Bexley Turns Two

Last week my niece puppy celebrated her 2nd birthday. And, it wouldn’t be a birthday without a “paw-ty”.

As you may remember, Abby screwed herself by setting a really high bar last year.  Thankfully, she stepped up to the challenge once again with a pirate themed party, complete with dog-friendly pirates booty (i.e. egg casserole)

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE CUTEST PIRATE AROUND!

Bexley’s Pirate’s Booty

Well beaten eggs, spinach, hot dogs and cheese all mixed together,

Pour mixture into in a casserole dish, cover with tinfoil  and bake in the oven at 450 for 15 minutes,

Remove tinfoil and continue cooking until it looks done/cheese is melted.

Covering Up a Baking Disaster with Frosting

I look for any reason to bake a cake, from the most obvious: a Birthday, to the obscure, a Notre Dame football game. So, with the Super Bowl this past weekend, I figured it was a good time to put  on my apron, get out my KitchenAid and create a delicious treat.

I wanted to focus my efforts on my decorating techniques. I feel that I’ve successfully mastered making a cake from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t done much more than vanilla or chocolate, but the cakes normally taste good. However, there is room for improvement on the decorating front.

I’ve always envied the ability to crumb coat a cake. I’ve watched videos on how to do it and read cook books outlining the steps but whenever I do it, it doesn’t seem to come out as clean and smooth as the professionals. So this weekend, with the help of Butter Me Up Brooklyn, I decided to try it once more.

After gathering my ingredients on Saturday morning from the grocery store, I set about making a delicious brown butter layer cake. Even though this was a new recipe, I just said earlier, this part was supposed to be the easy part. I took my time, measured out all of the ingredients and even used some of the tip I learned at a recent cupcake making class I took at ICE. The batter looked amazing when I poured it in my cake pans and set them in the oven to bake.


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10 minutes into their cooking time, I was startled by the smell of something burning. I went to the oven to see this:

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My cakes were overflowing and dripping onto the bottom of the oven (hence, the burning smell). After throwing a mile temper tantrum and frantically googling what could have caused this (either too much baking soda or over mixing – both of which I swear I didn’t do), I decided to continue to bake the cakes, hoping that I could cut off the overflowed portion and that the remainder of the cake would turn out ok. After sampling a little – and not throwing up,  I decided to continue with my original plan and continue with the cake. Frosting can fix anything right?

I decided to make a chocolate butter cream frosting and again, I turned to Butter Me Up Brooklyn for help with the act of frosting the cake.

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It was a slow process, but I think in the end it was worth it.

In the end, the cake didn’t taste horrible, but it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever made either… hopefully next time both baking and decorating come together in one cake!

A Quick Stop in Denver

So even though Colorado is awesome, some people might be wondering why we decided to take our trip there. A simple answer: Mumford and Sons. Oh yeah, and our friend Ryan.

Let me explain.

Back in July we got an email from one of our friends. Here is what it said:

Dear Friends, 

Do you have plans for Labor Day Weekend?  If not, please consider this – and email me if you are interested (or not):

What:  Trip to Aspen, CO – Concerts

  • Sugarland (Friday)
  • Steve Miller Band (Friday)
  • Mumford & Sons (Saturday)

Jazz Aspen Snowmass

When: Friday, August 31st – Sunday, September 2nd.

Why? Well, it would be a lot of fun.  It would also be a great time to celebrate Ryan’s 30th birthday (a month late…we just didn’t have any free summer weekends til this one!)

Love,
Lauren

Here’s my response, sent about two minutes after receiving this email:

Lauren,

This looks ridiculously awesome. Matt and I are totally in (I say this without having talked to him but I know he feels the same way). You win wife of the year for putting this together!!!!

Molly

Then three minutes later, Matt sent this:

Hahaha, like Molls said, we are definitely in if it happens. Let us know if you need help with anything.

