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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Macaron Mania!

So I mentioned earlier this week about my newfound obsession/love/stalkerish addiction that is the macaron. NOT the American coconut macaroon (two 'o's), though I do enjoy those too. I'm talking about the hardcore, straight-up, we're not playing, French macaron (one 'o').

I discovered these at the #1 rated bakery in all of Columbus- a French bakery in German Village, which I find highly amusing. It's called Pistacia Vera and let me tell you if you can EVER get there, GET. THERE.
The pastry case, or part of it
It might be worth the drive to Columbus just to go. I mean, the folks there are ridiculously nice and if it's your first visit, you get a free macaron to try! Why, yes, I do like freebies, thank you!
Yuzu Lemon tarts, Blueberry goat cheese tarts, and Strawberry goodness!
The place is gorgeous and the atmosphere is light and airy, if that makes sense. I even loved their bathroom so much I took a photo of it for our future-house-hopes.
The now famous bathroom
And then to top it all off, they let me sneak upstairs for a quick pic of the cool view of the bakery!
Sneaking upstairs for the secret recipe
We ended up making two trips that afternoon so that what we got to-go didn't melt in the car. CC and I ate ours on the road trip home on Sunday. At one point I had three left and I told CC I was in the mood for another one, but didn't want them to end. He told me to go ahead and eat them and when I asked why, he said he was really sad that all of his were gone and if mine were gone too we'd both be sad together. Hilarious. Of course I went ahead and ate them, but then we were sad!
Oh come on! Even their boxes are gorgeous.
Lemon, Coconut, and a half-eaten Mocha Hazelnut... not even crumbs were left

We also got a chocolate caramel tart which we tried Sunday night. Don't get me wrong, it was REALLY good, but compared to the macarons the tart was found lacking.

Suffice it to say that we've been on a manhunt all week trying to find somewhere local that sells them. Unfortunately the one or two shops that do sell them don't actually make them- they're all imported from Europe. That won't work. I want the fresh, real, homemade version.

So now I'm on a mission to attempt to make them! Yes, I know I've never done this before. Yes, I know I live in the HOT, HUMID South, which is pretty much a death sentence for macarons. Yes, it might cost me $500 to make them and Hubby will not like that. Especially if they're awful. And yes, MFP will hate my guts and I'll gain loads of weight if this does work.

But I have to try, right?!

After much research, here are the two recipes I'm going with: here (with video) and here. Thinking I'll kind of merge them together with all their tips and tricks to hopefully have a successful first batch. I really just want to mention these links so that if this works, I will have the recipes (and video!) saved. Also if this works, these are good basic recipes I can play around with for different flavor options.

And then PDub came to the rescue with this source from one of her photography workshops at the ranch. And this lovely lady has an entire book thingie called, "Demystifying Macarons!" Why, yes, I'm reading it right now; aren't you? I think this will be extremely helpful.

I'm hoping to make these this weekend so we'll see how that goes, especially with all the stormy (HUMID) weather expected. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Lot On My Mind

I have a lot on my mind today. As usual, many seemingly unrelated random thoughts flitting in and out and around in my head. I hope you don't mind but I'm going to write them here so I can clear my head.

The other day I wrote a long post about the best weekend ever. Because I didn't want to forget everything, it felt to me like it read boring and not exciting. But it was anything but boring and I am still very much coming down off the high that was the weekend with our friends.

I remembered on the way in to work this morning that we won the early bird drawing for our rent this month! This means when we pay our rent, we can take $100 off. It's taken over three years but we finally won and we're really excited! Our names go in the monthly newsletter and everything (which I'm okay if we're not in there, but whatever).

I finally got a gmail email account to help with email on my iPad. The problem is instead of sending emails from my RoadRunner account which I prefer, gmail keeps popping up insisting it's more awesome. Between this issue and my work email, I don't know what email address is on what sent email. So annoying. I have the work email set as the default but I wish you could set a secondary default. That would be nice.

I still miss these...


Oh macarons, how I love thee!
(Do you know that we can't find a bakery anywhere in the area that sells homemade macarons? A couple places import them but I want the yummy, fresh ones. I might have to try my hand at baking them myself, since I'm kind of desperate.)

... which is why I did this yesterday. I totally killed it even though I was on the treadmill. I know I have to adjust to our summer heat (HUMIDITY) soon, but the a/c in the gym was calling my name. I made up with MFP and added the gained three pounds so I could essentially jump-start my weight loss again. I haven't officially lost anything in over three months and I refuse to give up when I'm sort of close to my goal. Typically this is when I give up so I'm trying to push through it.

