Thursday, September 11, 2014

Minnie the Goldendoodle

Just about 6 weeks ago I got an 8-week-old Goldendoodle puppy from a breeder. I named her Minnie, like the mouse, as I come from a family of Disney lovers. Although she won't be too 'mini' when she is fully grown, she is currently only 3 months old and still a lap dog. We chose to get a Goldendoodle as we wanted a dog that could play and be active but also could relax while my family watches a movie or eats dinner. Goldendoodles are also hypoallergenic and do not really shed, which is nice. 

Minnie is rambunctious and playful, loves shredding any paper substance she can, and goes absolutely crazy for treats and food. She also likes going for walks but gets hot very quickly since it is summer and she has a ton of fur. 

She has been to puppy daycare a few times at Morris Animal Inn and loves being able to play with other dogs. She is very friendly and wants to greet everyone she sees, but of course I have to warn them that she is teething at the moment. 

Minnie loves to be around people all the time and will take her nap next to wherever the action is happening. When she is very sleepy she loves to cuddle with me or my sister...until she wakes up and starts chomping on our ears. 

Minnie loves getting love and attention most of all (Maybe even more than food!) and really enjoyed this little photo shoot she had. Please head over to Renee's Flickr, link below, to check out more of the pictures and some of her other work.

Photo Credit goes to Renee Perret (Flickr: )

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pizza Making and Game Night

During the summer, when everyone has a bit more free time, my family enjoys having theme nights as our designated togetherness time. In the past, we have done movie theme nights that pair a film with a dinner, activity, and decorations (I will be posting one in October), as well as ethnic theme nights where we choose a country and then prepare a film and dinner from that culture. This time, though, we decided to forgo the movie for a more interactive experience - game night!

My mom and I decorated by using the games themselves, which helped to both set the theme and display the options for later in the evening. 

I also threw in a couple of my lego people just for fun because, why not? Maybe I'll plan a lego building party in the future...

We taped playing cards onto white plastic cups as decoration but also as a way of assigning a cup to each person. A deck of cards is now missing one of its royal families, but for a very good cause.

My mom made this cute display to combine the pizza aspect with the game night theme. Again she used Scrabble tiles and added some color with poker chips and a large candle. On the other side of the candle are the toppings for after the pizzas are made - garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and oregano - in easy reach of the table. 

We went a little overboard at the grocery store when picking our toppings, but I wanted to make sure there were plenty of options. Our spread included sautéed asparagus, pepperoni, bell peppers, onions, heirloom tomatoes, mushrooms, black olives, zucchini, pesto, garlic, tomato sauce, and basil. 

For cheese we had shredded mozzarella, 4 cheese Italian blend, feta cheese, and fresh sliced mozzarella. I also love goat cheese on pizza but opted for feta this time. 

I attempted to fit almost every topping on my pizza, and it turned out delicious. 

In addition to playing Uno later that night, we mainly played Balderdash, a game where you are given a movie title or name or part of a law and must make up what you think sounds the most convincing as the real definition. Unfortunately, I did not even come close to winning as all of my answers were obviously mine. 

I would love to do this again some night, maybe with some friends and a different board game. It's a great way to plan activities for your guests while still having fun and not stressing out too much. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Down in Good Old New Orleans

"In the southland, there's a city, way down on the river..." (Princess and the Frog)

Last week I travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana with my family to celebrate my step-father's mother's 90th birthday. I have been to New Orleans a few times before for Christmas and Mardi Gras, but I have never gone in the summer. It gets unbearably hot and humid in July there and I was worried that the heat would affect me negatively, but we shifted some plans around and managed to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day. Our very first day we took a mid-morning flight and landed around noon with the hour time difference. My step-father and step-sister picked my mom and I up from the airport and we immediately headed to the French Quarter.

The French Quarter is the most famous and recognizable area of New Orleans, with the famous St. Louis Cathedral standing in the center. This neighborhood of the city features Cafe du Monde, home of delicious coffee and beignets, art galleries, amazing restaurants, historic buildings, and unique shops. Here you can enjoy a bowl of gumbo while listening to live jazz music before shopping for a voodoo doll and some alligator jerky. 

One of the more unique things about New Orleans is the music that bounces down every alley and into every open window. There are constantly musicians on the sidewalk sharing their gift with the city and it is strange to not hear it while walking through the Quarter. 

On this trip, my sister and I decided we wanted to go on a ghost tour to learn more about the town's haunted history. Our tour covered both ghosts and vampires and our tour guide was friendly and appreciative of questions.

