Wednesday, December 26

Christmas Festivities

This year we didn't have to travel far for Christmas - we had it at the house and made everyone come to us! I wasn't on the computer at all yesterday, but I did think to snap a few photos throughout the day.
Here's a little Christmas recap:



It snowed on Christmas Eve! The snow didn't stick around for long but it was so nice to watch it fall; it certainly put us in a jolly mood. I also couldn't help but shoot a few photos of my new dress courtesy of my grandmother. I thought this photo showed off some our Christmas decorations and all the gifts piled under the tree splendidly. There's also a cat hiding in the corner there.




Shawn's mom brought over a pretty bouquet for the table. I love that there's a pinecone and twigs in there! And those messy looking cookies are my first attempt at rugelach. I used the recipe for chocolate raspberry rugelach in my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Shawn was ecstatic - he loves rugelach!




This year, we hosted Christmas dinner! Actually, in our case it was Christmas lunch. Shawn's mother, brother & fiance came over and everyone made a little something for nommin' and then we all exchanged gifts. This was the first year I didn't get to see my family for Christmas! :( My sister and her boyfriend came over later in the day to exchange gifts, but it's just not the same. We still had a great meal though, and it was the first time we felt as though we made Christmas 'our own'. Here's to the start of our own traditions and celebrations!




Speaking of traditions, it's not Christmas without a buche de noel and some champagne.
Shawn felt the need to photo-bomb all the pictures I tried to take of the buche. This year I wasn't ambitious enough to make it myself, so I got a small one from work. It's chocolate cake, filled with chocolate mousse, and topped with chocolate ganache and various sugar decorations. I think it looked so pretty!




This is the only picture I took of my gifts; these are all from Shawn. It really helps to make a wish list because you end up getting lots of things that you want! ;) My brother also got me the adorable succulent tea lights from my list, and my sister got me an awesome wooden-looking owl candle and a cookie cookbook. Shawn's mom got me a really pretty sweater and his brother got us some sweet popcorn snacks and a cactus. Actually, we got a lot of snacks from friends this year... I wonder what that says about us. We got so many thoughtful amazing gifts this year, I am so grateful! And I'm even happier about the fact that everyone else enjoyed the gifts that were given to them - I think I may like giving gifts even better than receiving them :)


Merry Christmas to all who celebrate - I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!


Wednesday, December 19

Currently

The last few weeks I've been kept busy with last minute gift shopping, long and busy work days, and trying to get enough sleep to get through it all. I did the majority of my gift buying online this year, because going out to stores once was enough to remind me that I don't want to be anywhere near people or retail establishments this time of year. I'd say I've been pretty successful in keeping my sanity, despite 9+ hour work days, not-quite healthy eating habits, and other peoples' insanity.


The highlight of this past weekend was getting to meet Deb Perelman of the food blog Smitten Kitchen. I've been following her blog for over five years! She recently put out her first cookbook, with all new recipes, and I saw that one of the stops on her book tour was our local Barnes & Noble. The signing was on a Sunday though, and I usually work Sundays so I didn't think I'd be able to make it. Imagine my surprise upon looking at my calendar and realizing that her book signing was on Sunday, and as luck would have it, I happened to have the day off! So I trekked on down to Barnes & Noble and waited in line with dozens of other people, all of us clutching our copies of her book. She was so nice and all smiles, and she actually wrote down the name of the bakery where I work and seemed genuinely interested in stopping in at some point. Now I only wish I could have made it to one of the Young House Love book signings when they were in the area... damn you, Hurricane Sandy!


I've seen a lot of these "Currently..." lists on blogs these past few months, and since I don't have much else to say, I figured I'd do my own. So here are some currents in my life lately:

Watching: We just finished the latest season of Psych and have also been working our way through the latest season of How I Met Your Mother. On my own time, I've been re-watching the many seasons of Malcolm in the Middle. I love Netflix.

