Friday, June 24, 2011

It Never Gets Old

I'm not sure if you noticed, but I love Tex Mex. Love might not be the right word. I am obsessed with it. I eat either tacos or taco salad at least once a week, sometimes twice. I almost always suggest going out for Tex Mex when given the opportunity and it is very rare that I turn down a margarita on a Saturday night. What can I say? I know what I like!

When a local Tex Mex restaurant finally opened up not too far from our house, you better believe that I bugged Josh to come with me to try it. Sure I've eaten at Margaritas before, but never so close to home. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint! Just writing about it makes me want to go back there right now. YUM!

No Tex Mex meal is complete without with out a margarita, especially at a place called Margaritas! They had so many choices but I went with a Prickly Pear one (very sweet but so tasty) and Josh, of course, had something pink. :)

The chips and salsa went perfectly with the margaritas. As someone who is not too into spicy salsa I enjoyed this combo perfectly. On the other hand, Josh, who enjoys his spice, was also pleased with the salsa. We both agreed that the chips were great and a lot less greasy than other restaurants.

I immensely enjoyed my traditional tacos. They were delicious, the perfect amount of food, seasoned perfectly, and beyond hit the spot. It was a great choice!

Josh had his favorite, fish tacos, which he loved. There was not even 1 bite left on the plate. Though I will say that is par for the course with both of us when we eat Tex Mex.

What can I say? For me, and now Josh, Tex Mex never gets old!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Double Take

One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn't belong. 
But which one?

While shopping in the kosher section, we stumbled upon this. 
Yes, that is a bag of shrimp on top of a whole pile of kosher Empire chicken.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

The summer is the time to be outside, be active, and have fun. It is the time of year when the days stretch on and being inside is the last place you want to be. Except sometimes. Sometimes at the end of the night you just want to curl up with a good book...or a guilty pleasure.

That's where summer TV comes in. There is no bigger guilty pleasure than summer TV. And this year is no exception.

When I'm not at work, or out running, or hanging out with friends, or doing every other single outdoor activity that I can think of, I will most certainly be watching at least 1 of my 5 favorite summer shows.
  1. So You Think You Can Dance - best dance show. period.
  2. The Voice - American Idol what? This is a million times better and it has Blake :)
  3. Army Wives - 5 seasons later and I'm still hooked.
  4. Switched at Birth - I hope I never get too old for ABC Family
  5. Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - a close 2nd to The Biggest Loser
What are you watching this summer?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What do you do?

Generally I eat the same thing for lunch every day. In fact, I think I ate the same thing for lunch every day from kindergarden through 12th grade. 1 peanut butter sandwich, 2 cookies, and a cut apple. That's it. No variation.

These days I sometimes still eat peanut butter, but I'm also into cheese. Cheese sandwiches, crackers and cheese, cheese with cheese and more cheese. I can't get enough. Josh, on the other hand, likes to switch up his lunch options. More often than not he has a salad, but sometimes he has a veggie burger or leftovers. Lately, he has gotten pretty creative with some colorful wraps. I have to say, they look so good I'm almost, but not quite, rethinking my lunchtime routine.

What do you bring for lunch?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meatless Monday: Fiddleheads!

In honor of Meatless Monday, I thought I would talk about one of Josh's favorite veggies, FIDDLEHEADS!

According to the University of Maine's Cooperative Extension Publications:
Fiddleheads, an early spring delicacy in Maine, are the young coiled leaves of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Nearly all ferns have fiddleheads, but those of the ostrich fern are unlike any other. Ostrich fern fiddleheads, which are about an inch in diameter, can be identified by the brown papery scale-like covering on the uncoiled fern, as well as the smooth fern stem, and the deep ”U”-shaped groove on the inside of the fern stem. Look for ostrich ferns emerging in clusters of about three to twelve fiddleheads each on the banks of rivers, streams, and brooks in April and May. Make sure that you have landowner permission before harvesting fiddleheads.
Since fiddlehead season is way too short, Josh tries to use them as much as possible. I have to admit, the first time he ever made I was skeptical. They looked different from anything I had ever eaten and I just wasn't brave enough to try them. This year, however, I jumped right on the fiddlehead train. I am so glad that I did. They are delicious! They taste like a cross between broccoli and spinach, only much, much better.

