Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hoppy Easter and Bird Nest Cookies

Happy Easter! My little bunnies had a visit from the Easter bunny last night and were all too thrilled to try on their new outfits.

(Ok, maybe I had to bribe them with a treat or two!)

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Hoppy Easter from my family to yours!! I hope you all have a wonderful day as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord!

After Church, we are going over to Jason’s family’s house for Easter Dinner. I was asked to bring a few sides and at the last minute, I decided to throw a dessert in there, too. The dessert was WAY too cute not to share!

Warning: These cookies are not healthy by any means, but they sure are cute…and delicious, too! :0)

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Bird's Nest Cookies 
Adapted from: Creations by Kara

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
8oz cream cheese
2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp coconut extract
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
Vanilla Icing
Flaked coconut and green food coloring
Cadbury eggs (or you could use PB eggs, Robin eggs, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and gather your ingredients.

Let the butter and cream cheese come to room temperature, then beat with a hand mixer until smooth – do not melt them in the microwave. Beat in sugar. Add egg, vanilla, and coconut extract. 
Mix well. (Side note: The coconut extract will make your batter have a really strong coconut taste – no worries, the cookies don’t taste that strong!)

Stir in the baking powder and flour (one cup at a time).

Roll dough in balls (about the size of ping pongs). Place on lightly greased cookie sheets (I used a cooking stone). Make an indentation in each one using the back of a Tablespoon. The dough is very sticky, so you may need to dip the back of the tablespoon into flour to make the indention. 

Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes (I had to bake mine on the stone for 18-20 minutes, 12 minutes was not long enough). Some turned out more dark than others. (I really like crispy cookies and these had the perfect consistency – gooey in the middle and crispy on the outside!)

Remove from oven and while the cookies are still warm, use the spoon to press down the indentation again. Let cookies cool completely. Mix coconut with a couple of drops of green food coloring in a small bowl. Stir until coconut is tinted green.

Fill a small Ziploc bag (or icing tool) with vanilla icing, then cut a small corner off the Ziploc back.

Fill the indention of each cookie with icing (just enough to cover the bottom and sides – you don’t want a ton of icing). Sprinkle green coconut in indention – the purpose of the icing is to help the coconut stick.

On the back of each Cadbury egg, place a small dollop of icing, then arrange on green coconut in whatever shape/way you’d like! I used three eggs on each cookie.

Serve and enjoy!

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Ingredients

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I let the butter and cream cheese come to room temperature before trying to work with them. Once soft, I beat with a hand mixer until they were smooth – it’s not a good idea to melt the butter/cream cheese in the microwave to make this process faster.  (Trust me, I’ve done it before cause I’m not the most patient person!)

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Cookies ready to go on my cooking stone. I made indentations on each cookie using the back of a Tablespoon. The dough was very sticky, so I had to dip the back of the tablespoon into flour to make the indention.

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Once out of the oven, I had to re-define the indentions (you can see the ones on the left of the picture aren’t quite as bowl shaped anymore).

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Once cookies were cool, it was time to decorate!

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I used vanilla icing to help everything stick! I didn’t fill the indentions completely, I mainly scraped icing along the sides of the indentions with my Ziploc baggie.

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I also used a small dollop of icing to help the Cadbury eggs stick.

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Each cookie held three Cadbury eggs. You could also use any type of candy egg you’d like – Robin Eggs, PB eggs, etc. Anything would work!

These cookies are very tasty and make a cute addition to any Easter dessert bar. Enjoy!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fitness Friday of Sorts!




Happy Good Friday! If you have today off work, I hope you are enjoying your day! I have a lot of things planned for this weekend and can’t wait to get started! This is my first ever Fitness Friday post and even though I didn’t work out a lot, I still had a great week!

On Wednesday after work, I ran a 4 mile loop around the lake. Even though it was cold and windy, I still really enjoyed the run. I took my normal lake route, then decided to be nosey and check out a new developmental area around the corner. To my shock, there’s a brand new sidewalk in front of the development! YAY!

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I also tried out my new Balega socks and I’m in love!! Can’t believe I just discovered these socks!
Yesterday, I did something I haven’t done in a LONG time.

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A workout DVD.

You see, I got off work early yesterday afternoon, was home alone with nothing to do, and both of these videos still had the packaging on them – sounded like the perfect opportunity to me!
Prior to yesterday, I hadn’t worked out with the Biggest Loser/Bob/Dolvett before so I was interested to see what these videos were all about!

