Happy New Year!

2017 was sort of just a high intensity year, huh? High highs, low lows. Lots of excitement and celebration but also stress and anxiety.

It was an amazing travel year for me — with trips to Paris, Iceland, Cuba, California, India and Miami. And, of course, getting engaged in February was a highlight!

Iceland 1Paris 1Cuba 2India 1

Last year my New Year’s resolutions were to (1) actually blog more (didn’t happen), (2) volunteer (happened!), (3) work with a dog trainer for Moose (happened!), (4) bring my coffee, breakfast and lunch to work more often (happened!) and (5) learn how to better manage my anxiety (didn’t happen – just bit a nail off because I have anxiety about dealing with my anxiety – go team!)

The most successful of the bunch was #4 – I tried to limit myself to buying breakfast or lunch only 50 times over the course of the year (during the workweek only). I had a little tracker hanging in my desk – I find that I’m best at achieving goals when there is a strict count involved and when I have a visual of my progress. I did pretty well with this, but ended up falling off the wagon during the last two weeks of December. I ended up buying breakfast or lunch 56 times over the year, but I still consider it a success!

This year, I’ve transformed my resolutions into more of the counting sort and am creating a visual tracker to go along with each month. My resolutions are to: (1) only buy breakfast or lunch 50 times this year, (2) only buy coffee 50 times this year, (3) blog eight times per month, (4) “cook the book” once a month, and (5) do something crafty once a month. I also have this little thing called a wedding to plan… eek! I’m also generally trying to work out more, drink less and, duh, stress less.

I’m kicking off 2018 with a trip to Hawaii this month — Brett and I took the same trip in 2015 and 2016 and I can’t wait to go back. It really is my happy place! We have three friends joining us this year and I’m so excited to show them the island. Planning a fun trip for mid-January is a seriously good way to get over the post-holiday blues quickly!

Well Read Women


Some friends and I re-started our Articles Club from last year and branded it Well Read Women. Each month we read the same article(s), and then meet and chat about them over wine and snacks. In my opinion, it’s much easier to commit to and more fun than a traditional book club.

Last month I hosted and chose an article on manners and we ordered in Posto Pizza (my favorite) and made our way through a few bottles of prosecco and wine.

Next month Rachel is hosting, and chose two Modern Love articles. This one, about using animal training techniques to improve your relationship, and this one, about needing to be with someone vs wanting to be with someone.

Manda’s… Getting Married!


Last Thursday Brett (and Moose) proposed to me in Gramercy Park! We celebrated that night with my sister, Pico and (too much) champagne. The next day Brett and I flew to Paris for a surprise celebration weekend. It was overwhelming and over the top in the best way. I’m not a fan of romance or surprises, but I’d repeat last weekend over and over again if I could.

Paris in January was perfect – who knew? It rained a bit each day (the perfect excuse to nap or duck into a cafe for a glass of wine), but in between rain showers the skies were blue! We ate and drank and shopped and then ate some more. We stayed in the best hotel with cute french wallpaper, a marble tiled floor in the bathroom, and views of the Eiffel Tower from the bedroom and the bathtub. Plus, it had the first champagne bar in Paris in its lobby, which obviously called for a champagne tasting on our first night.

We walked underneath the Eiffel Tower, visited the Musee d’Orsay and hiked up to the Sacre Couer.

Coincidentally, a few friends of ours also happened to be in Paris! We had champagne with my friend Sharon, and then dinner and drinks with four friends from London – such fun, unexpected treats on top of the surprise trip!

Although you can’t really go wrong in Paris, some of our favorites are below 🙂

Oysters at Le Stella (which was filled with very chic French people – we felt out of place in the best way)

Croque Madame at Le PoinCare (I still can’t stop thinking about it…)

Literally everything at Frenchie Wine Bar

Cocktails at Les Justes – I had one that tasted like a chocolate covered cherry

Brett bought the cutest (euro) coat at Bilabaris

We loved walking through Fleux – a cool home/accessories store



Manda Marches: Women’s March On Washington

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When the Women’s March was announced on November 9th, my mom almost immediately booked hotel rooms and marked our calendars. It was amazing to march alongside my mom and sister and be part of the movement. The march definitely forced me out of my comfort zone (see introvert sign below!) but was so, so worth it. Some of my favorite signs are here, along with some links below on how to get (or stay) involved.






