Pride in Myself

Saw this on Cup of Jo and it is so, so true I had to share.


Things to add to the list: cooking a recipe from a magazine, hanging my coat in the closet instead of throwing it on the chair, dropping off my dry cleaning, drinking tea.

Manda Travels: White Stone, Virginia


I spent last week in White Stone, Virginia with Brett, Dana, my mom and Barry. We played a lot of cards (Shanghai and Oh Hell), took Moose to the beach, went crabbing, visited two wineries and, of course, ate a lot of crabs and oysters. Everyone’s favorite part of the trip is below : )


Amanda: playing corn hole at Good Luck Cellars & cooking and eating crabs

Dana: crabbing & oysters and sunset at Merrior

Brett: playing cards & the melon margaritas we made

Mom: crabbing, playing cards & visiting Good Luck Cellars

Barry: playing cards, painting oysters at The Dog & Oyster, & watching an osprey chase mom while kayaking


A Weekend in New Orleans

Brett and I traveled down south to New Orleans for a friend’s wedding last weekend. Although the wedding was on Saturday, we went down on Wednesday night in order to have some free time to explore. And by explore, I obviously mean EAT! Our schedule was essentially as follows: wake up late and wander to brunch, plus coffee either before or after, wander back to our hotel to nap/recover from brunch, then find our way to dinner and drinks. We went off recommendations from a friend who went to Tulane and thoroughly enjoyed what NOLA has to offer — praline bacon, crawfish, and jack & diets to-go! A quick rundown below.

We had brunch on our first day at Stanley – an all-day breakfast spot right on Jackson Square. We shared the Stanley Classic and the Corned Beef Hash, plus (free!) refill after refill of iced tea. I wish I had a picture, because it was so good (especially the Corned Beef Hash), but the food didn’t last long enough! For dinner we went to Peche – one of the “best restaurants” in New Orleans. We shared Fried Bread (yes, that’s a thing), Crab Salad over Corn Puree, Crab and Jalapeno Capellini, Fig and Anchovy Toast, and Grilled Tuna. Delicious all around, but the Crab Capellini was a standout (picture below that doesn’t do it justice.) Before dinner we have drinks at the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel – I recommend the Southern Gentlemen, the perfect way to refresh and recover from the steamy streets!





On Friday we walked over to Elizabeth’s in Bywater. The walk seemed do-able when we looked at the map, but we were a little too hot and sticky by the time we arrived. Thankfully we made a full recovery with the help of A/C and Praline Bacon… and Fried Green Tomatoes and a Chorizo Burrito because, you know. Definitely worth the trek, but we Ubered back to our hotel afterward ; )  Friday night we took the Ferry across the river (canal? unclear.) to the gorom’s parent’s house for a Crawfish Boil… weirdly good, once we got over the creepy-crawliness of it all. To eat a crawfish properly, you twist off it’s tail, crack the tail shell, and then piiinch the meat out. It’s pretty funny, because you just toss the head/body and get the ittiest bit of meat out of the tail, but it’s fun! On our way home, we made a late-night stop at Cafe du Monde for beignets and coffee — going at night is definitely a smart move, as lines are down the block during the day (and you have to wait in the sun!)




Before the Crawfish boil, we had drinks at Pat O’Briens — famous for their Hurricanes, but we had our standard Jack & Diet / Tequila & Soda. They have a pretty patio and a fun piano bar, but a rowdy/noisy crowd (must be the Hurricanes!). And before we headed down to the Ferry, we made a quick stop on Bourbon Street just to say we did — we had the Shark Attack at Topical Isle, complete with a plastic shark and alligator… and whistle blowing, bell ringing, etc.



Saturday we Ubered to Hey! Cafe on Magazine Street (“Best Iced Coffee in the World!” so they say), and walked from there to St. James Cheese Company for lunch. After two days of heavy brunching, we wanted something a little less greasy but equally indulgent, and St. James fit the bill! We shared the Il Mostro sandwich (photo below) and the Parmesan Salad, plus a pickle plate and a glass of Rose. The place was packed with locals, which was a nice change of scenery from the French Quarter. The wedding later that day was HOT but fun, and the food was delicious. It was fully outside, but we snuck inside to escape the heat a few times.




Before we left on Sunday, we took an Uber to Stein’s Deli on Magazine Street in the Garden District. It’s a Jewish and Italian Deli opened by people from Philly, so it was a must-go for us! We bid farewell to NOLA the way only New Yorkers would — with bagels of course! Overall an amazing trip, with food, drinks and friends that made the heat and humidity bearable.

Manda Cooks: Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Kale Pancakes

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Apparently this is the month of potato pancakes, and I’m not complaining. I’ve recently become a regular reader of A House in the Hills and am constantly inspired by her food posts! These pancakes are a cross between the Potato and Kale Pancakes I made last week, and her Sweet Potato and Quinoa pancakes. They’re so easy, and so good!

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Here’s what you do: Poke two sweet potatoes with a fork, cover in foil, and place in the oven at 450F. Remove them once they are soft and cooked through – about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, make 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa – I used veggie stock instead of water for extra flavor, but whatever floats your boat. Dice an onion, and a few cloves of garlic and saute until soft – 5-10 minutes. Add chopped kale and cook until wilted. Peel sweet potatoes and mash in a large bowl. Add quinoa, onions and kale and mix until combined. Roll into balls, then flatten into patties and cook over medium heat, 3-5 minutes on each side. We served them with a bit of sour cream and scallions (sort of like a baked potato? ish?)

