Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Diet Cupcakes...Oxymoron?

In the last few weeks I've made/eaten more cupcakes than I have in the last year.  I have a HUGE sweet tooth.  Would seriously rather eat baked goods than a full on real meal.  So, how to curb the craving without having to buy new, bigger pants?  Diet cupcakes.
I'd seen this on the Weight Watchers recipe boards a few times, had always thought about trying it, but it always seemed a little weird to me.  However, I finally bit the bullet and boy oh boy were we in for a treat!  Here's what you need....

1 box cake mix
9 oz diet soda

That's all.  No eggs, no oil, no milk, no nothing but soda.  Dump your dry cake mix in a bowl, add 9 oz diet soad, mix, and pour to make a cake or 12 cupcakes.  Lighter sodas (Sprite, Ginger Ale, etc) work better with lighter cakes (yellow cake, vanilla cake, lemon cake, etc.) and darker sodas (Coke, Root Beer, etc.) with darker cakes (Devil's Food, Chocolate, etc.).  So far, we've had lemon cake with diet ginger ale (cover that bad boy with fresh fruit and whipped cream), strawberry cake with Sprite Zero, and yellow cake with Sprite Zero.  Yummo.  Bonus:  very little clean up required.  :-)

Definitely give it a try!! 

Lemon cake with Diet Gnger Ale

Strawberry cake with Sprite Zero
(Happy 4th of July!)

Yellow Cake with Sprite Zero
(Happy Birthday Sondra!)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tornadoes, Unseasonably Cold Weather, and a Heat Wave? Oh My.

It's been a fairly busy couple of weeks since my last post!  This weekend we have literally done nothing, so now's the perfect time for a little catch up post!  :-)
The weekend after the 4th, my dad and Sondra came into town from Louisiana for a visit.  It was so nice to have them here!  We definitely don't get to spend as much time together as we'd like (flights to New Orleans ain't cheap), so we really enjoyed the weekend.  When we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do for the weekend we really only had one stipulation...nothing outside!  It's just too darn hot these days.  So, that put Carowinds, the White Water Center, Crowder's Mountain, and the like all out of the picture.  Here's the kicker though...there was literally nothing going on in Charlotte that weekend.  NOTHING.  No concerts, no shows, no events, no festivals, no nothing.  It was like everybody went all out for the 4th of July and then took a week off!  After a little brainstorming, we came up with a busy little weekend. 

Once they were in town, we headed uptown for lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery, and then went to Discovery Place for the IMAX movie Tornado Alley.  Now, I am terrified of weather.  Seriously.  If I wake up in the middle of the night during a storm, Buddy and I have to get up and investigate.  So, I figured this movie would either comepletely terrify me or would make me feel better about storms because I'd be more informed.  :-)  It did neither.  It wasn't necessarily what we thought it was going to be.  We figured there's be some pretty serious "in the middle of the tornado" business.  Mostly, it was a documentary about some folks making a documentary.  Good times.  Plus, the film was a little jumpy so I was worried I may have a seizure at any moment.  Anywho...since we were there, we figured we'd take a spin aound Discovery Place.  We really had a lot of fun!  Who says that place is built for kids??

That night, we hung around the house, barbecued some chicken for dinner, and nearly peed our pants giggling so hard playing Music Catchphrase.  The next day, Dad and Barrett went out to play a round of golf while Sondra and I went for mani/pedis and to the book store.  Perfect day.  :-)  For dinner, we went out to Chima for dinner.  It's a Brazilian steakhouse uptown that we'd been talking about trying for dinner some time.  If you're into meat, this is the place.  Barrett says it's a glorified all you can eat buffet.  There's a big salad bar and then servers come around with varying cuts of meat (lamb, pork, filet, salmon, etc...) and slice you off a hunk until you're so full you can barely breathe.  Perfect place for my dad...the meat/potato/bread man.  The weekend went way too fast...we're already looking forward to our next visit.

Last weekend, I was in Lake Lure, NC for Kristi's bachelorette party!  We had a BLAST!  The weather was pretty much Debbie Downer for the weekend.  It figures...the one weekend we'd like to sweat it out and get some sun...we get clouds and 75 degrees.  Oh well.  We didn't let it rain on our parade!!  Poor Lake Lure though.  I'm not quite sure they'd ever experienced the likes of us!  I think the typical crowd is old folks and families!  Good thing we made friends with the manager of the restaurant.  :-)  They were like, "Hmmm...you guys are fun, and we like you, but we're not really sure what to do with you."  Either way, we rocked Lake Lure's world.  I am so, so excited for Kristi and Chris!!  Can't wait to do more celebrating next month!

View from our condo.

