I have two questions for you…
1. Anyone else shocked that we are almost through the first two months of 2014?
2. Anyone surprised that instead of writing a literature review I am blogging?
I can’t believe February is almost over. A lot has been happening in our lives which is the only excuse I have for my absence. The first two months of the new year kept us busy and consisted of… A brief visit to the hospital for my Dad (he is fine), a not as brief visit to the hospital for Justin’s Mom (she will be fine but isn’t running at 100% yet), my first work trip (to sunny Fort Lauderdale), Justin away for drill, second semester of my MBA program started, LOTS of snow, a Scandal binge, cabin weekend, Justin Timberlake concert (awe, yeah!), 2014 winter Olympics (Justin LOVES the Olympics), and a vacation!
Phew. Things sure have felt nutso, but we have been keeping our heads above water (water in the form of snow) and are having a good time. I am already making progress in some areas of my 30 Before 3o list, but in other areas, not so much. I will provide an update later this week.
Until then, here are some pictures from the last seven weeks.
Don’t you just love the feeling of a new year? A fresh start. The opportunity to do things differently. To do them better. Although some of us will lose momentum fairly quickly once their busy lives take over again, I plan to ride the wave for as long as possible.
I have spent the last week or so really thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2014. While I was mulling over some ideas I also realized that 2014 is my last full year in my twenties. In just a few months I will be turning 29 and staring 30 directly in the face. Ok, ok…if I am going to be completely honest in 2014, I didn’t just realize this. I have been thinking about 30 a lot. That is what lead me to develop not only a list of goals, but a 30 before 30 list.
While I was developing the list, I reviewed it with and asked my husband for input. He reminded me that although it is a fun idea to develop a 30 before 30 list, he also wanted to make sure I took a moment to recognize what I have already accomplished. So I did just that. I stopped to reflect on everything I have already accomplished, and while it gives me pride in the life I have lived so far, it also gives me more momentum to make the next year even better than the last.
Read 30 Books – including Little Women. (and yes, the book I finished last night counts towards the total)
Take a Photography Class
Go on a Cruise
Have Dinner With Each of my Immediate Family Members Individually
Lose Weight (No List is Complete Without it!)
Hold a Baby Bear
Write a Letter Once a Week
Blog Once a Week (Lucky You Guys!)
Try a New Recipe Each Month
Do One Craft Project a Month (First One…Happiness Jar)
Go to the MN Zoo
Special Date Night Per Month
Workout 4x Per Week (Should Help Achieve #6)
Go to a Water Park
Figure Out What I Want to do (And Develop my Portfolio)
Less Technology Time (Unplug More!)
Make a Pie From Scratch
Learn About Spices and Herbs
Be Almost Done With my MBA (Can’t Speed That up Even if I Wanted to)
Be Able to do Push Ups on my Toes
See a Show on Broadway
Go For a Run in Central Park
Master Gluten Free Living
Attend a Cooking Class
Learn to Use InDesign
Take a Trip With The Girls
Have the BEST 30th Birthday Party Ever!
As I head out to embrace 2014 with open arms, I will be keeping these goals with me. I may not be able to complete ever single one by the time I turn 30, but I think it is going to be fun to try.
Also, if anyone has any other fun ideas I am not opposed to adding to my list so feel free to comment or share yours with me. And if you can help me reach a goal (anyone recently find a bear cub?) lemme know! I am sure my list will grow and morph as the days go by, but I think it is a solid start.
I hope everyone enjoyed this busy time of year with some of their favorites like we did. Our Christmas week started on December 22 when we celebrated the day of birthdays…
First we enjoyed a late Thai lunch downtown Minneapolis at Kindee. My “little” brother was celebrating his 26th birthday and Kindee has quickly become a favorite of ours since they have super yummy gluten-free options.
After enjoying lunch we went straight into our next meal which was a pizza night for Justin’s Dad’s 70th Birthday! Unfortunately, we didn’t get a group picture. We really enjoyed our day with family, though.
Next that came was Christmas Eve, which we spent with my family. There was a lot of wine, laughter and gifts…especially now that there is a child to be buying for! I think we all went a little overboard and spoiled my niece to pieces, but the adults didn’t leave empty handed either. You know you are maturing when you end up wanting only practical gifts and get excited about a 3M gift basket, books, a card table and hair products.
On Christmas Day we enjoyed a low-key morning. We mainly focused on stocking stuffers this year since Santa brought us a three night cruise to the Bahamas and four nights at Disney World to enjoy in February. Obviously, we can’t wait. Selby also got what she wanted, three new bones and a fresh layer of fluffy snow.
After our low key morning we headed back to Stillwater to celebrate with Justin’s family. We have a lot of nieces and nephews and really enjoyed watching them tear through their presents. We had a great meal and even got to enjoy the carolers who came right on time. And as usual, Justin stuck with tradition and provided them with some body warming beverages.
By the time we went to bed last night we both felt so thankful for everything and everyone we have in our lives. It was a very merry Christmas indeed.
Did I really just take three-months off of blogging? No wonder I haven’t felt complete lately. I am not sure what exactly happened, but I can tell you that I have been extra busy lately. Surprise, surprise.
Although some really fun and awesome things happened in the last three months, I won’t be recapping. That would just take too long. If you are curious where I have been and what we have been up to, visit me on Instagram @bettybshaw.
With that said, I am going to jump in and provide you with two yummy recipes. Since fall is now in full swing, pumpkin products are EVERYWHERE. I think I have almost reached my full capacity of pumpkin treats, but I don’t seem to be turning any away quite yet. So here goes:
The first recipe was found online at chow.com. I had tried cookies like this at a family event not too long ago and wanted to recreate them.
Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola or corn oil
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips
Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl, and set aside.
Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Stop the mixer and using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle. Turn the mixer to low-speed, add the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla, and mix until evenly blended. Add the flour mixture, and mix until just incorporated. Add in the butterscotch chips and mix until evenly distributed.
Using an ice cream scoop (this actually worked really well!) scoop mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2 inches apart. Using a thin metal spatula, smooth the tops of the mounds.
Bake the cookies until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 16 minutes. Cool them on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
They looked a little different from the ones I tried previously, but turned out just as tasty!!! They are almost like cake cookies and super easy to whip up.
Next up: Award Winning Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Bars. If I haven’t blogged about this before, I probably should start. My 12-year-old neighbor and I often find ourselves in a bake-off. It is a friendly competition and she gets to set the terms of what we are going to make. In the past we have made banana bread and something lemon (we both ended up making a cake, but they were completely different). Although she is only 12, she is quite the skilled baker and beat me the first two rounds. When she text me and said we were on for Pumpkin Bars, I knew I had to bring my A game. Therefore, I went with a Paula Deen inspired (a.k.a. LOADS OF BUTTER) recipe.
Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Bars
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture (this will take some effort to cover bottom of pan, but it can be done!) into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.
Don’t mind the way I look, or the not so female strong sweatshirt I am wearing, but those were the finished product. Erica made a more pie like bar that included a yummy crusted bottom.
After judging (our engineer neighbor on the other side of our house judges) he announced the winner and the reason why I can now call them Award Winning.
I may have felt a little shamed from the 12-year-old covering her face and the 28-year-old rejoicing, but I was coming off of two losses already. Cut me some slack.
Do you have a favorite pumpkin treat or recipe for this time of year?
Yesterday Justin and I teamed up with another couple to participate in the Mud Factor mud run. I did the Dirty Girl Mud Run last year, but no one else from our team had done a mud run before. I filled them in on a little of what I expected the run to be. While some of my predictions were correct, it was quite different from the Dirty Girl race.
Our race course was in the middle of a field in Ham Lake, MN. We had record low temperatures this weekend, and I don’t think our high even reached 60 degrees yesterday. That is insane for the last weekend in July!!!
After checking-in we fastened our bandanas and put on our temporary tattoos with some seriously sketchy, damp towels. Even Justin was surprised I was using them. But when at a mud run, you do what mud runners would do! After getting all of our gear on we waiting patiently for the run to start so we could warm up our bodies.
The pre-race wasn’t rocking like I am used to from other races. There wasn’t any music to pump you up. There were only dark clouds rolling in towards us! Once we got started we were ready for some fun in the mud (because we clearly weren’t going to get any sun!).
The first part of the trail was through a grassy field. The long grass had been flattened and it almost felt like you were running on a trampoline. It was really bizarre and something I totally wasn’t used to. It was tough to navigate which part of the trail had a secret hole under the grass, and we heard multiple people say they hoped they wouldn’t break their ankle! It definitely worked my legs in a completely different way and made me feel incredibly out of shape!
There was a lot more running than my last mud run, but we did encounter a couple of mud pools, downed trees, a climbing wall, cargo net, slip n’ slide, and a few other obstacles. All the obstacles were challenging in their own right, but everyone on our team conquered them without fear! Go team, “We got the runs!!!”
Halfway through the race it started to rain which made everything a little bit colder. However, it wasn’t raining hard enough to make the soft sand that the second half of the race trail was covered with harder. Kudos to the beach runners out there! That shit is tough!
Overall, I ended up walking a little bit more than I thought I would have, but it is making me consider adding some trail runs to my training schedule.
By the time the race ended, my legs were feeling spent, and I was ready for a HOT shower. The clean up accommodations weren’t quite as extensive as the last mud run I did, but the water was significantly warmer. We rinsed some of the major mud chunks off of us, but just decided to throw down some towels and just shower back at our house.
We were also able to donate the shoes we used if we wanted too. I was happy to see that there was a group there who would take all the muddy shoes, would clean them up and donate them to people in need.
After we got cleaned up we were all so incredibly hungry we ruined all benefits of the run and had a massive lunch with yummy drinks. We had so much fun getting together though it was worth the cold and the over indulging. We don’t often get to see Jenn and Adam, but when we do, we always feel so blessed to be able to call them our friends!
I feel like I can’t let another day go by without a post about the biggest news story of the week. From one Duchess to another, I’d like to express my excitement and well wishes to the new parents!
On Monday, my office Queen and I were on pins and needles all day. We were anxiously awaiting the birth of the royal baby.
Then we finally heard. The future King was born and everyone was happy and healthy. Yay!
The excitement didn’t end there. Today I walked out of a meeting to find a text on my phone from my friend Amy. They (all major news sources) were camped out outside the hospital in London. The Duchess and Duke would soon be showing the little prince to the world. Needless to say, I was live streaming instantly.
When my boss caught wind of this, luckily I was not reprimanded. Instead, she decided to watch too. Phew!
A year ago today I was spending my first day in London as a student. I cannot believe it has already been a year. Going to London was not just a fun experience, but it was also an experience that really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve always loved the thrill of traveling, but I had never done it alone.
Experiencing life in a dorm room, and having a closer to traditional college experience than I had ever had before, was really what I was looking for. It was just kind of awkward that it was happening at the age of 27 and as a married lady.
Luckily I was blessed with a lovely 19-year-old roommate who wasn’t a mess and understood my old lady ways. Her innocent, up for anything attitude was inspiring.
I loved spending some of my days exploring the city by myself. I got a lot of thinking done as I navigated the tube or walked through the beautiful parks. Life can be so beautiful.
But walking around alone has its negatives. Like awkward selfies.