SP2*And yes, we ate these on the floor in front of the fireplace. Polar Vortex approved!*

Wishing and Hoping and Thinking…Lucite Tray!


Brett and I are in the market for a bar cart and have our eye on this one from Target. We already have some bar accessories, but I think we need a tray to complete the look. The Tilly Maison Etsy shop has so many cute options, I’m having trouble choosing! I love both the large polka dots and small confetti dots, but am (obviously) obsessed with the gold cheetah print. I already have polka dot napkins – is that too many dots? And is the cheetah print too girly for a *shared* apartment? Decisions, decisions.




All images from here!

Fall Kickoff Weekend (…and we’re back!)

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Hello blog! It’s been a while. Too long! And I don’t even have a good excuse – just busy at work, busy at life, and I love to sleep. So I can’t really complain. What I can do is tell you about my Fall Kickoff Weekend! The end of October is a little late to kickoff the season, but New York was still feeling summery up until about two weeks ago (I know, more excuses). It is finally is starting to feel like Fall – the leaves are changing, the mornings are cooler and darker and I’ve broken out my sweaters. To celebrate, Brett and I went out to New Jersey for the night with our friend Seth and my cousin Andrea. We drove straight to the local farm so that we could pick pumpkins before the sun set. We also munched on cider donuts (one of my favorite things about Fall!) and picked up fresh apple cider. When we got back to the house, we carved the pumpkins next to our new fire pit and Brett and Seth made a batch of spiked cider (with Honey Jack – mmm). Seth and Andrea passed out on the early side, but Brett and I stayed up and watched The Purge (which was pretty awful, but oh well). The next morning my Gram came by for breakfast (I made a quiche and Brett made avocado toast) then we headed back into the city.

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Brett and I were having friends over for dinner, so I made a big pan of vegetable lasagna and the prettiest little apple tart (if I do say so myself). We made our first fire of the season in the apartment, and drank a second batch of cider while we all caught up. The fireplace makes the apartment so cozy when the weather gets cooler, and is the perfect excuse to have people over rather then trekking out in the cold, so hopefully last night is a sign of what’s to come this winter.

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I think our pumpkins on the fire escape are just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.



And just like that, it’s July! It’s definitely, finally summer here in the city — alternating between days where you can’t seem to escape the heat, and days of seemingly endless rain (like today – lovely.) Oh New York and the way you treat us during the summer! Looking forward to kicking off the month with a trip to the Berkshires for the 4th, followed by a mid-month trip to DC, and finishing off the month by hosting a Summer Cocktail party with Brett – pretty good monthly plan if I do say so myself. And, of course, blogging more because I know I’ve been MIA and you miss me. 

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The Perks of Being Sick


Although I was 110% miserable last week, being sick does have a few perks… you have an excuse to eat chocolate pudding for breakfast (because, you know, your throat hurts and stuff), you finally get to clear out your DVR (all caught up on Teen Mom and Nashville!), and you’ll find a few new favorite shows (hello Girl Code!). Lastly, because your boyfriend is the best (and might be just a little tired of hearing you whine), he sends you the prettiest tulips and iris flowers to brighten your day. Thanks, B!



Already six days into May – when did that happen and how did I miss it? Oh yeah, I was a fever zombie last week. Happy to say I am well on the road to recovery after spending two nights home with mom, Barry and the dogs and a lot of time outside on Sunday soaking in this gorgeous New York weather (that lasts for about three weeks until it becomes insanely hot and humid. Gotta love this city…) May is like the wind-up to summer, am I right? Weather starts getting warmer, weekends start getting busier, and May flowers finally start to pop up everywhere. But careful! You blink and it’s gone! I already have my next three weekends booked, on top of lots of things going on during the week as well (ahem, kickball.) and, oh right, work and stuff. Looking forward to it, and summer here I come!


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Sick Day(s)


I’m not one to catch a bug and be out of commission for two days, but apparently there’s an exception to every rule. I’m on my second sick day right now, and it’s really no fun. My fever comes and goes, but the nose is constantly running, the throat is constantly hurting, and then there are the coughing fits. Oh my. Yesterday I was able to muster enough strength to make a quick batch of vegetable alphabet soup. Brett grabbed the ingredients (he is sick too, but doing a better job of fighting it off than I am…arg), and I made the soup while he napped. I cut up three carrots and three celery stalks, and let them soak and cook in vegetable broth over medium heat until they were softened. Then I let the soup work up to a boil, added alphabet noodles to the mix, and two handfuls of chopped baby kale. We filled our bowls, watched two episodes of Girls, and maybe, just maybe, we felt a little bit better. Brett flew off to Ohio for work, so I’m back at my apartment with my windows open, pillows and blankets piled high, and a nightstand filled with remedies. Hopefully this sickness decides it has had enough of me soon, but until then I’ve got an Elle magazine with my name on it, and a DVR filled with Chelsea Lately and Teen Mom ; )