How to Host a Simple Family Dinner.

Cross your fingers for a sunshiney afternoon.

Arrange a bouquet of fresh cut flowers in bright colors.

Cook a stick to their bones kind of meal.

(pasta bolognese, a fresh green salad, hot oven baked rolls with butter)

Serve that dessert they never get sick of.

Easter was such a treat this year. It was simple, but indulgent, with weather to compliment the mood. I was so happy to have found endless bouquets of ranunculus when I went to the market to buy flowers on Friday. They are my absolute favorites this time of season, and a great accessory to any table with their deep variety of colors. In an attempt to take the guessing out of the meal, we went with the family favorite. Like I said, want to host a seamless feast, just go with the favorites… sometimes simple is the best policy.

Just of a few of my favorite instagrammys from the day.. @thefreshissue

xoxo

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7 Minutes to Heaven… & Handmade Sno Balls.

On a picture I instagramed this morning of my chocolate cupcakes, I think I used the term … redefining waking and baking one cupcake at a time? In my defense I was still half asleep. 🙂 

But seriously – the last two weeks, every morning I have rolled out of bed, PJs still on, hair still a hot mess, just to go straight down to turn on the oven. This morning was suppose to be my first morning of a little R&R, but, I had a tad bit of seperation anxiety from the kitchen. 

I had buttermilk left, and since about the only thing I didn’t make for the party yesterday were chocolate cupcakes, that was just going to have to be where I got my fix. And, let me not forget to mention the unquenchable craving I was having for 7 minute frosting. 

Please tell me you guys have stuck your finger in a bowl of this stuff at least once in your life?

It is a frosting that defines the word divine. It’s like marshmallow fluff, except totally not. It’s so much better, and has a flavor I just can’t explain.

click, print!

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A Sweet Trip: Philly to New York.

A Sunday in New York City. Let me rephrase, the most beautiful December Sunday in New York City. 

The weather was like from one of those fall days that you wait so patiently for at the end of every summer. Driving through town I noticed every little beautiful thing about that Sunday – the brunch (OUTSIDE, EVEYWHERE), the babies, the strollers, the joggers, and the smiles. 

And add to my gorgeous Sunday, an afternoon at the Free People location on the Upper East Side. The best kind of day for an event. Cue my mini sweet treats, glitter and sequins and DIY ornaments, drool-enducing cords and knit sweaters… and the faces of so many old friends and new friends. 

Vanilla & chocolate cupcakes. Cinnamon buttercream. Hand cut goldfish crackers. Iced sugar cookies. Chocolate covered strawberries. Mini chocolate chip cookies. 

All homemade to help the 3rd avenue store kick off their holiday coat drive.

Check back for recipes tomorrow. But in the meantime…

Good night, New York. Back to Philadelphia in the AM. 

A How to Holiday.

Is it just me, or did Christmas come a tad bit early this year? Somehow I convinced my Dad that two days after Thanksgiving was THE DAY to buy a Christmas tree for his house. The house has 10 foot ceilings, so I am pretty sure, even when I am off to my own house, and my own tree, I am still going to love buying that monster. We literally bought a christmas tree in shorts, definitely a first.

But, just because my life became (prematurely) christmasy, does not mean I have stopped basking in the beauty of Thanksgiving. I didn’t get a chance to share it with you guys… except for the prep leading up to the big feast… so better late than never right? 

Let me begin by thanking Pinterest for the endless ideas and great inspiration. That stinkin website, I tell ya – a real life changer, right?

We had two tables set up this year. I am privy to this one (it’s in the sunny breakfast room, much better photo opps). 

Want to create this yourself? All you need is your magic wand and:

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Where do you feel thankful?

Given the choice between keeping or breaking a tradition – I always stick with keeping it.

Except for one of the most insane Thanksgiving meals I’ve ever had at The Breakers in Palm Beach… like insane, like I had sushi and mashed potatoes on the same plate, and we walked away with freshly baked pumpkin pies to take home …. Thanksgiving is always a comfy cozy home thing.

In the post-divorce era, aka like 6 years ago, Dad and I decided we would create a Thanksgiving our way.

Dad is the savory, I am the sweet, and two years ago, a few days before Turkey day – this guy became chaperone of the whole operation.

Sleeping on the job, as usual.

There are lists and notecards and calendars for preparation all filed away in a little manila folder.

Quite a collection after all these years – but so necessary when it comes to seamless execution. Each day has it’s duties.

At the beginning of last week we ordered almost 45 pounds of Turkeys at the Farmer’s Market. I baked up 8 trays of cornbread, to be dried for stuffing. There was some serious produce shopping – but only for certain goods – potatoes, yams, sage, onions, leeks, peppers, lemons, chestnuts. A big Costco trip. And of course, some baking pantry restocking for me.

Today – 5 days prior to the big 30 person shindig – we prep all of the little things – this an onion and leek casserole.

The homemade apple pear sauce is in the freezer.

4 bowls of Dad’s cranberry and mission fig sauce is chillin.

Along with the vacuum packed sleeves of chestnuts – 15 pounds – which dad cooked and shelled already.

