Lingering Halloween Celebrations

I hope everyone had a good Halloween!

After dressing up twice over the weekend, I had no motivation to come up with anything for the office yesterday.

Plus, as I said before, we had a pretty awesome costume-filled weekend. Which is still a relatively new concept for me. Halloween was on my mom’s shit list for a long time.

With both of my parents being notorious teachers in our high school, turns out we were a major target for the good ol’ “let’s to toilet paper a house!” prank.

However, to be fair, maybe we were also asking for it. Growing in our front yard was a 20-year-old tree (or something like that). It surely SCREAMED “decorate me with common household items! Throw food staples at me!”

I still don’t know how people got a trash can up in it one year when we were out of town.

Hats off to you crazy tricksters on that one.


I didn’t really need to celebrate the holiday yesterday in order to throw myself into massive sugar coma.

We had birthday celebrations to take care of around here.

And cupcakes are way better than candy corn. Don’t even try to argue.

Especially when I now know they can be made just two at a time. Mind blown.

Someone give me a reason to make another pair of cupcakes today. Please…

Cupcakes For Any Occasion

I found myself on an emotional roller coaster this last weekend.

Ok, that’s a little dramatic.

Ok fine, that’s ridiculously overdramatizing things. Thanks for calling me out.

I found myself feeling moments of cheer and moments of sadness.

There. That’s more accurate.

The peanut butter filling. It's mostly peanut butter and powdered sugar. And really does taste like the inside of a reese's. I should know. After rolling an entire pan of balls out (balls!) and throwing them into the freezer to harden, I kept sneaking them. Which means we ended up with two cupcakes without the peanut butter center. Whoops.

On Saturday I attended a house party. I love house parties. Because usually I know quite a few of the people. I save money. And inevitably, the roommate and I will get control of the music and make poor song choices the rest of the night.

Party rockin’ in the hoooouuuusssseee tonight…

I poured in the batter (it was super thin) and my roommate plopped the peanut butter middle in. Go team!

But this wasn’t the most cheerful reason to have a party. It was a going-away party for one of my favorites. A college friend. A close confidant. A running buddy. A champagne brunch kid. A shoulder to cry on when I’m sad and one to punch when he pisses me off (don’t worry- I’m much too weak to do any harm).

His decision to move back to the area where he grew up was not a popular one in our group of friends. We all used the words “stupid” and “big mistake”. But that was mostly out of selfishness and we know he wants to end up there and we’ll have to support that decision if we like it or not.

Perfection! I suggest, if you do the toothpick trick to test for doneness, poke the side. Otherwise, you just get peanut butter all over your toothpick. Not that I would have done that, or anything.

Whatever. He’ll be back.

And then there’s the flip side.

Another guy friend, also a college friend and champagne brunch participant, was celebrating his birthday over the weekend and at the same party.

Buttttteeerrrrrrrr! When making buttercream from scratch, it's very important to whip the butter before adding anything else. Makes it a little lighter. Also, I cut mine with a little bit of milk (skim, because that's what I have around). Makes it a wee bit healthier (possibly a stretch of my imagination) and easier to work with.

And I love me some birthday celebrations.

Birthdays are your one special day. Or your one special week. Or, in my case, my one special month… 

And they should be reason enough for a big celebration. And what’s a celebration without cake? I don’t let that happen. Because I want you to know, as my friend, how important you are to me. And for some reason or another, I tend to think the only way to convey this message is through buttercream or chocolate. Or both if you’re lucky. ;)

Never skimp on the icing. NEVER. Also, invest in some decent food coloring. Wilton makes the BEST dye for bold and bright colors.

So I was browsing the interwebz one day, I ran across these from Love in the Oven. My instant reaction was a double take and “say what now?!?!”

Chocolate. Peanut butter. Buttercream.

My roommate felt the same way. We rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

I switched out the chocolate cake recipe for one from the Hershey’s website I had used before. This was done because it’s good cake and I also didn’t have the sour cream needed for the original recipe. It’s all about working with what you’ve got, ya know?

Also, we went with plain vanilla buttercream. Just in case other people weren’t as nuts about peanut butter confections as we are. So considerate, right?

Done and done and done.

Cut the tip off of a ziploc bag. Throw in a big scoop of your two colors. Pipe on like you normally would.
Word to the wise- pipe colors that would look ok if they mix a little. It's going to happen as you're squeezing the bag.

Sure, cupcakes may be an odd thing to tote along to a keg party. And birthday candles are a weird thing to have handy in your purse.

But when have you ever known me to be completely normal?

I am so sorry for really sucking at not cutting through it very well. But you get the point. Chocolate cupcake. Peanut butter filling. Plenty of icing. Perfection.

