Friday, May 31

L'Ecole NYC

On Tuesday my mother, sister and I took the train into NYC for a little shopping excursion. While there, I treated them both to lunch at L'Ecole, the French Culinary Institute International Culinary Center's student-run restaurant. (I still owed my mom a Mother's Day gift, and my sister a 21st-birthday gift, and a tasty meal is exactly what I had in mind for both.) My mother and I had eaten there back in 2008 when I was looking at culinary schools; we both recalled it being a fun experience the first time, and it certainly did not disappoint this time either!

A blackberry mint bourbon cocktail; and complimentary appetizer.

My appetizer: chilled asparagus salad with manchego cheese, marcona almonds, chorizo vinaigrette, and pan tomate

My mom and sister's appetizers: crab stuffed zucchini flowers with a shellfish and saffron emulsion, and cherry tomatoes

My entree: ginger-glazed mahi mahi with spring pea puree and five spice potato croquettes

My sister's entree: horseradish-dill trout with curried mussel broth and baby bok choy

My mom's entree: spice rubbed leg of lamb with olive orzo and fennel orange salad

Oddly enough, I didn't even think to take photos of our desserts; I remembered after the fact. But the only one that was really worth noting was my mom's dessert: a dark chocolate tart with caramelized bananas and coconut sorbet. Another fun thing to note is that we were sitting one table away from Chef Jacques Torres! I didn't bother him, since he appeared to be having a meeting with a few other teachers at the school. But it certainly made me crave some chocolate!

Overall, an insanely satisfying meal. Well done, students, well done.

Thursday, May 30

Memorial Day Weekend

I don't usually make a big deal out of 'holidays' like Memorial Day, but this year my Memorial Day weekend was fairly eventful. On Thursday my parents flew into town, so I had already planned to take a few days off to spend with them.

The biggest event of the weekend was on Saturday, when I got to see my childhood best friend, Kelly, get married to her high school sweetheart; they've been together eight years, so it was about time! Shawn had to work, unfortunately, so he missed the sweet ceremony, her beautiful lace dress, and the fun reception. It was the best wedding I have ever been to, hands down. I almost cried during the ceremony - it was so beautiful and heartfelt, and so very them! Kelly, her husband Mike, and both of their families are a fun bunch, so I fully expected to have a good time, and I was proven correct. The food at the reception was also delicious, which was unexpected (Come on, I'm a total 'foodie'...) and a really nice surprise.

Her dress was so gorgeous!!!

The rest of the weekend was just as much fun. On Sunday my family and I drove up to the Woodbury Outlets in New York and tried to hit up all the stores we wanted before the place got overly crowded. Memorial Day sales were amazing. My favorite place to go when we go up there is Lucky Brand - I find something every single time. This time around I actually managed not to spend a ton of money, but still got some nice things.

Gratuitous selfie: new Lucky Brand shirt - my Memorial Day attire.

On Monday Shawn and I drove out to Bethelhem, Pennsylvania for a community BBQ and a free(!) Wailers concert at the Sands Event Center. The bbq sandwiches were mouthwatering; too bad the place that made them is two hours away from where we live. And the concert was awesome, of course. Shawn has seen The Wailers four times before, but it was my first time. They were jammin', and the venue was great - huge but not at all crowded.

The only decent photo I could get of The Wailers; damn those lights!

All in all, a very fun Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 17

Fun Finds Friday #25

I want to live in a house like this.

I love the clean simplicity of this apartment.

Blogger Coline took a trip to Kenya and came back with some beautiful photos.

A brilliant idea: wallpaper for renters.

I'm not usually a fan of 'couple portraits', but this couple is just too lovely together.

+ A great viewpoint on modern day manufacturing.
+ 27 middle-class problems, from real tweets

A little bit of honesty

Things have been pretty quiet on this blog for the past few months. I'm not going to apologize for my absence, because that's just silly! But blogging is about honesty, so I figure I owe all my readers a little explanation at the very least.

