Hola from Cozumel, Mexico

Alright, it’s been a few days. Classes have started up again and I am slowly getting back into the rhythm of the real world. If only my vacation could have been longer!

After spending a full day at sea, we docked in beautiful Cozumel, Mexico ready to go. In November we decided to book a Mayan Ruins & Beach excursion. Sounds like fun, right? Well, apparently only we thought it sounded fun, and the company cancelled the trip because there was not enough participants. It sucked, and it was the second time Carnival had cancelled an excursion on us. (once on a prior cruise). We hadn’t researched the area thoroughly because we had assumed we would be on the excursion.

We decided to venture out on our own and hail down a taxi. After leaving the ship and walking around, we realized that none of us had brought along our credit cards. We had only a small sum in cash and we waved down a taxi driver. After finding two other families to split the cost ( it was an 11-seater van) we hopped aboard and were whisked away into the unknown.

San Gervasio

Nohoch Nah

Our taxi driver, Marco, from Cozumel Adventour,  dropped off the two other families at the beach, then drove us about fifteen miles to San Gervasio, an ancient Mayan ruins site. It is in the middle of the island, so it was interesting to see the local neighborhoods and towns most tourists do not see. Marco was very knowledgable of the area and answered any questions we had.

mexicoUpon entering the site, each guest must pay $9.50, but the cost is split between two areas. The first $5.00 goes to charities around the area and is a donation. The $4.50 goes to the actual ruins and the maintenance of the site. There are only dirt/ gravel paths, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Bringing bug spray as a precaution is a good idea too. Some sites are 300-400 meters from each other and you walk along trees to get to the sites. It’s absolutely stunning and tranquil. You can hear the birds flying through the trees and an occasional iguana walking down the path.

Some say this isn’t the most extravagant site, but I think its what makes San Gervasio so unique. The buildings do not tower above you, but are still beautiful and hold a great deal of history, some which dates back to 1000 A.D.. Maya Travel services states:

San Gervasio was a site dedicated to the Mayan goddess Ixchel (“She of the Rainbows”), deity of midwifery, fertility, medicine and weaving. Many women from the mainland Mayan settlements made the pilgrimage here to Ixchel´s shrine at some point in their lifetime (http://www.mayasites.com/gervasio.html)

El Arco

El Arco

The entire self-guided tour amongst the ruins took us about an hour and a half. There are tour guides available, but with our budget, and our usual freestyle exploring choice, we resorting to reading signs and researching the sites when we got home.  If you read this before your trip you’ll know what you are looking at, right?

Moving right along, we visited Club Cozumel Caribe, a beach resort where we frolicked and played in the Caribbean Sea. This now beach area was originally a large hotel and resort but was destroyed in 2005 by hurricane Wilma.

Club Cozumel Caribe

Upon arriving, our taxi/ tour guide handed us a band which we needed to wear to validate our admission. A small fee and you get access to a free tequila tasting, snorkeling, lounge chairs and hammocks, a sandy beach area, and a large pool. It is absolutely breath taking how beautiful this place is. My father and I decided to snorkel so we grabbed our fins and walked about 1000 feet to a snorkel area where you entered by climbing down a ladder. The coral was beautiful and there was an abundance of tropical fish. Our GoPro decided to fail and we didn’t take any pictures which was a bummer. The current is gentle, and takes you back to the beach. The snorkel took about twenty minutes and was very relaxing. It’s so quiet underneath the water.

After lounging around we decided to take the free tequila tasting tour. A knowledgable tequila maker explained to us the importance of aging tequila and the different tastes each aging process possessed. My favorite was a tequila passion fruit mix; it was beyond smooth. I’ve had cheap tequila before– you know the salt, lime, shot kind? It’s sharp, strong, and unenjoyable. This tequila was smooth and delicious. It was dangerously good.

Club Cozumel Caribe

The sun was starting to set, as was our time on the island. We said our goodbyes to Marco as he dropped us off at the ship.

If you are planning at trip to Cozumel, be sure to research the hidden wonders and hide-aways. We enjoyed our day because it was relaxed, and we were not on a “strict” time schedule. Well, we had a time we needed to be back on the ship, but going on our own allowed us more time to explore rather than seeing the sites with a tour. Which ever you prefer, the island is beautiful and Cozumel is a great place to visit.

