Valentine’s Day and Red Wine Cupcakes

Hello, my Valentines!

I hope you got to enjoy a special day today! I happened to spend most of the day at work, but I was able to see one of the BFFs this evening for a very short time so that was lovely!

Work today was strangely slow! I found myself staring off out the window a few too many times and had to reel my brain back in! However, I have an important life update to share with you.I have recently discovered The Secret to Life:

Productivity

 

OK, by “recently,” I mean in 2006 when I bought my first iPod and realized that suddenly, the ridiculously long bus ride to school in the mornings wasn’t so bad after all. I can’t hardly move without music. (We all know my bad reactions that come when I realize that I have landed myself at the gym without earbuds/ tuneage. It’s not pretty.) Anyway, I have been very big on making “drive to work” playlists recently and finding new music to listen to on that very long ride and today, I had some power jams blasting me through the stare-off-into-space slumps and it was endlessly helpful.

What did the world do before MP3 players?!

I know what you’re thinking…you’re wondering what I’ve been listening to.

Justin-Timberlake-Mirror-MP3-Listen

BAM. (Source.)

Hello, Justin Timberlake. I hate to admit it, but his song Mirrors is the anthem of the day for me as of late. I am OBSESSED.

I know, I know. Haters gonna hate.

Aside from JT, the rest of my day revolved around cupcakes. Last night, I grabbed a box of cake mix at the grocery store. I wanted to bring in some sort of Valentine’s Day treat to work and I decided that Dark Chocolate & Red Wine cupcakes would be just perfect. (When in Rome, right?) I was quite proud of my¬†concoction:

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They were a huge hit at the office and I was actually very impressed by how moist and flavorful they were! It’s super simple to do– grab a box of Devil’s food cake mix and replace the water with a very dry, red wine. Everything else remains the same (just the directions on the back of the box!) It’s a ridiculously easy way to take boxed cake mix up to the next level. Dress to impress. Bring your A game. Win over some new friends.

Naturally, I couldn’t resist. (Cupcake: 1, Will Power: 0).

photo (59)I’d call that a well-balanced lunch!

And on the home front, I have a special little house guest this week! Say hi to Cinnamon!

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Someone’s pig sittin’!

That picture cracks me up. What a classic little guinea piggy face. (The animal’s…not mine.)

I hope that you had a great night and happy, happy Friday! TGIF!

I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

 

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Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

2012 Collage

 

What a year 2012 has been. It was a year full of memories and major happenings! I’ve run my first race, bought my first car, graduated from college, gone on adventures with friends and family, started a blog and done so many other things. While much of the year has been filled with happiness and positivity, I am more than ready to welcome 2013.

As we say goodbye to 2012 and ring in the new year, I wanted to take just a moment to thank you all for helping me to get 5ksandcoffeebeans off the ground and running. It means so much to me that you read along as I blog away about my life and the random things that fill my days. I can’t wait to share more experiences with you and maybe kick off some new features in the future.

Thanks again for your support and readership! It means so much to me.

Happy new year, from me (and RUDY!) to you! See ya in the new year. ūüėČ

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25 Days of Blogging Christmas Challenge (Fill-Ins!)

It’s no secret at this point that I LOVE Christmastime. I love decorating and Christmas music and holiday foods and family time and holiday shopping. BUT, the time after Christmas is always quite a let-down. Suddenly it’s time to switch gears from fun, holiday cheer to gloomy January, diets and taxes!

Anyway, throughout the month of December, there were a few days of the Peanut Butter Jenny 25 Days of Blogging Christmas Challenge that I missed for one reason or another and tonight, I am going to cover the rest of those, juuuust in case the curiosity was killing you. ūüėČ

challenge

*Ehem.*

Day 12: Wrapping paper or gift bags?¬†This is a no-brainer. Wrapping paper. In fact, the more, the merrier. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without tape and bows and paper to rip to shreds on your way to discovering your new treasures! (Although in a pinch, I¬†do¬†understand the convince of gift bags.)

Day 13:¬†Favorite Christmas book?¬†I am not entirely sure that I have any favorite “Christmas” books. I read a¬†ton, but I can’t come up with one! Instead, I will share with you the strangest christmas book in all of Bookland:¬†¬†Santa’s Snow Cat. Yes, this is a children’s book, (Don’t judge. I babysit a lot!) but it is a WEIRD one. It also includes words such as “despondent”. I am ALL for introducing kids to challenging books, challenging words, and interesting concepts from a young age (I definitely think that is what gets kids hooked on reading early on!), but this one is just plain nutty. Also, I’m not crazy about cats.

snow cat

(in case there was any question, this image is from Amazon.com. ūüėõ )

Day 14: Real or artificial tree? Real. Puh-lease.

Day 15: The best gift you’ve given.¬†This would probably be the time I searched high and low for a special, extra-padded, extra-comfortable shoulder strap for my sister’s laptop case. I was on a MISSION and ended up finding the perfect thing online that I ordered JUST in the nick of time to receive it by Christmas. I was quite proud of myself. (This probably isn’t the “best” gift I’ve given, but for some reason it sticks out in my memory.)

