Adventure is Out There.

image from uncovet.com

When making promises to yourself, keep them.

When you promise to go on an adventure, really go. Let nothing hold you back.

My little kiddies refer to the movie I lovingly quote in the title of this post as, “doggies and balloons” … us big kids? we are more fond of just calling it, “Up”. No matter how many times I have watched the movie (more than my two hands can keep track of), the thrill of exploring and making a promise to see the world never becomes any less tickling.

Paris in the Fall is a promise my roommate and I made to each other our sophomore year in college..

Paris, this fall, as it approaches still feels like a dream.

image from stltoday.com

image from etsy.com

image from lovelyuglydesign.blogspot.com

image from belowtheclouds.com

images from etsy.com

(from top to bottom): biking along the grand canal at Versailles. paris in the morning. Waldorf Astoria trianon palace Versailles. boulangerie. Tuileries gardens. home sweet home.

*pinch*

 

Plan your adventure. Come on, I know you want to.

 

 

What’s cooking at GtoG…

Yup. It’s happening. GtoG unfortunately has G2G ūüė¶ .¬†¬†When I claimed the URL, I was a junior/senior in college – the ambiguous final year on the 3 year plan. I was in fact a “graduate” or soon to be one. But somehow, slowly and quietly, the name has started to escape who I am. I guess that’s natural as graduation has come and gone, yet its something that I didn’t even think to consider.¬†

So, like your favorite sweater – from 2004 – it’s time to donate my domain name back into the infinity that is domain dreamland.¬†

That’s where I have been hanging out lately… dreaming of different entities for my little babe (don’t worry, you will love it). And whether you are only an occassional reader, or one of my die hard fans, there will be a way to refer you from this site to the new one (until you have the new address figured out).¬†

And naturally, with a name change, comes a bit of a content change. 

There will still be food, and plenty of it… there is no way I would ever reconsider sharing that side of me. But, like you may have noticed in many of my December posts – and here and there throughout the year – there are other things I enjoy just as much as cooking and baking, and it is going to be so much more fun sharing them all in one place. From DIYing to fashion finds, decorating tips to photography advice, there will be a little something for everyone.¬†

Check out some of my favorite bloggers to see what kind of flavor I am chasing.

and of course… stay tuned for the big reveal in the next couple of weeks!

101 Cookbooks

A Beautiful Mess

Fifi Cheek

more after the jump!

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365 Days Ago.

The blankets against my skin were a soft fleece material, thin but substantial, with a deep mustard  and white pattern. They scattered their way across two beds, pushed right up against one another Рan L shape Рand the cheapest (and comfiest) couch there could be. The bright off-white paint on the walls bounced light around, and at the time they were left blank and inspiring. A desk was setup and tucked into the corner sat a crystal table lamp, that perplexes you with its intricacies if you look at long enough. A wicker chair, nestled under the desk tried desperately tried to reel me in Рbut the cheap makeshift couch was much more enticing.

There I sat, computer propped upon my knees. Some version of classical music was creating background noise ¬†and although I can’t 100% guarantee this, I am pretty sure I was dreading another day of work in the morning.

That was the scene a year ago. It was cozy and warm, although most of my memories from the evening are those of discontent – hence sitting in a room with just my thoughts.

I promised myself on that day that I was going to write, every day, until my fingers fell off…. write so that I ended up doing something that was better than anything I had done before.

365 days ago, I made that commitment and I saw it through, and for that, I am proud. I still have my fingers, but I also have over 200 days of my writing documented, and memories and accomplishments that I would have never even fathomed experiencing, all to call my own.

One of this life’s most beautiful qualities is the surprise that each day brings, over and over, each and every day. There is no predicting what may come our way the moment our eyes open.

It could be a person. An opportunity. A thought. And it could change your life as you know it.

365 days ago, on a quiet night, I wrote down a thought. In less than 500 words I made a promise to myself that changed my life, in a very scary and real way. I showed myself how easy it was to open a door to endless opportunity to do what I love, as long as I work really hard.

So because of that thought, the promises of 2012 seem endless. I feel blessed, but overwhelmed, and excited but also a little intimidated, mostly because, what next? 

2011 was as wonderful as it was tough. There have been moments where I have felt like this wasn’t my life, both in positive and negative ways, but overall I am proud of what I have created and I am proud to be doing it all on my own. Today, independence is hard to come by.

2011 was also quite unplanned. With gumption and a lot of moving and shaking, I hope to follow through with a few actual plans this year. Occupying prime real estate in my mind, a business and upgrades to the site. 

I want to grow in knowledge, confidence, success, and love. 

And without the support from so many of you, none of that would be possible. So Thank YOU ALL for this year. It hope that this little piece of me has brought you some sweetness in your lives when you have needed it. 

