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As the rain was falling here in NYC, I made a pretty last minute call to head to NC for warmer weather, fried chicken, family….. and puppies. That’s right, my parents have not one, but two puppies. Miniature Australian shepherds. Yes, they “make those”.

Meet Indy (for Indiana Jones, obviously) and Percy (L to R)-

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My mom even made my favorite-generally-reserved-for-Christmas-morning cheese souffle. Yes.

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It was a wonderful break from the hullabaloo that endears me to the city in the first place, but this is an example of what happiness looks like:

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Winter Weather FAA Furloughs and a Wedding!

Last week I was in Minneapolis for work… and believe it or not, we actually got snowed in. Not forever, but our flight was delayed four + hours due to snow! Check out the photos below of the spring blizzard I managed to drive a rental car through…

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And take off in a plane through…

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One of the perks to landing at La Guardia around 3:45 am on Friday morning was watching the events in Watertown, MA unfold live over reddit and Twitter. It was pretty crazy.

After a few more weather delays and reddit-following-breaking-news… we made it to NC with enough time to see family quickly – literally at a gas station.

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And finally to Raleigh to see Robert and McKinley tie the knot with friends we haven’t seen in a while!

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Cheers to the beautiful couple and your perfect wedding.

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I hope you’re having a blast on your honeymoon, and thanks for giving us all a reason to come back to the South and celebrate you two. :)

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A happy Easter to you and yours!

I had the blessing to head back to NC for some family time with the Thores and the Engrams, plus a little shopping and plenty of catching up and delicious food.

For whatever reason, warm weather is evading us everywhere… but it was still wonderful to be at home.

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Also, my mom made a homemade lemon bar cheesecake… that was divine.
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If I had room for a springform pan in my little kitchen, I would try to duplicate this, but that will have to wait. I’m pretty sure hers rivals the one featured on the cover of Southern Living. You should see for yourself.

Long Weekend Company & Recap

My sister and brother-in-law visited this past weekend, and I think we did a prettay good job showing them the city condensed into about three days – which is actually quite difficult.

We kicked off Saturday morning with the most involved brunch I have ever made – thanks to Smitten Kitchen, I tried some new recipes: spinach strata, cinnamon chocolate chip bread and made one up –  citrus fruit salad, accompanied by some lovely hickory smoked bacon fried by Hewitt and fresh OJ for mimosas courtesy of Fresh Direct. More on the recipes and deliciousness later- but I’m definitely planning to make them all again. For sure.

(Photo doesn’t do the table justice.)

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For my sister’s birthday, we gave her tickets to see the NYC Ballet perform Sleeping Beauty – and it was perfect. Truly, the sets, the feet, the costumes… it all reminds you of the importance in slowing things down and taking it in. Cathleen and I were kids again watching the girls in tutus we wanted to be, and although we never were, it’s a memory and a dream we get to keep and an appreciation for been a part of it.

(Yep, that’s Prabal Gurung for Target – great color / print / fabric.)

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We snapped a few pics when the boys met us at Lincoln Center, post-ballet –

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We were both taken by the Rigaletto banner at the Met (although we were unaware of the kiddo taking on the fountain behind us) –

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Sunday was freeeezing, so we sought warmth and caffeine and jewelry at Chelsea Market, and I spotted this gem painted on the brick.

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Who doesn’t love an Oreo? :)

We didn’t last long on the High Line – the wind was insane, but we managed a quick picture.

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Survived / enjoyed Top of the Rock – even though it was so windy the 70th floor was closed… and the 67th and 69th perhaps should have been! It was so windy. And freezing.

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We look a bit freezing. And windblown.

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Monday, for President’s Day, we took the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, took on the subway, saw The Big Piano at FAO Schwartz and saw Central Park / took a quintessential photo.

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Not my best face, but a funny photo, framed by the between-bench-space I always gravitate to on the subway…

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Cathleen was a bit more cavalier with her swing, but Matt, you’ll get it.

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Like all weekends, it came to an end too soon, but since we’re family, I know we’ll get to do it again. I am quite pleased with how our little apartment has fared with guests so far  – thankfully, no one has come in expecting their own room, etc… but it just feels 20-something and cozy to have your sister and brother-in-law on an air mattress in your living room, measured to fit perfectly between the coffee table and writing desk, waking you up to let you know the coffee pot hasn’t come on yet.

