Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, but I’ve been celebrating all week.
On Wednesday, I took part in a chocolate-making class with my parents. It was a lot of fun and very hands-on. We learned how to temper chocolate and made jumbo peanut butter cups, pecan turtles, almond bear paws, dipped Oreos, and strawberries. It was messy yet yummy!
On Friday, Andrew, my parents, and I did a Valentine’s Day-themed chocolate tasting. The tasting was packed with chocolate facts and insight on how they make the chocolate. We also tasted five different chocolate pieces, milk chocolate peanut butter heart, milk chocolate sea salt caramel, pecan toffee crisp, dark chocolate truffle, and dark chocolate lemon satin crème heart. Mom loved the peanut butter piece, I loved the dark chocolate truffle, Dad loved the truffle and lemon satin crème, and Andrew loved them all.
This month, I took part in The Sweet Frugal Life’s January Pantry Challenge, where I took an inventory of what I had in the pantry, fridge, and freezer to make dishes. I wasn’t super strict with it and only made a handful of meals, but I still consider it a success!
The main takeaway from my experience; I have a lot of soup in my pantry!
My 2021 wasn’t terrible. I became a Mom, and I celebrated and enjoyed life as much as possible. I explored and pushed myself to try new things. I got creative with ways to motivate myself, and I continue to move forward. It sucks that I’m spending the last day taking care of a sick baby, but such is life.
Below is my picture recap of the year. I choose one picture to sum up each month.
It was great to reflect on the year. I hope you had some time for reflection as well.
Recapping my year is a must, but first I want to share how I spent my holidays. This year looked and felt different, but I was determined to make the most of it.
I kept it local and virtual. I watched the tree lightings virtually for Athens Square Park and Astoria Park.
I honestly didn’t venture around the neighborhood as much as I wanted, but I still got to see some beautiful decorations.
I didn’t do much this year. I confess I didn’t even open up my Christmas boxes. I went with simple and familiar. Each year, I do a tree of Christmas cards, and for a tree, I got a tiny one this year so that we could enjoy the stuffed toys from my daughter’s advent calendar.
I’m fortunate that I could celebrate with my groups of girls. Both parties weren’t fancy, but I had a great time, and most importantly, everyone got to meet my daughter, Maxine.
A big hit this year was the gingerbread houses! Two were made with my husband’s niece and nephew, and one was made with my parents.
The advent calendars were also an obvious favorite. We all enjoyed our own. Andrew had a whiskey one, Maxine had a stuffed toy one, PJ and BB shared a fancy feast one, and my parents and I had a chocolate one.
I had low-key family parties with great food, but I’m pretty proud of my Christmas Eve dishes. I went all out with a seven-fishes-themed spread. We had raw oysters, crab, salmon slices, mussels and clams in a white wine, fried shrimp, and baked fish. We also had steak, brussel sprouts, and mashed potatoes. For dessert, I made brownies.
I was so excited to dress Maxine up this year for parties and PJs. I couldn’t help myself.
Christmas cards and gifts:
I went with both personal cards and virtual cards. I sent many of my older family members cards with personal notes and sent a virtual card with pictures to all my online family members.
I gave many food-related gifts and personal touch gifts this year. Below are some of my favorites.
Overall I had a great holiday, and I hope you did as well.
Last year it was hard to get together for the holidays. Not only was I pregnant, but Covid happened. So I’m not surprised that pretty much everyone is jumping on the holiday bandwagon early. I started the holiday season with my Mom at the beginning of November. We did an Ethel M Chocolate tasting and went to a holiday market to benefit The New York Junior League.
On November 5th, we participated in Ethel M Chocolates- Holiday Cactus Garden Lighting Online Tasting Experience. The event came with hot chocolate, a chocolate tasting kit for two, and some paperwork to remember and enhance our experience. This was the first virtual tasting experience for my mom, so I was excited for her.
The event kicked off via Zoom with speeches and the Cactus Garden lighting ceremony. Then our Chief Chocolatier did a hot chocolate demonstration focusing on three ways you could up your hot chocolate game. Lastly, it was chocolate time! We sampled a white chocolate peppermint silk piece, milk chocolate pecan pie, a pumpkin spice piece, dark chocolate egg nog, and then milk and dark chocolate fudge pieces. My mom’s favorite was the white chocolate peppermint silk, and mine was the milk chocolate fudge.
We had the best time! Ethel M has tastings all the time. Check out their website; they should have a holiday and a New Year tasting coming up.
