marathon would be risky. What if they don't see me? What if they forget to add the tablet?  What if I drop the silly bottle? What if my family members aren't at a race? 

What do you use as your fueling strategy?  Do you different something different depending on the distance?  Do you keep the same routine for training runs as you do races?  

Monday, August 20, 2012

2nd Annual Pig Roast

Dear vegetarian and vegan friends: Skip this post! There's a lot of meat here.

Just a few short weeks after the hubs and I moved into our house last summer the guy had a crazy idea to throw a pig roast.  It was kind of nuts considering we still had a lot of unpacking to do, but I'm a fan of parties so I went along with his crazy notion.

We had so much fun that we decided to throw a pig roast every August.  When it came time to pick the date for this year's festivities we kept hearing from folks that the second weekend in August was good for them.  That happened to be our five year wedding anniversary and we didn't want to throw an "anniversary party" and therefore we didn't market the pig roast as an anniversary party. 

Silly me forgot to take pictures during the party, but thankfully I have a few to share that a fellow party-goer took with my camera.  I was kind of busy hosting a party for 80 people! 

The festivities began with the hubs purchasing an 8lb brisket from Wegman's.  Apparently the cashier asked him, "you'd buy the whole cow if you could, wouldn't you?"  The hubs immediate response, "do you have one?"

He marinated the brisket and started cooking it at 8:30am! Dude has dedication. 

As a small nod to our wedding I made a desserts table.  The hubs and I had a blue and white candy buffet at our wedding and this time around I ditched the candy and the color scheme, but kept the sweets flowing. My dad's favorite dessert is pineapple upside down cake and I was more than happy to make it for him. Seriously, I think he ate about half of it. 

Red velvet cupcakes have kind of become my signature treat! I think it's because I'm a red head. 

I do happen to have a few vegetarian and vegan friends, so I thought I'd throw them one and make the easiest vegan cupcakes in the world.  Non-vegetarian friends thought they were yummy as well. 

The hubs has really been getting into his grilling this year and has been making his own BBQ sauces.  He made four of his more popular sauces to add to our condiment selection. Even better is I love it when the hubs asks, "can you go to the craft store and pick up mason jars?"  Don't mind if I do! And come home with a few other things! 

In addition to the pig and brisket, the hubs also manned the grill during the beginning of the party and made hot dogs, chicken wings, and hamburgers. Basically if it was a standard BBQ meat product the hubs grilled it! 

I bought bubbles and smores ingredients for the kids, but I guess I forgot that the main attraction for the adults was the pig! 

I haven't shared previously, but after making one too many rounds of Jack and Coke slushies this summer I bought a better blender! Thank goodness because the hubs and I stock piled frozen Coke cubes in freezer bags so I could mass produce Jack and Coke slushies for the pig roast.  I don't think my old blender would have been able to handle the work load.  

Things were going great at the party.  The weather was cooperating. The kids were being adorable playing with sticks, chasing each other, blowing bubbles, etc. The adults were having fun noshing, playing corn hole, and ladder golf.  Things were looking good.

Then mother nature said, enough of this!

And it started to POUR!  I've got to say, it was awesome because it was all hands on deck. Every single person grabbed something and pulled it into the house.  Thankfully it didn't start to rain until around 7pm, so by that time a lot of folks were getting ready to head out anyway.  

I knew once I saw the shots being poured inside that the party was taking a different turn.  The kids went home and the drinking games began!  I finally went to bed at 1:30am and told the guys outside that if they fell asleep with the fire pit still burning the fire would be the least of their worries!  Somewhere around 10pm it stopped raining and we went back outside and made smores.  I guess adults like smores just as much as kids.

The hubs and I had a great time and we were even glad to have a few friends crash at our house. Drinking and driving is NOT cool and we were more than happy to let a few guys sleep things off at the house.  They even appreciated me distributing bottles of water in the morning.  

Looks like we're going to continue to throw a pig roast every August. Hopefully, next year I remember to take a few pictures of all the little things the hubs and I did to make the party a good time. 

This year's pig roast will certainly always hold a special place in our hearts. Call us sappy, but it was amazing that so many of our friends and family came to our house.  Our family members knew it was our anniversary and I'm so grateful that so many members of my family made the trek down from New Jersey and New York.

The icing on the proverbial cake: the 80 guests we had.  At first we thought we had 79 guests and then the hubs thought that we should say 80 because two guests were very pregnant. His rational, two pregnant ladies eat enough for three people.  Turns out, I didn't write down one of our guests name and once we added him in that brought us up to 80 people.  (The hubs and I are total nerds and we track how many people come to a party versus how much food is consumed that way we can make adjustments, if needed, in the amount of food for the next party.)

80 people. The exact same number of people we had at our wedding five years ago.  Thankfully, the weather was a bit better on our wedding day, but we'll take a little rain during a pig roast over rain during our  outdoor wedding ceremony any day of the week.

Marital bliss it is.