20130131

February is a BIG Month

February is a a big month in our house.. we have so much to celebrate. I celebrate a birthday and while I'm not there yet.. next year I'll be celebrating a big milestone birthday with a big 0 at the end.. yikes. M celebrates his birthday the very minutes mine comes to an end.. so it's a two day celebration.. though sometimes we celebrate just all week long. :) We also got engaged during this fabulous month.. and then there is Valentine's Day which honestly just gets over shadowed by all the other awesomeness of the month.

This year and hopefully if you like every year from here on out I am going to host a BIG BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY!

Eleven days and eleven great prizes..


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20130128

The Mid Atlantic in Pictures









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20130121

Bread Pudding

One of my favorite desserts, a non chocolate dessert that is, is bread pudding. I have loved it since I was a child, it reminds me of home and warmth. I love that it is an understated dessert, sans frills plus it has bread in it.. how could it not be loved? Not to forget your home will smell delectable. 

It is also so simple to make. You start with a croissant

Tear it into medium sized pieces and place in a baking dish. I like to add a handful of chopped walnuts


 Then we have our five ingredient fix. 1 cup milk, 1 cup cream (it doesn't have to be heavy), 1 cup of sugar and 2 eggs. The fifth ingredient I leave to you.. a dash of cinnamon or a teaspoon of vanilla. I went with cinnamon.


In a pot swirl a few tablespoons of water with the sugar to dissolve. Then cook on medium heat till bubbles and thickens. Whisk occasionally till it starts to caramelize. 


In another bowl whisk the milk, eggs, cream and cinnamon. When sugar mixture is ready turn off heat and slowly, very slowly pour the eggs mixture into the pot stirring simultaneously. Else the sugar will harden. Once everything is mixed together pour over the bread and let sit for 10 minutes.


Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees and enjoy! We were so busy enjoying it that I completely forgot to take a picture of the finished result.. : )


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20130117

Aunty Acid

I've been having one of those weeks.. and while I do have some delectable food to blog about I'm just not in the mood.. so for those of you who like me are just waiting for Friday evening to arrive, here's a few laughs from me (courtesy of Aunty Acid) to you to help you get through the rest of this week

Let the laughing begin!






and now for some wisdom.. which while funny is also so very true:


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20130114

Something Old and Something New

Recently I stumbled upon a few photographs I had taken during a photo walk in Westfield, New Jersey. I had thought I had lost them when my hard drive crashed a few years ago. So I thought I'd share them with you.



And then here's a little something new.. I took these last May when we were driving along the beautiful Skyline Drive in Virginia.



All photographs are available for purchase here

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20130110

Reading in 2012

This wasn't the best year for me and books.. I read plenty but not many blew my mind..

I used to have this thing about never leaving a book unfinished. I thought it rude to the author to not finish. There was always a slight chance that things would turn around and with a little clever twist I would end up liking it rather than not. I can no longer afford to do that. I am mom to a toddler, I am exhausted, I barely get the time to read. I make the time because I love to read. If in the first few chapters I am not even mildly engaged then I just stop reading and move on. I also joined Good Reads this year and love it, I entered a few of the giveaways and one a few books :) Which in turn exposed me to a few writers I hadn't known..

Virgin of Small Plains - Nancy Pickard - Started strong but ended predictably

The World According to Garp - John Irving - Loved this one. It made me laugh and cry. It stayed with me long after I finished reading it.

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest - Stieg Larsson - A great end to a great series.. Lisbeth, you will be missed.

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Gail Gaiman - This was supposed to be hilarious.. I expected fits of laughter. It got a few chuckles and a giggle or two from me or maybe I have lost my sense of humor. M would disagree, he thinks I usually laugh for no apparent reason.

Codon Zero - Jim Hendee - The premise while typical, one man beating the odds and saving the world it had a few good twists but that all stopped half way into the book when everything just became so predictable.. If I had finished reading this one I could say that a few more twists occurred and it got interesting.. but I didn't have the patience to.

