Monday, February 28, 2011

Yummy Monday

Happy Monday everyone!

How was your weekend?  I had a great one filled with surprises, good friends, and...legwarmers?!  But more on that later this week.  First, I thought I'd start this week by reliving some of the yumtastic food Sean and I have eaten recently.

Sean and I are pretty adventurous eaters, and love to try new things.  Ethiopian food is just about at the top of our absolutelyfavoritemealsever list, and so while it's not new to us, it might be new to some of you!

Ethiopian food features lots of meats and lentils that can get pretty spicy, all served on a large platter of thin, spongy injera bread.  There's no silverware to be found, and instead you tear pieces of the bread off  and scoop the food into your mouth that way.  Although I can be a germ-a-phobe at times, I push that aside for the sake of this meal.  It's messy, it's filling, and you better like whoever you're eating with because you are definitely getting their cooties. 

Our favorite Ethiopian restaurant is Abyssinia.  The food there is out of this world, and it is totally worth it to put up with the S-------L--------O--------W service.  And that's saying a lot considering my serious lack of patience when it comes to things like food.  It's also a hole in the wall for sure--but don't let the facade keep you out.  If you go on Friday night it is PACKED with people from the neighborhood, and college kids.  Here is a pic of what we ate the other night:


Now, admittedly it doesn't v look very appetizing but trust me--if you've never had Ethiopian you need to try it, like, yesterday.

Sean and also discovered what we believe is the best pizza in Philly, and it was totally on a whim!  We recently got droids (love!) and the apps are fantastic.  We decided to use the Urban Spoon app to figure out a place to eat.  Well, the stars aligned and we ended up at The Dock Street Brewery.   Since we moved to Philly we haven't been able to find great pizza and this has officially ended our search.  The fire oven pizza was about as close to perfect as a pizza can get.  I got the "La Cocca" which I guess means "Deliciously runny egg on top of a a perfect trifecta of sauce, cheese, and crust." 

Not only was the pizza great, but for an appetizer we had panko crusted fresh mozzarella (clearly we're a couple who loves our dairy...).  The cheese was crisp and perfectly fried and had that amazing salty/sweet taste only good quality fresh mozz can have.  I'm drooling over here.
So now that I've got you all salivating, get back to work will you??!! It's Monday for Pete's Sake!
But come back tomorrow when I'll talk about my trip to NYC for  my lovely friend's bachelorette party!

Friday, February 25, 2011

updates to come

This week has been crrrrazy busy!  I got to spend some time on a Segway, and with a super cute baby today, and I'm getting ready for a blast from the past weekend.  Pictures and details will abound next week.  In the mean time, here are some of my ideas for getting lost in the interwebs while I'm out having fun...

The baby I squeezed today would look even cuter in this outfit!
For the wino on the go...
As someone with awful allergies, we have kleenex all over our apartment.  I really need some of these rather than those awful flower patterned boxes.
I have just been made aware of and now my life is complete!  (Even for a non-beer drinker this site/mag is awesome!)
Love love love what this blogger did in her dining room...someday when we own a house...

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thinking of Spring

So today I was snuggling under a blanket and wishing for spring when I remembered that I had some pictures from a trip to Longwood Gardens that I should share with all of you.  My mom came here for Christmas and since she likes flowers as much as I do, I knew Longwood would be a fun outing.  It's not too bad of a drive from Philly, and it's nice to get out of the city once in a while.  If you've never been during the holidays, you need to put it on your bucket list.  They do an AMAZING job of decorating and it's quickly becoming a tradition of ours at holiday time. 
Sean, Me, Mom
Aside from the fun of the holidays, I really love it because of all the beautiful flowers.  And since the past few days have been snowy and cold a touch of spring is exactly what I need.

I love succulents--I need to learn how to make one of these!

How do you get through the winter months??  Snow angels and cozy sweaters just aren't cutting it for me this year!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vintage Love

In my blog scouring, I came across this giveaway from The Shabby Nest and absolutely had to share.  I love love love vintage accessories and wish my modern apartment would not look insane with more vintage things lying around.  But if you have a home that would welcome some antique fun head over to The Shabby Nest and enter the Timeless Settings giveaway.  Good luck!