On November 12, Mom and I attended The New York Junior League’s Golden Tree, a shopping event where the vendors give 20% back to the nonprofit. The league’s mission is to promote volunteerism, develop the potential in women, and improve communities. I also volunteer with the league, and this was the first event that I brought my mom.
Before we shopped, we enjoyed tea and yummy bites from Kings’ Carriage House.
After tea, we enjoyed three floors of vendors.
Golden Tree is done for the year but looking forward to more holiday markets like the Queens Craft Brigade event.
What holiday markets and events are you excited for?
It has been quite some time since I’ve written. 2020 was a mess and motivation is hard to come by these days (especially since it’s taken till April to write this lol) but I’m trying to move past it and so it’s 2020 recap time to cleanse my soul.
In June, my husband and I started a little herb garden. We started a little late in the year and a couple of months later all the herbs died but it was a fun experience.
I have many plans for 2021. I’m excited to see what I can make happen.
This holiday season went by so fast, I really can’t believe it’s almost over. It feels like Thanksgiving was yesterday but lo and behold 2020 is just around the corner. Here are some of my favorite memories.
Kicked things off by watching the Rockettes. I started going to the show every year with my Dad not so long ago. This year my Aunt and Uncle came along.
One thing I’m really proud of this year is cooking for Thanksgiving. From turkey to apple pie, I took care of it all.
I also cooked up a storm this past month.
Green bean casserole
Really decked out my apartment this year.
This is the first year Andrew and I got a tree!
The cats loved it!
Also, had some great family moments.
My cousin Rosie’s baby shower.
Annual Christmas party with the girls.
Pre-Christmas meal with my family the Saturday before Christmas.Hosted my family’s annual Christmas Eve party.
Andrew and I decided to get out of New York for a few days and booked a last-minute trip to the Dominican Republic. We’ve been twice before, and it has always been super relaxing and chill. This time around we stayed at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville. I highly recommend it. We did all-inclusive and stayed in the adult only section, as the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana was right next door. It was perfect! We had access to two private pools, a private section on the beach and adult only restaurants but still had the opportunity to explore the family areas as well.
Here is the suite we stayed in, had a jacuzzi and outdoor patio area too =). The hallways had these amazing gate like pieces that made the place feel like you were walking in a castle.
One of my favorite things about the resort was the sculptures. They were everywhere and each pretty unique. I would say a nice blend of European and Modern.
The pools were spacious, and there were plenty of spots. We didn’t have to reserve any chairs. Andrew and I even found a spot where he could smoke his cigar without it being an issue.
The beach was beautiful. Pretty much all the seating had a cabana/hut feel, and there was plenty of space. The water wasn’t crystal blue but still a sight to be seen, and the sunsets were gorgeous. We took advantage of a free hour of kayaking on our last day.
The food was pretty good, the best all-inclusive buffet experience I’ve had! On Friday, Andrew’s birthday, they had a seafood buffet with grilled lobster which was yummy. We also got to try their signature restaurant, Don Pablo, which had an AMAZING foie gras appetizer (we had two!) and their Brazilian restaurant.
The trip wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the spa. We got massages two days in a row and took advantage of their sauna and jacuzzi sections because why the hell not!
Overall I had a great time. It’s been a while since I traveled to a country that doesn’t predominately speak English. It was a bit refreshing to have to try to speak and learn something else. This trip has reminded me how much I love to travel and to explore. Need to pick my next travel destination soon!
Andrew and I recently celebrated our fifth anniversary at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, Maze, at The London hotel in the city. Andrew and I are big foodies and are a big fan of his British show, The F Word, so it seemed like a good place for us to check out.
The space was amazing with beautiful chandeliers at the bar and blue seating everywhere. I also loved the bathroom area, which is basically a corridor of individual bathrooms that include your own personal sink with a great selection of lotions.
The food was also amazing. Yes it was small portions and it was expensive but I knew that going in. I truly enjoyed everything I ate and the portions were good enough for us to share. We got the foie gras, spicy shrimp toast and scallops for appetizers. The foie gras was a bit messy to eat and the shrimp toast wasn’t really spicy but we didn’t mind one bit, they were all delicious. Andrew got the NY strip steak and I got the branzino. We also tried the brussel sprouts and the wild mushroom sides. If I could’ve licked the brussel sprout plate, I probably would have. To top it off we got complimentary dessert because they had to move us to another table to accommodate another party. It wasn’t really a big deal since our plates were already cleared when they asked but I gladly ordered and finished the apple tart and the chocolate mouse.
We spent easily around $250 but I’m worth it =). I would absolutely go back and maybe hang out at the bar before enjoying my meal next time.