March 30, 2012

friday loves.


The Hunger Games. 
I saw the movie last night with one of my best girls and I thought that it was a great interpretation of the book! 
Read the series if you haven't had a chance.

These signs. 
I saw them in TJ Maxx and wish I had a kitchen to hang them in.

The Vitamin String Quartet. 
I like to listen to them when I am doing quiet work.

Easter Prep.
How did it sneak up so fast?

 Healthy hair. 
I finally got a much needed haircut. (apologies for the no makeup serious face).

Chocolate Chip Cookies. 
I was inspired by Joy the Baker and baked them topped with sesame seeds. They give the cookies a little texture and decorative appeal without an overpowering sesame taste. I also used my absolute favorite chocolate chips, Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet. I am a sucker for dark chocolate and in my opinion they are so worth the extra cents. I won't lie, I ate 3 cookies right out of the oven and had to pull myself away to stop.
Hope you have a lovely weekend. 


"You're far too young to believe that it's not going to be okay."

I had to repeat this to myself for most of this crazy week. I have had so many thoughts racing through my mind that my head was spinning. And all of these thoughts that would not leave me alone were of things and situations beyond my control.

It took a solid day or two to finally get past them and remember that everything finds its place. If something doesn't work out then it just wasn't meant to be and something better is on its way. 
It is going to be just fine.

Thankfully, I have the best girlfriends and family to help me when I loose sight of things.
They snap me back to my positive self and help me find the humor in these sticky situations.
Froyo and retail therapy also keeps me going. 

If I could, I would share with you.

love and hugs.

March 26, 2012

happy monday.

This weekend...

I was obsessed with the cherry blossoms in full bloom outside our home...

I spent time outside to enjoy the spring weather...

I may have had a brownie craving, but that's pretty normal...

and I baked cream puffs for my Grandpa's birthday.

I hope you have a lovely week ahead. xo

March 23, 2012

words for thought.

The first to apologize is the bravest. 
The first to forgive is the strongest.
And the first to forget is the happiest.

 have a happy weekend. xo

March 22, 2012


I think that I have seen a lot of old movies for a person my age. I owe this to my mother who is a huge TCM devotee. She always has a classic black and white film on at night and over the years I have watched many with her. I have to admit that several of them are ones that I would consider favorites. Breakfast at Tiffany's, Sunday in New York, and Dial M for Murder being my top three.

Last night I went to the showing of Casablanca in the movie theatre for its 70th anniversary with my mother and her friend. It wasn't my first time seeing the film but it was a fun experience watching it on the big screen. There were even adults dressed up like the characters which felt like being at a Harry Potter showing with an older generation. 

So I have to thank my mother for the cultural enrichment that she has given me. Because heaven knows if it wasn't for her I would think the line "Here's looking at you, kid" originated from Sex and the City. 

So this week I made Florentine cookies. I've noticed that cookies make up all my baking posts and I swear I am capable of baking other things. I just really love cookies.

Florentines or "lace cookies" as I like to call them, are crisp, thin cookies sandwiched with a layer of chocolate. This was the first time I ever attempted them and I was surprised just how easy they were. I don't know why but I always assumed that they were much more of a difficult process. But they are so simple you don't even need to use a mixer.

Florentine Cookies  Adapted from Nestle
11 tbs butter
2 cups oats
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line baking sheets with foil.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan; remove from heat.
Stir in oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.
Drop by the teaspoon, about 3 inches apart, onto baking sheets.

Bake 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.
Place foil with baked cookies on wire racks and cool completely.
Peel foil from the cookies.

Microwave chocolate on medium power for 1 minute, stir.
Microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring in between until smooth.
Spread a thin layer of the melted chocolate onto the flat side of a cookie, top with another cookie.

March 21, 2012

granola cereal

happy spring!

The weather has been beautiful and I am so blessed to be able to enjoy it.
Even things that could make a bad day haven't really affected me. Like spilling tomato sauce all over the floor, scraping my knee, slipping down the stairs, and getting burned twice all in one day. Yes, I am a trooper.

Anyways, I am getting back into the swing of things and starting to bake again.
Which brings me to granola, I love love love granola. 

It is something that I refuse to buy in stores because it is the best homemade and there are too many reasons not's so easy, it's all natural, and that smell fresh out of the oven. Enough said.

The arrival of this beautiful weather has brought me some much needed motivation to eat better, it's what I like to call operation bikini bod. Being granola is something that I tend to eat in large amounts (I can't help it), I tried making it more calorie friendly this time.

To do this I looked at the ingredients and played with the ratios a bit. I decided to make the main ingredient puffed wheat rather then oats. Oats are delicious and very good for you but have a whopping 150 calories for only a half a cup. (And this is across many brands, I know this as I have searched for a lower calorie oat. Please let me know if you have discovered one.) However puffed wheat will only cost you 60 calories a cup!

