Saturday, January 26

Just a bit of online shopping...

I usually don't shop for clothing online. It's hard for me to find things that fit well enough in stores, so buying anything over the internet is a big gamble. There's the pain of having to return it if it doesn't fit, and the extra cost of shipping in the first place. Lately I've really been appreciating clothing retailers with user reviews - it's like an insider's look at how the fit/quality of an item really is; even better if they have photos or list their own measurements. It wasn't even until recently that I started to actually pay attention to my measurements instead of just ordering my usual numbered sizes or corresponding S/M/L. It's no surprise then that when you buy clothing according to your actual measurements, clothing actually fits!

I've decided that this year, I'd really like to start wearing skirts and dresses for more than just 'fancy' occasions. Shawn and I aren't really fancy people, so there's no point in holding off on wearing my nicer clothing - why not make it a regular every-day affair? I already have quite the collection of skirts in my closet, so I thought it would be nice to fill it in with a few more dresses. My grandmother started me off nicely with a new dress for Christmas so, feeling inspired, I splurged a bit this month and bought a few things I'd had my eyes on.
(Click on the photos to enlarge)

New dress from When Decades Collide on Etsy

New dress from eShakti

New coat from Modcloth

Dresses from the 50's era really appeal to me, particularly because they are shaped perfectly for my figure. That first dress is vintage, and I'm in love with the adorable floral pattern. It fits a little snug in the bust, but otherwise it's the perfect spring/summer dress. And it arrived so quickly- no more than three days after I ordered it! The second dress fits like a dream, because of eShakti's custom sizing option. It's the perfect little-black-dress for the warmer months, and I'm looking forward to getting some wear of it. I'm going to be a bridesmaid at my friend's wedding in July, and after seeing this dress she's considering having all of her bridesmaids order from eShakti. It would be amazing if I get to wear this dress for her wedding, but I'm happy just to have it in my closet.

As for the coat, it's a great neutral color that pairs with pretty much everything. The fit is incredibly flattering, I love the stitching details, and the belt really pulls it together. I have two other wool coats already... but I had been on the lookout for a basic 'every-day' coat that wasn't too loud (bright red) or fancy (long, dark, & tailored) like my other two and this one fit the bill. The reviews are what really convinced me - everyone seemed to love this coat, and I'm no different! It's also worth mentioning that Modcloth was an awesome company to deal with. Shipping was fast and free, and the packaging was adorable. They even sent me a free gift!

Oh and you may have noticed the new hair cut and color I had done by my awesome hairdresser :) It's the first time I've dyed it in over eight years! Now that it has had some time to fade a bit (it was so intense the first week!), I'm really loving it, and looking forward to watching it grow out. Shawn is actually trying to convince me to go all blonde... and I can't say I haven't been considering it!

*** I thought I should note that I was not paid by any of these companies to talk about their products. I'm just really happy with each experience and I wanted to share my enthusiasm!

Friday, January 25

Fun Finds Friday #15

Don't judge me for falling in love with faux taxidermy. I want one.

Awesome bookends!

A $9 bicycle made out of cardboard?!

I would have dinner parties all the time if I had this swing table!
...I'd probably eat in front of the tv much less often too.

This artist drew self portraits while taking all sorts of different drugs.
It may not be ethical, but it's certainly interesting.

+ Having a rough day?
+ Celebrity high school yearbook photos.
+ I had vest like this when I was growing up... children of the 80s/90s unite!

Wednesday, January 23

A very early work day

One of the shifts at work is the opening shift in the kitchen. The opener arrives at 4:30am and bakes off croissants, muffins, scones, danishes, and breads for the case. When I first started working at the bakery, there were three people trained to do this shift. A few months ago though, one of them left us for another job, and a few months after that, another person left us to continue their education. So for the last few weeks we've had one opener who comes in seven days a week, and works an average of 8 hours a day.

