Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best is Yet to Come

Always at the end of the year, I already have my list of resolutions for the new year. However, I still reflect on memories and teachings from the years past and smile.  Getting engaged this year was the best day of my life thus far, and even starting this blog was is something I am so proud of. Both of these moments have opened so many new opportunities and adventures, I am so excited to see where it brings me in 2013.  I thank you all for visiting my blog, whether this is the first time or the tenth time, it gives me such joy to share my days, my thoughts, and my passions with you all. I wish you a Happy New Year, the best is yet to come!  Cheers!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry and Bright

I hope you are doing what you love to do this Christmas day, and hopefully some Christmas magic finds your way. Merry Christmas! XO

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Buon Natale

An annual Christmas cookie exchange always brings a little nervous excitement to those who enjoy spending time in the kitchen. My sisters and I have one every December, and I have been inclined to make different types of cookie each year. It's tough to find a cookie that can be made in large quantities, taste delightful, and look pleasing.  This year, I decided to fall back on my roots, and create a traditional Italian cookie.  Enter: The Pizzelle.  I invested in this pizzelle maker, and thought this could be my annual Christmas cookie contribution (whoh, say that 5 times fast).  In my hunt for the perfect traditional recipe, I found Brown Eyed Baker, my new favorite food blog. The cookies turned out lovely, and for once I was not covered in flour, with drops of batter in my hair by the time I finished baking. Next year I might take it up a notch and try making cannolis.  Hopefully when I'm old and grey, my great grandkids will remember me as the grandmother who made wonderful pizzelle cookies, despite the batter in my hair.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jingle Bell Time, It's a Swell Time...

The holidays are in full swing around here!  A few weeks ago we got our first big snowfall of the year and it has created a nostalgic "White Christmas" feeling in the cities. This festive season only comes once a year, so I try to do the most I can without becoming a Grinch in the process.  Holiday parties, cookie exchanges, seeing the Hollidazzle, and going to "A Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie has filled my weekends with joy and happiness.  I hope you enjoy your own holiday traditions, and take some time to reflect on all the love and cheer this time of year brings.

"A Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie Theater

These stuffed mushrooms are an easy appetizer and so delicious

The new art instillation at Mall of America

Christmas shopping at the new H&M in Calhoun Square

My niece and my mother play with the Christmas tree ornaments

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gifts for the Host

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is that there are a million reasons right now to throw a holiday party.  Here are some examples: cookie exchange party, holiday movie night party, ugly Christmas sweater party, or maybe a let's-drive-around-the-neighborhood-and-look-at-lights-party (if you drink the spiked egg nog before driving around, consider this a walking party).  Whatever the reason, holiday parties are a wonderful time to get together with friends.  Hosting is not an easy job, but it makes it more enjoyable when guests show up with a nice gift.  Here are some great hosting gifts under $50 to give this holiday season.

A new way to keep white wine chilled

A great game for the long winter nights in by the fire

These throws are super soft and cozy

Homemade popcorn is the best. Try this recipe with it!

This reminds me of a martini shaker I would see in a James Bond film.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Our Thanksgiving Table

Today is my second favorite holiday of the year next to Christmas.  The day is spent with my mom and sisters all day in the kitchen baking, cooking, and making memories.  This year has been especially plentiful for me and I have so many blessings to be thankful for. However you choose to spend this day, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.  XO

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Seasonal Pleasures

A beautiful Sunday evening

It is no secret that November to January is my favorite time of the year.   My holidays are filled with wonderful food and great memories with close family and friends.  I enjoy the hustle and bustle this time of year brings and take advantage of every seasonal activity possible. Between work, wedding planning,  and the holidays, I will be burning the candle on both ends as my mom would say.  It's important that I remember to take a moment, and reflect on all the things I have to be thankful for and all the little pleasures that life brings.