And so here you have it. It's rather delicious if I may say, it reminds me more of a cereal with the wheat in it.
Granola cereal is what I am going with.

Granola Cereal
2 cups puffed wheat
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup sweetened coconut
1 cup nuts 
(whole or chopped, whatever kind you like)
1/3 cup real maple syrup
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
Spread out onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes, shake up with a spoon, bake for 15 minutes more

Eat it with milk, yogurt and fruit, sprinkle on an apple with peanut butter, 
even munch on it straight from the bowl.

March 20, 2012

disney eats.

Remember when I said we ate and ate and ate on our little trip to Disney?

Well I wasn't over-exaggerating, it felt like we were constantly stopping for food. And there were no limits on the type of food or time of day; cookies for breakfast, ice cream before dinner...anything goes here, it's all part of the wonderful Disney experience. We didn't have any reservations or really even any sit-down meals. Everything we ate was on the go; that just works for us.

We spent the majority of our time in Epcot. Here I introduced the family to the idea of a food crawl; trying and sharing different foods from the different countries. It was fun and we ate new foods that we never normally would have. I highly recommend trying it!

And of course we ate plenty of delicious sweets during our visit. If I had to pick favorites, I would say the paw print brownie from Kusafiri bakery in Animal Kingdom (it is a brownie topped with ganache and buttercream, what a combination!), Dole Whip in Magic Kingdom, and the chocolate carmel apples are my favorite take home treat.

One last recommendation... make sure to visit Spice & Tea Exchange in Mickey's Pantry in Downtown Disney. This store really caught my attention with the corner of amazing spices, sugars, and teas.  The selection is incredible and the products are all natural. I picked up the Sweet Onion Sugar, Pinot Noir Salt, and Black Chocolate Tea. I am so excited to try them out!

I just love trying new places and foods with the special people in my life.

March 16, 2012

a little vacation.

I have been away for a few days. My family and I went to Florida to visit the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. We had the best time...

We stayed at a beautiful hotel and had an awesome royal room upgrade.
We observed all the beautiful floral displays and themed topiaries.
We rode our favorite rides. 
(Mount Everest and Space Mountain being the top two)
I got nervous waiting on line every time. Never fails.
We laughed and reminisced about past Disney trips.
We ate and ate and ate.
And walked so much that we swore we burnt off all our food.
Which is highly doubtful.
We went to bed at 3 am every night.
Sister rocked her Minnie ears while I stuck with braids.
Mom and Brother got to wear birthday pins.
And we all agreed it was a fantastic little getaway. 


March 10, 2012

a floral friday.

5:11 am.

That was the time my brother knocked on my door yesterday morning.

I am not a very good morning person and I can't say that being funemployed helps. Nope, not one bit.

What it has helped is my want to do more, see more, and spend more time with others that I don't normally. And so when the opportunity presented itself to join my brother and his college horticulture club to go to the Philadelphia International Flower Show, I took it.

And I have to say that I really loved this day. First of all, it was quite inspiring to be around so much natural beauty. It's unbelievable how the flowers were so fragrant and vividly colored. I loved being there for fun, just taking in my surroundings, and photographing my favorites. This wasn't college when visiting a trade show was all about a project. I spent the day with my brother and his friends, the kids with the-world-is-their-oyster spirit that I once had (and slowly getting back). Even if I wanted to really participate in their interesting conversations, I couldn't because I do not speak horticulture. Long scientific names would fly out of their mouths every time we approached a new display, it barely sounded English. But they impressed me; they truly love what they study.

And who could blame them?

Now for the food. We walked across the street to the Reading Terminal Market, which is definitely worth checking out when in Philly. It is filled with so many food vendors and there is certainly something for everyone. It was packed of course; the cheese steak line was so long that the whole group passed on it. Instead my brother and I tried The Original Turkey and I am so glad that we did. We split the turkey cranberry sandwich, which was simple but perfection. Fresh soft bread, perfectly cooked turkey, and a great cranberry sauce, it totally hit the spot. It was enough for us to split and I have to mention that he made me smile when he apologized for wanting white bread. 
My siblings know me so well.

He also didn't think twice when I asked him if we could visit the cookie stand that we passed while scoping out the place. How could I not buy a baked good while in a different city? Especially when the word famous is in its name? Exactly. So we headed over to Famous 4th St. Cookie Co. and I bought chocolate chip cookies to take home. I must say I was surprised how pricey they were because they are sold by weight. But they were worth the try. Even when we ate them when we got home hours later, they were perfectly moist with just the right amount of melty chocolate. It was a really good cookie and I am ashamed to admit that I ate all of mine for dinner. whoops.

I also brought home these babies from the show, the orange for my mom and the little white one for yours truly. Brother helped me pick out the best ones of course, a tip is to look at the stem and the one with the most buds is the best fellow for you. growth potential!

Oh and one last thing. I was obsessed with a wall in the convention center that was completely covered in coffee cups, saucers, and spoons. Here is a close up..

buon weekend :)