Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Simple Homemade Easter Cookies

Are you looking for a simple and festive dessert for Easter Sunday?

Don't worry; I gotcha covered!

Here is a recipe for some really simple (and yummy!) sugar cookies and frosting--seriously, if I can make them, anyone can!

I made the cookies and set them in the fridge overnight and had nightmares about how they would turn out.. The result? These are by far the best cookies I have ever had (and I've tried a lot of different cookies in my day)--Brandon, who isn't a big fan of sweets, even agreed!

Seriously, make them. 

Here's the recipe (from allrecipes.com): 
Original recipe makes 5 dozen
  •  1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely. 
The frosting is super easy make too; I made a big batch of this buttercream frosting (from Taste of Home), separated it into three different bowls, and mixed in blue, yellow, and pink food coloring.

Easy, pretty, and festive!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Burger Saturday: Jim's Burger Haven

1st Burger Saturday: Buffalo Wild Wings in Fort Collins
2nd Burger Saturday: Old Chicago in Boulder
3rd Burger Saturday: Five Guys in Castle Rock
4th Burger Saturday: Park Burger in Denver
5th Burger Saturday: 5280 Burger Bar in Denver
6th Burger Saturday: Ted's Montana Grill in Greenwood Village
7th Burger Saturday: LoDo's Bar & Grill in Westminster
8th Burger Saturday: Jim's Burger Haven in Westminster

As I mentioned yesterday, my boys and I went to my parents house Saturday afternoon, so we didn't want to venture too far away for a burger last weekend--enter Yelp. I did a Yelp search for the best burger in northern Denver and the results came back with Jim's Burger Haven. Brandon and I have driven by Jim's a couple times now (once on the way to Casa Bonita, the other time on our way to thrift) and talked about stopping there sometime, so we were sold.

Jim's it was!

The atmosphere of Jim's Burger Haven isn't anything too special (no special decor, kind of resembled a plain Jane 50's burger joint) but what it lacks in frill, it makes up for in taste.. and good oldies music. 

Oh my goodness, were their burgers and fries yummy!
My "small" (4 in.) burger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mustard.
Brandon's large (6 in.--the size of my head) cheeseburger with lettuce, mustard, and ketchup.
As soon as you bite into one of Jim's mouthwatering masterpieces, you can taste the quality and freshness of the beef. This isn't one of your regular fast food burgers; these bad boys are cooked to order and it shows (the company even prides itself on not owning steam trays)! The patties are seasoned to absolute perfection and carry that greasy, enticing aroma that I've come to expect from superb burgers.

Brandon and I both give Jim's Burger Haven a big thumbs up! Oh, and an added bonus? This has been our least expensive Burger Saturday yet (my burger was about $2.50)! A second bonus? The smell of grilled deliciousness is so heavy in the restaurant that it will be embedded in your clothes for the rest of the day (which is fine by me)! Boom!

We'll be back.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jesus & Baseball (Two of My Favorite Things)

Happy Monday Friends!

I hope you all had a relaxing and wonderful weekend--we spent ours eating burgers (review coming tomorrow) and visiting my parents (for my dad's Easter concert; we ended up having to leave before the concert though because of the weather). Here's a picture of my cute little bunny on yesterday's drive home:

Today, I would like to share with you Fr. Robert Barron's Lent Reflections from Thursday. I have been receiving Fr. Barron's daily emails throughout Lent and have enjoyed them immensely (I read them everyday while I'm laying down with Jax)--this reflection in particular really stood out to me and I believe it's a message we all need to hear.

Enjoy!

Lent Day 37 - The Invasion of Grace
A few years ago, news reports revealed that baseball superstar Alex Rodriquez had been using steroids. By his own admission, the great A-Rod joined the sad ranks of Ken Caminiti, Rafael Palmiero, John Rocker, Mark Maguire, Roger Clemens, and of course Barry Bonds. But when I reflected on the two most prominent players in this scandal--A-Rod and Barry Bonds--something struck me with particular power. These two figures began using steroids--Bonds in 1998 and Rodriguez in 2001--when they were at the top of their games, when they were generally regarded as the best players in baseball. They both had sterling records, both were guaranteed a place in the Hall of Fame, both had more money than they could spend in ten lifetimes, both could out-hit, out-run, and out-play practically any player in the game.

