Wednesday, December 19, 2012

English Lavender Honey Cake

After bringing my lavender plant in for the winter, I harvested some lovely purple pods and dried them out. I had no idea what to do with them, so of course I asked all my super-savvy- facebook friends what to do with it. One of the suggestions I got back was a honey lavender cake. To be honest I had never heard of such a cake so I went to my electronic best friend, Google, and asked her.  (yes, google is officially a her) Turns out there are lots of recipes for honey lavender cake so I picked the one that looked most unhealthy and went shopping for ingredients. 

Just to warn you, this 9-inch cake packs in a lot of butter. It's very delicious and moist, best eaten warm. Don't skip the glaze- it makes this cake.   

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup  sugar
½ cup honey *the recipe originally calls for lavender honey, but who has that???
3 eggs
2 cups  flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp chopped dried lavender, plus more for garnish
½ cup sour cream

Glaze Ingredients:
2 teaspoons of honey
¾ cup confectioners sugar
4 tsp. lemon juice *I left this out

~Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter  and flour a 9-inch cake tin. (you can use parchment on the bottom if you like)
~Cream the butter (bring to room temp if possible), sugar, and honey together until light and fluffy. ~Beat the eggs lightly together   in a separate bowl and slowly incorporate into the butter base.
~Mix the dry ingredients together (all remaining ingredients but the sour cream) and stir well.
~Fold ⅓ of the flour mixture gently into the butter base, then about ⅓ of the sour cream. Repeat twice more until all ingredients are just incorporated.
~Turn the batter into your prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. 
 ~When you cake is done, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for about ten minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool.
~When cool, transfer to a plate and make the icing: whisk the lemon juice and honey together, then whisk in the powdered sugar (ideally you’d sift the powdered sugar in to remove any lumps).
~Drizzle over your cake, allowing the icing to trickle down the sides.
~Sprinkle with additional lavender. Allow frosting to set, and serve.

Original recipe from here: the Three Clever Sisters Blog

Happy Christmas

I've always been partial to the british version "happy Christmas." It's not that I don't like the word "merry," but ever since I heard Kate Winslet say "happy christmas" in the movie The Holiday it just stuck. So happy Christmas to all of you as we celebrate the season of Christ's birth!

This is the picture we used for our christmas card this year. We look like nice people. 

But if you know us well, this is who we really are ;)

Happy Christmas everyone!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Can't-Stop-Eating-Them, Easiest-Ever Homemade Flour Tortillas

We love Mexican food at our house. We love Mexican food out of our house too. (the Chipotle in our area gets a lot of our money) Recently we've been resolving to make our own bread and bread products. No buying sandwich bread, bagels or english muffins or any bread-products at the store (or farmer's market, or anywhere). We've been doing it for a couple months and it's going really well! We haven't even been tempted to buy our usual favorite from the store because homemade tastes so much better! Unfortunately for us, the no-bread-buying rule also applied to tortillas. We never made tortillas before this time and were a little dubious at to how they would turn out. Well, let me tell you- these tortillas are amazingly delicious! You won't want to buy the ones from the store after tasting these. They're extremely simple to make and only use ingredients that 90% of households already have on hand. Ok, enough chit-chat. Here's the recipe: (found on pinterest)

Easy and Utterly Delicious Homemade Flour Tortillas

3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt*
1/3 cup veg. oil
1 cup warm water

Combine all the ingredients until they form a dough. (your kitchen aid mixer isn't needed-just do it in a bowl and 30 sec. later dough has formed) 
Roll the dough into a big ball and pinch off a 1-2 inch piece. 
Roll out the piece on a floured surface. Make it a circle.
Put the raw tortilla into a flat pan on medium high heat and cook until there are little brown speck on both sides (you'll have to flip the tortilla to cook both sides).
Continue pinching off pieces, rolling and cooking until all your dough is used.**

*we thought they could have used a little more salt, but that just depends on your tastes. We'll probably up it to 1 1/2 tsp. next time.
** This recipe made 19 tortillas for us. Some of them were a little bigger than was ideal, you could easily get 24 tortillas out of this batch.

Do enjoy mexican food? Corn or flour tortillas? If you've made your own tortillas before, I'd love to hear about that too!

