Drawn The Road Again

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Chandler O’Leary documents her travels with watercolors in a moleskin journal and, lucky for us, is now sharing them on her travel blog Drawn The Road Again. Her illustrations are amazing – it’s hard to believe most of them are done from a car!

Bookmarked!

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Etsy Obsession

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Sometimes you see something and you just….needtohaveitrightnow. You know?

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Here’s a great example: the cutest garlands on the face of the planet by StudioMucci. They are perfect for a wedding or party, but I think would look just as good (or even better?) in a more permanent space – like hung behind a couch or above a bed. Don’t think B will let me hang a pink sparkly garland above the bed, but a girl can dream, right?

(*Dream about her future MandaCave, that is…*)

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Manda Cooks: Blueberry Coffee Cake & Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

I’ve never attempted biscuits – something about them seems sort of intimidating, no? Well, turns out they are pretty simple, and really delicious.

In addition to planning what bathing suits to pack, books to bring, and what pairs of PJs would make the trip up to the Berkshires, I also planned what I wanted to bake (naturally). I figured we would be eating most breakfasts at the house, so planned a blueberry coffee cake and cheddar jalapeno biscuits. I thought Secret Garden Cake would be perfect for Brett’s dad’s birthday celebration, and also had chocolate chip cookies on the repertoire as another option, especially since we anticipated rain. And then, since a summer vacation isn’t complete without one, a peach and berry cobbler-sort-of-crisp-sort-of-crumble (official name TBD). You never really know what kitchens in rental homes are going to be stocked with, so I measured out all of the dry ingredients at home and brought them with me. Pretty genius, I must admit ; )

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One of my favorite features on Joanna Goddard’s blog is when she has other bloggers share their recipes for “The Best ___ You’ll Ever Have” – how’s that for confidence? So, even though I had never made the blueberry coffee cake or the biscuits before, I figured they had to be pretty reliable…and they were!

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Moriah and I made the blueberry coffee cake on the first morning, and it was a hit. The cake was moist but crumbly, and not overly sweet so it was perfect for breakfast – even better with a cup of coffee. Plus, blueberries in baked goods just scream summer, so we felt festive too.

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Brett and I made biscuits on Saturday morning and, oh my, they were good. We used Joanna’s featured recipe, but substituted jalapenos for chives, and threw some pepper jack in there as well. We didn’t have a biscuit cutter, but found that a wine glass worked just as well : ) The biscuits were buttery, and fluffy, and so so so good warm with some scrambled eggs.

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CitiBike!

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I finally tried CitiBike yesterday for the first time! Brett has an annual pass, and uses it almost every day, so it was about time I checked it out myself. Our first trip was to Bed, Bath & Beyond – 6th Avenue was a little busier than I would have liked, but I survived and it was fun! Also 10x faster than walking, which is especially important when you are trying to minimize your time spent outside due to the heat (oh, summer in the city). We ended up walking home because we had errands on the way (BB&B –> Anthro –> Whole Foods), but used the bikes again for an emergency paint run (we painted a wall yesterday, and underestimated the amount we needed…more to come on that!) and then rode to my apartment and back later that night. Trips within the East Village were really fun and super easy – we even got to speed down 11th street between 1st and 2nd, which reminded us of playing Cops & Robbers on bikes growing up : )

Don’t think I’ll be using CitiBike for my morning commute any time soon, but they are definitely a fun addition to errand running!

Immersion

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MIT just launched a new tool called Immersion that uses your email to create a visual representation of the personal connections in your life. Mine is above! Each dot represents a person – the bigger the dot, the more you communicate with them (via email). It also creates clusters by social group – the purple and brown clusters are my kickball teams, the blue cluster is my college roommates, red is my best friends from high school, green is family, etc. Way cool, right?

Create your own here.

The 4th!

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend!

Brett and I spent the long (so long!) weekend up in the Berkshires with his family. Even though I missed my own family, the weekend was just about perfect. There is something about lake living that gets me every time: Lake Life > Beach Life in my book! I am very much looking forward to our Michigan trip planned for August, which is really lake living at its finest.

