Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Peanut Buster Parfait Cake

Oh. My. Gosh.. I think I've made the best dessert of my young life yet. No exaggerations, this dessert went so fast that I didn't even get to take a nice picture before it was devoured. As I mentioned Friday, we had a small celebration with some close family on Saturday for my grandma's 90th. I made two desserts. The first was that 3 layer Strawberry Cake from Southern Living I blogged about a few weeks ago. I thought this cake would be the true star of the night, but I was so so wrong. While it was a gorgeous cake, the second dessert really stole the show.

I'm sure you remember going to birthday parties as a kid, where there was often a Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake. Not gonna lie, that fudgy-rich middle part was obviously the best part. This dessert is a cross between this cake, and DQ's peanut buster parfaits (my grandma's favorite dessert. ever.)

It's called the Five-Layer Ice Cream dessert, but I'm not sure that name justifies the deliciousness of this slice of heaven. I just called it Peanut Buster Parfait Cake. 

This dessert also fits perfectly with my current ice cream kick I'm on as well - seriously, can't get enough of that stuff right now! I've been begging to make an ice cream run at least twice a week (sorry Andy!)

Ready for the recipe?? It's an easy one!




Peanut Buster Parfait Cake

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pound oreos
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla icecream, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted peanuts
  • 1 (12 oz) contained frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine evaporated milk, 1/2 cup butter, chocolate chips, and confectioner's sugar. Bring to a boil, and cook 8 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Allow to cool completely. (Took a few hours for me)

In a large bowl, mix together crushed Oreos and 1/2 cup melted butter. Press onto bottom of a greased 9x13 inch pan; freeze until firm. Spread softened ice cream over crust, then freeze until firm. Spread top with cooled fudge sauce and sprinkle with peanuts, freeze until firm. Spread with whipped topping, and freeze until firm - or overnight.



Like I said, easy as pie (cake?).  Also, here's an actual picture I got to take of the Strawberry Cake from this weekend.




Friday, April 22, 2016

Five on Friday

All I can say is TGIF! This week seemed to drrrraaaaaggg on!



ONE

As of yesterday, the world is grieving a loss of legend... the wonderful, iconic Prince passed away yesterday morning in his home state of Minnesota. I grew up listening to Prince with my parents, warmed up and worked on technique in dance class while "Kiss" blared out of the speakers, and would crank the radio whenever classics such as Purple Rain or Let's Go Crazy came on. I drove past First Avenue today on my way to work - the place where Prince started out. The outside was adorned with flowers, letters, and other forms of memorabilia. First Ave held an "all-night dance party" last night to celebrate the life of Prince, and allow the people of Minnesota to grieve and remember together. Here are some other shots of how Minneapolis honored this incredible man.





It poured in Minneapolis yesterday evening, and then the skies opened up to the sunshine and the most beautiful rainbow.


TWO

Oh my, have I become a lipstick fanatic. I love trying new colors, new types, and new brands! The one I am currently loving on is the Lancome brand. It goes on so smooth and creamy, the color is bold, and it stays on foreverrrr. I am currently sporting Front Page.. It's a perfect red for work - or a night out! 


The color I wear is on the left! You can check it out here


THREE

I came across these while aimlessly searching the Target website for things to put on a Wishlist (aka.. things I buy when I'm feeling like treating myself!)


How adorable is this?!??? They also have chocolate donuts and slices of pizza. I think they would be so fun to use for a pool party, and my apartment complex has a beautiful pool.. so I see these as a necessity (Confession - thinking of these mayyyy have driven me to stop at the gas station and grab a donut for breakfast this morning - oops! ;) oh well, it's friday - right?)


