(Snowy) Snapshots From Paris

France, Photography, Travel

I had plans today to finally post about my trip to Nice, taken when my mom was here in December, however, the weather in Paris had other ideas. As I sat next to the radiator, watching snow fall out the window, I couldn’t quite get in the mood to talk about somewhere warm. Instead, as giddy about the snow as a small child, I sat there wrapped in a blanket, sipping hot chocolate, and scrolling through the pictures I took in Paris this week.

They say even a dusting of snow in Paris uncommon, and that a few inches, like we received this week, is very rare. I would have been happy with a dusting, but I am certainly not complaining about the few inches we did receive. Each morning I would wake with eager anticipation, peaking out the window to see if, as forecasted, the sky actually dumped a blanket of thick snow. While this was never the case, snow did indeed come during the day, leaving me distracted and excited, putting off other obligations, and running around town taking it all in.

My favorite views were of the backside of Notre-Dame, as I would wander down the Île Saint-Louis, and see that majestic cathedral jump out around a corner. I could see that  every day, and it would never get old. This week, I found my already favorite view to be even more beautiful, covered in fresh, white snow.

Photos of Nice will come soon, but for now, enjoy with me this month’s round of snowy snapshots from Paris.

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Vermont Getaway, Winter Edition

Photography, Travel

Out of all of the states that we’ve visited in New England, Vermont ranks among our favorites. With snow covered mountain tops, wide pastures, and quaint little towns that overwhelm you with their cuteness, it’s not hard to see why. Over the weekend we took our 4th trip to the Green Mountain State and enjoyed ourselves much more than our last trip.

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We enjoyed our time on Saturday afternoon popping into random farm side shops, wandering around the downtown square, and perusing through stacks of antique goodies in the local thrift shops. We sampled lots of cheese and maple syrup, and sipped on coffee from a nearby bookstore. We took the day slow and set a leisurely pace. If only more days could be spent that way.

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As the sun began to set and the snow started to fall, we headed for the cabin to savor an evening with friends. We enjoyed a meal of homemade spaghetti and meatballs (which was impressively made by the men of the trip), played several rounds of cards, and delighted in toasty beverages to help keep us warm.

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Waking up early Sunday morning to fresh falling snow, we set off to hit the slopes for a day full of snowboarding.

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You’ll recall that  one of my goals for the year is to learn how to snowboard. I can ski with the best of them, but snowboarding is a new task for me. After several trips and much time spent on my face, I was close to giving up. I wasn’t having much fun coming home covered in bruises and too sore to move. It wasn’t until this weekend that I saw the glory in snowboarding. It’s amazing what fresh powder can do for you. Not only did it make things SO much easier, but my confidence shot through the roof as I was no longer as afraid to fall. When I did fall (which wasn’t near as often as before) it felt as I was falling on pillows as opposed to cement. Learning to snowboard on ice and fake snow is no fun, people! If the conditions would have been this great on past trips, I feel as I could be a pro by now!

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We ended our evening among friends, good food, and one last round of cards before our drive back to Boston. Though just a short trip, a trip like this was just what I needed. It’s good to get away every now and then, slow down the pace, and live life for the moment.

What did you do last weekend? Do you have a favorite place to go for a quick weekend escape?

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Dessert, Food, Food Photography, Recipes

When a special occasion, celebration, or birthday rolls around, there’s only one dessert that will do for the main squeeze in my life. I wasn’t introduced to this delectable dessert until Jacob and I started dating.  His mom got the recipe while in college and it has been a family favorite ever since. We eat it on holidays, we had it the day that we got engaged, at our wedding, and on every February 17th since 2007. Since my mother-in-law lives a good 1,500 miles away, I’ve had the pleasure of taking over the time-honored tradition of making this dessert for Jacob on his birthday.

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The hubs loves this cake so much that he can’t remember ever having anything different to celebrate his birthday. We even opted out of a traditional groom’s cake at our wedding in favor of this treat. It went faster than the wedding cake itself and I’ve had people asking for the recipe ever since.

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After a snowy morning at church and a bit of thrifting in the afternoon, we stuffed ourselves full of sushi before enjoying drinks and cake with friends. As much as we love this cake, it is just too good, and too bad for us, not to share.

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Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

1 box yellow cake mix

4 eggs

2 sticks unsalted butter

16 ounces cream cheese

16 ounces powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Meanwhile mix box of cake mix, two eggs, and one stick of melted butter. Spread mixture into a 9×13 metal cake pan. Next mix your second stick of melted butter, cream cheese, two eggs, and powdered sugar. Pour into cake pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until lightly browned. Pair it with a cold glass of milk, a piping hot cup of coffee, or my personal favorite, a steamy cup of peppermint tea.