My favorite thing are the keys, I have a thing for antique keys and would love to add these to my collection!


What I'm Drinking

My most recent botle of red is a Merlot by The House of Independent Producers.  Once again I chose this wine because the label is so dang pretty.  I'm so sophisticated sometimes I even amaze myself!

Although the label is gorgeous, and apparently the vinyard uses sustainable farming techniques, the wine itself was definitely not my fave.  Totally drinkable, and it'll do in a pinch, but I will not likely be buying this bottle again.  It was weak where it should've been bold, and bold where it had no business being bold.  Overall, just a meh rating of 2 glasses from me.

Also I finally got with the program and added the option to subscribe to my blog.  Over there! On the side bar!  Subscribe and each post will be delivered right to your inbox.  Is that service or what?! Click it, you know you want to.

In other news we have SNOW here in Philly.....again.  Now I'm one who loves the snow, but after that warm up this weekend I am so ready for spring.

Monday, February 21, 2011

PorkFest 2011!


So when I was looking for something fun to do a while back I saw that The Institute (recently voted best bar in the middle of nowhere) was having an all you can eat/drink event featuring whole roasted pig and endless kegs of Yards.  They had an actual name for the event, but personally I like PorkFest  way better.  

I love a good hole in the wall!

Naturally Sean and I had to be there.  I invited some co-workers and so Saturday was spent drinking beer and eating our fill of pork, sweet potatoes, and mac and cheese.  I'm normally not much of a beer drinker but I have to say the Yards' Brawler was pretty satisfying.  I loved the mashed sweets too...they had a sweet/smokey flavor that was different and delish.  (YUMTASTIC!) The only disappointment was the lack of bread pudding as promised on the event flyer.  Oh well...maybe next year.

Heaps of pork & sides!

On the way home I was super excited that we happened to catch the Love Train...these are way better than chalky conversation hearts!


All in all, a fabulous weekend.  Hope you all had a relaxing one as well!  I'm jealous of everyone (including the hubs) that has Monday off.  Back to the grind for this kid!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Living Green-ish in the City: CSA Week 6

One of the best things about growing up in Chicago is the diversity of cultures and of course with that comes a range of yummy foods!  Chicago has a HUGE Polish population and so I grew up loving pierogies.  If you've never had one go and get one immediately!  The frozen kind are an ok substitute, but nothing can beat homemade.  So I was super psyched to have pierogies from Polish Goodness in our Greensgrow farm share this week--definitely a taste of home!  Pierogies and Saurkraut are definitely on the menu for lunch this weekend and it will be yumtastic for sure.  Check out all the other goodies we got in the share:

No snow today!

CSA Week 6 Haul
Butterhead Lettuce — ARC Greenhouses, Shiloh, NJ
Mutsu or Ida Red Apples — Beechwood Orchards, Biglerville, PA
Chioggia or Red Beets — Jacob Hostetler and Breezy Hill Farm, Doylesburg, PA
Sauerkraut — Cobblestone Krautery, Philadelphia, PA
Muenster — Hometown Provisions, Lancaster, PA
Milk — Trickling Springs Creamery, Chambersburg, PA
Amish Butter — Hometown Provisions, Lancaster, PA
Meat AND Vegetarian shares
Potato Pierogies Polish Goodness Pierogies, Philadelphia, PA

We didn't pick up any extras this week, but just look at how pretty all the produce looks! 

Giant Carrots

Crimini Mushrooms


Oyster Mushrooms

Rainbow Carrots
Nothing beats veggies straight from the ground. 

So, with the beets in our share, I will attempt to cook one for the first time. This will definitely be a disaster awesome.  Any advice or recipes would be appreciated!

Stay tuned for my next post--Sean and I are going to The Institute's Pork &Yards event: Whole pigs on a spit and lots of beer...we are so there.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What will 2011 bring...

So in posts yet to come this year I will explain why 2009 was a year of tragedy, 2010 was the recovery  But 2011, I am sure, will be the year of Melissa! (Inspired by George Castanza of Seinfeld and
the Summer of George.)