Happy Exploring 

I’m on a Boat // Carnival Sunshine Review

Happy New Year!

It’s a new beginning to a fantastic year, filled with new adventures and travels. I spend the first week of 2015 on a ship sailing the ocean blue.

Now I don’t know about you, but I love finding out all the information about a new vacation spot. I scoured the internet, checked out countless library books, and even asked a few friends if they knew any where to go. Our family decided to hop aboard the Carnival Sunshine for a 7 day cruise of Central America.

Carnival Sunshine This ship is large, 893 feet long to be precise. Originally launched in 1995 as the Carnival Destiny, The Carnival Sunshine was given a face lift in 2013, hence the name change. This multi-million dollar renovation added decks, a fun sky-course and water slide, various restaurants, and overall newer decor. I found the ship to be easy to navigate, but at times I found myself stuck behind the Punchliner Comedy Club or in-between the floors of the galley and the dining room.

We arrived at Cape Canaveral around noon and parked at the cruise parking lots. We were debating whether to bring it to a lot, but it was very simple to park at the port and walk into the check-in area. Check in was hassle free and quick. The port authority was extremely organized and got us on the ship in less than an hour. Make sure you check-in a day before you disembark and add your credit card to your ship and sail account– these steps will make your check-in even faster.

The Ship

I have been on a couple of Carnival cruises in the past, but this was the biggest Carnival ship I have traveled on. I was very excited to explore every inch of the ship and indulge in many of the great amenities. My family booked interior adjoining rooms and were upset that the rooms, although next door to each other, were missing a door. We called our Carnival Sunshine travel agent and she apologized for thinking adjoining rooms meant rooms that were next to each other, not rooms which have a door in between them. We went up to guest services, but since the ship was fully booked, we were unable to change rooms. We also had requested a room in the middle of the ship, to prevent the rockiness of the boat. We ended up on the aft of the ship (back) right above the propellors. (How this happened, I don’t know. We booked this cruise 5 months in advance.) That night I tried to sleep on the bunk bed but got woken up every few minutes by the vibrating of the entire bed. Groggy from the lack of sleep, I threw my pillows and blanket over the rail and ended up sleeping on the floor; somehow the vibrations only effected my bed on the wall. Back down at guest services we get told that a roll-away bed could be brought into the room at night. Thankfully there is always a solution to every problem.

Although there are 14 decks on the ship, the main areas plan to get extremely crowded when thCarnival Sunshine e ship is at sea. The pool area, piano bar, casino, and comedy club are the main areas of interest. Lining up 30 minutes before a comedy show was a must.

On the top deck opposite of the big screen was an area called “Serenity” a deck specifically for guests 21 and up. There were couches and lounges, but my favorite part was the hammocks which allowed you to swing in the shade. There was a small pool for adults only, but it seems more like a large bath tub than a pool. Nevertheless it was more relaxing up here than on the pool deck with the kiddos. Just make sure to snag a seat up here early in the day if you are planning on reading a book or soaking up the sun. It’s a popular hide away!

Since I did not want this to be a 10 page post, I plan on breaking up the posts according to subject. Click on the link to go to each article title. If the link is not highlighted, I have not written the article yet.

Entertainment on the Carnival Sunshine

Food served on the Carnival Sunshine

Port: Cozumel, Mexico

Port: Isla Roatan, Honduras

Port: Belize City, Belize

Port: Costa Maya, Mexico

Happy Cruising! 

Yule Log // Holiday Greetings

Seasons Greetings everyone! I can’t believe it is already Christmas Eve! Last night it was around 80 degrees here, we had to put the air conditioner on. Is that holiday weather or what?!

Yule LogIt’s been quite an eventful Holiday season so far; I’ve been working at a variety of schools and clubs teaching after school science classes. My family and I went to Magic Kingdom one morning to participate in a filming of a Christmas special. It was fun and a great start to our Holiday season.