But why would these gods of baseball, these men who were, without artificial help, dominating their respective leagues, turn to steroids? It has been suggested that Bonds was jealous of the national frenzy around the Maguire-Sosa homerun race in 1998 and that Rodriguez felt the pressure of living up to the expectations generated by his unprecedented contract. Fair enough. But I think that things go deeper than that.

St. Augustine spoke of "concupiscent desire," by which he meant a perversion of the will. We have, Augustine said, been wired for God ("Lord, you have made us for yourself"), and therefore, nothing in this world will ever be able finally to satisfy us ("our hearts are restless until they rest in thee"). When we hook our infinite desire for God onto something less than God--pleasure, money, power, success, honor, victory--we fall into a perverted and ultimately self-destructive pattern.

When money isn't enough (and it never is), we convince ourselves we need more and more of it; when honor isn't enough (and it never is), we seek honor desperately, obsessively; when athletic success isn't enough (and it never is), we will go to any extreme to assure more and more of it.

This awful and frustrating rhythm, which Augustine called "concupiscent," we would call today "addictive." Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez were not addicted to steroids per se; they were addicted to success, and we know this because they were at the pinnacle of success and still didn't think it was enough.

One of the most liberating and salutary things that we can know is that we are not meant to be perfectly happy in this life. When we convince ourselves otherwise, we, necessarily, fall into one or more forms of addiction. Bonds and Rodriguez still felt, at the height of their success, a nagging sense of incompleteness. That was not an invitation to take desperate measures; it was the invasion of grace.

As Lent nears its end, let your incompleteness be filled by God and not by any of the false, unsatisfying substitutes.
 

 This post is in no way sponsored or affiliated with Fr. Robert Barron or Word on Fire--I did not receive any compensation for this post.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Funnies

Happy Saturday Eve, Gang!

I know I said I was going to post pictures of Jax's new nursery today, but life definitely got in the way this week.. busy, busy, busy! Anyway, I will post them next week. For real, this time.

Until then, let's laugh!
I may or may not do this tonight..

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lent, Free Snacks, & Other Short Stories

Today's post is just going to be a big jumble of random junk short stories so bear with me..

..and enjoy.

Free Snacks
Coming home from our daily walk on Tuesday, Jax and I passed a man from CenturyLink sitting in the entrance of our apartment complex--I saw him waving down approaching cars and couldn't figure out what was going on but planned to sneak by as quickly as possible without making eye contact. He ended up flagging me down and I'm so glad he did: he was handing out free snack bags and I was hungry! That was a great surprise and I kinda hope it happens every day from here on out (that isn't asking too much, is it?).


Thanks, CenturyLink!
Capri Sun=Sweet Nostalgia
Lent
I haven't talked about Lent at all this year (I started writing a post on Fat Tuesday but a certain baby wouldn't let me finish it!) so I thought I'd talk a little bit about it now. This has hands down been the most spiritually fulfilling Lenten season I have ever had! Instead of just giving up something like I normally do, I have started delving into the Bible/daily Gospel every night before bed and I love it.

I downloaded the Laudate app on my phone and am able to go over each day's Gospel reading and then dive in deeper with "Reflections." If you're looking to study the Gospel more in depth, I highly recommend checking out this app--I plan to continue my new nightly routine after Lent is over and look forward to learning more and more about Jesus and my awesome faith!

In other news, I also gave up sweets and junk food for Lent--I have no self control when it comes to sugar so this break was well needed (I've felt so much better and have noticed my stomach shrinking, too!).

Family Game Night
Brandon and I are both competitive by nature (especially with each other) and enjoy playing board games--but since the birth of Jackson, playing games hasn't been too easy. Monday night, we decided to get out our new (to us) Disney Trivial Pursuit game and introduced Jax to family game night/Disney. We had a lot of fun!
Not that it matters but I won.
LoDo
Yesterday was a rotten day--between mommy drama, 6 week post partum checkups (10 weeks late), and being stuck in rush hour traffic, it just wasn't my day. However, there was some good to the day; Jax and I drove my brother to his job interview downtown and got to visit my aunt at work! 
Those. Cheeks.
Wiggles & Giggles
Jackson is starting to laugh now and it is the cutest/sweetest/happiest sound I have ever heard! What makes him laugh the most, you ask? My singing. I once had a teacher say that I "couldn't carry a tune in a bucket," so I guess it's paying off now.. whatever gets my little boy to laugh!
The songs that make him laugh: Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes; If You're Happy and You Know It; and the Branson Vacation Channel theme song (it's a weird inside joke my brother and I have.. maybe Jax has our sense of humor? Uh oh).
The songs that calm him down/put him to sleep: Que Sera Sera; Mona Lisa; and basically any Abba song.
  
