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Monday, April 30, 2012

NEEDTOBREATHE with Ben Rector!

On Friday night, the band NEEDTOBREATHE (yeah, it's all caps) came to Clemson, along with Ben Rector as the opener.  It was amazing!

I had never heard of Ben Rector until this concert, but I was pleasantly surprised! So pleased, actually, that I ended up buying TWO of his albums after the concert.  It was only $15 for two, so I could hardly pass that up! My favorite song of his is "The Beat", which you can listen to here.

I was trying to describe NEEDTOBREATHE to my friend Kristen before the concert, but ended up mumbling something like "Umm....they're...chill" because I didn't really know how to describe it. I guess you could say "Southern Rock" but NOT country.  I do NOT listen to country. But they're really good! They have one song on the P.S. I Love You movie soundtrack. [Side note: Terrible movie. I hate crying.] You can check them out here on iTunes.

I got my ticket with some friends back in January, so needless to say we were pretty excited about it.  We actually had floor seats, which was great. We were so close! We also happened to be standing behind Ben Rector's biggest fan, who also happened to be NEEDTOBREATHE's biggest fan. I think Brenden got his toes jumped on a bit.  I think the guy was there by himself too, which was super weird. I didn't know people actually went to concerts alone? But apparently this guy does.

Anyway, I didn't want to bring my SLR because I was scared beer would get spilled on it, so I took some crappy pictures with my phone. Enjoy:


NEEDTOBREATHE



This one looks really tall because Brenden's
basically a giant and held it above his head. 


One final note: I know you cannot tell what this picture is, but I took it as proof. On our way back from the concert, we took a little detour through Death Valley at night. The gate was open, I promise! There were a couple other people wandering around, but it was really cool to see it so empty. It was the complete opposite of the 80,000 something people I'm used to seeing in it, and it was really ....serene.  A great way to end the night.

Standing on the field, facing the West End Zone

Friday, April 27, 2012

Smoothie Queen

One of my absolute favorite snacks has to be a fruit smoothie.  They're so easy to make, and so healthy! I get my 4-5 servings of fruit in one drink. Actually, now the daily recommended servings are in cups with the whole "My Plate" initiative. (No more Food Pyramid?) I've seen a lot of smoothie recipes,but I usually just do my own thing and it turns out fine. I've perfected my own little recipe, and I really like it. The ingredients are super simple: Fruit, yogurt, and milk. That's it! Some people add sugar but I think the fruit is usually sweet enough. You can also add ice, but I don't like it to be too chunky.  


First, basically just use whatever fruit you want. Normally, I use a banana, strawberries, and some blueberries because all of those are a safe bet. In this one I threw in some grapes and pineapple for good measure. I don't think they actually changed the smoothie at all, but you know, why not? 








Also, check out my awesome pink blender. Did you notice it's pink? Yeah, PINK, the best color. 






Next, I add in about 1/3 cup of plain yogurt and 1/3 cup milk.  I use plain yogurt because any sort of flavor would just make it weird. Without the milk, it would have the consistency of baby food, so I think that's a pretty good idea too.



Then, just blend it up until it's nice and smooth. I've heard that blenders weren't really made to run for more than 10 seconds at a time, but it's hard to make sure the fruit gets broken up that way. I'll put it on the "pulse" setting for a bit though, just to make myself feel better.

And if you decide that you do want sugar or ice, only add a couple (that means two) tablespoons of sugar, and a few ice cubes before you blend.

So yeah, smoothies are a great healthy snack and they're so easy. You have no reason not to make one now. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Gamma Sigma Sigma Formal


The waitress at Pixie & Bill's offered to take our picture
 

The Girls!

My hot date

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

I'll admit it, I'm not normally one of those people who "celebrate" Earth Day. We live on Earth...yay? However, when I saw an idea for Earth Day cupcakes, I knew I had to do something.
I got the idea for the cupcakes from Robin at Bird on a Cake. My version is slightly different, and who wants to be a copy cat anyway? 

Super simple ingredients: 
- White Cake Mix
-Blue and green food coloring 
-White icing 

And yes, the kind of icing you use is important. We'll get to that later. 


First, make your batter just like normal, then divide it into two separate bowls. I used clear glass bowls so I could see exactly what color I was getting once I added the food coloring. Blue will be for the ocean, and green for the land!



Next, add blue food coloring to one bowl and green to the other. It will take A LOT of color. I didn't know how much to add, so I did a little at a time until I got the colors I wanted.