When trying to learn how to make fiddleheads, Josh of course turned to our own resident Maine Farmers. (In case you haven't seen it yet, Karl and Margaret and their Ten Apple Farm was featured on the front page of the Gray Independent! It is a great story, you should check it out.) Margaret shared with Josh her recipe for an out of this world fiddlehead and avocado salad. While we both thought the salad was yummy, the true test of any dish is when you bring it to someone's house and there are no leftovers. 2 meals later, there wasn't a drop left. Really, it's that good.


1 pound fiddleheads, rinsed and trimmed
2 avocados, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and blanch fiddleheads for 1 minute. 
Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking. 
Pat dry with a clean dish towel.

In a large bowl, combine fiddleheads, avocados and sesame seeds.

In a small bowl, whisk together canola oil, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. 
Pour over the fiddlehead and avocado mixture and gently toss.

Sprinkle with sea salt and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Through the Looking Glass

Looking for something different to do this weekend? Look no further than the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston. You will not be disappointed!

Not only is the MFA full of all of the beautiful art that you remember as a kid, but the new Art of the Americas wing is spectacular.  I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time at the MFA. I have taken drawing classes as a child, visited many of my favorites over and over, and seen countless world renowned exhibits.

Despite so much exposure to these amazing works of art, nothing has blown me away quite like the glass work of Chihuly. If you are unfamiliar with his work, below is a basic bio by the MFA.

Over the course of his career, Dale Chihuly has revolutionized the art of blown glass, moving it into the realm of large-scale sculpture and establishing the use of glass—inherently a fragile but also magical material—as a vehicle for installation and environmental art. 

By 1965, Dale Chihuly was already captivated by the process of glassblowing. Influenced by an environment that fostered the blurring of boundaries separating the various arts, as early as 1967 Chihuly was using neon, argon, and blown glass forms to create room-sized installations of his glass. Although his work ranges from the single vessel to indoor and outdoor site-specific installations, he is best known for his multipart blown compositions. Based in Seattle, Washington, Chihuly works with a team of glassblowers, a process that allows him to work on a grand scale and to explore and experiment with color, design, and assemblage. "Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass" provides an opportunity to see and explore the full range of his artistic achievements by immersing visitors in the beautiful and enchanting environments created through his extraordinary vision. source

'Through the Looking Glass' is truly a world of wonder. You walk from room to room being mesmerized by larger than life glass installations full of color and dimension. Every time you catch a glimpse of the next piece of art it is bigger and better than the one before. It is hard to believe that these masterpieces were created by one man.

The Chihuly exhibit will be at the MFA through August 7th. This is a must see exhibit that will not disappoint.

Here are a few photos that Josh took during our visit. While these photos are fantastic, they do not even begin to do justice to the amazing installation that Chihuly created and that the MFA put together. 

 I promise, this will not disappoint!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Top Ten

With summer upon us, it is time to dust off my pile of books, sun screen, running shorts, and sun dresses. I love summer. There is so much to do and when the sun is shinning, the world is filled with promise. Nights seem longer, weekends stretch on for what feels like an eternity, and having fun is always top of mind. Sure the carefree summers of camp have come and gone, but as an adult, summer can be a blast.

While I try to make sure I pack as much into the summer as possible, often I wind up doing the same things over and over. But you know what? When your old trusty activities are fun, why not keep doing them?

I thought it would be fun compile my 10 favorite every day summer activities. Of course I love going on vacation, going to the beach, and picnics in the park, but those activities don't happen every day. These are the things that I can do at a moment's notice, that make me smile. They are also the things that may seem ordinary in the winter, but in the summer they are just as glamorous to me as a weekend getaway. Well, sort of.

