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.

 

 

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Two Thousand Eleven Instagrammed.

aka: the year an iPhone changed all of our lives. (don’t deny it Bberry and Droid kids, you know you want one too).

Markets to Cities …. Photo shoots to Dinner Plates … Sunrises to Sunsets … Babies to more babies … Holidays to High Heels …. Puppy to even more Puppy … Landscapes to little gems … Family to Friends. 

Looking at it this way, 2011 was nothing but beautiful!

… thanks to those who made all of these clicks possible. You know who you are. The wait don’t eat that, hold on stop walking, one second I need to instagram this loves of my life. You know you love meeee tooooo!

XO

 

 

Crumbs & Leftovers.

You can always count on the memories to hang behind while all the other cookie crumbs and crumpled up wrapping paper scamper into the trash.

There is very little like the days after Christmas. Weird feeling right? The tree still twinkles and there could be a few gifts left wrapped up – stragglers for the friends and family you haven’t seen quite yet. But, even as you relax and try to work off (or continue to feed) the food baby, that sad, empty, Christmas is over feeling is still hanging around.

But that’s what the memories are for.

This year, I cooked Christmas Eve dinner for the family. I decided to make everything, from bread to dessert from scratch. That up there? The makings of homemade olive bread. My pregnant lady cravings for olives are definitely to blame for that. 

Two kinds of lasagna. Some steamed vegg. My crispy fried calamari. A fresh arugula and greens salad with beets & pine nuts….. And really bad lighting too… all made their way to the table. 

And what is Christmas eve without Santa’s cookies?

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Ho Ho Ho!

Guess who I got to meet this Sunday?

Mmmmhm… Mr. Clause. Be jealous. He was definitely the real deal… like on his last visit from the North Pole before his week from (I can’t say hell can I?) begins. How could he miss a brunch with the munchkins at this awesome place on Gay Street in West Chester.

I am going to save all the adorable photographs for West Chester Dish to reveal, but for now I cannot stop gushing about how much of a picture perfect holiday morning it was. 

The room was full of the most adorable little kids, pancakes, parents, and of course the jolly man himself. 

The light definitely showed up for the occasion too..  It gave each picture that warm Christmasy feeling, right?

What a cutie!!

Merry So CLOSE Christmas!

Step by Step Fresh Pasta @ Oven&Fig!

As some of you may already know, I have quite a love for a local restaurant in my town, Alfredo BYO

Last month the owners and I came together to create a blog- which we decided to call the Oven and Fig. Adorable!

I am writing and photographing each piece we do together. Right now we are working on one post per month- in the restaurant business, time is oh so precious. It is such a blast!

For our Christmas edition we decided handmade pasta would be our recipe of choice…. You thought my hand rolled gnocchi were fun and delicious?

These little guys are quite a contender. 

Check out the new post HERE … and let me know what you think!

Cinnamon Hot Cocoa & Homemade Gingerbread Marshmallows

To a girl that carries around the deer park gallon jug of water every day – and never drinks anything but water, every day, and every night – starting my day with a big mug of cinnamon hot cocoa was like a huge deal. I think my heart actually skipped a beat with the first sip. So, excluding the occasional hot chai, or decaf iced coffee or tea, I have been off the drink wagon for almost 3 years. No soda, no sugary drinks at all, no coffee, no caffeine ever, no nada. It stops being boring after year one – or I wouldn’t have made it this long. 😉

The cause for this morning’s indulgence? Homemade gingerbread marshmallows.

The effect? Melty ooey goey gingerbread marshmallows floating on top of the freshly whipped cream in my beautiful mug of cinnamon hot cocoa.

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Little Bites in the Big City.

The city was glistening this weekend. When my friend Wesley at Free People asked me to bring sweets to their holiday coat drive event in December, all I could think about was how perfect NYC is for the holidays. Everywhere you turn the store windows are festive, the fashion is cozy, and as annoying as shoving your way through midtown might be, there is no better time of the year to see the city alive. 

Now, when we think holiday desserts, there are a few classics, that we can’t seem to keep our hands off of. No holiday season passes in my house without peppermint bark, gingerbread cutouts, sugar cookies, and decorated spritz cookies. With a small budget, I had to be selective… with desserts? Almost, impossible!

As much as I wanted to create little Free People gingerbread girls – I will have to save that for another day 🙂

Instead… I did Holidays the Free People way. Hot pinks and bright sparkley colors – and everything but red & green.

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NoMOREvember.

Alright. If my lack of writing wasn’t enough to steer you in the direction of Aly was darn near close to having a mental breakdown this month, then I’m not sure how else to explain it to you. It was only like a little past midnight last night, but let me tell you, I turned my calendar pages so fast, I almost gave myself a paper cut. Seriously, November was a dooooozey. However, amongst all of the BLAH there was a lot of AH HA moments too. Let me translate – I created a lot of beautiful goodies.

Regarde, sil vous plait..

There was a story I wrote on this Main Line gem … Tredici Italian Market. They killed me and sent me to heaven with their #1 sandwich (they have 13 insane creations … actually more than 13, but 13 signature offerings)

Don’t stare too long … but you are looking at freshly sliced prosciutto, crumbled gorgonzola, arugula, drizzled with balsamic, and all sandwiched between two pieces of ciabatta that have been slathered with their walnut pesto. O.M.G.

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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?