Heck yes!

Lots of family stuff going on which is really good and somewhat discouraging, all at the same time. Still lots of waiting though.

I am FINALLY going to meet an insta/blog/twitter/fb friend in person! I'm really excited and really nervous. It feels kind of like a blind date- will she like me in person? I know I'm not the only one who's gone through this, which is why I'm sharing. I'm super excited though!

If you've not tried a Baked Happy cookie, you better get on it. I had my first one Sunday night and it was amazing! I almost didn't want to eat it because it was gorgeously decorated, but then I knew the taste would be even better so I went for it. And then was promptly sad when it was gone.

Hubby and I are totally wanting to take trips and go places now that we got a little taste of it last week. West VA and Ohio were so gorgeous and since I'd never seen them before, it reminds me of what else I might be missing. We'd LOVE to do Disney World again, but in the meantime I think we're trying to go to Nashville for the 4th of July. We adore Nashville and we have family there, so I hope it works out to go. I really, really, really want an authentic, real leather, pair of cowboy boots. Since we can't get to Texas anytime soon, Nashville might have to help me out there.

I'm itching to get baking again. This is very dangerous now that MFP and I are friends again. It doesn't help that my new issue of the Food Network magazine arrived the other day. So many yummy-looking ideas in there! Maybe this is where the macarons will come into play...

PinterTest Kitchen is next week and I've done NOTHING. Such a slacker. I pin something and think, "oh now I know I'll make that in the next week or so!" and then I promptly forget what it was. We'll see if I can't whip something up this weekend.

I'm sure there's more but I appreciate you letting me spill my thoughts here! Since I use this blog more as my journal, it's helpful to get out what's going on.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Best Weekend Ever!

Today is a real let-down and I'm in full-on depression mode. Don't get me wrong, it's a good day, but after the amazingly awesome and awesomely amazing weekend that we just had, anything else would be a let-down.

There is also the whole my-mother's-having-a-biopsy-today-for-possible-cancer situation too. And it being Monday. And back to being MFP-friendly again. Well, stink, what a day. Haha!

Thanks for joining me in that stream-of-consciousness moment. On to the weekend recap!

I know I've mentioned John and Meredith before here since we adore them so, but to give you the full picture...

You know the one friend you've had for forever? The one that you're super close to, even if you don't see each other very often? The one you wish you could be more like and try to appear not stalkerish because they're just that cool?! The one that gets along super well with your spouse and you get along super well with their spouse and you have such awesome hilarious memories that you wake up in the morning laughing at those funny moments? One of the very few people in your life that will travel with you through the bad times and laugh your way into and through the good times? I could go on and on, but these are the kind of friends that John and Meredith are to CC and me.

CC and John go back to middle school and CC, John, and I go back to high school youth group at church. So we've known him a long time. Once Meredith entered the picture, things only got more amazing. It was like we'd found our missing puzzle piece. So anytime the four of us can be together, obviously it makes for a pretty fun time. Just like this past weekend which was so overdue and desperately needed.

Friday CC was off work and we were supposed to drive to Columbus, Ohio for a fun-filled weekend.

We'd planned to leave at 7am to get there ASAP to cram in as much friend time as we could. We woke up to discover our toilet was leaking and had to leave with wet towels all over the floor. Fortunately we live in an apartment so we called maintenance on the way up.

After that, Hubby found a screw in our rapidly flattening tire when he went to load the car. Praise Jesus for Just Tires! They open early and were able to get us on the road by 8:15. We ended up needing a new tire which stunk, but it worked out that we didn't have to stress about a plugged tire for 1000 miles all weekend. Apparently John and Meredith had just as much, if not more, trouble making this weekend happen too! Pretty crazy.

I went to two states on this trip that I'd never been to before- West Virginia and Ohio. Both were incredibly beautiful and everyone was pretty friendly, especially in Ohio. It's so GREEN!

We hit a little traffic heading into Columbus but other than that, traffic was not an issue. Finding our way around Columbus apparently is a problem for the GPS, but we managed just fine.

