October 24, 2017

Weekend Recap: Checking Off the Lists

This weekend was far too short! Although I normally get home late on Thursday nights, this week I didn’t get back to Denver until Friday at noon. I went home from the airport, but was only there for one hour (and on calls the whole time), so I didn’t really have time to settle in before I had to head to the office for some in-person meetings.

After work, I went to Champa House for my weekly mentoring (which I’m loving), and then headed over to LoHi for dinner. 5280 Magazine just published their 2017 list of best restaurants, and I’ve started working my way through it for fun. Friday’s choice: Bar Dough, known for their squid ink tagliariani. We started with the pistachio pesto brussel sprouts (to die for), then enjoyed the spicy speck and calabrese pizza (awesome), and finished with half portions of the pappardelle fungi (pretty good) and aforementioned tagliarini (incredible). Overall, I was incredibly impressed – and just disappointed I hadn’t thought to take pictures of the beautiful dishes. Next time!

Saturday was pretty quiet during the day, but after I finished running a bunch of errands, I invited Amanda over for some general hanging out and checking off another item on my fall bucket list: baking pumpkin bread! We had a great time catching up, and I realized that baking with a friend is actually a great way to keep chatting but still be knocking something off my to-do list. I was baking the pumpkin bread to take to my friend Elizabeth’s football party on Sunday, and I made this recipe. In my opinion, it came out decent, but not phenomenal; I’d probably try something different next time. Any pumpkin bread recipes you love / recommend?

After Amanda left, I cooked a light dinner at home, then headed out to meet a group of friends for another item on my bucket list: City of the Dead! I haven’t been to a haunted house since I was about 8 years old, and back then, it was a $5 version the school put together with bowls of peeled grapes and spaghetti you stuck your hand into to feel like eyeballs and worms 🙂 City of the Dead was certainly more expensive ($35), but also a lot more intense!

I really had no idea what to expect going into it. I mean, I knew it was all fake – so how scary could a haunted house really be? But City of the Dead still managed to surprise me with both the ambience and the anticipation. My group insisted on me being in the front (as the haunted house virgin), and my steps were definitely a little tentative as I walked into new spaces, not knowing what was coming. There were a few times where I could see a seam in the wall and knew that it was a door where someone would pop out… but it still made me jump and scream when the inevitable zombie did suddenly appear and get in my face! (My throat was sore on Sunday morning from the screaming.)

My friends weren’t very impressed with City of the Dead, and said that The Thirteenth Floor was much better – but unfortunately, I’m not in Denver any more nights between now and Halloween. Next year! In the meantime, we enjoyed the free arcade at the end of the haunted house, where they had tons of classic games that didn’t require any coins (e.g., Pacman ,Whack a Mole, and a hoops shooting game). And when we ventured a little further toward the exit, we found classic games with a twist. My friend Kristin and I did a hoops shooting game where you had to make a basket from about 15 feet away, but the “balls” were plastic severed heads. And while I thought I was going to totally embarrass myself with my lack of hand eye coordination, I somehow made the basket on the very first try! I was pretty psyched.

They also had this awesome life-sized game of Operation that was pretty impressive.

I got to bed early on Saturday, which was a good thing given the packed Sunday that I had. My friend Sarah was throwing a bachelorette party for our friend Amber, who’s getting married this Friday, and I was responsible for making the cake. Amber had requested red velvet, and I decided to try to be Pinterest-y and make this wedding dress cupcake pull apart. I hohped it wouldn’t be a complete fail!

I had never done fancy piped frosting on cupcakes before – I’ve always just gotten the canned frosting from the store and spread it flat across the top. It seemed like a pastry bag would require fluffier frosting than what you get in a can, so I decided to try making my own buttercream frosting using this recipe.

Since I was going all out with the frosting, I made the cupcakes from a boxed mix – it saved a little bit of time and I don’t think took anything away from the finished product. While those were baking, I whipped up the buttercream frosting.

Pro tip: if you put a clean kitchen towel over your mixer, the powdered sugar will stay contained while you’re trying to get it to incorporate with the butter.

The frosting actually came together really easily, and the ingredient list was certainly simple enough – definitely something I’d make on my own in the future rather than buying it. However, I had no idea until making it just how unhealthy buttercream frosting is: it’s literally just butter and sugar. So when that’s liberally tufted onto a cupcake, you’re basically eating a quarter stick of butter! Oops.


I made the frosting ahead of time, but didn’t frost the cupcakes until I got to Sarah’s house. I covered a cutting board with tin foil to be the base, then laid all my cupcakes out in the pattern of a wedding dress. So far, so good. Then, it was time to pull out my brand new pastry bag and get started icing.

I made a complete mess of things, as I didn’t understand proper technique for filling / using a pastry bag. Pro tip: fold the side of the bag halfway down, then add your blobs of frosting until it’s only about half full, and then roll it back up. That is a lot easier than just trying to scoop it into the bag and then get the air bubbles out and get the frosting down to the bottom, like I was trying to do! I found this helpful guide from The Kitchn when I looked up tips afterward… though their way doesn’t end up with your hands all covered in frosting that you’ll (sigh) just have to lick off. So really, it’s a toss up which method you use.

Since I was new to decorating cakes, I also wasn’t that great at making the roses at the beginning, but I got the hang of it as I went, and was able to go back and fix some of the early cupcakes. And in the end, I think they came out looking pretty nice!

I think the dress looked better before I sprayed it with the silver dust I had also found at the grocery store… but the silver did make them look fancy. Overall, I was pretty happy with the end result! NOT a Pinterest fail, in my opinion.

And overall, Amber’s shower was fabulous. Sarah did an incredible job cooking, organizing, and decorating up a storm, and we all had an absolute blast sipping mimosas, playing games, and laughing about all kinds of stuff. I was really impressed how Sarah had a really detailed checklist of tasks for the party, and she had labels on all the plates for what foods went where when they were done cooking. A woman after my own heart! But her party was much more Instagrammable than mine usually are 🙂

A make-your-own mimosa bar kept us destressed from the second guests started arriving 😉
Sarah, Amber, and I posing for a post-shower pic 🙂

I stuck around after the shower officially ended to catch up for a while with Amber and Sarah, but then I had to jet back up north for my friend Elizabeth’s Broncos watch party! I have to admit, I was a lot more focused on catching up with my friends than watching the game, but I still think the few minutes I was paying attention to the game (ugh, sorry for the loss, Broncos) still counts as me watching football, which I also had on my fall bucket list 🙂

All in all, it was a packed weekend, and I’m thrilled I was able to see so many friends and also check off so much on my fall bucket list! I’m not going to be home at all for a few weeks thanks to work travel, a half marathon trip, and a bachelorette party, so it was great to pack a lot into this weekend. And, I’m now excited about all the fun adventures I have coming up in the next two weeks! Stay tuned.


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