So what do I have planned for 2011?  I'm not big on resolutions, but I have some big goals and things to check off my bucket list ready to go for this year.  So I figured I would write down my 11 for '11 to keep me on track.

  1. Get scuba certified (we love to snorkel, now we'll take it to the next level)
  2. Actually go scuba diving-hopefully with my fabulous cousins down in Florida
  3. Train Louie for his Canine Good Citizen award
  4. Get involved with a regular community service activity--any Philly connections/tips welcome!
  5. Meet with a financial advisor and figure out how to save for a house and invest our money
  6. Read at least 10 books for fun--hmm, sounds like another good post series... I read Eat, Pray, Love in January and next up is Blink
  7. Start recording stories of mine and Sean's family with my new digital recorder.  Preserving memories is priceless, and a huge priority of mine.
  8. Exercise regularly
  9. Learn to knit starting with the classes my honey surprised me with!
  10. Actually order our wedding album--2 years later.
  11. Explore professional consulting and coaching as career options--although my degree lends itself perfectly to these options, I really need to figure out if it's for me and if so, is it for me full time, part time....yeah this is a biggy.

So what are your goals/bucket list to-dos/resolutions for 2011?  And if you don't have an 11 in '11 make it happen and tell me what this year will mean for you!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


engagement ring and engagement watch. 
3 years ago the love of my life asked me to marry him.  Luckily I said yes and so far we're still enjoying wedded bliss.  Since I always look back on that day with fond memories, I thought I would share them with you. 

In 2007, Sean was living in New Hampshire with his parents while I was living in Camden, NJ (yeah...THAT Camden).  We were doing the long distance thing and HATING it and so we'd trade off visits.  In February it was his turn.  Although we had talked about wanting to get married and had even looked at rings, I was not expecting him to propose for a good long while.  However, on February 16th he took me to the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia under the guise of some fancy hot chocolate.  There was no hot chocolate to be found however, since he had actually arranged for a massage in the spa for yours truly.  Now, we always agree on no gifts for Valentine's Day and so when he pulls out a massage at the Ritz when I DIDN'T EVEN GET HIM A CARD I felt like a pretty big ass.  But I'm not one to turn down a massage either... 

Back when the hubs had hair!
Calling my parents--I am a seriously ugly crier
At the end of the massage, Sean snuck in and whispered beautiful things to me about loving me and spending the rest of his life with me, at which point I started sobbing and laughing uncontrollably.  I did eventually compose myelf enough to say yes, and then he took me up the suite he had booked where there was champaigne, roses, and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us.  Breakfast in bed the next day wasn't bad either.  (Yeah...he's really this good).  It was completely over the top romantic and I loved every second of it.  

ahhhh romance

Even the strawberries were dressed up for the occasion!

Our special dessert at the Continental Midtown

Thank you, Sean for asking me to spend the rest of my life with you.  Happy Engagediversary!

Monday, February 14, 2011


Sean skipped his class today due to a killer migraine.  He gets these every so often and they really just put him on his ass...poor thing.  I've been lucky to never have one *knock on wood* so I feel terrible for him when they strike.  So since Sean is curled up in bed, I'm spending my Valentine's Eve curled up with the furball!  Is he not the cutest thing on four legs??
 Sean and I don't ever really go all out for Valentine's Day, even this year, a few cupcakes for him (even though the were AMAAAAZING) wasn't exactly romantic gesture of the year.  My sweetie surprised me with knitting classes!  (I have been wanting to learn forever and just haven't committed.  I know it's a weird thing, but it was just about the sweetest gift he could have gotten me).  

This year I'm just really feeling the love.  I think it's because I finally feel really wonderful about what is going on in in my relationships, my career, and myself.  (THE TRIFECTA!) So, just in time for Valentine's Day a few things that I love!

