All about chocolate

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!

Getting everything ready!
Rolled up caramel and peanut butter and chocolate chunks.
I put Dad to work.
A bit messy but it still tasted fantastic.

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.

Enjoy your love day!!

So long 2021

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.

January- I became a Mom! I gave birth to Maxine Amelia on Dec 19, 2020. My first month as a mom was rough and full of learning moments, but I’m thankful every day for my munchkin.
February- My mom turned 77 this year. With the pandemic, it was tough to see her and our family. This amazing picture (of three generations) was taken at my Aunt’s house. We celebrated my Mom’s birthday, and family members finally met Maxine.
March- With a new baby, it’s hard to get out, and it was tough to have time just for my husband and me. I signed us up for a beer and cheese virtual tasting as a date night. It was a lot of fun and informative.
April- I did many fun things in April, including an oyster shucking class and a cooking class with Daniel Boulud, but nothing can beat my Dad finally coming home from rehab after fracturing his hip. December 2020, my father fractured his hip, had to have surgery, and caught covid and pneumonia in the hospital. At the beginning of the year, my father was moved to a long-term care facility in Jersey first and finally placed in a rehab facility in Queens soon after. It was a challenging situation, mainly because of covid and I couldn’t see him. He finally came home at the end of April, and he got to meet his granddaughter for the first time.
May- I decided to sign-up for a flower CSA from May to October. It was a bit pricey, if I’m going to be honest, but so worth it! I picked up flowers every week; it was very refreshing. I even tried my hand at arranging the flowers. It was fun and relaxing.
June- Andrew and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by attending a virtual magic show by Dan White. It was AMAZING and blew our minds.
July- We celebrated Dad, who turned 79! My family has a house in Long Island that we share by the beach. My dad rarely visits, but my Aunt and Uncle threw him a little party, and he enjoyed the day and area.
August- We had a family vacation in the Catskills at the end of August. We rented a house with a pool and jacuzzi; it was amazing and much needed. I don’t have many pictures of my husband smiling, so I’m taking advantage and showing his beautiful smile.
September- Self-care became tricky during the pandemic. I finally decided enough was enough with my hair and chopped it off. Quite liberating if I say so myself.
October- I turned the big 4*0* this month. We decided to head over to Crystal Springs Resort for a few days and enjoy the fall season. The resort was fantastic with great food, and I took advantage of the spa. We went apple picking, pumpkin picking, went through a corn maze, and enjoyed wine and spirit tastings in the area. It was very low-key and chill.
November- Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I appreciate the time with family and the overall idea of gratitude. I shared my journal of things I’m grateful for already in another post. My husband had to work on Thanksgiving, but I still enjoyed the day, reflected on everything I’m thankful for, and cooked a feast.
December- This month was filled with friend and family activities, but I couldn’t help picking the time decorating the gingerbread house as my picture for the month. It gets harder and harder to find activities that my parents are willing to do and be a part of. Next year, I will continue to brainstorm ideas.

It was great to reflect on the year. I hope you had some time for reflection as well.

Cheers to 2022!

Enjoying the holidays

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.

Tree watching:

I kept it local and virtual. I watched the tree lightings virtually for Athens Square Park and Astoria Park.

Astoria decorations:

I honestly didn’t venture around the neighborhood as much as I wanted, but I still got to see some beautiful decorations.

Home 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.

Christmas parties:

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.

Family activities:

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.

Christmas outfits:

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.

Advent Calendars 2021

I didn’t know that advent calendars were a big deal. Last year, I bought a chocolate one for both my mom and me to enjoy the season. I was pregnant, about to pop, and covid restrictions were still in effect, so I thought the calendars could be something we could do together even if we weren’t in the same place. Each night, my mom and I would find time to talk and enjoy our little treat. We loved it!

The chocolate was the same each night, but the quote with it was different.

I loved it so much I kind of went advent calendar crazy this year. I got a calendar for my parents, husband, my baby, my husband’s niece, and nephew, and even the cats have one.

My mom and I love chocolate, so I got a Godiva calendar for us. Dad wanted in, too, so he has his own as well.

I’m excited for this calendar because the chocolates will be different each night.

My husband is really into whisky, so I got him Flaviar’s Whiskies of the Galaxy calendar.

How cool is this box?!?
Fancy!

Maxine is almost one, so I decided to get her a stuffed animal calendar that could go on the Christmas tree.

Isn’t it cute!

The cats will be sharing a Fancy Feast calendar.

Meow

I got Andrew’s three-year-old niece a Disney advent calendar that will have a different story each night.

Andrew’s nephew is ten, so I chose a calendar that is a little more hands-on.

I hope we all enjoy them!!!

Starting the holidays off with Mom

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.

Chief Chocolatier- Mark Mackey
Mom getting into it!

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.

Here is the gorgeous Astor House
Mom and me

Before we shopped, we enjoyed tea and yummy bites from Kings’ Carriage House.

Check out the spread!

After tea, we enjoyed three floors of vendors.

Isn’t this bag cute!
Original ornament from Christina’s World
Bought a scented candle from Zagara Home
And a elegant necklace from Therese Custom Designs

Golden Tree is done for the year but looking forward to more holiday markets like the Queens Craft Brigade event.

via Queens Craft Brigade’s Instagram
List of vendors for 11/28 via Queens Craft Brigade’s Instagram

What holiday markets and events are you excited for?

More treats than tricks this Halloween

Halloween this year was pretty amazing. It was just the right amount of activities for the entire family.