Listening: Shawn switched up all of the CDs in the car so I've been hearing a lot of Don Henley, Bon Jovi, Santana, and Blues Traveler lately. And at home I've been turning on the Supertramp station on Pandora.

Reading: This category actually deserves its own post - I've read 16(!) books this year and I so want to talk about all of them. Right now though, I just started reading Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. It's a memoir of her time in a woman's prison. Not what you'd expect!

Offline: I've mostly been wrapping gifts and sleeping. I can't seem to get enough sleep these days - I go to bed at 8:30/9pm lately! But, I do wake up at 5:30am most days, and don't sleep past 6:30am on my days off, so I guess it's only natural to be dozing off early. I can't wait until the holiday season is over... I love my job, but I could sure use a break after these past two months.

Wednesday, December 5

Mo's 2012 Gift Guide / Wishlist

While I've been busy thinking of gifts for others, a few people have asked me what I would like for Christmas this year. So, for all my family and friends, here is a list of things that I would really enjoy seeing under the tree. I'm also calling this a gift guide because I'm sure there are other people you know out there who would also appreciate some of these things. You can thank me later ;)





1. Whimsey Box: a monthly subscription that arrives in your mailbox full of DIY projects.
2. Succulent Tea Lights: even easier than taking care of succulents, and still adorable!
3. Nuts About Entertaining Shaker: squirrels, nuts, and shakers- enough said.
4. Make Your Own Kaleidoscope Set: THIS IS SO COOL.
5. Trunks Full of Taste Shaker: adorable loving elephant salt and pepper shaker set.
6. Two Toned Square Earrings: I'm diggin' the color blocking going on here.
7. Stardust Earrings: they look like the universe! A really tiny wearable universe.
8. Triangle Earrings: tiny triangles for my ears!
9. Elephant iPhone Case: I like switching up my iPhone case, and this elephant one is really neat.
10. Blue Moon Clock: it's been far too long since I got a new clock!
11. Vinyl Record Wall Clock: a clock carved out of a vinyl record? Awesome!
12. DavidsTea Caffeine-Free Sampler: I am always on the look-out for good decaf teas.
13. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz T-Shirt: classic book covers t-shirts for bookworms like me.
14. Anthropologie's Tonalities Boatneck: I love striped shirts.
15. Anthropologie's Banter Tee: bunnies!!!
16. Anthropologie's Here & There Tee: foxes and some rad colors- adorable!


A few more things that I didn't think to include when I made the nifty graphics list...
The Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs Pop-Up Book: I've been wanting this for years. YEARS, people.
This dress from Shade looks so comfortable.
This bikini from Shade as well, even though it's not the season for it at all!
This ring and this ring in a size 8, please!
This iPhone tripod: I would get so much use out of this!

Monday, December 3

Decking the tree

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas around here!








We picked out a some ornaments at Michael's today - a few different colored globes and some birds - the tree doesn't look quite as barren anymore! Shawn also hung some lights up in the living room. And I filled an advent calendar with Hershey's chocolates and mini Reese's. It's also the perfect time of year for hot chocolate, which Shawn and I call 'our drink' because we first met over hot chocolate... but that's a story for another time. Enjoy the gratuitous cat photo!

Saturday, December 1

Happy December!

I can't believe it's December already! This year has really been progressing incredibly quickly... and the holidays always seem to speed up the process too. I've been so busy working overtime these last few weeks that I barely even got a glimpse of November. December is one of my favorite months though; I get so giddy about the holidays! I could do without the bombardment of Christmas music e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e, but I love the decorations and I really do believe most people are in better spirits this time of year too.

But back to November for just a moment. We celebrated Thanksgiving at Shawn's grandparents' house this year. Even though we've known each other for eight years and counting, it was my first time ever meeting any of his family, other than his mother and brother. Actually, he's never met any of my extended family either! (But I have an excuse... none of them live in this country.) Shawn's family was nice though, and his grandmother cooked up quite the feast. I went back for seconds of everything, but the stuffing was particularly delicious. And I must have impressed her too because apparently she's very picky when it comes to food, yet she had four (yes, FOUR!) pieces of the cornbread that I made for the occasion. Remind me to post the recipe for my amazing grandmother-approved cornbread one of these days!