I love my little family.  Sean and Louie are more than I ever could have wished for.
I love my mom.  She is pretty crazy, but I notice more and more how similar we are and luckily I've only inherited her best traits.
I love my friends.  I have some truly amazing friends.  The kind that would drop everything in an instant to stand by me when I need them.  Some I have had since high school, others I met the first day of orientation in college, and others I've picked up along the way at work, tae kwon do class...but I really am lucky to know all of them.
I love good food, and more recently I love making good food...especially chocolate covered strawberries!
my weakness
I love my job.  Seriously.
I love my co-workers.  They are all great at what they do, passionate about working with students, and smart as hell.  I learn from them every day.
I love a good glass of red wine.
I love Philadelphia.  It is a remarkable city that is a perfect fit for me.
Finally, I love this blog.  It's something I have wanted to start for a long time and like so many other things it is the perfect time right now.  I'm looking forward to watching it grow and change and seeing what comes of it.

Leave me a love note on this post because I also love hearing from all of you!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Early Valentine or how I'm way too good to my husband

Sunday is by far my favorite day of the week.  We always start off by eating a big breakfast (this morning it was eggs and bacon...the same eggs from this post).  We do laundry and clean a little but mostly we just relax.  Sean will play video games while I read a magazine and Louie cuddles in between us.  I love laying on the couch with my little family and smelling dinner cooking.  Which reminds me...I was really good to Sean today and made dinner AND a special Valentine's Day dessert.

For dinner I used the Greensgrow Sausages--Chicken sausage with sundried tomatoes--and made sausage and peppers.  This is just about the easiest meal you can make and it's always a crowd pleaser.  Today, since we only had two sausage links left I cut up some chicken breasts as well and now we have lunch for tomorrow.  Basically the recipe is as follows:

Sausage (however many links your family likes) you can either cut it up into pieces or leave them long.  I usually only leave them long when we are planning on making sandwiches which wasn't the case today.
1 Large onion cut into chunks
1 pepper/person, also cut into chunks
Potatoes (as many as you like) cut into chunks
Italian dressing or vinagarette, really whatever you have on hand.  Just use enough to coat the meat and veggies and leave a little bit of liquid at the bottom of the pan.  I used a lavender berry vinagarette today and it was YUMTASTIC!

Now you can pretty much just leave it at this, toss everything together and throw it in a 400 degree oven for about 45min-1hour uncovered. (Once the potatoes are soft you're good to go!) Today though I added the following:
  • Chicken breasts sliced into tenderloins
  • Crushed Red Pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Garlic Powder
  • Fresh Rosemary
I always just season to taste but I would guess that about 1-2 tsp of each spice would do it.  I just threw a whole rosemary sprig in there so I could take it out before serving since when rosemary is roasted it tends to be unpleasant to chew. (blech)  And here you have it:
before cooking...we ate it so fast there was no time for an "after" pic!
 So darn easy and incredibly delicious.  This is a go-to meal for me since it's quick to throw together and smells amazing when it's in the oven.  yum yum yum.

For Sean's Valentine treat I made him Man-Cakes.  My husband loves chocolate more than anyone I've ever met.  He also loves good beer and bacon.  So after thinking about the bacon and chocolate bar from this post, I figured there must be a way to combine these things in to one epic dessert.  I followed a cupcake recipe that used chocolate and guiness as the base.  I also added a pinch of chilli pepper to the batter.  Now, before you give me the judge eyes a little bit of spice brings out the flavor of the chocolate and adds depth to any recipe.  Try it, and then you can thank me.  Seriously though these little babies are moist and amazingly tasty. 

The buttercream I just made up--2 sticks of butter in my stand mixer, then I added cocoa powder and powdered sugar until it looked and tasted right plus a splash of Guiness.  Now for the ultimate in amazingness...on top of these cupcakes I added....BACON!   I cooked extra at breakfast this morning and it. was. perfect.  Just enough saltiness and crunch to make this Man-Cake really phenomenal.  Sweet, Spicy, and Salty all in one...YES PLEASE!

 I'm just going to say that my bad picture taking is actually me trying to make the cakes look....rugged.  yeah, sure. 

