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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Conquering the Incline & Birthday BBQ

Yesterday Collin and I finally conquered the Manitou Incline! Manitou Springs is a little town about 20 mins or so from us and there is this incline hike that we've been hearing about and wanting to try. We finally did it! Wow was it intense!!! It is only about a mile one way but it is literally almost straight up!

Ugh yeah, check it
We didn't carry anything (even water bottles) and realized that was a bad move...or I did anyway, as I reached the halfway mark and thought I may pass out and tumble down backwards.

Start of the hike + Collin and his grampa socks

Collin already coaxing me along while I snap pictures


And there he goes...


Start of the actual "incline"

I was kind of breathing heavily by this point. And this wasn't even a 1/4 of the way into it. I feel like it is impossible for me to get in shape in Colorado no matter how active I am!!
But I kept going!

That's the view I had of Collin's backside the whole way up

Looking back down

Busy day on the incline!

Allllllmost there!!!! Manitou below! This was one of the steepest parts.

Collin was waiting for me at the top

I made it!
Luckily I didn't bring my cell phone with me because at one point I considered calling Collin and telling him that I'd meet him at the bottom. After I made it to the top I really felt good about myself! It was tough! I definitely stopped and took a breather a few times along the way but I made it to the top none the less! The whole time that I was climbing I was thinking how much it was going to suck going back down. At the top, Collin informed me that there was another trail that you take down (and up if you want) and I was SO happy to hear that. It was a 4 mile hike but nothing compared to what we just hiked up.

I forgot to include this video at first. Collin tells me to come on so we can "pass this weird couple!" haha!
video


After conquering the incline we showered and headed up to Denver for Collin's brother-in-law's birthday cookout. Christian and Colleen also came over and we all had a good time...no alcohol induced crying this time. Check.

Birthday boy and cousin chatting
The "adult" pinta that Ju was allowed to hit but not break!

Adult time! And then it rained airplane liquor bottles...


Cousins and friends! :)

Such a great, active weekend! We hiked Cheeseman Canyon today and at this point I can barely walk but we had so much fun!! That post to come shortly!

I hope everyone else had a wonderful weekend!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Coconut Oil is Magic

I've been cooking with coconut oil for a few months now. Apparently, it was one of the only oils that doesn't denature when heated...basically turning the oil "bad" and into trans fats. Sold.
Then I started reading more about it and it seems to be magical stuff. I now use it as a facial moisturizer, body moisturizer, under eye cream, cooking oil, and smoothie ingredient. As with the honey I use for face wash, use organic virgin unrefined coconut oil especially if you're going to use it on your face/body. My first jar of coconut oil that I bought for cooking is not organic, virgin, or unrefined but I don't use that on my skin and I don't plan to buy it again for cooking either.

The one I bought for my skin and face is Dr. Bronner's Organic Virgin Fair Trade Coconut Oil, I got it from Whole Foods.
Dr. Oz lists even more benefits of coconut oil like improvement of bone and dental health, a good fat for diabetics, and even being linked to weight loss! Gotta believe it now, Dr. Oz said so!

Regardless of those reasons, (which I only learned AFTER using it) I feel good about using coconut oil as a moisturizer because it is so pure, simple, and natural. I have also noticed that since strictly using honey as a face wash and coconut oil as my night-time moisturizer I have not had a single breakout...hope I don't jinx myself now!

I put a tablespoon into my protein smoothies whenever I make them to get the internal benefits. Zing! Just a warning, if you don't blend it well enough...ew, eating a chunk of coconut oil doesn't taste that great.

And apparently, it is also a great hair treatment but I have yet to try that. All that I know is you have to wash your hair twice to get it all out!

Andddddd. I also read that it can help sparse eyebrows get a little fuller. I can attest that it's true. I've been smearing it on my brows and they're looking a little fuller, score!

Try it!, I love it!! It smells good too!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Underestimation

I just got home from work...like 20 minutes ago. Last night was the first time I rode my new bike to work. Easy peezy! I breezed to work faster than I can in my car. My biggest worry was the safety of my bike. I have a lock, wrapped it around twice and included the front tire...best I could do. Mid-way through my shift I realized that I hadn't taken the seat off...crap...so I ran down and grabbed it just for my own peace of mind. 12 hours later it was time to go home. My bike sat just where I had locked it and was just fine. I jumped on, heavy messenger bag in tow, and started a-pedalin'......

