Navigation

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

These are by far the BEST red velvet cupcakes you will ever have in your life! You may have caught a glimpse of them on my Instagram story! The best part of this post is I'm sharing the recipe so you can enjoy these treats as well!

I recently baked these delicious, red velvet cupcakes for a wedding...150 to be exact in addition to 150 yellow cake cupcakes. However, I've been using this recipe for almost 10 years (that makes me feel so old) and every time I whip out a batch of these I receive nothing but high amounts of praise!

I came across this recipe by Paula Deen on the Food Network. I've made a few modifications of my own below, but you can see her original recipe here. Read on to learn how to bake these red velvet cupcakes!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (24 cupcakes)

Ingredients
Cake Batter

  • 1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 2 1/2 All-Purpose Flour
  • 3-4 Teaspoon Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder*
  • 1 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil 
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk, Room Temperature
  • 2 Eggs, Room Temperature
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract*
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Food Coloring 
  • 1 Teaspoon White Distilled Vinegar

    *I added more cocoa powder and vanilla than the recipe called for. I found adding a little extra creates the perfect red velvet flavor!
Frosting
  • 1 Pound Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1 Cup Butter (2 Sticks)
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract*
  • 2 to 2 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar*

    *I added more vanilla than the recipe called for, but I used less powdered sugar. For new bakers, the more powdered sugar you use then the stiffer (and sweeter) the frosting.
Recipe
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F and line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients: cocoa powder, flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. 
  3. In a large bowl gently beat: vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, vinegar, and vinegar.
  4. Slowly, beat in dry mixture to liquid mixture. Mixture will be thick.
  5. Pour batter into cupcake liners and bake for 18-22min, and test cupcakes with a toothpick for unbaked batter.
  6. While cupcakes cool, begin frosting recipe.
  7. In a large bowl, beat: cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. 
  8. Slowly add powdered sugar at a high speed until frosting reaches fluffy consistency.
  9. I highly recommend using a piping bag for that extra nice touch, but you can also frost with a spatula.
  10. Enjoy!!! 
I hope you will enjoy this red velvet cupcake recipe!! It is always requested and consumed instantly. Maybe test them out for Mother's Day?? Have a great weekend and happy baking!


sig

Sunday, April 23, 2017

70.3 Training Update

70.3 Training Update

In roughly six months I compete in my first 70.3 Ironman!! My training is going well since I am gradually exposing my body to more heat and carefully monitoring my heart rate. In Southern Arizona, the weather is pretty warm (think mid-90s and up) in October, and any physical activity will only escalate the heart rate. I plan to develop a higher tolerance for the heat prior to race day. It's funny, running in weather below 30 degrees is easier for me than anything above 70 degrees.

While I've been doing brick workouts since January, I only recently started doing outdoor brick workouts where both disciplines were completed outdoors. For two weeks in a row I've done outdoor brick workouts: 7.6mi run in Sabino Canyon (think lots of hills and great climbing) followed by a 0.5mi outdoor swim when I get home. The first time I ran Sabino Canyon wasn't with full-force so I could see where I could access water and shade. The second time around went significantly better with the hills anticipation.

70.3 Training Update

70.3 Training Update

70.3 Training Update

Unfortunately I need to get fitted for my bike for the new year and as a result I haven't been riding too much. I did one 55mi ride last month, which is a medium distance for me, and my knee was in a lot of pain afterwards. Getting fitted will help with the pain and is a must for any cyclist or triathlete. In the meantime, I've just been doing the light 25mi rides before work. Cycling I have the endurance for but I need to pick up my speed. I look forward to pushing myself to new limits for the Ironman 70.3 Arizona!!


sig

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring Fling

Spring Fling

I would say "classic" best defines my personal style. I grew up watching classic movies with Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany's and Sabrina are my favorites!) and quickly incorporated timeless pieces into my wardrobe! Since I'm petite but have an athletic build, full skirts are my go-to to give the illusion of an accented waist.

For this spring fling look, I paired a crisp, J.Crew button-up with a neutral leather skirt from H&M, and tied a simple, black belt into a bow. I accessorized both my shoes and handbag with Kate Spade. The Kate Spade handbag is such a staple that I love to use on a regular basis. The black, leather pumps are perfect for spring because of the floral cut-outs. Following my classic style, I wore my favorite Ted Baker tortoise, cat-eye frames. My final touch included a little sparkle: a J.Crew statement necklace and BaubleBar earrings.

Spring Fling

Spring Fling

Spring Fling

Spring Fling

sig

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tucson Values Teachers Fundraiser

Tucson Values Teachers Fundraiser

Education is, and will always be, a top priority for me to support in my community. Growing up I struggled with a speech and learning disability, but thanks to my educators and specialists I was able to overcome those obstacles. Arizona is one of the states that leads the nation with the most legislative cuts in education, and these cuts are detrimental to the existence of programs that helped me.

