Monday, July 30, 2012

Sleepy Puppy

Dan and I were in Ft. Lauderdale visiting friends this weekend. I'll post pictures from that tomorrow. I picked Koda up from 'Camp' and grabbed these shots at a red light. The progression of a sleepy puppy.

She fell asleep sitting up, and didn't even finish her treat.

Little miss decided to put herself to bed at 7 tonight. She is currently upstairs, under our bed, sleeping, with no plans to join Landon and I on our date with Chris Harrison.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A typical morning conversation

Dan is not a morning person. I am almost always running too late to drink my coffee before I leave for work. Therefore, our conversations in the morning are not very profound. Exhibit A, this is what went down yesterday morning, pre 7am.

Kelley: I had a dream that I was taking a ballet class and Arie was in it.

Dan: Odd.

Kelley: Yeah, during the class he fell in love with a girl who looked just like Paige from the Bachelor Pad.

Dan:  Very odd.

Kelley: My reality TV shows are starting to blend together in my dreams. I think I have a problem.
…….Should I see someone?

Dan: Yes. Chris Harrison. He is probably the only one who can help you at this point.

Good thing we have a date with Chris on Monday at 8pm Eastern.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homemade "York" Peppermint Patties

I have another recipe for yall. This one deserves to be shared. It is for homemade “Yorks”. These are a little time consuming, but oh so worth it.

I swear I have recipes that don't involve chocolate or mint .. just give me a chance to prove it to you. In the meantime, enjoy another chocolate-mint recipe.

First, gather your ingredients. Outside. Where the lighting is better. To take pictures of them. Complain to your husband that we need more lights in the kitchen.

Don’t judge our large bag of chocolate chips. We buy them in bulk. I like to bake. You never know when life calls for a cookie cake.

You'll use:

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
7 cups Powdered Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Peppermint Oil (or 3x that of peppermint extract -- I'll explain)
A few cups of chocolate chips
Food coloring (if desired)

First pour the condensed milk in your mixer, or in a bowl (but a hand mixer will be necessary!).

Add the Peppermint oil. I like to use to use peppermint oil (you can get it at Michaels, Sur La Table, etc.) because it is more concentrated. It won’t affect the consistency as much as extract will. This is especially good for icings, candies, and other non-baked items. Extract won’t hurt this recipe, just make sure you use about 3 times as much.

If desired, add your food coloring here. Then add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. You want the mixture to no longer be sticky.. If it is still sticky, throw in another half a cup. It should look like this:

The batter will taste like toothpaste. Don’t panic. I promise these will be delicious.

Take spoonfuls of the batter and flatten into patties. These do not have to be exact. As large of patties as you want, as thick as you want, they can all be different. Lay them all over your kitchen. Stress your Type-A self out.

Melt your chocolate chips. Mine took about twice this much melted chocolate.

Smooth chocolate over one side. Let harden. (I slide the foil on baking sheets and stick them in the freezer for a few minutes to hasten the process).


Spread chocolate over the other side. Decide whether it is worth the added effort to smooth chocolate around the edges to fully coat. Decide that it is not.

This makes about 40 (depending on size). Feel free to half the recipe. Feel free to immediately regret it when you taste these.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Bachelor Pad

Do yall watch this show? Please don’t judge me for what I am about to say. It. Is. Awesome.

It is incredibly trashy television. But so entertaining.

Now, I typically don’t like any of these competition shows. Survivor, Real World, even American Idol. But this one is gold.

Maybe it doesn’t hurt that I have seen all the seasons of the Bachelor and Bachelorette to know all of the people.

Here’s the premise. Each individual was somehow well-known on a previous season of the Bachelor(ette). Producers make sure to include love triangles, enemies, and a lot of clashing personalities. It is hosted by the ever-famous Chris Harrison.

Each week there is a competition. One girl and one guy win the competition.  The winners are given a “rose” (weird right?) and are safe from elimination. Most weeks, the winners are allowed to choose a date. They give that person a rose, which gives the date immunity, and together they go on a Bachelor(ette) themed date that night.

