Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pop-Cakes

No, I didn't get cake pops backwards! On my adventure to try out new recipes, I stumbled upon this gem on Pinterest (how else would I really find new recipes?) and new I wanted to try it. I have seen and heard about using soda to make cake, brownies, and other baked treats for a while and was very intrigued by this.

Whenever you see the words "100 calorie cupcake" you immediately take notes, and so I did. I found this recipe to really catch my eye because it was with strawberry cake mix (which I love) and suggested Cool Whip instead of frosting the cupcakes. Now I love icing as much a the next gal, but sometimes I want something lighter, and let's face it...not so damn calorie-laden. I found this recipe around the same time I was studying for comps and so decided to make them for one of my group's study sessions. 

They turned out to be absolutely delicious and were a hit in my group! Using soda to make these cupcakes instead of oil, eggs, etc. made them super light and gave them a texture I want refer to as fudgy? I don't know how else to describe it but kind of closer to brownie-ish texture? You'll just have to try them out for yourself and see!


Late night snack for me and the roomie!

Strawberry Soda Cupcakes
Ingredients:
One box of strawberry cake mix
12 oz. of Diet 7-Up (I used diet gingerale)
Light Cool Whip

Combine mix and soda, pour into baking or cupcake pan and follow cake mix box instructions for baking. After cooled, frost cupcakes with light Cool Whip (just before serving). Garnish with fruit if desired!

Have you made baked goods with soda before? Did you like how they turned out? Any recipes in particular you would definitely recommend?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chasing Pavements

This semester has been a record breaking one for me so far in the area of fitness! I set out with some goals and am very happy to achieved some thus far. I have wanted to run a 5k forever, the entire thing and then hopefully after that move on to some longer races.

I was never a runner, I hated it in high school though still was able to run a mile fast enough to receive an A. It was the reason I quit soccer in the first grade, and probably one of the reasons I didn't make the field hockey team in high school. That and the fact that I have absolutely no athletic abilities whatsoever, I still am not quite sure what prompted me to take that adventure.

The summer after my freshman year of college was the first time I really got "running" if you will. I blew up like a balloon my first year of college and decided I needed to do something about it. I started running every day, first I just ran to the end of my street, and then everyday I ran to the next house down the street until I had reached my goal. I lost weight, felt great, but when the awful July heat kicked in I had to stop.

I didn't particularly work out or run much in college but did have an on again/off again stint with running during the second semester of my senior year.

This past summer at TCU is when I really got into running. I downloaded the Nike GPS app to start tracking how far and fast I was running. I really enjoyed that the app would alert me at each half mile and there's a fun athlete celebrity celebrating you at the end of each run. I reached a record of 2.65 for distance and I believe close to 10:00 for my mile time.

Then the fall of my second year in grad school happened. Goodbye workouts, running, endurance and progress.

I knew I had to get back to it this spring and started out slow. The first day I just ran as far and long as I could and before long I hit 3.1 miles one month before the 5k I was planning to run, so from there I worked on timing. Right now I've ran my fastest 5k at 33min. and my distance record is close to 4.5 miles. Not only has running helped me feel more physically sound this spring, it has been such a good way to clear my head. As I was preparing for Comps and had a big event at work, I knew everyday I had one hour just for me where there would be no emails, texts, calls. Just me, music, pavement and the river.


Although I had reached 3.1 I was still nervous to run the 5k on St. Patrick's Day. I typically run in the evening and on the very flat Riverwalk. Running in a crowd early in the morning was daunting, as was running the entire first mile uphill. I was a little disappointed when my first mile was 12:30, but I caught back up once the race headed downhill and ended up finishing with a time of 34:17, under my goal of 35 minutes! I ran the entire race, didn't stop for a second, and sprinted through the finish line.

With my spuddy Jessie before the race

 MC came to cheer me on!

HESA runners after the race!

I was and still am so proud of myself for working so hard to achieve this goal. I really wanted to run a few more 5k's this spring but due to my schedule I haven't been able to. What I'm thinking of now is maybe a 10k sometime in the fall, and I'm looking at the Disney Princess Half Marathon for next February. It's a stretch, but if I could reach my first goal so quickly I know that this is something I can do if I work hard.

