Tuesday, July 30

I'm a Tart

I spent most of last year and the first half of this year learning how to make tarts. Fruit tarts, chocolate tarts, lemon tarts... tarts of all kinds! I grew up eating tarts; for every birthday or holiday we would pretty much always have some sort of tart for dessert. My favorites were always chocolate or lemon, depending on the season. Cake was just not in my family's vocabulary. (Hey, we're French, and we usually ate like it!) My mom had two signature tarts that she would make when I was growing up: a plum tart and an apple flan tart. I hated the plum tart when I was younger, but as I've grown older I've actually grown to appreciate its intense flavor. The apple flan tart was my personal favorite, and in my humble opinion she doesn't make it nearly often enough anymore, although the travel distance has a lot to do with that, I'm sure. (Hi, Mom!) Come to think of it, I really just love flan in general. (What can I say? I appreciate the simple things.) But we're not talking about flan... we're talking about tarts!

I made these two tarts at work recently and they really brightened up the pastry case, mixed in amongst espresso brownies, chewy granola bars, and pecan coffee cake, which are all delicious but visually don't necessarily catch your eye. I definitely love making tarts - they're pretty, they taste amazing, and they bring me back to my childhood.

On the other hand, I think most Americans prefer a good ol' fashioned pie. There's nothing wrong with pie, but it's just not my cup of tea. I'd much rather let the fruit stand on its own than mix it with sugar and flour all baked up in a buttery crust. But that's just my opinion, and I'm certainly not unwilling to make things that other people enjoy :) I mean, that's my job, right?

It's really true what they say; "Do what you love, love what you do".
I really do love what I do!

Sunday, July 28

Lloyd is here!

Yesterday Shawn and I drove out to State College, PA to pick up the newest member of our family... say hello to Lloyd!

He is everything we could have hoped for! He cuddles, he flops, and he's silly. I think he's really happy to have a family. (He was a stray beforehand and I contacted another blogger about taking him in; he traveled over 420 miles to get here!) He's been very comfortable from the moment we met though; you'd never know he was a stray for over a year! You can expect to see lots of photos of him from now on, mostly because I can't stop taking them! We're really happy to bring him into our little family :)

Thursday, July 25

Life Lately

We're almost done getting the apartment looking 'finished'. (Except, anyone who knows us knows that's never the case, since we're constantly moving things around...) Other than that, I'm busy at work most mornings and since Shawn is still job-hunting, we have the afternoons to ourselves. It's been nice spending time together since when we were living in New Jersey we worked opposite schedules and rarely saw each other, despite living together. Here are some photos from my phone that show a little bit of what we've been up to lately:

1. I finally completed my latest whimsey box project that I was so excited about!
2. We're getting the apartment set up for Lloyd's arrival on Saturday! So exciting- we can't wait to meet the little guy!
3. Back to work means back to making pies on a regular basis. (It's a skill you just don't lose.)
4. It also means getting to work at 4am to bake off muffins and scones for the downtown location. Worth it.
5. Last week we got to see Ben Folds Five, Guster, and The Barenaked Ladies from the lawn at The Mann Center!
6. Farmer's market love. I'll be sad when blueberries are no longer in season.
7. My new toy! The boss-man got me a food processor. So exciting!
8. And I also got a white board. You understand the importance of this if you've ever worked in a kitchen.

Life is good.

Friday, July 19

Fun Finds Friday #27

No photos this week, just links to interesting articles I've read recently!

Parties we should have instead of weddings - Shawn and I have entered that stage in our lives where the wedding invitations start arriving in swarms. We've already been to two weddings this year, with a third one in October, and I foresee going to at least two more next year. And although the weddings we've been to have been a lot of fun, this article seems to properly sum up both our attitudes on weddings and showers in general.

Martha Stewart doesn't give a damn - I read her book earlier this year and loved it. Martha Stewart doesn't take shit from anyone. She's the human honey badger, and I bet she wakes up to this song every morning. It's her anthem, at the very least.

The pros and cons of culinary education - If you have ever considered going to culinary school, I highly recommend reading this article. I went the non-culinary school route and I still believe that was the right choice for me. The first pastry chef I worked with said it best, "Save yourself the $45,000 and learn the most you can in a real kitchen; you'll have to start from the bottom regardless of whether or not you go to school."

Ten things most Americans don't know about America - A lot of these things didn't surprise me, but I have noticed this attitude in many of the people I encounter daily. It's nice to take a step back sometimes and really see things as they are, especially if you've never actually encountered other cultures. People need to open their eyes.

Getting drunk in Antarctica - Forget what you've heard about Antarctica; here's an inside look at what it's like to work through an Antartica winter. (Hint: there's quite a bit of drinking going on)


Also, for anyone who follows Pictures & Paragraphs in a feed reader, you may not have noticed the recent blog design switch. I thought it'd be nice to switch things up around here with all the recent changes we've made in our 'real' life. So I hope you enjoy the new look as much as I do! I also changed the about me page.