Day 16:¬†Hardest person to buy for.¬†Anyone who says they “don’t want anything.” Also, guys are INFINITELY harder to buy for than girls any day of the week. No competition.

Day 17: Post a picture of an old Christmas card.¬†Um. Uhhhh…. Next?

Day 18: When do you open gifts?¬†First thing in the morning. When I was younger, this meant about 5:00 in the morning. Now, it’s whenever everyone wakes up. For the past seven years, Christmas morning for me has meant the first day of my break from work so since then, I haven’t been in too much of a hurry. Although, regardless of how old I get, the thrill of Christmas morning never seems to dissipate even if I do wake up a¬†tad¬†bit later.

Day 19: Favorite stocking stuffer. I love random trinkets and toys. Also nail polish. Also candy.

Day 20: Favorite Christmas meal. Christmas dinner. Especially if it involves eggplant parmesan. Or breakfast. Especially if it involves some warm, homemade treat fresh from the oven.

Day 21: Do you travel for the holidays? Not really! I love being home for Christmas.

Day 22: Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate. With marshmallows and a candy cane.

Day 23: Your plans for Christmas 2012. Christmas 2012 involved a day of holiday festivities with the family.

Day 24:¬†Favorite Christmas eve tradition.¬†This has changed over the years, I used to adore my Christmas Eve “sleepovers” with my sister as I waited anxiously for Santa. I also used to love getting a new pair of pajamas every Christmas Eve. Now, having my sister and her husband arrive for the holidays is a new favorite Christmas Eve “tradition”.

Thanks for reading! See you all tomorrow.

Merry Christmas Dear Readers!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

I hope you had a wonderful day filled with family and fun and love.

I do always hate to see this holiday go. (I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I LOVE Christmas and everything leading up to it! ūüėõ )

I decided that soon I will do a post filling in on the 25 Days of Blogging Christmas Challenge that I missed! (Who doesn’t love an extended holiday!?)

I also have lots of fun Christmas surprises to share with you all!

But for now, it is time for bed.

So again, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!!!!

Until tomorrow.

Electronics Paranoia

This is one of those things that I¬†know¬†is the epitome of “first world problems.” (Pretty much any problem related to electronics or smartphones or anything like that would fit into that category, right?) But let’s talk nuttiness.

One month before graduation, the laptop that I had used for all four years of college¬†crashed.¬†It didn’t just crash, it self-destructed. It wouldn’t turn on at all. Immediately, I panicked and tried everything in my own repertoire that I thought could possibly bring it back to life.

All of my pictures, essays,¬†songs¬†were gone. I was a fool and didn’t have ANYTHING backed up. (Granted, many things I had e-mailed to myself and most of the pictures were still saved on various memory cards, but things like photo booth pictures were gone. And many of the less-important writing things that I had done were trapped in cyberspace forever.

I couldn’t believe it. With one month left, everything was gone. At the time, I was in the middle of a¬†major¬†research project for a class. It was ALMOST done and if I hand’t been required to upload periodic updates to an online panel, I would have lost all of that too. (At which point I probably would have just dropped out of college.)

Anyway, ever since then I have been EXTREMELY sheepish about ANY electronic change whatsoever. Whether it’s backing things up or plugging my phone in or really even just LOOKING¬†at one of those items. Stressful. Stressful. Stressful.

Tonight, I was able to coerce myself into plugging my phone in and downloading my photos to the computer. The camera roll was starting to act a little on the slow side which was making me quite nervous so it was time.

Next up, I am quite excited because I have come up with a couple of (what I think are) very good New Year’s resolutions for myself. I won’t share the specifics just¬†yet, but they are things actually came to me kind of randomly after a LOT of thinking about and consideration of OTHER things. I will tell you that it has absolutely nothing to do fitness or losing weight! (For once!)

Tomorrow morning I’ll be headed to the gym bright and early. Then I have some random, last-minute Christmas shopping to finish up before work!

Now, I know that I have missed¬†several¬†days for various reasons, but let’s pick up the Christmas challenge right here at Day 20:¬†What is your favorite Christmas meal?¬†Eggplant parmesan is definitely my favorite Christmas meal. My mom makes EXCELLENT (eggcellent?! HA.) eggplant parmesan and we always seem to enjoy it at Christmas!

I hope you have a fantastic Friday! Apparently, western New York will be seeing its first “shovel-able snow” tomorrow and Saturday. I LOVE snow at Christmas. In fact, in recent years, this is the only¬†time that I care to see snow on the ground, but even more than a white Christmas, I want safe holiday travels for everyone who will be on the move!

I will see y’all tomorrow!

Happy Ninetieth Birthday, Brittany!

Well hello there. Thanks for stopping by!

