Tuesday, December 27, 2011


It's been a complicated holiday season.  And while several days off from work, doing absolutely nothing, kept me from blogging (read: laziness)  Now my mind is a little distracted by goings-on.  So, I've decided to take some time off, to think (and not think) for awhile.  I don't know how long it will be, however long it takes I guess.  But I'll see you again in the new year, friends.  I hope the new year brings only good things for you all! 

Much love,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Clotted Cream

Clotted cream, which is traditionally served with scones in England, is a thick, delicious dairy product that's like a cross between whipped cream and butter.  It's wonderful.  But what's even better is my sister's incarnation of it.  My sister's version of clotted cream is more similar to whipped cream, but is slightly thicker and way more flavorful!  And it's super fantastic on a scone, let me tell you.  It's magic.

Just look at that beautiful deliciousness melting on that warm scone.  Ahh.

And it's so very rude to let any of that beauty go to waste!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Big News!!

So, I've got some very big news to share with you all.  Well, it might now be new news to you if you're a facebook or twitter friend, but oh well, just act like it is, okay!?  My big mountain of awesome news?  Oh, you know, Antoine proposed!!  And I naturally said yes, because I ain't no fool!

Sit on down, get comfy and I'll tell you all the story of surprise and jubilation...

It happened on Monday.  Monday December 19th.  I was home sick from work with a cold, but by the afternoon I was feeling a little more lifelike.  Antoine was out running some errands.  I was home in my pjs, crocheting on the couch with the Cheese-man by my side, popping cough drops like nobody's business.

Exhibit A

Antoine came home and was acting a little funny.  But that's normal, were we have a tendency to be weirdos sometimes (shh, don't tell the normal people).  Plus, I was kind of in the zone with the scarf I was working on.  Do-do-do-do-do.  (That's me in the crocheting zone, by the way!)  So, Antoine asks me to come into the dining room.  I'm like, "yeah, yeah, let me finish this row!"  (Silly person! Pay attention. Big things are about to happen!)  So I walk in and he points to the chalkboard wall, where he has written "Will You Marry Me!?".  I look stunned and turn back to him and he's on his knee saying he loves me and will I marry him!  I can't really remember what I said next, besides yes...then I proceeded to hug him a million times and say "But I'm sick!  And I'm in my pajamas!?"  Like that matters!

Sparkly custom-made ring based on a 1930s design. I am in love! 

So, now I call my boyfriend my fiance, which feels weird but awesome.  I'd say Antoine is going to make an honest lady out of me, but I don't think that's really possible (I would never and will never describe myself as "a lady"!).  I am beyond excited!  But I'm still in that phase of giggly, fluttery nervousness right now, and it feels strange to have a ring on my finger (I never wear rings).  Especially one so sparkly!  But it feels strange in the best way possible!  I can't stop staring at my finger.  Antoine can't stop staring at my finger.  It's delightful!

So, anticipate some engagement/wedding talk on here.  I cannot deny that it's going to be on the brain, so, consider yourself forewarned! 

Merry Christmas to me indeed!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Last Tea

Sorry, I was out of commission again yesterday...but I'm feeling much better today!  No more death popsicle here.  And although my coughing shakes the window panes, I feel much better...I swear!

Anyway, let's talk about two weekends ago.  The weekend before last was bittersweet.  Antoine and I had a smashing time together, which included going to my sister's tea house, The Tea Cozy Cottage.  But sadly, it would be our last visit, as the weekend before last marked the final tea weekend for the Tea Cozy Cottage.  Insert: sad face.

My sister is so adorable, I can't stand it!

The quiche of the day had mushrooms in it.  Mushrooms and I don't get along...so my sis whipped up this tasty salad for me!  How sweet is that!?

Three tiered tray goodness.

Michelle and Christian, you guys are awesome!  I'm going to miss the Tea Cozy so very much, but I know it's end only brings the possibility for new and exciting things in your future!  Love you guys.

And with a quiet goodbye and thank you, that was it.  The end of the Tea Cozy.  It's sad, there's no denying that.  But the love that weekend and in many many weekends over the last 7 years has been richly gratifying, and I hope that they hold onto those good feelings and look to their very bright future.  Knowing these two, it's going to be a future full of adventure and happiness. Hugs to you both!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Soup Weather

It's getting a bit chilly nowadays...well, except for that silly warm spell we had earlier this week!  WTF?  It's December, I want snow!  Not rain and 60 degree weather.  Come on! Also, it's that time of the year when people get sick (I blame the fluctuation in temperature)!  Case in point...me.  Currently I am of the "death popsicle" state where I look and sound like a walking plague of nasty germs.  But have no fear, I am a relatively self-aware walking germ...carrying my box of Puffs (with lotion) under on arm and my hand sanitizer in the other.  It's not a pretty sight, but at least I'm trying not to spread my germs to my coworkers.  Piss me off though, and I'll spit in your coffee!  Muwhahahaha! 

