I turned 30. I got belugas!

I turned 30 this year. Most of my other friends that have hit this milestone have celebrated in some monumental way, like going to Las Vegas or partying somewhere with sashes and tiaras. As much as I wanted something big to represent this “new stage” of my life, I’m not much for crazy parties like that anymore.

Then I remembered that a few months prior, Thom and I discovered that the Mystic Aquarium not only has beluga whales, but they also offered beluga encounters! So back in April when we were figuring out my birthday, we had decided that that was what we would do. I mean, who doesn’t love belugas?!

My birthday was in May and we did a small celebration then that involved surprise cannolis. We had a very busy summer schedule between work, school, and gigs. We decided to plan the beluga trip for the fall when we had the time for it, and so we could save up money to go.

We finally went this month and it was unbelievable! We had a short lesson on belugas (we were in a small group of 6 people plus a trainer) and then we were into the water! The whole experience lasted an hour and it was better than I could have imagined. We learned so much about belugas and are now the resident experts on the animals.

Thom says that my face was hilarious the entire time as I was so ecstatic for the whales.

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The whales were very sweet and friendly.

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They love showing off their tricks!

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They loved having visitors in their tank!

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They’re just big goof balls! They were so silly the entire time. I just wanted to take them home with me!

If you live near Connecticut, I’d totally recommend the beluga encounter at the Mystic Aquarium. It costs $40 to enter the aquarium, $165 for the encounter (which includes a free photo), and then $85 for a cd with all of the photos (we had tons more!). It is worth every penny and I’ll do it again in a heart beat!

Blue Toms

I love shoes. A lot. As I’m female, I guess that’s not really a shocker. However, I’m not really into heels and such. I have a hard time walking in heels, so I don’t find them as fun to collect. Sneakers and slip ons, on the other hand, are my jam.

For my birthday this year, my wonderful bear friend bought me an awesome pair of Toms. He remembered me pointing out some girl’s shoes on the train one day, saying that I liked them. Hers were black, which he was going to buy, until he saw these bright cobalt blue ones. He thought they looked cooler and I just love them.

Toms from Thom

Toms from Thom

I really do love these shoes. Sometimes, they’re a little tough to pair with clothing, but I like the challenge. I go out of my way to create outfits that go with these shoes. They’re also super comfortable and lightweight (as most Toms are, naturally) and I love slipping them on for work.

What’s your favorite pair of shoes?

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

I really hate when I’m reading blogs for a recipe and the author writes a gazillion paragraphs about the recipe. Just give me the food! I promise to keep this short.

As I mentioned before, Thom’s birthday was last week. He’s a fiend for mint and chocolate, so I decided to hunt down a recipe for mint chocolate chip cupcakes. I found a promising recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. They turned out FANTASTIC! The frosting, due to the heavy cream I imagine, tastes just like mint chocolate chip ice cream. The cupcakes themselves weren’t overly chocolate. They were just perfect.

I thought I’d pass the recipe along to you! I’ll add notes where I put in my own flair.

Yum!!

Yum!!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes: 

  • 1 cup (240ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (42g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (167g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3-4 cups (360-480g) powdered (confectioners’) sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) heavy cream*
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (or more, see recipe instructions)
  • 2 drops green food dye
  • pinch of salt, as needed
  • 2/3 cup (120g) mini chocolate chips

Make the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line 14 muffin cups with liners. Note: I like to spray the muffin tin and the cups with baking spray to prevent any sticking.

Over high heat, bowl the water in a small saucepan. Pour the unsweetened cocoa powder into a medium sized bowl and mix with boiling water until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature by placing in the refrigerator as you prepare the other ingredients.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric hand or stand mixer, cream the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat only until *just* combined. In a steady stream, add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.

Fill each muffin tin 3/4 of the way full with batter. Bake for 15-19 minutes, keeping an eye on them to avoid even the slightest burning (which will lend dry cupcakes). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool before frosting.

Make the frosting:

Beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric mixer. Beat for about 30-60 seconds until smooth and creamy. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar, cream, peppermint extract, and food coloring. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin (up to 4 cups) or more cream if mixture is too thick. Add salt if the frosting is too sweet. You may also add more food coloring if desired or more peppermint extract if it is not minty enough (I added a LOT more peppermint). Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Frost cooled cupcakes. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake. Makes 14 cupcakes. Cupcakes taste best the day of or 1 day after they are made.  Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Date Night Adventure

I am always down for a random roadtrip or a new adventure. Luckily, my boyfriend is the same. It’s also his birthday (hooray!) and because we’re basically children, we hit up the brand new Lego Land Discovery Center for Adult Night last night!

LEGO LAND!

LEGO LAND!

Basically, Adult Night tickets get you access into Lego Land (no children allowed!) and you can play with the Legos, see a 4D movie, go on the rides, and win prizes all while drinking booze. It’s sweet.

But first, let's take a selfie!

But first, let’s take a selfie!

For those of you who don’t know, I live in Boston, which is pretty much my favorite city in the whole world. You can imagine my excitement I had when the first room we walked into was all Lego creations of Boston landmarks!

Zakim Bridge!

Zakim Bridge!

Prudential Center, Hancock Tower, and City Hall!

Prudential Center, Hancock Tower, and City Hall!

Fenway Park!

Fenway Park!

Thom and I both work at Fenway Park, so it was neat to see the Lego Fenway (for me at least). It even had a little Lego Ted Williams statue!

The whole night was a blast. We played with a lot of Legos, made a cool Lego clown (it was a Carnival themed night), and went on a sweet ride to save a princess. We take princess rescues very seriously, as you’ll see below.

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If you get the chance, I totally suggest hitting up an Adult Night at Lego Land. I’m sure the place is fun when you have kids there, too, but it was awesome to just hang out and not worry about small children at your feet. Also, we got to keep the Legos to ourselves.