Delicious butternut squash croquettes from Salut

Flowers delivered to my work from mi amor

First snowfall of the season

My new winter snow boots

The perfect football Sunday snack. I want to try this recipe!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Autumn Arrival

Orange and White Pumpkins

Today is October 1st, a special day for me.  Today is the day I allow myself to start decorating and celebrating the arrival of autumn. I did cheat a little bit this year since I've already baked pumpkin bread and pulled out my fall sweaters and boots.  However, now I can do all autumn activities feeling no guilt that I am ahead of the season.  This past weekend, we celebrated my niece's first birthday at Apple Jack's Orchard.  It was a beautiful day to celebrate a first birthday and the beginning of autumn.   Not to my surprise, I took almost 300 photos that day (it's my first and only niece!) all of which turned out wonderful.  Here is my homage to Minnesota's beautiful autumn. Now, hand me some hot apple cider!

Apple Picnic by the River

Corn Maze

Bushels of Apples

Corn Kernels on a Bale of Hay

Pumpkin Patch

Maroon and Gold

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend Notes

Leaf gazing on my walk home

It was a lovely fall weekend.  The leaves are beginning to change and the days are getting shorter.  I truly love this time of year when I can pull out my sweaters and scarfs and dust off my fall boots. Also with the change in temperature, cooking and baking in my kitchen is much more enjoyable.  I find myself planning out seasonal parties and finding any reason to invite friends over for spiked cider and pumpkin bread.  Here is what I have been up to.

Beautiful birthday earrings from my cousin's company Poppy Patch Designs

The best pumpkin bread recipe

A perfect Fall bonfire for roasting s'mores

Creme brulee being torched at friend's dinner party

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Favorite Birthday Present

I have never had my own birthday.  Actually, I take that back.  When I was living abroad in Italy, I celebrated my birthday without her.  I cried a lot on that birthday.  For those of you that don't know, I am an identical twin.  This means that I was born with someone that I can never lie to (she always can tell), I have always had a friend nearby (this was helpful during elementary lunch time), and she always drives when we are together (what can I say, I enjoy being a passenger).  Today is our birthday, and as the birthday wishes are sent, and presents from my family are given, I think that Annie is the best present I have ever received.  I like to think that my parents planned on having me, but Annie was just a birthday present for me.  I do not think I would be the person I am today without her.  Happy Birthday to my best friend and my sister, you are truly my most favorite present I have ever received.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Savoring the End of Summer

Summer Flowers at my Friend's Bridal Shower

As the end of the summer quickly approaches, I find myself wondering what things I have left to do before the weather turns cool.  I have to admit, I have a bad habit of looking too far ahead and find myself thinking about Halloween costumes and new soup recipes to try in the upcoming months. However, I try to bring myself back to reality (it was almost 90 degrees today!) and savor the final moments of summer.  Here's to enjoying the end of summer, and keeping my feet (still in flip flops) on the ground!

Going to the Coldplay concert in St. Paul

Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Wine Bottle Tags for a Couples Shower

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No Cook Antipasti

This past weekend we hosted a few friends over for some wine and antipasti.  This was a perfect menu for me because cooking in my kitchen during the summertime is very dangerous.  I think if I turn the oven on for more than 20 minutes, my kitchen shelves will begin to melt.  We live in a traditional older Uptown duplex, and with only one window air conditioner, cooking in my kitchen becomes an activity similar to sitting in a sauna.  I tend to make the most of fresh food, and take advantage of our specialty foods in the nearby grocery stores.  Hosting an antipasti party allowed me to assemble, rather than cook, and the results were delicious.  This weekend allowed me to participate in the best parts of the summer;  eating fresh, natural, and simple food.

Caprese on a stick

Sun dried tomato and parmesan cheese

Antipasti platter

Friday, July 27, 2012

Whatever I Want It To Be

Outdoor concert at the Wolfe Park Amphitheater

It's finally the weekend, we made it! I am looking forward to this weekend for various reasons. In particular, I do not have any plans.  There is not a single place that I have to be at any given time.  That has not happened since April.  Ok, maybe not April, but not for a really long time.  This weekend is whatever I want it to be, and that is a wonderful thing.  Tonight, I will start the weekend by watching the opening ceremonies to the Summer Olympics while ordering takeout (USA) and drinking wine (Italian).  Obviously, I will be celebrating multiple countries tonight. I wish you all a wonderful weekend, and I leave you with my top three items on my shopping list this week.  Cheers!

Such a cute flat for this fall

I love the print on this inkjet scarf

I will be ordering these crinkle fans for my summer wedding