Ugh...


UGHH....


Holy shit, really!?!....



Oh my god, this is embarrassing.........


Those "tiny" little hills that helped me breeze to work were friggin' mountains after a 12 hour day on my feet. My quadriceps haven't burned that badly since pre-season college field hockey. I literally had a difficult/gumby-legged time walking through the parking lot and then up the stairs to my apartment and seriously contemplated sitting in the garage for a few minutes with the door down so that I could compose myself.
I was panting and sweating and really glad that it was 7:something on a Saturday morning and everyone else was sleeping in.

...and to think that I thought I was getting in better shape these past few weeks.....MERRRRRR! Wrong!

Maybe I should have invested in one of these instead of a bike...
Plan: keep it up until I fall into traffic and/or get into better shape, for real. 9am...Goodnight!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Girl's Bike Ride

One of the negatives of living in the Springs without any 'real' friends is that when Collin and I really start getting on each others nerves we have no one to go out with and blow off steam. A positive that has come from that negative is that we have learned (to some extent) when to battle and when it's not worth it. Well, yesterday was one of those days when we decided to battle (even though it wasn't worth it......) and I just wanted to get away and hangout with my girlfriends...as I'm sure Collin wanted some guy time. Later in the day I was talking with Allison and, knowing that I just got a new bike, she suggested we take a bike ride mid-way between Denver and the Springs. PERFECT!

We met up at the Santa Fe Trailhead and got ready to ride!


We rode for about an hour and a half and decided our butts were too sore to continue. Palmer Lake is so small that I don't even know if you can call it a town. We drove through looking for a place to grab some lunch and a beer and passed all five buildings before we realized we were already out of the town. We turned around and decided on O'Malley's Pub.


It was a perfect little small town bar with plenty of good old boys drinking on their lunch break. We ordered some wings, some beers, and split a sandwich. WINNING! The best wings I've had in Colorado if not the best wings ever. Crispy skin without being breaded and the best sauce too. Collin missed out. After lunch we had some more time to kill and decided to go to The Barn...my favorite store in Colorado.


Alli loved it too but she had to pick little Ju up from school so we are definitely making a date to go back and shop!

Collin just got home and after hearing about the wings he wants to go back for dinner...ugh sorry bud maybe later in the week.

Hope everyone's week is going well! :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bike & Friend :)

Since I got my new job I've been on the hunt for a new bike. The hospital is less than a mile from our apartment and we can see it clearly from our living room window so there is no excuse to drive, especially since it's starting to warm up (uhhh, except it snowed Saturday night, whaaa?!)! Also, my sweet little Jetta is probably on its last leg and I'm just not ready to buy a new one yet. :( With my work, Collin's work, and the grocery store (and liquor store!) all within a 1 mile of our place I really don't need a car, I need a bike.

I planned to get a cruiser/commuter style bike complete with a basket on the front and one on the back. I narrowed it down to three bikes that I wanted to test drive and according to the local bike shop website they had exactly what I wanted. Of course, when I got there I realized that they didn't "keep up" with their website and didn't even have one bike that I wanted to try. A truck load of new inventory was scheduled to come in but they didn't know exactly what was on it but I should check back the next week. I did and, go figure, they didn't get anything I was interested in.

After a couple more weeks, I wanted to look again. Collin thought that I should think about getting a mountain bike instead since I'd be able to use it for more than just going back and forth to work. We decided to try REI. The sales guy (who looked very out of place as an REI employee, ie. middle aged guy who really wished he worked at a Harley shop) pointed me to one bike: a turquoise "mountain bike" with a white seat, white handle bars, and silver graphics. I wanted to tell him I had a cooler bike as a kid but instead I asked him if there were any other options..."nope." Ooooookay then, buh bye. Next stop, try the local bike shop again since I'd only been there to look for cruisers. Welp, I found just what I was looking for, the Trek Wahoo mountain bike.