And without further ado, here are the Top Ten things that Josh and I love to do in the summer (if summer ever comes!)
  1. Grill: Sure Josh grills all year long. In fact, the colder and snowier it is, the more likely he is to want to BBQ. But there is something about the summer that makes grilling so much more fun. We almost exclusively use it to make our dinner and have been known to have a big blow out BBQ or two.
  2. So You Think You Can Dance: SYTYCD is hands down the best dance show/reality show on TV. You will not find better dancing anywhere else on TV and the live show is out of this world.
  3. Movies: This is more for Josh than me. In the summer he likes nothing more than to escape the heat in a nice cold movie theater. He even has a friend who I exclusively call his movie buddy since they would watch every shoot-em-up comic movie ever made everyday if they could.
  4. Books: This one is more for me than Josh. There is nothing I love more than reading books over the summer. Maybe it stems from years and years of summer reading lists, maybe I'm just a huge nerd, but either way I love to read. I love a good beach read as much as an intelligent autobiography, and everything in between. So far this summer spring I've read: Hoda by Hoda Kotb, Best Friends by Jennifer Weiner, a significant chunk of Decision Points by George W. Bush, and 1 very special book that will get its own post later this summer.
  5. Constitutionals: Josh and I both love a good constitutional after dinner. It is fun to end the night with a nice walk around the block. It also helps with digestion and sleeping. We take constitutionals a lot, even when it is cold outside. But in the summer they are so much better. Usually the heat of the day has broken and it is cool outside. If you time it right, you can even miss all of the bugs.
  6. Softball: I threw this on this list tentatively. While I don't particularly love playing softball (Josh does) I do love our team. Every weekend in the spring and summer we are guaranteed to see 15 of our friends for a few hours on the field and then at dinner. It doesn't get much better than that!
  7. Maine: My Maine loving husband just can't get enough. Old Orchard Beach, 10 Apple Farm, the lake, it's his heaven. It did not take much convincing to get me to love it too. Anytime I can go to the beach and see the farm at the same time I'm happy. Oh and did I mention outlet shopping and caramel popcorn? 
  8. Ice Cream: Ice cream is the perfect treat any time of year, but in the summer it is just so much better. Cabots and JP Licks, 'nough said.
  9. Boston: Everything in Boston is better over the summer. Thanks to the millions of students who move out every May coinciding with prime vacation time, hanging out in town is so much more fun. You can park on the street, take the T without anyone invading your personal space, and get reservations at the hottest restaurants in town. Add in some museum time, general exploring, and hanging out on the esplanade and you have the perfect day.
  10. Urban Hikes: This is hands down Josh's and my favorite thing to do in the summer. We may not live near mountains, but we can still hike! We load up his hiking backpack full of water and a picnic and take off. Generally we start at the Brookline end of the Charles and walk all the way down to the Common and back. We may look a little silly with a hiking backpack in the city, but we have a ton of fun getting exercise and checking out the sights. It is the perfect way to spend a Sunday.
What is you favorite summer activity? Is there anything that you do regularly that just seems more glamorous in the summer? Or in the winter?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Orange Tea Cake

For months I have been working my way through Paula Shoyer's The Kosher Baker and documenting some of my successes on the blog. Her recipes are very straight forward and fairly foolproof. 2 qualities that I greatly appreciate as a novice baker.

As you might remember, the recipe that really got me hooked on Paula's amazing recipes was her mandelbread that tasted to me exactly how both of my grandmothers made it. I had an out of this world experience while learning how to bake my favorite childhood treat. When I shared this with Paula, she was kind enough to write back (sometimes I'm still in awe of just how small social media makes the world). I was touched by her kind words and couldn't wait to dive into making her Orange Tea Cake at her suggestion.

As seems to happen more often than I like to admit, life got busy and I didn't have time to make this yummy cake. Then I read a post by Paula about her experience doing a baking demonstration in her grandmother's kitchen that now housed the same Chabad Center where her grandmother grew up.  I won't pretend to be able to capture what the experience was like for her, but I highly recommend reading her post. It is incredibly moving.

With a little inspiration, I finally dove in and made her Orange Tea Cake. She was not kidding, this cake is beyond delicious and pretty easy to make too! I was shocked that it was pareve. This thing is so good and the perfect crowd pleaser. I can not recommend it enough or thank Paula enough for suggesting it.