Snowstorm Nemo

Photography

Growing up in the south I’ve had my fair share of tornadoes and thunderstorms, and even an ice storm here and there, but never have I experienced a blizzard. I’ve seen several feet of snow fall before, but never within a 24 hour period. I’ve had to deal with layers of ice over everything in sight, but never with such an ocean of snow. It started falling early Friday morning, and just kept on coming well into Saturday afternoon, quickly covering the Earth below.

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I am happy to report that we survived with no major inconveniences. We never lost power, and we weren’t physically trapped, though it did take a bit of effort to get out. Our car got lost in the sea of of white, but we found it eventually. Some anticipated plans were canceled, but we replaced them with just as satisfying ones. Boredom is easily overcome when one has bottles of wine on hand, board games a plenty, and friend’s apartments just a stone’s throw away.

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After a late breakfast of banana, sour cream pancakes and our favorite apple wood smoked bacon, Jacob and I set off to explore the wintery world around us. With public transportation shut down, a ban on driving ban in effect, and people straggling down the middle of what’s usually a very busy street, it almost felt like a scene from The Walking Dead outside of our doors. Although, eeriness aside, it was quite a beautiful scene.

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Venturing down the road a bit, we made our way to campus to check out the some of my favorite buildings in Boston freshly covered with snow.

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After a few snowball fights, trash bag sledding, and even a bit of snowboarding, we rounded the weekend off with friends and a few rounds of these.

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And as all good weekends do, our little snow vacation came to an end. Monday came and life was back to (somewhat) normal. Back to work for me, back to school for the hubs. Though we are still dealing with the ramifications of the snow, thanks to an abundance of sunshine things are slowly getting back to normal around here.

On another note- Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! However you choose to celebrate, single or not, may your day be blessed and filled with love!

Ginger-Pear Muffins

Food, Food Photography, Recipes

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When we first moved to Boston, three-day weekends were our golden ticket to travel. We’d leave bright and early Saturday morning and wouldn’t return until late Monday night. Whether we were headed out to the mountains, or just enjoying ourselves around town, we’d often return to work and school in worse shape than we were on Friday.  Now that we’ve had roots in Boston for a little while, we are able to appreciate long weekends without totally exhausting ourselves in the process. And on top of that, we’ve fully entered savings mode so that we don’t go completely broke while in Europe.

After spending time with friends on Friday and Saturday night, Jacob and I enjoyed some time together on Sunday with lunch at a local gastropub and a trip to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. This museum, by the way, is probably my new favorite in Boston. If you live in the Boston area, or ever plan to visit Boston, be sure to add this to your list of things to see. It’s well worth a few hours of your time.

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Then came Monday. Usually, the most dreaded day of the week. Not this time, thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr. For the first time in a long time I was actually able to enjoy a day of rest at home. Most of my days off are usually spent cleaning or running errands. Well, thanks to a Saturday afternoon cleaning sesh and an unusually short to do list, I was able to enjoy some quite rest and peacefulness at home. After some light morning cleaning and furniture rearranging, I enjoyed some lunch with the hubs before seeing him off to work. With candles flickering, Joe Pug playing softly in the background, and the apartment all to myself, I was able truly enjoy a bit of me time. I took down our tree and Christmas decorations, exercised and showered without rushing, and even had time to read my new “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine that came in the mail a few weeks ago. Anticipating 3-5 inches of snow (which was actually more like a half inch of snow), I put on a pot of chili and started rummaging through the cabinets to make a snowy morning treat for today.  Stumbling across a few pears in the fridge that were past their prime, I knew just what I wanted to make; Ginger Pear Muffins.

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I really dig pears, and am a huge fan of ginger, and having recently made ginger, pear juice, I knew the combination was right up my alley. If you are a ginger-lover like me, I feel that the proportions in this recipe are right on. Although, if you like ginger as more of supporting flavor and not a star performer, I’d scale back on the ginger a bit.

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Ginger-Pear Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¾ cup white sugar

1 egg

1 cup milk

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

1 cup finely chopped pear (I used Green Anjou)

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Preheat oven to 375 F. Meanwhile, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center.

In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork. Stir in the milk and oil. Pour into flour mixture and mix quickly with a fork until well moistened, but do not beat. The batter will be a little lumpy. Fold in pears and ginger.

Pour batter into a paper-lined muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely on cooling rack. Recipe yields one dozen muffins.