The Master and Commander of Pastry

Hi there,

Mother’s Day is approaching!  What will you be doing for your mothers? This is the first year that I will be spending Mother’s Day apart from my mom; and I’ll admit that I’m sad.  It’s hard to spend holidays apart from your family.  My wonderful Aunt Cindy knows what it is to be far away from family, having re-located to the east coast about  sixteen years ago,so when she invited us to spend Mother’s Day with her, I was relieved. Spending time with her, my Uncle Bob, and their boys, makes me feel a lot less homesick.

In honor of the day and my sweet aunt, we will be going to Longwood Gardens.

Doesn’t it look beautiful? We are really looking forward to spending the day with my aunt and uncle and their boys.  We will be having a picnic lunch in the gardens while we are there, and I want to make something special for everyone.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

Flower cupcakes! Appropriate, non?  This icing tutorial from Loralee Lewis will be a tremendous help. So I would make a nice vanilla cupcake, with a butter cream frosting…

Or, I could riff on this wonderful Mascarpone-Filled Cake with Sherried Berries recipe, only have mascarpone frosting, with a few dainty berries on the top of the cake…

This is actually my favorite cake to make. It impresses everyone, and it isn’t hard to make at all. You should try this! Seriously, what are you waiting for? You will be crowned Cake Queen or King..No, the Mayor of Cake Town… The Ambassador of Delicious Flavor.. I’m finished now, sorry… I tend to get over-excited about pastry.

I hope you are having a glorious Monday.



Friday! Hurray! Hurray! Errr.. I mean Saturday.


Yes, apparently while I was in a flu-induces haze, I forgot to post this, even though I had it READY to go for Friday. Blergh.

Happy Friday!

I’m finally feeling a little better! How are you doing? Do you have any big weekend plans?

Yesterday Brendan and I went to Princeton New Jersey (which is such an amazing place).  We got this really amazing olive oil and strawberry balsamic at Carter & Cavero: Old World Oil Company, and visited a kitchen gadget  store called Kitchen Kapers.  It was so much fun being there, in this beyond charming college town, just the two of us focusing on each other.  It is wonderful being out together, and to feeling like we did those first few months of being together.

Here we are at Carter & Cavero:

Here I am tasting all of the delicious balsamic vinaigrettes.

There was such a huge selection of oils and vinaigrettes, we had a hard time picking our favorites.  In the end we got Truffle Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (so wonderful), Strawberry balsamic, Garlic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Tuscan herb Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, and Frantoio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil… Needless to say, we won’t be needing EVOO any time soon!

Also, here are somethings that I’ve been eyeing all week:

A la Patricia Blanchet

These shoes are awesome.  I’ve been wanting to find a pair similar to this for a few years, but nothing really spoke to me like these do.

via House of Turquoise

I love the look of driftwood. Whenever I see a cool drift wood piece it makes me want to learn carpentry so that I could have the ability to make furniture with pieces of awesome wood like the piece above.

via flickr

Brendan would never let me do this, and I’m not sure I would, but it’s pretty cool, right?

Smitten Kitchen’s Porch Swing sounds truly sumptuous.  Now that the weather is getting warming, I see myself having many a gin based cocktail on balmy New Jersey nights. Yum.

Once again, I pay homage to that glorious hue Kelly Green.  This room, designed by Christina Murphy is to die for.  Brendan and I both thought this was such a great look.  Maybe we will replicate it someday.. : )

And I’ll leave you with the sage advice of Ronald Swanson:

Have a stellar weekend! May all your dreams come true.



You’ve Got Mail

I wish that I could be as cute as Meg Ryan when I’m sick.

Perfectly coiffed. Lovely in boyish pajamas, tucking tissues under pillows like a squirrel hiding acorns for the winter while Tom Hanks wait at the door. <em>Her</em> red nose was cute. Mine is dry and sad.

I’m pretty sure that the mountain of tissues that currently surrounds me isn’t remotely charming.

My mom didn’t come for the week.  I am sad, but I understand.

I guess it’s just as well though right? Seeing as how I’m sick in a very non-Meg Ryan kind of way.

My ears are ringing.  I’m going back to bed.

I hope that all of you are better than I am.

I’m making Smitten Kitchen’s Chicken and Dumplings… Feels like good sick food.

Catch you on the flip side… Whatever that means.


Easter Weekend

Hello again friends,

Sorry about the long absence.  Let’s just say taking on a massive project (roman shades) while preparing your large home for weekend visitors is  more than one person should take on.  Things got dicey at Casa de L the morning before Brendan’s parents got here.  Poor Brendan is a champion among men for putting up with my crazed desire to finish my blinds and mop the floor… Simultaneously.

But all of my insanity paid off. Drum roll please.

Yep. I am so glad they are finished. I will be posting a DIY this week, along with price comparisons, so you can see how much it costs to make it yourself, and how much it costs to buy them.

