Monday, August 31, 2009

Reality Check

So over the weekend, one of my friends that I've known since 1st grade posted a photo trip down memory lane. There's some superswell pictures of me at age eight if you're interested on FB. She also posted some photos from our junior prom. And as I looked at the pictures, I realized just how out of shape and lazy I'd gotten with my workout regime since high school. I only weigh about 10 - 15 pounds more than I did in the photo and I'm only one dress size larger. The difference maker: in high school I was playing sports or working out five to six days a week, probably almost fifty weeks out of the year. Including camps and sports like track that I did just to keep in shape in the off (basketball and volleyball) season.

I make the lame-o excuse that right now, I just don't have time to work out, because I work too much. I put in around 50 plus hours a week of work, but seriously, it's not like I was sitting at home knitting in my free time in high school. I was pretty active in high school activities and since we lived 17 miles from the school it took an eternity to get there and back. My parents would occassionally ask me who I was when I walked in the door. So now I'm hoping that I can just convince my mom to come over every week and make all my meals for me because while I enjoy cooking, that's my other major timesuck. Chances that she's going to make the cross Iowa trek for me - not good. Maybe when she retires in the January.

One of my birthday gifts to me, was a sweet pair of running shoes. I just need start USING them. In the nice neighborhoods by my house. I'm not going to join a gym until after I buy a house, since I don't want to be driving across town to a gym.

I did realize that I hope I never have an awesome updo like I did in 1996 ever again. It was huge. (I'm wondering if there were any animals hiding in there.) And lots of curly trendil thingys. My hair for my senior prom was much better. I looked kinda like the "Pantene girl." Which probably makes no sense and I don't own a scanner.

Cake Ball recipe

Here's the cake ball recipe, per request. I've also added a few comments at the end because of my personal experiences...

1 (18.25-ounce) boxed cake mix plus ingredients called for on box
1 (16-ounce) can prepared frosting
Almond Bark Coating or Confectionery Wafer coating (I used about a pound of almond bark per box mix).

Bake the cake according to package instructions. While warm, crumble the cake into a bowl with a hand mixer to a fine texture. Mix in frosting to make a paste, using 3/4 to a full can of frosting, according to taste. Chill the mixture for at least 2 hours.
Using a melon baller or your hands, form the mixture into 1 ½ -inch balls. Place the balls on wax paper; freeze at least 6 hours.
Working in small batches, remove the balls from the freezer and dip the balls into warm, melted Almond Bark Coating or Confectionery Wafer Coating, using toothpicks or forks to manipulate the balls. Remove the balls. Place the balls on wax paper to harden. Makes about 30 cake balls.

My notes: I only used about 3/4 can of frosting with each kind, but you can use more if you want. I made three different kinds, it's pretty much up to you what kind you want to do. If you do a google search, you'll find all kinds of flavor ideas. I used a melon baller, but I wouldn't make them as big as they recommend above, I think mine were about 3/4 to 1 inch. I ended up with about 40 balls of each kind. The red ones were confectionery wafers which I'm not used to working with and it was a LOT thicker than the white almond bark that I'm used to dealing with when making candy coated pretzels, etc. I did use melted dark chocolate confectionary wafers as the garnish type on the chocolate balls I made.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I'm a big fan of baking. It's fun, it reminds me of so many happy memories from my childhood - making chocolate chip cookies with my mom when I little, decorating cookies for the holidays and all the awesome treats that my mom used to make for us back when we'd have treat days for school. Baking is almost a therauputic thing for me, but at the same time, if I bake stuff, I have to eat it, and I have no need to have an entire cake sitting around my home.

So, this summer, on of my many cousins got married and one of the foods available before dinner were cake balls. After doing a little internet research, apparently cake balls have become quite popular over the last couple years, for all kinds of occassions. Guess I'd been missing out.

