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Oh no, the BIG five-oh!

Why hello lovelies.

Yesterday was the big day!!! Someone celebrated a big, fabulous birthday, and what better way than for me to make a cake?!

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Now, I’m all about healthifying things and even though the original recipe would have been fine and dandy, we not only were out of some of the ingredients, but in some cases, our house only hosted the healthy alternative. So, when I finally decided to get my life together, well after 12p.m., and finally realized it was my mother’s birthday (that I had yet to prepare for)…

First up, I ran to Party City.

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour (I used a little less than that and Whole Wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I used one teaspoon + 1.5 teaspoons of Pumpkin Spice)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (didn’t have –Pumpkin Spice)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (used Pumpkin Spice)
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil (I substituted 1 1/4 cups of natural applesauce. Best decision ever. SO.MOIST)
4 large eggs (I used 1 cup Egg Beaters–that’s all we had)
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

~~~

Maple Cream Cheese Topping

Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat CC)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (I omitted. Great choice. Didn’t even need it)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Line 24 cupcake molds with paper fillers.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger Pumpkin Spice in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.

Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes (I did 17. Perfection), or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.

Icing:

In a hand mixer beat all the ingredients together. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly. (Again, taken from Smitten Kitchen). I didn’t follow the cooling instructions, and hence the final product looking like this:

I was pressed for time or I woulda put a little more effort into finding a way to cut some sugar, but what’s the fun in that. The nut’ stats are still dec. Take a looksie 🙂

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Amount per Serving

Calories 152
Calories from Fat 31.0

% Daily Value

Total Fat 3.44g
Saturated Fat 2.19g
Cholesterol 108mg
Sodium 193.49mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.25g
Dietary Fiber 1.47g
Sugars 10.32g
Protein 3.11g
~~~
So after playing lil’ Rachel Ray, I sweat my butt off running to draw up a huge banner to stream across our garage, blow up balloons, write her card, wrap the gift, all before she was to arrive home around 4p.m.
Did I mention I started this all around 1p.m.? I’ve always been know for my punctuality.

~~~

Then the fun came, Mom arrived home and hugs, kisses, and gifts ensued.

After our mini celebration, the fam was off to pick up Tomo at the Airport. Let’s just say “Fashionably Late” should be our last name. This time it was unintentional, I swear.

We made it to MSP just in the knick of time. I assumed Tomo would be coming in through the International Gate. Makes sense, no? Did I forget to mention that she had a layover in Houston, making her flight to Minneapolis domestic. Oops. Well, needless to say my stiletto get up and Versace shades bookin’ it through the airport was far from classy. And my $15 shoes were not giving me legit support (clearly). A few minutes later after kindly interrogating the Continental Airline worker where the eff our passenger was, she said they had pick up their bags and cleared out already. Crap.

Then I got a call. Here I was holding the gift bag in hand, and poor Tomo was wandering aimlessly, surviving on little English and some stranger’s cell phone. Thank God for Minnesota nice, eh?! 😀

We were finally reunited. At.Last. And then it was time for a birthday dinner/Welcome to MN partay.

Lucky’s was the place to be!

Popcorn, entrees, and some birthday cake to go around. ‘Twas perfection. I’ve got a lot in store for Ms. Tomo as she spends her first American experience here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. I’ll keep you all posted for that matter. It’ll be the most action I’ve had in my life all summer! 🙂

Now back to that Twins game, which should have wrapped up 5 innings ago…

Good afternoon 🙂

Before moving Cady back to St. Mary’s University in Winona, MN on Saturday, we hit up my dad’s neighborhood block party from when he was growing up. Let me say, coolest idea ever. As we walked up, all these grown men and old ladies were like: “Oh Billy…so good to see you, is this your family…” My dad just turned 60 in May, and some of these people he hadn’t seen since high school. Pretty cool. Mom, sissy, and I tagged along for the ride & reunion.

I just love that sequence. Yes, my parents are that goofy. 🙂

It was really fun to meet all the kids adults my dad grew up with. Sadly we could only stay a little while before trekking down to school to drop off the sister.

So in other news, I’m being a major slacker on the whole India recaps, but life is still flying by the seat of my own pants, so I have to keep you all updated on that, even if it means updates from the comfort of my own home, where I religiously watch Ellen, go for morning runs with my dad, and of course job hunting for the perfect Health Communication job. 🙂

In the meantime, I’ve also been preparing for a pretty sweet arrival of a pretty sweet person. Ms. Tomoyo from my little nook in Japan is COMING TO MINNESOTA! TOMORROW! Eeeek. This also means MAJOR cleaning to ensue. Not really my orders, but more of my dear mother wanting a presentable home. I completely understand. And being that it’s my friend and sissy is officially brought off to college as of last Saturday, that leaves me, the non-working daughter to fend for myself and get to work! I promise I did deliver, too.

Not only did I clean my rank room (note* = I moved home on Aug. 3 and purposefully avoided that hell hole, excuse my language, for a good 3.5 weeks. The piles got deeper, and I got less and less motivated.) I was not kidding either:

Embarrassing. But now, I can sleep in my own bed and find everything I own, neatly in its place. 🙂

Ahhh, finally. But my domestic duties did.not.end.there. After my morning run in the sun, I found myself in the cleaning mood too, so I proceeded to dust, vacuum, and wash the kitchen floors. Oooh, my momma’s gonna looooooove me 🙂

Done and done.