They had to build the bike in my size frame and it was finally ready today!


How I think I'll look on my bike...

How I'll actually look...

I haven't used it yet as I've only had it a few hours but I hope that it warms up so that I can at least ride it to work on Friday! I'm excited! Now Collin needs to get one too!

I also had my first non-family visiter this weekend!! My friend Sarah from college was interviewing for a new job in Denver and stayed with me Saturday and Sunday night until the interview on Monday. Unfortunately, I had to work Saturday night but I left the key and some wine and saw her in the morning! I made a big breakfast and mimosas for us and we caught up on each other's lives for a few hours. When we sat down to watch some TV my 12 hour night shift caught up with me and I had to sleep. Sarah drove through Garden of the Gods while I got a few hours of sleep with my new sleep mask! After I woke up and showered we watched a movie and waited for Collin to get home so that we could go to dinner. We went to one of our favorite bar/restaurants for wings and beer. Everyone was tired after that and we all went right to bed after dinner. I wish we would have had more time to hang out but fingers crossed that she gets the job!! :)

Some of our college days...

Sarah and I match! "Pre-gaming" at her house before hitting the town!
One of my favorite memories from college...boating on the lake!
I also found these oldie but goodies while searching for pictures of Sarah and I...one of Collin's first trips to my college when we first started dating :)
No, that is NOT my hand between his legs...it's his own hand! ha!


I hope everyone is having a great week!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Just a Tip

I'm sure all of you good people always remember to clean the lint collector thingy in your clothes drier before or after each use. Either way, the other day I read an interesting tip. Ya know how drier sheets have that little bit of a tacky feel to them? Well, that tackiness basically builds up on your lint collector screen and prevents it from working properly which in the long run can shorten the life of your drier or start a fire because it causes the drier to work harder.

The "test"to see if your lint screen has accumulated a build-up is to run it under water. If it does have a build up, the water will just sit there instead of running through the screen like it should.

Easy fix. Use some kind of soap (I used Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap--this stuff is amazing, it can be used any way you can think of, literally. From body wash, dish soap, degreaser, even toothpaste...not kidding, Google it) and an old toothbrush or scrub brush and scrub the screen on both sides, rinse and dry.


I have noticed that it collects wayyy more lint and my drier doesn't get as hot as it did before I cleaned it.

Worth a try! Thought I would share this simple tip!

I realize that my posts are getting more and more lame.....this working girl just isn't as fun! But we're planning some fun things for this summer and into the fall so stick with me! :) And I think I'm getting my new bike tomorrow! Oh, the adventures of biking to work will be to come!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bloomin' Onion Dip + Zucchini Fries

 I didn't plan to post this recipe but the second I tried it I had to grab my camera. This is another Pintrest recipe. You can probably tell by now that I'm somewhat obsessed with Pintrest recipes but they're all so good it's hard not to love them. I made this last night with some left-over Easter ham + swiss sliders.

Our maple dijon glazed ham
Our Easter dinner was delicious too by the way. I didn't post on it because frankly I was a zombie. Saturday night was my first night shift, 7pm to 7am, eeeeek!! And it was tough to say the least. I got home and Collin was still in bed so I washed my face and laid on the couch. I started falling asleep when Collin woke up and scooped me up and took me to bed. I slept until about 1:30 in the afternoon when I woke up to a loud cook in the kitchen. I stumbled out of our room and found him making a ham, his mom's amazing mac & cheese and a salad. It was perfect! I had no trouble falling asleep that night either.

Soooo, onto the dip and "fries."



This is a very easy recipe. It was great as a side to a sandwich but it would also be a great appetizer. Also a healthy alternative to real french fries which are one of my major weaknesses.

I made the dip in the late morning because I had the day off but it would be fine to make it the day before too. If you're going to make it all together, cut the zucchini into finger/french fry size pieces, place them in a colander, and sprinkle with a tablespoon of salt (this will get the excess liquid out of them). [You'll need about 3 medium zucchini or 5 small ones].

