Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Things to do before you turn 30

I've been a little blue lately, for no good reason except this Sunday will be my 29th birthday.

I am thankful for all of the things in my life - the people, the places, all that I've earned and all that challenges me. However, turning 29 means one thing... I've got one year left before I turn 30. 

The number is intimidating! 30. I don't feel that I will need to dramatically change how I live my life, or even tweak it. I do feel that I'm a balanced individual. However, it's the sentimental things that get to me... all of those things on my 'bucket list' that somehow need to be accomplished before I am officially in my thirties. 

Ugh, thirties! Just typing it makes me cringe. Why? In 2010, I tried to live life to the fullest:

- Registered as a bone marrow donor

- Climbed Pikes Peak, alongside my Sister

- Traveled alone to two big cities - Chicago and San Francisco - for blogger conferences. Met tons of great people!

- Developed my blog and got more involved with the foodie / healthy living blog community.

- Rode on horseback through beautiful places - the Kettle Moraine of Wisconsin, and Garden of the Gods in Colorado

- Celebrated six years of love with Zak - and bought a house together

- Saw a ton of great concerts, continued to love my job

Despite all of this... I can't help but feel a little down about the age thing! I guess it's human to not want to get older?

To combat my blues, I've been Googling. Because Googling always helps. I searched, "What to do before you turn 30." Here are a few articles I found that are very decent: - 30 things to do before you turn 30

Socyberty - 30 Things to Do Before You Turn 30 and Reasons 
(this is a less serious one)

Hubpages - 10 Things All Twenty-Somethings Need To Do Before Turning 30

How are you with birthdays / aging? Calm? Anxious?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Glambassador Review: Olay 'Luscious Embrace' Beauty Bar

This post is sponsored by Glamour Magazine, for whom I participate as a 'Glambassador' beauty product reviewer. The product was provided to me for review, and the following is my 100% honest opinion.

Today, I tried out a new product from Olay - their 'Luscious Embrace body bar with massaging design.'

Upon removing the bar from its packaging, I immediately liked the sweet 'crushed orchid extract' scent. I'm an orchid kind of girl.

Check out the little nubbies!

My review? Loved it. I am typically a body wash only user, and I could see myself converting a few times a week for this bad boy. The main reason?

The 'massaging design' felt great, and reminded me of a foam roller. With it, I  found knots on my quads / calves and worked them a bit. This soap isn't going to do the work of a deep-tissue massage, but it might help you feel better after a tough workout, or in my case, a night of dancing like an idiot at a Taio Cruz concert

Post-shower, I barely felt the need to use body lotion. This product is pretty moisturizing!

The cons? The ingredients list is full of words I can't pronounce. This criteria normally applies to stuff I eat, but it may as well start being important for the products I use on my body's largest organ - my precious skin. There are lots of chemical names, and I'm not sure I dig that.

Also, I am not sure that this product is on the market yet - I can't find it on the Olay website or via Google search. Therefore, I can't tell you how much these will cost, or where you can find them. Stay tuned, I guess?

Question for you - Have you tried out a new product recently? Any hot new ones out there that I should know about?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Redux: Cookie dough balls

I don't know about the rest of you, but the past few weeks in my kitchen have been delicious.

Okay, that's a silly proposition. I have been drooling over practically everyone's blog posts lately! This is a good season for testing out recipes. The entire blogosphere is enveloped in a cloud of deliciousness.

My kitchen experiments started with bourbon caramel sauce, a la Eat Live Run...

And cream cheese accented pumpkin bread. Recipe coming soon...

But the tastiest? The trendiest? You know what I've been up to... baking batch after batch of Diana's Chocolate Chip Dough Balls. 


You see, a few weeks back at the Foodbuzz Festival, I tried the cookies that inspired Diana's recipe, from Annie the Baker. Like nearly every other blogger in attendance, I was immediately smitten with these cookies. Imagine the crispness of a fresh-baked cookie on the outside, with a soft and buttery dough-like center. Needless to say, I was thrilled when Diana unveiled her recipe

Tonight marks my 4th trial of the recipe. Wish me luck, kids.

The first trial, I completely forgot to add the 1/2 cup brown sugar. The result was a tasty, but not too sweet cookie. I 'fixed' this by eating mine with frozen banana soft serve, topped with my bourbon caramel sauce.

The second trial, I got the recipe right. HOLY DELICIOUSNESS. However, I felt that the cookies needed more a little *oomph*. I couldn't figure out quite what that was. 

The third trial, I ditched the chocolate chips and instead devised a maple pecan variation. I added a tablespoon of dark amber maple syrup, and about 1 cup of chopped pecans. 

Before baking, I dipped the top of each dough ball in a little organic sugar, which added a little sweetness and gussied them up a bit. See? Cute.

The fourth trial - TONIGHT! - I decided to really shake things up:

Backstage Pass Redux: Chocolate Chip Dough Balls
inspired by Diana from The Chic Life

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 1 entire stick of butter, softened/room-temp (insert Paula Deen: "Butter" sound effect)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (I use organic, which is 'sparklier' than regular white sugar)
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/2 1 whole tsp vanilla
  • My addition: 1 whole tsp dark amber maple syrup (from Wisconsin, yo)
  • 1/2 more like 1 whole cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl - Mix together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda. 
2. In a medium bowl - Mix together ('cream?') the brown sugar, butter and white sugar. Add egg, vanilla and maple syrup, and mix some more. 
3. Dump the medium bowl into the large bowl, and slowly mix until even. Because my variation of Diana's recipe has so much butter / liquids, it won't be as hard to integrate the dry stuff. However, as Diana says, 'work it' and trust the dough. It will eventually be amazing.
4. Stick the dough in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour. Because it has more butter / liquids, this will be especially important. 
5. Toward the end of your holding pattern, preheat the oven to 350ª. Admire Diana's original post and cute Tiffany Blue color scheme of her blog. Smile and think of the stand mixer that your Mama *maybe* bought for your upcoming 29th birthday, *grin*.
6. Once the oven is preheated and your dough is chilled, bust out a baking sheet and cover with parchment paper. 
7. Remember that you forgot to add your chocolate chips to the dough. Add them, and stick the bowl back in the fridge for another 10 minutes.
8. Remove from the fridge and use a small scooper to form your dough balls. Diana rolls hers into little spheres, however I like the look of the scooped shape, so I leave 'em alone. If desired, dip the top of each dough ball in organic sugar, for that sparkly look. Because cookies can't wear sequins.
9. Bake in oven for about 5 minutes, then rotate the sheet to ensure even baking. Put back in oven for ~ 6 more minutes.
10. Delight in your beautiful dough balls! Hopefully?

I am going to pop these suckers in the oven and will be back to post my photos after they're done. See ya soon!

Question for you - What new recipes have you tried out lately? Getting ready to O.D. on holiday cookies like I am? Heck yes!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Just what I need

Tonight will involve one or two of these:

And hanging out with these gals (Erika and Stefanie):
Sans the Lady Gaga face paint. With the same smiles, hopefully!

And this dude. 

Sure, Mr. Cruz will probably only perform for 20 minutes. He probably won't even really sing. But... Tonight. Will. Be. Awesome. Which is just what I need!

Sing it with me... "I came to dance, dance, dance..."