I had told my boss that I was interested in learning how to open, not only because it piqued my interest, but also to be able to give the other person a break every once in a while (no one should have to work seven days a week!). My boss had trained me on how to open months ago, when I first started working there. But my memory was a little foggy because I hadn't had to do it since, so last week I was trained again, and this past Monday I worked my very first opening shift- all by myself!

I actually really enjoyed it! Not only is it a much quicker drive to get there that early in the morning, but having the whole kitchen to myself was also incredibly peaceful. I was a little nervous at first (I even had some work-dreams Saturday and Sunday nights) but the usual opener set me up really well the day before, and I had typed up a list of all the procedures, times, temperatures, etc that I needed to know. (Times like these are when the OCD part of my personality really comes in handy!) And lo-and-behold, I really had nothing to worry about because everything ran very smoothly. I had all the pastries out of the oven by 6am (we don't open until 6:30am), breads were done by 6:30am, and the individual quiche were out by 6:45am. And everything looked delicious, if I do say so myself. Take a look and judge for yourself:

The rest of the day was like any other day for me: bake off cookies, cut up strawberries for yogurt parfaits, make some individual tarts for the case, work on whatever recipes need to be made that day, and assemble sandwiches for lunch. I was definitely fairly exhausted by the time 12:30pm rolled around, but it was really refreshing to be able to go home, take a nap, and still wake up before the time when I would normally be getting home from work (3:30/4pm). And since Shawn has Mondays off, it almost felt like we had the whole day off together, despite having actually worked eight hours.

I really hope -and have a feeling that- this won't be my last opening shift at the bakery :)

Friday, January 18

Fun Finds Friday #14

This company has a different take on the phrase rose colored glasses.

I haven't been to a beach in such a long time!
This photo series makes me want to take a beach trip.

This is another cool photo project, about floating.

Being a big fan of graphic design, I really enjoyed this rebranding of the USPS.

Plants that grow without any added effort? Curious.

I have a few friends who would appreciate some chemistry crayons.
Why didn't we use those in school?!

Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, January 16

puff pastry, labradoodles, & beer

Remember that galette I was going to make from scratch? Well, I know I made you wait over a week for it, but I did finally make it! Actually, I made it twice; the first time with homemade puff pastry, and a second time with store-bought puff pastry. The results? I couldn't be bothered to take fancy food photos, but these show them just fine.

I was disappointed with my homemade puff pastry when it first came out of the oven. In my mind it didn't rise as much as I had expected, and I was quite unhappy to see that the top layer slid off and some filling spilled out... but it tasted SO DAMN DELICIOUS. I mean, it's mostly butter - how can it not taste delicious? I actually made one big galette alongside two smaller ones, as you can see. My filling was very loose and thus I had plenty to go around. Actually, the filling being loose irritated me more than the lack of rise from my pastry; I could barely get any filling onto the pastry without it leaking all over the counter! The recipe I used doesn't include any flour, but after doing a little research I found that most other recipes do add a bit of flour, which I'm sure helps solidify the filling enough to be able to spread it.

Since I ended up with so much filling left over, I made another galette a few days later, but with store-bought puff pastry to save some effort. I also added a layer of raspberry jam before closing it up. That one definitely rose more, and stayed together... but it didn't taste nearly as good as the homemade puff pastry. Which means that next year, I'm making the puff pastry from scratch again, and hopefully get more rise out of it.

(Oh & I was the king the first time around!)

In other edible news, I made and decorated Labradoodle cookies for a special order at work the other day. I have never seen a Labradoodle before in my life, but I looked it up online and tried my best to represent it in cookie form.

Shawn and I have also been on a beer tasting kick lately. From my instagram feed you might think I was an alcoholic or something. Really though, it's just that every time we go to Wegmans we can't help each walking out of there with a build-your-own six-pack of beers. And I like to document them all on instagram because I will forget what I picked otherwise! I've been loving all the winter seasonal brews.

I hope you all had a wonderful Wednesday!

Friday, January 11

Fun Finds Friday #13

How cool is this film map?!

I want an edible cookbook.

A cute story about a farmer who created a heart shaped meadow in memory of his deceased wife.