So please, come back and see us.

Family & Ginger Cookies

Tonight when I got home for Christmas (!), my mom and I made ginger cookies, and they’re delicious!

We got the recipe from my brother-in-law, Matt – who happens to be my most avid commenter here on the blog. The recipe came from his mom and her family and so on, so before I post any top secret familial recipes I’ll have to get his permission. But I can show you the photos of our just-baked successes.

The dry ingredients looking lovely through the new lens I’m still figuring out…

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Just add Grandma’s…

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All whipped up!

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And cracked perfectly.

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Matt and Cathleen aren’t here for the holidays yet. And neither is Logan or Hewitt. I am hoping that if I continue posting photos of the warm and gooey things coming out of our kitchen, we can lure them all here before the next batch comes out of the oven.

Another ploy to get them home? This lovely photo of our tree! (Also one of the first shots I semi-successfully took on manual.)

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So hurry home, y’all!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars (yepp)

As I’ve said before, I have really started to enjoy cooking or baking goods when company or visitors come to town, metaphorically or literally. I think this is in large part because I try to celebrate the small things in life because it makes everything more fun.

SO – my parents are coming to town / are actually en route to visit me as I type. As you should expect by now, I’m so excited!, and last night I did some baking. My hope is that I can keep them off my blog long enough today that they won’t see this post and know what I’m planning to serve for our dessert tonight… but I’ll take my chances.

Let’s talk about chocolate chip cookie dough and cheesecake bars, thanks to My Baking Addiction.

It’s a relatively involved recipe (compared to most I’ve tried), but I wouldn’t shy away from it!

First you make the graham cracker crust –

And after baking it for six minutes (or so), you “pour” over the cheesecake batter.

In theory, you should be able to smooth the batter over the crust pretty easily, but mine got a bit messy. I wanted to call my mom to ask for pointers (put the spreader under warm water or something), but that would have given away the surprise.

So I got this, instead.

Then, you smooth the cookie dough over the cheesecake batter (to hide all imperfections). My cookie dough turned out a bit differently, and I attribute this to the fact that instead of 3/4 cup all-purpose flower, I used 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. The texture may have changed, but the finished product was fantastic. (Trust me!)

Bake them at 325 until the top looks golden and it seems firm when you shake the pan. Remove from pan and put on cooling rack. Cut into desired shapes and/or sizes.

Then use your iPhone camera to emulate finished product food photography like you’ve seen on pinterest.

Oh, and share with everyone you know because they’re too rich to eat all by yourself.

Plan for tonight is to serve them warm with vanilla ice cream after our sure-to-be delectable dinner at Malatesta.

More to come on this weekend’s adventures!

#nationalsiblingday

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If not for social media, I would miss so many important holidays – namely National Coffee Day, Taco Day, Donut Day… but more legitimately, National Sibling Day.

Although I know little about this holiday or its origins, I’m always up for celebrating the great things in life, and I have two of them – Cathleen and Logan. I have already mentioned my brother because he celebrated a birthday last week, but as a trio, I would say we make a pretty great team.

We moved a lot growing up and certainly had our fair share of inter-sibling teenage drama, but we stuck together through those “formative years” to come out on top as “grown-ups” and great friends.

To Cathleen, for being the beautiful and kind one. The one who showed me how to love and be friends with everyone, full of grace and contagious laughter. Thanks for driving me to school and cheerleading practice and telling me when I’m being 1. dramatic 2. ridiculous or 3. just a bit much. Thank you also for telling me to stay the course and endure whatever was the trial of the day. For the big sister I’ll always have, I am so grateful.

To Logan, who has enough of Cathleen in him to know when to hold his tongue and enough of me in him to forget to do just that, you’re a great not-so-little-anymore brother. For taking chances and not just seeing the world but making it your own. For seeing a need and a wrong and devoting your life to righting it. For being my ocean kayak partner when we somehow ended up paddling against the tide, both directions; you’re the best.

By the grace of God and perhaps an added stroke of luck, I managed to gain not one, but two! new siblings when my sister and I wisely said “yes” to our best friends. To Matt and Hamilton – thanks for humoring me; I know I can be pretty silly. I’m excited for what’s next!

So Happy National Sibling Day, everyone! I know that I am lucky to have so much to celebrate.