There is also no time to waste getting together what I need to decorate the house and the tables. Ash and I went for a long walk today collect a bunch of my favorite season’s most beautiful attributes. 

.. all of which required some serious bathing when we returned home. ew, bugs.

We also stopped at one of the most beautiful hidden little places. 

The sound of the water gurgling was like an instant chill-pill. 

If you want to check out more of the vision I am going for with this year’s family tradition – check out my Thanksgiving PinBoard

There’s a lot of this (Elle Decor). 

And THIS (Design Sponge).

I also just ordered a big roll of this off of Amazon this morning – to arrive, fingys crossed by Wednesday. 

Wait till you see what it will be used for. 

Eeee. 

Do you have family traditions for Thanksgiving that you love as much as I do? share share. favorite recipes? favorite dishes? 

a sweet cake for a sweet girl.

I never thought I would have stories that truly define the word baffling. I never thought I would have to add the stories of the last few weeks to my own. But I also never thought I would find so much love in one little cake for one little girl.  One little girl that puts a smile on my face with every little word, and every big smile. That is why, when her mama asked me to bake a birthday cake for her 2nd birthday, I knew it was just the thing I needed to brighten up my baffling days.

The only guideline? Pink.

A cake as cute as my little Colette. She is a pint size little lady, with a personality as big as her appetite. I love watching her munch on her bowls of snacks, and studying her mastermind climbing skills as she gets herself on top of the kitchen counter to sip on her sister’s left over hot cocoa… she is my kind of girl.

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Don’t Forget to Save Daylight.

Hi friends! Before I begin, I need to tell you that GtoG is not going to become just a blog about feel good Fridays and fun links, promise. We will be back to regularly scheduled food porn programming next week. This week, there was no content created just a lot of …. this.

photo from Color Issue.

The wonderful Aarean @ Color Issue posted this unbelievable DIY sparkley cork board project this week. Do you not adore it? Perfect use for Martha Stewart’s latest line of drool over sparkley craft accessories and her spectrum of tempting paint colors. No I haven’t yet had a chance to make myself one of these …. but, to translate – what have I been doing ? oh just a giant conglomeration of organization (rolls right off the tongue doesn’t it …). 

The Project: an office space… or as I have been referring to it in my notes, the Creative Nest. 

I thought about doing a little something like this in my apartment:

Not nesty enough. Not to mention I just don’t have closet space to sacrifice. So hence … The big dreams, of the big nest. 

images via pinterest.

Aren’t they dreamy? 

What have you all been up to this week? Is anyone else in project mode like me? I would love to hear about it, and share inspirations! This weekend is shaping up to be quite purdy, did you see the weather report? I am hanging with my kiddies tonight, and then scooting off into the city tomorrow for a fun food writing workshop with Madame Fromage (Tenaya Darlington) and Food in Jars (Melissa McClellan).  And oh, there is also some cake baking thrown in there – my little Colette turned 2 this week – a birthday cake and a little smash cake are on the to-dos.

So my dears, whatever you are getting yourselves into this weekend, do your bodies good and get some sun on your face, and just enjoy these moments. We will all miss them when the snow arrives (again) :). 

Without further adieu, your feel good Friday clicks. (bold words redirect you to the content.)

Inspiration for your day, the year, the century. 

Totally neat DIY t-shirt project.

Say hello to my holiday heels.

What do you want to do before you die?

Coolest Mom of the Week Award.

“I can see right through you!” 

Coco Draws dreams of Paris (thank you Fifi Cheek).

Give me a break, Give me a break, Break me off a piece of that … Kit Kat cake!

The explanation for Lily Pulitzer price tags.

One step ahead of Thanksgiving.

image from iammommy.typepade.com

Homemade Goldfish & Cheez It Crackers.

I attribute my undying love for goldfish to the amount of babysitting I have done in my life. Do you know many times my hands have dug into the same aluminum lined paper bags that tiny germy drooly little hands just found their way out of? Zillions. All I need is a handful and that serves as my fix for the day. There has never been a time, not a diet I have been on, not a promise I could ever make to myself to stay away from them, that has ever kept me from having my handful when the opportunity is made available. In college, when I was feeling naughty, they were the first thing I picked up late night from the convenience store. Most recently, at one of my dreaded stops into Walmart to get a few boxes of too wonderfully priced to say no to Softasilk flour, I picked up the little mini milk carton of the fishies staring at me in the check aisle and treated myself to an afternoon snack that smiles back …. although my smile was totally bigger that day.

I guess you could call it a problem, but I call it a love affair. So when I saw the recipe for Whole Wheat Goldfish crackers on Smitten Kitchen’s website that day in March, I knew I had found my new best friend.

Her recipe calls for whole wheat flour….I couldn’t see myself taking that short cut. If I’m going to do it, I am going to do it right. That’s my motto in life. I also did a careful study of said paper and aluminum bags and tried to figure out what the seasoning was that would make my attempt at these fish even more exact.

Can you keep a secret better than the little ones in my life? Smitten Kitchen missed out on a bit of important flavor.

Dry Cultured Buttermilk… You can find it here, or at your local Whole Foods or Supermarket baking aisle.

Click to Print!

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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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