Friday, June 11, 2010


Today is my lovely neighbor's birthday so I decided to bake her a birthday cake.

I had never baked a cake from scratch before today (I'm a bit embarrassed to say).  But, after a bit of googling and adding my own touches (such as melting chocolate chips to give my cake a nice chocolaty hue), it came out quite nicely.

The squiggle candles are a nice touch, eh?

The real challenge was the frosting: perfecting buttercream.

I found a recipe online that seemed easy and nice, but modified it a bit to my tastes.  Enjoy, it really works quite nice!

1 Cup Butter
1 3/4 Cups Confectioners Sugar
1/2 Whole Milk
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 Cup Boiling Water

-First, boil 1/2 cup of water. 
-In a separate large mixing bowl, add the soft, room temperature butter together along with the sugar, ice cold whole milk and vanilla.  With a powerful hand or stand mixer, mix together until the frosting gets creamy and thick. 
-Measure the water to 1/2 cup and grab a teaspoon.
-While the frosting is mixing, add the boiling water spoonful by spoonful, or pour it in at a slow, drip-drop pace.  Make sure the frosting from the sides is scraped off and included.
-Voila! Presto! There ya be... cream it until whipped and delicious, and you'll have a generous bowl of oh-so-creamy and sweet buttercream frosting!


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday in Paris

Here's an outfit and a few accessories I would recommend for an afternoon in the City of Love.  Hand picked by yours truly.

Happy Sunday morning.

Friday, June 4, 2010

New York, I love you

Happy Friday! I just returned from a short, mid-week trip to New York City.  Boy, it sure gets hot and humid there in the summer! I seem to have developed a nice heat rash on both of my legs to prove it.  Despite the temperatures, I had a fabulous few days exploring the city whilst my lovely fiance sat in long meetings. 

When we arrived Tuesday, we took the Subway down to SOHO and had pizza at Lombardi's Pizza, which claims to be the first pizzeria in the United States.  I'm not sure how much that matters, but the pizza was quite tasty.  Living in Baltimore, it had been a while since we'd had anything that resembles decent pizza, so it was much appreciated.

Wednesday morning we took the Subway to Tom's Restaurant for the cheapest breakfast in America: $11 for two people.  If you don't recognize this photo, there's something wrong with you. 

This neon sign should resemble something familiar

After breakfast, Ryan jetted off to meetings and I took the train to the East Village; partly to search for good coffee but also with the hope of running into Conor Oberst.  Luckily, I was successful navigating myself to the coffee, but not so much on the Bright Eyes front.  Alas. 

My first stop was at Bluebird Coffee, a tiny spot nestled on East 1st Street.  The entire space must not have been more than 15x20 feet wide, and the robin's eggshell blue walls combined with the salvaged hardwood bar made for a delightfully cozy stop.  Serving Counter Culture Espresso, my macchiato looked and tasted delicate, yet had strong floral notes and a light but present berry-like quality.  The cafe felt comfortable and sophisticated, but not pretentious.  And the group of hip 30-something's cooing over a newborn probably added to my warm-and-fuzzy sentiments of this cozy place.

My next stop was Abraco, but they closed at 4 PM and I arrived at twenty minutes past.  Next time.

Lastly, I headed up 1st Avenue and over to 9th Street Espresso.  The espresso used by 9th Street is roasted by Intelligentsia Coffee, a popular roaster based out of Chicago.  My macchiato was tasty and strong. Considering it was my 6th shot of the day (on top of drip coffee at Tom's), I'm fairly sure it made me high.  I tasted high acidity, so lots of berries and citrusy fruit, but with a nice chocolaty-earthy, full-bodied finish.  The mood was subdued and perhaps a bit sterile, and more inviting to Mac users and Census workers than new parents gathered to show off a newborn to friends.

That night, we headed to Hell's Kitchen for falafel at Gazala Place.  Falafel, tabouleh, hummus, tahini, lamb kebobs, stuffed grape leaves, galore!  Yum. Yum. Yum. 

Thursday morning, being dropped off just blocks away from Rockefeller Plaza, I figured I should probably stop in at The Today Show and try to get on TV. Mission accomplished: just stand by a group of loud moms wearing neon-colored polo shirts holding a sign saying "Mommies in the City".  I called my parents later that morning to confirm, and sure enough, at about 8:50 AM there I was waving hello on national television. 

The Today Show studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza

This guy (Lee Dewyze) won American Idol?  Who knew! 

Matt, Meredith, and Natalie (I've always been a fan of Matt Lauer)

Russel Brand unbuttoning his shirt for Meredith Vieira

After The Today Show excitement, I took the train south toward Chelsea.  Cafe Grumpy was my destination, a popular cafe with three locations throughout the city.  Grumpy features a $12 cup of single-origin Ethiopian coffee, but I opted for a cappuccino instead.  The barista who served me was patient and friendly and gave me a complicated but well detailed description of the "V-Bar" (vegan bar) when I inquired.  While the espresso tasted nice, unfortunately the foam in my milk began to disintegrate rather quickly and was disappointing.  But, the garden-like ambiance, friendly service and strong reputation convinced me to give this place another shot on my next visit.

After Grumpy, I headed north to the Upper East Side for a visit to the Guggenheim, but sadly it is closed on Thursday's.  Luckily, The Met was open so I popped in there for lunch and a Picasso exhibition.  Then, it was back down to 5th Avenue to meet up with Ryan.  This was the beautiful view as I came out of the Subway.

Central Park South, a block from the Plaza Hotel and 5th Avenue

Since Tiffany's was just a block away, I figured I owed it to myself to stop in and pay homage to Audrey.  Did you know that Tiffany's has 5 floors, not just the ground level as seen from the sidewalks?  I went ahead and invited myself to the second floor to peruse diamond engagement rings and had a splendid time doing so.  On my way out I spotted this little beauty, The (287 carat) Tiffany Diamond. It is the largest yellow diamond ever discovered and has been worn by only two women, Jean Schlumberger and Audrey Hepburn

That, my friends, concludes my New York journey this time around.  I hope you enjoyed reading and salivated with me along the way.

My very best wishes to you this weekend, and please follow my advice with these two words this on this, the first weekend in June: Popsicles and Margaritas.