To treat myself I wanted to do something special, and decided to buy myself a charm for my Pandora bracelet. I've really wanted my bracelet to have meaning and so far each charm has been very meaningful, this would be a great addition. I didn't necessarily like the four-leaf clover charms out for St. Patrick's day but found this four petal charm in green and knew it would be a perfect way to remember my first race, and also inspiration when I see it each day to keep training for the future.


Hopefully I'll be able to do another 5k sometime soon and once I know where I'll be living in the fall I am signing up for a 10k...because I'm not a quitter so after that I'll have to start training!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Georgia On My Mind

Over the past semester Mr. Charming and I have done a small tour around Georgia. There have been some places I've always wanted to go and I realized I needed to take advantage of being so close, and having my own personal Georgian, and check off some of these cities on my list!

Though I hadn't visited, I for some reason in high school fell in love with the state of Georgia. I liked the name, I loved the song "Why Georgia" by John Mayer, and basically I just began growing an interest for the south, which lead me there to college. I had briefly thought about UGA but ended up in NC. Now that I'm writing this out I'm not sure if I've ever even mentioned this to MC!

Our first stop was Savannah, where we went for the weekend of our one year anniversary. I was super excited for this trip after reading Saving CeeCee Honeycutt this summer which takes place in Savannah.  It was unfortunately rather rainy and gross the whole weekend but we still managed to enjoy ourselves. We parked downtown when we first arrived, walked around and then of course went to Paula Deen's Restaurant The Lady & Sons. I have dreamed about this moment since I first fell in love with Paula during my high school obsession with the Food Network. The food was AWESOME I may or may not have drooled over the butter cake!

Awesome tilapia sandwich!

Eating at Lady & Sons, check that off the list!

Later that evening we went on a ghost tour of Savannah which was really neat except that I had to yell at a drunk old guy who was being obnoxiously loud on our trolley. I put him in his place and MC was surprised at my lashing out, but also proud. There were some fun stories and we got see some really pretty houses as well.

On Sunday we woke up at a decent hour and made our way out to Tybee Island to eat at The Breakfast Club. We were able to sit at the bar (which is my favorite!) and watching their cooks was absolutely amazing. They were so fast and whipped up breakfast dishes out of thin air. When one guy had a few seconds to breathe MC began asking him how many eggs, pounds of bacon, etc. they went through in a day. I believe the egg count was in the 800's but can't remember the rest--yikes! My dish was phenomenal and I could not have been more satisfied. Please eat there if you're ever in the area.

 MC got this crazy good "hashbrown omlette"

My yummy eggs florentine

When we emerged from breakfast I was so excited to find that the sun had come out!!! The restaurant is on the beach side so we walked down there and went out on a pier and then headed out to put our toes in the sand. I could not have been any happier. I really did not want to leave a sunny beach in February but unfortunately we had to leave and start heading back home.

 Lady that took the pic got her finger in it...ugh




I had tried to go to Athens in the fall for the USC/UGA football game, but things got crazy and so I just watched the game (in Augusta, so I was closer at least!) with a bunch of MC's friends. It was a glorious victory to celebrate in a huge room of Dawgs. When I told MC I still wanted to go at some point I figured I'd check and see if we were playing at UGA for basketball, and it just so happened it was on a Saturday...and on my Spring Break. Zing!

We went down on Saturday morning and go to campus in time for the game. Watching the two worst teams in the SEC play each other was not the most exciting things, but it was still fun to see their coliseum, and the halftime show was awesome!! There was an Asian acrobatic girl that rode on a very tall unicycle, a cheerleader would throw her bowls which she would balance on her foot (while still balancing the unicycle) and then she'd kick the bowls up and have them land perfectly on her head. I was and am still amazed by this incredible talent.



One of MC's favorite beers is Terrapin and luckily enough Athens is where their brewery is located! Later that evening after the game we took a cab out there, to be responsible drinkers, and the cabbie totally ripped us off with the price. Whatever, we proceeded into the brewery got souvenir glasses, drink tickets and were on our way to a fun evening. We took a tour of the brewery and then sampled all of the different beers they had on tap there, my favorite was the Hopsecutioner! It was a very eclectic place with wooden signs, fun lights and live music. There was a huge outside area but it was a bit chilly so we mostly stayed indoors.

Just one more pic where MC decided not to smile, typical

Good tip if you ever to to Terrapin, you will receive eight tickets. For a full beer you must fork over four tickets, but one ticket will get you 4 oz. which actually turns into more than half a glass. Do the one ticket thing, do it!


