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Key West.

Ever since Spring Break my senior year, my friends and I have been completely obsessed with Key West. It was the first time any of us had gone, despite my living in Florida my whole life. The sun, the water, the drinks, the people, RICK’s and Duval. We all couldn’t wait to get back.

So when it came time for the first of us to get married, the Bachelorette party destination was indisputable. Key West, of course. Since my home base is Fort Lauderdale, I had one of my besties fly in for the night before we left. It was so wonderful catching up over wine and sweet potato fries. We savored the downtime before the craziness began.

The next morning we headed out on the road, eager to see the rest of the crew. Unfortunately, our plan for beach time was interrupted by traffic and we didn’t arrive until late afternoon. But once we did, it was a nonstop party.

I managed to snap a few shots laying on the beach, nursing a hangover, but I’ll leave the fun ones for Instagram;)

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I am counting the days until I am reunited with everyone for the nuptials. It can’t come soon enough! xo

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Practicing Photography

It certainly has been a while since I’ve posted! I guess my Birthday Week wiped me out for a good 6 months huh? In the time that’s passed, a lot has happened, but one thing in particular has moved me to begin posting again.

I have declared a new hobby that, in time, I WILL be good at–Photography. I wanted to take on a hobby that would help me to learn something new. Something that I would have to work at. For about a year now, I have been eager to buy a DSLR camera and learn how to take beautiful pictures, using the Manual mode (eek!). After much contemplation and an ongoing internal struggle, I bit the bullet and bought a used Canon Rebel XT 350d.

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I knew I didn’t need something brand new, just something I could learn with. This guy is perfect! I’ve ordered a book, “Understanding Exposure,” and have already learned a lot about the many facets of picture taking. I plan to take a class sometime in the near future–baby steps!

I had the chance to attend a Miami Marlins game, with seats that were four rows back from the home team’s dugout! I brought my camera along and tried my best to snap away, with some sort of knowledge of what I was doing. I definitely got some great shots of a couple players (Chase Utley!) and one angry fan :).

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I can’t wait to practice and share my progress through Cupcakes and Grapes xoxo

Birthday Week

Normally, I do not enjoy the start of a new week. It means a lot of catching up at work, getting up early, and of course the dreaded Monday. This week is much different because it is the start of my Birthday Week!!

My 27th birthday is on Saturday and I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that I am about to be 27 years old. When I was younger, I figured I’d be married with a couple children by now. Obviously, times have changed, and I’m substituting a husband and children with a full-time job and wild Friday nights with friends. Not that I’m upset about this.

I decided to start off my week-long celebrations with Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes. It had been so long since I had baked cupcakes, especially scratch-made. And the combination of a rainy Sunday and my birthday seemed like a perfect time to revisit with my cupcake tin and mixer.

I found this recipe while browsing through blogs one slow day at work. I’m so glad I did because these sure did brighten my rainy day. Homemade cupcakes and homemade buttercream frosting.

Two of my favorite things in this world.

The only problem I had with this baking adventure was waiting for the cakes to cool so I could frost them. I was too excited and the little cakes had to chill out in the ‘fridge for a bit. Oops:)

I’m most definitely looking forward to a fun, sugar-laden week. Yum!

Cheers xx

Cinnamon Rolls

I don’t care who you are, cinnamon rolls always seem to evoke a sense of nostalgia. Some people think of Christmas morning, or snow, or maybe just the glorious smell coming from Cinnabon in the mall. It’s different for everyone. For me, cinnamon rolls remind me of pretty much every Sunday morning of my childhood.

Lucky for me, my dad would wake up as I was snoozing away, carefully putting the packaged cinnamon rolls in a round pan and into the oven they’d go. By the time I made my way downstairs in my Sunday best, there would be piping hot cinnamon rolls with gooey cream cheese frosting dripping down the sides. Before getting in the car for church, I always made sure to use my finger licking up every unclaimed bit of frosting until it was clean. This frosting obsession always ended with my mom dabbing around my mouth with a damp napkin before dropping me off in Sunday school.