Cool, huh? I wonder if I could make tie-dyed cupcakes...




Also, I added equal parts of batter to each bowl, but in hindsight I would've added a little more to the blue bowl. You know, since the earth is mostly water and all. 


Next is the fun part: Get a spoon for each bowl of cake batter, and scoop the batter, alternating colors, into the cupcake tin. The colors will swirl to make the Earth pattern! 
Unbaked batter
Bake according to the directions on the box, and when they're done they should look something like this:
It's the Earth! 
I think they looked super cool, and I love the way they turned out. I like the ones with the little "islands" too.


My impatience got the better of me. 
Important: Before you put the icing on, they need to cool completely. If not, the icing will slide right off into a melty, sugary puddle. I'm super impatient, so I stuck mine in the freezer for a few minutes.

Here's where I veered from the Bird On A Cake recipe. In that blog, she said to cut off the tops of the cupcakes, use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out a heard in the middle of the cupcake, and then fill it with pink icing and put the top back on. Great idea in theory, but it was just not happening. I could see it  going very wrong.

So, instead I had the bright idea to draw on clouds with some white squeeze-tip icing. Another great idea in theory, but the icing I got was way too runny, and the clouds just slid off the top. Super sad.

Finally, as a better alternative to the alternative, I got some Betty Crocker Whipped vanilla icing (thanks to my fabulous boyfriend who happened to be running by the grocery store) and made "clouds" with that instead. It wasn't my exact idea of drawing them on, but it still works. These clouds are just really fluffy!


See? Fluffy clouds.

Despite the icing fiasco, they turned out beautifully! I kind of expected them to turn everyone's mouth blue from the coloring, but it never really happened (darn).  I'd definitely make these again, for next Earth Day I guess! 

Looks like Europe!  
Oh, and Special Thanks to Justin for being my hand model. Fine job, Sir.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Completely pointless but cute pictures of my dog.

 
Camera? What's that? 

Rosie does laundry

Why am I here?

Bffs 

We love each other

Rosie gives Mom kisses

Favorite stick

Nom nom nom

Oh hey there, Rosie. 

March Madness

My sleepy girl

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Trying New Things: Seafood Edition

It's taken me literally forever to write this because I just have not had time. But here it goes:


I went home to see my family over the Easter holiday (it was lovely in case you were wondering) and mom and I decided to get adventurous and try a new recipe.  It's simply called "Baked Shrimp with Tomatillos" and can be found here


I'm not much of a seafood eater. The texture really weirds me out, and the taste is definitely not my favorite. But I thought since this has so much other stuff it in it, the other ingredients would probably cancel out the shrimp. I'll try (almost) anything once! 


Ingredients: 


  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
  • 1-2 jalapeno chiles, seeded, minced *
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb tomatillos, chopped**
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup clam juice OR 1/4 cup water
  • 1 lb shrimp, cleaned, deveined
  • 1 cup Cotija queso seco cheese (can substitute feta)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Lime juice
  • Black pepper
  • An oven-proof sauté pan or cast iron pan



First, heat the oil (in the same pan you will eventually use for baking), and add the onions and jalapenos.  Saute those for a few minutes until the onions begin to brown. Read: begin to brown. Don't wait too long or by the time you get finished adding the other stuff, they'll be pretty nasty. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute, and then reduce the heat and add the chopped tomatillos. Cook for ten minutes, but make sure the tomatoes still  hold their shape. If they get mushy, you're doing it wrong and should throw the whole thing out and start over. Not really, but you know. 


Next, add the clam juice or water. Clam juice just sounds really gross, so I opted for the water.  It'll get soupy, but the other stuff you're about to put in will absorb it. 



Next, add the shrimp and cheese. We used frozen shrimp because we were too lazy to actually de-vein and cook them ourselves, but if you're into that sort of thing go for it! The cheese was pretty awesome too. It's in the Mexican cheese section at the grocery store. You know, the one with all the white, mushy cheeses that look WAY cooler than the Kraft stuff. It's basically just fancy parmesan cheese, but I think it adds a little class. And it was de-lic-ious. 





It looks kind of sketchy when it's all mixed in, but you can never have too much cheese. 


After it's all mixed in, pop the whole pan (again, make sure it's oven safe) in the oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Since our shrimp were pre-cooked, all it really needed to go was melt the cheese and heat all the way through. 

