Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dreams of Far-Away Places

It's almost May but there have been very few warm, spring days so far.  The last two weeks have been foggy and misty, and I'm still wearing my winter coat more often than not.  Days like this make me think of all of the other places I would love to be (at the top of my list right now is San Diego) but after reading 36 Hours in Amsterdam, which appeared in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of how wonderful Holland is and how magnificient it would be to see the tulip fields in bloom. 

About seven years ago, I was in Amsterdam for less than two days, on the last leg of a 10-day European tour that I booked the winter after I graduated from college.  Even though I went with a group, I was essentially alone among kind strangers.  In Paris, I roamed the Louvre for hours by myself; in London, I walked through parks and neighborhoods away from the Buckingham Palace crowds.  It was February, and England and France had been quite cold but once in Amsterdam, a winter storm hit. The trains were delayed, there were no brave souls riding bicycles on the streets, and no one in my tour group wanted to leave the hotel because it was too cold.  I ventured out myself and waited for over an hour for the train, then trekked to the Anne Frank House, where there was still a line around the block for admission (so worth the wait, obviously).  Afterward, I bought some souvenirs for my family at a shopping complex and just happened to walk into a winter festival of some sort.  There were food vendors and merry-go-rounds, and with everything covered in snow, it was absolutely beautiful. 

There is so much more I wanted to see in this city, like blooming flowers and museums, and after reading this, I just added more to my to-see list.  Maybe a spring trip to Europe for Anthony and I will be possible in a few years. Have you ever been to a place and felt like you missed some major attractions? Where would you love to revisit?

Photo of Van Gogh Museum courtesy of Iamsterdam, official tourism site

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First Night

After a long day of moving, Anthony and I are spending tonight in our new home.  Our old apartment is still a mess (we have until May 1st to empty it completely), and even though we are surrounded by dozens of boxes, I'm happy to finally move and start a new life chapter.  As soon as we fix it up a bit, I'll post pictures so stay tuned...

Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cheesy Goodness

Anthony went to San Francisco last month for work and when he came back, he brought me a wonderful treat: four huge loaves of sourdough bread.  He never brings me back souvenirs from business trips but he knows Boudin Bakery's sourdough bread is something that I dream about, even though I only had it once on a long ago ill-fated 24-hour trip to San Francisco with my mother.  I've had sourdough almost everyday for the past month.  I froze most of it and have been taking it out to thaw little by little. Unfortunately, I'm savoring every bite now since I'm down to my last loaf.

My two favorite things to make with sourdough are toast and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Seriously, nothing tastes better on the tangy slices than melted cheese.  Since we are moving soon, I've decided to try to use most of what we have food-wise so we don't have to lug it to our new apartment.  In the freezer, I found a package of maple bacon.  Even though I hate frying bacon, I knew it would only add to the deliciousness of the bread.  Anthony and I ate on the couch surrounded by boxes of books and DVDs--it was the best dinner we've had in a long time. 

Photo courtesy of Boudin Bakery

Friday, April 8, 2011

Butter-Making Tutorial

Ummmm, I wrote about making butter last month and today, Design*Sponge has a post on homemade butter.  Does this mean that I'm actually trendy, current, hip, cool, with the times?! Yeah, I think it's a coincidence too. 

This piece by Ashley English is really great with tons of helpful details.  Try it out if you have some time this weekend.  I might try it again, too.  I also might check out one of her awesome-looking Homemade Living books.  I'd be beyond thrilled if I could make cheese from scratch and have it come out halfway edible. 

Image courtesy of Design*Sponge

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More than One Cake?

Have you ever thought about having more than one cake at your wedding?  One of the many daily emails that I receive from Martha Stewart had a great idea for multiple 'pop art'-inspired wedding cakes.  I like the thought of serving several desserts, and having more than one cake would certainly help with the problem of deciding what kind of cake to have.  Maybe a variety of three or four is more my speed. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate cake but I think the one below with the cocoa swirl on the top is my favorite. 

Image courtesy of Martha Stewart

Monday, April 4, 2011

Travel Diary: Savannah, Georgia

Only two weeks ago, Anthony, his mother and I were enjoying our first visit to Savannah, Georgia.  I'd never been to the south before (save a trip to Orlando almost ten years ago) and it was a four-day vacation full of new experiences, including the first long-distance trip we've taken with Anthony's mom. 

In very little time, we saw much of the Historic District, which is extremely walkable and unbelievably beautiful.  We took a tour with Old Savannah Tours on our first morning in the city; our guide was extremely knowledgeable and shared anecdotes about every street, house and park we passed.  Just riding around in the open-air trolley, we learned so much about the history of Savannah and the history of America.  Coming from freezing Connecticut, it was a treat to explore without wearing a heavy winter coat. 

As with every trip, there were highs and lows.  We were only in town for three nights so there definitely things that we weren't able to cross off on our list.  Perhaps there is another Savannah visit for us in the future?  I'd love to spend a few days there and then head over to Charleston, another place I've heard is beyond lovely (coincidentally enough, I just read this feature in UK Conde Nast Traveller about a combined Savannah/Charleston trip).   

Some highlights:
  • We stayed at the Mansion on Forsyth Park and I don't think we could have picked a better place.  The staff was so nice and the rooms were large and beautiful.  There was complimentary valet service so that we didn't have to walk through the park in the dark, the restaurant attached was great and I love the gallery attached to the lobby.  The Mansion really made us feel like we were on a luxurious, relaxing vacation in classic Savannah.
  • The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.  As someone who has visited Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City dozens of times, I can honestly say that I enjoyed this cathedral just as much.  I especially loved the unique three-dimensional Stations of the Cross.  All visitors should add this stop to their itineraries. 
  • The influence of SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) in the city is undeniable.  The school has renovated old buildings and warehouses all over the Historic District and converted them into offices or classrooms that are used daily.  Plus, the shopSCAD store was one of my favorite places, selling original goods made by students, faculty and alumni of the school.  I bought some adorable silver stud earrings and a few vintage button magnets.  The best part is that everything in the store is a one-of-a-kind creation. 
  • We knew that Anthony's mom would love afternoon tea so we made a reservation at the Savannah Tea Room.  The parlor itself is filled with heavy wood furniture and flowery decorations, and there is a neat store in the front room.  For $20 a person, we were served four courses of fresh baked goods, sandwiches and delicious, piping-hot tea, transporting us back to a time when afternoon tea was a daily event.  
  • The squares themselves are a good reason to visit Savannah.  There are 22 of the original 24 squares left and we visited almost all of them, sitting on benches under trees or just walking through to read the plaques.  The larger squares that are along Bull Street had tall statues or fountains and a lot of foot traffic.  But Anthony and I found that we enjoyed the smaller squares more.  Pulaski Square and Orleans Square were especially quiet and had a subtle beauty that was perfect for an early morning stroll.  The flowers were in bloom and all I wanted to do was have a picnic on the grass.  
I'd also suggest checking out Paris Market (on Broughton Street) and Kitchens on the Square (right near Ellis Square), two really cool home/kitchen stores.  In my opinion, a walk through Forsyth Park, which I've been calling the 'Central Park' of Savannah, is also necessary, and you'll get an up-close view of the most photographed fountain in Savannah.  Overall, we had a lovely time.  Check out our photos below!


    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    Happy Birthday, Nan!

    Earlier today, we celebrated my grandmother's 79th birthday with homemade manicotti and thick pieces of yellow cake with pink frosting.  She's dear to me, and one of the strongest and bravest people I know.  I'm lucky to have such wonderful grandparents.  Happy birthday, Nan--I'm so thankful to have you in my life.

    My grandparents, Thanksgiving 2010

    Birthday card I made for my grandmother