Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend in Instagram Photos

1 | My parents flew into town on Thursday, and on Friday morning we decided to go on a hike to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. It was a beautiful day and at the top of the hike we had a mini picnic lunch.

The whole hike took about 3 hours and it was the perfect distance - we left feeling tired, but not exhausted. My parents had never been to the Southwest, so it was a great hike to show off the scenery (the "tent rocks" were created from volcanic eruptions).

2 | Saturday morning we took Scout to the dog park and ran a few errands. John and I enjoyed showing my parents around town and the places we frequent. 

Among these places we frequent... Chick-Fil-A!! I mean really, you can't beat it when you need an on-the-go lunch! :)

3 | Later in the afternoon we headed to Santa Fe.

We went through quite a few fun shops and the New Mexico Museum of Art. After going through all of the galleries, John had each of us pick our favorite piece - it was a lovely afternoon!

4 | Part of having visitors in New Mexico is introducing them to New Mexican chile (different than "chili").

One of the New Mexican restaurants we went to was Mary & Tito's. It's a total hole in the wall dive, but it won a James Beard American Classic award in 2010. The food... so good!!

5 | To end our evening in Santa Fe we went to a restaurant called Santacafe. We had such a great time - good wine, food and conversation! I could have stayed there for a few more hours.

If you're in Santa Fe, I very much recommend this restaurant!!

6 | After we got home from Santa Fe, the evening would not be complete without Bananagrams and euchre.

It was a great end to a busy day.

7 | Sunday morning we went to church then had lunch at The Range with John's mom (who lives in the area).

8 | We attempted to take the tram to the top of Sandia Peak, but it was closed due to high winds. Since we wanted to take them to the top of the mountain, we decided to drive up instead.

By the time we had got to the top, the temperature had dropped about 30 degrees and it was crazy windy. We basically ran out of the car, snapped the photo, and ran back to the car.

9 | The day ended by eating pizza (yes, much food was consumed this weekend...) and watching the U of M vs Kentucky NCAA Tournament game.

It was fun watching the games with my parents because we have a family-wide March Madness bracket tournament (complete with an engraved traveling trophy...), so we would check the bracket standings after each game.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five on Friday!

Happy Friday!! And it's extra happy because my parents are in town visiting! And it's extra extra happy because I only had a 3 day work week! :) :) Linking up with Darci, Natasha, April, and Christina for Five on Friday to celebrate!

Banana Ice Cream!

On Monday, Kelli from Team Gilbert posted a recipe for banana "ice cream" that she makes as a sweets-craving-killer.

Basically, all you do is slice up some banana, put them in a ziplock bag, and then freeze them.  When you feel a sweets craving coming on, pull the bananas out of the freezer, and throw them in the blender with a tiny bit of skim milk (add a little bit at a time so you don't add too much), and voila! You've got yourself some banana ice cream.

Weekday Lunch Dates!

John and I have been planning mid-week lunch dates, and I'm not going to lie, I absolutely love seeing my hubby in the middle of the work day!  We have been trying to get together once a week, and this week we went to a great place called The Grove.  They have fresh sandwiches, salads, and soups.

I don't know why, but lunch dates out with my hubby feel way more like a real break than lunch breaks alone!

Almond Nut-Thins!

I feel like all 5 of my things this week are about food (sorry, not sorry), but have you tried these Almond Nut-Thins?  You NEED to - they are so yummy, I have to pour myself a bowl because if I sat down with the whole box they would be gone in a very alarming amount of time.


Juice: Sunshine Special!

What you need:
- Carrots
- Apple
- Celery
- Lemon

After trying many juices, I must say that juices with carrots in them always seem to be a favorite.

Weekend Plans!

My parents and I plan to hike tent rocks today (John has to work, boo work!), and tomorrow we will all go to Santa Fe and Taos.  So excited to spend time together!

Below are pictures from hiking tent rocks this time last year.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Weight Watchers Orange Cupcakes!

