Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 90 - Catholic Charities Committee of Young Patrons, happy hour

I have been wanting to get more involved in my community since moving to KC a little over 3.5 years ago and have made a couple of good attempts since that time only to have them fall through. (If you have ever willingly and openly attempted to volunteer for something that didn't work out for one reason or another, you know how frustrating it can be when all you want to do is help out but it just doesn't happen)

Anyway, back to tonight. My most recent organization I have sought out to help with is our local Catholic Charities organization. I have volunteered for a couple of things already, but nothing has come from that yet - but I did recently sign up to be a part of a new group they started, the Committee of Young Patrons (CYP), it's for younger adults and it's a group that gets together to share out talents, treasures and time to help all of Catholic Charities.

Tonight Q & I went to a happy hour hosted by the CYP to meet some new people and discover how we can get more involved. It was at Charlie Hoopers, which is a bar we have been to before and is pretty close to our house, so it was nice to be some where familiar while meeting all these new people. Also, tonights happy hour was the first official event, so it is neat to get to be part of it early on.

Everyone was very welcoming and it was an enjoyable way to spend an hour after work. Both Quinn and I are excited to get more involved with Catholic Charities and their committee of young patrons :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 89 - S'more Cupcakes

Tomorrow I have book club and wanted to make something yummy to share with the ladies so as I was dreaming up what to make I saw a container of Nutella on the counter . . . hmm, what can I create with this delicious spread?

Yesterday I spread some on a graham cracker and made a little snack for Quinn and I and as we were eating them I said something about how we could get some marshmallow fluff and add that and it would be like a s'more - So once I thought back to that and since I tend to make a lot of cupcakes I decided to make s'more cupcakes tonight!

First I made a batch of Duncan Hines Swiss chocolate cupcakes (I normally would bake from scratch, but I already had box of cake mix and it was almost 9 o'clock by this point, so I decided to take a short cut).

Next I found a recipe for marshmallow frosting.


Marshmallow Frosting:
2 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons water
1 tbsp light corn syrup
½ tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1 cup mini-marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla extract

The finishing touch:
Graham crackers

To make the frosting I brought some water to a simmer (not boiling) and set a glass bowl over it (not touching the water) and into that bowl I combined the egg whites, sugar, water, corn syrup, cream of tartar and salt then whisked it continuously for about 5 minutes.

Once the sugar was completely dissolved and the mixture was warm to the touch it was ready to be whipped

I added in the vanilla and mixed it at medium-high speed for about 3 minutes until soft peaks held, while the mixture was still warm I turned the speed down and added the marshmallows (these need to be at room temperature or even a bit warmer so they melt completely)

After mixing at medium speed for about 3 more minutes the marshmallows were melted into the frosting and the consistency was just right

While the mixer was going I turned my attention back to the cupcakes, which had cooled a bit by this point and I cut out a small groove from the center of each cupcakes to make room for about a teaspoon of Nutella

Next I frosted each cupcake with the marshmallow frosting and then rolled the edges in graham crackers crumbs

Once I finished the cupcakes I thought it would be fun to toast the marshmallow frosting so I got out my cooking torch (yes I have one and I love it!) and gave each cupcake a little flame.

I love how these little treats turned out - the Nutella in the center was a nice surprise and the frosting really did taste like marshmallow. Next time I will add the graham cracker just before serving because as they sat in the fridge over night they absorbed some moisture and didn't have that crunch I was hoping for, but the flavor was still there and the s'more cupcakes have me thinking up some other fun desserts - like s'more brownie bars . . . I am sure those will come soon!

Other Firsts: Quinn got me this nifty cupcake carrier for Christmas and tonight I used it for the first time, to store the cupcakes in the refrigerator over night and this will make it so easy to take them with me to book club tomorrow.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 88 - A Walk (On the Wild Side)

Tonight Quinn, Charlie and I went on a walk - this is not new at all, infact when I suggested to Quinn that we could walk somewhere new we both were at a loss - we've walked to just about every possible place in our neighborhood for about a 3 mile radius so it seemed like I'd have to think of something else new to do today and Quinn suggested we just take a regular walk and could think of something as we went along.

As we walked a route we have probably been on a hundred times before I noticed the track at a highschool - I had even said before that I wanted to walk it - but for some reason we just never had before so we decided to go check it out . . .

When I saw this sign I had second thoughts, but Quinn convinced me that one lap would be fine so around we went.

And even though I asked Quinn more than once what our plan was if some one came after us (to which he just laughed at me) - it was just fine. And as we were walking off the track another walker came along to get use the track for his own personal workout - so we decided it is fine for public use, just not a football or soccer game and next time we will leave Charlie at home.

(side note - the pictures are off my camera so they are a bit blurry - I really didn't think we would find something new along our walk, so that's all I had with me - it got the job done.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 87 - Squaw Creek

This afternoon Quinn and I headed back to Kansas City, but it was too nice to sit in the car for 3 hours straight - you know how it feels - one of the first warmish days after a long cold winter so today we took a new turn on our way back home and stopped off at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge

There is about a 10 mile strech of road that goes around the refuge for people can go around at their lesiuer to see what nature has to show them for that day.