I chose the Power X-Train DVD and I loved it! The video is broken up into 5 segments: a 5 minute warm up and a 5 minute cool down, then three different 15 minute segments. I did the warmup and two of the 15 minute segments (one with Bob and one with Dolvett).

One thing I learned from this video – Bob loves squats. Can we say ouch? (A good ouch, of course!)
I had a feeling I would feel sore/achy when I got out of bed on Friday morning and I was right! Soreness doesn’t bother me – I actually like to feel sore every once in a while! It’s like a feeling of accomplishment to me – like I worked hard and my body wants me to know it. :0)

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After the workout, I laced up my new shoes from Teva and took the doggies on a walk. Full review on these shoes to come soon!

The puppies were SO excited to walk – it was a gorgeous afternoon and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity!

With the beautiful weather comes blooming azalea bushes and when these are in bloom, it means Spring is here!

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I had great afternoon and really enjoyed spending time with my babies!

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For dinner, Jason and I ate at O’Charleys and had dessert at Yogurt Mountain. I noticed a new flavor combination on the wall – Maple Bacon. The yogurt itself tasted like maple syrup, but bacon bits were a new topping option to go with it! This flavor combination reminded me of our recent Easter production (Life, Death, and Two Strips of Bacon). The waitresses at the diner tried to get customers to order odd combinations of food and the best one in the script was Maple Syrup on Meatloaf!

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So when I saw this new flavor, I had to laugh! Good times!! :0)

I also plan to run on Saturday morning with my running group. Since it’s Easter, we have cute bunny ears to wear and I hear talk of an Easter Egg hunt with lots of running related prizes! Looking forward to it!

Know what else happens this weekend?! OPENING DAY of Baseball season!!! I’m so excited its back! I’ve been watching Spring Training games lately (something I never do) and it looks like its going to be a great season! Now to decide who to cheer for…hmm…

Anyway, I hope you are having a great start to your Easter Weekend! Remember the true reason we celebrate!

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Source: Google Images

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dress United Custom T-Shirt Review

Recently, I was contacted by the lovely folks over at Dress United who asked if I would be willing to design and order one of their custom tee’s and write a review on my thoughts.

Of course I said yes!

For starters, Dress United is the branch of a company called Build-A-Sign. I worked with Build-A-Sign a few years ago to create several blog-related items, so when they asked if I was interested in creating a custom t-shirt, of course I said yes!

Dress United has several different shirt types available to choose from: Unisex, Ladies, Girly, Long Sleeve, Hoodie, and Sweatshirt. Their prices also range from $20 (budget t-shirt) to around $40 (American Apparel hoodie).

Their site is incredibly easy to use and I had no problem creating my shirt at all! The design creator is very user friendly, there are a ton of shirt color choices/styles to choose from, their prices are affordable, and my shirt shipped super fast! I did spend quite a bit of time googling shirt size charts online (because I don’t like my shirts to fit really snug) before deciding on the right size for me. (Anyone else know what I mean?)

I finally decided on the 100% cotton fitted American Apparel Girly Fashion Tee in light blue. I noticed that this shirt was rating a “smaller fit” on every website I checked (they recommended to size up from your normal size), so after changing my mind a million times, I finally went with an XL and prayed it wouldn’t fall off of me. Thankfully (true to the website’s word), this shirt does have a smaller fit and the XL fit me exactly perfect! Crisis averted!

For a theme, I used my blog header on the front:

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My blog URL is on the back:

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This shirt is incredibly soft and comfortable. As a matter of fact, I’m wearing it right now as I type this! :0)

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Dress United for this opportunity! Feel free to check out their website and browse around. If you ever have a custom t-shirt need in the future, make sure to check them out!

Right now, Dress United has a special offer for custom orders - 30% off and free shipping in the United States! Visit this link (CLICK HERE) and type BLOG30OFF4U in the box provided!

They’re also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest! Stop by and tell them hello! :0)

Thanks again, Dress United!!

What would you design on a custom t-shirt? Do you have a hard time making decisions like I do?

I received the t shirt mentioned above for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated. The opinions stated within this post are entirely my own.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2013 Bark for Life of SWLA

After months of meeting, discussing, documenting, and planning, Southwest Louisiana’s first annual American Cancer Society’s Bark for Life has come and gone!

If you haven’t heard or seen me mention Bark for Life in the past few months than consider yourself lucky – it’s all I’ve been able to talk or think about lately! I was the chair for the event and was incredibly nervous about sending off a good first impression, especially since we’ve never had an event like this in our area.