We FINALLY met up at the hotel with John and Meredith, who we ADORE. If you know them at all, you adore them too. It's just what happens. We hung out for a bit and came up with our game plan for the Electric Run (more to come on that later).
Just a normal day for the four of us!
The Electric Run was so fun and such a good time! We laughed, we looked, we ran around (or attempted to), and then ate a VERY late dinner at TGI Friday's.

The good thing about this weekend is that unlike the Color Run in Charlotte last year (which looking back apparently I didn't actually blog about- bad Susie!), this time we planned to stay all weekend and be together even after the race was over. A MUCH BETTER plan for the record.

Saturday we hung out and spent the entire day together. And it was bliss. Bliss, I tell you! We got Starbucks and sat there for a while like we had nothing better to do, which was wonderful in and of itself, because who has time to actually do that?!

We ate lunch at a BBQ place that actually does Southern food really well! We convinced Meredith to ask for the corn pudding recipe which they didn't give her, but we sure enjoyed eating it! Time at Target is always a must of course, so we did that.

Chris had suggested a couple places to go, one of which was a bakery and one was the German Village in Columbus. Turns out Meredith had heard of the bakery and been to the Village, so we all traipsed down there Saturday afternoon. We headed to the bakery and ate lemon tarts and lots of Frenchy desserts and pastries. Including macarons! Oh, the macarons! (More on that later too because they deserve their own post) The bakery was so amazing we decided to come back for a second time after we walked around the German Village. (I even took a photo of their bathroom because it's gorgeous and it's what I want our next house to have in it!)

The German Village was pretty fun. I was expecting something similar to Old Salem with the older shops and back-in-the-day stuff, which the German Village is not. It was a pleasant surprise to see all of the different architecture, the really HIGH church steeple, and I loved all the brick/cobblestone roads! It's really a shame we couldn't buy one of the duplexes within walking distance of the bakery.

Back at the bakery, we loaded up on macarons and a chocolate caramel tart for the road. Suffice it to say nothing made it home by Sunday night, part of the depression for today.

We played lots of cards- the girls and the guys are all tied up, so we'll have a winning team the next time we all get together. Chipotle for dinner made for a wonderful end!

Sunday morning was awful because we had to say goodbye. Meredith prayed for us which was wonderful- and hilarious since we were all bawling and hugging in the middle of the hotel lobby.

We finally made it home safely and have been trying to plan our next get-together, the sooner the better! Macarons will probably be involved one way or another, and as much time as we can cram in with the four of us. My favorite part was that there were no responsibilities or plans that had to happen and so we just soaked up time with each other for the entire weekend. I imagine this is what Heaven will be like- at least for me. This past weekend was pretty close.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Surreal.

Last night I got an email with some pretty sobering news.

My mother, who I do not have the best relationship with, has a mass that may or may not be cancerous. She finds out on Monday after a biopsy exactly what she's dealing with. This totally shocked me and I think I've been walking around, dazed, since I found out.

Now before we go further I have to tell you that it sounds like it was caught in time, and it sounds like with some agressive treatment, she'll be fine- if that's confirmed on Monday.

I of course wish to ask you to join me in praying for her, that this would not be a cancerous mass and just a scare. However, I also ask that you pray for my family, that this would be the catalyst to draw our family closer together. Wisdom for CC and me would be especially appreciated, as we're trying to navigate a complicated relationship and still trying to provide support.

In the meantime while I've been praying and trying to pray, I have no word for this other than 'surreal.' This situation is so surreal to me. We do not have a history of this particular type of cancer in our family (or at least this side) so this has often been the one type of cancer I 'didn't have to worry about' if you know what I mean. To find out that I might have to- that we all might have to- is disheartening to be sure. We've all focused so much on preventing and staying on top of colon cancer, since we do have a family history of that. To be hit with another possible cancer is just so bizarre to me. I mean, obviously, you never know, etc. but I just feel weird.

Why is it when you're a child you're in such a hurry to grow up, but once you are grown and have these big adult moments, all you wish you could do is be a little child again and color? I mean, come on, who couldn't go for a coloring book and some Crayolas about now?

Sigh... I AM excited for this weekend. Just to completely change subjects on you.

I'm sure I've mentioned this since we're so excited, but this weekend we're going to run the Electric Run in Ohio with our very good friends who we adore. An entire weekend with just the four of us and no (hopefully) responsibilities-- we could get into a lot of trouble! Haha! I can't wait!!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

So Ready!

Praise Jesus the weekend is tomorrow! I am so beyond ready. What is it about work that makes us long for lazy, slow, no-plan kind of days? Must be that 'work' word. Especially after two back-to-back three day work-weeks, I am READY!