Throughout college I volunteered with a few literacy nonprofits and gave my time since that was the most I could offer at the moment. I even went to the extent of establishing a literacy program at the Tucson Medical Center for Children. Now, I have a steady income and can help in new ways I could not afford to do previously.

Tucson Values Teachers Fundraiser

Tucson Values Teachers Fundraiser

Recently, Alex and I attended a fundraiser benefitting Tucson Values Teachers (TVT) at the Westin La Paloma. It was fantastic to see so many people in the Tucson community in attendance and making their pledges. For those of you who aren't familiar with TVT, it is a great nonprofit that directly supports educators with their supplies and additional costs that their salaries do not cover. TVT works to retain quality educators in Tucson, which is vital to the growth of today's youth.

Tucson Values Teachers Fundraiser

For the event, I went with a scalloped, black dress and paired it with my "Pigalle" Louboutin high-heels. I accessorized with gunmetal jewelry that Kendra Scott gifted me for Phoenix Fashion Week. The jewelry is incredibly versatile; I can wear it for a fundraiser or for a glamorous night out. Another reason I love the gunmetal is because it's trendy but also maintains my classic style.

Tucson Values Teachers Fundraiser

Tucson Values Teachers Fundraiser


sig

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Alli Gooch

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Alli Gooch

Alli only places her energy into something she is 100% passionate about, and anything below that doesn’t make the cut for the ambitious high school senior. This system is working out for the Phoenix-native considering she has not only had seven films screened at professional film festivals, but also walked down the runway during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) for three designers. Meet Warrior Woman Wednesday Alli Gooch!

Most recently, Alli had her video go viral where her friend asked Emma Stone to prom using the melody from La La Land's "Another Day of Sun." You can watch the the prom proposal video here in case you missed it on Good Morning America and the BBC.

"Watching the prom video go viral was SURREAL!" Alli exclaimed. "I had friends who were foreign exchange students in elementary and middle school, texting and messaging me how the video is all over the news in the countries they are from, and that's just insane."

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Alli Gooch

Alli's primary passions lie in films, computers and video games. Her film journey dates back to sixth grade when she founded a film production crew with kids in her neighborhood.

 “We would hold castings for actors, and host lemonade stands for funding,” Alli said. “Six years later, our same group is still making films and winning awards in film festivals against professionals.”

Her first taste of success started when she entered a pro-level film festival which ended up getting selected and presented. Out of the nine pro-level film festivals she's submitted to, seven have been screened.

"After studying movies and film for years, it was so cool to see a film I worked on up on the same screen as the pros," Alli said as she recalled her first screening.

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Alli Gooch

Alli transitioned her love of playing video games to designing them. She created multiple games, levels, and also 3D modeled countless objects. The experience helped her become a stronger film maker.

"Game design is all about leading the player visually through the course of the game and relaying a story and character arc, both which are huge parts of filmmaking," Alli said.

Around the same time, Alli was scouted at a 4th of July party and offered a contract with an agency in both Arizona and New York. At a younger age, scouts previously reached out to her but she politely declined since it wasn’t her original intention to be in front of the camera.


When the opportunity arose again, she decided to give it a try. Alli took on the new adventure which resulted in NYFW castings for Nicholas K, Marissa Webb and Banana Republic.

My time living in New York has helped me become even more independent, confident, and driven than ever before," Alli said.

Her three-season run has been memorable and also helped her obtain photography techniques to apply when she's not modeling. Alli vividly remembers her first show with NYFW and all the feelings that came along with her nerves.

"I was excited, scared, nervous, and ecstatic all at the same time, and the moment I walked onto the runway, all of the butterflies and angst flew out the door and I felt so confident," Alli smiled.

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Alli Gooch

A lot is happening for Alli over the upcoming months: in May, Alli will graduate from high school; and in August, she will attend Chapman University as a Film Production Major at their Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, a top-ranked film school. Admission to the private school is selective but Alli was one of 70 kids, 40 who are freshmen, accepted to the school.


"Don't let anyone or anything discourage you from pursuing something you are truly passionate about," Alli paused. "While at times, it is important to listen to what othe people have to say, anything is possible if you put in hard work and dedication."

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Alli Gooch

Q&A with Alli Gooch
1. What motivates you to succeed?
I pursue things I am extremely passionate about and my passion fuels my motivation. I really like to challenge myself because I feel that's the best way to learn and try new things.

2. Who inspires you? 
One of my biggest inspirations is Kathleen Kennedy. She has produced multiple films such as E.T., Jurassic Park, and both of the new Star Wars films. She is also the president of Lucasfilm and is a major advocate for recruiting women in the film industry. As a young woman aspiring to break into the film industry, I really look up to her and hope to achieve similar things some day.