Cake Ingredients:
1 Earl Gray tea bag
½ cup boiling water
2 cups plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
4 large eggs
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest (grated outer peel) (from 1 orange)
¼ cup fresh orange juice (from zested orange)

Cake Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°
Grease and flour a large Bundt pan

Steep the tea bag in the ½ cup of boiling water
Add 2 teaspoons of the sugar and stir until dissolved
Let steep while you prepare the batter

Add 2 cups of sugar, the eggs, oil, flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla, orange zest, and orange juice into a large mixing bowl

Mix on medium speed until well combined

Lift the tea bag from the tea and squeeze excess tea into the tea to make it as strong as possible
Discard the tea bag
Pour the tea into the batter

Mix for 2 minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed
Ingredients should be well combined and the batter should be creamy

Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan
Turn the cake onto a rack and let cool completely

Glaze Ingredients:
1 Earl Grey tea bag
½ cup boiling water
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Glaze Directions:
Place the tea bag in the ½ cup of boiling water and let steep 2 minutes
Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl
Add 2 tablespoons of the brewed tea 

Whisk until the sugar has dissolved and you have a white glaze you can pour
Let the glaze sit 5 minutes to thicken

Pour or drizzle glaze over the cake

Just like the picture! This cake could not be easier to make or come out more delicious. I guarantee if you follow all of Paula's steps you will have a dessert that will impress all of your guests.

Thank you Paula for yet another amazing recipe!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Only Me!

I've said it before and I will say it again, these things only happen to me! I swear. It is as if someone is writing a comedy about my life, only they forgot to add the laugh track and commercial breaks. (Thankfully it's only a comedy and not a drama! I can handle small, silly hiccups, it's the big, serious stuff that scares me.)

A few weeks back both Josh and I had to bring our cars in for service. It was obviously not ideal that both cars needed work at the same time, but we figured out our schedules so we could drive each other to and from work. Things like that used to be a lot easier when I took the T to work! That said, I love my super short commute and driving beats the T any day of the week.

My car was scheduled to go in first. On the big day, Josh and I got up early and dropped off my car at the dealer. The plan was for Josh to follow me, drop me off at work, pick me up at the end of the day, and take me back to the dealer. Luckily we don't work too far apart!

After successfully dropping my car off and getting the wonderful news that I was still under warranty (score!) and the service would only take a few hours (double score!), we made our way in the rain back to Josh's car. That was when the day took a turn for the worse. Right there in the parking lot of the car dealership, Josh had the worst flat tire either one of us had ever seen.

Being the all around handyman that he is, Josh immediately got to work changing his tire. Of course he had a spare in his trunk (like I would even know where mine was), a jack (again no clue on that), and an air pump (yeah, no way for me). After working away for what felt like forever (the rain just wouldn't quit) he looked up defeated. The tire was stuck.

A technician from the dealership came out to help. He quickly realized that in fact the tire was stuck. Somehow the tire had rusted onto the car and the only way to get it off was to put it up on the car lift. While the technician said he would be happy to work on the tire for him, Josh decided that he wanted to take his car to his own mechanic. I stayed out of it.

After pumping enough air in the tire for him to drive, Josh dropped me off at work and went on to see his mechanic. They of course informed Josh that the tire that was flat was not on the only tire that had been rusted onto the car. (not cool) They also looked at his engine (remember that service appointment he had? Good thing! Because a valve, or a hose, or some other official sounding thing was not working properly) and offered to fix it  for the low, low price of more than we had intended to spend that day. (double not cool) They did, however, promise to fix everything that day. (Hey, look at that! A silver lining!) Josh left his car with the mechanic and got a ride into work with a friend who lived nearby. Oh did I mention that all of this happened before 9:00am?

Sometime around 3:00pm it hit me. Both Josh and I were at our respective workplaces without cars or ways to get home. Sure, I could walk to my parent's house and Josh could probably catch a ride home with a friend, but that would not solve our larger issue of not having our cars. My car was done first but I had no way to get there. Josh had a few ways to get to his car, but it was not done. (quite the pickle!)

On a whim I decided to call my Aunt who lived right near the car dealership and not too far from my office. She was not supposed to be home, but thankfully she was. Being the best Aunt on the planet, she agreed to rescue me and bring me to pick up my car. Then I could go and pick up Josh from work. It was the perfect plan.

When I finally got back in my car (all fixed and clean too!) I called Josh to tell him I was on my way. The phone went straight to voice mail because he was calling me at the exact same time (that happens to us too many times to count. we must have a weird 6th sense thing going on) to tell me that his car was done and he was getting a ride to pick it up from another good friend of ours. Finally! Something went our way.