As a Halloween/Fall activity, I like to carve or decorate pumpkins. This year I didn’t get around to carving myself but we made it an activity for my husband’s niece and nephew.

I also decorated some pumpkins with some stickers.

One was focused on cats and one with bats and ghosts.

The night before Halloween, as a date night, my husband and I did a virtual Halloween Scavenger Hunt with Watson Adventures. It was pretty tough! The hunt had a haunted theme and we visited various websites with some kind of scary involved. What made it tricky was some of the questions involved us navigating links with virtual tours and 360 views that can be difficult to find and figure out on a laptop. Our daughter was also still awake and would not fall asleep. We had the lowest score of the night but it was still fun.

We were Team 8- Haunted Pumpkins. We didn’t really open our video because our daughter was all over the place.

The best part of Halloween was dressing up Maxine. She was the cutest baby leopard. I also had her in pumpkin pjs the night before Halloween.

On Halloween, instead of trick or treating, we did a virtual experience instead, and enjoyed a bubble show from Bubbledad. Maxine had no idea what was going on but it was cute to see all the kids who zoomed in participate in the interactive portion of the show. The kids got to make their own bubbles by using a cardboard tube, straws, and socks.

Bubbledad working his magic.

To cap the night off, I had myself a delicious treat from Pecking House.

Chili fried chicken and cauliflower with squash and candied pepitas, roasted brussels sprouts, and heirloom bean salad. Everything was delicious.

Next year, I want to aim to dress up as a family and enjoy trick or treating or attend a party.

My decade in review

Oh my, so much has happened in the past ten years. The good, the bad and everything else in between. Here is my decade in review of some of my best memories.

2010

I was working at Interference, an event marketing firm in Soho, and been with Andrew for almost two years. We decided to go on a romantic vacation to Costa Rica. This was the first trip we did an all-inclusive package and got SPOILED. Here is a picture of us getting ready to zipline and me on the beach. To be that thin again… le sigh.

2011

I turned the big 3 0!!! We went on a Carnival cruise to Mexico. The port was in New Orleans, so of course we had to stay an extra couple of days to explore. Here is a picture of me clearly enjoying my birthday!

2012

I started working for nonprofits around this time. My first one was the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation. Now they are known by a different name but their mission is to mentor young chefs. I had the privilege to help plan their 2012 competition at the Culinary Institute of America. The winner represented USA at the Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, France. No big deal right! Here is a photo of the competition set-up.

2013

I became a condo owner!!

2014

I began running this year. My first ever race was The Color Run. We had so much fun. I’m not sure why I’m the only one that got color blasted but ok.

2015

I joined the Volunteer Training and Leadership committee at the New York Junior League this year. The committee is now known as Volunteer Education and Training and is pretty dear to my heart as I become the co-chair two years later. The league is one of the oldest and largest women volunteer organizations and the committee I chose to volunteer with focuses on training women on various topics to help with their professional and volunteer career. This picture is of my very first event that I helped with as part of the committee. I’m now part of the Annual Fund team.

2016

I started Grad school! I decided to get my masters in Nonprofit Leadership.

2017

I did the unthinkable, I ran the NYC marathon. Well I ran/walked it but still. I worked my butt off and I raised $5K for the New York Junior League. Look at all my medals.

2018

I got married!!!

2019

It’s been a year of me creating my own traditions with Andrew. This holiday season I did a lot of firsts. I carved my first pumpkin, I made my first thanksgiving meal all by myself and we got our first tree.

I had a great decade, cheers to the next 10!

Goodbye 2019

I’m not going to lie, 2019 was a rough year for me personally and professionally but I had some really great moments with the people I care about. So here is my year in review…

January was a tough month for me but Andrew and I were still able to have a kick ass date night at Secret Summer’s Aquarius party. Here I am with the naughty wolves.

In February, Andrew and I decided to get away from NY for Valentine’s Day and his birthday and headed to The French Manor Inn and Spa in the Poconos.

Early March, I celebrated my Mom’s birthday at one of our favorite restaurants London Lennies.

Enjoyed Cherry Blossom season in DC with my friends Dawn and Christie in April.

Kicked off the summer season with my girls at Jones Beach for Memorial Day Weekend. Got the weirdest tan which I still have till this day.

Andrew and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in June. We enjoyed a beautiful boat cruise and then a few days later had dinner at our wedding venue. Here is Andrew messing around on the boat cruise.

Got to enjoy my family’s beach house in Shirley Long Island in July. I don’t go there enough. It was beautiful and peaceful.

I’ve been pretty obsessed with trying to hit all 50 states lately. After working on a small puzzle of the US for a team building exercise in August, I bought a bigger one and plotted my next adventure.

My next adventure turned out to be a road trip in South Dakota and Minnesota in September! Here is a picture of us in the Badlands.

October is a very important month because it’s BIRTHDAY month! I did a lot of celebrating but my fav was exploring the Sojo Spa in New Jersey. Multiple floors, hydrotherapy, infinity pool….I can go on and on. Here we are in the heated pool.

I kicked ass for Thanksgiving. I cooked a full menu, cooking a turkey for the first time, which included an apple pie. I really out did myself.

Here is a picture of my turkey pre-oven:

Here is my apple pie:

And lastly, December. I started the year rough and I ended the year rough but being with family this past week has been a god sent. One thing I’m really proud of this month is getting my tree. I’ve never really grown up with a tree so getting one was a big deal to me. I’m sure I’ll collect more ornaments in the future but it was the perfect first tree.

It’s been real 2019 but 2020 I’m coming for ya!