Happy Tortilla-ing!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gettin' My Groove On With Frimoo Glasses-A Sponsored Post

Usually when I get emails from companies to blog about their products I just delete them. First of all, I usually assume that they're spam, and secondly, I think "how in the world do they know I have a blog???" Freaky. 
However, when I got an email from, I thought what if it IS real? What if I really CAN get a free pair of glasses for my aging eyes? (bad eyesight runs deep in my family) I was desperately in need of a new pair of glasses. I had ordered a super cheap pair from another online company and they were literally falling apart.I went to Firmoo's website and was pretty surprised with what they had to offer. Stylish frames. Good quality. Good customer service. and um, FREE.
After a bit of browsing I choose my frames (they're selling for around $36), entered my vision and PD info onto their easy order form, and about 10 days later got them in the mail!
I was surprised with their quality and how sturdy they are. My glasses came in a hard leather-ish case with a cloth and also a glasses screwdriver-keychain and extra arm joint screws. 

Take a look at my new specs:

sweater: Eddie Bower via savers, dress: savers, leather belt: savers, riding boots: marshalls, earrings: charming charlie, necklace: vintage, glasses:

So guess what? You can get a free pair too! That's part of the perks to blogging about this sweet deal I got. Click the link to get yourself some awesome specs: Free Glasses

I love that geek glasses are totally in. Who wears them best? Um, Zooey Deschanel, obviously. Someone please tell me that I'm not the only New Girl fan out there.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Our Last Leg: Vernazza, Switzerland, Paris and Madrid

Looking back over all the amazing times we had during our European adventure makes it really hard to pick just a couple photos for you. However, I'm FORCING myself to finally complete my blog series on our trip to europe this past summer in one short post. (believe me, I could go on for years sharing picts with you guys. however, there are other things that are also important to blog about like pumpkin recipes and such)
So without further ado, here goes:

 If you remember from the last post, we had been in Rome and Florence where the temps were just amazingly hot. We were so relieved to get to the Cinque Terre (5 little towns on the seacoast all connected by hiking trails). We spent a couple days cooling off in Vernazza, this charming tiny coastal town. It was one of our favorite stops on our entire trip. (and the tan I got there is just starting to wear off my legs 3 months later!)

 After Vernazza, we went to Basel, Switzerland and spent some time with our friend (and also violinist in our quartet). It was super fun to go wandering around this city! I could picture myself living here. On hot days, people get floaties and just float down the Rhine (pictured above) riding with the current. We spotted about 30 people while we were there-it's quite funny.

We went grocery shopping in Basel- cooking for ourselves and our host. I almost laughed when I saw this bottle labeled "American Sauce." I wonder what in the world that tastes like.

After Switzerland, we went to Paris and believe me, as a book lover, it took a LOT of control not to go crazy buying all these old books. There were tons of carts along the bridges selling books, art, vintage art and everything in between. I came home with 1 print. The art is so cheap too!

 Rome has beautiful fountains, but no one can deny that Paris has her fair share as well.

 Le Tour Eiffel at dusk. Rooooomantic. 

Paris Opera House. Really magnificent inside. 

Square where Victor Hugo's apartment is. If you ever visit here, go to the museum/house- it's free!

Do NOT Skip going to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore if you are in Paris! It's extremely quaint and amazing. You aren't allowed to take pictures inside but it's filled with old and new books and a rickety old staircase to upstairs where there's nooks with old couches and victorian sofas in the middle of book piles, and a piano.  

Our time in Madrid was short, but it was an amazingly beautiful city by night. We stayed with some wonderful couchsurfing hosts and had a late dinner (we started eating at 11. we were told this is pretty traditional for the summer time.)

So there you have it! Just a few little tidbits of our last leg. Perhaps someday we'll go back. I already can't wait!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What The Sistine Chapel Looks Like (and other assorted Roman and Florentine places))

After we left Venice (with a short stay in Padova) we started on our way to Rome. I'd have to say, my favorite thing about Rome was to wander among the ruins. There's not much that's truly amazing and horrifying at the same time, but this city had an abundance of landmarks that left me with this feeling. We arrived at night and took a wonderful walk down to the Colosseum. 

 Look at the size of the humans compared to this place! It was much, MUCH grander than I thought. The knowledge of what it was used for made walking around it much more scary than you would think.

( can you find the famous Creation of Man scene?) 
(did you know Michelangelo painted this entire ceiling and laying flat on his back - paint sometimes dripping into his eyes?) Amazing.

The next morning we decided to go to the Vatican City and tour  the museum and the Sistine Chapel. That was probably one of the most horrible museum experiences I have ever had.  Let's just say the NYC Subway doesn't even begin to describe how crowded the ENTIRE museum was. (and I'm from NYC, remember?) By the end of the 2 hours we shuffled shoulder to shoulder with everyone else, we were sweaty, smelly, thirsty and just glad to be out. I should also mention that Rome was having a severe heat wave this day. 