I came across an article on Facebook which had recipes of only three ingredients... this type of cooking or baking is my style - totally easy! The original article is here.

One of the recipes was for low-fat orange cupcakes, and I was shocked with how yummy they turned out.  Flavorful and moist... you'd have no idea by the taste that they were different/healthier than any other cupcake!

What you need:

- 1 box of cake mix
- 1 cup of orange juice
- 1 container (6 oz) of non-fat Greek yogurt, plain
- zest from one orange

The great thing about this recipe is that it just so happened that I had all of these in my pantry already!  Don't you love when that happens??

How to:

Combine all ingredients, and bake cupcakes for 15-17 minutes at 350 degrees.

The batter appeared a bit thick (to me), but do not add anything extra, and they turn out perfectly.

Let your cupcakes fully cool before frosting.

After frosting, top the cupcakes with any remaining orange zest (these taste equally great without frosting if you're looking to cut down on the calories!).

Linking up with Tuesday's Table

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

DIY: Wood-burned Coasters

A few weeks ago, my hubby bought me a Versa-tool, and it is really pretty cool. Not to mention, it is quite affordable too… the “higher end” model is $18 (after using a Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s 40% off coupon - originally $30) and the “basic” model is only $9 (after using a Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s 40% off coupon - originally $15).

Moral of the story: you probably don’t have this tool, but it is pretty inexpensive, and you can do a lot of really cool things with it. The only difference between the two models is the number of different tips that come with it.

Anyway, I was dying to try it out, so I decided to make a set of wood-burned coasters.

You can buy wood coasters from any craft store (and you can probably get them at Target too – I bought mine from World Market).

Even Scout wanted in on this DIY!
If you’re daring, you can go ahead a free-hand your whole design using the Versa-tool (or you can sketch with pencil first, etc.).

Since one of the (many) things that this tool can do is image transfer, I decided to ask my friend Allison (Designs by Allison Joy) to write my last name – her hand lettering is incredible!! Check out her Facebook page to see some of her amazing work! You should really like her page too! :)

After she wrote my last name (“The Prays”), I transposed the image so that, after transfer, it would be correct on my coaster (I did this using Microsoft Word), and printed the image out using a laser printer (you must print with a laser printer - ink jet will not work).

Once you print your design, place your printed image ink-side down on the coaster. Using the image transferring tip, slowly move the tool on the paper in a circular motion (move the tool fast enough to make sure you don’t burn the paper too much).

Once finished, there should be an image transferred from the paper to the wood (it can also transfer colored ink!).



After the image is on the coaster, use the writing tip (or calligraphy tip, if you bought the more expensive tool), to go over all areas that you want to burn.

This part took the longest for me (but I don’t have a very steady hand, so I was extra patient).


I was really happy with the result. The coasters aren’t perfect, but with practice, I bet you can make some really cool stuff with this thing!!

Here are some more wood-burning ideas from Pinterest that I came across.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Five on Friday!

Happy Friday! As usual, I'm linking up with Darci, Christina, Natasha, and April!



My parents come to visit next week! 

My mom and dad live in Minneapolis and they are coming to visit John and me on Thursday!  This is fabulous for many reasons... first, and most obviously, it means I get to see and spend time with them, but it also means that I only have a three day work week!

John and I have been planning their visit for a while now, so it will fun to have them actually here.



March Madness Brackets!

Did you pick your brackets?!  I'll have you know that I am very methodical in the way I choose my bracket, and just so happens that I won my family pool last year!

I use a highly methodical four step method...
1)  First, I go through my bracket and fill out the winners according to their seed (for example, 8 beats 9, 9 beats 10, etc.).
2)  Next, so it doesn't look like I only picked according to seed, I switch a few randomly around (mostly the 8th and 9th seeds).
3)  Then, I go through the brackets and change the teams or schools that I don't like to automatically loose.  For example, I work at University of New Mexico, so to make for interesting co-worker conversations, I had them losing in the first round.
4)  Finally, good 'ole Google.  I usually read 4 or 5 articles and pick my final 2 and winner off of who everyone else picks.