To a 2012 full of dreams come true.  

xo

Spread A Little Holiday Cheer.

Diane Keaton was on the Ellen show yesterday. I love her. Her movies are fabulous, her style is unique, and she is just all around fabulous. I was listening, not really watching, until she started talking about when she was 23, and how she was work in the hair department for a production company, and how she was basically miserable. She then equated that to her broad observation of what the 20s – 23 year olds experience of the world is. It’s confusing, you feel lost, you’re out of school – a place that had been your reality for so long – and now you’re a little unsure of what motivates you. My ears perked up – not only because I am 23 – but because I think what she said, although not necessarily true, is an important statement to remind yourself of every day. Look at where she is today – and my reality was once hers. ¬†

This is the first holiday season where I actually feel like I have time to do what I love – bake a smile on people’s faces – and even still I am not sure how I can actually make this into a living. I know what motivates me, and I am really not lost, but I guess I am confused. Confusion caused by the lesser evils of the issues in the world – the issue that I have so much that I love – so what to actually pursue first?

I just cleaned the last crumb off the counter after two days of baking for a holiday party for my favorite lady in the world. I loved every minute of it – I love all the prep, and the sugar, the butter, the vanilla. I don’t love having to clean all that up, but I love making it into something! This party was a drinks and dessert secret santa exchange for a group of moms.¬†

We agreed on a bunch of mini desserts. 

Christmas confetti cupcakes, which I decorated with green icing and sprinkles to look like tangled strands of christmas lights!

Grown up goldfish Рdifferent than my original recipe Рwith a hint of finely chopped dried rosemary. 

Vanilla spritz cookies with an essence of cardamon…. probably my most favorite spice next to cinnamon.¬†

Chocolate Chip Brownie Santa Hats, strawberries with a dab of cream cheese frosting. 

Mini red velvet cupcakes, with cream cheese frosting, and a swirl of candy cane crunch frosting. I cut a little hole for a popsicle stick, and then tied a bow. TaDA, peppermint lollipop cupcakes!

Gingerbread cupcakes, with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and a scare of my gingerbread marshmallows.

Not pictured, was one of my favorite Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding pies, and the delicious treats B picked up from the Candy corner at the Wayne Farmer’s market.¬†

The night was then completed by what B has named the Snowflake Martini.

1 bottle of Cranberry Vodka 

1 bottle of Triplesec

1 bottle of white cranberry juice

1 bag of frozen cranberries

Ice 

Sugar (for glasses)

So, as I am staring and the broom and dustpan, dreading a midnight sweep, all it takes is thinking about how much fun it was to create all of those delicious sweets and how much fun the ladies had to tonight, to realize that the crumbs are nothing. 

We all start out somewhere. So if you are 23, and like Diane Keaton did, feel a bit confused, just make sure that every day you do what you can, to do what you love…. and you will get there one day.¬†

Up on the rooftop click click click!

(from top left to bottom right) Ultimate oreo cookies ($50.00). S'Mores cake ($58.00). Lemon Cake ($50.00). Award Winning Apple Pie ($50.00). Mini Cakes Sampler (58.00). Mini Holiday Cheesecakes ($110.00). Red Velvet Cake ($58.00). Chocolate Seduction Cake ($65.00). Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake ($75.00). Italian Ice Tortoni ($50.00). Brownie Mountain Cake ($45.00). Mini Mousse Cakes ($38.00). 24 layer chocolate cake ($150.00). Carrot Cake ($150.00). Giant Cinnamon Rolls ($45.00). Handmade Pumpkin Pie ($50.00).

Down through the chimney …. Isn’t that how it goes? I went to the gym today and somehow made it through an hour on the machine from hell, with my Christmas Pandora channel – now, that’s how you know it’s the most wonderful time of the year (and now you know why this song was stuck in my head).¬†

Tuck yourselves in tonight with a few fun click click clicks. 

Oh, and the above? Just a collection of my fave offerings from the Neiman Marcus entertaining catalog this season. Yes – they do red bottom Louboutins and Red Velvet cake. Fabulousity in it’s most pure form.¬†

… Just another job I could dream about.

While I go to la la land, go ahead and click this week’s bold words.¬†

Handmade Reindeer Gift Tags. Etsy Shop: FairestLJ

Get warm under the covers and window shop. 

Some of the coolest parties, like ever. 

2011, 45 intense times. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip. (Yes, you read correctly).

The iPhone identity crisis. 

Nothing but an adorable scarf. 

Inspiring fonts. 

Just help me feed my backsplash obsession. 

Deborah Lippman does your NYE nails. 

Exactly whereI want to be. 

Or here…¬†

Fab Printables & Parties. 

…. seriously,¬†ENJOY!

Vintage Ornaments. Etsy Shop: WillowonWater

 

Apple Slice Sandwiches.