I was sick for about a week with an awful chest and sinus cold. I swear I couldn’t hear out of my right ear for the entire duration of the cold. Thankfully I’m finished with it, but unfortunately its latched onto my brother. He’s always sick on Christmas morning.

Last year I made a Yule Log and my family was begging for me to make it again. My sister and I decided to make a video about the recipe. It’s fun and easy to make and makes a great Holiday center piece.

Chocolate Yule Log

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 3 Hours
  • Print

Ingredients
FOR THE SPONGE CAKE:

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

FOR THE MOCHA CREAM FILLING

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

FOR THE MOCHA BUTTERCREAM

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon brewed coffee
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons 2% milk

DIRECTIONS

1. Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper; grease the paper. Place egg whites in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks on high until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Combine the flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to egg yolk mixture until blended.
3. Beat egg whites on medium until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Stir a fourth into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites until no streaks remain.
4. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until cake springs back (do not overbake). Cool for 5 minutes; invert onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Peel off parchment paper. Roll up in the towel, starting with a short side. Cool on a wire rack.
5. In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and coffee granules. Beat until stiff peaks form; chill. Unroll cooled cake; spread filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place on serving platter; chill.
6. In a large bowl, beat frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost cake. Using a fork, make lines resembling tree bark. Yield: 12 servings.

This cake is really light and complements a smooth cup of coffee of a mug of hot cocoa.

Yule Log

Yule Log

Happy Holidays!

Butternut Squash Ravioli

The sound of jingle bells are heard ominously in the shopping mall. It must be near the holidays or at least somewhat after Halloween, when all the decorations start coming out. It’s been FOREVER since I last wrote. I originally wrote this draft two weeks ago, but I got tired halfway through the post (I like my sleep) and I procrastinated this post because the photos are horrendous.

I always make excuses for not writing, but it’s the truth! With Finals looming on the horizon, I have been overloaded with massive amounts of homework– reading a 400 page novel, writing my final 15 page draft of a short film, and four critical literature essays– one of which must exceed over 8 pages. Unfortunately this places blog writing at the bottom of the list, which is sad because I love writing on this blog. I can’t wait for winter break so I can finally focus on it.

Recently I have been eating squash, which I was never too fond of. I had this amazing Pumpkin Risotto the other day and it wasn’t that “squashy”. I’ve been wanting to make ravioli for a while, and it’s butternut squash season, so I thought, “Hey, what the heck. I’ll give it a go.” Thankfully I had a handsome cooking assistant who helped me with the process.

This recipe was really simple because it does not require special equipment– aside from the pasta maker, but that’s sort of a given, right? You basically stick this gooey goodness of maple and cinnamon on the squash and leave it in the oven for an hour. Then you mash it (with a fork) add in your ingredients, (we smashed the walnuts with a jar of walnuts. I thought it was ironic.) and stuff the ravioli! This filling could even work in a lasagna, manicotti, or those large pasta shells. We decided to place the ravioli in a broth, but I suggest making a sauce of brown butter, walnuts, and parmesan. I made the broth because it was easy and tasty, but after looking at the photos I realized broth does not photograph well. Also I would suggest serving these in a shallow bowl rather than what we had on hand.

Butternut Squash Ravioli in Broth

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 3 Hours
  • Print
Ingredients
  • FOR THE PASTA DOUGH:
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • FOR THE SQUASH
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • FOR THE FILLING
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • FOR THE BROTH
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots (about 2)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned broth
  • 1/2 cup apple cider

For the Pasta Dough

  1. Make a mound in the middle of your clean work service with the flour.( I used a non-stick baking mat) Make a well with steep sides.
  2. Break the eggs into the well. Add the salt, and olive oil to the hollow center and gently mix together with a fork. Gradually start incorporating the flour by pulling in the flour from the sides of the well. As you incorporate more of the flour, the dough will start to take shape.
  3. With your hands or a bench scraper continue working the dough until it comes together. If the dough is too dry, add a little water; if too wet or sticky, add a little flour. (I had to use an extra 1/2 cup of flour at least)
  4. Begin kneading the dough and keep kneading until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. At this point, set the dough aside, cover it with plastic, and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. You can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but allow it to return to room temperature before rolling it out.
  5. Divide the pasta dough into 4 even sections. Wrap each section in plastic wrap and set aside.