Before we set off on the nature drive we got out of the car for a bit to read more about the site and so so we could all get some fresh air.

It was VERY windy - glad most of our time was going to spent in the car.

As we drove around there were different markers and we had a brochure we picked up earlier that described some of animals and details about that specific area

One of the first stops described these muskrat homes - they looked like little mounds of branches and dirt that just popped up all over the lake, like tiny little islands. We even saw one with the muskrat hanging out on his front porch :)

This little detour to Squaw Creek made me wish once again that we had a good zooming lense on our camera . . . there were lots of cute ducks and many of them had really neat coloring, but we could get a picture to it justice - you'll just have to visit your self or take my word for it.

Here is another shot of the lake and all the muskrats homes, if you look closely you can see a pretty large bird standing on this one.

As we continued to drive around there were some pretty big changes in the scenery - here it was more swamp-like and I was really trying to see a water snake (no such luck) but it was very sceneic and the way all the trees and branches reflected in the water was beautifl.

By the end of the drive we saw lots of ducks, a potential bald eagle nest, a couple of hawks, several pelicans (these were my favorite, but they were too far out to get a decent picture - we did look through the view finders to zoom in on them), some muskrates and several other birds that we weren't sure of. If you ever go, bring some binauchulars or good zooming camera, we plan to go back in the fall to watch the geese migrate for winter and will be sure to have all the right tools on board!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day 86 - Greenbelly's

Today I met up with Quinn and his parents for lunch at Greenbelly's in Omaha. Quinn's mom is the coupon queen so Q & I had a $25 gift card to use which made our lunch free - love that!

I had the caprese stacker and some tortilla soup - both were very tasty. My only complaint was the stacker was about a 3 inch tall tower of food and it was served in a 4 inch tall container, which made it a bit difficult to eat, but I managed.

We dined in and our table was a little crowded for the 4 us and we were all served in plastic to-go containers, which seemed to contradict their claim to be 'green' and good to the environment. In their defense it was pretty busy when we got there so maybe they assumed we take our food to go (but they could of just asked).

All-in-all it was a good, quick (and for Q & I free) lunch so hooray to that! I won't make a point to return to this restaurant, but if I am in the area and want a healthy meal I may stop back in.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 85 - Corkscrew

I am still in Omaha, but now Quinn is here too :) He headed up after work today to meet his new nephew and to help his parents with their on-going move tomorrow.

After work today I made dinner for my sister Nelly & her husband Nate (and I suppose I should say Liam too). I made my fancy mac & cheese with a new twist (just a different cheese combo) - it turned out delicious (so I heard). My dad and I delivered dinner and had a quick visit then we ran some errands before heading back to my parents house where I took a nap until Quinn got in.

Once I woke up, I was still pretty worn out from the busy week - but wanted to do something since it is Friday night and Q & I haven't gotten to spend much time together this week. Quinn and I had heard of this little wine-bar not too far from my sisters house, so once I was up & ready we headed back to my sisters house so Quinn could meet Liam and then said good night to their cute little family of 3 and Q & I were off to share some wine.

We went to Corkscrew, a wine & cheese retailer & bar.

We chose a wine off the shelf and sat at the bar and each had a glass, they close relatively early, at 11 on Friday & Saturday evenings, so we corked the bottle and took the rest home to enjoy on the couch.

A nice relaxing way to end a busy week and start a fun weekend :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 84 - Word of the Day

Tonight I signed up to receive a daily new word & definition from .

This is something I have always thought of doing, but wasn't sure what site to use and simply just never took the time to set it up -until tonight. I wanted something pretty simple because my mom and I got back from KC around 3 AM this morning, I slept for a couple of hours and then headed to the office for a 9 AM meeting. I left for the day around 3:45 PM so I could get back to my parents and take a much needed nap before heading over to my sisters to spend some time with her & Liam.

While there I wanted to do something to help out the new parents, so I cleaned out their refrigerator (another first - the first time I clean out any one else's fridge). So between holding Liam & cleaning it was almost 11 PM when I left there - still with out my official first of the day, so now that I am back at my parents I just signed up for my word of the day.

I already got an email that said I will receive my first official new word of the day tomorrow - but on their website it lists that today's new word is . . .

lucre \LOO-kuhr\ , noun;
1. Monetary gain; profit; riches; money; -- often in a bad sense.

I am looking forward to my daily emails to see what other interesting words exist that I have never heard of before.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 83 - Black Eyed Peas & my first Rap Concert!

Last night after dinner my mom and I headed back to KC - Quinn and I had tickets to the Black Eyed Peas concert and I have to be back in Omaha tomorrow morning for a meeting. So my mom was so nice to me to leave her new grandson and take me back and forth so that now, after the concert, she is driving us back to Omaha so I can sleep - Thanks Momma!!