(all images my own except for introverts, from Susan Kaufman)

The organizers of the march are launching a new campaign: 10 Actions for the First 100 Days, which I’m going to try to do!

And a few more ideas, from Cup of Jo:

Check out the Indivisible Guide, for ideas on how to have impact

Support journalism and the press by subscribing! (I’m thinking about signing up for the Sunday Times)

Support organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, through donations

Oh, Meryl


“This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
– Meryl Streep

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New Year, Same Me

2016 wasn’t quite as bad for me as all the memes made it out to be, but I’m happy to move on. Not that a change in year means moving on from the challenges of 2016… but sometimes it’s nice to be forced to refresh a bit 🙂


My resolutions last year were to (1) actually blog more, (2) volunteer, and (3) learn how to cook meat. Obviously I failed miserably at (1), so we can add that to the list again. I didn’t do a great job at (2) either, but did volunteer with my family at a shelter in Philly on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve Eve and really enjoyed it — going to add (2) to the list again as well. I think I actually did a good job at (3) – woohoo, go me! I tackled a few different meatballs and made brisket twice. Still some room for improvement here, but I’ll consider it a (mild) success.


So it’s a New Year, but I’m pretty much going to be the same me with similar goals. Fitness and nutrition goals aren’t really my jam (see below) so looking forward to 2017, I resolve to: (1) actually really blog more, (2) volunteer, (3) work with a dog trainer for Moose, (4) bring my coffee, breakfast, and lunch to work more often [rather than buying it] and (5) learn how to better manage my various anxieties [#toopersonal?!] I also want to continue to cook a lot, and am toying with the idea of cooking my way through this nacho cookbook I bought myself…

My office is closed between Christmas and New Years and I always enjoy the stay-cation. This year, Brett and I got to spend time with all of our parents, four of our eight collective siblings, and lots of friends. We took a trip to the Guggenheim with our toddler nieces, attended an amazing Christmas Eve mass in Philly (with musical guest Kathy Sledge!), lit the menorah *almost* every night (7/8!), ate at a great new (for us) restaurant – Xixa – in Williamsburg, ate at my favorite old (for me) restaurant – Pisticci, and made a quick visit to Columbia’s campus to see the lights — one of my favorite winter traditions. We spent New Year’s Eve playing Scrabble and making pizza. On New Year’s Day, I made Croque Madames (yum) and a Cacio e Pepe Cake (really yum). We slept a lot, ate a lot, and drank a lot of wine. It was lovely. But now, back to work tomorrow and onto 2017!





Thanksgiving just might be my favorite holiday, so it’s not a huge surprise that I find a way to celebrate it multiple times. Brett and I kicked things off with Friendsgiving two weeks ago. On Thanksgiving we volunteered with my family at a shelter in Philadelphia. We were in charge of mac ‘n’ cheese (used this recipe from last year) and decorations – two of my favorite things! It was a nice change of pace from the traditional Thanksgiving at home, and it felt good to give back. The next day, Friday, we made the usual Thanksgiving feast at home. I made corn pudding and a brussels sprouts salad — the salad is apparently a much modified version of tabbouleh from Michael Solomonov’s Zahav cookbook. It was so simple but so good, and provided a nice, fresh crunch on an otherwise buttery and cheesey (and delicious) plate. On Saturday Brett and I went to his sister’s for a “siblings-giving” potluck. We made roasted carrots and potatoes, but nothing compared to the rack of lamb his brother-in-law cooked up. Still thinking about it. And finally, on Sunday, we had “Italians-giving” at my dad’s house – chicken parm and penne alla vodka!