I have no photos from Thanksgiving, but here's a taste of the last two weeks of November...



1. One of our staples: sausage, peppers, and onion.
2. I can't find Sour Punch Straws around here so my friend brought some back from Ohio for me.
3. Another staple: chicken, broccoli, and mashed potatoes.
4. Roasted zucchini, tomato, onion, and cheddar quiche!
5. Breakfast wraps... both of those were for me the monster in my belly.
6. Snow! Not our first one of the season, but snow nonetheless.



The most exciting thing to happen recently though is we got our very first Christmas tree!




Look at the size of that thing! I'm 5'6", if that gives you any perspective.





We don't have many ornaments though, so just some lights will have to do for now. My mother left some of her older ornaments behind, so we do have a few on there, but not nearly enough for the size of it. I guess we're going to have to buy some of our own this year!

I'm so excited for Christmas! I really love giving gifts. Even more than I like getting them :)




P.S. You can tell how excited I am because I use so! many! exclamation! points! in! this! post!

Wednesday, November 21

What we've been up to

Hello! Well, stranger, it sure has been a while...

Lets see - last I left off here we were looking at a bright and brand new October. Well, now that has come and gone and we find ourselves in the midst of blustery November; the day before Thanksgiving, none the less! (Side note: the letter U is located right next to the letter I on the keyboard and I originally typed 'blistery', which isn't a word but it would give a whole new perspective to what I was originally trying to say... so, to clarify, November was not painful and swollen, but has been rather windy and, well, blustery. Man, this was a long side note.)

So, if you don't mind, let me take you back a few weeks.





In October we celebrated two birthdays, my mother's and my own! The tart is what I made for my mom's birthday (It's pear frangipane, if you were wondering). She and my dad came to visit for a week between our birthdays, so we had a joint celebration. I turned 25 this year! A quarter of a century- that's a pretty big milestone, don't you think? When I consider that it has been 7 years since I graduated high school and I've been working with/along-side coffee for over 9 years... it makes me feel a little old. Old, but seasoned. I can't wait to turn 30; people will take me more seriously then! At least, I like to think so.

Oh, the sushi dinner is what I had for my birthday. I share October 22nd with my friend Elyse and I think this was the first year we've been able to celebrate together! She invited a few of her friends to an all-you-can-eat sushi place and we ate-all-that-we-could. Apparently, I can't eat as much as I think I can.








The weekend after my birthday, Shawn and I drove up Villa Roma Resort in the Catskills region of New York. My parents were kind enough to let us use their timeshare points this year so we opted to take a mini-vacation not too far from home. The drive up was creepy - we left at around 6pm Sunday night and with Hurricane Sandy on the way it was super windy that night. Add on the fact that the majority of the dark roads contained spaced-out farm houses with seemingly no one at home, and you've got Walking Dead creepy status right there, minus the zombies of course.

We were easily the youngest people at the resort, except for a few of the staff. But the apartment was great and there was a small bowling alley on site! I expected to do some hiking but the weather ended up being bitterly cold and lightly drizzling the entire time we were there. Instead we stayed indoors watched Food Network and ventured out to the bar in the main area for some drinks on a few occasions. The bartender we met on the second day liked us. If I recall correctly, after a half hour of chatting with us she concluded, "You guys are weird. But in a good way.". She made me a damn good Tom Collins cocktail.

Thankfully, Hurricane Sandy spared us any serious damage at the house. When we drove back that Thursday afternoon we found close to a dozen uprooted trees in our front yard, and one fallen one in the back yard that narrowly missed both the house and the pool. We were left without power for 10 days, but luckily Shawn's mom got power back before us and we were able to stay with her for a few days. It was like an extended vacation, except it was dark and cold for part of it.




