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:

photo (58)

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!

photo (57)

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.

 

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

IMG_0505

 

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!!

 

 

This Is Your Brain Without Gym Time…

Hello friends!

Today was yet another day full of fun and holiday cheer. Despite the fact that my furry friend had to visit her arch nemesis the vet briefly this morning, I had a lovely day off that was filled with cookie-baking and tree-trimming.

My mom had the day off as well and it was fun to spend the day at home decorating, baking, and cleaning. Yes, that’s right I actually said it was fun to clean.¬†

While we are on the topic of Christmas, (a topic that has made an appearance in every post since the month began! ūüôā ) Let’s hit up the 25 Days of Blogging Christmas Challenge question of the day:¬†When/ How did you learn that you-know-who wasn’t you-know-what?¬†One year, I asked for a puppy. I was SO insistent on adding a furry addition to our family that I actually refused to ask for anything else. That Christmas, Santa left me a letter explaining that it wasn’t a good time for a dog, but that someday when the time was just right that I would get one. That letter was written in awfully sisterly handwriting and that is what initially tipped me off. I think I actually ended up forgetting about that and convinced myself to believe for another two decades. (What is that you say, I’m just¬†barely¬†two decades old?! Why yes, that’s true! NEVER STOP BELIEVING.)

Ehem. Now, on to the topic of this post!

And so, we have tiptoed to day number Way Too Many To Bother Counting of not going to the gym. Granted, I’ve thrown in a couple of random workouts here or there, but it’s been a while since I’ve really put the pedal to the metal. As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been planning to get my butt back in action on Tuesday (which is tomorrow), but in the meanwhile, here are some discoveries that I have made during this unintentional hiatus from the gym:

  1. Slower to wakeup: I typically workout in the morning. That is not to say that I always head out at the crack of dawn, but gym time is generally the first thing in my day. When I have had my workout, I am in total game mode by the time I return home, but if I skip the gym, it takes me hours to fully wake the brain up. Getting ready happens in slow-mo.
  2. I eat like a pig:¬†So there’s that whole thing where you burn calories when you exercise and can end up feeling quite hungry afterwards. Sure, that happens to me, but I don’t refuel with¬†good, muscle-repairing nutrients. Instead, I eat Christmas cookies by the truckload.
  3. Fitness pinning/ researching increases exponentially:¬†Apparently, if I’m not doing it myself, I have to find evidence that at the very least, others are working out. I spend a¬†lot¬†more time reading fitness blogs, pinning new workouts to Pinterest and flipping through old health and fitness magazines. Strange, no?
  4. Overall fitness mentality does a backflip:¬†Fortunately for me, this “break” has been much too short to notice any¬†real¬†change in my appearance (or even in topics 1-3 of this list), but if I stayed at it (or stayed¬†not¬†being “at it” for much longer, I know exactly what would happen because it has happened before (i.e.: end of senior year!). Any weight gain between two and twelve pounds leads me to change my whole outlook on appearance and weight maintenance. In no time flat, I can convince myself that I look¬†better¬†with a couple of extra pounds. That I don’t want to fit into the “skinny mold” and that I’d rather be happy and pudgy that thin and sad. I also suddenly decide that anyone who can’t love me regardless of my weight doesn’t deserve me at all. (Enter Helen Reddy,¬†I am Woman here.) Now of course, this is not at all the way I¬†actually¬†feel at all! I feel awful¬†about myself when I don’t exercise and when I eat horribly and it has absolutely nothing to do with my weight in particular, nor does it have anything to do with what anyone else believes. Also, I definitely think that¬†choices should be made for you and¬†only¬†you. Do what makes you feel best, what will have the best outcomes for you and what will make you happiest. But regardless of all of that, a few days of “bad behavior” and suddenly, I am redefining everything I believe!

So either which way, it is high time for me to hightail it back to the gym and get my gears in motion again!