Happy Sunday to my readers! East Coasters … How gorgeous has this fall weekend been? I have been doing a lot of work around the apartment, switching my wardrobe’s seasons, etc with all of our windows wide open. Picture perfect weather. The neighbors have wind chimes, and this weekend they have been making the most beautiful music. Couldn’t ask for a better smile maker!

So I think in all my chit chat about how much I love Fall I have neglected one of my absolute favorite excitements of the season. APPLES. I know we can get them all year round, but it’s just not the same. Those meeealllyy soft summer apples, blehhck! In the Fall, it is perfectly normal for me to enjoy at least an apple a day. I bring them with me on my afternoon errands, or sometimes I will start the day with one sprinkled with cinnamon. And for Thanksgiving, an extravaganza in my home worthy of Bon Appetit coverage, I adore making my favorite Apple Pie. And Dad, he makes homemade apple pear sauce (oh em gee).

And then there is my mama who introduced me to a new way to enjoy apples last weekend. Only my mother would come up with this kind of Apple creation. Her creativity in the kitchen is something I hope I grow to have. ….Introducing Apple Slice Sandwiches. My new go-to apple and ____ (fill in the blank) butter combo. Whether it’s peanut butter, sunflower butter, almond butter, these are fun snacks you can take on the go or enjoy for a snack or dessert.¬†

You need a sharp knife or a mandoline to make sure that you can cut your apples into thin enough slices. This is my new little guy, Michael Graves at Target. I love it, very versatile and has all the blades you need.

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Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos.

Did everyone have a nice day off yesterday?! I know I did… I decided against posting because I wanted to be present with my family. I have been up in New Jersey since Saturday visiting my Mom. Yesterday was the first of several birthday celebrations I will have this week. Call me old fashioned, but some of my most favorite birthday times are with my family.

This particular Mexican Fiesta my mom threw together for me was amazing. The pulled pork tacos … perfect.

The recipe she used, she adapted from a food network recipe. Every time we are together, we always say how there are so many recipes we want to try, but we never get that far… so yesterday, was a brand new recipe, for a brand new dish that turned out beyond delicious. Like, so delicious that even though we ordered pizza for dinner last night, I was sneaking handfuls of the left over pork into my mouth before I even had a slice. It was so juicy and tender, and everything she made to go with it (I will fill you in on that too) was all exactly right.¬†

Click to Print!!

The prep and cook time amounts to about 4 hours so leave yourself some time. Mom made the pork Sunday night, shredded it Monday morning and we had the fiesta for lunch. 

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Sweets for Strength.

Every day I wear an orange band around my right wrist (write that 6 times) in support of one of my favorite causes, Strength.org and No Kid Hungry. It reminds me not only to be thankful every day, but also to just simply stay aware.¬†It is easy for most of us to understand how many children and young adults in some of the poorest parts of the world struggle to find food everyday … But we don’t always remember how difficult it is for children in our own towns, and maybe even those that live on our same street are also faced with that daily challenge.

1 in 5 children in America wakes up each day without access to a meal. 

That scares the hell out of me every time I write it or say it aloud. 

But, it is the pledge of Strength.org that by 2015 these children will have access to programs and options so that they will no longer have that worry. 

This Saturday I am raising money to contribute to this possibility by hosting a bake sale full of my homemade sweets. 

The Bake Sale will feature:

Handmade Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese icing

Freshly baked goldfish crackers 

Muffins 

Pumpkin Loaves

Red Velvet Cake

Some of the best cookies you’ve ever tasted (promise)

Cupcakes 

Kettle Corn 

and… ala the heavy hitters in this world … Frosting Shots.¬†

I would love all of you to stop by and have a taste – but I know that isn’t always possible.¬†

That being said, if any of these goods makes your mouth water so much that you can’t think straight –¬†

shoot me an email gradtogourmet AT gmail DOT com. 

Snail mail never hurt a cookie…¬†

ūüôā

For more information about the cause please visit STRENGTH.ORG 

and for more information about the sale –

email me. 

or check out the event on facebook. 

Time To Be Grateful.

Late night blogging at its finest darlings.

I am snuggled up on the big white couch listening to the thirsty thursday going on at the bar across the street…

and I cannot stop staring at this beauty.

The gold Michael Kors Large Runway watch.

Thank you Cynthia @ the Michael Kors store at the Plaza in King of Prussia!!

An early birthday present I received today from my Aunt Vera.

Vera is the quintessential aunt. She is a mother when I deserve a swift kick in the pants and an honest earful, a best friend at every moment possible, my own personal 911 operator, biggest supporter, and of course someone I cannot imagine my life without.

As we walked out of Michael Kors, I was hugging her and she said to me, “Every time you look at this watch, I want you to take a moment to be grateful.”

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