OK, so earlier tonight Quinn and I with our good friends Katie & Scott headed towards the Sprint center for the Black Eyed Peas concert. Before the show (and thanks to Scotts negotiating efforts with the hostes) we had dinner at Raglan Road.

The first act was LMFAO - we got there in the middle of their set and then Ludacris took the stage - These were my first ever rap-concerts and it was a lot of fun. I was so surprised by all the Ludacris songs that I actually knew. While we dancing and rapping along I snapped a couple of fun pictures.

I especially liked how Scott had his turned at just the right angle.

Our seats were very close, just a little set behind the stage - at first I was skeptical, but once we settled in it was perfect! Ludacris was pretty funny and had quite the entourage of booty-shaking dancers.

Waiting for the Black Eyed Peas to take the stage

They entered the show in full-force with interesting costumes & lighting. The entire show had this space-aged futuristic theme which was really neat

There were a couple neat effects including this 'flying' motorcycle.

The intro & closing of the concert was all songs from the new album, but in between they filled it with some older songs and Fergi & Will-I-Am each had their own personal stage-time. They played for over 2 hours and it was very fun.

Tonight was such a good night ;) We had a blast with Scott & Katie and it was so worth the extra highway time to get back for this!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 82 - The Drover

I am still in Omaha and tonight my parents and my sisters in-laws thought it would be nice to celebrate the new baby over dinner. This is the first grand baby for both sets of parents so you can imagine that is certainly a reason to celebrate!! Lucky for my other sister Michelle & I because we got to go too and celebrate our new nephew :)

We decided on the Drover, which is a restaurant that has been in Omaha for many years (I tried to find an exact year, but had no luck), my mom even mentioned that my grandpa use to enjoy going here.

Even though it is an Omaha classic, I had never been before and after our meal tonight will not wait another 27 years before I return - everything was delicious!

When we walked in, one of the first things I noticed was the lighting - it was pretty dim, but still bright enough to easily read the menu. The rustic wood decor and lighting created an ambiance that was a bit unexpected, but just right all at the same time.

The menu (which I am pretty sure is the same as it was all those years ago) was simple. I always like menus that aren't full of options and the Drover does steak and does them well, so that's what they serve - with a couple other options.

Another plus, they had warm yummy bread & butter on the table within moments of being seated :)

Michelle & I shared their house specialty, the whiskey fillet. We both had the salad bar and plenty of baked potato for both us.

The steak was cooked to perfection. We ordered it medium and although it was really in between medium & medium-rare, it was just right for us. Also, this salad bar was great. Michelle tried the poppy seed dressing (which I tasted too) and it was tasty.

Thanks to Scott & Debbie for treating us to a lovely dinner & Congratulations to all of us and the new little man in our lives (Thanks to Nate & Nelly for making this all possible) :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 81 - Welcome to the World Liam Nathan! My New Nephew

Today at 9:59 A.M. the sweetest baby boy came into our lives. My little sister, Nelly and her husband Nate did such a great job and I am so very proud of them and excited to spoil this little cuite like crazy!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 80 - A New Ingredient: Meringue Powder

If you know me, you probably know that I love to make sweet little cookies & cupcakes to celebrate all of life's joys and my sisters baby boy will most likely be welcomed into the world sometime tomorrow, so tonight - I bake.

I decided sugar cookies would be a fun thing to have a big tray of in their room for any visitors and of course for the new mom & dad to enjoy.

I have never officially made royal icing because using egg whites always sorta freaked me out so to frost sugar cookies I usually just whip up some Crisco (or butter), milk, powdered sugar and a bit of vanilla, but since these cookies would e unrefrigerated I decided tonight would be the perfect time to use meringue powder for the first time - you just mix it with powdered sugar & a bit of water and it's ready to go!(I also added in some vanilla and a bit of butter for flavor).

Earlier today I went and picked up a couple new cookie cutters along with the meringue powder at Mangelsen's. I found a baby duck, rattle, bottle and a square (that I planned to decorate like a block) and I already had a teddy bear so I was all set.

My original plan was to use store bought dough so I could spend more time on decorating, but after a struggle to cut roll & cut-out the store bought dough and then after seeing the results of baking them (a much rounder, puffier shape than I had in mind) I moved on to plan B (which should of been plan A) I called Quinn back in KC and got the recipe for my favorite sugar cookies - they hold their shape great and are so yummy.

Once the cookies were all baked & cooled (about 3 dozen). I whipped up the frosting and then separated it to add the colors - baby blue (blue with 1 drip of red), pale yellow and light green and I left plenty of white. The consistency was a bit thinner than I had in mind and so the colors blended a bit when I decorated, but the end results was still very cute - next time I will probably just do a touch less water.

I am so excited to meet my new nephew and to share these sweet treats with the new momma & dad and all their friends & family ~ enjoy!