While those days are long gone, my affinity for cinnamon rolls is not. I found this recipe for Almond Flour Cinnamon Rolls and knew I had to make an attempt. I cut the recipe in half and made miniature rolls, but the flavor was out of this world. Ooey, gooey, moist, decadent, delicious, and gluten-free. Since they were small, I could eat more, right?

Enjoy! For breakfast, lunch or dinner:)

Busy Bee

Phewww. It’s been a long couple weeks, but I’m back! A few milestones have occurred since my last post. For starters, this month marked my one year anniversary of living in Fort Lauderdale. Crazy how time flies! I remember packing up all my belongings and settling into that extended stay in the middle of the ghetto like it was yesterday. I was so excited to begin my adult life in South Florida and now I feel like my “adult life” is moving too fast! A year?! Ah. Despite having a Driver’s License with my “new” address, I still don’t feel like a permanent resident. I mean, my dining room is still tableless. Oops!

I also received some big news last week…I got a promotion! Before this job, I could have been named the Intern Queen. I could get an internship easy, but a full-time position was a different story. Since this is technically my first big girl job, this is the very first promotion I have ever gotten (and hopefully not the last!). With the promotion comes more responsibility, of course, and also more money (cha-ching!).

Celebrations for my promotion were in order. And the first order of business was the Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan concert. This concert was AWESOME and I will now forever be obsessed with Luke Bryan. I can confidently say he has all the qualities my husband should have, and I learned all this from watching him sing for an hour. Duh. Unfortunately, in typical Florida summer fashion, it was pouring. We tailgated in the car. And then I proceeded to walk to the amphitheatre with a towel on my head, while simultaneously attempting to crush a last minute brew. Cute. My Mickey Mouse pancho definitely would have come in handy. Luckily, my partner in crime snuck an emergency poncho from one of the ticket takers.

The poncho did for me things a towel just couldn’t….like keep my clothes dry. My hair was a mess, my feet were soaked and dirty. But somehow, a $10 beer kept my mind distracted from those problems.

Last weekend, I took a trip home for a friend’s bridal shower and some good old fashioned family time with my old roommates…my parents. I love going to see them for a couple reasons. They’re my parents and I love them, and they also feed me.

Linda’s Famous Homemade Pizza

My mom found a Publix ice cream flavor that is seriously out of this world. It’s called Otter Paws and I was tempted to eat the whole gallon, on multiple occasions. I held myself back and chose to down the Nut-trition Energy Mix instead.

My parents treated me to delicious dinner at a local favorite. There’s nothing like a good dinner with some good wine and the best mom and dad you can ask for.

Besides eating my way through the weekend, I was able to get my hair done for the first time in MONTHS. Like, literally. Months. My ends needed trimming and my grays needed coloring. (Yes, I’m 26 with gray hair.)

I came out feeling brand new and wanted to show off my new strands. So, I went to see my grandma, who proceeded to hand me an Elle magazine and a can of mase. Obviously. I don’t make this stuff up people.

This week it’s back to the grind (in my new position!) and this weekend should bring some fun times. I think South Beach is calling my name…..

Cheers! xx

Workout Wednesdays: Wheat Belly Diet Review

Technically..it’s Thursday. And technically…this is not a workout. But sometimes people get caught up watching the Olympics, drinking some red grapes, and burning cookies and forget about blogging. I don’t know those people, but I’m sure that’s happened.

Moving on. A couple months back, my mom texted me on the way home from the doctor. For various reasons, the doctor recommended cutting gluten out of her diet for a few weeks, in hopes that it would make her feel better. After she told me, I wanted to know more about gluten and how it works within the body. I first asked one of my good friends, who is a practicing dietician, about the diet and if there were any health benefits. She said it’s particularly beneficial for those with Celiac Disease. I knew I wasn’t gluten-intolerant, but I wanted to try it out and see if it really did make me feel better overall.

