Five Things…in review

1) Summer nights downtown.

There’s nothing like a college town on a Friday night.  Even though it’s apparently cleared out a lot for the summer, the streets were still full of kids running around enjoying the weather and the parties.  I really do miss being in that environment, so I loved spending a night out with my best friend Katy.

2) Running in new shoes

Asics GT-2000™ White/Orange/Fuschia

How pretty are these? My new shoes finally got shipped in, and tying them on to go for my run yesterday felt so exciting.  Who would have ever predicted I would pay more for running shoes than a pair of heels?  Life takes us to some very interesting places.  Though I still special ordered them to get them in pink.  Some things never change.

3) My brother’s coming home!

He’s been out on a road trip in the midst of a summer full of military training, and will be home for a short week.  We always have a jam when he’s home!

4) Skillet lasagna with turkey

 

This stuff was INCREDIBLE.  I’ll post my recipe this week.  I really enjoy coming home from a long day at work and making a yummy dinner.  It’s empowering to take over the cooking at home, because you know exactly what’s going into it and can make some healthier choices…ie, turkey meat.  I can’t imagine my parents going for that in their typical spaghetti, but my mom admitted that this dish tasted amazing.

5) IMAGINE DRAGONS AT SUMMERFEST

So. Many. People.

Okay, I have obviously been saving the best for last because OH MY GOSH IMAGINE DRAGONS! I absolutely love this band.  I’m sure you’ve heard their stuff, but if you haven’t, get thee to iTunes right now!  My go-to running playlist is the Imagine Dragons Pandora station, so I knew every song and had fond memories of jogging along with their jams as motivation. 

Katy, Katie and I drove to Milwaukee for the fest, and had a good time trying out new foods and considering going on the mechanical bull (we chickened out).  Waiting for the concert was crazy–I could have leaned over off balance on any side and been held up by the crowd.  Wall to wall sardines.  We stood like that for two hours waiting for the show to start…memories to last a lifetime.  And the beer on my shoes probably will too.

But as soon as the started playing, nothing else mattered. I’ve never seen such a great live show! Inspiring, invigorating, and just plain fun. And then we drove the hours home and passed out in a heap.

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Flourless Chocolate Torte, or: your new best friend

There is something so relaxing about baking! Though I stay healthy and usually only have a tiny bit of whatever I’ve made, I still can’t resist the urge to bake some pretty decadent, delectable desserts.  Yes, alliteration.  It’s just that good.

Today, I’ve brought you a flourless chocolate torte that’s full of the good stuff, fairly easy to make, and will instantly propel you to the rank of expert chef and best friend among your peers.  Or your boyfriend’s mom, as the case may be–I brought her one today and I think I might have replaced him in her heart. Just kidding. But seriously–it’s good.

Ingredients:

For the Torte
2 2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (16 ounces), divided
1 cup unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

For the Ganache
1/2 bar lindt dark chocolate bar (at least 75% cocoa)
Approx. 1/4 c of heavy whipping cream

 

Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a 9″ springform pan.  Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment, and butter then parchment. Now, if you’re like me, and are usually completely unprepared when recipes call for this kind of thing, I promise that greasing the bottom of the pan with a ton of Pam and a generous helping of flour that you put the lumps out of will work just as well.  Not that I’m speaking from experience, or anything.

Combine 1 2/3 cups chocolate chips with 3/4 cup butter in a saucepan.  Melt, over low heat, until completely smooth.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and vanilla, and let cool for at least 10 minutes.

Are you drooling yet?

While the chocolate is cooling, combine the 5 eggs with 1 cup of sugar and 1 tsp salt and mix on high until very thick, about 6 minutes.  If you use a handheld mixer like I did, I can guarantee you a good workout from this part.

Anyone else think this is kind of pretty? No? Just me? Kay cool.

Carefully fold in the chocolate mixture, and pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Don’t worry if it starts out super light colored; by the time you fold in the chocolate, it should be rich and dark.

