Weekend Review

I feel like I’ve been up and down the East coast this weekend! I left Florida on Thursday, stayed the night in Raleigh, and drove to Columbia, South Carolina on Friday afternoon to meet up with my best friend Maggie and her family.

Fraaaands!!

Fraaaands!!

She’s my greatest friend and I hadn’t seen her whole family in about 2 years so it was a wonderful weekend! Maggie and I hit the zoo (one of my favorite places!) on Saturday and the whole fam went to Easter Vigil mass on Saturday night.  We attended mass at St. Peter’s in Columbia and it was absolutely beautiful.

Today I drove back to school and had big plans to clean the apartment and get my room completely straight before school on Tuesday buuut the afternoon snoozies hit me. I did manage to briefly overcome the sleepiness in order to clean the kitchen and whip out a Southern Living recipe this afternoon. This Sunday’s recipe is Chocolate Chip Cupcakes, although the chocolate chips don’t go inside the cupcake, they go on top. Plot twist!

First speed bump was realizing we didn’t have any sticks of butter in the fridge.  We did, however, have a tub of all natural pure, local butter in a tub.  Using Yahoo answers and some science, I measured out half a cup of butter using cold water and a measuring cup.

Looked kind of gross

Looked kind of gross

Two separate mixtures were made: the topping consisted of brown sugar, chocolate chips, brown sugar, walnuts and an egg.  The actual cake was standard and consisted of nothing crazier than brown sugar. It all came together well and the batter tasted delicious! When putting the topping on the half-baked cakes I recommend moving quickly so it spreads evenly.  I tried smoothing it out with a spoon but that wasn’t as effective as one quick swipe.

My final product didn’t turn out perfectly, but I put that down to either the butter not being standard stick butter or perhaps I put the topping on too early.  The topping is supposed to be added after the cupcakes have baked for 10 minutes.  My cakes were still pretty soft in the middle when I added the topping, which might have attributed to the slightly mushy center despite extra time in the oven.

Final product

Final product

I think these cupcakes would be a big hit if I made those adjustments, but this batch might be created into an ice cream topping. I’m not complaining!

Best BBQ Ever

Publix yogurt is my jam.

Perfect breakfast

Wildberry Crumb Cake Flavor, yum!!

There is no Publix near my school and they make, hands down, THE best peanut butter, subs, baked goods, and store brand food the grocery store world has ever seen. Pretty much every morning this week I’ve had a Publix yogurt with some Ancient Grains Granola on top and I’ve had to stop myself from licking the bowl. They make crazy flavors too, like cappuccino and blueberry pomegranate.

I’ll stop raving about yesterday’s breakfast, but it’s taking a lot of self-control. Yesterday we decided on a nice relaxing day since we’ve pretty much been on the go since break started.  Blaine was dying to take me out to lunch at 4 Rivers Smokehouse. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when my life changed. Just look at this lunch:

The biscuit was 4 inches tall!

The biscuit was 4 inches tall!

I got the pulled pork dinner plate because (1) pulled pork is my favorite and (2) all the sides looked so good and the dinner plate let me pick three. I picked the bbq baked beans, baked cheese grits that were served in foil, and coleslaw. I’m a huge fan of putting coleslaw on my barbecue and eating it all together, but I took one bite of that pulled pork and couldn’t think about altering its flavor by adding slaw. I thought that with all my years spent in North Carolina and the amount of barbecue I’ve eaten in Texas I knew good barbecue.  But man, this pulled pork blew everything I’ve ever had out of the water.  It melts in your mouth and is oh so so tender. They have 4 locations in Florida, and if you’re within an hour of any of them you absolutely have to try this place. Maybe even two hours. The sides were all delicious as well but the pulled pork really stole the show.

Once I managed to squeeze out of the restaurant door and roll to the car, Blaine and I headed to the movies to see Olympus Has Fallen and to digest a little.  We both really enjoyed the movie as an action/thriller and I definitely got into it (hello, Gerard Butler!) although in terms of substance it was very light. It was the perfect movie for a matinee date.

Blaine has been thinking about getting a nice camera to help him build his portfolio for architecture school so we headed over to Best Buy next to look at their cameras and ask some questions.  We didn’t leave with a solid idea of what he wanted/needed, which leads me to today’s question for you:

What do you love or hate about your camera and was any one company especially helpful in your search?

Disney World!

Disney really is the most magical place on Earth. Blaine and I spent the entire day at the parks yesterday and I could’ve used 4 more. I really wanted to visit Magic Kingdom but wanted Blaine to have fun with the Star Wars ride in Hollywood Studios, so we splurged and bought the hopper ticket that let us go to all the parks in one day.

We got there bright and early, along with thousands of other spring breakers. I was a little surprised at the amount of people there, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been, considering the time of year.

Crowds can't stop the fun!

Crowds can’t stop the fun!