The Non-Plan Plan

Oh hey there.

It’s day 2 of the first full work week since mid-December.

My patience with this week is already starting to waiver. Just a bit. But I’m a Leo and have never been known for patience, so really, any at all is a win, right?

Another win?

Trading a bowl of homemade beer cheese soup for 2 cupcakes. Yeah. Like you used to do in elementary school on the playground before lunch. But at work with a coworker. It’s how I roll, yo.The cupcake had a rough trip home, but still tasted quite lovely. I licked the gladware container directly after. It, as expected, also tasted quite lovely.

In other news, my spur of the moment decision to switch to an earlier race than planned has thrown me into half marathon training once again (thank goodness if I keep consuming cupcakes like I do). While lying around doing nothing all day Sunday, I contemplated how to approach it.

A life without structure is no good for me. But a tediously drawn-out plan has often left me rebellious, pouty, and hitting a wall mid-plan.

So we’re compromising.

Introducing my loosely-structured “Non Plan Plan”*:

Monday and Wednesdays: Run between 3 and 5 miles. If it’s only 3, I best be busting my butt. If it’s 5, there’s a little less pressure. (I ran 4.2 last night at 8:22- Holla’)

Tuesdays: Strength training with some cross training (err- elliptical or stairs). I hate this day of the week anyway, so may as while pile it on, right? We’re going to call on Jillian and my collection of her dvds for assistance here. Bonus points for free weights done while catching up on my DVR. Every little bit counts.

Thursdays: Rest Day. Can be switched up with Fridays if necessary. I can’t predict the future and we’re close enough to the weekend where cocktails may be necessary. Not often, but sometimes.

Fridays: Cross training. Or also known as “Free For All” day. Just no running and some sort of strength should be involved at some point. That’s the rule.

Saturdays: Long run! I have no idea why the exclamation point happened. This is easily the roughest day. My long runs (start at 5 and slowly progress to 11 miles) are scheduled for Saturdays because I have been known to party it up more on Saturday nights than Friday nights. Priorities.

Sundays: Yoga if I feel like it. Anything else I do has to be low impact. But being as how most Sundays are spent on the couch watching the slow cooker work magic, this shouldn’t be an issue.

So there you have it. A perfectly reasonable semi-plan that seamlessly works into my already-set schedule.

*This is all subject to change 100 times as weeks go by. Life happens.

A Better Day

Yes, I’m still gonna talk about it two days later.

You know I don’t like Tuesdays to begin with, but this one was killer.

So unenjoyable that all I could think of doing when I got home was to lay motionless for about an hour in front of the telly (yes, I think I’m British now) and then drag my worthless and defeated carcass upstairs to bed.

You would have done the same. We were short-staffed at work all day before a major convention. Usually lunch hour provides me a break from the crazy. But, to be honest, I don’t even remember when that should have been. And I wouldn’t even remember what I ate if I didn’t bring salad to work 80% of the time.


I didn’t even get to check the Cards game before leaving the office and driving out to the ‘burbs for my haircut.

My friend Mon and I were going together, so I picked up some food for myself and drove to her place. I beat her there. Instead of waiting patiently, I just did what I felt like.Dug in while sitting in my car. Probably creepin’ the neighbors out.

Oh well. I’ve probably done worse things.

It was a delicious turkey sandwich with a side of steamed veggies. There are now two-day-old carrots on the floor of my car somewhere.

But like I mentioned earlier, after the haircut and realization the Cards lost, I was of no use to anyone.

But never fear! Yesterday was better!

Mostly in part because it wasn’t Tuesday anymore.

But let’s give credit where credit is due, shall we?

Yep. A birthday cupcake from the break room. That’s all it takes. I’m cheap like that.

Don’t tell my man friend I said that…

Actually, there are quite a few other things. Like we weren’t AS short-staffed. I actually got a lunch. Traffic didn’t suck so bad. I got to run 6.1 miles like a bad ass. The Cards won and forced a Game 5. Modern Family was on. I’m now over the hump of the work week (humpa humpa!).

You know… the usual.

Even the weather! We are having unseasonably gorgeous weather. Like really- high 70’s through this coming weekend. Amazing! We all feel so lucky.

Wait… what’s that you say? As I’m enjoying my coffee, waking up out of my haze, you’re going to run a report about how it has been predicted that Chicago will have one of the worst winters they’ve had since God knows when and we need to be prepared because it’ll be the worst winter weather in the nation this year.


What a buzzkill.

I think I need another cupcake…

Musings From One Of Those Days

Today’s posting is sporadic.

