Sorry I've been MIA the past couple of days.  I have had a headache beyond belief and it is PAINFUL to look at a computer screen.  I wanted to hop on and wish everyone a wonderful and relaxing weekend, and to my friends and family in the NY capital region -- be safe and drive carefully!  I will be thinking of you.  I am going to leave you with a live version of one of my favorite Christmas songs, although, I feel like it is debatable whether it is REALLY meant to be a Christmas song or not.  Even if it wasn't, I always hear this song at Christmastime, so it brings back holiday memories for me. What's your favorite Christmas/holiday song?


All I want for Christmas part I

Christmas List part I by nicole pascale

So my family has requested a few Christmas ideas, and so, of course I must oblige! I started a Universal Wish List on amazon.com, and since I discovered the "Add to Wish List" bookmark to my browser, the list has grown fast! You can add pretty much anything from pretty much any website. So fun. I love it!


Speaking of Anthropologie...

Image courtesy of Anthropologie

For those of us who just can't get enough of the Anthro aesthetic, Anthropologie now offers the Spotlight Widget that delivers a new product of the day straight to your desktop! Available for both Mac and PC, I downloaded it in ten seconds. Check it out!

Afternoon Tea & Holiday Shopping in Annapolis

                        Images courtesy of the City of Annapolis

So yesterday, my darling friend Jane drove 'round the beltway and beyond to visit me here in Annapolis. Our original plan was to go to Reynolds Tavern, my favorite place for traditional afternoon tea. They have an amazing selection of teas from around the world, as well as the most delicious cakes, scones, and cookies that are all made on the premises. But, I was also dying to make the cookies I talked about in my last blog. It was the perfect opportunity! Her birthday is next week, so I decided to make her a few sweet treats that we could enjoy with tea. As planned, I did make the pecan snowballs and glazed lemon cookies. In addition, I also made these napoleons that I had seen here a while back, gingersnaps, and a very simple chocolate orange torte that I actually took from the back of a $2.50 box of Ghirardelli Ultimate Fudge Brownie mix (see recipe below). To balance out the sweet with a little savory, I also had a rustic sourdough baguette with some coarse grain mustard, and a small cheese assortment from my local Whole Foods.   Jane brought a lovely bottle of port that went nicely with the spread.

After catching up over all the goodies, we went downtown to walk around , and see the holiday decorations. I was excited, because I had really explored downtown in quite a while. It was COLD by the water, but we did see some good holiday finds. First, we stopped at Hats in the Belfry. I was impressed, they had definitely done an overhaul of their inventory and brought in some really nice hats! Plus, they have a huge selection of Life is Good items, if you're a fan. We also checked out Paradigm, A.L. Goodies General Store, which is always good for some fun tourist-y type things, and these huge homemade chocolate chip cookies and fudge that are made throughout the day, and of course, Pet Paws Boutique -- a must if you're shopping for that special dog or cat in your life. New to Main Street is YoFiore (which apprears not to have a website), a Pinkberry-ish type frozen yogurt themed eatery. It looks delish, but it was far too

I want all of these wrapping papers from Paper Source...

Once we had made our way through historic downtown Annapolis, we decided to head to the shiny, new Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole. I was dying to check out the new Paper Source AND Anthropologie within walking distance of my apartment!! These two stores never disappoint, and my Christmas wish list (some of which I plan to post later this week) got a little bit longer... Spending time with Jane is always a pleasure, and needless to say, it was a great day.

*** Edit after the fact... 

I forgot to post the Chocolate Orange Torte recipe!  If you like chocolate, this is a quick, easy and inexpensive idea.  So here it is as promised:

Chocolate Orange Torte (adapted)

1 box of Ghirardelli Ultimate Fudge Brownie Mix (1 pouch mix and 1 pouch fudge topping)
1/4 cup of water
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  In medium bowl, blend together brownie mix, water, oil, egg, and orange zest until moistened (about 40 strokes).  Spoon batter into parchment lined or greased, 8-inch round cake pan.  Bake 40-45 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes and invert onto serving plate.  Warm fudge topping as directed in the original brownie recipe on the back of the box.  Cut top off of pouch and squeeze onto warm torte.  Gently smooth over top and sides of torte.  Makes 12-16 servings.  


Holiday Cookies I love

Ok, so I know I said I'd be back on Monday, but it's Saturday morning -- my favorite time to bake, and I just had to share.  As most people are, I am running on a significantly smaller budget than last year, well, the last ten years, but anywho...  I had to get creative for my holiday gift giving ideas.  The folks at Real Simple never cease to amaze me.  This month, they came up with four make ahead cookie recipes AND four super cute ways to gift these cookies.  

My two favorites are:

The Pecan Snowballs -- don't you just love the egg carton?

All four cookie recipes can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to two months!  I plan on doing round one today, so I can give them to my dear friend Jane, who will be coming to visit tomorrow.  
all photos courtesy of  Kana Osada @ Real Simple


I'm backkkk!!!

And I got a little facelift.  What do you think?

I'll be back in full force on Monday!

photo courtesy of The UberReview


Congrats are in order!

Congratulations to my beautiful sister, Breanna and my dashing future brother-in-law Dave!  Dave asked Bre to marry him this past saturday -- of course she said, "YES!"  

How exciting it is to see our family continue to grow!  

*Fabulously flattering pictures courtesy of Dave's sister Lisa and of course, yearbookyourself.com 


Let them eat cake!

So these days, I've just been baking up a storm!  We're talking cakes, cupcakes, in all shapes, sizes and flavors -- I just love it!  Initially, Jake was my official tester, but yesterday, I ran out of bowls and plates, so I had to branch out and share the love (and cake) with others.   

 While I love the weather in Annapolis pretty much all year round; there's no better place to capture the feeling of fall than good 'ol upstate NY.  I am craving apple pie, apple cider,apple  doughnuts and then I remember our annual trips of my childhood to Focastle Farms.  For a while, I am homesick and nostalgic...  My most recent creation -- a cinnamon apple cake seemed to capture the essence of the new season that is upon us and my longing for NY, not to mention -- it is delicious.  It is so moist (I hate that word) it almost has the consistency of a bread pudding.  Unfortunately, I have no good photos to share, so you'll have to use your imagination for this one.  


Sweet love of my life...

My charming sister sent me a gift card a la Target last week for my 31st birthday.  Today, I put it to good use and bought myself a lovely new hand mixer.  I tested it for the first time this evening and made these charming red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  

Ahhh...to die for!

My First Time...

Today is the first day of the rest of my life...  

 I have been inspired by my lovely, and most dear childhood friend Carrie Kate to begin blogging, and so blog, I shall!  Stay tuned...