These animal sculptures made from reclaimed household objects are beautiful!

After reading this post I am interested in chicken-keeping... I would love some fresh eggs every week!

Speaking of eggs, this egg carton design is really neat!

Happy Friday!

Saturday, January 5

Fit for a king

Every year I always forget about the early-January French tradition to have a galette des rois (king's cake). I was reminded of it this year because of this post over at Manger. Hers looks absolument délicieux! My mother makes one every single year without fail; unfortunately I missed out on last year's, and the one from the year before. And this year, we're thousands of miles apart so I guess I'm missing out yet again!

Hm? What's that you say? I'm a baker? Why yes! Yes I am! Why, I suppose you're right. I suppose I could just make my own galette des rois this year... I hadn't really considered that option before. By golly, I think I just might! But I work on Sundays... yet I'm off on Mondays. So it's decided then. On Monday I will make my very first, very own, galette des rois. And since I have the whole day, why not make it entirely from scratch? That's right. I'm going to make puff pastry. From scratch. And it will be amazing! And I will, of course, use one of my mother's fève inside. I can't wait!

On an entirely unrelated note, you should also take a minute to read over this post at Happy Yolks, which continues to amaze me with incredibly well-worded and heartfelt posts, each one more eloquent than the next. One of the things I love about blogging is that you can find people leading nearly-parallel lives to your own. This isn't the first time she's put into words my own thoughts and feelings about my world lately. Also, that shaved cauliflower salad looks quite delectable as well.

Well, all this talk of food and now I've gone and made myself hungry.
Sounds like it's time for dinner!
A bientôt!

Friday, January 4

Fun Finds Friday #12

It's a new year, so why not start the very first Friday off right?

Stately Sandwiches; so many states, so many sandwiches!

A giant game of Truth or Dare in NYC.

How awesome is this outdoor library?!

Such impressive and creative packaging for tea!

I wish I could have gone to this colorful French school.

+ This post on love hits all the right notes.
+ The TED talks; I'm hooked.

Thursday, January 3

Looking Back on 2012

Happy new year! Now that it's 2013, I really don't have much to say about 2012 other than it was a year full of change and growth. Change, because we encountered quite a few of them this past year; from moving out of our apartment of two years in suburban Philadelphia back to our roots in New Jersey, starting new jobs, leaving new friends behind and reuniting with old ones. Growth, because that's all that can really come of change. If you don't grow a little bit -both emotionally and psychologically- each year, well, then you haven't really lived fruitfully, I'd say.

Here's a look back at 2012, instagram-style:

Seeing those initial signs of spring from last year make me yearn for warmer weather; I can't wait until the flowers start to bloom again and the days go back to being longer... winter sure is beautiful though!

Some things to remember about 2012:
- An abundance of tasty meals with friends.
- Grilling! Lots and lots of grilling.
- New jobs, new tricks.
- Our first vacation in over three years! With disaster attached, of course.
- Our very first real Christmas tree!

I'm not really one to make New Years resolutions, seeing as most of the time they don't get accomplished (See: 2011, 2012). Last year I had an unspoken goal to read one book each month... and I succeeded!! I ended out the year having read 16 books total! This year, I'm keeping the same goal. When I was younger I would read constantly, but for a few years after high school I got really out of the habit of reading regularly, so I'm super happy to be making time for it again! Having an actual 30-minute sit-down lunch break at work certainly helps.

The only other goal I have this year is to buy less and make more. Every year I try to tap into my creative side, whether it's with paper crafts, sewing, or dabbling in jewelry-making. This year it should be a little easier since my parents got me a whole year of Whimseybox! I can't wait to get my first box in the mail- let the crafting ensue! One of the books I read in November also got me thinking about where my clothing comes from and how it's made, and in turn I'm trying to be more conscious of these things. I'd love to start making some of my own clothing, and buying vintage over the ill-fitting cheaper trends of today's retail world.

That's a wrap. I wish you all a beautiful start to the new year!
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