We went out to a good dinner that night and grabbed breakfast and cupcakes on our way out of town Sunday. Again I was sad to wrap up another adventure, especially when I was on Spring Break, but MC had to get back to teach the youth of American on Monday.

The one place I still want to hit before leaving is Atlanta. Yes, gasp, I still have never been to Atlanta. Technically I've been in Atlanta, far too many times to count at ATL, but have never actually experienced it outside of a Brave's game last spring. Once I figure out where I'll be next year I'd love to do a trip there before my job starts and some places I'd definitely like to see are the aquarium, Coke World and the Sweet Water Brewery. Hopefully I'll make it!

Other great places in Atlanta I should look into for my possible trip? Any other great places in Georgia you'd suggest while I'm still close?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Do More: Kinda, Sorta, Maybe...

It seems like years ago at this point, but can anyone recall when for 2012 rather than setting traditional resolutions I vowed to do more? Well I started off strong with tracking the chronicles of my "do more" mantra, but after week seven I started doing less.

I wasn't doing less in the sense of not following what I set out to do (except blog more) but caught up in a busy time with school, work, and traveling I definitely did less of keeping track. 

Now that we're wrapping up week 16, let's go back in time and reflect on the past month...
Be more creative.
Paint and craft more. Yes! Made a banner for a co-worker's baby shower and forgot how much I love painting.
Use my talents to make meaningful gifts for the ones I love. Made a scrapbook for MC as a first year anniversary present (which I still need to share about!)
Write more.
Blog more to share life with family and friends. Ha, no. At least I managed a few in the month of March but now I'm going to back track because I did some fun things this semester.
Send more cards and letters to friends and family. Definitely have done a lot of this!
Read more.
Read more books and novels that I enjoy rather than watching TV. YES! Finished all of the Hunger Games, a book for class and am currently on a new one.
Stay current on US & world news, take time to learn more about politics. Have started opening up my CNN app when walking around campus versus Twitter, Pinterest, etc. I'm getting there...
Spend more time reading news & articles on student affairs and higher education. Slowly easing into keep on top of what's happening in the field. Taking time to open and look at daily email subscriptions and bookmarking links of stories to read later.
Cook more
Try out 52 new recipes. I'm not on track for 52 books in 52 weeks, but definitely on track for 52 recipes!
Make a conscious effort to prepare my meals rather than eating prepackaged food. With traveling and being so busy I've failed a bit with this one, but not too terribly.
Speak more.
Ask more questions...at work, with friends, with family, everywhere. I'm surprised people don't hide when they see me...ok I haven't gotten that bad with questions!
Be bold and speak up when people challenge my morals and what I believe in. Yes, yes, double yes. And had a great conversation with one of my best friends this past weekend about it. 
Make a better effort at keeping in touch with friends and family. Calling my momma more, emailing friends, sending cards and even wrote a nice letter to send with graduation announcements. 
Spend more time outside. 
Go for a walk outside at least once a week. Whether it was intentional, or to get somewhere, I've definitely done this. I'm sad though I had a few weeks without being out on the Riverwalk.
See more.
Explore new places...they don't have to be far. Don't know if I mentioned my trip to Athens yet? More on the tour of GA to come!
Find 10 new things to explore in Columbia, SC before graduation. Thanks to 15 days of HESA fun I will be completing this shortly!
Take every opportunity to explore around when traveling. Saw touristy things and went off the beaten path when in Louisville, KY. Also went exploring around DC during down time on my class trip. 

Hopefully I can get back on track with not just doing more, but keeping track of it more. Staying hopeful for week 17!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Purple, Pearls & Eight Young Girls

April 20th will always be a special day for me (no, not because of that!) as it's the Founder's Day of my sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma. Additionally, it's one of my little's birthdays, she was meant to be a Sigma!
Happy Birthday Laura!!
(Katie, Laura, Me & Meghan: Lovin' on all my littles during Recruitment '07)

This is always a day that makes me stop and reflect on my involvement with Tri Sigma, my memories from collegiate years, and just how much this awesome organization has impacted me. Typically this is done in the company of other sisters, but unfortunately this will be the first year since I was initiated in 2005 that I will not be spending Founder's Day celebrating with Sigmas. I had plans to go to the Columbia, SC Alumnae Chapter's dinner last week, but when I was able to take off and go home early for a wedding I had to take it. Not being with sisters today made me also think back to Founder's Days past...
2007 with Whitney (woof my hair)