Most years I make a little list of things I am thankful for. So, to keep tradition alive, here we go:

Brett, my family and friends (especially my three (!!) 91 year old grandmas and “my” nieces and nephews), Brett, Facetime, cookbooks, nail polish and lipstick, Chanel mascara, PJs, New York City, flannel sheets, fireplaces, paperback books, naps, whiskey, wine, taxi cabs, the Obamas, pop music, Liberty of London florals, elevators, fresh ricotta, pepperoni, pizza (and pepperoni pizza), Muji pens, airplanes, Italy, Maui, ribbon, Bread’s Bakery, iced coffee with almond milk, fresh flowers, J.Crew, online shopping, sprinkles, good olive oil, ruffles, wall paper, fresh herbs, rain boots and sunglasses, This American Life, gchat, magazines (I still subscribe to three!), cheetah print, animal shelters, and all dogs and cats but especially my most precious babies – Pico and Moose


Top 3 of Two Thousand Fifteen!

Happy New Year! 2015 was a good one, and I’m a little sad to see it go. Brett and I rang in the new year by bar-hopping in our neighborhood with friends and playing New Years Eve bingo with homemade bingo cards. I lost bingo, but it was a really fun night. I had the past week off work and spent it cooking and relaxing. Before I officially kiss 2015 goodbye and return to work tomorrow, the top three for 2015 below 🙂

  1. TRAVEL! The first half of 2015 was filled with travel. I took some unforgettable trips this year. My favorites were Hawaii in January, Nashville and Vail in March, and Dubai in May.







  1. BIRTHDAYS! I was lucky enough to celebrate three 90th birthdays in 2015 – three!! My grandma turned 90 in January, Brett’s grandma in February, and my gram in September. I really treasure my grandmas, so it was really special to celebrate such an amazing milestone with them!



  1. MOOSE! The real highlight of the year is, of course, Miss Moose. Brett and I adopted her on my birthday (August 20) and she has been the perfect pup for us. She is goofy, sweet and cuddly, and always makes us smile.




My New Years Resolutions last year were to (1) shop at the farmer’s market more (which I didn’t exactly do, but I joined a CSA and loved it), (2) drink less Diet coke (which I feel like I did… maybe), and (3) blog more (which didn’t happen, obv.) This year I want to (1) actually blog more, (2) volunteer, and (3) learn how to cook meat (Brett still does this part of every meal – eep!) Wish me luck!

Manda Cooks: Bridal Shower Sweets

One of my best friends from high school, Allison, is getting married in June! Allison is my first good friend to walk down the aisle and I’m so excited to be a part of it. A few weeks ago we got together for her bridal shower. I, of course, volunteered to make dessert – I took advantage of the opportunity to try a new cake recipe, and also whipped up some funfetti cake pops, which are always a crowd pleaser.


Although Ina Garten’s Coconut Cake is usually my white-cake go-to, I saw the prettiest Chocolate Chip Cake on Pinterest and decided to give it a try for the bridal shower. My mom and Barry were working on selling their house at the time and, mid-way through mixing together the batter, we ended up having to leave the house for an hour so it could be shown. Eek! The first two layers I made ended up being a little denser and flatter than I was hoping, I think due to the fact that the baking powder reacted while we were gone? In true spazzy Amanda fashion, I decided later that night around midnight that I just **had** to make a third layer. I had to! So that’s what I did. And layer #3 was a fluffier, prettier version of the first two. The next “oops” came when we didn’t have enough powdered sugar in the house to double the frosting recipe… but I made it work, and spread the frosting as thin as possible. Probably a new world record for frosting spreading, or something. Anyway! Hopefully I don’t think either of my oops-es were detectable, because people enjoyed the cake without complaint. It ended up being a denser cake than I wanted (which I should have known based on the recipe) but a delicious and, more importantly, pretty cake regardless.


Oh, and then there were the cake pops, which never fail me : )


Happy Birthday Bretty!



Happy Happy Birthday to my most favorite human in the world!!

Love you so so so so SO much. To the moon and back, and then back to the moon again, and then back to earth again, etc.