~~~

And since I was feeling extra crafty and had a butternut squash to deal with (please don’t judge the fact that I had forgotten what I even bought and had to Google: tan squash, in order to find out its name and more so, a recipe to prepare with it). Embarrassing, again. But like I said, foodie-in-training.

Adapted from this recipe

Whipped Butternuttin’ Better Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash (about 2-1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, optional, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I used 1)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (didn’t have any, so I sub’d Cinnamon)
  • I added a dollop of plain yogurt
  • I also added a small driz of honey…not sure why, but it was a good choice.

Directions

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, bring squash, water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt if desired to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender. (It was about 25 minutes that I did).


  • Drain; transfer to a bowl. Add butter, brown sugar, nutmeg Cinnamon, yog, honey and remaining salt if desired; beat until smooth. Yield: 6 servings.

I will say: This was so good and sinful. Mom backed me up on that. 😀 I cut up an apple and it made the perfect dipper!

So I may have only spent an hour job hunting, but lil’ Rachel Ray here was making magic happen in the kitchen. I think the sacrifice was well worth it.

Now off to grocery shop for some of Tomo’s meals while she’s here. Look forward to full recaps on our adventures together in the next week, starting with the celebration of MOM’S –th BIRTHDAY TOMORROW! It’s a big one!

Hello all! Ok, so since I’ve gotten home a little less than a month ago, I’ve neglected this little blog. Let’s just say I’m spending some quality time with family and friends, sans internet and technology (excluding my cell phone, let’s be serious, going a year without texting…I obviously have some catching up to do 😉 ). But I do believe I have some India travels to share with you all. So here it goes!

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You wanna know something funny!? Being a Midwest girl, it’s pretty likely you’ll run across a family of ducks, a turkey in the road, or sometimes a deer (if you’re *not lucky), but in India, it was a-whole-nother story. Well-put by our driver ‘Veej’, the cows are the ‘King of the Road’.

He wasn’t kidding either.

Before heading out of Delhi on our 3rd day, Mr. Singh promised to bring us to Gandhi’s Memorial Site. I have never been so moved, inspired, and changed in a span of 2 hours. I wish everyone could see just a fraction of the things Gandhi did for his country and the world.

Ton and I were able to walk the same path Gandhi took to his daily prayer, before being shot and assassinated at his home.

Below is the exact point where Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 (according to the U.S., but my journal says 1947, which is when India celebrates, I believe).

~~~

On a lighter note, we took off with Vijay and made our way to Jaipur. A few things he said, which made us laugh:

When you travel, laughter is good for health. Laughter means happy brain.

Do you know Ramayama? You can search in the Googles.

We call people Gadha, means: he is so stupid.

Obviously we probably found his antics a lot more humorous than you would reading those, but at the time, this guy just brightened our day and made us laugh, a lot. Healthy brains, right?!

We arrived at the Radoli House (Hotel) and pretty much called it a night (after 9 hours of driving!)

Next up, our tour of Jaipur and a night none of us (3) would forget!

Time Well Spent

Hellooooo strangers!

Today marks 2o days since I’ve come home from Japan. I’m a little behind in my laundry, my job hunting, my workouts, and God knows, my relationships. I know I can’t be everywhere at once and see everyone in one night, but man, time seriously flies!

Last week (am I seriously rewinding that far?) Timeliness= big fail on my part. At any rate, on Tuesday afternoon the fam and I packed up the dodge caravan and headed north. Reason #1 why I love Minnesota.

We stayed at my aunt’s cabin for the night (and we definitely didn’t get up there till 4p.m.—even though we had really good intentions for leaving at 11a.m. and arriving at 1p.m.)….that never happens in our family. Again, timeliness, not something I was, or any of us were blessed with (except maybe my dad). Well, the sun hadn’t quite set and before our bratwurst dinner, we lounged around on the boat. Love relaxation! (No pics, sorry!)

Wednesday morn, we head out to Brainerd/Baxter area for our beloved Grand View Lodge getaway.

Cady’s and my upper loft sleeping area. Two queen-sized beds? Yes please. Foosball…bonus!:

Looking over our balcony to the first floor, dining room & living room. This place was legit:

Dinner at the resort restaurant (not the best, small menu list), but aren’t my parents freakin’ cute!:

The weather was a little dodgy on Wednesday, so we didn’t get out in the sun, but after dinner we hit the beach for a little walk, then it was home to watch The Proposal. I didn’t even make it past previews. I am a complete movie-watching-failure. Every freakin’ time. Grrr.

I absolutely love this resort. They even have a nice little indoor fitness center (bonus) and lots of lush green forest to run through if you so desire. Oh, and golf, for those who are gifted, I am not.

We stayed for two more days, basking in the rays. It was glorious. I love family time, relaxing, beaching, and best of all, dad’s homemade popcorn. It was a short vacation, but we couldn’t have had a better time together!

And it wouldn’t be a vaca without our tradition of stopping into Nisswa to visit this guy!:

He owns and runs Martin’s Sport Shop in Nisswa. Evidently he commutes to work by bike. Gosh, such a cute old man!

After family fun was over, we headed back on Friday afternoon, and I ALMOST stayed in to relax, but Minneapolis social life was calling my name. 😉