FOUR

I am seriously counting down the days until next Friday. Andy and I are headed up to the North Shore for the weekend to celebrate our anniversary. Now me being the planner - I surprisingly have not planned a single part of the weekend (and it slightly freaks me out!!) other than the hotel and one dinner, as the weather has constantly been changing from sunny to rainy, and from 60 degrees to 45 degrees. So I guess we will see what's in store when we arrive. But I am hoping we get a chance to explore the pebble beaches and enjoy some views such as this:




FIVE

Yesterday, my beautiful grandmother turned 90. She still gets her hair and nails done weekly, dresses better than anyone I know, and bakes the best lemon pies! She is spunky, talented, smart, and fun, and always has the best stories. Seriously - listening to her talk about her life in the 30's and 40's as a city girl, and meeting and falling in love with my grandpa - a country boy.. it melts my heart! The countless letters they shared while he was off at war, and the 5 babies they raised on a small farm in the country. I could listen for hours. She is everything I aspire to be someday, and I can only hope to age as gracefully and as beautifully as her.

We are throwing her a small birthday get together tomorrow afternoon, and I will see her since the first time since October - as she was in Florida for the winter. I cannot wait to get my arms around her and give her a big hug. We will be throwing her a giant party in the summer to celebrate, but for now it will be nice to just enjoy some time with her.


That about wraps it up! Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Kayla Itsines Guide Review Weeks 1-4



So a few weeks back I decided to give the popular Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide workout a go. If
you haven't heard of this, here's a little information..

Kayla Itsines is a trainer in Australia who developed a workout plan called the Bikini Body Guide 1.0. Your weeks are laid out with three High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) workouts from the guide that each focus on different parts of your body, three days of 35-40 minute Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) workouts, daily stretching, and a rest day. The HITT workouts are designed by Kayla and consist of two circuits, each to be completed twice, for seven minutes each - coming up with a grand total of 28 minutes of exercise each time. These are recommended to be completed Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The LISS workouts, recommended to be completed Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday - are completely up to you but Kayla suggests walking, cycling, etc.

Now don't let the 28 minutes fool you into thinking this is going to be easy - I have never sweat so much in my life and it can be very challenging! But the positive thing is that since it's timed, you just have to focus on giving it 100% - the time will eventually be up. Between each 7 minute circuit, you can allow yourself a minute or two to get some water and catch your breach (slightly). So if you can just give it your all and do as much as you can, the results are going to motivate you even more. I find that by the time I arrive to the gym, change, do a quick warm up, complete the workout for the day, and leave - I'm in and out in about 50 minutes. I used to spend an hour and a half at the gym aimlessly wandering around and doing a few things I thought would be good, but this makes me feel like I really got a great workout in and I feel much more productive with my time!

One of the best things about this workout is that they can be done at home, in the gym, outside - wherever you feel like! Except I don't recommend doing them anywhere that you might get self-conscious about being mega sweaty ;) Equipment needed is easy to come by and you can substitute is with other things if you decide to perform them at home! Here is a snapshot from the guide:



Kayla also offers a nutrition guide complete with meals ideas. I do not follow this as I am comfortable with my own eating plans and have never really been one to divulge in fast food/heavy meals frequently. Especially once I got done with high school and realized I won't have that metabolism forever!

After almost being to the end of the first four weeks, I can honestly say I have noticed a difference. My energy levels are up, I'm sleeping much better at night, I feel stronger, and my self-confidence has increased. My body is also undergoing slight changes that I have just started to notice at the beginning of this week :) You will see no progress photo from me until the end though! The hormones that are released when I'm driving home from the gym at night put me in a mood that is indescribable, and can't be compared to anything else. It's a great feeling! I honestly can say I feel on top of the world :)

So pop on over to Kayla's IG and check it out! Maybe you'll be inspired as much as me, and if not - the pictures of her dogs are pretty cute.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Confessions


WEDNESDAY CONFESSIONS


Good afternoon and happy Wednesday! We're half way through yet another week, and I'm here to confess a few things that have been on my mind the past few days.

1. Let me start off by saying we are FINALLY experiencing some spring time in Minnesota! Today's high is 65 and it all goes up from here.. high 60's to mid 70's for the next fifteen days. THANK GOD. 

