Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Good times with great friends...

This past week, Cam and I had our friends Jeff and Laura in town (as evidenced by my baking posts, I don't normally make cake and cupcakes in the same week!) and it was so great to be able to spend some time with them. Cam and I don't have many "married friends" yet, and as a couple, oftentimes it's hard to find another couple where both you and your spouse really enjoy both people's company. During college, I knew Jeff and Laura each separately before they started dating, and then Cam was friends with them before we started dating as well. So ever since Cam and I got together, it's been such a blessing to have these wonderful friends that can really relate to what we're going through since they are in the same season of their life.

During their visit, we were able to do some fun Colorado activities, as well as just relaxing and enjoying each other's company. Here are some photos from their visit, I can't wait to see them in their new place in Detroit when we go back to Michigan next month!

The night that they arrived, we went to see Death Cab for Cutie at Red Rocks Amphitheater...seeing a show here was something on Jeff's bucket list, and I'm so glad that we were able to go!
These pictures are a little dark, but the venue is so gorgeous!

Jeff & Laura
Glowy picture of Cam and I--note to self, don't wear a romper when you are going to have to use a port-a-potty...let's just say that was a less than ideal situation!
Waiting for the show to start!
Sweet Laura and I at lunch in Boulder
Jeff & Laura were also visiting another couple they're friends with who live out here in Colorado, so Sunday we all had a picnic in Wash Park in Denver--here's a shot of the boys: Cam, Pete, and Jeff
Wash Park was so nice and it's in such a cute neighborhood...there were tons of people playing volleyball which made for some great people watching!
Laura, Pete's lovely wife Anne, and Yours Truly :) It was so nice to meet Pete & Anne, especially since Cam and I don't really know many people out here yet!
That's all I've got for today kids, but check back later this week because I have more pictures from Jeff and Laura's visit...we did something else while we they were here that was just way too exciting/too many photos to fit in this post! Later alligators! :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hello Cupcake

Happy Monday everyone, hope that your weekend was fab! Cam and I had a great time enjoying the company of our friends this weekend, and while I have pictures and stories to share from their visit, I had to show you this first:

Yummy yummy yummy got in my tummy this weekend in the form of Oreo Cupcakes!

Saturday night, Laura and I decided to have some girl time and whip up a batch of cupcakes for the picnic we had yesterday. Initially, we couldn't decide what kind to make, but in the end we realized pretty much everybody likes Oreos (I mean how can you not like an Oreo?!) so that seemed like the best flavor choice. We actually combined two different recipes because we used one for the cupcakes and a different one for the frosting, along with making a few modifications, so here is my recipe:

Oreo Cupcakes

Cupcakes (via Lemon Drop)

24 Oreo cookies, regular size, for bases
24 Oreo cookies, regular size, used to top off the cupcakes once frosted
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I'd recommend using a dark chocolate cocoa powder because you really want these cupcakes to be dark, almost black, like the color of an Oreo)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

PREHEAT oven to 350F
LINE 2 muffin pans (12 muffin cups each) with paper liners

PLACE an Oreo cookie in the bottom of each liner
IN A LARGE BOWL, sift together first 5 cupcake ingredients
ADD SALT and stir until combined
IN BOWL OF STAND MIXER, fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter 2 minutes HIGH speed
GRADUALLY add in brown sugar and beat MED/HIGH speed for 5 minutes
ADD VANILLA and mix until blended
ADD EGGS, one at a time combined thoroughly after each addition
ADD 1/3 flour mixture, mix until just combined
ADD 1/2 cup of buttermilk again mixing until just combined.
REPEAT pattern ending with buttermilk
WITH a cookie scoop, dollop batter on top of cookies in paper liners. Do not fill liners to the top. Keep it around 1/2 full
BAKE 18-22 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
LET COOL in pan 5 minutes then transfer cupcakes to cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting

Frosting (inspired by recipe Life Tastes Like Food, but modified)

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened at room temperature
1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar (this has to be to taste depending on how stiff you want your frosting--what I did was added a pound of powdered sugar and then just gradually added more until I had the texture I wanted)
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup of cream
8 Oreos

Start by crushing the Oreos in either a food processor or a ziploc bag. Cream together the remaining ingredients using your mixer. Add more sugar or cream until frosting is desired consistency. Spread over cooled cupcakes and top with an Oreo. Enjoy!

Oreos, frosting, cupcake batter, and Cupcake wine were enjoyed. Laughs were shared. Fun was had. All in all, drinking wine, consuming copious amounts of sugar, and visiting with a dear girlfriend is pretty great way to spend a Saturday evening :)

Have a great week everybody! xoxo

Friday, August 26, 2011

You need to make this recipe this weekend.