Shortly after exploring this new diet, I discovered a book, Wheat Belly Diet: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health. The book is written by a cardiologist by the name of William Davis and it centers around the dangers wheat has to one’s health. At first, I was a bit skeptical. I figured it was just another diet book with some guy telling you not to eat carbs blah blah blah. But…I was wrong.

This book was awesome (if you’re a nutrition geek). Not only does Davis explain how wheat has evolved through the years, but he backs up his reasoning with scientific evidence and numerous case studies. Davis essentially says that wheat is the cause of obesity in the world today, especially in America. I’m not too quick when it comes to science, so I got a little lost with the technical terms. However, I understood all the adverse effects quite clearly. “Wheat belly” or a stomach bulge, rashes, inflammation, high blood sugar, bloating, joint pain, diabetes, heart conditions, weight gain, fatigue, etc. The list goes on. The point Davis is trying to get across is that wheat is a different product than we believe it to be and it has been genetically altered for agribusiness. It raises your blood sugar higher than table sugar and even triggers cravings. Sketch!

I actually don’t eat too much wheat. Like the kind that comes in the form of pasta, bread and rice. But then there’s the sweets. Cupcakes (obvi), cookies, cake, Ritz crackers. Darnit. And then I realized William Davis is right. If I cut that processed junk out of my diet, I’d feel like a spring chicken! The best part of this book, is that he provides you with a plan to becoming wheat-free. Recipes, suggestions, substitutions, meal plans. It’s all right there! I already know that I should eat fruit, veggies, animal protein, raw nuts, and food without a crazy amount of ingredients. I was just nervous about how I would BAKE! How in the heck am I supposed to replace flour in all my recipes. Davis knows. Almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed meal. And to his credit, it’s delicious. And so much better for you.

I finished this book a couple days ago and I’m ready to commit to this lifestyle. While I set out to do this a few months ago, I can’t say that I’ve been 100% wheat-free. But I do intend to be, because I hate feeling weighted down. I had a Red Velvet cupcake a couple days ago and it didn’t make me feel too hot. I want to adopt this lifestyle because I want to be as healthy as I can. (I’m talking about food, not caffeine and wine, get serious). After reading so many case studies and success stories, I want to join in on the fun too! I highly recommend you pick up this book. It could change your life, even just to give you a different outlook on what you’re eating.

Cheers to being wheat-free! xx

Take Me To London

Like right now. Please. My excitement for the 2012 London Olympics began when the Today Show started their countdown to The Games. Swimming, Gymnastics, Diving, Track & Field…they’re all awesome. And their talent, strength and ability just simply astounds me. My body hurts after a week straight of working out. Four years, day in and day out, of training? Ow.

So when the long and stressful work week came to a close, I bet you know what I was doing. No, I was not at happy hour. No, I was not out celebrating the weekend with friends. I came straight home. Put on pajamas. Popped some popcorn. Poured a large glass of red wine. And tuned in to the Opening Ceremonies. Happy and content.

Then I got bored. Uhhh? I was a bit confused as to what was going on with the performance. But, let’s be honest. All I really cared about was what Kate Middleton was wearing, and was impatiently waiting for the camera to scan back to her and Wills.

Photo Courtesy of NOW Daily: http://www.nowmagazine.co.uk

Perfect. Ever since the Royal Wedding, my sister and I have had a slight obsession with Kate & Pippa. Kelly is Kate, and I am Pippa. I had a friend ask why she’s Kate when I’m the older sister. Well..Kelly is taller and has a more slender build. I am shorter with a more athletic build. Not to mention the fact that I am perpetually single. (We may or not may not call my Kelly’s boyfriend Wills.)

Photo Courtesy of: Celebuzz
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Identical. London is probably #1 on my “Places I NEED to Visit” list. I’m absolutely dying to go. I think that’s part of the reason I’m so excited for these Olympic games. The accents, the pubs, the Royals, the shopping. What more could a girl want? One day the American Kate & Pippa will meet the real Kate & Pippa.

But for now…Cheers to Team USA! I’ll be cheering for them stateside xx