We don't have any set plans this weekend, other than to go see the new Superman movie, which doesn't really count since we can go whenever.

I'm REALLY stoked for next weekend though! Next weekend we're going to Ohio for the first time ever (I know, we don't get out much!) to do the Electric Run and spend the entire weekend with our very dear friends, John and Meredith. BLISS.

We're even more excited to see John and Meredith because as close as we are, many states separate us and that means we don't see each other as often as we used to. As in, the first year we were all married, we lived across the parking lot from them at the same apartment complex. Talk about awesome! So to know that next week we get the whole weekend with them is very exciting to us!

We're getting more and more pumped up and we are officially counting down the days now.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Schnoodle Love

I feel like we need some Schnoodle photos today, so here are the most recent ones of our little girl. Enjoy!

When we're all working out, Somebody isn't content unless she's smack in the middle of the 'pack.' Anyone else's dog do this? We find it pretty funny (and sometimes annoying).

This is at the end of a workout/walk. Miss Diva's officially in 5k training since she's all about the Jersey tanning and not about the working out.
Yeah, no. Get a move on, puppy!
Such adorable puppy eyes! I especially love her little ear poking out.
You don't see me. You don't see me.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hey Monday...

Today is yet again full of monsoons and weather alerts. I gotta be honest and tell you that I'm kinda the teensiest bit looking forward to the hot sunny days heading our way. If nothing else to avoid the depressing dreariness we seem to be stuck with lately.

Our weekend was too short as usual but pretty relaxing and fun. Let's recap, shall we?
I don't do car stickers but this one's tempting me to break my rule!
Our multisite location has a new building! Talk about exciting!
So many folks visiting our church's other multisite location that they have temporarily added a third service. That's pretty amazing!

My sweet friend had surgery last week and we were all praying pretty anxiously, I must confess. This surgery has a very high mortality rate and had at the time only been done by two surgeons in the entire country. Now three! Praise the Lord!
Yay!
This...


Went to this...


We enjoyed a little Sola coffee...


Meredith got me hooked. HOOKED, I tell ya!


CC got me the smallest keyboard for my mini so I can write using the mini. Yes, it may as well be a laptop at this point, but I'm in LUV!


5k season training has officially begun! We're signed up for the Electric Run in two weeks and this weekend we're signing up for at least another run. Let the fun begin!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Pinter-Let-Me-Down-Tested!

Apartments have mysterious smells sometimes that you can't really explain, so you just do your best to get rid of mask them, you know? A couple of weeks ago I came home to a musty, stale, funky smell in the apartment. This kind of thing is a pet peeve of mine and drives me batty (Hubby can attest to this.). So after spraying every air freshener we had, lighting all eighteen hundred candles we own, and still smelling the staleness, I turned to Pinterest. (Where else would you go? It has all the answers.)

I found this pin, talking about how realtors use this trick to make houses smell like cookies, blah blah blah (original link here).

I pulled out my GOOD vanilla. You know, the kind only Ina uses, because surely that's the kind that will make this work. I used my special mug from the special Cuppa, because I figured this funkiness needed all the good vibes it could get. And then I waited. Sniffed a little here and there... and waited some more...
Vanilla gunk
Once the hour was up, I thought I caught a faint whiff of vanilla, but by no means did this dissipate any kind of funky mustiness going on in the apartment. It did NOT smell like cookies, it barely smelled like vanilla, and I got really concerned when the mug ended up full of gunk. I did not look forward to soaking scrubbing my mug out.

Fortunately, water took the gunk right out and the candles eventually took away the funkiness, but this is a lying pin! Liar liar!

Linking up with Jessica for this month's PinterTest Kitchen; you should too!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Weekend Wonderment

This past weekend we had a mini-vacation, which was fantastic. Four straight days of spending every moment together with nobody else- it was bliss! We crammed a lot into those four days too, although I'm having trouble remembering exactly what we did that took up so much time...

A little baseball action!
Baking and blueberry cobbler, a perfectly acceptable breakfast in the South
Bliss.
Realizing how far away a lot of my friends are... (and Barstow?! Never heard of it!)
A lot of this, although never as much as I want it to be
New bedding for the new bed! Next up: Headboards!
Starbucks and new iPhones with my hottie
To-do items for dayzzz (obviously the list was just getting started here)