FOR THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place squash, cut side up, in baking pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with syrup; dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Pour 1/2 cup water into bottom of pan. Bake until squash is tender, about 1 hour. Cool completely.

FOR THE FILLING

  1. Scoop out squash into bowl. Mash. Transfer 3/4 cup squash to medium bowl (reserve remaining squash for another use). Mix in ricotta, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 2 Tablespoons walnuts, 2 tablespoons parsley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

FOR THE BROTH

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large pan over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté 1 minute. Add stock and cider; simmer 8 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

FOR THE PASTA

  1. If rolling the pasta by hand: Flatten a dough piece into a thick oval disk with your hands. Flour a baking sheet for the rolled out finished pasta. Place the oval dough disk on a floured work surface, and sprinkle with additional flour. Begin rolling out the dough with a floured rolling pin working from the center of the dough outwards, constantly moving the dough and lifting it to make sure it’s not sticking.

ASSEMBLE

  1. Place 1 level tablespoon filling in center of each cut ravioli. Brush edges with water; Place one cut pasta circle on top of the other, making a mini ‘pie’ shape. (Ravioli can be made 4 hours ahead. Arrange in single layer on foil-lined baking sheets dusted with flour. Cover and refrigerate.)
  2. Working in batches, cook ravioli in pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 1 minute. Using slotted spoon, divide ravioli among shallow soup bowls. Bring cider broth to simmer; ladle over ravioli. Top with shaved Parmesan.

Pasta Dough

Making the pasta dough is really simple; too simple if you ask me. Using two ingredients you probably have in your kitchen, you can create a fresh amazing dough that rivals the pastas in the restaurants.

butternut squash

I would suggest picking out a squash that is small, 1-2 pounds will be more than enough. You can always save the leftover squash and make yourself something delicious. Butternut squash risotto perhaps?

butternut squash

The roasted squash with brown sugar and maple syrup. It smelled so good.

ravioli

A teaspoon of the filling is the perfect size. We used an empty wine glass to cut out the circle shape.

ravioliI’m going to be honest. This ravioli looks terrible. One thing about fresh pasta is that it takes a long time to make. At this point we were starving and knew the pictures would never give it any justice. I planned on making this again and reshooting it, but it’s been a couple of weeks and I just wanted to post something. So here. Sometimes ugly things are delicious on the inside.

lyndsay paige

Salted Caramel Apple Macarons

When the thermometer hits below 75, you know it’s autumn in Central Florida! I’ve been extremely busy with school these past few weeks. I am loving all of my classes– my women’s literature course in particular– and I barely have time to read or write on my own! Right now I am averaging a novel and a half per week for homework, and lots of writing assignments ranging from: a critical analysis of Shakespeare to writing a script for a short film. Working two jobs on the side doesn’t help either with my lack extra time.

A month or so ago, my mother, sister, and I decided to start a book club with our friends. Our first book is a Mother/ Daughter memoir about their travels in Europe. Cute, yes?

It was horrible. I could not get through the first one hundred pages without fighting the urge to shove the book into the toilet. Yes, it’s that bad.

The writing is unbelievable, the author goes on and on about how her child, aged eight years old mind you, is frolicking around Europe enjoying all the museums and churches. I call B.S. At the age I am now, I can appreciate beautiful architect and amazing works of art. But at 8 years old? Come on. I would have preferred a trip to the park or the zoo. Sometimes I still prefer a trip to the park or zoo.

(On a side-note, my family actually visits zoos quite frequently. We try to visit one in new cities/countries. The Paris Menagerie is fantastic, their monkey exhibit is so clean!)

DSC_0013Anyways, I thought in keeping with the theme of the book, “We’ll Always Have Paris” , I thought what better way to bash a rotten book than to eat yummy parisian treats and sip fine wine.

I saw this recipe on  The Blond Buckeye this morning and I had all of the ingredients in my pantry (Shocker!) I really wanted to use little lollipop sticks to hold the macarons up, like caramel apples, but those were not in my pantry. Sadly.

