Friday, January 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes {no. 8}

Happy Friday!
You know what time it is. Here are my takes for the week:

Midtown NYC is a bit crazy (crazier than usual, that is) right now because of the Super Bowl happening near here this weekend. Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square has been crazy since it opened Wednesday...and the game is not until Sunday! Have you heard about the toboggan run in Times Square? (Yes, toboggan run!) It's HUGE. At $5 a ride, someone is making a whooooole lot of money on this.
Can I tell you what I am most looking forward to about this year's Super Bowl?
This gal.
Do you know who this is? If not, please allow me to introduce you.
This is my favorite opera singer, Renée Fleming.

This Sunday Ms. Fleming will be the first opera singer ever to sing the National Anthem
at the Super Bowl. I am just so excited!
{picture via}
Come on! She's fabulous, right?!

In my experience there is quite a bit of misunderstanding...or maybe just a lack of knowledge...
about opera in general. May I just take a quick second of your time to say: opera is so much more than the stereotype (loud-singing vikings or large women wearing horns, for example). Opera singers train for years and years and more years to be able to sing in such a way that their voice will carry to an entire opera house for thousands of people to hear without any additional amplification.
It's pretty amazing if you think about it. Also, going to the opera is not just for fancy people -
opera is for everyone! Have you ever been to the opera? I'd love to hear your experience.
If not, I think everyone should go at least once.
Are you still there? I hope so! Thanks for listening...stepping off my soapbox now...

In any case, don't miss the National Anthem on Sunday so you can hear Ms. Fleming sing!

Have you noticed this new addition to the blog this week?
If you hover over any image in my blog posts, this little button should pop up in the upper corner.
With one quick click you can pin any post for future reference!

Do you like carrot cake? I shared a yummy recipe on the blog yesterday.
Speaking of cake, I have plans to share a Valentine's Day cake tradition Michael & I have
sometime soon. Check back soon to find out more.

I can't believe it's already the last day of January!
However, I must say, I am ready for bring on February. Are you with me??
AND, my parents and my grandpa & his friend are coming to visit us this weekend in NYC.
We are so excited to spend time with family. It is always such a blessing.

Linking up these seven quick takes with Jen & friends at Conversion Diary.
Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

carrot cake {yum}

I promised to share the recipe, so without further ado, I give you...
Carrot Cake
3 eggs
3/4 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. applesauce
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
2 c. shredded carrots
1 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple with juice
1 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans. (Optional: Line with parchment paper before greasing/flouring.) Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, applesauce, sugar and vanilla. Mix well, then add flour mixture. Mix well.

In the (now empty) medium-sized bowl, combine shredded carrots*, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins. [*Note: If you shredding your carrots from scratch, like I did, you may need to let them dry on paper towels for a bit - carrots have a lot of water in them!]

Add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 T. vanilla extract

Cream together the cream cheese and butter. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually add in the confectioners' sugar. Take a taste to see if you want to add a little more confectioners' sugar for additional sweetness! :)

Makes enough to frost one 9-inch cake with 2 layers (as pictured).
Sound yummy? Pin this post!
Hover your mouse on either of the above pictures and click the "pin me" button that appears. :)

The above recipes are my variations of this one and this one {gotta love allrecipes!}. Hope you enjoy!
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

5 favorites {no. 4} family game night edition

Linking up with Hallie and friends for five favorites on this winter Wednesday!
(Sorry with the alliteration...I couldn't help myself!)

Michael & I love to have game night. Sometimes it's just the two of us, and sometimes we play games with another couple or two. We also love to play games with our families when we visit them.
Today I thought I'd share just a few of our favorites.

{1} cranium
We just love to play Cranium! Whether you have a word worm, creative cat, data head or
star performer card, there is something for everyone in this game.
(If you know how to play this game - the creative cat cards are my favorite and Michael excels in the data head cards. Humdingers are not our strong suit!)

{2} taboo
This is definitely a top favorite game of ours. If you've never played, the object of the game is to get your teammates to guess a particular word without saying any of the five "buzz words" on the card. This game is especially fun to play with people you know well. Then you can be creative and personal when trying to get your team to guess the word.

{3} euchre
I did not grow up playing euchre, but knowing how to play was pretty much a necessity to be a part of Michael's family. They play all. the. time! When I was first learning the game I was still so nervous around his family - it did not help me pick up the rules quickly. But! Now that I know how to play, I must say, this game is a lot of fun.

{4} settlers of catan
This game is on the list for my dear husband, Michael. He just got this game for Christmas, and he was pretty pumped about it. I confess that when he used to play this game with his college roommates, I never even tried playing because it seemed particularly nerdy. However, upon giving it a chance, it's actually a fun game! There's a lot of strategy involved, and games can get long, but it's worth it. (Also, it makes my husband happy. And that makes me happy!)