Because of the crowds waiting times were crazy high so we didn’t end up riding too many rides, but that didn’t bother us very much.  My favorite part of Disney is just the atmosphere and I was content to walk around, look at the new Fantasyland (Tangled themed bathrooms. Can I get a heck yeah?) and enjoy being in the most magical place on Earth. We rode Peter Pan and It’s a Small World in MK, then headed to Epcot for lunch and to check out the flowers during the flower festival.

I'm transferring Ma!

I’m transferring Ma!

 

The flowers were incredible! They had a butterfly house, displays with professionals ready to answer questions, and of course tons of magical flower sculptures.  I loved it and it definitely encouraged me to keep researching landscape architecture. We ate lunch at The Rose and Thorn in the UK section of Epcot but I was a little disappointed in our meal. Last time I ate there I polished my plate clean it was so good, but this time we ordered the fish and chips and they were a little soggy and salty.

We moved quickly past lunch and headed to Hollywood Studios for some Star Wars action! We went straight to Star Tours to get a Fast Pass and had a lot of time to kill before we needed to come back.  We went through the Life of Walt exhibit which was really cool and then onto my favorite: The Great Movie Ride.  Even though it’s a slow boat ride, I love it and have to ride it every time I go.

Blaine really enjoyed the Star Tours ride although he wished it was longer.  Isn’t that always the case? The ride had changed since the last time I rode it and I got a little motion sickness from the 3D aspect.  It was still fun though! I bought Blaine a Tigger mug that matches my Mike Wazowski mug in the hopes that I can fully convert him into a big time Disney fan. After all of the park hopping and wandering around it was 9:00 and time to load up and head home. This Disney trip was a little atypical, but I still loved every minute of it and I’m so glad we went.

A question for you: What’s your favorite part about Disney?

Dogs and Babies

I have a million different reasons for why I love Florida so much and one of them is this handsome pup:

Hi I am a dog!

Hi I am a dog!

His name is Maverick and we’re best friends. Blaine lives near beautiful Mt. Dora and since the weather today was in the low 70’s and I’ve always wanted to own a dog, I suggested we take Mav for a walk around the lake. The three of us piled into the ‘burb and rode windows down into town. Maverick is an older fella so we were a bit worried about his stamina, plus he rarely walks on a leash and we weren’t sure how quickly he’d get tired of that.  He was a real trooper though and to reward him for all his patience and good behavior we went to Piglet’s Pantry, a locally owned pet treat bakery.

They make treats for both cats and dogs

They make treats for both cats and dogs

We bought Maverick a peanut butter biscotti and a fetchin’ stick, which we heard was a big crowd pleaser (I’m not quite sure what the fetchin’ stick is made from, but Mav enjoyed it!). Judging by his face, I think he liked it:

*drooooool*

*drooooool*

After walking around town for a bit, we headed back home to whip up some lunch before heading over to Blaine’s running buddy’s house. I have to hand it to Blaine, he is a bit of a whiz in the kitchen.  I still had some left over cajun shrimp pasta from boy’s weekend, but wasn’t really in the mood for all of that Old Bay. Blaine offered to see what he could do with it and I happily accepted.  Lunch with no work? Yes please!

He put a little olive oil in a pan and cooked up the leftovers straight from the box. Then he added in some select mystery seasonings, let it heat up, and slid it onto a bowl for me, Food Network Star style.

Le Chef

Le Chef

I liked it better the second time around, although once all the shrimp were gone I wasn’t too keen on the veggies

Take 2

Take 2

Once we polished off lunch, we headed over to Blaine’s friend’s house to visit with her and her adorable baby boy. It was so much fun to hang out with them and the little guy is the happiest baby I’ve ever met! All smiles and hair and smooth dance moves.  He is about 5 months old so he’s past the point where I’m scared to touch babies and hasn’t reached the point where babies just make loud noises. In other words, he’s the perfect little one. It was really great just shootin’ the breeze out on the porch on such a beautiful day and I was a little sad when it was time to leave.

The next big thing on our list? DISNEY tomorrow! I’m so excited I can barely stand it. I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve night. With an early morning tomorrow it’s time to catch some Z’s!

Storms and Malls

With the forecast calling for a tornado watch, Blaine and I decided it would probably be best if we didn’t go to the tournament today.  Good job, us because here’s a little visual of the course afterward: 

So, like any girl, I suggested we go to the mall instead. Blaine, like the patient boyfriend he is, conceded. We drove to The Mall at Millenia before the weather turned and stopped at Greens & Grille for lunch to fuel up for a day of window shopping.  I had the Maui Wawi special which had cranberries, tomatos, and a ginger citrus dressing.  Absolutely delicious! I’ve only been there twice but it’s the perfect lunch for a hot Florida afternoon.

A light yet filling meal

A light yet filling meal

Besides walking around the mall and seeing the power go out in the Gucci store, lunch was probably the biggest thing we did all day.

Sidenote: Southern Living Sunday has been postponed to another day this week so I can cook for the entire clan. Keep on the lookout!