Easter weekend was a lot of fun.  Having Brendan’s family here was a lot of fun.  It is always nice to have family come and visit.  We had lots of delicious food and fun together.  We even dyed eggs!

My Mother-in-law Scottie and I made a board for drying dyed eggs that we found on Here is a pictures of our eggs… And our lamb and potatoes that we had for our Easter dinner. YUM!

Okay… So that’s not a  great picture, but it’s the only one I have (sorry!).

We had a great weekend. Hopefully everyone will come back soon.

What did you do for Easter?



Sunday Night Recap


How were your weekends? What did you do? As promised, I made my Game of Thrones meal, and it was spectacular. The meat pies, which I made with ground veal, lamb and pork (this is usually what’s referred to as a meatloaf mix, I guess- I use it for meatballs), were the best thing we ate last night.  They were such a pain to make, but it was completely worth it.

Making the filling was a cinch, but making the pie dough thin enough (but not too thin!), while still reaching the edge of the each hole (what should I call that? I don’t even know), was very difficult.  In the directions they say to use a glass to cut out the pie dough, but I have larger muffin tins, so I used to a coffee cup, which was the right choice for the bottom part.

I might as well admit that I forgot to take pictures throughout this process because I was literally doing five things at once… Timing was everything.  I get into a zone where I can cook a bunch of things simultaneously sometimes, so there was no time for pictures.

Anywho, I rolled out the dough further after  cutting it out, and then delicately put the dough in each hole.  The top part (which I do not have pictures of was *such* a pain.  If you decide to do this dish (which I recommend you do!) cut out very large pieces of dough so that there is tons overlap, then when you are ready to place the top part on,  you will be able to cut the over lap down, just enough so you neatly pinch the edges  of the top and bottom together.  Also, next time I make these, I will definitely be adding more meat to each pie. I was afraid that if I put too much in, it would somehow  end up tearing the  top and all the juices would run off the side… It didn’t happen, and I think that the pies will look more attractive if they are mounded on the top.

The Fall Bread Salad I made was delicious.  Unlike the recipe, I used pine nuts instead of hazelnuts (what I had on hand), my salad dressing was made out of red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and I  used ciabatta bread. Super super tasty, and easy to do in a hurry.

And because no Game of Thrones meal would be complete without some sort of bone to gnaw on, I made Honey Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon,  I did not roast a whole chicken, I got some drumsticks and made only enough for the two of us.  I have to say, we didn’t really like this chicken.  It was kind of sweet (and I halved the amount of honey used!) and the tarragon came off as kind of sweet as well… I probably won’t make this again… At least everything else was a success! Especially my cake!

For dessert I made Lemon Tea Cake with Blueberry-Red Wine Sauce, and it was delicious!

There is something very soothing about baking. The aromatics of the cake were excellent (tart and lemony, yum!), and it was so simple to make.

The only thing that I’ll say about this recipe, is that the blueberry red wine sauce needed tweaking.  I added sugar (maybe three tablespoons) to the recipe, because it was bitter.  The red wine when it began to boil was not very pleasing to smell, but I have to say that the end result was very good. It tasted kind of like a blueberry mulled wine.

Here’s the sauce before it boiled down a little.

And there’s the finished product.

I just love trying new recipes out on Brendan… No disasters so far. : )

That’s all for now.



p.s. I am working on my shades… DIY post TBA.

Tonight we’re Gonna Party Like it’s 1399

Who else is excited about Game of Thrones!? Game of Thrones has become a fever in the blood. I blasted through the first four novels more quickly than I have ever read any other book.  Now I know some of you might be wondering how I could have become so absorbed by a fantasy series, but this one is different.  It is so refreshing to read a male fantasy author who is able to write real women.

No, not the sexpots, or the girls who want to be boys.  These people are real, complicated  three-dimensional women.

While these ladies aren’t always likeable, they are incredibly compelling, and extremely interesting.  This is why I am super pumped about Game of Thrones Season 2!

In honor of hardcore woman power, and medieval awesomeness, I am making a Game of Thrones inspired meal for me and Brendan.

Now, I know what your thinking, we will not be having huge turkey legs and huge flagons of ale…While flagons of ale sounds pretty awesome, I’m going for something more sophisticated.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

Cupcake-Tin Pork Pies

A pork pie?? Totally worthy of the Game of Thrones season two premier? You betcha!  Next, I think some sort of rustic salad, like this Fall Bread Salad.Then it wouldn’t be a feast without those lemon cakes Sansa is such a fan of.  So I will be making Lemon Tea Cake with Blueberry-Red Wine Sauce!

I think it’s going to great! Maybe I will make some rosemary chicken drumsticks, so that we can nibble on them Robert Baratheon style.

Will you guys be watching Game of Thrones?

That’s all for now.