So this past week, I decided to bake some up - I wanted to see if this was something that would be easy to make and also be something that I could give out to certain agencies. The end result, they are pretty easy to make, a bit time consuming, but easy. I mean, you use a boxed cake mix, and around a can of frosting. Seriously. The cake balls allow for a lot of variation, you can pretty much put any cake and frosting combo together that you want. I made three different kinds: yellow cake with buttercream frosting mixed in them, funfetti cake with vanilla frosting and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.
After mixing those two parts together and letting it set in the fridge for few hours, I got out my Pampered Chef scoop and scooped them on to wax paper and then put them into the freezer for six hours. Then the cake balls get dipped in almond bark. Here is where I made a bit of a mistake. I'd gone to Hobby Lobby and purchased some red confectionery wafers. I'm not used to working with them, and probably should have thinned them out a bit. I was dipping the yellow cake into the red mixture and after it set I noticed that it was seriously thick. I used white almond bark for the other two, turned out much better. You can see the photo of the end result. I'll probably make them again, maybe experiment with some different mixtures, the chocolate one is really rich.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's the big deal?

Is anyone else a bit annoyed about all the hub-bub the universities are causing over the "school colored" themed cans currently being sold by InBev, aka Anheuser-Busch aka Bud Light? Here's a link to a DM Register August 26 article:

I find the whole thing to be a bit annoying. As far as I can tell nowhere on the cans does it say, "Iowa State" or "ISU" or "Iowa" or "UofI", so what's to say that I wouldn't be buying those cans to support USC instead of ISU or Purdue instead of Iowa or heck, perhaps my sorority of choice? Do the universities not have better things to waste their time on, budget shortfalls? Will binge drinking at ISU and Iowa among underage college kids plummet once these cans return to normal colors? Has it spiked in the past couple weeks - as opposed to this time last year? Hmm...who are these 19 and 20 year olds drinking Bud Light anyway? Shouldn't they be drinking whatever is cheapest? Keystone Light, Natty Light, Busch Light, insert some fantastic crap light beer here.....

When I was a kid, I remember that my dad has some vintage looking ISU beer cans, that were gold and had a picture of Cy on them. I always though they were pretty cool. (I'm sure my dad still has them around somewhere, trust me, it's my dad.) I did a google search to see if I could find the manufacturer of these cans. I could not. What I did find, was that the back of the can said something like, "Not part of Iowa State University." Perhaps that was InBev's faux pas.

I guess what it all boils down to is that I'm going to be a bit annoyed if I can't purchase some of these cans for tailgating when I'm well over the legal drinking age.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What matters most...

So my job takes me all over the eastern part of Nebraska. Days like today I spend four to five hours in the car heading down the highway wanting the slow a.k.a. "Sunday drivers" to get the heck out of my way because I have places to be and people to see. Most likely my previous appointment ran long, I ended up grabbing Subway and I'm trying to make up time to get to my next stop. But Monday, I stayed in town and was checking out prospective offices, one of which was in a less than safe part of town. A place that I sure as heck wouldn't be hanging out after dark. The office that I visited wasn't in the worst of the worst but it was on the edge and to get to the next stop, I essentially drove through one of the worst parts of town, not by choice. My friend, Carmen the Garmin directed me that way.
It made me realize that one of the things that matters most to me when I'm looking for a new home is safety and security. If I live downtown, I definetly want to be in a secure building - like the one that I checked out the other day - it had key fobs, required a key combo to operate the elevator and required a key to get into the building. So pretty safe and secure. I feel pretty safe and secure in the building that I live in right now. Ever since I was robbed twice back when I still lived in West Des Moines, I don't live in basement level apartments - I make the thiefs work for my stuff. Yes, I realize that safety and security should be a no brainer, but when I was making my list of things to have, I didn't have it on the list. So, living in the 'hood, definitely out. Surprisingly I don't think that will eliminate that many townhomes that I was previously considering from the list.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

On the Hunt

I headed out to a few open houses today in a few different areas of town. Mainly what I'm looking for is either a townhouse or condo. In a perfect world, it would have at least two bedrooms, 1.5 (or more) bathrooms and a two car garage. The amount of garage space is the most flexible thing. I also want a bigger kitchen than my teeny, tiny kitchen. I found out a few things in the process:

a)I need to get a realtor, these people can practically smell me coming and want my money. I realize that they work off commission and while they may be well intentioned, I'm just getting started - but some of them were really agressive. Almost creepy. I also need to get a realtor because the place that I've been watching online for awhile has never had an open house and I want to find out what the heck is wrong with it - Why hasn't it sold? Why is it so much cheaper than the other places in the complex? I've hypothisized that someone was murdered in the unit - though it doesn't really go with the neighborhood. I have an incredibly active imagination.

b) Just because it says "townhouse" don't assume it's actually a townhome. One place was listed as a townhome, but it was half a duplex and would require me to maintain the yard, exterior of the building (roof, siding of the home), and do snow removal. The only bonus was that there was a small annual fee for some commons areas as opposed to monthly dues. My job isn't really condusive to all that kind of stuff - which is why I want a townhouse/condo in the first place! ARRGH!!!

c) Need to remember to keep an open mind. I went to check out a place downtown, completely for fun and ended up liking it. It'd be fun to be able to walk to bars, restaurants and concerts. The kitchen and bathroom could use a little bit of updating, but it came with parking (bonus) and a secure building (bonus).

Friday, August 21, 2009

30 going on 13?

So for the past few months my face has been breaking out and I can't get it to stop. It's driving me nuts. I have always been somewhat lucky that while I'm the pasty kid, my skin has been relatively clear. Occassional zit, sure. Explosion across the face. Not cool, not cool at all. Suddenly, I've got acne worse than I did in high school. While it's still not awful (thank goodness) I'm annoyed as all get out. I've tried about everything I can think of.... I changed my make up - I had switched to Bare Escentuals and I switched back to Clinique. I was using a liquid cleanser and went back to wipes (so much for the enviroment and trying to do one little thing to help). I even stopped using my beloved Tide laundry detergent thinking maybe I was allergic to my pillow case and switched to a dye free version.
I'm starting to wonder if the re-addition of caffiene to my life is the culprit. I quit drinking pop about four years ago and have recently picked up the wonderful latte drink habit. I'm working on cutting this back from the medium to small size. If this is the cause of the break out then my latte days are numbered. I'm also thinking I just might have to break down and go see a dermatologist. I'd just like to go back to looking like this, thanks. Okay, enough complaining.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Dishes

I know, what an exciting topic for my first entry, right? The dishes that I've been using for years and years (circa December 2001) are not very exciting, were not picked by me and are not a complete set. They were hand-me-downs from my sister, Elizabeth. Yes, I know I'm 30. And I'm well aware that somewhere along the way I should have picked up my own adult dishes. It's not like I've been eating on paper plates for the last 7.5 years. And when you live alone, is it really necessary to have service for eight? Probably not. But anyway, the other week, I was online at Younkers looking for who knows what, when I stumbled across these Laurie Gates dishes. I discovered they would look fabulous with another set of plates that I had previously found at Crate and Barrel (below left). So I figured after I got back from Vegas and my work trip to Michigan I would bite the bullet and head to Younkers and buy some new dinnerware and order the plates from Crate and Barrel. Didn't want to be ordering things from C&B when I wasn't going to be home - the UPS guy already hates me. Stopped at Younkers today and picked up the first set. Holy heck are they heavy. And then came home to order the dishes from C&B, AAACK, they're out of stock online, so now I have to figure out an alternate plan. On the left is the plate that I wanted from C&B and on the right is the plates that Younkers sells as coordinating with my actual plates.... I guess the other one is okay, but i like the Crate and Barrel one better - it's not so busy. Plus it was cheaper and I'm all about a good deal!