Friday, May 27, 2011

Things I'm loving lately...

I know I've been a poor blogger lately, but I thought I didn't really have anything to write about.... Until I found some inspiration from a recent conversation g-chat with my trusty sister and uber-blogger, Danielle. (Thanks, Danielle!)

While there hasn't been too many exciting things going on in my life, there are some things that I've been loving on lately that I thought I could share with all of you:

#1. Insanity. Last summer I was looking for a way to get in shape and get into an exercise routine. I decided to buck-up and purchase Insanity by BeachBody. (You've probably been mesmerized by the infomercials just like I was . . . right?) Insanity has been compared to P90X, however, Insanity uses your own body as the strength training instead of weights and emphasizes cardio (or, so I've heard). The Insanity plan consists of 60 days of high intensity interval training divided into 2 months. Go ahead, you can laugh at the thought of me jumping around my living room and basement to an exercise video dvd, but Insanity is no Buns of Steel (and you really might want to watch the video on that link. Hil-larious!) Last summer, Insanity kicked. my. butt. After the first month of training, I thought I was doing great, and then I hit the second month whose exercises are absolutely brutal (in a good way, of course). I think I tweaked a muscle in my leg doing the half marathon earlier this spring which would hurt when I ran, but I still wanted needed to stay active. So, in true "Kristin" fashion, I decided to repeat Insanity. I've already done about 6 weeks and I feel great. Not only am I feeling and looking more in shape (I think), but I have to brag and say that I'm rockin' my workouts. Sure they are hard, and sure, sometimes my thighs or triceps or lungs are burning, but boy do I feel good afterward. Gotta love endorphins. I'm liking it so much that after I finish the remaining 2 weeks I must just repeat it. Or mix it with half marathon training, or yoga, or dance (see love #4 below).

#2. Green Smoothies. If you follow any nutrition or health blogs or news like I do, you've probably heard of the components and benefits of green smoothies. Basically green smoothies consist of raw veggies and fruit thrown in a blender. Not only are they good, but they are good for you. I've been cheating and easing my way into making real green smoothies with raw veggies and have been using the drink Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness with a little non-fat plain frozen yogurt (with active cultures, thank you Trader Joe's), and then chocolate protein powder. While it's not made with raw veggies and fruit, it's close enough for now and is definitely delicious and nutritious. I've been drinking it directly after my Insanity workouts as a way to get protein and nutrients into my body to recover. Yummy! Maybe I'll graduate to real green smoothies after I go grocery shopping . . .

#3. I love Pinterest. One blog that I follow and adore, Young House Love, has posted a few times about Pinterest, so I finally requested an invite to join and see what all the hype is about. And let me tell you, I instantly fell in love. Basically all it is is a collection of mood/inspiration boards of pictures online. So, when I find a great skirt at Gap, or the perfect designer room, I can "pin" them to my Pinterest boards. My favorite board that I've created is "Making My House My Home" where I'm pinning inspiration and ideas to decorate my house. Although, my "Yummy" board is looking pretty good right now... Anyway, I'm such a visual person that it is proving to be a great way to collect my ideas and see the patterns of my styles, likes, and desires. Check out my boards, or, better yet, request to join and follow me!

#4. SYTYCD. Yes, this might be a little over-the-top, but So You Think You Can Dance started Season 8 last night and I am so so so excited! Besides my new found obsession for the Bachelor/Bachelorette, SYTYCD is the only "contest" reality show I watch and I LOVE it. Every time I watch SYTYCD, I get a yearning to dance again . . . swoon. In preparation for this season, I looked up adult dance classes in the area and am prepared to start taking classes this summer just in case . . . I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, watch SYTYCD on Fox Wednesdays and Thursdays 8/7cst. (And, be prepared for some commentary posts about the show from me. I might not be able to resist!)

Anyway, those are things I am loving lately. I'll find more to write about soon. Promise ; )

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mint Julep Cupcakes!

So yesterday, I made Mint Julep Cupcakes for a Kentucky Derby party, and while they sound delicious, sadly they were only just "okay." (although, they look yummy, right?!)

First, I used a recipe I found on Hostess with the Mostest (I definitely cannot take credit for this masterpiece!). They looked super cute with the tiny straws and mint leaves, and, the silver wrappers were a perfect touch for that "julep" look. My problem with the cupcakes were that they were just too too minty. Don't get me wrong I LOVE mint; I love the smell of it, one of my favorite ice cream flavors is mint chocolate chip, I usually only chew mint-flavored gum, and don't get me started on how amazing Thin Mints are (thank you, Girl Scouts). But, these cupcakes were just too much. I mean, the recipe calls for bourbon and, unlike a real Mint Julep drink, you couldn't even taste the 1/2 cup of bourbon in it, but boy could you taste the mint!  So, below is the original recipe, along with my notes/edits:


  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup bourbon (or whiskey)
  • 1/2 cup Creme de Menthe 

  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mint extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • milk

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F, and grease or line 30 cupcake cups.
Combine salt, baking powder, and 1 3/4 cups of the flour. Beat butter, sugar, eggs, and extracts in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Add the milk and liquors to the batter, then the rest of the flour (1 cup). Mix as little as possible (seriously), just until the batter comes together. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool & then icing.