Wait.  What was I talking about!?  Oh yeah, 'tis the season of cold weather and illness, which means it's that time of the year that lends itself beautifully to a nice big bowl of soup.  And these days, having dated a fella of Vietnamese decent for several years now, it's not surprising that my soup of choice is pho.  Pho (fyi, it's not pronounced "fo", more like "fa") is a Vietnamese soup traditionally made with beef, rice noodles, a anise infused broth and add-ins such as Thai basil, lime, bean sprouts, and hoisin sauce.  While the beef version (pho bo) is probably the most popular, my favorite is the chicken version (pho ga).  And while Antoine's mom makes a mean pot of pho ga, she doesn't make it often since it typically takes most of the day to make it.  So, when either Antoine or I are in the mood for some pho or banh mi (a Vietnamese sandwich traditionally made with grilled pork, pate, or a selection of coldcuts (read: head cheese...YUCK!  Btw, they have a chicken version as well) we hit up Pho Lang Thang, a fairly new and wildly popular Vietnamese restaurant in Findlay Market.  You've seen me blog about Pho Lang Thang before, because it's a nice local place producing, in my opinion, some pretty tasty Vietnamese food (not as good as A's mom, but still mighty tasty!).  Last Friday, Antoine picked me up from work and we headed over to Pho Lang Thang.  Lunch time and weekends can get kind of busy, but if you go around 5pm on a Friday it's really quiet...

Mmm, I love Vietnamese ice coffee!  I mean, how could you not...it's got sweetened condensed milk in it!  YUM!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fun Day

Every year in our department we try to have a fun day, usually around the holidays.  You may remember last year's paper marbling extravaganza!?  Well, this year, since the department is still under construction we decided to have a really low key fun day of hot stamping and tooling.  You may have seen older books with gold tooling on the cover or a fancy gold label on the spine...that's done with stamping tools and/or a hot stamping machine and gold foil.  So, this past Friday we heated up the hot stamper and dragged out the hot plates and had some fun.  Some people put tooling on books, others decorated holiday cards/envelopes, and a couple of our more artsy students created some original and fun artwork.  It was indeed, a fun day.  Here's some shots I took of the tools...

 Basically you heat the hand tools on a hot plate, put the foil on the thing you're stamping and then once the tool is hot enough you stamp and the adhesive on the back of the foil adheres it to the portion of the surface that's been heated.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Sweet Stuff

Last year, around this time, my sister and I got together and baked a ridiculous amount of Xmas cookies.  It was fun!  We listened to Xmas music, danced around, and decorated.  And in the end I had enough cookies to handout little Xmas goodies bags at work and send some to friends.  All in all, a win-win.  So, this year we decided to do it again.  And like last year, we had a blast...

 This year we decided to try out a new recipe, Gingerbread Cookie Sandwiches, and I'm so glad we did!  It was a huge hit, at least with Michelle and I...

They're kind of like a cross between a gingerbread whoopie pie and an oatmeal cream pie.  Delicious!

 Since we were trying out a new recipe, we wanted to go with two standbys as our other recipes, just in case the new one flopped.  After last year, so many people raved about the almond biscotti we made that that seemed like a no-brainer.  Another obvious choice was the toffee bark, which we made last year as well.  It's easy to make and a big crowd pleaser.
 And it's no wonder why it is such a hit, look at all the butter and margarine that goes into it!  Geez!

 Toffee bark, before being baked.

 After they come out of the oven, you drizzle the bark with milk chocolate...


The finished product, I made up about nine of these for work folks, then sent a couple containers of cookies out in the mail to some special friends!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend in Instagram

I have failed you all.  Please don't hate me too much.  I didn't blog this weekend.  It's not that time got away from me or I forgot about it, it was one of those moments when I stopped and thought to myself "I could stop and post something really quick!  But, nah."  I was having too good of a time in the moment, spending time with my long lost fella (it's had been nearly two weeks of not seeing him).  That little voice in my head said, "hey, you need to blog", but then I ignored.  The urge to make dinner and sit down to eat at the table together felt much more important.  That feeling of loving the moment so much more than the words or pictures I would have posted, yeah, I had that a lot this weekend.  So, please forgive me for breaking my promise.  But you know what, I'm not at all mad at myself for doing it and I don't regret it one bit.  Anyway, here's some highlights from the weekend...

 I started crocheting my first ever infinity scarf this weekend.

 Antoine bought us this cute little robot ornament for our tree.

