Showered with Love

If you guessed that it has been a busy few days for me, then you guessed correctly! This past weekend was my bridal shower, and it was a wonderful time with friends and family! I am so very appreciative to everyone that came, helped, and had fun with me and cannot wait to continue the celebration in May.

It was a ‘travel-themed’ shower, which is perfect given our explorations throughout Europe now that we live in Germany.

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There was pretty paper from Paper Source, covered in maps of Italy, the globe, and of course, Paris.
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A stack of mini suitcases, bursting with flowers and topped with an ‘Up’ themed hot air balloon/balloon display.

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Favors for our guests were mini apple crumb pies from Magpie…which you can learn much more about here !

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I love food, and we had an abundance of it at the shower! Besides those pictured…there were truffled fingerling potatoes with crème fraîche and salmon roe, beef brisket sliders on brioche buns with pear jam and red peppers…the list goes on and I’m hungry all over again!

One of my favorite  parts of the shower, was the crepe station set up in the kitchen. Unlimited mini crepes and a variety of fillings, handed to you on site. Button’s Creperie nailed it and were wildly popular with everyone! (Thank you again Lauren!!)

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In the event that a few mini crepes weren’t enough for anyone, there was an excess of dessert…including adorably decorated cupcakes, french macarons for days, and an Up-Inspired cookie cake appropriately declaring, ”Let’s Be Adventurers!” IMG_1487 IMG_1486 IMG_1485 IMG_1484

 

There was the required present opening pomp and circumstance, and thankfully, I have an incredible bridal party to keep me from looking too  silly in front of everyone. Something about opening presents in front of a crowd makes for potential awkward in my case…IMG_1497 IMG_1507 IMG_1488

I was spoiled rotten by everyone and I cannot stop saying how grateful I am…so many beautiful, useful, and wonderful gifts that I cannot wait to use in Jordan and my home one day!

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Thankfully, our flower girl provided ample distraction for the “oohers” and “aahers” too!

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I couldn’t be happier or luckier surrounded by all these wonderful people (and Moira!) and marrying my best friend. Thank you again to everyone for “showering” me with love, and I cannot wait to share more fun and joy with you in May!

 

Under 20 Series: Part I

Call it wishful thinking, but I thought it might be fun to post about things to get you out exploring when the weather turns friendly. Hopefully March goes out like a lamb, and we can all get out and enjoy warmer temperatures and sunshine!

Jordan and I both consider the Philadelphia area our state-side home base, so it’s with a lot of enthusiasm that I wanted to do a series on twenty things you can do in the area for under twenty dollars. First up is one of my favorite places in the city: Magpie.

Magpie: 1622 South St. Philadelphia, PA  19146.
Phone: 267-519-2904
Website: http://www.iluvmagpie.com

I will give you exactly one guess what Magpie is all about….

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If you guessed PIE you are correct! Fortunately for you, with twenty dollars in your pocket, the wealth of Magpie is essentially yours. You have options!

No piece of pie will cost you more than $10 for starters, which means you can pick from the seasonal menu offerings, both sweet and savory. And get yourself a cup of coffee or tea too!

To sweeten the deal, Magpie offers a special on Wednesdays, where $14 earns you a slice of savory pie, a slice of sweet pie, and a cup of coffee or tea.

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With beauties like these, how could you possibly resist anyways?

1970415_627773120610355_33058205_n                  Magpie’s Banana Nilla Wafer Pie. Photo credited to Magpie, link via picture.

IMG_1414                  Magpie Blackout Pie: a chocolatey pudding pie that is scary good.

20140326-155517.jpg                  Lemon Gingersnap Pie from the winter menu

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My kryptonite: lemon curd pie with rosemary shortbread. About as perfect a bite of food as any person could ever hope to bestow upon their tastebuds.

20140326-155534.jpgPossibly my second favorite pie ever, the pear ginger crumb.

But what about breakfast?! While I think it’s perfectly reasonable to have pie for breakfast, during the weekend, you can also use that money in your pocket to put quiche in your mouth. Yup, you heard it here too. 20140326-155336.jpg

Magpie’s quiche-game is unparalleled. And the store is BYOB so you can make a truly festive brunch out of it!

Sadly, sometimes you can’t find the time to sit and really treasure your piece of pie with the attention it deserves. If you need your pie on-the-go, there’s a VERY appetizing solution: pie milkshakes.

Slice of pie + rich vanilla ice cream + blender = pie à la mode to go.

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Or you can stay in and eat it too. I thoroughly enjoyed the banana nilla wafer pie milkshake. Probably because I’m human with functioning tastebuds.

There is one more major offering to consider from Magpie, and while it does not fit into the realm of ‘under 20’ sometimes things are worth a little extra. In this case? How about a pie-making class with owner, mastermind, pie aficionado, and all around wonderful human Holly Ricciardi? That sounds good to you? Great! Grab a friend or loved one, and sign up for one of their monthly pie-making classes. Info is posted on their facebook page and website as classes are scheduled, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

My mom and I went back in December and it was so, so, so much fun.