As you can see, my bracket requires zero knowledge of anything basketball - I'm not doing super well yet... but there's plenty of time for it to pick up!  Much to my hubby's sadness, I have Florida winning (he is a Florida State undergrad and University of Michigan law school alum), and I have my alma mater, Michigan State, going to the final four... we will see how it goes!



Homemade Jalapeno Poppers!

If you need a little treat while watching all of your March Madness basketball games, these guys are the perfect choice!

What you need:
- Jalapenos
- String Cheese
- Egg roll Wraps

How to:
1.  Begin by removing all of the seeds and ribs from inside of the jalapeno (make sure you do a good job - those things are hot!).
2.  Next, blanch the jalapenos so they are slightly tender.
3.  Put a string cheese (or a portion of one) inside of each pepper.
4.  Roll the jalapenos inside an egg roll wrapper and fry in peanut oil for 2 minutes on each side.
5.  Place the peppers on a paper towel to cool before serving.



Green Power Juice!

This juice has an intense amount of greens, but I was surprised by its pleasant taste!  You will definitely get in your veggie quota with this drink.

- Kale
- Spinach
- Romaine
- Parsley
- Cucumber
- Celery
- Apple
- Lemon
- Ginger



Mary Kate and Ashley!

Seriously, I still love Mary Kate and Ashley... did you see this BuzzFeed article?  It is pretty much amazing.  I distinctly remember going to get my hair cut as a little girl and explaining that I needed their exact style.  Serious business, people.

And I could not agree more with their final pick: It Takes Two... "Not only is this the best Olsen movie of all time, it’s probably the best movie of all time." Amen.

Let's be friends on Bloglovin'!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Coconut-Lime Cookies

If you are looking for a tasty treat, you MUST try these coconut-lime cookies - they're seriously fabulous!
You know how most people like a glass of milk with their chocolate-chip cookies?  Well these cookies beg to accompanied by a margarita (not to dip the cookies in - that would be weird, but to drink in addition to).
These are the perfect treat for warmer - margarita weather!  If only I didn't live so far away from a beach...

What you need:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one large lime, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ cup unsweetened toasted coconut
  • ½ cup sugar for rolling cookies

  •

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one large lime, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ cup unsweetened toasted coconut
  • ½ cup sugar for rolling cookies

  •
    2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    ½ teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon salt
    1 cup butter, softened
    1 ½ cups white sugar
    1 egg
    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    zest of one large lime, finely minced
    3 tablespoons lime juice
    ½ cup unsweetened toasted coconut
    ½ cup sugar for rolling cookies

    How to:
    1.   In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
    2.   Using a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and very fluffy.
    3.   Beat in egg, vanilla extract, lime juice and lime zest.
    4.  Gradually blend in the dry ingredients and coconut (toast before adding).
    5.   Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in sugar.
    6.  Place on lined cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.
    7.  Bake for 9-11 minutes at 350 degrees.
    8.  Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks

    Enjoy, but be careful - these bad boys are addicting!!

    Linking up with Tuesday's Table

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    DIY: iPad Holder for the Kitchen

    John and I went for a trail run and John made some corned beef hash for dinner... It was yummy, but even more fun that I didn't have to cook anything - I swear, we eat frozen pizza several times a week (I am terrible at meal planning...).

    I do enjoy cooking or baking for fun, but not when I get home from work and am already starving... Anyone with me on this?!  When I am baking or making dinner, I always find that it I enjoy it more when I pour myself a glass of wine and turn on some music!

    I have been eyeing several iPad holders for the kitchen to play music and display recipes, and came across a DIY on Pinterest that I had to try - I'm super happy with how it turned out!