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Like my trip to New Mexico, our weekend was the perfect mix of activities and relaxation. We spent some time each day at the lake down the road where we read in the sun, played with babies in the shade, ate cheese and the best nectarines (plus drank Peronis and wine out of mason jars), and went for dips in the lake when the heat was just too much to handle. Speaking of babies, Wyatt and Elizabeth are just about the cutest, sweetest, yummiest little ones – full of smiles, leg kicks, and drool! The best babies. Seriously.

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Moriah organized a horseback trail ride for us on Friday morning that was one of my favorite parts of the trip. My horse’s name was Fancy and I somehow managed to stay on top of him the entire time… even when he trotted (terrifying) and when we had to ford a river (Oregon Trail style…except it was a creek. But also terrifying.)

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We also fit in a run and a bike ride in the neighborhood (both were short, but we broke a sweat so I think they still count), and one itty bitty hike.

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On the night of the 4th, we went to Tanglewood to hear Jackson Browne play, and then watch fireworks. Unfortunately, there was a bit more traffic than we expected, so our seats weren’t great and we ended up leaving before fireworks even started to beat the rush out. So no fireworks for us, which I know is very un-American! Oh well.

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Aside from lake time, our adventure on horseback and our trip to Tanglewood, we cooked, ate, drank beer and Jack, watched Country Strong and What Lies Beneath, and wore red, white and blue pretty much the entire weekend… so I think that’s American enough! Oh, and I wore my Abercrombie & Fitch jean shorts, so that’s that.

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More to come on what we cooked, because the treats were too yummy for a quick mention – they need a full post.

Manda Cooks: Mediterranean Feasting

I read or heard somewhere once that you should try to eat all different colors of vegetables because each offers different vitamins that are related to their color… or maybe I made it up, but it sounds like it might be true, right? I love a colorful meal for visual purposes too, and the Mediterranean Baked Shrimp I made last Friday did not disappoint.

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I made a similar recipe last summer using fish, but the shrimp might have been even better- they cooked perfectly underneath the bed of veggies, bread crumbs, and feta.

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I obviously made a rainbow crudite plate to match and warmed up some Greek melting cheese in the oven that we dipped pita into (not pictured because straight up melted cheese isn’t THAT nice to look at). The meal was delicious and, since I overbuy groceries like a pro, the ingredients appeared again in breakfast egg scrambles on Saturday and Sunday. Recipe after the jump!

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[Read more…]

Happy Birthday, Robbie!

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Happy Happy 14th Birthday to my not-so-little-anymore brother.

I still remember the 4th of July when you were born like it was yesterday (and how mad I was at you that I had to miss fireworks!) Can’t believe how fast fourteen years flew by — fourteen! Ahh! Crazy.
Love you to pieces 🙂

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Happy 1 Year, B!

Brett and I celebrated our 1 year beanniversary (that’s “anniversary” in beantalk) on June 16, but we just finished celebrating last weekend. I know, I know, I’m spoiled.

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Part I of our celebration was a trip to the Metropolitan Opera House to see the American Ballet Theatre perform “Le Corsaire“. New York was having an apocalyptic rainy night, but we rallied our way to the Upper West. Good thing too, because the show was amazing. One dancer in particular really blew our minds (and had the entire audience gasping!)

Brett surprised me with a picnic in Central Park and tickets to Shakespeare in the Park (“The Comedy of Errors“) for Part II. New York was considering having another rainy night, but the weather cleared up beautifully. Brett packed some of my favorite foods (plus champagne!) for our picnic on the Great Lawn. The show was hilarious – and especially entertaining because Jesse Tyler Ferguson was one of the leads! Funny man.

And finally, I had my turn to treat Brett to a little surprise last Friday night for Part III. I made dinner for us at home (which I’ll share later), and then we headed up to midtown for a magic show in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Might sound a little cheesy, and maybe it was, but Steve Cohen pulled off some tricks that we can’t even begin to figure out. It was magic, I swear.

Thanks for an amazing first (but really eighth) year, bean! Can’t wait to see what kind of surprises we come up with to celebrate the next 60 ; )

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