2. It's only appropriate that with the beautiful weather we're experiencing - these are the only things on my mind: 


Minnesota lake life.. this is a typical sunset on most lakes here and is usually enjoyed after a day of pontooning, fishing, and drinking :)


 I CANNOT wait for bonfires and everything that comes along with it - camping, s'mores, card games, s'mores, long talks, the peaceful sounds of the crackling fire, and more s'mores...


Walks on Stonearch Bridge to downtown Minneapolis where everyone's either biking, walking their dogs, enjoy dinner or drinks on one of the many patios, or just enjoying the views of the skyline and the Mississippi River



Okay this is just something that is a must this summer. Watermelon Jell-o shots, and you make them inside a hollowed out watermelon. How cool is that?!


3. My parents left for a well-deserved vacation in Punta Cana early this morning. Luckily, I got to be their lovely chauffeur to the airport! I'm hoping they have the absolute best time and enjoy the relaxation (although I still may be slightly jealous that they didn't bring me ;) )

4. Andy wow'd me yet again last night with his superb cooking skills and surprised me with apple-bourbon bacon wrapped pork for dinner! He even made some delicious roasted potatoes and carrots, complete with a side salad and dinner rolls. He really is the sweetest and I would gladly eat his cooking over mine any day :)

His even presented it so beautifully!


5. I'm currently in the midst of doing the popular Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide. I'm halfway through week 3 of 12 and it's killer! Some days I can't raise my arms or get up from my desk but I can honestly say that I'm feeling great. This deserves a whole post dedicated to it though so more on that another day..

6. The spring cleaning bug is in full swing right now, so much that it almost gives me anxiety over what all needs to be done - yikes!

That's all for today! Blogging definitely gives me a break from reality but now I have to return to my 8 page paper on Policy Making... weekend, where are you?!?!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Berry Cobbler

Happy Monday everyone! Mondays come way, way too fast. Seriously - I feel this weekend was gone in a blink! It was a great one though. My brother got back stateside after vacationing in Moscow and Rome for the past week and a half. So Saturday afternoon I packed up the car to head back to my parents' place to hear about his adventures and enjoy a little Sunday dinner with all of them. The souvenirs he brought back are just stunning, and he brought back a beautiful handmade scarf for me from Moscow that I am happily sporting today at work!

Friday was spent relaxing, a little self-pampering, and making the most delicious (and FIVE ingredient) berry cobbler - which I'm dying to share. If you've heard of the Pioneer Woman, this is one of her recipes! You can find it here. Seriously, this woman can do no wrong. Plus you should definitely check out all of her cookware and table linens. They sell it at Walmart - and it's about the only reason I'll go there! I have to admit... I consider myself a Target gal ;)

Without further adiue...




Berry Cobbler

Ingredients: 

1 stick butter
1-1/4 cup 
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup whole milk
2 cups berries (I used blackberries and raspberries!)

Directions:
Melt butter in a microwavable dish. Pour one cup of sugar and flour into mixing bowl, whisking in milk. Mix well. Then pour in melted butter and whisk it all well together. Butter a baking dish.

Now rinse and pay dry the berries. Pour the batter into a buttered 9x9 baking dish. Sprinkle berries over the top of the batter; distributing evenly. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the top.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden and bubbly. If you desire, sprinkle an additional teaspoon of sugar over the cobbler 10 minutes before it's done.


Yes - that cloth napkin is from her line as well :)


Enjoy!!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Five on Friday!

Happy Friday! I love this link-up that a large amount of the blogs I follow participate in, so lets begin!


ONE



I came across this cake recipe on Instagram a few weeks ago from SouthernLiving and thought it was the prettiest thing and perfect for spring! Triple-Decker Strawberry Cake... oh my god! My mouth is watering just looking at the picture. Although it's snowing in MN today (in April - so depressing), I'm thinking I might attempt to make it this weekend while I pray for spring weather. 