Seriously. No, SERIOUSLY you need to make this cake. Like now.

This past week, I wanted to bake something because our friends Jeff and Laura are in town. I love baking for company because a) I like trying to make people feel welcome when they're staying with us and b) it gives me an excuse to try delicious baked good recipes that I'd feel guilty making for just Cam and I because I know full well that I'd end up eating the entire thing. I was looking for a recipe to use the bundt pan I got from my grandma like 2 years ago that's just been sitting in my cupboard, and boy oh boy did I stumble on to a gem of a recipe. This Snickerdoodle Cake (via My Baking Addiction) is perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast, a yummy afternoon snack, or a sweet after dinner dessert. Basically it's so good you're just going to want to eat it all day long until it's gone. Don't say you weren't warned.

The recipe reminds me a lot of Zingerman's Sour Cream Coffee Cake (and if you've never heard of Zingerman's, you are missing out on a seriously foodie mecca, so go look at their website ASAP!) except this recipe doesn't have any nuts, which is what I love about it because whenever I'd get a Sour Cream Coffee Cake from Zingerman's Bakehouse when we lived in Ann Arbor, I'd always pick out the nuts which just seemed kind of wasteful. What can I say, I just really don't like nuts in my baked goods. So no nuts in this recipe which is a win in my book. The cake has a rich yet fluffy batter and then there's a swirl of cinnamon sugar running through the middle of it that gives it a sweet crunch. Another great thing about this magical cake is that after you grease the pan (and I'd highly suggest using the Pam with Flour as suggested in the recipe!) you sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, which makes the outside of the cake taste like a cinnamon sugar donut that you'd get from the cider mill in the fall. And if you don't know what a cider mill is, then you are missing out and are probably thinking WTF about the fact that I made two Michigan references in one paragraph.

The recipe itself is pretty straightforward, but definitely follow the directions exactly, especially where it talks about beating in all the ingredients. You don't want to skimp on time for this one because all that beating really gives this cake its delicious texture. I was kind in a rush the day I made this cake, so I didn't get any pictures of it in process, but honestly just follow the recipe, and you should be fine. The cinnamon makes this the perfect cake for fall, and I foresee it becoming my go to recipe from now through the holidays whenever we have out of town guests...who am I kidding, I'd make this cake for myself on a Tuesday afternoon for no reason at all, it's really that good. Even Lola agrees.

Always trying to steal the spotlight.
I hope that everyone is having a fabulous weekend--we're still enjoying our out of town guests, and I look forward to sharing some fun times from their visit next week! So au revoir for now and let me know if you try this recipe, I'd love to hear your feedback! :)

Colorado Hike #3: Blue Lake

Happy Friday everyone! Seriously, sometimes I feel like all I do is put up pictures of/talk about my weekend until the following weekend, then just repeat the cycle! (I swear, we do actually do things during the week...just not as many blog worthy things, unless you want me to take pictures of myself walking Lola and browsing Pinterest/foodgawker for recipe ideas...yeah, I didn't think so!) Anyway, this past weekend, Cam and I woke up super duper early on Sunday to do a hike in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, which is fairly close to our house. We did the Blue Lake Hike in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, and although it SUCKED wasn't so great getting up at 5:45 am to leave for our hike, I'm really glad we did this hike and I'm especially glad we did it in the morning because it was absolutely beautiful! It was actually a really easy hike in comparison to some others we've done (aka this one), and there was a lot of really pretty scenery the entire way. We thought that the hike was 5.1 miles, however, the signs at the trailhead said that it was actually 6 miles roundtrip. Cam and I reached Blue Lake fairly quickly and then hiked around the lake, climbed up and found a cozy rock ledge, and took a little cat nap. Seriously. It was so awesome to just relax in the sun and soak up the pristine beauty of the lake and the mountains! Here are some of my snaps :)

Starting the hike aka Lola pouting that we made her get up so early

Mitchell's Lake

Gorgeous day

Thirsty pup
Finally made it to Blue Lake...so beautiful :)

Lola loving the snow near the lake...