{5} suspend
We got this Melissa & Doug game for my sister-in-law, Malissa (age 11) for Christmas. When we played it with her over the holidays we had so much fun that we ended up getting one for ourselves with a gift card. It's a balancing game with a Jenga-like energy - fun for all ages!

Have you played any of these before? What are your favorite games? I'd love to hear!
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Monday, January 27, 2014

monday musings

You know what I am thankful for today? The fact that it's Monday. A new week. Sometimes you just need a fresh start, ya know? I didn't make it for 7 Quick Takes on Friday with Jen, so I thought I'd write a post with some of the things that have been going on around here...keeping things real. Here are my Monday musings, if you will. :)

As you may have read, last Tuesday was my husband's birthday. Our week began with that celebration, which was a lovely one. Thanks for your sweet comments and birthday wishes for my man. Y'all are very kind.

All last week there was a little cloud hovering over me, which was the possibility of being called in to serve jury duty. Now, don't get me wrong - I have no problem fulfilling my civic duty, but being self-employed makes things a little tricky, plus I had some doctor's appointments scheduled for the end of the week. As luck would have it, I was called in to serve the day of one of my appointments and I ended up missing it. Ugh. The silver lining is that I was finished with my service after only one day!

Friday I had another appointment scheduled. Whew, ladies (and any gentlemen out there reading...well, if you're a gentleman reading you might just want to skip to the next paragraph) - let me tell you it was a wee bit rough. {heads up...things are about to get personal} I had to go in for a mammogram & ultrasound on my left breast because I have a lump. Now, this same lump was there last year, and I had the same tests done then, so I was not completely freaked out (though a lump is a lump, and it still makes me a little nervous on a yearly basis). Last year the doctor could feel it, but couldn't see anything on the ultrasound or mammogram. This year: same issue. After a 20-minute ultrasound on it, and 8 - count 'em - eight total mammogram pictures taken, I was given the all clear again for the next six months. And I am praising God for that! I am also thankful for a sweet earth angel that God sent me in the waiting room who really encouraged me as I awaited my tests. The kindness of this woman was such a gift.

Anyway! Hope that wasn't TMI for you all. My apologies if it was. Moving on...

I know last week I was a Pollyanna sharing my five favorite things about winter, but this week I am getting a leeeeeeetle bit tired of this bitter cold. It seems no matter how much I bundle, that biting wind still manages to freeze me. I'm looking forward to warmer days! I could use a little of that springtime cheer...let's see...these flowers should do the trick. My mom had these flowers on the kitchen table the last time I was home. She calls them Dr. Seuss flowers, and I find that very apropos.

Annnnnd, a shout-out to St. Angela Merici whose feast day is today! St. Angela believed in education for women. She formed the community of the Ursulines, which was the very first order to teach women. She is also the patron saint for my high school, Ursuline Academy. You can read more about her here. I ask the Lord for similar confidence, courage & grace in following His will. St. Angela Merici, pray for us!

Hoping to share the carrot cake recipe from my husband's birthday, some of our favorite games we've been playing lately (we love a good game night!), and who knows what else on the blog this week.

So with that, I wish you a happy Monday! Thankful the Lord makes all things new...

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

my love's birthday

Love alert...this post is full of love for my husband...some may consider it a little mushy...
you have been warned! :)

I love birthday celebrations, and Tuesday was my husband Michael's special day. It was such a joy
for me to be able to celebrate the gift he is in my life.

He requested a carrot cake, and I think it turned out rather pretty.
I plan on sharing the recipes I used for the cake and the frosting soon. It was delicious!

 We had a few friends over for a little party.
My sweet man was looking pretty joyful as we sang him "Happy Birthday." Love that smile.
Then it came time to think of a wish...
 I think his expression in this wishing picture is so funny! It makes me laugh.
Hope his wish was a good one!
What a blessing, responsibility, and privilege it is to be the wife of such a wonderful man.
In my marriage to Michael I witness God's love...a real, unconditional, faithful, deep love.
He is my one true love for life. And I am so, so grateful.

Linking up this post with {pretty happy funny real} today.
Thanks for stopping by my blog!
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

5 favorites {no. 3} winter edition

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with Hallie and some other lovelies for five favorites!

It's also mid-January, and it seems many bloggers & friends have the mid-winter blues.
People are ready for spring, and I totally get that! But today I am listing five of my favorite things about winter that aren't as enjoyable during the other seasons. Just call me Pollyanna. :)
{1} lighting a candle // Marshmallow Fireside via Bath & Body Works Home
is what's burning here in our apartment. Yum.

{2} cozying up with blankets // Nothing like a cold winter's night as an excuse for some extra cuddling with your sweetheart! Blankets above courtesy of my Grandma, Michael's Granny & Pottery Barn.