3. Your biggest achievement? 
I would have to say that my biggest achievement thus far lies within my work as a filmmaker. As a freshman in highschool, I entered a pro-level film festival and ended up having my film screened at a theatre downtown. This was the beginning of a trend that is still yet to end today. So far in my career as a filmmaker, I have entered 8 film festivals, had my films screened at 7 of them, won awards for 3 of them, and won first place in one of them. I worked really hard on each and every one of the films I've produced, and each has brought its own challenges and hardships. However, the challenges each film brings are accompanied by valuable lessons and learning experiences that I would have never received had I been timid about producing the film in the first place. I'm really proud of these accomplishments and they push me to work towards bigger and bigger things everyday.

4. Goals for the future? 
In the future, I hope to be a professional Director or Director of Photography for both indie and blockbuster films. I love being behind the camera more than anything else and I find the concept of taking a written story and translating it to the screen fascinating. As a huge Star Wars fan, I secretly hope to be a part of the 'above-the-line' crew for one of the upcoming installments to the series.

5. What advice would you give to others? 
Do what you love and love what you do because your passion is the source of the purest and strongest motivation.

6. What do you do for fun? 
For fun, I experiment with different types of film. I've shot a lot of motion picture film on super8 and also taken stills on 35mm film with my friends. When I'm not filming or experimenting with film, I'm in front of the camera modelling. It's never something I aspired to do but it has become something I really enjoy. I've walked New York Fashion Week 3 times and loved every minute of it. The beautiful clothes, the chaos before the show, the angst and excitement the runway holds, its all addicting and I plan on going back for another Fashion Week sometime in the near future.

7. Favorite quote or Bible verse? 
"Do or do not, there is no try." --Yoda (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)


sig

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sparkle Runners

Sparkle Runners

On Saturday, the local Girls on the Run (GOTR) 5k took place and it was fantastic! Last year, I was a coach/mentor for the NYC chapter before I moved back to Arizona and the experience was unlike any other.

GOTR transforms both the girls and coaches. For those of you who aren't familiar with the program, GOTR is a 16-week program that not only prepares the girls to run a 5k, but also develops their character building skills. These skills feature topics like "Why is bullying bad?" to "What is inner beauty?"

When I moved back to AZ, I didn't immediately have a job and decided to wait to become a coach until I had more stability and a car. Anyways by the time I received my job offers, it was too late to be a coach.

I still wanted to be involved since the program had such a positive impact on me last year so I decided I would sign-up as a "sparkle runner!" A sparkle runner is a runner who is basically a running buddy for stray girls on the course. We are there to protect and encourage them during the 5k.

Sparkle Runners

Sparkle Runners

Sparkle Runners

Sparkle Runners

I invited members of my running club, A Happily Pink Journey, to volunteer with me and three agreed. Caitlin, Manny and Esteban completed their first 5k the day of this event and were incredibly happy! I found a girl running solo and decided to join her. We chatted about everything in those short three miles: church, music, family, fashion, cheer, sports, and most importantly, what we planned to eat after the run!



Sparkle Runners

Sparkle Runners

Sparkle Runners

One of my best friends, Kindle, was in town and decided to come out and volunteer with us. She kept the same running pace as Caitlin. During their run, Caitlin saw a girl fall because her shoes laces were tangled. She tied the shoes of the little girl and helped her back up. Kindle said it was the most heart-warming moment.

Esteban and Manny did a great job cheering on everyone, including my running buddy and I as we crossed the finish line. I high-fived my buddy as she was beaming with pride that she completed her first 5k ever! At the end of the race found her family and they congratulated her.

Sparkle Runners

I'm grateful to have such compassionate individuals in my running club. There was a unanimous vote to come back as sparkle runners or coaches next year– everyone couldn't stop talking about their experience with the girls! We can't wait until next year!!!


sig

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sabino Canyon: Hill Training

Sabino Canyon: Hill Training

During my most recent 1/2 marathon I realized I needed to incorporate hill running workouts like I did in Central Park when I lived in NYC. Thanks to a fellow Team Nuun member's recommendation, I tried out Sabino Canyon for the first time and I looooved it!

Sabino Canyon is incredibly beautiful and scenic. It offers a challenging hill workout which is about 3.8mi each way, so 7.6mi total. What I also loved about this run is just seeing everyone else getting their workouts in. Where I normally would run was on the Tucson Loop, which is pretty quiet aside from the cyclists who zoom by.

Also, I noticed the restroom spots also offered water stations which will be great for those 100+ degree days. Prior to my run, I drank my Nuun Hydration "Active" on the 40min car drive. I also brought one GU to use mid-run.

Sabino Canyon: Hill Training

Sabino Canyon: Hill Training

Sabino Canyon: Hill Training

Sabino Canyon: Hill Training

Sabino Canyon: Hill Training

Sabino Canyon: Hill Training

I felt pretty good after my run but when I got out of my car after the long drive, my legs felt like jello haha. As I'm writing this post, they feel much better now then they did stepping out of my car ha. My current pace, 8:45/mi, is much slower than my pace last year, 7:15/mi, but since I found a new place I really loved running... I feel my pace is going to get back down again. :)

I hope everyone had a great Sunday!!


sig