    Coconut-lime cookies coming soon, by the way! :) :)

    What you need:

    - A wood board (or bread paddle)
    - A Scrabble letter holder (I have an iPad Air and it sits perfectly in the Scrabble letter holder - not sure about other iPad models)
    - Something to prop the wood board up (the original instructions used a door stop, but I went to a million places and could not find a door stop that was wood - I ended up using a furniture leg purchased from Lowe's)
    - Paint
    - Wood glue

    How to:

    1.  Start by painting all of your wood the same color (I used an off-white, but in hindsight, I wish I used a darker color since the face of my iPad is white).
    2.  After the paint dries, sand the edges using steel wool.
    3.  Glue the Scrabble letter holder to the board.  Before gluing, mock up how you want the iPad to lay once it is finished (for example, the end product may look proportionally off if the iPad sits too high or low on the stand).
    4.  Next, glue the front of the stand to the back piece.
    5.  Once everything is assembled, finish by spraying a clear coat of a protective finish.

    I am quite surprised by how much I have used this already!!  Even better, the whole thing cost less than $10 - not a bad deal!

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

    Hope everyone had a lovely weekend and is wearing green today!

    Here's a quick recap of our weekend!

    1 | Friday night ended with a yummy homemade shamrock shake! 

    John and I are watching the final season of Breaking Bad (we have only one episode left!) so this shake was the perfect TV watching treat.

    2 | This weekend I did an absurd amount of laundry, and it felt wonderful! Scout was, of course, very helpful in putting my clothes away. 

    3 | John and I went for a mountain bike ride in the Cibola National Forest. It was nice because there weren't too many people out (me being a mountain biking newbie, this is very, very much appreciated!).

    Mountain biking is fun because you are working hard, but you're not concentrating on how hard you are working because you are focused on navigating the terrain.

    4 | John and Scout went on a hike in the Pecos Wilderness. There were blizzard like conditions, so needless to say, I declined to join. Little Scout had so much fun being crazy in the snow and was quite exhausted when she got home. 

    We had a post-hike sushi dinner, and ordered (and ate) way more sushi than I would like to admit!

    5 | This weekend John very sweetly surprised me with a new crafting tool from Hobby Lobby! He got me (and picked it out ALL on his own) this thing called Versa-Tool

    It can burn into wood, hot stamp leather and fabrics, image transfer, etc. It's super cool! I have been playing around with it and started burning into a wood coaster. When I get better, I hope to make a set!

    6 | On Sunday a John took a half day fly fishing trip to the Jemez mountains. The Jemez River was stocked with rainbow trout last Wednesday, so he was excited to go fishing (he also got a new fly fishing sling pack that he was looking forward to breaking in).

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    Five on Friday: All Things Green!

    Happy Friday! Since Monday is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would do all things green for my 5 on Friday! Linking up with Christina, April, Darci, and Natasha!


    Avocado Egg Rolls!

    These little babies are oh, so tasty …and surprisingly, very easy! I doubled the batch and was glad I did. You’ll love these things!

    What you need:
    - 3 ripe avocados
    - 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
    - 3 tablespoons of red onions, minced
    - 2 tablespoons of cilantro, minced
    - Egg roll wrappers

    How to:
    1. Mix together the first four ingredients.
    2. Put 1/4-1/2 cup of the mixture in an egg roll wrapper and roll up.
    3. Fry the egg rolls in peanut oil (make sure the oil is 350-375 degrees) for about 2 minutes on each side.
    4. Let the egg rolls cool on a paper towel to remove the excess oil.

    To make the dipping sauce:
    Mix together ½ cup of mayonnaise, ½ cup of sour cream, 1 tablespoon of dry ranch seasoning, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of minced cilantro, and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. To lighten the recipe, substitute some of the mayonnaise and sour cream with Greek yogurt.


    Spring Clothes!

    Am I the only one SO ready for some spring and summer clothing? Seriously, I am dying – I need some prints and bold colors stat!

    Here are some cute spring finds (all in green…), in hopes of some warmer weather. After all, spring is technically only a week away!


    Cool Mint Oreos!