We made cranberry apple pies under Holly’s close supervision and learned a lot about pie, and baking in general. But mostly, we had a lot of fun.

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True story: you, as a pie-making class attendee, are fortunate enough to get the real-deal recipe for both the pie filling and the irresistibly good pie crust that separates Magpie pies from regular pie.

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Looking way too good to be made by me….

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Lattice work like a pro…because a pro was watching/guiding/encouraging
20140326-155502.jpgALL MINE.  You get to take your pie home with you, which just makes it even better because you get to share (or not) the goods with everyone.

So that officially concludes the inaugural post in the “under 20” series and I hope you’re motivated to try some pie. The shop is utterly adorable, the staff is wonderful, and Holly has a well-deserved reputation as the best pie-maker (and incredibly sweet and knowledgeable person!) in town. Now if you’ll excuse me, I really need some pie.

 

 

 

Barcelona Dreaming

The calendar tells me it is springtime, but the weather clearly didn’t get the memo. To cope with the lack of spring fever and the threat of snow and cold temps, I can’t help but reminisce about our trip to Barcelona and think warm thoughts. Easily one of the most beautiful cities we’ve visited, I hope it helps you think of warm days ahead too!

 

We rented a flat via airbnb, and after an easy cab ride from the airport, we settled in before exploring. Right next door was a gorgeous farmers market with beautiful flowers, and lots of food. IMG_0947 IMG_1006

Shortly thereafter, we went exploring.


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Barcelona is simply beautiful–all the historical significance of cities like Paris, with a laid back and tropical feel that make it an ideal vacation spot.

During our stay, we joined a bike tour for a city-wide adventure…

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We saw the Palau de la Música Catalana, which was designed by Lluís Domènechi i Montaner. A noteworthy building because it’s quintessential Catalan modernist style makes for a colorful and beautiful display. While most everyone who visits Barcelona associates this with Gaudi, it was refreshing and eye-opening to see how this particular architectural style is not limited to Gaudi creations, but instead exists as a unique feature of gorgeous Catalonian buildings throughout the city.

 

Having said that though, no trip to Barcelona could be complete without at least a little Gaudi, and in particular, La Sagrada Familia

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An unfinished masterpiece, the church is projected for a 2026 completion date, after beginning construction in 1882. Antoni Gaudi, fresh out of school, managed to win the job from the Barcelona council with his innovative design sketches. There were numerous  set-backs in terms of financing and construction, but Gaudi became so popular that he was able to finance the project from his own pocket by building homes for the wealthy all over the city. However, Gaudi faced a major setback when he died in 1926, and work on the project was halted. Thankfully it resumed once again and continues today. It’s a marvelous story when told in better detail and well worth a visit.

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In our ride through the Barri Gotic, we got to see the castle (what’s left of it) where Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain sent Christopher Columbus on his travels. These were the steps where they stood, upon hearing about land overseas.

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Wandering the Gothic Quarter was wonderful, and full of awesome buildings, winding streets, fun shops, and lots of food. I can’t recommend exploring it enough.

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We also visited Barcelona’s Arco del Triunfo, which cuts an impressive figure

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As well as the Parc de la Ciutadella, which is a gorgeous city park.

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Not to mention a visit to Barcelona Cathedral, which is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, a martyr from Roman times.

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We also saw the former Bull-Fighting arena, which is now used for concerts or sports because Bull-Fighting is thankfully outlawed in Barcelona.

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We ended our tour with some more time on Barceloneta beach, soaking up the gorgeous imported sand (long-story) and the sunny rays.

There’s a lot to love about Barcelona, and while its history is a fascinating one, and its architecture is beautiful, no post would be complete without at least a tiny taste of the food that makes up a huge portion of the culture.

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Pitchers of cava sangria became a daily routine during our visit. It was easily the most delicious and refreshing cocktail I’ve ever enjoyed, to date.

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Platefuls of tapas….

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Having fun at a Basque bar, where you get a plate with your drink and fill it up with small bites from a bar. You pay by the toothpick so you can try a lot of delicious bites!

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Of course, paella.

I feel a little sunnier just reminiscing about Barcelona, and I hope mother nature gets with the program soon so I can enjoy the weather here instead of yearning for warmer temps abroad. In the meantime, keep warm and carry on! There may be a post in the near future on cava sangria, which will at least make us all numb to the cold and bubbly!

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing Bentley

A pawminent part of my life was briefly hinted at in an earlier post. After seeing that his picture was posted, my four-legged friend informed me that it was rather rude of me not to make proper introductions. So to appease his sensibilities, and to share the joy that he brings to everyone he meets, it seems long overdue that I introduce Bentley.