Just a little stroll down the mountain.

Dinner Cruise around the lake.  Super fun...and educational too!

Site where Dirty Dancing was filmed!

Baby's Stairs

Pretty sure this is illegal.  Bartender told me to do it.  Whatever.
Now...we're just trying to survive this heat!  Holy Moly!  I mean...I know that in January I was silently begging for warm weather...but this isn't warm weather!  It's a blazing inferno!  You know it's too hot outside when it's too hot to go to the pool.  Really.  Barrett's been keeping cool by holing himself up in the guest bedroom studying for the Series 7 Exam.  He even packed himself a lunch yesterday...to take upstairs.  :-) 

Side note - I got approved to take courses as a non-degree student in the University of Southern Mississippi Graduate Program.  :-)  I won't officially apply for the Masters in Child & Family Studies Program till March, but hopefully getting approved to take these classes before I'm admitted to the program is a good sign that I will get accepted in the Spring.  Either way, it's one step forward to getting my Masters.  :-)

Hope you all are staying cool and hydrated!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I just spent an amazing week at Camp CARE (Cancer Ain't Really the End).  It's a week long camp held each summer for local Charlotte kids who have or have had cancer and their siblings.  There were about 170 campers, ranging in age from 6-17.  It was an unbelievable week for several reasons...the kids are great, the staff was great, I've never actually been to camp before - ever, and the theme of the week was Disney - the happiest place on Earth!  How could you go wrong??  I came home more exhausted than I have been in a long, long time, covered in bug bites and bruises, and with a laundry bag that smelled horrific...but it was definitely all worth it to spend a week with some of the most unbelievable kids I've ever met and a pretty fantastic staff.  Everyone who'd been to camp before told me it was going to be the greatest week of my life...I have to admit, it was extraordinary and I'd go again in a second.  I'm going to see if I can talk Barrett into taking a week's vacation to go with me next year.  :-)

Here's a little recap of my week.  I could seriously post a thousand pictures because I think they tell the story best, but I'll try to restrain myself.  Oh...I can't technically show you pictures of my campers b/c I don't have "signed consent" from all their parents.  One or two may slip in here or there...pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. :-)

Saturday -

Saturday, all the counselors and staff arrived around noon.  The new guys (that'd be me) took a tour of the beautiful site.  Camp CARE is held at Camp Lurecrest in Lake Lure, NC (where Dirty Dancing was filmed!).  We then had a few hours of training and went out for a night on the town before the kiddies came to town.

I made that sign. :-)

My awesome, amazing, fabulous, fun coworkers Angela & Katy

The Crew from Presby!  I work with the best people!

Good times.

Sunday -

Sunday, we got to sleep in a little. :-) Around lunchtime, our LIT's (Leaders in Training...18-21 year olds who are training to be counselors one day) arrived at camp.  We had some more training, worked on setting up or cabins, and just for fun....went slip & sliding.

This is what happens when you fly down the slide....you fall out the back and land in a mud puddle.  :-)

Our cabin....The Little Mermaid

Monday -

The campers arrive!!  Holy wild and crazy commotion!  Piling 170 excited kids off a bus after a two hour ride from Charlotte is like the running of the bulls!  We dropped of luggage, headed to the dining hall for lunch, learned some camp songs I'd never heard before but will be singing in my head for weeks, and settled into the cabins.  We had a little storm that afternoon which cut into free time activities a bit, but after it cleared we sent all the kids for swim tests, ate dinner, and headed to the amphitheatre for Staff Follies (which is just a venue for all the staff to make total fools of ourselves).  We partnered with a boys cabin and dressed their counselors up as characters from The Little Mermaid, had them sing "Kiss the Girls", all while we swayed in the background blowing bubbles.  Then, we snuggled into our sweltering cabins for a "good" night's sleep (however good no AC, twin bed sleeping can be!).

They're here!

Tuesday -

Our first full day!  Breakfast started things off right with Silly Hat Day.  Then, our cabin headed out for our two activity periods...Slip & Slide and the Craft Cabin.  Off to lunch and more music with Hot Rod (real name: Brad...real job: actual musician who lives in Texas...real story:  he was amazing!).  Then it was free time so we headed down to the waterfront.  What's so amazing about this camp is that it's right on the lake.  So, we've got boats, tubing, a rope swing, gigantic water slide into the lake, The Iceberg to climb, and just general swimming.  So fun!  After dinner Tuesday, they planned the cutest little carnival/scavenger hunt.  We were all given maps and a list of Disney quotes.  When we figured out what movie the quote came from, we looked it up on our map, went to the location, and participated in an activity.  It was super cute.  Our activities were Slip & Slide (fun...but I've had my fill of that for the next few years); a pool water war where a counselor (that would be me) from each cabin had to sit on the side of the pool...the other cabin used water guns to try to fill buckets lined up in front...if they filled the buckets....I got water dumped on my head...mostly this turned into "shoot the counselor with your water gun"; a relay race; and laser tag!