Where it gets good. Some people are there to win the $250,000 prize. Some, surprisingly enough, are there to genuinely find love (yes. really.). So those who are in it for the money have to suck up to those trying to find love, hoping to get the date, and become safe from elimination.

Then, each week, the guys vote one girl off, and the girls vote one guy off. Alliances are formed, backs are stabbed, drama ensues, I pop popcorn.

The strategies involved are crazy each week. And it is very fun to guess what will happen next, who the target will be, should he ask her out, etc. The producers are apt to throw in a few twists each season.

Don’t knock it until you watch it. Invite over good friends (like Landon!), pause so you can talk about strategies, and laugh at the girl already crying on night one. Don't feel bad for her. She signed up for this.

And if you watch it and still think I'm weird, I didn’t write this, my blog was hacked.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DIY coasters and brownies

I have two things for you to do this week or weekend.

First, a DIY.

This has to go down in history as the fasted DIY ever. I love feeling accomplished by making things myself, but there are some days when you don't have a few hours to sit down to do a project. (Okay, maybe more than 'some' days). And I love saving money. Two in one? Yes, please.

I have recently seen a rendition of this on Pinterest that involves scrapbook paper, Mod Podge, and spray paint. (Are those successful? Have you seen Mod Podge when it gets wet? Yuck. Let me know).

Coasters can get very expensive. Especially when you need them in your dining room, living room, bed rooms, etc. I have a version that can cost less than $0.20!

First, you go on over to Lowe's and grab those furniture felt dots. The ones you put under chair legs, to keep from scratching the hard woods. Except, get the small ones. Apparently we have thrown away the packaging, but here is what they look like:

Then you get some pretty glass tiles.

Or maybe some stone tiles.

Lowe's even has a "less than a dollar - tile" section on their website here.

Then, get this. The hard part. You stick the felt to the underneath of the tile.

And bam. DIY coasters. That are pretty, hardly cost anything, and took you about 8 seconds. Enjoy!

Second, a recipe:

Now I have tried many from-scratch brownie recipes, and never found the perfect ones. Until this last weekend.

The recipe can be found here. I followed it to a T. I always alter recipes, but for some reason found the urge to follow this exactly.

Don't worry about the number of eggs. I was very worried these would turn out too cake-y, and almost substituted some oil for one of the eggs. They are incredibly fudgey.

And bake based on the time. With all of the chocolate chips, my toothpick never came out clean. I am very glad I took them out at the 35-40 minutes instead of waiting.

They were to die for! And I know my brownies!

After four days our pan looks like this:

Shhh. Don't tell Jillian. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Almost forgot

When we got back from Kiawah, our baby needed a bath from being at camp. She's all clean, all brushed, and is ready for her photo shoot!


Kiawah was a much needed day off from work and long weekend! It definitely helped me get over the fact that I was working on the Fourth.  I am so incredibly lucky to have in-laws that decided to take us with them!

We stayed in a very cute condo just steps from the beach.

The first night, since I was leaving from work and wouldn't get in until later, Dan's family all met me for dinner in Charleston. This allowed Dan to drive the rest of the way and navigate the island at night. I wish I had more pictures of the beautiful island, trees, and homes. With such a short stay, we soaked up as much fun in the sun (and bocce ball) as we could.

Saturday night we went to dinner at The Macintosh. Everything we had was absolutely delicious! I would recommend the Bourbon Wedding Punch and the Squash Blossom appetizer.

I am not a connoisseur of restaurants in Charleston, but I would definitely say it is worth a visit!

We finished some books that were half-read for way too long, got inspired by Better Homes and Gardens, and did a whole lot of sitting on the beach. Our last night there, we ate on the island at the restaurant in the Sanctuary Hotel. The food and the service was fabulous, and the whole place was beautiful.