While we definitely wanted to be there to celebrate Ryan’s Birthday, I have to be honest, when I read Mumford and Sons, I was sold. Anyway, Matt and I decided to make a bigger trip out of it and go out a week early for some outdoors fun. Matt, who always takes on the role of travel agent for our vacations (and I must say, does an AMAZING job) again, took the lead on this one. After a lot of research and a few consultations with our friends he came up with a killer itinerary:

Friday: Fly into Denver

Saturday morning: Drive the 6 hours to Telluride

Stay in Telluride Saturday – Wednesday

Wednesday: Drive to Aspen

Wednesday & Thursday: Stay in downtownAspen

Friday: Meet up with our friends in Snowmass

Monday:  Fly home

Since we were getting in on the later side to Denver on Friday, Matt asked me if I minded just staying near the airport. It would save us time and money and since we were there for less than 12 hours, he figured it didn’t matter.Well, unfortunately, I had other thoughts. I had never been to Denver so I thought it might be nice to stay in the city, at least so I could see it. So like the good husband that he is, Matt booked us a hotel in the city.

Well, let me just say, it is a good thing that he did. On the drive from the airport to the city, Matt and I almost died. No, not from a car accident… from the terrible smell that blankets the entire 5 mile radius around the airport.Nope, not jet fuel or something from the airport. The whole area smells like shit – literally. And no, I am not making this up.

There is even a term in urban dictionary about it: Smells like greeley.

We stayed in the Warick Hotel, which would be a great place for anyone to stay if they are looking to do a longer trip in Denver. It had a historic feel to it but had undergone some really nice renovations. there is even a roof top pool that overlooks the city. Unfortunately by the time we checked in it was closed and we left the hotel a little early so we didn’t have a chance to get up there.

I’m happy I had a chance to see Denver. Honestly, just from a quick drive through the city, I wasn’t able to see what all the hype is about. Especially when both of the breakfast places that were recommended to use had ridiculously long lines at 9am! I mean, in NYC, restaurants aren’t even open yet at that time, let alone have a long line! However, once we started driving outside of the city, it was easy to see why people find it such a great place to live.

Up next – Telluride!

Molly Squared

This weekend Matt and I traveled to Washington DC for a little sight-seeing in our nation’s capital and to celebrate the 30th Birthday of my bff Molly (yes, Matt’s best friend is named Matt, aka Kinsella, and mine is named Molly – weird, I know).

We celebrated Miss Molly in style with a photo booth, a hip-hop dance lesson mid-party and Carly Rae’s Call Me Maybe played no fewer than 5 times during the evening. Clearly her siblings know how to throw a good party!

I’m so happy to have Molly in my life and to have been able to celebrated with her. To honor this very special occasion, here’s the latest rendition of Call Me Maybe.

*Sorry there aren’t any pictures from the party – Molly is paranoid about being featured on my blog. Yeah, I know – – most people consider it an honor!

Today Is Somebody’s Birthday!

I first met Matt when he joined my swim team the summer between freshman and sophomore year of high school. I wish I could say that I have a crystal clear image of his first swim practice and that from the moment I first met him I knew we would be husband and wife one day. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. But it didn’t take too long until the “Gary Hall Jr.” lookalike cause my eye…

At that point in time, I was training out of a pool in New Hampshire Monday – Friday and then would drive down to Bentley College in Waltham MA for Saturday morning practice with the rest of the team. It took me a while to get to know Matt, since I was only spending 3 hours with him each week. But as he started to make friends with the other kids on the team who trained with him every day, our friendship started to develop.

The following March (7 or so months after Matt joined the team), we loaded up the team buses and headed to Brown for the New England Senior Championship meet. Somehow, I realized that Matt’s Birthday was going to fall during the weekend of the meet. Being someone who LOVES to celebrate my own birthday, I immediately felt sorry for him. While the kids of the swim team were my closest friends in high school, being at a championship meet for your birthday didn’t seem very fun. The focus of the weekend was on swimming, not celebrating Matt’s 16th Birthday. And I just didn’t like the sound of that.

The morning of Matt’s Birthday, we were all in the hotel lobby eating breakfast before heading over to the pool. When Matt got up to go through the breakfast buffet, I placed a surprise birthday present on his chair. I watched from a little ways off as he came back to his seat and tried to figure out who put the gift there. He read my card and opened the box… I had picked out a “graphic tee” from America Eagle that had something to do with life guarding… I mean, how cool is that?