    If you’re in need of an easy-peasy St. Patty’s dessert, then these fit the bill! All you need are mint Oreos, white chocolate chips, and St. Patty sprinkles.

    First, melt the white chocolate chips and dip half of the Oreo in the chocolate. Place on wax paper and top with sprinkles… trust me, these things are yummy!


    Ombre Cake!

    On Tuesday I shared an ombre cake recipe… it is actually quite easy and so fun to look at (and eat…)! You could totally mix and match the colors – on Pinterest I saw the cutest blue ombre smash-cake!


    Green Apple, Kiwi and Kale Juice!

    You may be in need of some fresh juice if you plan on eating copious amounts of corned-beef hash and drinking green beer this weekend (or Monday, if you're actually Irish).

    This is another juicing recipe from Williams-Sonoma - I absolutely love kiwi, so this recipe was a no-brainer for me!

    I changed the recipe around a bit and below is what I ended up with

    - 3 Kiwifruit, peeled
    - 1 Green apple
    - 1 Heart of romaine lettuce
    - 1 Cucumber
    - 1 Stalk of celery
    - 1 Lemon

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

    DIY Wine Barrel Inspired Tray

    I'm always on the Pinterest hunt for DIYs that are easy, inexpensive, and most importantly, not total junk. If it's sort of junk, I can deal with that. I'll make it, have it out for a few weeks, then trash it when I'm done - but I just can't deal with total junk.

    Anywayyyy, I found the coolest DIY Wine Barrel Inspired Tray, and knew I had to make it! When I saw it I was quite excited because it was something that I could possibly actually use!

    What you need:
    - A precut wood table top (a disassembled lazy susan would work too)
    - A black permanent marker (or black wood paint)
    - Wood stain
    - A clear wood finish
    - Steel wool
    - Handles (optional)

    How to:
    1. Begin by drawing in permanent marker (or black paint) the design you want on the tray.

    2. After you have your lettering or design done, stain the wood (both the top and bottom).

    3. Once the stain is dry, rough up the tray a bit with the steel wool. Then repeat the stain (I did this 3 or 4 times... Darken the lettering as needed).

    4. Next, spray or paint the tray with a clear coat to seal the wood and stain.

    5. Add handles if you would like (I used drawer pulls).

    This would be a perfect custom gift for a wedding, bridal shower, or anyone who loves something monogrammed!

    Tuesday, March 11, 2014

    Ombre Cake!

    I am pretty much in love with everything ombre.

    And if you haven’t heard me talk about my hair drama, I haven’t had it colored in almost six months (since moving, I am worried about trying a new colorist)… thankfully my hair is fairly light so my roots aren’t too bad, but I definitely have the start of a non-intentional ombre.

    If I could get my hair to look like this, I wouldn’t be so timid.

    But since I’m not bold enough to rock an (intentional) ombre, I’m going for a sombre (a subtle ombre…).

    In light of this hair drama, I thought I would make a St. Patty’s Day ombre cake (weird connection, huh?).

    I have seen quite a few of these cakes on Pinterest, and every time I see one, I can’t help but pin it.


    I knew that I wanted 6 different colors, so I began by dividing my batter in six different cups.


    After dividing the batter, put one drop of food coloring in the lightest color, and then add one additional drop for every layer after that. I recommend using a white or vanilla cake mix (a yellow cake mix may be more difficult to color).


    Bake each layer in a six-inch spring form pan for 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees (this will vary depending on how much batter you use and the size of the pan).


    After baking each layer, let them cool thoroughly before assembling.

    To assemble, put a thin layer of frosting between each layer. I tried to use as little frosting as possible since I was also frosting the outside (also, I didn’t want all of the frosting to spread when cutting the cake).

    I refrigerated my cake for about an hour before cutting… at first it looked freakishly tall – so I was trying to be gentle, but it actually cut quite nicely.

    Happy ombre-ing!


    Linking up with Khala, Sam, Renee, and Jenni for Tuesday Tea and Mary for Delicious Dish Tuesday!



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