This weekend, we also discovered that Lola hates the new Jeep...she doesn't like how windy it is when the top is off...it started to rain on the way home so we pulled over to put the top on, but she was still pissed.
Hating her life.
Seriously, she's f-ing miserable.
Emo Lola strapped in by her dog seat belt...such a joke.
Hope y'all are having a fantastic week! :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

**Spoiler alert: If you haven't read the Hunger Games series yet and you don't want to know what happens you probably shouldn't read my review...but I highly suggest this series, so go read them, and then come back and read my thoughts!**

Well, I finally read the Hunger Games series. And you know what? I really liked them! I know that this is a series of books, written by Suzanne Collins, that many of my fellow bloggers have read (and I had heard many good things), but I wanted to share my thoughts, so here they are. Although these books were a little bit different then the type of books I normally gravitate towards, I felt that the story and the characters pulled me in right away. These books are quick reads and I found that I was really engaged in the plot the whole time, as there were lots of twists and turns (although some were a little predictable). For those of you not familiar with the series, it centers around a female protagonist (what up high school English terminology!) named Katniss Everdeen, and it takes place in the country of Panem, a society that develops after the fall of the United States and is divided up into twelve districts. I found the setting to be really interesting because while this book is supposed to be taking place in the future, a lot of the time when you're reading the story you feel like it's taking place in the past due to the fact that a lot of the districts are impoverished and lack the technology that we have today. The twelve districts are ruled by the Capitol and in order to keep the people in line, the Capitol holds an annual event called the Hunger Games where each district has to send one girl and one boy and basically they put all these kids in an arena and they have to fight each other to the death until there is only one remaining victor. Sounds kind of weird right? I know, but I promise it's good. (Although when I was reading my Kindle while Cam's parents were here and they asked what I was reading and I told them it was a book about a game where kids have to fight each other to the death, I think they were kind of weirded out...)

The first book, The Hunger Games revolves around this annual event as the title suggests and you follow Katniss through the grueling challenge of the Games. In order to chose which kids have to go, they draw names, and when Katniss's little sister's name is drawn, she volunteers to take her place. The boy that gets chosen from her district is the baker's son, a boy named Peeta, and early on a love triangle is formed between Katniss, Peeta, and Katniss's friend and hunting partner Gale. The book chronicles Katniss and Peeta's struggle to survive during the games, and it ends with both of them surviving, much to the Capitol's dismay, due the fact that they were about to go all Romeo and Juliet and just kill themselves rather than have to decide who lives, so the Capitol decides to save them both. I really enjoyed the first book a lot, and although it's kind of science fiction-y, I actually really enjoyed the descriptive details, and I thought that it did a good job laying the groundwork for the other two books.

The second book, Catching Fire, shows what happens after the Games are over, and you'd think that life would go back to normal, but it doesn't. Katniss's and Peeta's actions in the arena were seen as being defiant of the Capitol and the authorities are pissed because as a result there are stirrings of a rebellion among some of the districts. In order for the Capitol to demonstrate their authority, they decide that for the next Hunger Games, they will have only people who have one previous Hunger Games represent the districts, which means Katniss and Peeta have to go back in to the arena once again. At this point you're a lot more connected to the characters and this book really demonstrates the horrors that a controlling government can inflict on it's people, and then it further draws you in to this love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale and I'll admit, I was curious to know who she would ultimately choose. At the end of this book, Katniss somehow makes it out of the arena alive however that District 12, where she's from, has been destroyed at there is a full-blown revolution taking place.

The third and final book in the series, Mockingjay, was a somewhat more grim and depressing than the other two books for me, as it really delves in to the pain of war. I know that this book didn't get as great of reviews on Amazon as the first two, and I think that's because when you've become so invested in the characters, on some level you want everything to wrap up in a neat little package, for the bad guys to be defeated and to see more of the love story, but that's really not what happens in this book. During much of the story, Katniss and the rest of the rebels are living in an area called District 13, and I thought it was interesting how it also had a very controlling government, the very thing they were fighting against. A lot of people die in this book, and at some points I wondered whether there would even be a happy ending. However, I personally like how the story wrapped up, and although I would have liked a little more detail about what happened after the war ended, I think that is purposely left up to your imagination. Katniss does end up choosing Peeta, and while I wasn't exactly surprised by that, I would have like to have known a little bit more about what happened to Gale. However, I think that Suzanne Collins was trying to make this book less like a Twilight-romance, and more about Katniss's struggle for independence.

I personally found the whole idea of the Hunger Games being televised to the whole country and people enthusiastically following along with every detail of this grusome event to be easy parallel to draw with today's constant stream of reality television, and it kind of makes you question whether it may be destructive. All in all, I enjoyed this series of books and I'd highly recommend them if you're looking for an exciting read. Plus, they are making the first book into a movie that comes out next March, and I'm really excited to see how they bring this story to the big screen. Jennifer Lawerence is playing Katniss, which I think is a perfect choice, and then I think the rest of the casting is really interesting as well. Here is a shot of her from the forthcoming movie, but in my opinion, this is one where you should definitely read the book first! xoxo

Have you read the Hunger Games series? 
What did you think? 
Read any other good books lately?