2008 with the whole gang

2010 with Morgan at Theta Alpha's very first Founder's Day

2011 with alumnae at my chapter's 20th Anniverary

When I went through recruitment in September 2005 I did not know the first thing about Greek life. I wasn't 100% sure about going through recruitment, but when my best friend from home, Nina, joined Gamma Phi Beta at Clemson a few weeks earlier and loved it, I felt more comfortable with the idea. I began my journey through recruitment, and like many PNM's that I have consoled since, had my dreams crushed. For the second round I was only invited back to two chapters at my school and can remember crying on the phone when I told Nina and my mom. They encouraged me to continue and give these groups a chance.

During the next round and then preference night, I was able to really get to know the women in both of these organizations. I was surprised to find how much I loved them both and to this day can vividly remember the woman that "preffed" me in each chapter. The last night I sat down with my sheet and pencil (no fancy computer systems back then y'all!) and came to a stand still. Which one do I choose? It was one of the hardest decisions to make and I nearly "eenie-meanie-miny-moed" it. I thought about both of them for a while and made my choice, Sigma Sigma Sigma.

After my first round upset I was on pins and needles waiting to get my bid the next day. It didn't help that Hurricane Ophelia came to to the NC coast on bid day. Our Gamma Chis were calling us like crazy, bid festivities were moved up, locations were changed, everything was nuts! I ran to the student union and got my bid, excited to see my name in purple ink, I knew...I was going to be a Sigma! I ripped it open and confirmed my guess and headed out into the courtyard (which is no longer there-sad) to find my new sisters.

I mentioned I knew nothing about Greek life, and it's a good thing bid day didn't scare me away forever. Not only was it the typical chanting, screaming, crying, jumping around bid day...but it was rainy and windy from the approaching hurricane. I found the other new members, having no clue we would become best friends. My fall '05 sisters and I went through a lot our first year, and though only a few of us were still members by the time graduation came, I will never forget any of them. For those of you who know current Regional Consultant, Brittany Parrott, hope you enjoy seeing her with long blond hair...
 Out to lunch our freshman year
 Sleepover!
 Fall '05 girls at '07 recruitment
 2005 sisterhood retreat
 80's social and Smid's 21st
2006 Recruitment

It's sometimes now easy to forget about my earliest days in Tri Sigma, they seem so long ago...but it was only seven years in the grand scheme of things. I couldn't be more happy that I finished recruitment, that I selected Tri Sigma, and that they selected me. When I saw that purple ink and opened my bid card I would have never imagined how far I would go with Tri Sigma. I would have laughed if you had told me then I would be president of my chapter, and then go on to work for Tri Sigma as a Regional Consultant and assist in developing two new chapters of my beloved sorority. I would have doubled over if you told me how much I would still volunteer my time as a Regional Support Team member, sitting on a committee, and facilitating at leadership conferences.

Additionally, Tri Sigma lead me to my passion and career in student affairs and higher education. My membership was a snowball effect that lead me become involved on campus and learn how much I enjoyed helping other students. Tri Sigma had faith in me to send me around our Region 2 chapters as a consultant and assist me in confirming a career choice. This organization has helped me through grad school with providing me experiences, support, and meeting new Tri Sigmas everyday that are in this field as well.

I could not imagine my life, or college at that, without Tri Sigma as a part of it. I am so thankful for the hundreds of sisters I've been able to meet all over the country, of all ages, from all different chapters, and each one has individually shaped my experience. I find it funny in a way because just as I would have never imagined how far Tri Sigma would take me, I'm sure our Founders had no clue just how far and wide Tri Sigma would grow into the organization it is today. 

So here's to them on this Friday, April 20th, 2012. To Sallie Mitchie, Margaret Batten, Martha Trent Featherston, Isabella Merrick, Leila Scott, Lucy Wright and Elizabeth Watkins. Thank you for having the courage to start your journey, which in turn provided me with mine!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Home Stretch

17 days until I am a master. Repeat after me, 17 days.

One would think with 17 days and a minimal to-do list left things would be smooth sailing from here, right? Why the heck can I not find any motivation?