TWO

I've been looking to vamp my makeup collection and buy some quality products that will make my makeup last longer. I heard countless good reviews about the Make Up For Ever HD Pressed Powder. It's universal for all skin tones, and claims to add a soft focus, naturally radiant effect and reduce imperfections. I feel that it would be great over my usual BB cream and foundation routine, and seal in my makeup for the day! 


 Here's a picture, and you can buy it here. I think I might have to make a Sephora run this weekend...


THREE

I've been wanting to start an herb garden for the past few springs and am proud to say that this is the year! I settled on attempting mint, rosemary, chives, and basil. I painted the pots last night and plan to put the herbs in either this weekend or the next! We will see how they do on my mostly shaded patio.. 

How cute is this idea though?? Might have to do this if mine survive the first few weeks!



FOUR

This week I bought and tried my first Lush facemask! I've heard countless great things about them and love that they use all natural ingredients that you can actually pronounce! My roommate uses them a lot and got me intrigued, so I caved and stopped at the mall. After discussing with the worker what would work best for my skin and what I wanted (Not worried about acne right now and just have an oily T-zone, wanted something brightening, exfoliating, etc.) She recommended the Don't Look at Me mask. 

Now, if you've never been to Lush before it is quite the experience! All of their face masks are on display in little metal bowls to sample, and they're all on ice! Using natural ingredients comes with needing to keep chilled. But this enhances the face mask experience because the cold really feels amazing and refreshing on your face!


As if the claims of what this mask does wasn't enough.. look at that beautiful color! and the smell.. just like fruit loops haha

This mask contains lemon (for brightening) and ground rice (for exfoliating). I did the mask on Sunday night (poor Andy had to deal with my monster blue face for 10 minutes) and wow! the effects were fantastic! I felt like a new woman. I totally recommend this and can't wait to try the other Lush facemasks. 


FIVE

Of course, have to throw in a local brunch spot that I was so excited to try. Near NorthEast Minneapolis there is a restaurant/bar called Betty Danger's Country Club. This isn't any old regular bar.. this one has a FERRIS WHEEL that you can ride and sip drinks/snack on appetizers on. They also have mini-golf. The atmosphere is unbeatable and their pear margaritas... don't even get me started.

Anyway, Andy and I stopped for brunch as it is near his house and it was delicious. They focus on Mexican themed dishes.. and I love me some good Mexican food :)

Plus can you serve coffee anymore adorable?!




Welp, that wraps up my first Five on Friday! Have a great weekend!

Hello!

Well, here I go! First blog post and I couldn't be more excited to get going on it. I have considered starting a blog for the longest time and finally decided to go for it. I started following several blogs within the past year, and loved the idea of having somewhere to ramble on about recipes, party planning, what's been on my mind, etc. For my New Years resolutions, it was top of my list. Now, I understand that April is a little late to finally be getting to my resolutions but hey, better late than never!

I consider myself a positive person and am constantly looking for things to make the bigger picture beautiful. Therefore, I decided to start this blog to document all of the wonderful things that happen throughout the year(s), and to share about my passions, hopes, dreams, and accomplishments so that I can look back at them someday.

Sooo, a little about me.. I am currently pursuing my master's degree in forensic mental health at a University here in St. Paul, Minnesota. I'm a daughter to two loving parents, and a sister to an incredibly smart and talented brother (seriously - like knowing 7 languages, doctor kind of smart. It's not even fair!). I have a boyfriend - Andy - and we love spending time with friends, throwing parties, and eating a lot of delicious food we cook together. I also have some pretty wonderful friendships that I treasure with my whole heart.

I was born and raised in Minnesota and enjoy (almost) everything about it here! The changing of seasons, the up-north lake life, and the bright, lively city of Minneapolis where there is an endless possibility of things to do. I also love celebrating each and every occasion - big or small, traveling, and baking. I eat a lot of chocolate (and try to balance it out by working out frequently), and try to organize and plan every aspect of my life. I am truly blessed and thankful everyday for the life I live.