It was a crazy unfortunate accident of a day that I hope we never have to repeat it. But I am extremely grateful for my Aunt (always) and so many of our friends who work with Josh and are always willing to lend him a hand. They all made this horrible chaotic day much, much better. Them and the fact that we currently have 2 perfectly functioning and beautifully running (fingers crossed) cars!

I told you this was a comedy without a laugh track.

File Under: Only Me!

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Whole Lot of Firsts

Life is full of 'firsts.' There are first steps, first days of school, first broken bone, first crush, first car, first broken heart, first day of work. Each 'first' has its own significance and its own special place in your memory bank.

When you meet the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with, the firsts add up quickly. Your first conversation, first date, first kiss, first I love you, first trip, engagement ring first significant piece of jewelry, first day being engaged, first day being married, first dance, first house. Each first is so much better than the next that it is impossible to imagine how anything could ever be better. And yet, it is.

Today marks another first. Josh and I are celebrating our first anniversary. I am still blown away at how quickly 1 year has gone by. I also can't believe that 1 year ago today we were surrounded by family and friends signing our ketubah and dancing the night away. It truly is remarkable.

And, it isn't the only first we are celebrating this month. One year ago June we bought our house. I am even more stunned that we have been homeowners for a year than that we have been married for a year. 1 year. Wow.

Our love story with our house is similar to our love story. It was love at first sight. Cheesy I know, but the first time we walked through the doors of our now house Josh and I fell in love. It was cute, the perfect size, and it instantly felt homey. We loved the kitchen and pantry, the amount of space in the living and dining room, and the fact that it had the perfect number of bedrooms and bathrooms. We also loved the basement, backyard, and porch. It was, and still is, the perfect first house.

My love story with Josh is well documented on the blog. For us, like with the house, it was fast and furious. We met, fell in love, got engaged, and then married in less than 2 years. That is just the kind of people we are. We hate to waste time when something is right. As we see it, we may have rushed through the beginning, but now we have the rest of our lives to enjoy one another and the life we have created together.

As this year of firsts comes to a close I am happily reminiscing about our wedding day and the day we bought our house. Both were filled with a few nerves and a lot of excitement. On both days we knew we were making decisions that would forever change our lives for the better and could not imagine being happier than we were at the very moment. And yet, as the last year has gone on, we have found happiness in so many places. Setting up our house, making and enjoying meals with friends, celebrating even more milestones with family, going to concerts, having quiet nights at home. These are the things that I rememeber, that remind me every day of what a perfect choice I made one year ago today.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wait, What? Really?

I'm back. Yup, that's right, I'm back. After a few weeks to get my life in order, it's back to blogging for me.

I wasn't sure how to start this post. I was afraid I had lost my momentum and that you had lost your interest. But then I had a conversation with a really good friend who I hadn't spoken to in an embarrassingly long period of time. I was a little nervous to talk to her at first. Sure we have been friends for the better part of 15 years, but we hadn't spoken in almost a year (so embarrassing!). You know what? The conversation was great! Sure the first few minutes were tentative and we were both a little less forthcoming than we had been in the past, but then we hit our groove and it was like no time had past at all. That's what I love most about old friends. No matter what has happened and how long it has been, you can always just pick up where you left off.

It's been a few weeks, but now I'm picking up where I left off. I have some ridiculous stories, delicious recipes, and a bit more time to devote to blogging. While I'd rather start by sharing the most ironic thing that has ever happened to me, I might as well answer the million dollar question: "Where was I?"

As you know, I work in higher ed. That means a really big commencement ceremony and weeklong festivities near the end of May. It also means a lot of communications activities and late nights. On top of my day job, I can finally proudly say that I have started my own media and public relations business...sort of. I have one client (hey, we all have to start somewhere!) that I have been devoting a lot of my non-work hours to. The story I am pitching for them is beyond exciting and we have gotten some great media attention. I am very excited about this project and hope to have more like it in the near future.

Between my day job, my new business venture, and trying to have a life, something had to give. As much as I love blogging and sharing with you, I needed a few weeks to get myself in order. Now that I am organized I am excited to get back to writing. I have missed it! Thanks for sticking by me and I will do my best to keep you entertained with stories of (TEASER) cars breaking down, home improvement projects, easy summer recipes, adventures in baking, and my most daunting exercise challenge to date. And of course about SUMMERTIME!