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The Two Week Wrap-Up

It's starting to feel a lot like Christmas around here! Despite the lack of snow in these parts, we decorated the apartment with some colorful lights and hung candy canes off of our twiggy plants; I wish we could get a real tree but apartment living makes that slightly difficult. Maybe next year we'll get a mini tree and some ornaments; for now, a few holiday touches work just fine.

We also changed the blog layout to match the season; the autumn layout was nice, but we're craving snow! The new header image was taken last week on the one day we saw some flurries in our courtyard... the bow on the lamp looks so surreal - but it's real, I swear! (Unlike our santa hats and mistletoe) We had a very temporary layout up in-between too, if anyone caught it... it had squirrels and an American flag as part of the header... but it wasn't well liked by everyone ;) and it was only intended to be temporary until we could get some decent snow pictures for a new header anyway. So enjoy the new layout while the holidays last - because you know I'll be changing my mind about it soon enough anyway.

My parents' house is looking festive too- despite the lack of children around there this year, they still did a good job decorating the tree. And they had a fire going strong in the fireplace when we went over there for dinner last week, nothing beats that. We'll be going over there again for Christmas day, so maybe then I can snap a few pictures of the tree in some daylight! I love my mom's ornaments - they're from all over the world and mostly handmade - she has quite the collection. Our christmas tree decorations have certainly evolved over the years, but it always has a few special memory-filled ornaments hidden amongst its' branches.

The other reason we like visiting my parents this time of year is because the dogs are in full-furry mode! And yes, I realize there's only one dog in the photo above, but that's because Luna is elusive and any picture of her inevitably ends up blurred. Kusko smiles like a champ though.

Speaking of dogs, I sold my first bags of dog treats last week too! I also made some business cards and bought the domain because the adress wasn't a very professional url. I also created a little button link to it for it's in the sidebar after the archives - check it out!

We also bought and received a few new things these past few weeks... a trip to IKEA yielded an interesting purchase - a cart for my baking supplies! It's on wheels and has three drawers that conveniently fit almost all of my baking ingredients and supplies. Shawn took out a shelf in the pantry so that the cart now conveniently wheels right underneath and out of the way.

One more new thing - my friend Alina sent us a waffle maker! Awesome! Of course we had to test it out the day we got it; I made my go-to waffle recipe (made with whipped egg whites - it makes the lightest, fluffiest waffles!) but I forgot just how much the recipe yields and it ended up making way too many waffles... so we ate a few with a little maple syrup and wrapped the rest up for another morning. I can't wait to try some different waffle recipes now that we have our very own waffle maker!

And now for the food portion of my post, since I know that's what you've been waiting for. First things first, Shawn's savory touch: baked fries (purple, red, and yellow potatoes boiled, then sliced and coated in olive oil and herbs and baked until crispy) and a side of crunchy but juicy pan-fried chicken.

I tried my hand at linzer cookies this week, strawberry-lemon linzer cookies to be exact. Pretty, but they need some more work - no linzer cookies on the holiday cookie list this year. And I've further perfected my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe! I was puzzled because the ones I bake at work in the convection oven turn out much flatter and crinkled than the ones I make in my oven... then it hit me - the convection oven bakes things much faster than my non-convection oven, so I usually adjust for the that by baking things at a lower temperature at work. But I never adjusted the temperature for the chocolate chip cookie recipe, so all this time I've been baking them at a higher temperature than intended. So I baked off a batch of chocolate chip cookies at home at 325 degrees instead of the usual 300 degrees and low and behold - they came out flatter and more crinkled, just like the ones at work! Note: Sometimes mistakes are happy little fixings.

Lemon is my favorite ingredient right now, but I'm not exactly sure why I'm on a citrus kick. I've been putting lemon in almost all of my baked goods at work and I'm really craving a nice tart lemonade. So last week when Shawn requested a 'lemon something' (yes, those words exactly) I made him choose between a lemon tart or a glazed lemon loaf, and he thankfully chose the loaf. (I really wasn't feeling up for making pastry dough and lemon curd.) Yes, thankfully he chose the loaf, although I'm not sure how thankful I really am because this particular lemon loaf is so moist, so delicate, so sweetly freaking-delicous, that I just can't have enough of it. I want an endless supply of this loaf and I want to share it with everyone! I am seriously considering nixing the holiday cookies this year and just making a lemon loaf for everyone... it's just that delicious.

There was something else I made recently that also had Shawn and I drooling and endlessly reaching for more... Fleur de Sel Caramels. Now, neither Shawn nor I are big fans of soft or hard caramels, but let me tell you a little secret... nothing beats homemade caramels. Most caramels are bland and hard but these are soft but not sticky and you can flavor them however you want! I put a little vanilla extract in these and a lot of sea salt. The salty-sweet combination is what makes them so irresistible.

One more thing and then I'm done writing, I swear! We made our own garlic bread - homemade whole wheat bread and everything! I'll post a recipe soon, but for now pictures must suffice.

Don't forget that you can see more photos on our Flickr!



    I don't know what to compliment first! ADD.

    However, lets start with the layout! It's awesome. I love the Christmas feel and the fact that you change this place up all the time, it's fresh!

    Secondly, congratulations the first sale!!! That is always a special thing :). Next, lets talk about all the mouth watering food photos! Dear lawd! Great to see you enjoying the waffle maker!!! Happy to know that it's in great hands :D
    Interestingly enough, I bought some purple potatoes at Wegmans today, wonder how they would taste, the ones in your pic look fantastic! I think Shawn has some awesome baking skills too!

    And now, linzer cookies - mmmmmmmmmmmmm one of my favorites! The lemon loaf looks AMAZING too. I love lemony things! And those caramel taffy's must be straight out of a magazine or something?

    And finally the garlic bread? You guys are killing me, killing me in my own puddle of drool (yes, very graphic).

    OVERALL - I am in love with this post because it encompasses all that is awesome.

  2. Aw, Alina, I'm just glad you're as super excited about all this stuff as we are!! Awesome!


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