Green Fingers


How was your weekend? I had a great weekend.  We saw The Hunger Games on Sunday morning, and really liked it (bt-dubs, we are never paying full price for a movie again. Going at 9:30AM was great. I made banana muffins and we ate breakfast in the theater). Brendan, my economist husband extraordinaire, had issues with the economic model  written by Suzanne Collins… It’s okay though, he still liked it a lot.

The rest of the weekend was spent  planting basil, and making a terrarium!

After I made the terrarium with the help of our new neighbor’s son (he’s four and totally cute!), Brendan and I  planted our basil plants that we picked up on Saturday morning.  Unfortunately, after a long sunny week, there was a cold snap, so we ended up planting them inside… Which looks funny in our kitchen… Mostly because of the rustic barrel that the basil is planted in.  But that’s how we roll in Casa de L, what what.

I didn't realize how pale NJ has made me until just now...

It's important to break up the roots so they know they are no longer living in a small pot. This promotes root expansion, so your plant will grow grow grow

Very rustic looking, non? well I liked it anyway...

We are seriously going to eat pesto allll the time.Warm weather come back soon… I want that darn barrel out of my kitchen.

What did you do this weekend?



Friday! Hurray! Hurray!

Happy Friday everyone!

Yesterday was not the greatest of days, but I definitely woke up this morning feeling good.  Today is going to be a good day, and here’s why:

1.  I bought potting soil… Okay, I know that’s not very exciting, but I am thrilled about what I’m going to do with it.  I am going to make a terrarium! Brendan and I are also going to plant basil this weekend.  That’s right folks, we’re going to be eating a looooooot of pesto, and I for one, could not be more excited.

2. I made a marinade for chicken this morning.  Again, not very exciting, right? Wrong! I am making Smitten Kitchen’s Thai Chicken Legs  and Mango Slaw.  It’s going to be so wonderful.  I love that I have already done some of the work, so I won’t have to scramble to serve dinner at a reasonable hour.

4. Dexter and his best buddy Cooper.  These guys have a classic bromance going.  We are pet-sitting for our friends, and use-to-be neighbors, while they are waiting to move into their new home.  Coop has finally settled into life at Casa de L, and I am having a good time watching Dexy and Coop loaf about, and play like puppies.

4. The Hunger Games! Brendan and I are going to go to the movies this weekend to see Katnis kick butt.  I am psyched. after reading the books I definitely wanted to take up archery… Was I the only one?

5. Spring! The air smells sweet.  There’s something kind of intoxicating about the smell of flowers and freshly cut grass. It makes me want to wear sun dresses to twirl in.  I guess I’ve never really grown out of twirling.


That’s all for now.



What’s Cookin’?: Asian Seared Steak


Happy Tuesday!  First off, here is my sewing table.

flowers from our backyard

I put it in the guest bedroom, and it really brightens things up.   I like that it continues my grey white yellow blue theme.  I know my sewing table looks sad and lonely; but I will eventually add things to the table to decorate it.  Annnnnd, I need to  get a chair for my sewing table. I’m thinking that it should be brightly colored and super comfy. We’ll see what I do… As usual, I will keep you posted on my progress.

Moving on, I figured that it was time to do another food post.  Brendan and I have tried to make good low-calorie lately.  Here is what we made a few nights ago.

Seared Asian Steak and Mushrooms on Mixed Greens with Ginger Dressing. I found this recipe on, doing a search for healthy food.  This recipe was super easy to prepare, and very tasty.  As usual, we made some changes. We didn’t use sesame seeds on our steak.  We also used a different cut of meat.  We loved the salad dressing, and thought that it was something we would make in the future for other salads.  When we make this again, I think we will try to make the steak more Asian-y… Maybe we will marinate it with some Asian chili garlic sauce or something.

we trimmed the fat off

When we finished making the meal, we plated it… So, who plated better? I think it was probably Brendan (don’t tell him I said that).

Anyway, it was totally delicious, and very fast. You can find the recipe here.



A Trip With a Friend


I’m back, and fully energized (finally)! This last weekend was one of the best I have had in such a long time. Stephanie and I had a great time roaming the streets of New York, and catching up.  There is nothing better than sharing a bunch of new experiences with someone you care about.

Here are some pictures from our trip:

Murray's Bagels...Yum.

The West 25th Street Market and Antiques Garage


yummy food at Chelsea Market


Steph's amazing hat from The Family Jewels Vintage

The Chelsea Hotel, home to Tennessee Williams and Mark Twain, also the site where Sid stabbed Nancy


La Maison du Macaron... SO GOOD!

No, four macarons were not enough.

Penn Station was so amazing

The New York Library... I don't think I'll ever get over how gorgeous it was.

Magnolia Bakery

Let's face it, I geek out when I encounter famous eateries...What do you want from me?

Were we looking for Jimmy Fallon? You betcha.

Too cute

Dinner at Monster Sushi


Can you tell me what's wrong with this picture?

Drinks at The Met

And that my readers, is our trip in a nutshell.  I loved every minute of it, and wish that we were still there right now. Come back soon Steph!