Think of it as a mini Relay for Life that’s not overnight and includes dogs.

Saturday morning greeted us with humid wet weather but we didn’t let it stop us!

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Our Mayor opened up our ceremonies and declared March 23 as Bark for Life day!

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He presented the Proclamation to our Bark for Life survivor/dog caregiver, Erin!

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As part of our event, we also had an official Survivor dog. Meet Miss Millie….she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the jaw (very rare in her small breed and young age). She had surgery to remove the tumor and went through a full course of chemotherapy at a local veterinary office! She’s a fighter and a survivor! Since completing her treatments, she’s been 5 years cancer free! Yay!

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As a part of opening ceremonies, I spoke a few words about the American Cancer Society and the services they’ve offered to patients in our area over the past year.

After opening ceremonies was complete, our survivor dogs/human survivors/caregivers walked a survivor lap around the track!

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I thought this puppy was too cute for words!

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The first guest speaker at our event was a local vet who works at the clinic that provided chemotherapy to Miss Millie. She spoke about cancer in dogs and caring for dogs diagnosed with cancer.

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Our second speaker was a local K-9 unit who demonstrated how the “bite suit” works and allowed us to meet one of the dogs of their unit.

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Throughout the morning, we also had a pet/owner look alike contest, a pet talent show, and a costume contest.

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These guys won 2nd place at the costume contest! Samson is 196 pounds, but is one of the most gentle dogs you will ever meet! Such a sweetie!

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The first place winners of our costume contest were these two sweet Dachshunds! So adorable!!

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A few members of our rock-star committee! :0)

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Despite the dreary weather, we had a great morning and really enjoyed spending time with our furry friends! We are looking forward to an even better 2014 (and hope the weather cooperates next time)!!

Have you ever attended a Bark for Life event? What were your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Color Run Houston

One of the many fun times I had this past weekend was the Color Run 5K in Houston, Tx!

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A group of friends and I ran the race together and had a great time while doing so!

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We wore all white and our shirts said “Color Me…Awesome”! This was Kenzie’s first 5K and I was very excited to share in the experience with her!

Our hotel was less than a mile from the start line, so we decided to walk (instead of drive and pay to park). It was WINDY and COLD and none of us were prepared for either condition. Spring? What happened?

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We made it to the festival area and encountered this….the line for packet pickup was super long, but it went surprisingly fast.

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At check in, we were given a t-shirt, a sweat band, two tattoos, a bib number, and color for the end of the race.

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No, Kayla is not slapping Mary in the face – she’s helping Mary put her tattoo on!

We also decided to store our bags in my Asics bag (my trusty running bag) instead of returning them to the hotel. I decided it wasn’t a huge deal to run 3 miles with a light backpack…so why not?

Once we were ready, we walked over to the start line and were greeted by this:

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A sea of white! People were EVERYWHERE!

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We gradually made our way into the starting corral. The Color Run directors are very smart…even though thousands of people run, and there are no corral assignments, they let runners go in waves. It took about 20 minutes for us to reach the front, but we were entertained the entire time – and we never felt crowded on the course which was a huge PLUS in my book!!

The first color stop was blue!

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Yeah baby!

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We’re blue what about you? 

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After running through the blue station,we hit “that bridge”…the everlasting one right past Minute Maid Park! Since we were up in the air and there was nothing to block the wind, it was cold and yes, incredibly windy! We warmed up after a few, but it did take a little while!

Next up: PINK!

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Love these two colors together! :0)

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On our way back, we decided to be silly and have a little fun!

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Cause jumping on random bridges anywhere else isn’t near as exciting!

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Yellow!

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Almost there!

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Final color stop: Orange!

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…and she rolled in it. Yes, that’s Kayla (my sister in law).

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Are we colorful enough yet?

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Nope! We still had the final process of The Color Run to go through…the Color Throw!

We counted down….

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….and there was a blast of color explosion!

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Not only was I bathed in orange, I also got hit directly in the eye. I was so scared my contact fell out (which meant I wouldn’t be able to drive home). Thankfully, no harm was done. Kayla even got a bottle of water for me to wipe my hands off just incase I needed to dig in my eye! Pleasant, right?

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Official Color Runners!

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We clean up pretty well, too!

Overall, I really enjoyed myself and had fun running this race with friends. Even though I was covered in color, it washed off very easy in the shower. I would run this race again if the opportunity arose in the future.

I made a video of clips I took during the race. Check it out below:

Fore more information or to see if a Color Run is headed to your town, check out The Color Run website and click on cities.

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