One thing you should know about this: while you're shuffling along  in the corridor and stairs leading into the Sistene Chapel, you'll hear an announcement in about 6 different languages: "You are about to enter the Sistene Chapel. Please remain silent while in the Sistene Chapel. No Photos Please." (haha, like that's going to happen. (there were about 2,000 of us in the chapel at once) The next thing you should know is that when you actually get inside the Chapel, there will be 5 or 6 security guards shouting "SILENCE PLEASE!" about every other second. So much for the silence. 

 The beautiful pines of Rome. 

There were lot of colorful mailboxes in the Vatican City. It's "the thing" to send a postcard home from the Vatican.

 A few days later we traveled to Florence, a beautiful city in which we had only 4 hours. The heat wave was still in full boom (one of the hottest in history, by the way) and we were anxious to get to our next destination- the Italian Riviera. (hello, beach!)

The bridge above is the Ponte Vecchio - extremely old (built in the 12th century) and beautiful.  Originally built for shops selling gold and silver it has changed very little since then. It still has the quaintest shops and silver. 

 A view of Florence from a little garden on a hill I found.

Church where Galileo and Michelangelo are burried. 

So there my friends, in a tiny-little nutshell, are some picts. from our time in Rome and Florence. You should know that the best gelato I've ever had (and we had some almost every day in every city) (it's the only way to keep cool) is in Florence. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Let's Talk About Croissants: What We Ate In Europe Part 2

We are now home in our little Connecticut town. Our European travels and adventures have come to an end, but not for you, dear reader! I get to remember all the fun times we had by blogging about them and sharing them with the whole wide world. Not a bad deal :)

So today we're talking about food again (and in my opinion, you can never talk too much about food. who's with me on that?) and this time we have pictures from Paris. Unfortunately we didn't take pictures of the amazingly delicious steak meal we had in Switzerland at a friends house, or the meal we shared with a couple in Madrid, or all of the meals we ate during the last week of our travels. But these will have to suffice. So grab a snack (I'll wait right here) and read on!

This was probably one of my favorite meals during the whole trip. Beef bourguignon at Chartier's. The meat was super tender (like you've never had before) and the stew part had an incredible amount of flavor. Drink this with a good wine and you will be happy for many days. (I was.)

This is what Karl had at the same restaurant. A thick steak with fries. Except they call them something fancy like pomme frites. We followed this meal by going to Haagen-Dazs for dessert. 

One of the first things we did when we got to Paris was to get some pastry! We stayed with a couple who have been living in France for 20+ years and they recommended this place. We were not disappointed. Here's Karl trying a chocolate pastry. (if he can involve chocolate in something, he will.)

Moments later, I made my selection at the pastry stand and choose a baguette with camembert. This was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. I'm super sad you can't get bread and cheese like this where we live. Experiencing cheese in Paris is something really spectacular. (you may feel like a cheese virgin for a while)

AHA!!!! The whole time I have been alive (give or take a couple years), I have been wondering how different croissants could be in France. Well. Let me tell you, they taste nothing like what you get in the   States. This one (and every one we ate) was fresh and warm. The outside is incredibly flaky and toasty. The inside in buttery and gooey and a little bit like heaven. I think we ate one (at least) almost every day we were in Paris. (it was money well spent)

Ok, so we didn't eat this, but we stopped inside this chocolate shop and they had an Eiffel Tower made out of chocolate. MADE OUT OF CHOCOLATE. (what?!?!) yeah. super cool.

When we went to Latin quarter we saw crepe shops every. where. In the latin quarter you can get quite a bit of food for not a lot of money. Plus, while you're there you can visit the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, which you wouldn't want to miss. (more on that in another post)

 Here is Karl's nutella and banana crepe. Nutella is like "the" thing over there. There are lots of little nutella crepe stands we saw all across Italy and also in Paris. These places have like 72 oz. bottles of nutella. 

can't leave Paris without trying a macaroon! My delightful husband surprised me with this right before our flight was supposed to take off. Raspberry macaroon.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What I ate in Europe.

Currently, we are in Basel, Switzerland. We're staying with a friend from the Crescendo Institute (the violinist in our quartet) today and tomorrow Karl, me, and our friend will travel to Paris. It took us 21 hours and 9 trains to arrive in Basel and we are so happy to be here. 

Since I last blogged we have been in Padova, Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, (and Nice, France- although it was only for 25 minutes, so it doesn't really count). Today I want to share about some of the food we have been eating while we have been in Europe. We've tried some of the local foods and some familiar foods and have seen strange things that aren't usual at all for Americans. 