Sean is happy, and I'm happy that he's happy.  So with that...HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, everyone!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Date Night

Sean and I had a mini date night last night to Distrito.  Distrito is one of our go-tos since it's one of the nicer restaurants in University City.  It is one of Iron Chef Jose Garces' restaurants and so the food is always great to look at and even better to eat.  It's tapas style which is my favorite since Sean can't roll his eyes at me when my fork is in his plate...tapas are mean't to share!
Check out the car--one day we will sit at that table!
 They always bring these spicy peanuts to the table and they. are. amazing.  They have lime zest on them so combined with the spice they are friggen ridiculous.  I need to figure out how to make these because I seriously dream about them at night.
Spicy peanuts
 Now, I have eaten lots of guac in my day but the green stuff at Distrito seriously takes the cake.  I sort of want to just stick my face in that bowl. yum yum yum yum yum!
 But this is what we come here for.  The Nachos Encarnacion.  Holy taste buds exploding.  Not your traditional nachos, but I would honestly fork over a pay check for these bad boys.  Delicious.

Very excited about the nacho
 I wanted to try the grilled cactus tacos much to the chagrin of my meat and potatoes husband.   When the waitress didn't rave about them I was ready to pass but she said that if we didn't like them she'd take them off the bill...SOLD!  All in all not my favorite bite ever but pretty good, and very different.
Not as prickly as you might expect...
 And finally dessert: El Fuerte!  Chocolate and coffee and nuts and mouse and caramel....yeah, it was awesome.
Apparently only the strong survive
Since we won't be dining out for Valentine's Day, (we can't STAND the crowds, jacked up prices, and limited menus) this served as our date night for the holiday.  I think lobster tail and filet is on the menu this weekend though, so don't worry it will still be a celebration!

What is your favorite restaurant?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What I'm drinking...

I feel the need to preface this post with 2 caveats:
  1. I am not a big drinker.  Seriously, my mom can drink me under the table.  Booze just doesn't really do it for me a lot of the time and all this crap about beer being an acquired taste is BS.  I don't want to have to acquire a taste for anything.  I either like it or I don't.  However, a margarita or a glass of red wine is one of the finer things in life.
  2. I know nothing about wine.  When I interned in Michigan for a summer I took a wine tasting class at a local restaurant.  I sure did drink a lot of wine, but the parts about the notes and the fruit and the aging and all that are a little bit, um....fuzzy.
So with those things in mind I'm starting a little series about the wine I'm drinking.  With Sean in class and internship until late at night three days a week and on Saturday, good chance I'm going to be doing a lot of wine posts...Since I usually just pick it out by how much I like the label, I'm hoping this will help me remember which bottles I liked and which I didn't and maybe the next time you are in charge of bringing a bottle to a dinner party it will help you choose a nice one that tastes yummy rather than some Franzia.

This week it was a bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel.  For New Year's my lovely friend and former roommate, Morgan, brought over a bottle and I thought it was AWESOME! So I bought a bottle with a fun label:
Gnarly Head
Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin was a delicous bottle of wine.  The smell was actually the first thing I noticed and for a wine amateur that says a lot.  The smell of oak was very distinct and warm and made me want to dive right in.  I thought the wine was great by itself after a long day at work but would pair really great with any kind of hearty meal, and the Gnarly Head website suggests ribs which I wholeheartedly agree with!  So with 1 being totally gross and 5 meaning I would take the bottle to the face, this wine definitely gets 4 glasses from me!

Let me know in the comments what your favorite bottle is...I love recommendations!

Post link up

I have to link up to Michelle's post over at So Wonderful, So Marvelous.  If I were going to write a post on jewelry this is pretty much exactly what I'd say...

Sean knows better than to buy me any kind of jewelry with hearts or flowers in it (soooo not my style)  ESPECIALLY the hearts or flowers that are massed produced.  I apologize in advance if I've offended anyone who actually owns this jewelry.  If you love it and you're happy then great, but when you don't get a compliment from me on it please don't take it personally.  I can't help that it makes me gag.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Little people need love too!

Maybe it's because I'm really a big kid, but I feel like stuff for kids just keeps getting cooler.  Seriously, if they made light up shoes in my size I would so be wearing them right now!  As more of my friends, family, and co-workers start having kids I'm loving the excuse to buy fun toys and outfits for those chubby little bundles of joy. 

So for the Broad Street Baby in your life:
It just makes you want to squeeze a baby and then shove a cheesesteak in its mouth doesn't it???