 

Salted Caramel Apple Macarons

  • Servings: 30 Cookies
  • Time: 3 Hours
  • Print

Ingredients
  • FOR THE SHELLS:
  • 110 grams Blanched Slivered Almonds (or almond meal)
  • 200 grams Powdered Sugar
  • 90 grams Egg Whites (at room temperature)
  • 30 grams Granulated Sugar
  • 10 grams Cinnamon
  • 5 grams nutmeg
  • Brown Food Coloring Gel or Powder
  • 10 grams dehydrated cinnamon apples (Optional)
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar (plus more if needed)
  • ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider (plus more if needed)
  • Sea Salt Flakes
  • FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ cup Water
  • ¾ cup Heavy Cream
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla
  1. FOR THE SHELLS:
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (double up sheets if needed).
  3. Process almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor until blended into a fine powder. Sift mixture into a large mixing bowl, add cinnamon and nutmeg & set aside.
  4. Combine egg whites & granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip egg whites & sugar until stiff peaks, adding a little drop of the food coloring during about the last minute of beating the egg whites to make a tan color.
  5. Add the dry mixture into the egg whites.
  6. Using a spatula, smash dry ingredient into the egg white, flattening mixture (use about 5-10 quick strokes to release the air). Then fold mixture onto itself until it becomes shiny again (another 30-40 strokes). When you lift up the spatula, there should be solid, thick ribbons that run off (this whole macaronage process should take no more than about 50 strokes).
  7. Transfer the batter to a large piping bag
  8. Chop the dehydrated apples into a fine mince. You may use a food processor for a finer flake.
  9. Using circle guides or freehand, pipe about 1¼” circles onto the prepared baking sheets (they will spread to about 1½”), keeping them at least 1-2″ apart to allow for spreading. Do this same method for the second baking sheet.
  10. Holding each end of the baking sheet, give it a good slam on the counter. Rotate the pan & give it another few slams to release any air bubbles that remain.
  11. Sprinkle the minced apples on the macarons.
  12. Let the macs sit out for 30 minutes before baking to form a dry shell on the tops to prevent cracking. ( I let mine sit for 45 in the humid heat)
  13. Preheat the oven to 315 degrees F.
  14. Bake each sheet, one at a time, for about 15-16 minutes (depending on size), rotating the pan once halfway through. Once they’re ready, carefully test one by attempting to lift it off the baking sheet. If the top half starts to come off from the feet, it could use a few more minutes.
  15. Remove the sheet from the oven & place it on a cooling rack, allowing the cookies to cool before removing them. Once they are cooled, match up macarons in pairs that are about the same size, one face down & one up.
  16. FOR THE FILLING:
  17. Beat the butter on medium-high speed for 2 minutes with an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, until soft & fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time until combined (carefully incorporate). Mix in the cinnamon and the apple cider. Continue to beat on medium for another 1-2 minutes (Add up to a ½ cup more sugar if too thin or a little more juice if too thick).
  18. FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE
  19. Combine the sugar and water into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (go with a larger size than needed, as the mixture bubbles up quite a bit when cooking). Heat pan over medium-low heat, continuously stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  20. Once sugar is dissolved, turn heat up to medium-high heat. Let the mixture boil without stirring at all. Allow the mixture to boil. If sugar sticks to the side of the pan, use a pastry brush to remove, but do not stir the mixture
  21. .Lower the temperature slightly and swirl the pan to mix. Continue to boil until mixture starts to turn a deep amber color. Be very careful not to burn it (if you undercook it, you can always put it back in a pan & cook it more until it thickens to the consistency you want).
  22. Remove mixture from the heat & immediately whisk in the cream, salt, vanilla and butter, being very careful not to splash. Stir until completely mixed and smooth.
  23. Allow the caramel to cool for about 10-20 minutes, then transfer into a storage dish
  24. Pipe a circle of the frosting around the edge the cookie that’s facing up. Next add a dab of the caramel in the center of the circle, topped with a little sprinkle of sea salt. Sandwich the halves together, pushing the filling to the edges.