 

Bake for 45-50 minutes, and test with a toothpick.  This is a VERY crucial step.  The first time I made the torte, I baked it for 45 minutes and called it a day.  When I pulled the top off of the springform pan, I realized that the inside of the cake had not baked.  There are few things sadder than throwing out a freshly baked cake, my friends.  Do not be a Lauren.

The center will fall, and edges will remain lofty.  Let the cake cool, in the pan, for an hour before using a spatula to press the edges down to the same height as the center.  Invert the torte onto a plate, and remove the parchment.  Let cool completely.

Now, for the ganache!

Break up the dark chocolate bar, and melt it in a saucepan with the heavy cream, adding gradually.  If the sauce seems too thick, add a little more cream.  It should be thick enough to stand on top of the cake.  Once smooth, pour gently over the top of the cake and smooth out with a spatula.

Refrigerate until prepared to eat.  Garnish with raspberries, or homemade whipped cream.

Prepare to be crowned with laurels and heaped with love and affection.

My Life in Pictures…the little things

Ah, Mondays.  I felt like I was moving particularly slowly today–it can be hard to get into the flow of a 40 hour work week, especially since the job I’m doing involves lots of sitting and working on spread sheets.  Definitely not behavior that contributes to staying bright eyed and bushy tailed.  But I am working really hard on finding the beauty in the littlest things, and enjoying a slow-ish summer before being chucked back into the whirl wind that is school.  I found this amazing quote today, and it will be staying on my wall for awhile:

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness.  If you are attentive, you will see it.” -Thich Naht Hanh, Peace is Every Step

Beautiful, and a great thing to remember.  In honor of this, I’m posting a few “beauty in the little things” moments from the past week or so.  Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

This quote was on the board at yoga, and it warmed my heart.  Great to remember when you’re in a long distance relationship.

This was one of my favorite outfits I’ve ever worn to work. Sometimes it’s just nice to look cute. Especially after a semester spent in athletic clothes.

This is a flourless chocolate torte. And it is all that is good and beautiful and right in the world.  Completely non-healthy recipe will be coming to you soon.

A box of playbills from every show I saw between the years 2004 and 2011. So THAT’S where all my money/time/passion went.  Kind of a lovely thing when I think about it.

I will devote myself to being as happy with my life as this hedgehog is with his carrot.  I don’t even want to admit the number of people I sent this to.

Homemade margherita pizza that was absolutely to die for. Don’t even need a recipe for it: thin crust premade pizza dough, pizza sauce (lots), reduced fat mozzarella (not as much), and some very freshly chopped basil baked at 450 for ten minutes. See it. Smell it. Eat it. Love it.

Laying out on the lawn, slathered in sun screen and feeling like a summer goddess.  Sometimes, you have to take a day to just lay out in a swimsuit and relax. Or, in my constant BFA-ness, read some Ibsen. Nothing says summer like inner turmoil and class conflict.

Hope your summer is gorgeous!

Links I Love

Just some little random funsies for a lovely Saturday.  Actually, it is only lovely if you’re a fan of copious amounts of rain and some wind…but I am all about maintaining a positive outlook.  I have accomplished quite a bit today already–went to Barre Amped workout class this morning (ouch ouch ouch.  Gonna be feeling that tomorrow), picked up a present for a friend who’s had a rough week, and stopped at the library for more plays.  Which reminds me, I’ll have to describe my summer play reading habits at some point.  It’s a doozy.

1. The College Prep

This is one of my favorite blogs.  Carly always has something cute going on here, and I love hearing about her life in New York City. She’s the kind of post-college girl I want to be!

2. Rue La La

If you haven’t become a member of this site yet, you’re really missing out.  Each day they have sample sales from some really incredible brands.  Some of my favorite offerings: Lilly Pulitzer, Vera Bradley, Free People, and all kinds of amazing kitchen wares! There are several new sales in awesome categories each day, like Women, Men, Living, Vacations…etc.  Mostly, I just drool over deeply discounted goods.