With Thanksgiving on the way, we've been exceedingly busy at work. I am now in charge of all things tart related, so I've spent the last 5 days in Tart Land. I think I made close to 400 tart shells of different sizes and all the fillings for them too. Please, if you see me over the next few weeks, don't ask me if I'd like to try any tarts... I'll be doing it all again for Christmas! After the holidays, maybe we can talk.

So that's been it! If you made it all the way down here then high-five! I've been particularly wordy lately, don't mind me.

Wednesday, October 3

A few weeks ago...

We went to visit some friends in Philadelphia for a day.



Got a beautiful cappuccino.




And a hand-poured coffee.






The weekend before that some friends and I went to a wine tasting at Cava Winery & Vineyards. The Groupon we had was only good for the fruit-infused wines, but there were a couple of good ones, and it came with a cheese plate too.


This is a proper cheese plate though...





And some photos from even earlier in the month. I've been slackin' on the updates around here.




The weeds on the deck are getting a little out of hand, wouldn't you say?




I was taking pictures of my homemade pickles and caught this guy acting crazy in the background.




Can you spot the spy in this photo?


September was a pretty fun month. There's more in store for October though; I'm excited!


Saturday, September 8

NY Renaissance Faire

On Labor Day we went to the NY Renaissance Faire with our friends Christine and Sean. (Yes, the resemblance is uncanny, and believe me, it's more than just the names.) They've been there every year for the last few years, but it was our first time ever going, and it was so much more fun than I think either one of us expected it to be!

Highlights of the day included:
- Turkey legs, boar sandwiches, chocolate covered bacon, and cheesecake on a stick.
- So. Much. Booze. Except for me, of course- I volunteered to be the designated driver.
- Eight straight hours of walking around and getting our feet dusty.
- Shawn got many comments about his 'shiny shirt'.
- Lots of hat buying. On Shawn's end. See below.
- Acrobats throwing fire. And swallowing it.
- A bevy of super-old cars on the drive up.
- Archery; I hit the center of the target on my first try, and was the only one to do so.
- Funny conversations with people in costume who were not actually working for the faire.
- Lots of very cool, very expensive, artisan crafts.
- So so so so much more. You'll just have to check it out for yourself!

(Hint: You can click on the photos to see them full-size!)

Next year, we are so going back, but in costume!

Wednesday, August 29

A Peek Into My Work Week

I haven't shown you much of what I do at work these days... my time is split between helping customers in the front and lending a hand in the kitchen. I really enjoy the balance of doing both, but recently I've been spending more of my time in the kitchen and I really don't mind that at all. Here's a peek at some of the things that I've made lately.


vanilla bean macaroons



pear frangipane tart



rustic apricot tart



chocolate mice



individual tarts of all kinds


...Are you salivating yet? :)


P.S. I posted my favorite waffle recipe over at Between Three Kitchens!

Saturday, August 25

Triumph Brewing Company

A few Sundays ago we visited Riverhorse Brewery in Lancaster, NJ, then crossed over the river and had dinner at Triumph Brewing Company in New Hope, PA. The brewery tour was neat, albeit short and sweet - their brewery is so much smaller than I was expecting! The whole tour lasted about 20 minutes and although they have a bar with all of their beers on tap inside the same building, we opted to go to Triumph instead to avoid the huge crowd that was waiting for beers at Riverhorse.

We shared the beer sampler at Triumph - all 7 of their beers in 5oz glasses. Shawn and I had a sip of each one first to decide which ones we each preferred, then we drank our favorites. We also went a little crazy with the food - we each got an appetizer and a main course - usually we stick to one course and maybe one drink each, but everything on the menu sounded so delicious that we figured eh, what the heck!


beer sampler!



cucumber gazpacho for me, honey bbq wings for Shawn



Shawn got fish and chips, I opted for the fish tacos


All in all, t'was a delicious meal! We will definitely be going back soon... maybe next time we'll try their Princeton location and follow it up with some dessert at The Bent Spoon :)

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