Things standing between me and getting my hood:
-8 page paper on Policy in Higher Ed
-10 one page current event journals on diversity
-Completing a few projects for my GA and practicum

Things I'm doing instead:
-Perusing anything and everything possible on Ebay (and make a few sudden "buy it now" purchases)
-Going through my entire wardrobe and categorizing my clothes into "keep", "alter", "sell", and "give away"
-Then having a photoshoot and sending items to be posted on Re-Lilly and Shopaholic's Preppy Closet (if you have no clue what I'm talking about, please go find them on Facebook!)
-PINTEREST, PINTEREST, PINTEREST
-Going as far back as possible in my Facebook tagged photos and drowning in a pool of self-pity that I'm really about to be thrown out into the real world
-Making to-do lists for everything that I want to or could be doing if I wasn't procrastinating or "doing work"


Please leave any words of wisdom, great jam-out tunes, or monetary donations to assist me through these rough times. 

I promise I won't blog anymore until I finish the big paper. Maybe...

ps. tonight I found God (and may or may not have eaten too many mini Rolos)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You Are The Best Thing

So not really introducing them...but today is my friend Lauren's one month anniversary of being married to the sweet, sweet Daniel! This past month has been crazy so now it's time to play a bit of catch up. A month ago today I had the privilege of standing by Lauren's side when she said her "I do's" and then celebrating their marriage all night long.

Being in Lauren's wedding was an absolute blast, from her bachelorette to all of the festivities right before the wedding and of course the big day itself!

Lauren is from Wilmington, where she was married, and so I came in to town early and along with some other bridesmaids and family friends we stuffed some yummy popcorn tinted with the wedding colors (yellow and pink!) into bags for favors. We may have eaten a bit of the popcorn along the way with our champagne punch...

Friday was the bridal luncheon which was at the Holiday Inn Sunspree at Wrightsville Beach, and absolutely gorgeous! We were in an ocean view room and one of Lauren's close family friends and second mom coordinated such a special event. All of the decorations and special touches to the event were "so Lauren"!



After a leisurely afternoon of some shopping and chatting with Lauren we got ready and headed to the church for the rehearsal and then dinner. Dinner was so nice and it was at Riverboat Landing, which is a restaurant I had always wanted to go with a date in college because they have these cute little two person balconies with tables. Too precious! There were many adorable pictures of Lauren and Daniel in their younger years, and sweet words shared about them beginning a new life together. 


Then it was time for the big day! I caught up with one of my sorority sisters who did my hair and makeup (shout out to Meredith!) and then headed to the church where finished up getting ready, snapped some pics and then headed down the aisle. Lauren was absolutely stunning and with this being the first wedding I've been in (minus my longtime status as a flower girl-I did about 5 of those gigs as the only young girl on both sides of the family growing up) I definitely got teary and know I'm going to continue to be a wreck in all of my friends weddings in the next few years. 

The ceremony was gorgeous, we took a few more pictures and headed to the reception site and awaited their arrival!



The reception was an absolute blast! My best friend from home, KMK was there with her roommate and luckily MC was able to come into town that day for the wedding as well. We laughed, danced, and had our fair share of chardonnay and then headed out afterwards to continue celebrating with the new couple. 

Congratulations again Lauren & Daniel and thanks for having me as a part of your special day! Happy one month anniversary wishing you both much love and many years of happiness together, cheers!

Oh, and the post title--the song for Lauren & Daniel's first dance "You Are the Best Thing" by Ray LaMontagne

Monday, April 9, 2012

Where In the World?

Where in the world is semi-charmed? Yea...disappearing act part two, whoops!

This past month has been absolutely ridiculous. I was honestly traveling more than I was actually in Columbia for the entire month. The first week I was out for break and a wedding, then was back for a week before I went to to Washington DC for a class on Policy in higher education then in 48 hours turned around and went to Lousiville, KY for the annual ACPA convention.

Between traveling and job searching I've been completely worn out and haven't had a second to catch my breath. But here are some highlights from the past month that you missed out on...
Happy Hour in gorgeous DC weather

Our class in front of the White House

After eight hours in the car we are jam packed in an elevator with far too much luggage!

HESA students at ACPA 2012

With Amy & Michelle (other Career Center GAs) at the White House

With the spuddies for Jessie's birthday!

Enjoying life with ACPA roomies

Louisville Slugger museum

I can check another city off my list and collected a lot of memories, photos and items for scrapbooking. It's been quite a ride and I'll have a few more detailed updates coming soon. I've definitely missed time to blog, collect my thoughts and chronicle my journeys!