Now, personally I feel like this would be a great gift for just about anyone but it might be embarrassing to explain to your boss why she is still signing your pay checks if you bring this to the office:

That's a whoooole lotta gummy
If half a pound of gummy bear doesn't tickle your fancy, will also sell you a 4lb. one.  If your kid wasn't diabetic before this is a sure fire way to make sure they are by March.

If you really loved your kid crochet him this:
I want to shmush him!
Anyone who is crafty needs to make this for a kid ASAP.  Etsy Seller Mamachee only provides the pattern but seriously how friggen cute is that hat?!  Your small child would definitely feel the love.

Finally, kids art that is chic and fun!
via Rockstar Diaries
Love love love all the prints from Sugarfresh.  So...I may or may not want these for my apartment...maybe Louie will learn his ABC's!
Now go out and get some cool stuff for the people you love!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner or..How much I love my farm share!

When Sean is at class and I don't feel like cooking a full on meal for myself, breakfast for dinner is my go-to.  We had some bacon in the fridge and the rest of the ingredients (minus the bread) were from our farm share at Greensgrow.  I fried up the bacon first and NO I did not eat all of it--Sean has some for his breakfast in the morning or a snack when he comes in from class tonight.
are you drooling yet??
I poured the excess grease into our grease jar...did everyone's mom do this growing up or was it just mine? HI MOM!  I left enough in the pan, though, to fry up an egg.  I love me some drippy eggs let me tell you.  And I have finally mastered the egg flip that keeps the yolk intact.  The eggs from Greensgrow are amazing.  You really can taste the difference between fresh eggs and store bought.  I may never eat a store bought egg again.
thank you free range chickens!

I made two pieces of toast and buttered one up for dipping while I slathered the other with goat cheese that I still had from last week's farm share haul.  Goat cheese has that tang that tastes amazing with the buttery egg.mmmmmmmmmm.  I also used some arugula from our produce this week that added a peppery crunch to my open faced sandwich.  Since I'm a cheese-aholic I sprinkled parmesean and the Vampire Slayer cheese on top.  The Vampire Slayer is a garlicky, spicy, soft cheese that's very distinct and very delicious.  I used it in a grilled cheese the other day and it added just the right amount of kick.

Sophie Conran Butter dish and fancy glass make it a meal!

See...YUMTASTIC!  And afterwards I ate something that really has no business being in the same meal with all these fresh, organic, farm-grown goodies: a TOASTER STRUDEL!  (The amazing competition to Pop-Tarts that, much like Hot Pockets can only be served still frozen in the middle or boiling lava hot.  Thanks Jim Gaffigan). Now those things are seriously amazing and I ate them for breakfast the entire time I was in middle school.  Not sure what my mom was thinking---FROSTING for breakfast???  Although I thank her for introducing me to the wonder that is a Toaster Strudel I'm pretty sure it didn't help me keep my girlish figure during my awkward years.

Valentine's Gifts for the Men

The guys really get the raw end of the deal on Valentine's Day, don't you think? We expect them to shower us with presents and flowers and chocolates and diamonds... no? just me? Anyway... this year show the special guy in your life that you appreciate him with a seriously awesome gift!  Here are some of my favorites:

Bacon + Chocolate = Heaven
Go to the Vosges website and order their Bacon Chocolate Bar---yes it's true chocolate and BACON in a candy bar.  Sean and I tried these when we were in Las Vegas last year and they show up at Whole Foods every once in a while.  You haven't lived until you've tried this chocolate bar, and the man in your life will think you are the most amazing person to walk the earth when he unwraps it.  That heart shaped box with the questionable candies in it ain't got nothin' on this bad boy.

Now, for the manliest soap around:

From Etsy Seller Simply Scents
 That's soap.  This Guinness version smells great and is actually made from the bubbly stuff.  Visit Etsy to find more options--if your man has a favorite brew this would be a great custom gift that won't cost you an arm and a leg.  And hey, now he has no excuse for being stinky after the gym.

For the guy who really is awesome:

Via rowboatpress
And finally, since Sean has found a love of straight razor shaving and so now has more face products than I do...
truefitt and hill

Bonus--this smells AMAZING!  Very manly

I'll be back tomorrow with gifts for the little ones, or maybe just the young at heart!
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