This particularly foreboding green home was used in the film Interview with a Vampire, starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Our guide told us there is a group of people residing in New Orleans who consider themselves to be vampires, drinking blood and dressing in vampiric garb. I had not previously associated vampires with New Orleans, but in addition to the ghosts and voodoo, it certainly makes for an eclectic and haunted city. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lush Product Review

In the last six months I have become obsessed with Lush. After repeatedly walking past the store in our local mall and being intimidated by the interesting layout, I bravely ventured in. I was confronted by farmer's market-style displays that featured fresh face masks and piles of bath bombs. After several trips to three different Lush stores (including one in Paris), I have finally learned how to navigate the stacks and find things I like. 

One of the bath bombs I have had my eye on for a while is the Honey Bee. The colors and scent seemed so subtle that I imagined it would be a soothing touch of honey in the tub. It was a bit of a let down, though, as the scent was barely there and it left a weird brown residue in my bathtub. 

I couldn't find this next item on the website so I don't think they're selling it in this form anymore, but there is a similar gift set here. I received this as a present on my birthday and it consists of a shower jelly and a soap wrapped in a patterned fabric handkerchief. 

The Sweetie Pie Shower Jelly smelled amazing when I first opened it, a light fruity scent, but the consistency had me perplexed. I wasn't quite sure how to use this product as it is one solid piece with a thick gel feel. After consulting Google, I discovered the best method was to scoop a piece out of the tub with my fingers and rub it into a loofa until it produced suds. I enjoyed this and look forward to trying it again soon now that I know how. Yes, there were several failed attempts to use it without the loofa at first, which resulted in awkward fumbling and general wastefulness. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Adventures Abroad Part 2: London

To my great surprise, I preferred London over Paris, despite studying French in college and having a few too many accessories featuring the Eiffel Tower. As soon as we arrived at the Kensington-Close Hotel in the Kensington area of London, it felt like home. We quickly located the nearest coffee shop, a Café Nero up the street, and fell in love with its coffee, muffins, and free Wifi. There was also a Boots store, similar to Duane Reade in New York, right next door to the Café Nero, which we visited muktiple times that week for makeup and shampoo.

Our first full day in London we took the tube over to Covent Garden, a huge market area that had both indoor and outdoor markets. There were stands selling souvenirs, bakeries, restaurants, and one especially cute boutique that had a basement styled like a wine cellar. The Covent Garden market is broken up into sections depending on the type of stores there, with one covered marketplace that was similar to an American flea market. The small stores, most the size of a large walk-in closet immediately reminded me of Bryant Park in New York City at Christmas time. 

We walked around quite a bit and made some purchases before finding somewhere for lunch. In one of her YouTube videos, British Youtuber Zoella mentions a pizza place called Fire and Stone that was located in Covent Garden and had delicious food for a reasonable price. My favorite. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Adventures Abroad Part 1: Paris

A few weeks ago my mom and I returned from our trip to London and Paris, but things have been so hectic that I haven't had a chance to sit down and write about it. I actually just purchased a new Macbook Air after having a white Macbook for 6 years, so now I am back to blogging.

Paris was amazing of course and definitely felt like more of a foreign country than London did, but my mom and I preferred London. That's not to say Paris wasn't amazing, it was, it just didn't feel as accessible as London. This was probably due to the language barrier as well as the cultural differences apparent in meal times, shopping, and such.

We stayed in the 1st Arrondisement in the Hotel Vendome, which is located in the beautiful and pricey Place Vendome. The area definitely prevented us from getting an authentic experience of everyday life in Paris, but there was something so surreal about walking out of the hotel to see Chanel and Cartier right next door. We were also conveniently located to major tourist sights such as the Louvre and the Musee D'Orsay, without being right in the center of the crowds.

I don't really recall exactly at this point when we did what so I'm just going to cover some of the highlights of our trip. We read in our travel guide that the Louvre had special hours on Wednesdays and Fridays where they stay open until 11PM instead of their usual 6PM closing time. We walked over around 7 and went inside.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lemon Blueberry Loaf Cake Recipe

     The weather is finally warming up here in New Jersey and I couldn't be happier. I'm finishing up school, getting ready to graduate, and then jetting off to Europe for two weeks. I've never been very good at baking, but I'm making an effort to try new things this summer. And so, after searching around the Internet and Pinterest for inspiration, I came up with this recipe for Lemon Blueberry Loaf Cake. To me, nothing screams spring and summer like fruit-filled baked goods and iced coffee. I picked up a bottle of Stumptown Coffee Roasters Cold brew Coffee from Whole Foods.

Loaf Cake:
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 and 1/2 cup fresh blueberries