Monday, July 15


Bits and pieces of last week's moving process, instagram style:

1. Empty fridge = Sunday breakfast from Corner Bakery Cafe.
2. Shower curtain decisions at IKEA. Decided against both of those.
3. An organized closet makes me so freakin' happy!
4. Unpacking the kitchen was one of my first priorities.
5. It's great to be back near a Trader Joes!
6. Already made a squirrel friend at work.
7. New at work: gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.
8. New at work: gluten-free lemon pound cake.

This week is going to be good. No more unpacking and no more furniture-building. And we're going to see Ben Folds Five/ The Barenaked Ladies/ Guster on Thursday!!

Back to Work

You got to see bits of the apartment last week, so here's a peek at my new workspace. It's a work in progress, but it's slowly shaping up to be awesome! I'm the pastry chef for a local coffee shop 'chain' (there are two locations); it's the same place I worked at last time we lived in Philadelphia, but this time I'm not pulling any barista shifts, I'm baking full-time! The scones are the most well-known things on the menu, but I also make muffins, cookies, loaves, pies, quiche, and whatever else my hungry heart desires. There's been a large request for gluten-free goodies so I've been dabbling in that as well. So far so good!

My first few days back were more about cleaning, organizing, and inventory rather than baking. These next few photos show the progression of the space. I wish I had thought to take a proper before photo... just imagine various coffee things spread out across all those tabletops. I used to bake in the kitchen upstairs, but the space was tiny and warm (I had only one of those stainless steel tables to work on!), so we're slowly transforming the downstairs area into a proper kitchen. There's still a ways to go and more materials to get, but it's moving along!

It's a far cry from the restaurant and bakery kitchens I've worked in, but it's my space, and I love it! Customers are super happy to have me back (seriously, I hear it at least twice a day; I'm like a local celebrity or something), and I'm happy to be back :)

Friday, July 12

Sneak Peek of Our New Apartment

On Saturday, with the help of family and friends, we moved into our new apartment a few miles outside of center city Philadelphia. After running into a bit of trouble with our Uhaul reservation, we decided to cancel it and borrowed one of my friend's parents' trailers instead. That actually worked out perfectly because we were able to load it all up the night before, and had everything unloaded by noon the next day! Then began the daunting task of unpacking and figuring out where all of the furniture should go... after a few trips to IKEA for some essentials and a few new furniture items, our place is looking way more put together and finally starting to feel like home!

Here's a sneak peek of the new place, living room and bedroom excluded because they are still a work in progress. Once we get some artwork up on the walls and I grab a few more things from my parents' house, I'll show you what those two rooms look like too!

Didn't feel moved in until I got my desk area set up.

The kitchen is so much nicer than at our last apartment.
There's a washer and dryer hiding back there too!
I'm having a hard time with the electric stove though...

I'm lovin' our new shower curtain (from IKEA!).

Our Asian inspired hallway decorations.

And a few detail shots...

We feel so good being back out here! I've been back at work since Monday- getting the kitchen ready, doing inventory, and transitioning back into my old baking ways. I even tried my hands at a little gluten-free baking today, since people have been requesting it. It's not fun having to drive to work this time around, but it's really great to be within walking distance of a bunch of convenient places like: Trader Joes, an indoor farmer's market, CVS, and a ton of different restaurants, pizzerias, & bars.

Oh! But hands down the best part about moving? We're getting a cat!!!! I contacted another blogger about taking in a very friendly stray cat that visits her, and we're going to be picking him up sometime at the end of the month. Shawn and I are super-dee-duper excited! We can't wait to meet our new family member. After spending this past year taking care of my parents' cats (my sister is taking over for us, by the way), the apartment just feels empty without some kitties lounging around. We can't wait!

Wednesday, July 3

Wedding Prep Snapshots

Shawn and I spent the past two days in Spring Lake for our friends Christine and Sean's wedding. I was one of her bridesmaids and I've been in tune with all of the planning since day one, so it was fun to finally see it all come to fruition. They were both incredibly calm the day of the wedding, and for once time didn't seem to fly by as it always does; the day seemed to go on forever - in a good way, of course! The ceremony was short and sweet, the signature cocktail was absolutely delicious, and the reception was a frenzy of dancing, smiles, and laughter - it's not difficult to say that an amazing time was had by all. Being a bridesmaid was a new and exciting, at times anxious, experience for me and I'm so happy that Christine decided to include me in their wonder-filled day!

Here are a few photos taken with my phone while we were all prepping for the big event:

1. It was my first time ever getting a manicure and pedicure; I felt so out of my comfort zone but after two days it has kind of grown on me! 2. Christine made each of us Bridesmaid Survival Bags, filled with lots of fun little things; what a lovely idea!! 3. Snapped a photo after getting my hair and makeup done; the hair wasn't what I originally wanted but it all turned out well regardless. 4. Post-wedding hairdo craziness; the wedding colors were black, silver, and teal, so I went all out and dyed the tips of my hair teal!

There was a photo booth at the reception that included the props that I gifted them for their engagement :)

I didn't take any photos during the wedding because I was too busy being part of it!
I am waiting anxiously to see the photographer's amazing photos!!!
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