The River Witch - Kimberly Brock - I had very low expectations when I started reading this one. But I ended up enjoying it immensely. While it had it's predictable moments and it's cliches the writing and message was just so beautiful, the book had soul.

Out Of It - Selma Dabbag - It is a book about the Gaza Strip. As a Muslim this book about Muslims in war torn Gaza offended me on so many different levels. I consider myself a moderate Muslim. Some of our core beliefs include no alcohol which the characters of this book drank constantly. We believe in no sex before marriage, which the characters seemed to be having plenty of. And most of the characters so conveniently were travelling to London?! It just didn't make any sense. Was the author trying to say 'yes we're Muslims but we're not all bad.. look look we drink alcohol and have sex before marriage like all you normal folks?!" I did not just not complete the book I also was angry with it.. it made we angry long after I had banished it to the bookshelf... grrr

To Wander The Labyrinth - Brian Peters - Fast paced. A lot about the torture techniques used by the government, Peters painted such a vivid pictures it was at time disturbing. I may not have loved the book but it was not bad. The only major problem I had with it was the ending, I hate those think what you want endings.. I don't want to have to come up with the ending myself.. you are the author, you are supposed to do that!

The Elusive Mr. McCoy - Brenda L Baker - It was a standard mistaken identity/man living two lives tale but I was hooked. It was a great entertaining read.

Nobody Move - Denis Johnson - This one I stopped reading even before I started it. The Mother in Law Diaries by Carol Dawson and Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris met a similar fate.

Maps of Hell - Paul Johnston - It was a crazy fun ride.

61 Hours - Lee Child - So blah. Sure I didn't know who the bad guy was until it was revealed but I found myself not even caring. But I did finish this one..

Ravens - George Dawes Green - This book could have been so good, it had so much potential. But it was such an utter waste..

The Help - Kathryn Stockett - Do I really need to say much about this one. You know I loved it.. and for those of you who watched the movie but didn't read the book, READ the book. It is better. I waited to read it before I watched the movie..

Fire Season - Jon Loomis - It was funny, clever, unpredictable and sometimes even a little predictable. There were many story lines some more interesting than other.. I liked the book but just not enough to love it. I'm not really sure what was it was... but something was just missing.

So I guess that makes it 12 books read and finished. Unfinished 5.. yikes.
Here's a look at what I read in 2011

What was your favorite read of 2012? Something to add to my never ending list of reads.. :)

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20130107

We Baked a Cake

D turned two and a half just before Christmas.. I took it as an opportunity to introduce him to the world of baking. He has helped me out in the kitchen before but never have I let him be in control of the process from start to finish minus oven duties.. though he did spend a lot of time at the oven door staring in.





He has yet to grasp the concept of licking.. he just stuffed the whole whisk in his mouth.




He was so tired with all the mixing, licking batter and decorating that when the cake was ready and it was time to dig in he ate a bite, laid down and said no. Ah the life of a baker.

Moist Chocolate Cake from Hershey’s Kitchens

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Unsweetened Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Whipped Cream Frosting
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
blue food coloring

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Whipped Cream
In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.  Add in 3 drops of red food coloring and beat until color is distributed.

Note: I used half the recipe and baked two 5in round pans

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20130103

The Holiday Week That Was

Here's a recap of how we spent our Christmas week.. we don't celebrate so there were no trees and presents but there was a Santa and some hot chocolate (Jacques Torres makes a great cup) , lights and fish and toddler fun all around.

We spent Christmas Eve walking 5th Ave and checking out all the window displays. We also met with an old friend of mine.. we've known each other since we were twelve I think and it had been a few years since we had met.. and in those we years I had had D and she had gotten married.. so it was wonderful hanging out with her.. even if only for a few hours.



we stopped by Grand Central Station's Transit Museum Store and Gallery Annex where they had set up there 11th Holiday Train Show.. D could hardly contain his excitement, he even tried to jump into the display a few times.


Christmas Day was spent in the Camden Discovery Museum chasing fish..




And the next day we spent running around in Philadelphia's Please Touch Children's Museum.. a must for every kid if you're ever in the area.. it was awesome. We spent over four hours there and had to leave only because they were closing up.





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