3. The Frenemy: A Reminder

This snappy, witty blog takes on all kinds of topics that converge on the mind of 20 something girls today. I love reading everything she puts up, but her recent post about swimsuit shopping and wearing really got my attention.  If you have ever had any kind of anxiety about shopping for clothes or going to the beach, read this now.  It’s a good little uplift to your day. Note: I’m also really looking forward to reading her new book!

4. Mocha Latte Frozen Yogurt

Mocha Latte Frozen Yogurt Recipe Mocha Latte Frozen Yogurt

How is this even legal? Basically, God took everything I love in life (chocolate, coffee, and frozen yogurt), and smashed it all together in a recipe that looks fun to make.  Even better than that?  It isn’t horrible for you.  Every time I see homemade ice cream I’m always a little shocked and terrified by the amount of sugar and heavy cream that goes in there.  But this one is (comparatively) tame, and therefore on my list of must-makes. As soon as I get an ice cream maker. Which could be awhile. Sigh.

5. Popsicle Maker

I don’t know why these have been on my mind so much lately, but I am longing for the days when my mom used to pull one of these bad boys out and make us frozen orange juice popsicles.  I love sweet stuff that’s frozen in the summer, but I don’t like what ice cream and high sugar popsicles do to my waist line.  Enter the homemade pops I’ve been collecting recipes for on Pinterest.  First I just have to buy a maker…how cute are these little guys from William Sonoma? You can even monogram them!

 

 

First Day of Summer Shindig

I feel like summer has been going on for a while now…but apparently I have been celebrating spring.  Getting out of school at the beginning of May warps your season perception. I was very happy to learn that today was the official first day of summer!  I woke up expecting gorgeous skies of sun, a day of (sun screen protected) tanning, and an attractive young man handing out free bubble gum flavored snow cones. But instead, I headed to work in a rather chilly drizzle that persisted all day, sometimes turning into a downright downpour.

Is there any fairness in the world? I ask you.

Because today was a little lackluster, I thought up a great little party to celebrate the amazing possibilities that summer nights bring in to the world.  I love summer weather, food, clothing…I’d be one happy girl if I could have summer nights every night.

Love this bright and beautiful place setting with a beachy vibe, from Southern Living.

Speaking of color…how cute is this table top full of brights?

The Menu

Salad: Feta and orange arugula salad.  I would take out the feta and substitute  in some wonderful summer berries.

Firecracker Grilled Salmon Recipe

Main Course: Firecracker grilled salmon.  I just found this in Southern Living, and I cannot wait to try it. Sounds so delicious, with a little kick!

Side Dish: Grilled sweet corn salsa.  Would be great on top of the salmon, and as a side in and of itself! Easy and all kinds of pretty colors…are you noticing a theme here? 

Desserts: Because I couldn’t pick just one. 

Homemade strawberry lime sorbet. Four ingredients. All kinds of refreshing.

Yogurt in a waffle cone topped with fresh fruit. Again, super simple, but it looks so good!

Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Recipe

Finally, I dare you to not want this Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Sandwich. I triple dog dare you. That is lemon meringue ice cream between two gingersnap cookies, folks.

 

Finally, what does a good hostess wear to such a glorious event? Apparently, today was National Wear Lilly Pulitzer Day. I had no idea. Even if I had…I do not, in point of fact, own any of the aforementioned.  But a girl can dream.

Lilly Pulitzer Laidley Dress

It’s so pink.