~~~

I don’t have a single pic, so I’ll keep it short, but I can tell you: it was epic. Friday night consisted of Minneapolis shenanigans at Sneaky Pete’s. Always a good time.

Saturday consisted of recovery and Titanic.

Saturday night: Celebrations of friends’ bdays. Awesome night. I was reunited with my roomie Ashley, and our friends at Toby Keith‘s in St. Louis Park. Love that bar. If you’re in the area, like country music and a good time –> go there.

And that my friends, was my weekend in a flash. I can’t believe how fast they fly by, and even though I watched T.V. for days, didn’t clean my room, or do my laundry…I spent the last week with the people I love, and it couldn’t get any better than that!

P.S. Check out my new header!! Do ya dig it? I’m a fan 🙂

Sooooo I’m baaaaaaaaack.

Loving life, just needed to get back in the swing of things.

After our morning run, we hit up the breakfast, which was perfection. Oats, granola, Almond Butter, fruit, yogurt, coffee, and a bag of Adora calcium chews for all. Yes please. Omg, seriously I love breakfast with my whole heart. However, I got greedy and inhaled it before even taking a pic. Oh well, I’m a healthy living blog, not solely a food blogger, so I consider myself forgiven.

However for lunch I made the extra effort. This is my attempt at being a Food Blogger:

Lunchtime! Soo delicious! Arnold Sammie Thin, with Turkey, veggies, side salad, a dollop of quinoa (but should have made that the main event), and then those awesome chickpeas that I discovered I couldn’t stomach (due to my recent bout with food poisoning in India…that recap coming a.s.a.p.), but I now have a VERY present food aversion to cilantro, which makes me VERY sad. I hearted cilantro until my run-in with Palak Paneer + peanut masala (with cilantro). Sad day my friends, sad day.

Ok, back to Summiting. SOooo to sum up the SUMmit (yes I’m lame), it was amazing and the people there were Fabulous. I said it before, but I’m a nerd when I say I was star-struck meeting the hosts. I’m that girl; gawking from a distance whispering to the person next to me: OMG, that’s Angela, or Ahhhh it’s Caitlin and I just bought her book! Anyway, the whole event was success and basically one big food fest, full of healthy goodies of course, so it was a guilt-free weekend!

I didn’t really take pics of the speakers, but I did capture the streets of Chicago!

Sears Willis Tower, costing $16 for a flight up to the Sky Deck. We passed.

Eye baaaaaaalls.

This was our first OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD. fro-yo experience. It was EPIC!

OMG, freshness in a cup. I wish Minnesota had one of these places! Does anyone know of one?!

Plain+Acai Froyo + strawbs, cacao nibs, & yogurt bits. Not gonna lie, I kinda wanted a little bit of every topping…but some may consider that greedy. I’ll go back again someday. Mark my words.

I came back from our walk and guess what?!??!! I won not one, but TWO DRAWINGS! I forget all the things from the first one, but 5 Uncle Sam’s boxes of something (I’ll show you the pic when it get’s shipped), 3 bags of Attune Granola, and 5 boxes of Gluten-free cereal! As well as a salad bowl from Athenos!!! What a treat! Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday night was spent at Howl at the Moon with Jen, Caitlin, Molly (another MN blogger!) & her friend from Chicago! It was a blast! I can’t wait to hit up the Shout House in Minny!!!