Monday, August 22, 2011

What's making me happy Monday!

Good morning, good morning everyone! I hope that your weekend was fabulous :) I had a lovely and relaxing last few days logging some much-needed quality time with my hubby and my dog. There were lots of great things about this weekend, as well as just things about life in general right now that are making me smile, so since I haven't done one in a while, I figured a good old-fashion list post was in order...so here's what's making me happy on this beautiful Monday:

+ Midnight In Paris: Friday night, Cam and I finally went to go see 'Midnight In Paris' which is a movie that I had been wanting to see for awhile now, and I loved it! It had a great cast and all the beautiful shots of Paris really make me want to go back ASAP. I didn't really know much about the storyline going in, and I'll admit, it was different than I expected, but I really enjoyed it and it perfectly captured the allure of Paris. If you're looking for a feel-good movie, I'd highly recommend it!

+ The fact that Kim Kardashian's wedding is over: Am I the only one that is absolutely sick of hearing about this? And while I know that the media frenzy over this will be continuing for awhile, I'm just happy it's done so hopefully I can stop hearing about every single second. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my fair share of the Kardashians/US Weekly/trashy reality TV, I think what's irritating me about her wedding is she's trying to act like it's America's royal wedding. It's not. I think the fact that she copied some of the royal wedding details like their cake and the ivory bridesmaids dresses is kind of lame. Kim K, you are no Kate Middleton so just stop. K thanks.

I got to walk this little cutie during my orientation Saturday...he looks tough, but he was so sweet!
+ Volunteering at the Humane Society: On Saturday morning, I completed the second part of my volunteer training at our local Humane Society, and I have my first dog walking shift later this week! Everyone has different causes that they're passionate about, and mine is definitely animals, and dogs in particular. I volunteered at the Humane Society in Ann Arbor and in Greenville (and I think we all know what resulted from that experience), and so when we moved to Colorado, I was eager to get involved once again. While it is really heartbreaking to go volunteer because I really wish I could just take every dog home with me, I know that at least getting the dogs out for regular walks helps them manage some of the stress and over-stimulation that comes with being in a shelter, and hopefully burning off a little of that excess energy will help them be a little more calm which usually means they are more likely to get adopted! The Humane Society here in Longmont is really well-organized, and I'm excited to hopefully help some deserving dogs find their forever homes!

Oh don't mind me, just a roadside photo shoot...not. I just had to get a picture of this suit because I am seriously obsessed with it! :) (Also sorry this pic is a little blurry, took it w/ ma phone!)
+ Tubing on the St. Vrain River: This weekend was pretty hot, so to beat the heat and soak up what's left of summer, we took our new tubes floating down the St. Vrain River in nearby Lyons, CO. There was a big folk festival going in Lyons this weekend, so there were lots of hippie families camping near the river which made for some interesting people watching. I wore my bikini that I won from the Voda Swimwear giveaway over at The Seattle Smiths earlier this summer, so thanks again Kelsey for my cute suit, I love it! :)

I was lazy with my camera this weekend, and I obviously didn't take this picture (It's from the Rio Grande website), but I love that you can see how beautiful downtown Boulder is in this photo! (Source)
 + I found the best margaritas in Boulder: That's right, an awesome discovery was made by moi this weekend. Saturday night, Cam and I had dinner at a Mexican place called Rio Grande, and while the food was just alright, their margaritas were so SO good (and surprisingly strong). Plus, they have a lot of outdoor seating, so anywhere where I can eat delicious guac and drink yummy margs is a place that I'll surely be returning.

Since I was too lazy to actually take a picture of my nails/nail polish this weekend, I happened to do a Google Image search that resulted in a picture of the two shades I just purchased over at Makeup and Beauty Blog, great minds think alike! (Source)
+ Summery nail polishes: In my effort to enjoy the remaining last little bit of summer, I picked up a couple fun nail polishes--Barracuda, a fun light blue for my fingers and Coral Fever, a pretty coral color for my toes, both are Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure (which I personally think holds up just as well as Essie or OPI). I got the urge try a light blue fingers when I saw my girl T.Swift wearing it in her new video (and then when I went back to look at the video, I realized that the nail polish she's wearing is like metallic green...go me.) I realize that I'm a total 13 year old girl, but if anyone in Denver has extra tickets to her show on 9/27 that they're looking to get rid of let me know because I'd LOVE to go, but it's completely sold out :(