To sweeten my apology to him, for not making those proper introductions, I decided he needed a little something to remind him how much he’s adored. Big chain pet-stores are great options, but this particular occasion warranted something a little more special, and it was definitely worth the effort.

If there’s a special someone in your life, and you’re looking to really impress them, you should give doggy style a try!

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Inside, the store is full of everything your dog (or cat, if you’re into that) could ever want or need and then some…

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IMG_1408Including an epic wall of toys….

And a huge array of special occasion treats that you should definitely label as being ‘for the dog’ because they might be mistaken for people treats…

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After much debating, it seemed only right to go big…so a large, super-tough, pterodactyl toy was purchased for the four-legged mister.

I rushed home to show him his pressie and he was waiting eagerly to see what exactly mom had procured to apologize for neglecting to introduce him earlier….

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and it was love at first sight…or bite….

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Bentley romped for a while before settling down to thank me properly, and remind me that a photo shoot was still in order. How could I say no?

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In case you couldn’t tell, Bentley is right at home in front of a camera. This isn’t news though, all his life my big guy has been quite the camera hog! I can’t resist sharing some of his cutest moments….

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Posing for the camera and for ME Photography

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Most likely posing for a treat…

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The day we brought him home….150730_3200233412470_1638048201_n 603832_10200112646526655_1184609543_n 525553_3204019707125_393709137_n 380318_3204068548346_418462492_n

So you can appreciate his growth in the first few weeks…needless to say I won’t be carrying him again any time soon.

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So now that my dearest canine friend has been appeased, he informed me that he’s very happy you can all now appreciate his cuteness, and suggests you pick up anything at Doggy Style for your friends, to remind them how much you appreciate their unconditional love!

Also, puppies running:

Get Cooking

As a product of my generation, it’s safe to assume that I am dependent on the internet for a lot of information. There is just no substitute for the google machine. Despite the awesome powers of the world wide web, sometimes you really can’t beat the feel and experience of a good, old-fashioned, paper-and-ink, tangible, book. This applies to the heaping piles of  books I’ve read and enjoyed over the years and refuse to get rid of–our movers can testify to the truth in that statement. However, everyone has different taste in literature, so I’m not sure it’s my place to dictate what novels or biographies you should delve into and add to your shelves. Conveniently though, we all do have tastebuds, which means we can all enjoy a good cookbook or twelve. Get Cooking
Cookbooks make a great addition to your recipe repertoire, as well as to stylish bookshelves, counter-tops, and coffee tables everywhere. I picked the books shown above based on certain criteria:
  1. Accessibility: By this I mean you have a fighting chance of finding the ingredients near you. This seems like a low bar to set the standard for cookbooks, but check out The French Laundry Cookbook for a head-scratching experience. Also, the skill-level required to make these recipes is not unrealistic.
  2. Deliciousness: All the books listed offer truly epic recipes on a scale of one to omnomnomnomnomnomnom.
  3. Photography: A good cookbook needs to have pretty pictures, even if you can’t replicate the product perfectly, it’s inspiring to see how beautiful food can look!
  4. Informative: You can learn a lot from these cookbooks. Jason Vale is the master of juices and offers a ton of advice regarding nutrition and overall wellness, while Jose Garces gives a history of Spanish cuisine as well as meal planning advice to appreciate the flavors of various Spanish cultures.
I hope you invest in some of these books, I know I love Garces’s recipe for yuca bread and can’t wait to make all the juice recipes from Vale’s book. Not to mention all the desserts in the Bouchon bakery cookbook! So in the spirit of learning and eating, pick up a book and page through until you land on a picture of something truly wonderful looking, and get cooking!
P.S. Not everything you read on the internet (or in books, admittedly) is true (SURPRISE!), but at least you have a fighting chance of honest writing with cookbooks. An editor, or two, did have to page through those recipes before publication. Plus, let’s be honest, there is no such guarantee with Pinterest recipes.