Wednesday -

Pajama Breakfast started us off for the day.  Then, we had two fun activities for the morning:  Gepetto (a "make your own shoes" in Gepetto's shop sort of a thing....the kids would make a shoe out of paper/tape/etc, then present the shoe to Gepetto who would then give the kids "money" for their shoe.  They could take the money and buy better/more fun/fancier materials for their shoes.  Lots of creative juices flowing in that room) and Cardio Funk (Super fun!  This guy - Andre - who teaches a few classes at the Y and at a church here in town came up to camp for the day to teach the class.  Think aerobics meets dance meets fun booty shaking.  I sweat more in that air conditioned hour than I did the entire week at camp. My kind of exercise!  Will definitley be taking his class here in town!  That afternoon was the Memorial Service.  It's a time for us to remember and celebrate all the kids who once came to camp but are no longer with us after succuming to cancer. We planted a flower bush for all of our Presby kids.  Not the most fun day at camp, but it really brings everyone together and reminds us all why we do the jobs we do.  It was really sweet and special to be a part of.  Wednesday night there was a pool party for the kids over 11 so we headed to the pool for some more swimming.

Gepetto's Shop

Gepetto - AKA my coworker Greg :-)

Shana, me, and Angela...best counselors....obviously. :-)

Thursday -

Thursday morning was Silent Breakfast...best invention ever by the way.  Then, we spent our activity periods at the pool and making music with Hot Rod (fun idea....lyric Mad Libs....take a song and remove some key words and replace them just like you would with a Mad Lib.  Brilliant.)  Thursday afternoon, there was a whole transformation station set up before the Pirates and Princesses Dance (think Bibbity Bobbity Boutique at Disney).  There were dresses for the girls, Modern Salon & Spa came up to provide hair, makeup, and nails, and lots of princess accessories.  For the boys, a whole slew of Pirate-ness was available...makeup, patches, hooks, bandannas, temporary tattoos.  It was unbelievable.  The dance was so fun and the staff had just as much fun dressing up as the kids did!

Presby Loves.

Fierce.  We know.

Friday -

Last full day of camp.  It went so fast!  Breakfast was Disney dress up day...awesome pic of best costume ever to follow.  We spent our entire morning as a cabin down by the waterfront.  I have some pretty gnarly thigh bruises to prove I braved the rope swing....the slide was super fun...and the Iceberg was literally one of the most challenging things I've ever done!  It was so awesome to watch our kiddos conquer some major fears out there on the lake!  Friday afternoon I used my awesome powers of organization/throw away useless random things skills to help pack up the craft cabin.  :-)  Friday night at dinner we had world famous (or maybe just Camp CARE famous?) Cookie Mush for dessert (think cookie + whipped cream).  Then...the Untalent Show!  Kids are hilarious.  Seriously.  Some were actually really good singers/dancers and others were just too cute for words.  We had your run of the mill singing and dancing, but we also had joke telling, a fashion show, acrobatics, and The Wobble (courtesy of our awesome cabin)!

twins :-)

greatest costume ever!

This will be conquered.

Walter the Pirate

Success!  (only took like 30 minutes.  seriously)

Cabin 2's awesome counselors and LIT

cookie mush
not just a dessert...also an activity?

do the wobble.  You Tube it.
Saturday -

The last day.  Breakfast, load the buses, clean the camp.  It seriously flew by so fast!  It was an amazing (how many times can I use that word?) week.  So many awesome things crammed into 7 days.  I would be honored and lucky to be able to go again next year.  Here are a few more random pictures from the week that are fun....

For the entire week, our girls were in an all out war with the boys in cabin 7....we're talking stink bombs, water balloons, silly string.  Problem with all that fun is that the counselors ended up taking it more seriously than the kids did.  It started with a push in the pool and ended with pies in the face and peanut butter in the hair.  Gross.  But definitely fun. :-)

Peanut butter?!  Seriously!?  We had to wash our hair 4 times!

For now...I'm going to catch up on my sleep and try to knock this cold I've had for 12 days!  (That's right...12 days.  I lost my voice the first day the campers got there....effective?   Not so much.)  I am already excited to head back next year!  It was a reminder of why I go to work everyday and why I should feel truly privileged that I get to work with these awesome kids on a daily basis.  Definitely nor a vacation, but I do feel rejuvenated. :-)