I love blogging. I love reading blogs - the peek it gives you into other people's lives; I love the blogger community - everyone seems so understanding and supportive of each other and that's more than I can say about most people offline; and I also love sharing a little bit of myself with whomever seems interested in reading. I've been blogging in some form or another since 2002. (Holy shi*, that's over 10 years!) I started out on Livejournal, ranting about my adolescent troubles. Then around 2006 I started The Sweet Tooth Blog (no longer up), my first foray into food blogging, where I documented my initial baking attempts and developed my love for all things yummy. In 2010 Shawn and I started I've Seen Some Things to document our new life after moving to Philadelphia. That blog turned into this one, Pictures & Paragraphs, after we moved back to New Jersey in 2012. I also started Between Three Kitchens in 2012 to step in as an official food blog with multiple contributors, but that went stagnant after only a few posts and I've made only half hearted attempts at resurrecting it. Somewhere along the line I lost my focus.

I wanted to keep blogging, but I didn't know what to blog about. To be perfectly honest, Shawn and I don't lead the most interesting of lives. But that's the way we like it! I work from 7am - 3pm most days, and he works until 7pm most days. In the time between when I get home and pick Shawn up from work, I'm usually running errands, exercising, or catching up on other blogs. Then I'm usually falling asleep on the couch by 9pm. Those aren't the most exciting things to write about, and I'm sure you don't want to hear about what I picked up from the grocery store on Monday, or about my 25-minute workout. And while we do still cook our own meals most nights of the week, they're never anything extravagant or worth posting a recipe for. So that's where I'm stuck. I used to blog about food, but without time to experiment or stray from my usual recipes, there's nothing to post. I used to blog about our excursions, but we spend most of our free time at home these days or we don't take photos when we do go out. I also don't want to be one of those bloggers that just posts photos of their cats (or squirrels!) all the time.

But I don't want to stop blogging. I do enjoy it, when I have something to share! I really like doing the Fun Finds Friday posts, because I'm always finding fun things to share. But lately those seem to be the only posts I've been doing, and even those are difficult somethings. The months of April and May have been super busy; between all the wedding-related stuff (friend's bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and actual weddings!), and Mother's Day/graduations/communions/wedding orders at work, by the time I get home I'm too exhausted to even turn on the computer for anything other than to check my emails. Then I feel bad because I'll go a few weeks between posting things on here. So I guess I'm torn between finding the time to blog, and figuring out what to blog about. I've always had a hard time with simple blog posts. I always feel the need to write paragraphs and post a ton of photos (hence the name of this blog), but I realize that sometimes just one photo and a few words is more than enough, and a few of those a week is better than nothing.

So I'd like to bring this blog back to what it was when Shawn and I first started it. Little bits and pieces of our life: things we're doing, places we've gone, food we've made/eaten, things we've found, things that we're excited about, things we love. I want to make more of an effort to post less, in a sense. More posts with simpler more intimate content. After all, isn't that what blogging is about? I strayed off the path for a little while, but I'm trying to find my way back. Please let me know if there's anything specific you'd like me to keep blogging about!

There are some big things on the horizon for us that I can't share here just yet. (That's one of the difficult part of blogging - you don't want your offline peeps to read about certain things online before you have a chance to tell them in person!) But hold tight and I promise I will share some news soon. In the meantime, thank you so much for reading Pictures & Paragraphs and taking an interest in this little life of mine, and the silly things I share when I can find the time.

I'm putting together a Fun Finds Friday post for later today, so check back!

Friday, May 3

Fun Finds Friday #24

Today's Fun Finds is different from my usual. I haven't actually been on the internet much these past few days, so no interesting links to share this week. But Shawn found something fun! In the woods behind our house, he came upon a fox hole! There are at least four fox cubs inside, and the mother roams nearby. I never imagined fox cubs could be so stunning.

And a few days before the fox sighting, he spotted a woodpecker!

How is that for some fun finds?
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