One note on the recipe I thought was pretty funny was that if your pan has a handle, be sure not to grab it out of habit after you get it out of the oven. I thought this was absolutely ridiculous. I mean, who would grab a 425 degree handle? We were somehow smart enough to use an oven mitt getting it out of the oven (phew!) but after we put it back on the stove top to add in the final bits what did Mom do? Grabbed the handle. Guess they had the note in there for a reason! 


Finally, you can add in the cilantro, lemon juice, and black pepper.  A note on the cilantro: The recipe calls for 1/4 cup, but my dad kind of hates it, so we only put in a few tablespoons. IT WAS ALL I COULD TASTE. I had never really eaten cilantro before, but it tastes like soap. If you like it, put in all you want! But it was SO strong. I think the recipe would've been much better if we had left it out completely. 



We weren't really sure what to put with it since the recipe didn't specify. I think it might go well with linguine or something, but we weren't really feeling the carbs, so we just steamed some broccoli- my favorite food ever! 



In all, I liked it. Didn't love it, didn't hate it. The shrimp still weirded me out a tad, but I think I would've liked it more without the cilantro. A recipe I'm likely to make again, and even more likely to share with my seafood-loving boyfriend. 



* I'm a pansy and don't like anything spicy, so instead of jalapenos we used green chile peppers. 
** You know, those tiny tomatoes you get on salads and stuff. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Lesson in Professionalism

I REALLY LOVE IT WHEN PEOPLE SEND EMAILS THAT LOOK LIKE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!






Not really. Don't do that. 






Professionalism: it's important, people. 







Saturday, April 7, 2012

Deals and Steals



Thrifting: (verb).  The act of shopping at a thrift store, flea market, garage sale, or a shop of a charitable organization, usually with the intent of finding interesting items at a cheap price.

I went thrifting with my mom today, and it was amazing. Unlike Clemson, my hometown doesn't have many thrift stores. It tells you a lot about the place- all the Gucci-toting, minivan-driving, soccer moms wouldn't be seen at a thrift store, but call it an "upscale consignment boutique"? But of course! 



First, we went to Plato's Closet. The grand opening for the store here was this past week, so of course the first Saturday that it was open was a complete madhouse. Like, absolutely no room to breathe. But I did manage some good finds! I found a pair of Guess jeans (retail at roughly $130) for $20! Talk about a steal! And the red stilettos in the picture were only $16, and Nine West! It was a little hard to shop, but once the novelty of the place wears off, you should be able to shop there without getting run over.


After we escaped there, we hopped over to Schoolhouse Exchange.  They're known for their quirky vintage clothes and jewelry, along with tons of band t-shirts and records. I found a few dresses and a really nice button down.  I also found those adorable yellow flats in the picture for only $4! I managed to only spend $20, which is a miracle if you know me at all. 


We were only able to get to those two stores before we ran out of time, but I really could've gone on all day. Clemson has a few that I really want to go back to, so that'll give me something to do next weekend! Is it next Saturday yet?













































Tuesday, April 3, 2012

They're heeeere!



I am one of those people now. I finally caved and got Vibram FiveFingers, and they. are. amazing.  I had to order them from Colorado because that was the closest store with my size and color, but it's cool. I can be patient...sometimes. My crazy runner boyfriend got them last year, but I never really considered them until a few months ago when I saw some girls wearing them around campus. What can I say? I'm easily influenced.  But now armed with the knowledge that there are girl Vibrams available, I started looking around. I ended up getting the Women's Treksport, with a 4mm midsole, perfect for "fitness, running, traveling, and trekking", which pretty much means you can run, walk, or even wear them to yoga class. I'll probably even wear them around campus.

I've discovered I kind of don't love running. I don't dislike running either, I'm just not the best at it. I like to say I like running though, because cool people run. That's partly why I got these! I'd like to run more, and maybe with these new shoes it'll grow on me. Renew my spirit, if you will. And give me gorgeous sculpted legs! ...Or something like that. Apparently you're only supposed to do 10% of your normal workout in the first few weeks wearing them (cough Brenden, who didn't believe it and was sore for days), and gradually build up. Normal tennis shoes give you pansy feet and weak leg muscles. I wore them for one workout last week before I switched back to tennis shoes for a day, and that was basically the worst. My feet felt like prisoners in a thick-soled prison. There's no going back now! I'm wearing them to Zumba tonight...let's hope I can move my legs tomorrow!