For instance, we stayed with a host in Padova, Italy and on the way to his flat he pointed out the butchers store. But this wasn't just any butcher. It was a butcher that only sold horse meat. Yup. Horse meat. It's quite common and tasty, he told us. (thanks, i'll take your word for it) 

(fresh salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta, dill and bacon)
This first picture if from our free-day at the festival. We went on a wine tasting tour that included a 3-course meal at a French restaurant in Hungary. I loved the idea of this place- it was opened by some French artists and chefs who have a beautiful restaurant filled with their artwork! 

 (couscous, herbed chicken, and a sweet squash loaf)

this was the second course at the restaurant. I felt so fancy eating in courses and trying new flavors!

 (different kinds of desserts- sweetmeats, etc.)

The final and 3rd course of our meal had some sweetmeats and different dessert bites. I'm not even sure what to call them. The little meatball-looking things were very sweet- I think they had some nuts and honey in them. They were served neither hot nor cold.  Interesting, but I think my taste buds would have preferred gelato ;)

this is a traditional Hungarian dish- chicken paprikish. It is VERY DELICIOUS (!!!!!!!!! I loved it) and is served with their traditional pasta, which is super dense and therefore, super filling.

speaking about paprika, this is one of the stands at a Hungarian market (in the Great Hall Market) that sells all different kind and forms of paprika. In restaurants you won't find salt and pepper on the table. You'll find paprika. I bought a beautiful tin of paprika and plan to make some chicken paprikish when we get back home. 

(just so you know, we're not choco-alco-addicts) We found these (and more!) flavors of chocolate in the Hungarian supermarket and thought it was slightly funny since there were so many alcoholic flavors.

one night during the festival, we had a grill party outside the castle gate. they served kebabs, pita wedges and salad. Yum!

our last night at the festival we went to our favorite hangout-food place in Sarospatak. They have the most adorable outside garden to eat in. Also they have a bajillion different kinds of pizzas with every topping imaginable- from hot dog pieces to corn.

here we are in Venice trying a Spritz. It's white wine, bitters, red flavoring, ice, seltzer water and lemon wedge. If you leave it on your tongue it tastes sweet, but the moment you swallow it, you could breathe out fire. Oh, also I wouldn't recommend drinking it in the morning on an empty stomach. just saying :)

beautiful marzipan in Venice.  

an outside street market in Venice- these hot peppers were so beautiful! they also had a notice saying don't touch them. Yeah, I'm going to listen to that.

 a night dinner in a beautiful garden in Venice. Al fresco eating is pretty much the only way to eat in Venice, Rome and Florence. As far as I can remember, I didn't see a restaurant that didn't have outdoor seating. This meal was very yummy- Karl had the gnocchi with meat sauce and I had penne arrabiata. They served it with bread and a healthy helping of parmesan. Also the wine was cheaper than my water. That's how you know you're in Italy.

 A bakery window with gigantic meringues and biscotti. Seriously, these meringues were bigger than my hand. And every bakery has bigger meringues than the last one. That's my kind of bakery.

This is the traditional pasta dish in the Vernazza of the Cinque Terre. It looks like worms, but it's actually pretty tasty and covered in a basil-pesto sauce that is wonderful!

Well, that's all for now. I can't believe we don't have a picture of gelato-we probably just gobbled it up to fast to think about taking a picture. But hey, we've got priorities.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Yesterday we traveled 17 hours and took 6 trains to get to the magical city of Venice. It's actually really hard to believe something like this exists...a floating city of color, flowers, gondolas, and gelato at every turn. Although Venice can be unbearable hot and humid, we were blessed with gorgeous weather and had an amazing time roaming the streets. Getting lost here is definitely something you'll do. Even if you try your hardest not to. There are many streets on the maps that have no names. Little streets that you must walk single file down. You meet a lot of dead ends, but at the end of the day you're rewarded with lots of little beautiful scenes you wouldn't have seen if you had found your way at once. We had gelato today and it was yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum. We had a spritz in San Marco Square which is a blend of white wine with some spirits, flavor, seltzer, lemon and ice. Not my favorite but very "venice." If you're wondering what Venice smells like its can sometimes smell like fish water, but when it doesn't you smell leather.  In the very last picture you can see us by St. Mark's Basilica where an American couple took our picture. The husband was from the Bronx and they have a son who is living in Connecticut! How bizarre!
Anyways, enjoy the pictures. I'm so in love with this beautiful, romantic water town.