Bloomin' Onion Dip
     Ingredients:
          1 onion, sliced
          1 tbs butter or oil/spray for cooking
          2 tbs cider vinegar
          2 tbs honey (I LEFT THIS OUT, it would have been too sweet and definitely not tasted like a
                              bloomin' onion had I added it)
          1-2 tbs dijion mustard
          1 tbs catsup
          1 cup mayonnaise (or to taste) you could sub greek yogurt or light mayo to make it a little healthier

In a frying pan, melt butter/add oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until they start to brown and caramelize (about 20 mins). Turn down the heat about mid-way through cooking so that they don't burn. After they are a medium brown color, remove from heat. Add the vinegar, honey (if you're using), mustard, catsup, and cooked onion to a food processor or blender. Process until fairly smooth. Add mayo: start with a 1/2 cup, process, taste, and continue to add until it is a light yellowish brown color and tastes good!
Mine doesn't look that great but it's the crappy picture...it tastes amazing!

For the Zucchini Fries:
         Zucchini (3 med or 5 small)
         1 cup panko breadcrumbs (this is what makes them so crunchy and french fry-like)
         1/2 cup shredded asiago or parmesan cheese
         1 tbs italian or pizza seasoning
         1-2 eggs (I only needed 1)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheet with foil or parchment and spray with non-stick cooking spray (I ended up needing 2 baking sheets). Mix the panko breadcrumbs, cheese, and seasoning in medium mixing bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl beat the egg(s) with an added dash of water.
Rinse the salted zucchini sticks very well in the colander. Dump them onto a dish towel and pat dry.
Dip each stick in the egg and then roll in the crumbs. *I did it one at a time because the crumbs can get soaked with egg and turn into a solid mass.*
Place sticks on the baking sheet and bake the fries for 12 minutes, remove from the oven and flip, bake 12 more minutes or until they become golden and crisp. You may need more or less time.
 I didn't read the directions properly, as usual, and baked them for a little over 20 mins without flipping them and they were still fine, oops.


I served them with these sammies:



Hope you give it a try!

I'm back to the night life tomorrow night, :-/ ugh. Not looking forward to it but I'm crossing my fingers that three in a row will be better than just one, we'll see. I have a sweet sleeping mask ordered and on it's way so I can become a nocturnal creature.

Monday, April 2, 2012

BBQ + Poppers

On Saturday, one of Collin's assistants had a barbeque at her house and invited us to come by. I had a recipe that I've been wanting to make for such an occasion and I finally had an excuse! I made Bacon Wrapped Buffalo Chicken Jalapeno Poppers, wow!


They looked to die for on the website (that I found on Pintrest, above) and I was excited to try them myself.

HUGE hit! Everyone loved them. They were really easy to make and a little annoying to assemble but well worth it. I would 100% recommend trying them! My camera was dead when I pulled them out of the oven but, take my word (and Collin's), mine looked even better than the picture above! They had more stuffing and more blue cheese crumbles on top with thicker slices of bacon! We dipped them in blue cheese dressing and they were delicious!

My semi-modified ingredients:

15 large Jalapenos, cut in half lengthwise with seeds removed
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and chopped/shredded
1/2 to 3/4 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce (or similar)
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles (less of you prefer), plus more for sprinkling
15 slices bacon, cut in half LENGTHwise
Blue cheese dressing (optional)

Directions: Pre-heat oven: 350 degrees F

1) Place jalapenos in a baking dish(s) (15 peppers will take up two baking dishes) cut side down. Roast for 10-15 minutes.
**(I might be the only one who didn't know this but I used one glass and one metal baking dish and after 10 mins the metal peppers were ready but the glass ones needed at least 5 more mins...just a heads up!)
2) Mix butter, hot sauce, chicken, cheddar, and blue cheese.
3) Flip each jalapeno over and fill with hot sauce/chicken mixture.
4) Sprinkle with cheddar and/or blue cheese crumbles.
5) Wrap each with a thin strip of bacon (secure with toothpick if desired), I missed the toothpick part
6) Bake in 350 degree oven until bacon is cooked (I turned up the heat a bit because I didn't want flabby bacon!) [about 20-25 minutes]

Serve warm with a side of blue cheese dressing and celery and carrots!

Try them! :)