You’ve been warned.

Daylight savings didn’t treat me well. I was tired (along with everyone else, I’m sure). And it’s that week where I have to be in the office at 7:30 everyday.

So yesterday morning was frustrating on many levels.

I didn’t even get a proper breakfast. My oatmeal exploded in the microwave at work. Should have known better. Our break room microwave is an industrial-sized beast. Radiation levels in that room are at an unhealthy level. This is certain.

I got to the gym right after work. The only available treadmill was the super loud one. So I would like to publicly apologize for the approximately 45 minutes (including warm-up) of obnoxious noise to everyone there.

Ok, fine, remember the treadmill that just sat in the workout room awkwardly? An entire month passed before they actually installed it. Let’s not get into how annoying that was to just have a treadmill sitting in the way for that long. Teasing us because it can’t be used…

But back to my point- it was available. Sadly I’m not a fan now that it is up and running (fun puns!). Maybe because I witnessed a screw fly off of it as a girl was running. Neither one of us knew where the screw came from.

I’ll give it some more time before I feel any more comfortable than just walking on it.

I’m a hazard to myself as-is. No need to bring technology into the mix of ways to injure myself.

5 at an 8:30 pace. An improvement from past Monday runs.

It would have been 4 miles. I really really wanted to run 4.

But people were asking about it at work. The whole training thing… how it’s going, how many miles I had to run last night, etc. And there was no way I was going to hang my head and say I only ran 4.

Especially if one of the people asking was Hottie McHotterson- a vendor who calls on our office regularly now.

He may not particularly care if I actually did run the full 5 or not. But I would.

Stupid pride.

Oh and yes, the cupcake liners I used on the brownie cupcakes were adorable, right? Quite a few of you asked, so they are Wilton brand and I didn’t necessarily find them as I walked into the grocery store and there they were with all the Easter baking stuff. Right in the front of the store on display.

If my memory serves correctly, they were also spotlighted with angels singing in the background…

They’re pretty darn cute. But crazy expensive considering you only get 24 in a pack. So make sure you’re using them for a special occasion. ;)

Anyhoo, today it seems I’m a little more well-rested. Good thing, too. It’s Tuesday. Energy is needed to get through the day.

And possibly a Diet Coke in the afternoon…

It’s just one of those days.  How do I know?  Because I practically scratched my face off while getting dressed for work (no worries- nothing a little powder won’t hide).

Does anyone else feel the need to wear safety goggles while getting dressed in the mornings?

Pecan Pie Remix

There are certain staples in any Thanksgiving dinner that you come to expect.  Hence the term “staple”.

Turkey.  Pumpkin pie.  A potato of some sort.

Pecan pie is a staple for me.  I have to have it.  There’s something about that sugar-infested filling that I can’t keep away from.  It’s a holiday must-have.

But I don’t do well with baking pie.  It intimidates me.  The crust burns.  The filling doesn’t “set”.  There are too many variables that can go wrong.  So when I said I’d take something to Thanksgiving dinner at my friend’s family gathering, I played it safe and went into my comfort zone – cupcakes.

Cupcakes are fun.  Because, like cookies I make, they become obnoxious and over-the-top.  It’s just how I roll.

I searched high and low for a cupcake recipe that included a filling- not just pecan cupcakes.  For a while, it looked like I’d be experimenting.  Which is not the best thing to do right before a big dinner.  But I found one at Tastebook (finally-whew!).

Like any recipe I tackle, this one came in steps, too.  Quite a challenge when you’re coordinating all this baking with a Friends-giving dinner.

Anyhoo, first goes the filling.  This was the first little bump in the road I encountered.  Because I had used more semi-sweet chocolate on the Chubby Hubby cookies the day before, I was completely out of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Milk chocolate chips were on hand.  I wasn’t going back out to the grocery store.  It would have to work.Nom nom nom… I could eat this filling with a spoon.

Then come the brown sugar cupcakes.  After tasting these, I would tell you just to make them on your own if you wanted- they’re delicious.  But that’s for another time.  For now, I’m putting a scoop of filling on top of each one.  The recipe says to do it gently, but I have no idea why.  The batter isn’t runny, and either way, it comes out looking like poo sitting on your cupcake.See?  Poo.  And don’t overfill the liners- the cupcake rises A LOT. 

They come out looking like this:Still pretty stupid-looking.  Serious doubts started to set in.  But at least the filling sunk in.  I was concerned it would just be a layer over the actual cupcake.  So that made me feel better.

Still holding on to hope these will turn out. 

And then comes the icing.Ooooohhhh yeah….  I heart cool whip.  I used to get mad at my brother because he’d eat it ALL.  With a spoon.  Out of the container.  That’s right, bro- I’m calling you out on that one.