We ended the night on a high— SUSHI! To die for. Again, major fail, and it all went un-pictured!

~~~

We summed up the awesome weekend with a morning 10k (and some 5kers and walkers), but it felt great to get in one last run with fabulous women! I couldn’t have had a better time in Chicago. Furthermore, I can’t wait for next year’s event. I hope it becomes a tradition!

8 hours for a carride home was less than stellar, but at least I had awesome company! Thanks again Jen for driving us all that way!!! Love you girls~

Until next time, all you beautiful people, I’m hittin’ the hay.

Let’s recap a fabulous weekend, shall we?

I’ve discovered that procrastination actually does a person good. Like when you wait too long to find a flight to Chicago and then prices spike to over $300 but THEN you find out a friend also happens to be going to the Summit within a span of 2 days. Perfect timing in my book.

Road trip anyone?

Friday~

Jen, Caitlin (new friend #2), and I hit the road in the early a.m. and because I rock at life, I didn’t go to bed until well after 2a.m. and had to get up at 5a.m. Not a pleasant wake-up call. We hit up a Starbucks right in Hudson, then made our way to Chicago.

A few hours into the trip, we were playing storm chaser and caught in a monsoon, no joke. And I’m pretty sure we hydroplaned. The last time I’ve heard of that happening was in my driver’s ed book at the age of 16. It was a little freaky, not gonna lie.

Then what seemed like 8 hours later, I experienced a new definition of traffic jam. Hello city. Note to all, Chicago and Minneapolis are NOT comparable in size; a common misconception (or me in denial that I live in ‘the country’). Minneapolis: 300,000/Chicago: almost 3 million. Ok, major fail on my part!

I met up with my roomie Laura (from Pennsylvania/New Hampshire) and we hit it off right away! I feel like we’ve been friends for years! I love this camaraderie of the bloggie world. It amazes me!

Then onto the cocktails…and socializing for us two ladies. We were starstruck. Yet, meeting all these wonderful, fabulous, down.to.earth women was the most surreal and fabulous experience of the summer, and maybe my life.

I kept saying to Laura cheesy things like “Omg, I wanna meet Kath, she’s such an inspiration, it’s like meeting a famous person.”

Then, when you meet them, they were so down to earth, friendly, peppy, and just plain FABULOUS. This weekend blew me outta the water, then clear across the land (again, I’m cheesy), ha, but seriously, I had the best time.

And here’s a serious plug for the best.book.ever. See above. That’s Caitlin. If you don’t know her- here’s the best way how: Operation Beautiful. The site + the book. Go buy it. Changed my life, hers, and thousands of others around the world.

And then, just when we thought the party was ovah…think again…we ran into Angela and got the party started. For real.

1a.m. was waaaaaaay to late for this granny (me), and 6a.m. came waaaay too early.

Saturday~

I’m surprised my mascara-crusted eyes were able to stumble outta bed and make it to the lobby by then. Like always, I’m so glad I went. There was a group of about 6 or 7 people, and by mile 2.5ish, Angela and I split off, hijacked a running clan, and made our way around the lake, through the woods, and along the city streets until we made it back to the hotel.

Ok, full day ahead of us, and FULL recap tomorrow. My blog says I reached my picture quota, eeep. Does this mean I need to buy more space?! I better get on that!

To all you fabulous ladies I met this weekend, I had a blast and can’t wait to see you again!

We woke up refreshed and had breakfast at the hotel again (complimentary) and we were lucky to have our favorite workers on duty! They were so funny!

At 10:30am we met up with Mr. Singh for the tour.

First up, Laxmi Narayan Hindu Temple:

The temple is built in honour of Laxmi (Hindu goddess of wealth), and her consort Narayana

  • The famous temple is accredited to have been inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1939.

While driving we also saw the Parliament Building, the Ministry of Defenses, and the Ministry of Parliament.

And onto meet the President (I wish!)

The President only has control of the Armed Forces and then the Prime Minister of India controls the rest.

India Gate

  • India’s Gate is a War Memorial arch that was built in honor of 90,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives during WWI
  • Below, it burns the Amar Jawan Jyoti, the eternal flame in tribute to all martyred soldiers of India

Next on the list, Humayun’s Tomb:

  • Humayun’s tomb is a complex of buildings built as the Mughal Emperor Humayun’s tomb, commissioned by Humayun’s wife Hamida Banu Begum in 1562 CE, and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian architect.
  • It was also the first structure to use red sandstone at such a scale.
  • The complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and since then has undergone extensive restoration work, which is still underway.

After an entire day of not eating (except breakfast), it was now nearing 4pm and we had one more stop to go. Luckily the heat staves off all ques of hunger, but pretty soon, I would be blacking out!

The Qutub Minar:

  • The Qutub Minar tower is at 72.5 meters (237.8 ft) the world’s tallest brick minaret
  • The Qutb Minar is notable for being one of the earliest and most prominent examples of Indo-Islamic architecture

It was a glorious, but HOT day out, but luckily we had our AC car to take us from site to site. And if not that, Mr. Singh kept us entertained with his wit, humor, and adorable smile!

Day Four, we’re heading from Delhi to Jaipur. Before leaving though, we get to see Gandhi!!! Stay tuned. I’ll be back!