This recipe was inspired by The Blond Buckeye

IMG_4472 I was really proud of this sexy jar of caramel sauce. Last time I made caramel, I looked away for a few seconds and it burnt. I hate the taste of burnt caramel!
IMG_4475As I was cooking these macarons in our new oven–well new to us– I almost started crying tears of joy. Just look at the feet! ( For anyone who don’t know, the “feet” on a macaron makes the macaron. A footless macaron is just a sad cookie.)
DSC_0028
I will be making a few more parisian treats tomorrow, since the book club is on thursday. Thankfully these little beauties stay fresh in the freezer!
lyndsay paige

Review: Sally Hansen® Miracle Gel™

 

Logging onto Influenster this month, I was asked to review a fun nail color from Sally Hansen. Of course I said, “Yes!”

Growing up in the kitchen, I would always look down at my naked nails. In both school and work, nail polish was not allowed. I got used to seeing the flesh color of my skin glisten through my nails.

Currently, I do not work in a professional kitchen– which means nail color is up for grabs!
nail color

 

I had tried Gel polish only once before; I had visited the salon and gotten my nails done before I visited Paris. The gel color stayed on for weeks; but it tore off my nail when it chipped. I was hesitant at the salon placing my hands under the UV light, knowing it’s harmful side-effects if held there too long.

I was excited to learn about Miracle gel; because it gave you long lasting nail color–without curing the my nails under a light.

My friend Andrea and I tried out the polish, painting our nails sitting on the bathroom floor. After knocking over the bottle and spilling some, we finally applied two coats of 330 Redgy. This color is flirty, fun, fabulous! We waited for our nails to dry–in between giggles about our nail polish expertise. I find it so hard to paint with my left hand! I ended up making a mess–Oops!

We then topped our red nails with the miracle gel top coat, and waited for our nails to dry. Our #MiracleMani s were looking fierce!

Normally with normal nail polish, my nails are chipped within hours. Although it’s not the prettiest, I’m too lazy to try and fix them–when I know they will chip again.

 

Sally Hansen® Miracle Gel™ boasts its nail wear to last up to 14 days. It’s been five days, and although it’s not as chipped as normal polish, it’s still shows wear and tear on the sides of the nails. It’s not to the point yet where I need to take it off, it’s just not as clean anymore.

Would I buy this again? Most likely. It’s color lasts a long time, and my nails still look beautiful.

 

An Expensive Postage Stamp

It’s been two years since my grandfather’s passing, and I still cannot grasp the reality of it. Just yesterday, I was picking up the mail and got a letter addressed to “Stanley”. Even though it was junk mail and it was sent out among millions, it still felt like it possessed a piece of him.

He was everything to me. We shared common interests, and I would always find myself in his living room reading through his countless “Cooks Illustrated” magazines. I wanted to write him a letter, and although it’s postage might be costly, I know he will read it eventually.

——————————————–

 

Dear Poppy,

You have always been in my life ever since I was brought into this world twenty-two years ago. We have always been close, and in the beginning when Nanny passed away, we moved in with you to help you. Although I do not remember these events personally, photographs and videos remind me of the great times I had in your home. I do however remember the days when you and Dad worked at the “Incredible Balloon”, a company you both owned. I would come into your offices and play with all of the stuffed animals and balloons.

Stan

(L:R) My Uncle, Poppy, My Mother

When I turned five, we moved to Poway, and you stayed in your house for a little while. But you couldn’t stay away from us! As I played with Hayley, my younger sister, in our backyard, we would see you working away with your side-kick, Hunter, the gruff dachshund.You possessed a green thumb; always knee deep in the dirt making the plants come alive. You had even started a vegetable garden in the back lot near the creek. Imaginative games would come alive within the walls of the towering tomato plants. The scent of the freshly dewed tomato will always remind me of those fantastic summer days spent with you. Diving in between the tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, green beans, and even pumpkins. We would run from the kitchen with baskets and look in awe at all of the enormous produce we had harvested.

You moved closer to us, but you still seemed too far away. Your job at the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park made you smile as you got to talk to people, and got paid for it. At this time our family had decided a remodel was in order, and a new apartment was built for you. Custom with your own private entrance, having you so close made spending time and making memories with you so much easier.