I hope you had a great Monday!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Today we actually bought our Christmas tree. I do sort of wish that we had gone to cut it down ourselves just for the heck of it. I just decided that the reason for my (particularly rampant) Christmas obsession this year is the fact that I have never had the time to ENJOY the holiday season in previous years. When I was in school, it seemed like I was always taking finals and writing papers until just two or three days before Christmas eve. It was tiring and depressing and I hated not being able to really revel in the holiday that I love so much. Choosing a Christmas tree was something that happened in between highlighting and flashcard-making. Christmas cookies didn’t really happen the only thing I thought about after work was whether or not I’d be able to procure a spot in my favorite library.

While I¬†do¬†occasionally miss the challenge of college, and I¬†always miss having my friends so close, I definitely am growing to love the freedom of being a “real person.” Especially at the hap-happiest time of the year!

I didn’t do a whole awful lot for the rest of the day, but I am so¬†excited to have the day off tomorrow!

So let’s talk about my unintentional half-week off from the gym. I am not really sure how this happened, but it did! Fortunately, I managed to keep my eating habits in check for the whole time, otherwise, I’d be in deep trouble! Things probably won’t be much better tomorrow, but Tuesday morning it will be BACK TO BUSINESS. (I actually have found a couple of fun workouts that I am dying to try too!) Additionally, I am considering signing up for Tina’s Best Body Boot Camp. Several bloggers that I follow have participated in her previous rounds of the Boot Camp and seem to enjoy it, at least from what I’ve read! I like the idea of mixing up cardio and strength and flexibility in workouts and I definitely appreciate having something organized to follow along with, so I think this would be right up my alley. I will keep you posted if I decide to join! We all know how my¬†last¬†encounter with a bootcamp went, but something tells me that this one would be much more beneficial. Plus it is $25, not $75. Win.

25 Days of Blogging Christmas Challenge

I mentioned the other day that I will be participating in Peanut Butter Jenny‘s 25 Days of Blogging Christmas Challenge and today is day two! Today’s question is:¬†What’s on Your 2012 Christmas Wish List?

Every single year, I come up with things throughout the year between my birthday (which is in May) and Christmas that I think of for Christmas. Naturally, however, I very rarely write them down and almost ALWAYS forget what they are by the time the true season rolls around. But here are five things that are on mine this year!

  • New watch (I have a sports watch that I¬†love, but I’m looking for a professional-ish, stylish one!)
  • A travel mug that KEEPS THINGS WARM and DOESN’T LEAK (<– don’t those seem like two pretty reasonable requirements? Well they are practically impossible to come by)
  • Clothes (I love, love, love clothes and accessories, but I need some SERIOUS help in the organization department. OhhHhHHh Pinterest, where ARE you?)
  • New caps for my CamelBak water bottle
  • A pair of snazzy earrings that I found at Anthropologie just before Thanksgiving

So what’s on YOUR Christmas wish list this year?

Have a great night and I’ll talk to you tomorrow!!

Vegetable Parmesan

Well, I was a complete “Cyber Monday” failure today. I even checked out a couple of my favorite sites, but other than free shipping from nearly EVERY source, I was less-than impressed.

I did manage to get (some) of the Christmas decorations up, but some of the lights that we used last year are MIA! I can’t find them¬†anywhere and the ones that I did locate are older and a bunch of them are busted! I was becoming quite frustrated with all of the wiry knots this morning. The whole situation was starting to remind me of that (God awful) “The 12 Pains of Christmas” song they love to play on the radio. The second one is hanging up the lights. They got THAT one right.

 

The rest of the morning/ afternoon I spent with my mom. We mostly did some random shopping outings (including Marshall’s and Barnes & Noble) in the shock of the century, I didn’t buy any books at Barnes & Noble!

And now, for the main feature! For dinner tonight, I made vegetable parmesan! It is an adapted version of Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe (I pretty much just changed the preparation of it a tad). It includes peppers, eggplant and the typical “parmesan” fixings. Here we go!

 

The recipe calls three peppers: red, yellow and orange. First, I sliced those and sautéed them in a frying pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Meanwhile, I had one medium eggplant salting on the table.

 

After the peppers were partially cooked, it was time to layer everything up:

 

Here’s what the final product looked like…

 

The whole thing took probably about 15 minutes to prepare and was in the oven for 30 minutes! (I bake it at 375 for 30 minutes). Check out the original recipe here!

Have a goodnight and I will talk to you tomorrow! With GYM STORIES. Sheesh.