Anyhoo, these days I can’t say “cool whip” without giving it a little flair.

Thanks Stewie.  I can’t even remember how to say it normal anymore.

This is another place where I was forced to switch it up.  As in, I had to buy more cool whip.  If you just spread on a thin layer of cool whip icing with a knife, you’re fine.  But if you’re like me and really pipe the crap out of some cupcakes, you will need a second container of it. 

Because wouldn’t you much rather have cupcakes that look like this:That’s what I thought.  Don’t hold back.  It’s the holidays.  Cool whip it up!

One more time for the kids in the back…Not to brag, but these are probably my favorite thing I’ve ever made.  Yeah.  I said that.  Even better than the chubby hubby cookies.  The filling is NUTS. (get it?  pecan pie… nuts…?)

Now I’m starting to sweat a little because I’ve got to figure out a new Christmas dessert…. Gah!

Oh and um… Happy Thanksgiving, kids!  It’s been yet another fantastic year and am so lucky to be able to share it with so many wonderful people.  I assume that if I were to write it all out, my list of things to be thankful for would be similar to the same one I had last year.

Enjoy celebrating the season! 

Make sure you’ve located your stretchy pants before dinner.  It makes for a quicker change after…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Coconut Goodness

Hello Friday.  You may be rainy, but I don’t mind.

Yesterday I lobbied for our office to get to go down to the parade and rally for the Blackhawks.

I lost that battle.

So off to work I go.

Thanks for the suggestions yesterday- I’m glad it looks to me that I’m pretty much on track (with last night’s baking festivities being a bit of an exception).  It seems I just need to do a little adjusting and eat a little more here and there.  Whew!

I’m a little sleepy this morning, but I assume that’s expected on my weeks when I wake up at 5:30.  And when I do baking later in the evening.  Because a sugar buzz is not good to go to bed with.  I know that.  But it seems mid-baking session, I conveniently forget.  Without fail.

Annie‘s birthday cake is well on it’s way to completion.  I decided after much thought to do the same kind of cake I did for one of the layers for Jaime’s wedding– white cake with coconut buttercream filling.  It’s yummy.  The cake is not done at the moment, but no worries- you’ll see the end results this weekend!  Mon came over to help me because she’s just wonderfully fabulous like that.  And she brought chocolate from Prague.  A guy she works with took a trip and came back with a whole bunch of it for her.  And now, thanks to her, I’m the one who has a whole bunch of chocolate from Prague.  But I’m taking it into work today for the secret stash of munchies that Jaime and I sometimes have to resort to….Isn’t it cute packaging?  I almost feel bad for opening and eating it.  Almost…

Also, check out all the fondant stars. Oooohhhhh I bet you’re excited to see what I’m doing, right?  ;)  This is actually the first time I’ve used fondant.  I don’t like using it because, quite frankly, it’s gross to eat.  In my opinion, anyways.  And the taste of the cake is just as important to me as the look of it.  I know there’s marshmallow fondant recipes out there, but supposedly it makes for a softer fondant and I needed something that would harden well enough to make little stars that wouldn’t bend (clearly).

I also made sure to save enough batter and icing to secure a few cupcakes.  One for me and Mon to split, and a couple for the girls at work.The cake is a simple white cake recipe that I found at Food Network.  I like it because it doesn’t have an overpowering sweetness.  So when you finally do add the buttercream icing, you’re not getting the feeling to convulse right off of your chair because of the sugar high from one cupcake/piece.  Speaking of- the buttercream is just a general recipe from my head that I do that includes butter, powdered sugar, coconut flavoring, shredded coconut and whipping cream (to make it light and fluffy!).  I don’t measure it.  I just kinda keep pouring stuff in until I get the consistency I want.  I like to think that makes me a legit baker… :)

When it comes to cake- are you a chocolate or vanilla kinda person?  I’m usually a chocolate gal, but I really have a thing for this white cake/coconut icing combo.  Originally, I had planned to also do a thing layer of chocolate ganache in the filling because it makes me that nervous to not use chocolate- it seriously makes everything better.  But then I decided to skip it (and not be TOO over the top).  And I’m glad I did.  No one likes dessert overkill.

Off to start my day… Hopefully I’ll get through it without too much of a problem.  And hopefully I’ll rock my cross training session in the gym.  Because I don’t have another regular Friday night in with Red Box planned.  I’m going out! 

I know, right?  Say whhhhahaaaaatttttt? (can you tell there’s still an abnormal amount of sugar running through my veins at the moment?)

Peace out, kids…


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