On the steps entering the Sanctuary:

The view after sunset from the putting green: I love the way the sky looks in this picture.

And a few more from our trip:

On the boardwalk on the way down to the beach:

It was very windy so most of my pictures look like this:

We had such a wonderful time - I would go back in a heartbeat. Sandy, Dan, what are yall doing next weekend? ;)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A note from my husband

Dan and I are both lucky enough to have families that love the beach. And vacations. And bringing us with them.

Dan's parents rented a condo in Kiawah Island, South Carolina last week. Dan joined his mother on Monday, his brother joined Tuesday, his father Wednesday, and myself Thursday (ahh the joys of corporate America).

Unfortunately, this left me and Koda home alone for 3 nights. Fortunately, I have the best husband in the world.

When I went to bed on Monday night, look what my super thoughtful husband did. He left me a sweet note on my pillow!

Yes. You read it correctly. In Dan that means, "I left the grizzly bear mace and a flashlight by your side of the bed to keep you safe since I can't be there."

Could he be any sweeter? The bear mace is from his adventures in Montana. I'm not exactly sure it would be legal to use on humans. I'm not exactly sure we would care -- if a stranger shows up in our bed room.

You see, I have quite a few irrational fears -- topping the list is the fear of a potential murderer hiding in any nook or cranny of my house. (Runners-up include: roaches, ghosts, outdoor spaces small enough for a spider web to be in between, and the idea that one day Betty Crocker could, indeed, discontinue Rainbow Chip icing). I blame my parents for all the horror movies I was allowed to watch as a child.. isn't everything their fault?! (Just kidding - mom!).

So, naturally, when I get home on days when Dan is out of town, I search my house with a Cutco knife in hand. 

Chefs knife. Not the petite. Very sharp, alright?

And, just in case the murderer has decided to hide behind the shower curtain for approximately 6 hours, and jump out while I am tucked into bed, I have grizzly bear mace. With a safety. For good measure. 

Yall now think I'm crazy. Should I not post this?

In case yall were worried, I did not have to use the bear mace and arrived safely in Kiawah on Thursday evening. I'll post pictures from the trip tomorrow.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Airsoft is Notsoft"

I was catching up on some of my favorite blogs today, when I came across this one by the Pioneer Woman titled "Airsoft is Notsoft." If you have a couple minutes, read it. It is quite funny. Maybe, mostly, because I have been there.

Well, it brought me back to the delightful college days, when Dan and his roommates found it a great idea to buy Airsoft guns. I didn't realize that my guy-friends had turned into seven-year-olds, and I will never understand the 3-month fascination with toy guns. I even tried reading The Tipping Point. It wasn't in there. I digress.

Dan went away for one of the breaks, during which our school would do a "fire code check" to ensure that we didn't have anything dangerous, like bonfires in our bedrooms. Really, it was an excuse to check for things not allowed on campus. When Dan came back from break, he was greeted with a lovely weapons violation.


Apparently, if we had read our school code (because thats what people do on their summer beach trips), we would have known that even toy guns are considered weapons, and not allowed on campus. Neon orange tip and all. Thus, fabulously ending the Airsoft gun fascination.

Good job, Dan. I think he had to write a paper on the use of deadly weapons ... or something of the sort. And I am sure his room was searched quite throughly for all future "fire code checks". I love him.

Anyway, the point of this post is that Dan somehow convinces me that Airsoft guns don't hurt. That it's just a little foam / plastic pellet. I think back to the Nerf days and believe him. Well, I don't quite believe him, but my curiosity gets the best of me and I agree to let him shoot me, wondering what it could feel like.

HOLY CRAP! That thing hurt like &%$%&#^*$&)*()@ .. yes, that many symbols. Especially percents and ampersands.

I had a quarter sized welt on my back for days. And it wasn't funny. Until today. When someone as funny as Ree Drummond writes about how Airsofts are Notsoft ... and no one else in her family seems sane enough to agree. I can relate.