+ Sleeping Bear Dunes: Speaking of summer, did anyone else see that last week Good Morning America named Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as America's Most Beautiful Place?! I was so thrilled because every summer for basically my whole life until I moved out of Michigan my family went camping there and I can tell you that I wholeheartedly agree with their selection! Lake Michigan in the summer is so gorgeous, and it's one of my favorite places in the world. I wasn't able to make it there this summer, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to next year, and I just wanted to give a shoutout to my home state! Check out this video for complete coverage of the awesomeness :)

+ I finished the book series I've been reading and did a really awesome hike: However, both of those weekend accomplishments warrant their own separate posts, so be on the lookout for those posts in the next day or two!
Be warned...(Source)
+ Frozen treats: I'm not gonna lie, I had some form of ice cream all 3 days this weekend, and it was glorious. (Perhaps I'm taking this whole savoring the end of summer a wee bit too far? Well that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it...) Friday, I had some Boulder Ice Cream Company mint chocolate chip ice cream at the movies and I am obsessed with their ice cream, it's so rich and creamy and it's locally made so it makes me feel a little bit better about eating it. Saturday, after our Mexican din I finally tried out Smooch, a fro-yo place in downtown Boulder. I got a small original tart with raspberries (so actually a fairly healthy but still delicious option), and while I thought the yogurt was really good, it wasn't a self serve place, meaning that girl who served it to me put about 6 raspberries on top. Six. Not ok. I like a better fruit to fro-yo ratio, and I hate when they skimp on the toppings like that. (Seriously they had a ton of raspberries and it was like 9:30pm at night, and since raspberries spoil in like a day, you'd think they could have given me a few more....hmph) Sunday, we stopped at this old school soft-serve place in Lyons that I've been wanting to try on the way home from our hike. Nothing says summer like a chocolate-dipped cone! :) I'm hoping that I can make at least another batch or two of homemade ice cream or sorbet before Labor Day...

+ Fall Fashion Mags: Now I do realize summer can't last forever, and despite what my ice cream craze would lead you to believe, I'm actually very excited about the arrival of fall. This weekend, I was able to spend some time enjoying some of my September magazines that arrived in the mail last week as I always look forward to these super thick issues every year. I particularly enjoyed seeing one of my personal faves Beyonce on the cover of Instyle, and I'm super excited to pull out my sweaters oh so soon!

+ Missoni for Target: Speaking of fall fashion, can I just say how excited I am for this?! The lookbook for the Missoni for Target collection was released earlier this month, and the goods will be in stores in less than a month. I absolutely loved this Calypso line Target had back in the spring, but I have a feeling that this is going to be even better. Cannot wait. Speaking of Target, they actually have a really cute pair of real leather boots online right now that look exactly like Frye's Melissa riding boot, except they are a fraction of the price...hmmm...what do you think? (Just fyi, the picture I found of the Target boots isn't as clear, so here's the link to check them out on the website for comparison sake!)

(Source) & (Source)
+ Visitors: And last but not least, I'm super excited for the many visitors that are going to be coming out to Colorado to see us this fall! As I mentioned, Cam's parents were in town recently, and their visit was just the beginning of what's looking to be a very busy next couple of months! Tomorrow we have our sweet friends Jeff & Laura coming in to town, and I'm so excited to spend time with them as they are one of our favorite couples. Not too long after Jeff and Laura leave, my parents are coming out to visit in early September and I can't wait for their visit. Then last week, I had two friends book plane tickets to come out to Colorado later in the fall/winter, so I'm really pumped about that as well. I feel fortunate that we had the opportunity to move out to such a beautiful state, and I'm looking forward to sharing it with my friends and family.

+ I finally watched Tangled: Last but not least, this weekend had a sweet end when my hubby agreed to watch Tangled with me. Yes the Disney movie that I put at the top of our Netflix queue. I have been wanting to see this movie since it was in the theater and you know what? It was awesome. Seriously, so so cute :) (And I'm pretty sure that Cam laughed more than I did, but keep that on the DL because I don't think he'd want me announcing that fact...ha)

Well I think that about does it for today's rambling list post, if you're still reading this, thanks for sticking with me :) I just want y'all to know how much I appreciate all the sweet comments on my posts and new followers of In the Pink and Green, it really makes my day! This blog is sort of my personal space to write about whatever pops into my mind...and sometimes that's a lot of random things, like today! (Was my longest paragraph in today's post seriously venting about the fact that I didn't get enough toppings on my frozen yogurt two days ago? Wow. The fact that anyone reads this blog is beyond me sometimes...or maybe, just maybe, I'm not the only person who has felt the frustration of not getting the right fruit to fro-yo ratio? Ok I'm stopping now.) I hope that you all had a fantastic weekend and have a happy Monday! xoxo


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