Hope you all had a wonderful day! XOXO

A Pair for all seasons

A Pair for all seasons

Kate spade
katespade.com

Kate spade
couture.zappos.com

Kate spade
couture.zappos.com

Kate Spade pearl jewelry
couture.zappos.com

Kate spade
piperlime.gap.com

Kate spade
couture.zappos.com

Kate spade
couture.zappos.com

Kate spade
couture.zappos.com

Getting a summer job paycheck after a year of going to college is a very, very beautiful thing.  But it can also prove disastrous.  Suddenly, you have MONEY.  While you don’t actually need that cute little fedora hat at Target…you could totally afford it.  See what I mean? Slippery slope.
This especially comes in to play with sales items.  Whenever I see a sale sign, the sensible part of my brain switches off, and the part that says “Oh! Good deal!” turns on.  Even though it might be $180, if it’s on sale, I might consider it.
All of this being said, I am a very frugal person, and usually don’t buy anything unless I feel that I really, strongly need it. Which usually ends in me rushing out shopping the day before it is absolutely essential that I have an item. Obviously my philosophy works well.  All of that frugality was swept out of my head when I saw the jewelry on sale at the Kate Spade website.  Those earrings! How could I say no to all those beautiful, perfect little pairs of earrings?
I’m an earring junky, and these are not good for my habit.  All of the pairs above will go with any outfit, and instantly make it more fun.  I would love to have any pair of them…but I have to admit, I’m especially fond of those pearls hanging from bows and the fuschia, orange, and coral studs.  Will I be buying a pair for myself soon? Alas, even at excellent sale prices…probably not.  But will they be going on my birthday/Christmas wish lists?  Bet your bottom dollar.

Happy Father’s Day!

I hope to have another post coming tonight, but I had to take a minute to acknowledge the two truly amazing men I get to call “Dad” this Father’s Day.

Stepdad and his two crazy kids at Disney World.

My stepdad has been with our family for almost 12 years now, but I feel as though I’ve had him forever. He has always loved us unconditionally, and sacrificied a lot (like, oh, say, his bachelorhood) in order to give my brother and I an amazing life.  Even though he doesn’t exactly get the whole “artsy” thing all the time (we’re talking a man’s man here: former rugby all star, college basketball player, lover of any and all sporting events), he has never once dissuaded me from pursuing anything that I love. And I love him even more for that.

My dad is also my number one fan. I can’t even begin to describe the number of panicky phone calls, texts, or just conversations he’s had with me about life and my “huge problems.” But he never makes me feel bad about it.  He is constantly there with support, love, good advice, and some rock and roll.  As the above picture shows.  I treasure living so close to him, with every little bit of my heart. Whether it’s a quick lunch or a full day of browsing Barnes and Noble, hanging out with him has given me some of my happiest moments.

 

I am so lucky to have these incredible men in my world.  Happy Father’s Day, Johnny and Daddy 🙂

Thoughts on Cycling

Since I have been forced into a running hiatus with my screwed up foot, I have tried to turn to other workout options.  Because, in some bizarre twist of my non-athletic fate…a whole week of not working out seems like a death sentence to me.

Who have I become?

I digress. Yoga was out because I’d have to hold poses on my hurt foot.  Not good. So was walking.  Walking! No tennis, basketball, softball, soccer…but really, those weren’t likely in the first place. Swimming was an option, but I found that I’m too high maintenance to spend the extra hour and a half before work to do it. Not to mention too sleepy. So basically, that left bicycling, both the stationary and the actual variety.

I attempted stationary bicycling at the workout center at my office. I may be many things, but a stationary bicyclist, I am not.  Usually when I work out, I get this calm, peaceful sense of ease.  I feel insightful.  I feel like I can conquer the world.  When doing the stationary bicycle, I mostly think about how soon I can get off the damn thing.  Needless to say, that was a short workout.

I was excited, therefore, to take my first real cycling adventure outside. The fresh air! The gorgeous scenery! The cardio! Basically everything I love about running, just without the extreme pressure on my arches.  How could it go wrong?

Well, it turns out that cycling–hardcore cycling, which I describe as the 12 miles per hour that I was going at–is freaking. Hard.  I discovered muscles in my legs I didn’t even know I had.  I discovered them because they were screaming at me, “My God, no, not another hill!”  Cycling is also deceptive.  Those hills, man.  They trick you.  I ride a six mile route, and at first, it’s mostly little slopes and dales and valleys and all sorts of other country ephemera that would look at place in the next Hobbit movie (the Shire part, not the wandering through Moria stuff. Obviously).  And then…at some point, you realize that there isn’t really much down hill going on anymore.  Nope, it’s basically just elevation after punishing elevation.

