TECHPOINT’S MIRA AWARDS + DRESS FAIL + GO APE + THE BEST ARTICHOKE DIP EVER

This past weekend was truly unforgettable. On Saturday I attended Techpoint’s Mira Awards to honor Denver. The Mira Awards celebrate Indiana’s tech community and acknowledges the amazing achievements of the individuals, startups, and companies making a difference in Indiana and around the world. I had two friends nominated for awards and Denver was named the Community Champion of the Year, which celebrates someone that has “championed the advancement of Indiana’s tech community.” In addition, The Denver Hutt Legacy Fund/The Speak Easy Internship was established in her name. I had a whirlwind of emotions as I sat there staring up at the photo of Denver on the large screen at the Westin. Denver’s partner in crime, Tom, accepted the award on behalf of the Hutt family and I realized how lucky I was to have my own partner in crime as my date that night.

I never wear make-up, but my multi-talented friend Lindsay used her skills on me and did my hair and make-up. That said, I had eyeliner on for only the second time in my life (the first was in London and I acted like I was on drugs as we rode the tube and I kept opening my eyeballs wide), so I was very aware of not letting myself cry. Besides, Denver would not have wanted me to. I let the tears well up in my eyes, blew my nose and reminded myself of how lucky I was to have eleven amazing years with Denver Allison Hutt.

Here’s the part where the three or so men that read my blog will lose interest. I am about to drop a truth bomb on y’all, but I think it is important for the ladies out there to read: my dress wouldn’t zip up all the way. I will spare you the ‘I felt so fat’ comment because honestly, I didn’t feel that way at all. I had hang ups about wearing a ballgown I’ve worn to past events because of memories associated with them, which I’ll be the first to admit is silly. I ended up treating myself to a new dress not because of association, but because the Mira Awards and celebrating Denver is about the future. I lusted after this Jill Stuart deep v-neck gown at Saks, googled endlessly and scored it for $55. That’s how it’s done, my friends.

While the dress is a small size, you can imagine my disappointment when I couldn’t zip up the last inch of the zipper all the way up in the back. All I could do was laugh. I sat perched on my bathroom counter looking back into the mirror and thought, ‘look at that badass, toned back.’ I may weigh a few pounds more than I did a year ago, but now I see a strong person, both mentally and physically. I think about Denver during every class I take at Invoke. My body might be sore, but I can always push through temporary pain. She was a fighter and the strongest person I have ever met. So, here’s to not letting society dictate who you are as a person. Screw you, Jill Stuart for your messed up sizing, but thank you for making me feel beautiful on a very special night. Mama Simmons came to the rescue with a custom bow sash, making the dress a Libby original.

I have zero hair skills, but I found a photo of a celebrity with a braid wrapped bun and Lindsay worked her magic. I was in love with the result!

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What the men did while I got my hair done. Winston’s new favorite pastime is making friends at Sunking. “More Weemac, please.”

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My handsome date

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Hoosier native Jon McLaughlin provided the music during the three dinner courses and he did a cover of Elton Johns’ Tiny Dancer, which I shamelessly sang along to.

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I could not be prouder of my BFF, Lauren Petersen! She worked tirelessly to make the Mira Awards a success and she did an amazing job as the official award presenter.

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On Sunday I finally experienced Go Ape. My mom gave me a Kate Spade purse for Easter and I need another purse just as much as I want to be slapped, so I asked if I could exchange it for adventure money. She agreed and I booked two tickets to Go Ape! Prepare yourself for a zip-lining, rope climbing, Tarzan howling adventure. There was minimal instruction and the seven Go Ape team members looked like they were in high school or maybe I’m just getting old. The harness system is color coded and as long as you are attached to SOMETHING at all times, you’re less likely to die. Denver did Go Ape a few years ago and it has been on my bucket list ever since.

Lucky for me, my boyfriend is all about adventure and the more extreme, the better. He was the perfect sidekick for the day and I can always count on him to challenge me. Sometimes I need a little push, literally pushed. The course takes about two hours and was $110 for the two of us. Eagle Creek is the perfect spot to take in some amazing views and spend some time amongst the trees.

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Now onto the recipe: It seems appropriate to follow my dress fail story with a recipe for a mayo/cream cheese based dip! This artichoke dip is courtesy of my friend Lauren’s mom and we had it at Denver’s birthday party a few weeks ago. Lauren is an incredible person and I am so glad I was able to meet her through Denver. We will always share a special bond of being with her those last few days in January.

This dip is not your run of the mill artichoke dip that you order for an appetizer. I knew I had to have the recipe after I tasted it and I could have easily eaten the whole casserole dish – forget the chips.

2 – 14 oz cans of artichoke hearts, drained
2 – 4.5 oz cans tiny deveined shrimp, drained
1 – 8 oz package of cream cheese
½ cup salsa
½ cup mayo
¼ cup parm

Pre-heat oven to 350. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and bake for 20-30 minutes. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

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