Moral of the story: don't let your future husband convince your 19 year old self to let him shoot you with an Airsoft gun. OR should it be: don't marry someone who gets weapons violations in college? Hmm.. I love him. 

Dan. Airsoft = Notsoft. Ree has proven my point.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Grasshopper / Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

These are hands-down the yummiest and easiest cupcakes I have ever made. And I have made a lot of cupcakes in my life! (Sorry, waistline.)

I have a co-worker who loves birthdays. And, if you know me, you know exactly who it is. Last year she wanted a “raspberry chocolate something,” and this year she wanted a “mint chocolate chip cake.” I love making up recipes, so I usually reply with a “challenge accepted.” (How I Met Your Mother - anyone?)

Now, I never think to write these recipes down. If you asked me how I made her ‘raspberry chocolate something,’ I sure couldn’t tell you.

But these were so good, I had too many people asking for the recipe, and every ingredient “to taste” wasn’t quite going to cut it. So I did you all a favor, made them again, wrote down exactly how much of everything I added and voile! You’re welcome. (And, secretly, I needed a birthday dessert for Dan, and even more secretly, I really wanted them myself…beside the point. This is for you.)

First of all, I made cupcakes because they are easier to eat at work. And mini cupcakes, because then you can multiple. And I cheated. I used boxed cake mix. 90% of the time I make it all from scratch .. but I had to be done in time for the Bachelor. Priorities, people!

So grab a few staples from your cabinet:


1 box Chocolate Cake Mix (Eggs, Oil, and Water to prepare the batter)
1 package of Andes Mints
2 sticks of salted butter
4.5 cups of powdered sugar
½ cup Crème de Menthe liquor

Make your boxed cake batter according to directions.

Put your super-cute-on-clearance-so-you-can-justify-the-purchase mini cupcake liners in your mini cupcake pan.

Now, get ready for the best trick I am going to give you for mini cupcakes / muffins. Behold. The plastic bag.

For muffins, you can just put the ingredients in and shake them up in the bag. For cupcakes, I like to beat the batter with a mixer first.

Cut the corner off of the plastic bag. No more mess! No more 300 scoops! I have now given away my best trick. I don’t know what I am going to do for material on this blog anymore.

Since I sent my husband to get the Andes, for fear of getting the wrong thing (which he does about 99% of the time that he goes to the grocery store himself- love you Dan), he came back with both larger Andes in a bag, and these pre-chopped Andes pieces.

These were awesome, and saved some time! But if you don’t want to have these mints left over, tempting you to eat them all in one sitting, just grab some regular ones and give them a rough chop. Add to batter.

No need to stir, these will sink in as you bake them. Bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean.

Now for the deliciousness. The frosting.

Beat 2 sticks of butter until fluffy. Slowly add in 4.5 cups of powdered sugar. Beat in ½ cup Crème de Menthe liquor. This part is clutch. Peppermint oil and mint extract are not the right type of mint for these. Those are more Candy Cane / York mint, instead of the Andes / Grasshopper mint. Plus, have you seen the grasshopper milkshakes on Pinterest? You'll find other uses for the Crème de Menthe.

Frost with the plastic bag trick (what are you guys going to do without me?) .. or if you have 47 Wilton icing tips because you have a problem with impulse-buying kitchen items, choose tip number 28, pipe, and enjoy.

I placed pieces of Andes on top, and then added roughly chopped chocolate sprinkles, for a “mint chocolate chip” look. This made 48 mini cupcakes. Don’t tell Dan. I don’t want him to do the math on how many I have eaten.

And, because this recipe is already a novel, I will leave you with a story. After making these, Dan and I went to do our Ab Ripper workout DVD. I kept finding chocolate sprinkles stuck to my thighs while working out. WOW. Seriously? Dan couldn’t help but laugh out loud at me. Jillian would be so disappointed. At least I did the DVD, right? Chocolate sprinkles and all? Do these things happen to anyone else??