Matt came over, shocked that I even knew it was Birthday, let alone bought him a present, and thanked me. At that moment, I thought to myself,  “there’s something about this guy….”

Unfortunately at that point in time, I didn’t know that buying a high school boy a size medium is a clear insult. Even though Matt weighed all of 150 pounds, he would never be caught dead in a size medium! It wasn’t until years later that I learned Matt went to American Eagle and exchanged the shirt for a larger size. Matt wote the shirt a lot over the next 3 year years and it always brought a smile to my face.

Who would have thought that 13 years later, I would still be trying to add something special to Matt’s Birthday.

 

Happy Birthday Matt! I may not have an American Eagle shirt to give you, but I still love you just as much.

Puppy Party!

This week, the cutest puppy in the whole wide word, my niece Bexley celebrated her first birthday. My sister went all out with a party at daycare, two trips to the dog park in one day and homemade doggie treats for Bex and all her friends. Even I have to admit, I was impressed – and we all know, that takes quite a bit.

Not going to lie, when I have a baby, I am going to seriously consider sending them to the same daycare as Bexley. Not only will that allow the cousins to bond, but the lady who runs the place (while a little nutty) definitely loves these pups! I mean, did you see the homemade paw print Birthday card she gave Bexley? Sick!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEXLEY!

Love, Dad

My sister and I often share funny emails, notes and/or voicemails from my father with each other. I can’t really explain what it is about his messages, but they always bring a smile to our faces. I think it is his witty sense of humor that isn’t over done (which clearly, I didn’t inherit). Or maybe it is the formality of his electronic communication, something he hasn’t fully embraced – you will never see him “lol-ing” or using any sort of emoticon. Sometimes, he gets caught up in work and doesn’t have a lot of time to wonder the aisles of a hallmark looking for the perfect birthday card. I think my sister I have each received at least a few birthday cards that he picked up from the hospital gift shop, wishing us a speedy recovery or sympathizing with us over our loss of a loved one.

Good old Dad.

So, I just had to share with you all the most recent communication I received from him. I missed his call over the weekend and thankfully he decided to leave a voicemail. I’ve transcribed his message below:

“Molly. It’s your father. I am watching the Crossfit Games on ESPN2. I don’t want you doing this anymore. You end up looking like a really scary cyborg. I don’t know if you are checking this out, but, um, think about what you are doing?”

Click.

Ahh, another priceless piece of advice from my dad. But to be honest, I don’t know what he is talking about. Muscles are beautiful, right?

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Look out ladies, as soon as I learn how to do 1 pull up, you are all in trouble.

CrossFit and Bloodies, The Perfect Combo

Matt and I have started to settle into a 2012 weekend routine. And I like it.

Since I started participated in CrossFit with Matt, we now make a weekend activity out of it. We go to one of the morning workouts on either Saturday or Sunday and then enjoy a delicious brunch at one of the local restaurants n Williamsburg. This tradition is something that I now look forward too – especially if it involves a bloody mary!

This weekend, after our workout, we went to a new restaurant, Diner. I heard about this place from a co-worker (I think their cousin may own it, but I am not really sure) and after researching it a little more on Yelp, I decided this would be a good post-workout spot. Well, let me tell you, we were not disappointed.

Williamsburg is known as being a popular location with hispters, and The Diner certainly appeals to that character type. From the red, shack-like appearance, to the menu scribbled on a piece of paper, to our waiter who looked like he was a 70s gym teacher – it was amazing. We split a stick bun (diet, what diet?), and I got eggs and toast while Matt indulged himself with the country breakfast. The bloody mary was good, but it didn’t live up to the bloodies at Daddy-O’s, we favorite spot in the West Village. All in all it was a great experience.

We also spent some time this weekend celebrating some of our favorite friends. Saturday night started off with an engagement party for one of our favorite couples Jen and Nate. We are so thrilled for them and can not wait to hear more about the wedding planning process. I was particularly excited because I clued Jen into the wonderful world of pinterest – I hope she will spending hours on their looking for inspiration!