Shop for a Cause

Multitasking is a habit of mine, and at various times, it applies to cooking, cleaning, working, and shopping. For example, I listened to potential songs for our wedding playlist while cooking, working out, and cleaning. Ta-da! An effective use of my time to accomplish multiple, albeit simple, tasks simultaneously. Magic–I know. I’ve increasingly realized that there’s another way to multi-task to benefit more than your to-do list though, while having a little bit of fun yourself: shopping.
How can this be? To show you, I’ve rounded up pretty awesome products from around the web that are not only enjoyable for you, but also beneficial for various charities. Consider it a win-win for your closet and your conscience.
Shop for a Cause
  • Tory Burch Wrap Bracelets: Casual cool, these bracelets offer a pop of color to any outfit and 100% of the proceeds go to the Tory Burch Foundation, which helps women find economic opportunities in the United States via loans for female small business owners and entrepreneurs, mentoring programs, and education. Kudos to Tory!
  • FEED Bags: While not new, these bags remain a staple in the charitable wardrobe for good reason. In pretty prints, these totes are meant for summer and provide over 50 school meals to children in India and Africa.
  • Warby Parker: In the spirit of another do-good company, TOMS footwear, Warby Parker donates one pair of frames for every purchase, to people in need all over the globe.
  • Wounded Warrior Project: Perhaps this organization is a little nearer and dearer to my heart thanks to the time I spend with military service men and women, but don’t let my bias impede your purchase. Under Armour partnered with WWP to create an activewear clothing line whose proceeds go right to WWP, and to helping wounded US Veterans on the road to recovery.
  • J.Crew: J.Crew currently has two t-shirts that benefit charities, a 100% of proceeds for the Teach for America Tee go to the organization, while 50% of proceeds for the Philippines tee help with disaster relief.
  • Same Sky: Same Sky is an interesting and noteworthy charity that teaches African women artisan skills to become self-sufficient. By teaching these women in sub-saharan Africa various craft skills, Same Sky ensures they earn 15-20x more than their female counterparts in the area. 100% of the proceeds from these bracelets (and there are a lot of options on their website) go back to the women for more jobs and more supplies.
In truth, it’s a very simple way to make sure your choices are good ones in a bigger sense than your wardrobe. So get multi-tasking via shopping and do-gooding!

Bouncing around Belgium

Sorry for being AWOL the past few days–but I promise I have a good excuse, my dog ate my blog. 603832_10200112646526655_1184609543_n

In truth, Bentley had nothing to do with it and is blameless (as always). Instead, Jordan and I did quite a bit of traveling this weekend and I didn’t get a chance to sit down properly and get to work. But better late than never, here’s a general run down of our explorations.

We woke up early Friday morning, jumped in the car and sped off–literally, it is Germany after all–to Brussels. One thing I can’t get over about European road trips is how nice and easy they are to take. For example, here is a German rest stop where we grabbed lunch.

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America needs to get with this program…we had schnitzel, salad, and pommes frites before hitting the road again. I still can’t wrap my head around how nice it is to have this option when traveling in Germany.

When we got to Brussels after our lengthy travels we settled into our stylish flat, before dropping our bags in search of the best Brussels has to offer.

20140318-080502.jpgLike moules-Frites for dinner…

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Tasty belgian beers were a must

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and Waffles. Let me state, for the record, that I don’t get worked up about waffles or pancakes. They’re usually too cakey and I’d rather have poached eggs. However, these waffles are in a class all their own and are unlike anything we’ve ever had. Liège waffles have an entirely different consistency and a superior taste to anything else, and are widely available in Brussels. I’m working on figuring out how to recreate them at home so stay tuned for that experiment in later days…

20140318-080514.jpgPanoramic view of the Grand Palace  at night….so gorgeous!

After a bit more exploring, Jordan and I wandered back to our flat with the help of spritely cab driver. Saturday was meant for a tad more exploring before continuing on our way.

Which means Saturday was really just another opportunity to eat waffles. Twice.

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Part of the Grand Palace by daylight, albeit very dreary, rainy daylight.

We managed to take a walk by the Mannekin Pis

20140318-080636.jpgTrue life, this is a statue of a small figurine urinating in a fountain. It was erected around 1618 and designed by Hieronimus Duquesnoy the Elder. It is only 61cm/24in tall and has been repeatedly stolen, with this version dating back from 1965, and the original restored version kept safely under lock and key at the Maison du Roi. There are many  legends surrounding the statue, including one of a boy who put a fire out by peeing on it and another who was hung in a basket from a tree and peed on enemy troops, who then lost the battle. I kid you not.

Manneken pis also has several hundred outfits that change several times during the week, so if you get to visit him, odds are he’ll be sporting something entirely different.

After that adventure, we wandered through the Galerie de la Reine.

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Before stopping at Mary for some goodies…which I highly recommend a visit!

Finally, we made sure to pick up some beer for Jordan before packing up and heading to Cologne.

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Why did we have to rush over to Cologne you might ask? Well…Beyoncé had two concerts, one Friday and one Saturday and we were fortunate enough to have tickets!

It was easily the best show I’ve ever had the privilege of attending and I can’t begin to tell you how much ‘fangirling’ I’m guilty of committing. 20140318-080652.jpg

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She sang beautifully, perhaps even better than her recorded tracks, and put on an energetic and captivating show that flawlessly mixed in both old and new songs. If I had realized that the sound quality would actually be halfway decent on my phone, I would have recorded better/longer clips. Forgive me and enjoy these tiny samplings of her concert–and if you have a chance to go, you absolutely should!

That about sums up our weekend of adventures, but I’m deadly serious when I say the liège waffle experiment is on my to-do list, if for no other reason than my ability to walk around all the time saying: