Saturday, September 29, 2012

Soup, Now With Spherical Carrots

So I love Panera Bread.  I can never decide what to get because I want one of everything on the menu.  Today, I tried the seasonal soup, which was Chicken Stew with a cheddar scone-like biscuit.  It was really delicious and filling, and perfect for fall, but as I was eating I noticed something odd: the carrots were spheres.  Are they pressed together bits of carrots, like a chicken nugget concoction but in vegetable form, or did someone use a melon baller on a bag of carrots? Perplexing, but still tasty...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Search for New Glasses

I've been wearing glasses since I was eleven years old.  My first pair had huge round frames in a speckled pink-and-white pattern and covered the entire top half of my face.  I thought they were so cool and instead of wearing them just to see the blackboard, I wore them all the time.  This might have contributed to how horrible my vision is today. At this point, if I don't have my contacts in, I probably could not distinguish between my mother or my male boss standing in front of me.

I've had the same pair of glasses for eight years, and even though I have yearly eye exams, I actually never update the lenses.  The last time I drove with my glasses on, I decided that it was finally time to replace the old prescription.  And why not get new frames at the same time?

I've been looking at Warby Parker glasses for a while and decided to go ahead and take advantage of their try-on program.  All I did was pick five pairs that I really liked and Warby Parker sent them to me to sample for a few days.  That way, I can wear them around the apartment and see what they really look like on.  It was so exciting to receive the box in the mail.  I would highly recommend doing this.  I was really hesitant about ordering glasses online but Warby Parker does everything to make sure that you love the glasses that you wind up purchasing. 

After much consideration, I decided on Fitz in Whiskey Tortoise.  They are similar to the frames I have now but a little larger and bolder.  And finally, I can see clearly. xo

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Entertaining, a.k.a. Everyone loves Cookies

We don't have people over often.  Our apartment is just too small to entertain large groups (we actually still have boxes in a few corners from when we moved in about a year and a half ago--shhhh....).  My father's birthday was last week and since it fell on a Wednesday, we celebrated on Sunday.  Anthony and I dug out the folding chairs and invited everyone over to our place.  We had a simple lunch of baked pasta, and my brother made a pie, but the hit was the batch of chocolate chip cookies that I baked that morning.  Initially, I had planned to make ice cream sandwiches using the cookies but people weren't really interested in assembling their dessert.

In retrospect, the cookies were probably too soft to stack with ice cream anyway.  Lesson learned: I didn't need to fuss so much with the pasta and the salad.  I just need to make sure I always bake fresh cookies when expecting company.  xo

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Get Baking: What Sounds More Delicious Than Something Called Cookie Butter?

I hadn't heard of cookie butter until a few months ago.  I was aimlessly walking around Trader Joe's one night and decided to buy a jar just to see what it would taste like because it sounded so delicious.  In case you've never had it, cookie butter is the consistency of peanut butter but tastes like gingersnaps and graham crackers (or the Belgium cookie speculoos).  It's the kind of thing you can eat little by little by chipping away at it a spoonful at a time.

Last Sunday was unofficially bar-dessert day.  I not only made a batch of peach crumb bars but I also used the cookie butter to make frosted speculoos bars with this great recipe from Butter Me Up, Brooklyn

Note: I was going to substitute in nectarines for these peach bars, but for some reason, the nectarines were all moldy inside.  Inside and around the pit.  Fruit can be unpredictable, even if you did just buy it (thanks, Stop & Shop!) so I improvised and used apricot preserves.  If I were to make these again, I'd make sure the layer of preserves was thicker, but I loved the crust and the crumble on top, which are coincidentally the same dough.

                                    Yup, here I am letting all of the hot air from the oven escape while I take a photo.

The speculoos bars wound up being a hybrid blondie-gingerbread cake concoction. Somehow, I baked them too long. I think they were a bit dry but they paired perfectly with a cup of coffee.

The frosting was very sweet, almost too sweet for me, but interestingly enough, it didn't taste that sugary when it was spread on top of the speculoos bars.  They complimented one another perfectly.

If you can, pick up a jar of cookie butter.  I'd love to try some different flavor combinations, like cookie butter smeared on celery sticks.  Thanks to Brown Eyed Baker and Butter Me Up, Brooklyn for the great recipes.  xo

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

To the Beach

I grew up in a beach town.  Our house was two blocks from the water and even though I didn't go to the beach often, we always had to drive along it to get home.  Maybe that's why the ocean makes me feel like I'm home.  I'm pretty sure I could never live far away from the shoreline or a major body of water for an extended period time.

Anthony and I currently live right at the entrance of the town beach.  In the morning, you can hear the seagulls and sometimes, when it's very quiet, the faraway sound of waves, but my favorite thing is how the air seems extra salty and crisp at the beginning of autumn.  On a Sunday walk down to the pier, my friend and I watched boats crawl between the sandbars.  The sun was warm but the ocean mist was cool.  Summer is really on the way out and I'm more than ready for corduroys and pumpkin bread. xo

Photo taken at Short Beach in Stratford, Connecticut

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Newly Minted

I never thought that I would need business cards, but the last few times that I gave my contact information to someone on a small, crumpled scrap of paper, I wondered if that was really the best way to exchange email addresses and urls.  I'm not a professional writer, but maybe I will be, someday.  Perhaps I should start trying to network more effectively and efficiently.

Enter these really great calling cards from Minted.  I had a credit that I needed to use and when browsing the site, I came across grown-up versions of casual business cards.  I went ahead and ordered a bunch and I hope I get to give one out someday soon.  At least it's more professional than jotting my phone number on the back of a receipt from Bertucci's.  Also, I'm kind of in love with both stripes and the color peach so I couldn't have found a more perfect design.

Do you have business cards? And check out the Minted site; the invitations are gorgeous. xo

Monday, September 17, 2012

Touring the Town

On Saturday, I met with a friend from college who is now back in Connecticut for a PhD program.  He'd never seen New Haven so we spent the day walking around the city as I did my best not to sound like a tour guide. 

I've worked in downtown New Haven for over seven years but I almost never walk around the Yale campus anymore.  When I first started my job, I used to take walks during my lunch hour but found that I loved reading in the courtyards so much that I could barely get myself back to the office for an afternoon of work.  This weekend, the weather was just perfect.  It was almost like we were undergraduates again, blending in with the groups on the sidewalks, talking about television and museums.  It was the kind of easy day that made my friend and I declare that we want to be professional college students and just live on a campus forever.

For me, the best thing about working on a college campus is that things are always happening.  The lectures and speakers and concerts are open to the public and if you really want to take advantage, you can attend an event every night and learn something new daily.  I loved being in school and attending classes.  I even loved writing papers, at least most of the time, and in a way, I think that being a student is the only thing at which I ever really excelled.  But if I can't perpetually be enrolled in graduate programs, working at a university is certainly an acceptable compromise, especially one with so much history. xo

Photo of Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Temporarily Tatted

Have you ever thought about getting a tattoo?  My brother, my sister-in-law and my best friend each have several and I've always liked the way they look.  My reservations are mostly associated with my indecisiveness.  It's hard for me to make decisions sometimes (i.e. choosing which kind of crackers I want at the grocery store) and tattoos are permanent.  If I'm going to get something permanently inked onto my skin, I want it to be meaningful.  In other words, a pink butterfly on my lower back won't cut it. 

I'm so excited to have found these fun temporary tattoos at Tattly, which was founded by Tina Roth Eisenberg, who writes swissmiss.  I've never seen such cute, authentic-looking fake tattoos.  I especially love the designs by Julia Rothman.  Here are a few of my favorites:

I think I'm going to buy a few of these to try, kind of like a trial tattoo (that Happy Birthday banner would look so cute on the nape of my neck!).  Which ones do you like?  xo

Images courtesy of Tattly

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cute Names = Instant Interest

Have you heard of Red Head Roasters, Wendy's new coffee line? When I first saw it advertised, I loved the catchy name.  It sounds more like a cool, quirky cafe instead of a fast food restaurant's beverage menu.  We kept getting all these coupons in the mail for 'buy one, get one free' drinks so we decided to get a couple one night.  Truth be told, I think I would have given them a try either way (usually a cute name immediately piques my interest!). 

Verdict: ehhh.  A bit too sweet for me.  We tried the mocha and the caramel, and I couldn't tell which one I liked better because they were both just okay.  I'd be willing to give the drinks another try though.  Have you tried these coffee drinks?  And am I the only one who loves catchy product names?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tea Time

I came across these cookies on Pinterest and I am in love.  They are shortbread cut into the shape of a teabag, complete with string detail for the tag.  They are just so creative and would be absolutely adorable for an afternoon party.  What do you think? 

It was really hard to find an original source for this but I think I tracked it down to this awesome French site.  (via Le Petrin)