Combine the powdered sugar, salt, extracts and melted butter and beat until creamy. Gradually add milk until the texture is right for piping. When the cupcakes are completely cool, pipe or spread the icing on top. Garnish with cake sparkles or sprinkles, a straw (trimmed to size), and mint leaves.

Kristin's Notes
So, since I've noted how minty these cupcakes were, I would suggest changing a few things to the recipe if you try it out:
  1. Make sure the butter for the batter is really soft (practically melted) so that it blends well!
  2. Halve the the Creme de Menthe, OR, leave out the mint extract from the batter mix. The Creme de Menthe gives the batter the green color, so I wouldn't want to leave it out completely, but there is just a LOT of mint flavoring going into the batter so something needs to go (unless you LOVE mint!).
  3. Maybe only use 1/2 cup of milk as well. There is so much liquid in the batter and even though I am not a "master-baker," I'm afraid that the liquid is causing too much steam/aeration to take place, which causes the cupcake to lose it's "fluffy" texture (although, cutting back on the Creme de Menthe would help this too).
  4. Leave out the mint extract from the icing. The cupcakes have enough mint in the batter. (Again, unless you really LOVE mint.)
I will definitely be experimenting with these cupcakes again because not only are they great Derby cupcakes, but they would also be perfect for St. Patty's Day! (maybe some Irish Whiskey or Bailey's instead of bourbon!?)

Let me know if you try these out, and what you thought! ENJOY!

(PS - Chris' horse, Animal Kingdom, won the race so our lovely hosts are giving us a Derby Pie which is truly DELICIOUS!)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Did you know . . . that DC can't vote?

Did you know that DC residents do not have equal voting representation in Congress? While every other American has House Representatives and Senators that come to DC and actually VOTE on legislation, DC's only Representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, CANNOT vote. Can you imagine being a Congressman/woman and not getting to vote? Not getting to exercise your duty in the legislative branch of our government?

Colonial Americans fought the British with the mantra "no taxation without representation" over 200 years ago, however, DC is still fighting with that same mantra today. We pay our taxes to the federal government like everyone else, however we do not have true representation in Congress. If DC earns the right to vote, it will be the beginning to solving a lot of issues that plague our Nation's Capital. Don't let Congress Tread On DC anymore!

Please, help us win that right by signing the petition below and maybe even sending a letter to President Obama and your own Congressmen/women. And, please spread the word to your own friends and family!

Sign the petition:

Check out more information about DC's efforts by visiting DC Vote's website too.

via DC Vote

Monday, May 2, 2011


Did any of you participate in Book It as kids? Chris and I definitely did!

For those of you that didn't participate in Book It - and I know you are out there - here is how it works: your K-6 teacher enrolls in the program, he/she sets some sort of reading goal for the students (for us, it was to read 5-6 book), and once the goal is completed, the teacher gives the student a coupon to Pizza Hut (we got a FREE Personal Pan Pizza).
Old school Book It! Pin (
Whenever we completed one of our books, we got a sticker to put on the stars of these Book It pins. I know that I *secretly* loved showing off my pin full of stickers. And, I swear, Danielle and I still have our old Book It pins lying around somewhere in our her room at our parents' house! The best part was the free personal pizza with the topping of my choice - most likely bacon. And, while I enjoyed collecting the stickers and pins and picking out my own topping of my own pizza, I bet my parents loved Book It even more than us kids because for them it meant a family dinner out, without having to pay to feed us! Win, win situation for all. Let's hope Book It is still around when we decide to have kids . . .

Anyway, on to the point of this post... Chris and I, missing those personal pan pizzas, decided to create our own Book It program, for adults. It all started when Chris realized that I had not read many "classic" and "great" books, such as 1984 and the Lords of the Rings Trilogy, and, that despite his constant haranguing, I still did not read them. (Not only did I not have time to start reading a book like Don Quixote, but I was stubborn and refused to start reading LOTR when Chris had not read Harry Potter.)

So, we decided that we would each read 10 of the other person's favorite books (that we had not already read), and, after we each completed the 10, we would reward ourselves with Personal Pan pizzas from Pizza Hut! Hence, our Book It program, for adults!

Chris' Favorite Books that I have to read:
1. 1984, George Orwell
2. Animal Farm, George Orwell
3. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
4. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
5-7. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
8. Candide, Voltaire
9. The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
10. Dr. Faustus (David Mamet) Doctor Faustus (Thomas Mann), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), OR, The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
My Favorite Books that Chris has to read:
1-7. Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
8. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
9. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
10. Emma OR Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

In reality, we have actually already started this "contest." Chris has finished up the Harry Potter books (just in time for the final movie in July!), and I have read 3 of his books (Since, I have been busy finishing up this semester's classes). Right now, Chris is struggling through Tolstoy, while I am contemplating when to tackle Don Quixote . . . But, soon enough our brains will be full of new books and we'll be enjoying that sweet sweet pizza!

Any thoughts on our book choices? Anyone else have crazy awesome memories of Book It? Or, do you have no idea what I'm talking about?!
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