Afterwards, we met up with a lot of our friends to celebrate Mike Smeets’ birthday. It was quite a night filled with dancing, cupcakes, and a bar the promised “more fun” – Thanks for including us in the festivities!

The Power of Accountability

This year for my birthday Matt gave me a Garmin GPS running watch. I know what you are thinking, that doesn’t seem very romantic. I sort of thought the same thing.

However, when I opened the watch and realized that he purchased the version with the pink stripe and floral face, I knew I had married the most romantic guy ever.

I am a big believer that in order to feel good when you are working out, you should look good. That is why I occasionally allow myself to splurge on workout clothes from Lululemon and cute running skirts. When I was running the Disney Princess Half Marathon with my sister in celebration of her 30th Birthday, I almost leapt out with glee when I overheard another runner say “oh, that girl’s skirt is super cute.”

From that point forward, it didn’t matter if I got a person best time or even finished the race, in my mind, the race was already a success.

But back to my present – the fact Matt spent an extra second to pick out the pink watch truly warmed my heart. I think after 10 years of dating, he is finally starting to learn!

Since receiving this gift, Matt and I have gone on a few runs and I have been blown away with the results.  I now know, down to the hundredth of a mile, just how far I have run. I know my pace throughout the run, my pace per mile and my “real-time” pace during the run. I can track my heart rate and the elevation of the terrain. And with all of this data, I can adjust my pace accordingly and hopefully improve my running.

The watch holds me accountable. I no longer walk up the stairs that lead to the reservoir – I run them. I no longer get slower every mile – I aim to get faster. I no longer think I’ve run 4 miles, when in actuality I have only run 2.

I am pushing myself harder and I am getting faster. It is truly amazing what accountability does for performance.

Now, if only we could think of something like this that would help improve public education and teaching…

Birthday Celebrations!

I love Birthdays. When I was younger, I would start planning my birthday months in advance and I was normally able to spread my birthday celebration out over a few weeks. I consider this particularly impressive considering my Birthday normally falls around Thanksgiving and many times, holidays can trump birthdays. But not me, forget the turkey, pilgrims and Indians, come the end of November, I was the center of attention.

My mom threw awesome childhood birthdays. They were always held at home and full of fun activities. We would play games, do some sort of craft (make your own t-shirts, puff paint pillow cases, sand art, etc), do a candy hunt, eat “dot cake” and end with an incredible scavenger hunt around the house. Sometimes things got a little wild (mostly thanks to Ryan, Mark and Chris – the 3 boys who were invited to every party) but everyone left our house happy! I definitely miss those days.

Another birthday tradition in our household would be birthday dinner. Not an unusual tradition, when it was your birthday, you were able to pick whatever you wanted for dinner that night. Well every night since I can remember, I had spaghetti, caesar salad and garlic bread. Even when I turned 21 on Thanksgiving, my mom made me a special plate of spaghetti while everyone else ate turkey. And while this seems a little “over the top” I absolutely loved that my mom didn’t let my special day get overlooked. I will always remember that birthday/Thanksgiving and be so thankful for my caring family.

This year, I celebrated my birthday in typically “molly fashion” (i.e. many times!) I started the day with Matt’s family – we had grilled muffins for breakfast (one of my favorites) and opened some very thoughtful presents. Before we jumped on our train to head home, Matt’s mom presented a cake with swirly candles and I was treated to “Happy Birthday” by the Englehardt trio!

Then after a 4.5 hour train ride, Matt cooked me an amazing spaghetti dinner while I set up the Christmas tree. After dinner I opened some presents that my mom had sent me and listened to the Christmas album my sister sent me on iTunes. It was lovely.

THEN, the celebration continued at work today with a mid-afternoon ice cream party!

    

And the party continues with a birthday dinner on Friday that Matt is organizing with some of my friends. You only turn 29 once, why not celebrate it for a full week?

Thank you so much to all of my friends and family members who make me feel so incredibly special for being born!