You will all be happy to know that once again, I made my way to the gym this morning. I even managed to knock out a pretty good run once I got going. Although it was a¬†rough¬†start, I found my groove somewhere around .65 miles in (which is also when I was convinced that I had been running for three hours straight). Next, I reverted to my old “ten-minute” ab workout. Nothing impressive, but it’s nice to be back into the swing of this whole gym thing.

Later tonight after work and after running a couple of errands, I settled down at home to watch¬†Parenthood and start up a new knitting project. (Holy¬†Parenthood. I don’t typically enjoy dramatic shows, but this one has got me HOOKED.)

After my first knitting project turned into a lopsided, tangled mess, I started up a new hat. Now that I (kind of sort of) understand what I am doing a little bit better, I’m thinking this will go a little smoother.¬†Maybe.

photo-133What a ridiculously dark picture of my very dark knitting project. Hah, better luck next time.

I also happened to make a most delicious discovery recently: Sugar Cookie tea. That’s right, kids. Hot tea that tastes just like a sugar cookie. As I mentioned yesterday, I enjoyed a lovely dinner with two of my college friends (who also happen to be sisters. Biological sisters, not sorority sisters!) but one of the girls happened to have sugar cookie tea that I had a cup of and I was immediately hooked.

 

photo-131It smells just like baking Christmas cookies as it steeps. It tastes delightful too!

photo-132

 

I think Mr. Grinch found a new favorite filler! (Nope, can’t be. Coffee will always be number one in my book. But tea could be a verrrry close second. ūüėČ )

Christmas Blogging Challenge¬†Day 11:¬†What is your favorite Christmas tradition?¬†I have many favorite holiday traditions, but my favorite is probably baking Christmas cookies with my family! Also, I have such happy memories of Christmases past when my sister and I used to have Christmas Eve “sleepovers” (aka she was a good sister and would sleep in a sleeping bag on my floor to make me happy) and wait for Santa to visit.

So between watching sappy television shows, knitting, and drinking hot tea, I think I have officially aged myself several decades, but that is just fine with me! Now I think I best off to bed!

I will see you all tomorrow! ūüôā

 

 

Cardio > Strength Training ?

It’s a strange phenomenon, but now that I haven’t been doing ridiculous amounts of strength training as I was back in November, I have started to notice¬†more¬†definition in my muscle tone. The kind of definition that I want! It seems to be that even without mondo strength training sessions, the muscle seems to be changing and I actually started to drop a couple of ounces here and there again which is nice since the weight-loss definitely seemed to come to a standstill! (Please note: my goal is NOT to lose weight, but to improve my physical capabilities while also improving the way I felt about my appearance, I did not have a goal weight in mind and I think that’s actually been working out much, much better for me.)

I’m actually quite excited to¬†not¬†be starting from negative square root one come January first. Usually (along with 99% of Americans!) my resolutions center around something based in fitness or weight-loss, but this year, I am certainly happy enough with my life changes and improvements that I think my resolutions will be focused on bigger and more abstract things!

And now, for everyone’s favorite part: The 25 Days of Blogging Christmas Challenge!

Day 6: What is your favorite tree ornament? I absolutely love decorating the Christmas tree and ours is definitely not one of those trees that matches 100%. Instead, it is a mix-up of a zillion unique ornaments, some that are decades old, others that have marked milestones, and others yet that we found randomly and picked up along the way.  My favorite one changes every year, but right now, I happen to be obsessed with a box of ornaments that my mother actually got last year from a second-hand craft shop!

photo-129They are so pretty and flowery! There are also about a dozen other ornaments that are very special to me that I really love. Some of which I made with my family when I was a little kid and others that just came about over the years.

photo-130annnnnd…

Day 7: What was your most memorable Christmas?¬†Now this one is going to sound absolutely ridiculous, but one of the most memorable Christmases is from when I was about 4 years old and I remember feeling like¬†the¬†most special kid in the world when I got just about everything I asked for. (Yes, now I am well aware that presents are not at all what it’s all about, but when you’re four, who knows better!?). Additionally, there was a play pie bakery set involved that smelled so wonderful and so exactly like vanilla and pie crust that the smell¬†still¬†sticks out in my memory at Christmas time. Told ya it was random!

Now, for some exciting developments in the life of 5ksandcoffeebeans (only not really…). I am learning how to knit hats! Last night, I had a “knitting date” with one of my co-workers and she was (re-)teaching me the basics (casting-on, knitting stitches, purling…the usual), but we also started my first ever hat!

photo-128

 

I haven’t gotten¬†too¬†far, but check it out! The brim is curling juuuuuust like it’s supposed to! I even (get ready for this…) CHANGED COLORS. Woohoo!¬†

…let’s be honest here, I had quite a bit of help with the color-changing bit.

photo-127

 

I know, I know. Those are some hot colors with a capital H-O-T. Hey, what do you want for a first try?

Well it has suddenly gotten quite late and it is time for some reading, knitting, and sleeping!

I will talk to you tomorrow!!