{3} sipping a hot beverage // What's your fancy? Hot tea, hot cocoa, hot coffee? As you can see,
we like Celestial Seasonings tea (Lemon Zinger is my fave, and Mint Magic is Michael's).

{4} snow //...preferably the freshly fallen variety. That pure, white, sparkly snow just doesn't last long here in NYC. Michael & I went out last night for a walk in our neighborhood after about twelve inches had fallen. It was so quiet and peaceful (and romantic, too!).

{5} smittens // We received these smittens as a wedding gift, so I'm not sure where they are from
(you can find them on etsy). As you can see in the pictures, there's a glove for each of us, and then a glove for us to share so we can hold hands. Love these.

 What are your favorite things about winter? I'd love to hear.
Thanks for stopping by! Stay cozy & warm!

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

remembering grandma

This is my beautiful Grandma.
{Grandma at our wedding. I'm so thankful she was there.}
A year ago today, my grandmother moved on from this life to the next.
She has been on my heart a lot this week. I wanted to share a little about her here on my blog today,
remembering and honoring her.
{with family after one of my opera performances - Grandma is in the front}
One of my clearest memories as a little girl is that my grandma used to take my sister and me to see a musical every January. We would so look forward to going with her year after year. It was always a special treat to go see the show and spend the night at Grandma's afterwards. My grandmother loved the arts, and she was always supportive of me as a musician.
{talking to Grandma after one of my performances}
My grandma loved her family. She loved hosting holiday gatherings at her house.
{sitting with Grandma on her childhood porch swing,
which is now at my Aunt's house}
Her favorite flowers were tulips.
She loved cooking - and she was very good at it. She was most famous for her chocolate chip cookies.
I miss my Grandma. I am also so grateful for the many years God gave us with her. I am so blessed to have had all four of my grandparents present on my wedding day. I will always remember that.

{Grandma & me at my bridal shower}
 Love you, Grandma. Thinking of you.

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes {no. 7} praying & celebrating

One of my favorite things about the blog community is that we can ask to pray for one another,
and many people can then enter into the prayer. It's powerful, and it's such a gift.
Would you join me in a prayer for Bonnie's son, James and Beth's baby, Rebecca?
And several of my favorite bloggers out there are expecting, so I'll say a prayer for each of their pregnancies, too, including Colleen, Dwija, Grace, Kathryn, and Susan.
Also praying for my pregnant, non-blogging, IRL friends, Gabriele and Gina. :) Thanks for praying with me. Do you have any prayer requests? Leave a comment and I will say a prayer!

For quick take number two...
Tomorrow marks the two year anniversary (see what I did there?)
of opening my etsy shop, {with joy calligraphy}!
If you've never visited my shop, I do creative handwriting for invitations and escort cards.
Most of my clients ask me to work on their weddings, but I have also addressed save the dates,
party invitations and Christmas cards. Custom work is also welcomed!
my {simple elegance} style
my {fancy free} style
It's hard to believe it has already been two years since I opened my shop. I am hoping to add some new products there in 2014. So if you (or someone you know!) has a celebration coming up, would you keep my little shop in mind? A link to visit the shop also lives at the top of my blog page.
Thanks for your support!


I've been working this week to make prayer the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning. Most of the time I reach for my phone and check my e-mail and instagram/facebook/twitter, but I've been trying to change that. I started the Jesus Calling devotional this year, and I find it a great way to connect with the Lord in the morning before I connect with anything/anyone else.
We'll see if I can make this a habit. I hope so!

Michael & I asked for several Disney classics for Christmas. It has been so fun to watch them again after not seeing them for years and YEARS. It's funny to see what I remember most and what I completely missed as a little girl. Last night we watched Cinderella. This scene was always one of my favorites, and I still love it. "A dream is a wish your heart makes..."
I giggled thinking about how I used to twirl around my bedroom singing this song, fluffing my pillow and pulling on its corners like those little birds do. I also got a laugh remembering that I requested my parents name my little sister Cinderella. I guess Allison is a nice name, too. :)

I am looking forward to the long weekend before classes officially start back up again for Michael on Tuesday (though he's already been back working on his research and studies). As I've mentioned before, he has a big semester coming up, so I think we'll enjoy this last little bit of calm before things really take off for him. Plus, it's his birthday on Tuesday, so we have some celebrating to do! Would you please say a prayer for him, and also that I would have the grace to support him as he needs?

Struggling to come up with seven takes this week... I'll spare you my faking it...
let's just jump to number seven, shall we?

Today's the last day to nominate your favorite bloggers for Bonnie's Sheenazing Blog Awards. I submitted my nominations this morning...have you submitted yours? It's fun!

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary and many more lovely bloggers.
Hope you have a great weekend!

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