Switching gears is also, I have found, a myth for the uneducated, pedestrian masses.  As I understand it, when you start going up a hill, you switch to a lower gear, enabling you to get up the hill easier.  On flat surfaces, you can hike the elevation back up to cover more ground. Excellent. Sounds great.  I decided to go into barking like an Iron Man contestant and just use the highest gear all the time. I am a strong, liberated woman. I got this.

But after about the fifth consecutive hill-with-no-down-slope, I decided enough was enough and switched down a gear.  Which only had the effect of making me pedal faster and cover less ground, making me look a hamster moving frantically in its little treadmill.  Very attractive, I can assure you.

I am only in one more week of enforced non-running exile.  And I cannot even begin to state how much I am longing for that day! But until that point, you might be able to see me pedaling doggedly up slopes, full gears, breathing like a sumo wrestler and aspiring to pro-biker greatness.

Wearing Tennis Shoes at Work

Odd title for a post? Probably.  But I’ve been thinking about this a lot for the past two days, as I was told by the doctor to wear only tennis shoes for the next two weeks, to provide extra support to my foot.  I never wear tennis shoes. Ever. I’m always in wedge sandals, flip flops, boots, ballet flats…but I cannot remember the last time I actually wore tennis shoes out somewhere to go with an outfit. 

That’s not to say I don’t love my running shoes. I ADORE them.  They are hot pink and gorgeous and pretty and, more importantly, have supported my newly athletic feet for a year and a half.  I’m probably getting nostalgic, because I’m going to buy new ones next week.  It’s just time. Sorry babies, it’s not you, it’s me.  And my probably-not-stress-fractured foot.

Sigh.

Anyway, back to wearing them at work.  Despite the love I have for these very cool shoes…no, I do not like wearing them to work. Or out in public.  At all. It’s kind of like the aversion I feel to wearing sweat pants in public.  Do I like how comfy they are?  Of course.  Do I really care what other people think? No! Or do I? I was wondering that today, as I changed my outfit plan for the third time to something that wouldn’t look bizarre with my shoes (skirts, most shorts, and skinny jeans are out for the next two weeks, apparently).  I was struggling and getting frustrated and then I realized, Why should I care?

I’m not going to care. 

I love getting dressed up and looking nice.  I think it’s important to look your best and put your best foot forward.  But do I care if some guy I’m never going to see again after this summer thinks it looks weird that I’m wearing Tiffany blue shorts with pink Nikes?  Nope.  Not gonna let it bug me.  There are so many other things to worry about in this world, I’m not going to waste another minute thinking about these shoes.  And hopefully, they are steering my foot towards a full recovery so I can get back to running soon! That’s better than any outfit compliment I could ever get.

 

Tony Awards Watch Party

Tony Awards Watch Party

It has been quite the day.  After visiting Urgent Care to get my foot checked out (diagnosis: probably not a stress fracture; no running for two weeks. So I’m mostly relieved, still a little sad…I will become a stationary bike riding queen in the next fourteen days, you can count on that), I was ready to come home, curl up, and just relax.  And work on my novel.  And read a play. Sigh.

But I am taking a little moment to write up my dream Tony party!  I watched with two of my best friends last night, and had an amazing time.  Someday, however, I’d like to have a dream Tony night big blowout bash! When we’re all rich and famous.  Or, you know, attend the Tonys.  That’d be cool too.

*Obligatory Note of My Thoughts on the Winners: I was SO excited for Patina Miller and Billy Porter.  Those kids are phenomenal, and work so hard! Loved that there were a ton of women directors winning.  I thought for sure Matilda was going to win, but was pleasantly surprised by Kinky Boots. Definitely the little show that could.  The fact that a Broadway regular (Tracy Letts) beat out Tom Hanks for the Best Actor made me swell up with pride, but Tom is a phenomenal guy.  Loved him.  Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike winning made me…kinda happy?  I don’t know enough about it to be totally jazzed. If it’s Durang, I’d probably like it.

Now back to the party program.