 While Antoine was snuggled up with Cheese on the couch Saturday morning, I whipped up my best cafe au lait yet.

 He is literally a Cheese-ball.

 My new socks!  I love them, a lot!  They happen to be men's, but lucky for me I have big feet so they fit!

 De-seeding a pomegranate is a gruesome task.

 Saturday night side dish: pomegranate balsamic brussel sprouts.  Yum!  (recipe to come)

 I'm really digging this whole dinner-at-the-table thing, especially when I sit across from this guy!

 He's a close-talker.

 Infinity scarf finished...BOOM!  And it's all mine!

 Antoine at the last tea.  So sad, but glad we got to be there.

 A little treat for myself.  I'm in love!

 Sunday night juice making...

...and veggie roasting.

So, yeah, my weekend was fantastic.  I wouldn't have changed a second of it!  What about you, how was your weekend?

Friday, December 9, 2011

How Many Grilled Cheese Sandwiches is Too Much?

*Answer: 293, 125

And luckily I haven't hit that number yet.  Although I am trying my hardest.  If you've read my blog before you know I'm kind of cuckoo for this place in Cleveland called Melt!  As in, I think it's one of the greatest creations since ice cream or basset hounds.  Yeah, it's pretty awesome.  I may have a teeny-tiny addiction to the place.  Actually, it's bad!  If anyone hears of a rehab facility specializing in insanely good grilled cheese sandwich addictions, you let me know!  Luckily Unfortunately, Melt is in Cleveland and I live in Cincinnati.  Oh, but my nearest and dearest friend happens to live in Cleveland...what!?  Oh yeah, that's right.  I might love her a little bit more than I love Melt, but I will bite her hand off if it gets between me and my tasty delicious melty goodness!  She knows it's true.  But she still loves me.

So, while I was up in Cleveland visiting said hlp last weekend it was kind of assumed that we were going to Melt at some point during the weekend.  We decided to go on Sunday, right before I headed home...mainly because we didn't want to remove ourselves from the couch and tv the night before and therefore ordered in some pizza (our ex-roommate M.O.).  When Sunday rolled around I was SO ready for a grilled cheese I could almost taste it.  Before we walked through the door Amanda and I knew what we were getting, we're in sync like that.  We, Amanda, her boyfriend and myself, sat our selves down and our friendly waiter took our order.  And we waited.  It was sometime in the middle of waiting for our food that Amanda's boyfriend said, "So, you really like this place!  The last two times you've come to Cleveland we've went to Melt."  I chuckled and corrected him, "EVERYTIME that I've come to Cleveland, since Amanda has moved here, we've come to Melt!  It's like a tradition!"  An unspoken, ooey-gooey tradition of awesomeness!  And while I'm generally not the kind of person who's really into tradition(s)...this is one I can get behind!  So, without further ado, more pictures of gorgeous grilled cheese sandwiches that will make your mouth water:

 Every month at Melt they have a Sandwich Special.  Last month it was a Thanksgiving inspired sandwich (Antoine got it and said it was awesome!), and this month it was The Mighty Macaroni Melt, homemade macaroni & cheese that's been breaded and fried, with your choice of cheese.  When Amanda told me this, I knew I wanted it.  They also had another special called the Dudefather, which took two of their sandwiches, The Dude Abides and The Godfather, put them in a room alone together, cranked up the Barry White and let them create the most insane of lovechild.  The Dudefather has homemade meatballs, fried mozzerella sticks, three cheese lasagna, and provolone and romano cheeses on garlic infused bread.  Did your mind just explode!?  I know my did when I read the description!  Insane!  My brain and my belly couldn't handle it, although I was tempted!

 And look at it!  The Mighty Macaroni indeed!  Oh my.  Wait, would you like a closer look!?

BOOM!  It was really good.  The mac n' cheese was herby and delicious.  I would have liked a little something more on the sandwich, maybe some grilled onions or bacon.  That would have made it out of this world.

Now, I knew I wanted the Macaroni Melt, but there was also that little voice in my head that said, "But what about the Parmageddon?  You love the Parmageddon!  Are you just going to abandon it?!"  Dilemma!  And, of course, my hlp had the solution...we'd share!  Oh, she is so very wise.  *Hint: in order for me to get along with a person really well they need to be willing to share food.  I'm a big fan of getting two meals and splitting them with someone else, so I can sample more than one thing.  My sister does it.  Antoine does it.  And Amanda does it.  And I love them hardcore because of that.  Well, and for other reasons too, like they're awesome and I love them.  And don't you get any ideas, they're mine!  All mine!!!

Oh Parmageddon, please have my babies!  Our love is one for the history books.  It is written in the stars.