I hope you enjoyed this gaggle of "short stories"--we'll see you back here tomorrow for the Funnies!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Our First Thrifting Trip*

*as residents of Denver.

On (Burger) Saturday morning, Brandon, Jack, and I decided to venture out for a little thrifting adventure. If you know Brandon and me, you know that we love our thrifting and used to go almost every weekend before I began boycotting Goodwill (because of this NBC News report)--however, now that we live in a big city with more stores to choose from, we're back to our old bargain hunting ways and couldn't be happier! 
Source
After scouring Yelp for the highest rated thrift shops in Denver, we decided to head south to Mile High Thrift Store with the mission of finding Jackson some "new" pajamas (this kid keeps growing and growing!). The trip to the store took a lot longer than we both expected (who knew that there was a north and south Sheridan Blvd?) but after passing nearly a dozen marijuana dispensaries, several cops, and a really old looking Arby's, we arrived at our destination. 
Source
As soon as we entered the store, I made a beeline over to the infant section and was immediately disappointed--everything seemed really disorganized and I couldn't find anything in Jax's size.. dang. At that point, I was just ready to leave; the store was packed anyway and I felt discouraged. Luckily, Brandon suggested we make a quick trip around the store so we began walking and discovered all kinds of well priced treasures! 

Good thing Brandon didn't listen to me, huh (this is the only time you'll ever hear me say this)?

We wound up doubling Jackson's book collection for a meer $12 and scored the Disney Trivial Pursuit board game for another $3! Boom! 
I had that same exact Mother Goose book when I was a little girl!
I wish we could have shopped some more at Mile High Thrift Store (I spotted a Coach bag in excellent condition for only $30..), but they only accept cash and all we had was a $20--maybe that's a good thing though? We will be back! 

Are you a Coloradoan whose been to Mile High Thrift? What did you think? Do you have any other thrifting suggestions for us? Let me know!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Burger Saturday: LoDo's Bar & Grill

1st Burger Saturday: Buffalo Wild Wings in Fort Collins
2nd Burger Saturday: Old Chicago in Boulder
3rd Burger Saturday: Five Guys in Castle Rock
4th Burger Saturday: Park Burger in Denver
5th Burger Saturday: 5280 Burger Bar in Denver
6th Burger Saturday: Ted's Montana Grill in Greenwood Village
7th Burger Saturday: ???

...

Is the suspense killing you?!

Oh wait.. it's in the title, isn't it?

Nevermind.

For this week's "Burger Saturday," we decided to stay in our neck of the woods and check out LoDo's Bar & Grill in Westminster. LoDo's will always hold a special place in my heart--the actual "LoDo" (in Lower Downtown) is where we kicked off my bachelorette party back in August of 2012!

The two times I've been to LoDo's, I've shared the chicken nachos (which are remarkable, by the way) but have never tried a burger--that changed on Saturday.
Mamma's Burger Buddy.
The atmosphere of LoDo's (at any of their locations) is really energetic and fun--if there's a game on, you can guarantee the place will be packed with some of Colorado's biggest fans. When we were there on Saturday, the Avs were playing so we were able to watch the game and cheer on our hometown hockey team with other super fans--it was a lot of fun! I for one was also impressed with LoDo's music selection; Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, and Foo Fighters serenaded us during our time there and I loved it.

Brandon and I were both a little surprised by the burger menu--they didn't have as much of a selection as we had anticipated. I ended up ordering their Thai Burger (beef patty with pineapple, coleslaw, and peanut sauce) and Brandon did the LoDo Burger with cheese and bacon. 

The verdict?

Neither Brandon nor I were all that impressed..

My Thai burger tasted pretty good (I love peanut sauce!) but it wasn't anything special; Brandon agreed. The beef seemed to be fresh and cooked well but it lacked that juicy flavor/texture that we've tasted with other burgers. However, I do have to add that the buns the burgers came on were some of the best we've had--the bread was soft, buttery, and just all around yummy!

I love LoDo's and will definitely be going back..

..but I'll probably just stick with the chicken nachos (which is actually my favorite food).
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