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

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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:)

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
http://cdn03.cdnwp.celebuzz.com/

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

Workout Wednesdays: Spin

I love fitness. I mean I know it seems like I would rather drink daiquiris and eat cake by the pool BUT working out is a huge passion of mine. (Though that wouldn’t be a bad life…) I spend a lot of my time reading up on nutrition and the latest fitness craze. Many of the blogs I read focus on health and fitness and this is where I find my inspiration.

Growing up, I always played sports. Once I got to college, I still played sports through intramurals, but also began working out in the gym on a daily basis. I enjoyed the different classes, and the eye candy wasn’t too bad either ;). I went to a Turbokick class every other day and even became a certified instructor (and have yet to teach a class..oops). I feel like I know so much more about health and fitness now than I did when I was just a freshman in college. It’s something that I actually ENJOY learning about.

Recently, I decided to switch up my workouts. I get up in the morning around 6 and am in the gym by 6:30 Monday-Friday. I used to be a cardio queen. I’d run miles on end. Nowadays, I try to fit in strength training 3x a week; Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday are dedicated to cardio.

I wanted to find something else besides running and the elliptical for my cardio sweat sesh. Luckily, my apartment gym has a studio with spinning bikes. Score!! I went on a mission to find a good spinning workout to use every once in a while and, thanks to Women’s Health Magazine, I found a good one. I left the gym exactly how I wanted to….sweaty with jello legs. They also provided a list of songs to put with this, but I made my own playlist:

  1. Young Wild and Free- Wiz Khalifa ft Snoop Dogg
  2. Million Dollar Bill- Whitney Houston
  3. Peaches n Cream- 112
  4. Moves Like Jagger- Maroon 5
  5. Call Me Maybe- Timeflies Tuesday
  6. Perfect Day- Lady Antebellum
  7. Cry- Bingo Players
  8. Cruise- Florida Georgia Line
  9. Green Light- John Legend
  10. Echa Pa’lla- Pitbull
  11. Fine By Me- Andy Grammer

Random I know. I did my best to coordinate the rhythm of the song with the RPM of my pedaling and it turned out pretty good. I did have to repeat #10 because it was too short! Find a bike and try this butt-kicking workout. You’ll be sore and your muscles will thank you:)

Cheers xx

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Cure

There are some days when I just feel like I’m in a sort of weird funk. Those days where no matter what I do, I just can’t be in a good mood. No amount of coffee, upbeat music, or exercise can turn my frown upside down. Sometimes these days can last for a week. And I hate it! I hate feeling so bleh. That’s how I felt all last week. Everything and everyone annoyed me. (My mom used to joke that “annoyed” is my favorite word…and I think she’s right). My boss even called me a grump. Oops. I pretty much just wanted to be alone, but at the same time I thought maybe some company could lift my spirits a bit. So first, I bought these to greet me when I woke up every morning…

They did help to brighten my mood. Until I had to actually get OUT of bed. And go to work. I don’t think the incessant rainy days helped either. Luckily, by Friday, the rain ceased and the sun came out. Just in time for happy hour the weekend. A few of these gems….

and I was ready to pppaaaaarrttyyyyyy (I really hope you’ve seen Bridesmaids). Yea, I was a combination of rockstar/dancing queen/20 years old. Until Saturday rolled around and the couch wouldn’t let me get up. All I could hear was a little man living inside my head, beating it with a hammer, saying “HEY! You’re 26 years old! 5am bedtimes aren’t acceptable!”

Whatever. Four hours later, I peeled myself off the couch in an effort to be somewhat productive (at 7pm). I decided that the one and only thing that could make my life worth living, was cookies. Chocolate Chip cookies. Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Oy vey. These hit the spot. All 10 2 of them. I’m still in the process of adopting a wheat free diet and these make that transition much easier! They taste just like your bakery chocolate chip cookie. With a few of these puppies, I was on the up and up.

My girlfriends and I got together for dinner, grapes, and a Bachelorette finale viewing Sunday night. I was Team Jef since their trip to London, and of course that heartfelt letter on the hometown date, so I was on cloud nine when she made the BEST decision of her life. We were all teary-eyed and giddy by the time the 3 hour showing was over.

What started out as a bleh, grumpy, gray week, ended up being a pretty awesome summer weekend. Cheers to cookies, grapes, and sappy love stories!

Baking with Blueberries

Fruit is something I can eat all day every day. Every morning, I bring a tupperware of mixed fruit to eat at work. It’s usually a mix of cantaloupe (my favorite!), watermelon, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. You know how I know I’m getting older? Because I actually pay attention to what fruits and vegetables are in season now. Summer is for watermelon, berries, peaches, cherries, etc. I stock up on the same fruits every week at the store and I know exactly how much I need to make it last until my next grocery trip. Normally, I pick up a pint of blueberries and put them in my mixed fruit, as well as my Green Monster protein shakes. This week, I decided to do something a little different.

I used these beauties to make Almond Flour Blueberry Muffins. Since I’ve been reading a new book about going wheat-free (book review to come), I’ve been wanting to bake with almond flour. I had never thought about it, but almond flour has many more health benefits than all-purpose. It’s made from almonds, so it’s high in protein and low in carbohydrates.

I was a little nervous for the outcome seeing as I’d never experimented with this type of baking. But, I had no reason to be. They were absolutely delicious! This will not be the last time I bake with almond flour (though it’s a bit pricey :/).

Baking these might have been the highlight of my week, if it weren’t for…

Channing Tatum and Magic Mike. I mean…wow. Not the most compelling plot, but let’s be serious, who doesn’t love watching men like that dance around with shirts off for 2 hours? It makes me a bit awkward to know that my mom and her friends saw it before I did. Seriously though, look at the price on that ticket….$10.50!!! I absolutely love a trip to the movies, but with a price like that (and no student discount on Saturdays, still got that student ID) my trips are few and far between. It also forces me to pop my own popcorn beforehand and sneak it into the theatre. I like to live life on the wild side.

I hope everyone had a great week! Cheers!