189414_4603099080615_1891194390_n

Showing where I worked

If it wasn’t for you, I would not be who I am today. It was your influence and your love for food that inspired me to pursue my career. I remember walking barefoot into your new kitchen. We had just laid out the linoleum, and the room smelled fresh and new. Big band music was playing, and you were there spinning romaine in the salad spinner. Each leaf dancing to the tunes of Sinatra. I hopped up near the counter and helped as you prepared caesar salad from scratch. The anchovy paste oozed out onto the table spoon sending the fishy scent into my nostrils. You always cut away the inside of every romaine leaf. “The lettuce should be tender but not too crunchy.”

Salad was not the only thing we made. You had an amazing crepe maker and one day we decided to make crepes for the family. We blended up the batter and using the machine we made paper thin crepes to be filled with jam and whipped cream. Whenever the History channel was not on, Food Network flashed across the screen. We always had a love for food in common, and without you I don’t know what I would be doing today.

484130_4603087360322_1031136610_nOne day, you got an infection in your hip which required you to stay in the hospital for months, and learn how to maneuver in a wheel chair. You never let that chair stop you from doing anything. You amazed us as you drove from San Diego to Bend, Oregon with Hunter right beside you in the passenger seat. You went on trips with us, and always had a smile on your face. You never let a handicap stop you.

Always independent, and brilliantly sharp, you were a talking history book. I would sit in awe at the stories you would tell me about your youth. I wish I could hear more; more about your life in loud New York City after the depression. I remember you telling me a story once about how the mob looked after your father’s store. I wanted to know more about your childhood, and your teenage years– Going to college and meeting Nanny.

People were shocked when you moved to Florida. Not about the fact that you moved, but how you got to Florida. You flew, by yourself to Orlando. Not only that, you took the city bus to get to your new apartment which was a few miles away. You took the bus because they were handicap accessible, with one duffle bag in tow. You lived on the fourteenth floor overlooking downtown Orlando and a beautiful lake. You went to card games, went out to eat, and even went on a casino cruise. We were astonished on how many activities you had done within a few months of moving in. We were excited to share many new memories with you.

I am eternally grateful for all of the memories you have provided me with. Your guidance, advice, and knowledge has changed me immensely and I wanted to thank you for everything you have done. I know you are with Nanny right now making your famous caesar salad. You put on some big band era music and dance together, finally out of the chair. Your lungs are filled with deep breaths of sweet air.

I love you so much Poppy.

Love,

Lyndsay

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I felt like preparing crepes would be the perfect homage to my grandfather. He taught me the proper technique of letting the batter sit in the cooler, and adding very small amount of batter when making the crepe. He used to own this “crepe maker” which would make the crepes without the hassle of a pan. It plugged in and you dipped the hot plate into the crepe batter, creating thin pancakes–so thin they did not have to be flipped over.

Strawberry CrepesThis are delicious topped with strawberries and Nutella. When I was in Paris last year, every street corner had crepe stands. They were massive, and packed with nutella. I want to go back everyday.

Crepe

Is that not the coolest?! I took this photo right next to Notre Dame.

The recipe I have provided is from one of my grandfather’s old cookbooks, “Classic Desserts” by The Good Cook in 1979– years before I was born!

Crepes

  • Servings: 15 6-7 inch crepes
  • Time: 3 Hours
  • Print

Ingredients

1 Cup Flour

1/2 teaspoon Salt

2 Eggs

1 1/4 Milk

2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Method

  1. In blender, pulse together flour, salt, eggs, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Pulse until no lumps remain.
  2. Put the batter in the refrigerator for two and a half hours.
  3. Heat a lightly greased 6-7 inch pan over medium- high heat. Pour in about three tablespoon, swirling the pan as you add the batter. Coat the entire pan with batter.
  4. Cook the crepe for 10-15 seconds until it slides back and forth easily on the pan. Slide a spatula under the crepe and flip, cooking the opposite side for 8-10 seconds.
  5. Slide the crepe to a warmed dish, and cook the rest of the batter similarly.
  6. Top with your favorite fruit and nutella.

This recipe was provided by Classic Desserts 

Nutella

Can I have all of it?!

lyndsay paige