Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year End Music Recap

Hey all-

I love looking back at the year's music, especially the breakout artist. I have spent the last week reviewing several top 100 list including main stream and indie. I was surprised to find that both Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift made it pretty high on both sides and I'm not in disagreement, both ladies did a pretty decent job transcending music genres.

The Billboard top 100 list was dominated by Lady Gaga and the Black Eye Peas who shared the top 4 slots. Other dominators of the chart included Beyonce, Brittany Spears, and Ti. I was surprised that Kid Cudi's "Day 'N' Nite" made it to #28. I first heard Cudi more than a year ago and was constantly forcing my friends to listen, I knew I was hearing a good thing! Kings of Leon also made it to a mainstream audience as evident by their #14 hit Use Somebody.

Though I'm not quite in agreement with their list, Pitchfork offers a pretty comprehensive top track and top album list of 2009.

My favorites of the year include:

"The Dodos"-Fables
"Cornerstone"- Arctic Monkeys
"French Navy"-Camera Obscura
"Stillness Is the Move"
"Two Weeks" -Grizzly Bear
"Heads Will Roll"-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

What were your favorite 2009 songs?


Monday, December 28, 2009

One Long Post

Hey all,

Hope you are enjoying the last few days of the decade. I've been spending them with family and friends, and trying to get ease back into pre-holiday eating. In other words cutting down on the sweets big time.

My mom gave me Vegan with a Vengeance for Christmas, and I have perused through a few times now deciding what I want to make when I return to NYC.
My sister received this game, Quelf, which she had been going on and on about since playing it at camp. I see what she means, it's a pretty fun game. Basically you move your character around the board and stop at the various colors and pick up the corresponding color card and follow the instructions, which include things as: "Read this and every card throughout the game as a charismatic pastor," or "touch everything through the rest of the game with only your pinky and thumb," etc. I need to get my own, played with certain personalities, I might just die from laugher.

I have also been eating a lot of overnight oats, which are so filling! I let 1/3 of oats soak overnight in 2/3 cup of water. In the morning I mix in plain yogurt, dried cranberries, cinnamon, a bit of agave syrup, and a few chocolate chips.

I have had this on a few different occasions now and think in the future I will probably only use a 1/2 of yogurt. While on it's own I use a 3/4 to a full cup of yogurt, when mixed with the oats it turns into so much!
On the way to church on Sunday my mom picked up my sisters birthday cake and a few gingerbread cookie pieces, I thoroughly enjoyed a head.

Sunday afternoon, I kind of wanted an apple for a snack, but at the same time wanted something sweeter. I think it's a result of all the holiday cookies and cake lately. To settle my sweet tooth, I cut up a gala apple, mixed with smashed sweet potatoes, and cooked the combo in the microwave for a little over a minute. This was one of my best ideas, it was so tastee ;)
Despite trying to cut down on the sweets, my mom has been raving about these chocolates she received from work, so I had to try one.

She was right, this was one of the best chocolates I have ever had, in fact, I might be reaching, but I think it was the best. I had a hazelnut praline.
Yesterday, the 28th, was my sister's 13th birthday. To celebrate I took her into downtown Philadelphia. I was shocked when we arrived in the train station of my little town to see the ticket counter line nearly out the door. Thankfully we purchased our tickets right as the train arrived and jumped on board.

This is the Christmas tree in the center of our town. Next year the township will be using a tree from our backyard. My mom sent in a picture of the tree last year, the township came around, inspected and gave her the go for Christmas 2009. She's so excited and making plans for the empty space that will be available in the backyard post tree cutdown.

Once in Philadelphia, we immediately headed to the Comcast center for their Christmas show. Every year since I was a little girl someone, usually my grandma, has taken me into the city to see the annual light show and The Christmas Carol village. Comcast recently added their 3D show into the mix. I was impressed by the quality, and it was nice to see something new, it will definitely be apart of my annual tradition.

Before heading to Macy's, where both the light show and village are now located, my sister and I grabbed lunch. We headed to La Creperie cafe. I love this place and have been coming here since a 9th grade French class field trip.

While I originally ordered a crepe with mozzarella, tomato, basil, apple, and roasted almonds, the busy waiter misunderstood my french and I ended up with mushrooms, egg, and cheese. It wasn't what I had a taste for, but it was good. I've never had an order mix up at this place and they were understaffed so I didn't feel like sending it back. Oh, and when I say misunderstood my french, I don't mean to say I ordered le champignon (mushroom) instead of le pomme (apple) but rather he misheard the name of the dish Le Normande.
For dessert, I was going to order a sweet crepe, but my sister loves creme brulee, and it was her birthday, so...I had a few bites, and it was pretty good. My sister polished it clean.

We got to Macy's with about 40 minutes until the next light show, so to make the most of our time we headed to the christmas village. Unfortunately, the line was misleading and kept wrapping around. After more than 30 minutes we finally were in the village itself which takes about 10-15 minutes to walk through. Thus we missed the light show and didn't have time to sit around for another hour for the next.
The village begins with Charles Dickens explaining the premises and background of his story. "Marley was dead: to begin with. There was no doubt about that..."

On to the village...
Scrooge and his nephew.
Tiny Tim.
Ghost coming to hunt Scrooge for the night, this part always scares the little kids.
Ghost of holiday present.
And future.
Before returning to the train, we took a look at the holiday train setup at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
It's an impressive train display, and so many fast moving trains!
To continue my sister's 13th birthday celebration we went to Dave and Busters that night. I was hungry but at the same time still full from lunch so I ordered a greek salad and some fries to munch on.
At home we had birthday cake of course. I originally just wanted icing, I love good icing, but the cake was amazing as well so I went back for a second small piece.

Given everyone's preference for lots of icing or a small piece, the cake ended up looking like this.
Today's agenda includes:
-Family brunch
-Fit some kind of workout in
-Pack! (go back to the city tomorrow!!)
-Post about top music hits of the year (love recaps of the year)

On that note, anyone making resolutions for the coming year, coming decade?


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Since I got home later than expected, cookie baking was pushed off until yesterday afternoon. We decided on the basic chocolate chip cookie and also used the sugar cookie recipe found in the Food Networks December magazine.

Of course we used stoneware!
Not so long afterwards we had tons of cookies.
I loved the sugar cookie recipe, it included a bit of orange zest to give it a bit of zing. We made lots of cut-outs including the norm, christmas trees, stars, holly, snowmen, but I also had to add in a giraffe. I love giraffes!
Later in the afternoon, I headed to my grandma's.

She always lines her fireplace with bags full of little gifts for all her grandchildren. I was surprised to find 2 bags of mint M&M's which she found a few days after reading my post about my struggles to find them. I was so surprised!

Dinner was also at her house which consisted of salmon cakes, spinach, potato salad, string beans, ham, and deviled eggs. I had a bit of the first 3.
Also had some pound cake, love my grandmother's pound cake!
There was also a huge apple pie which my grandma was raving about it, but I didn't have a taste for apple pie last night.

Whew I'm tired, I think it will be an early night. I'm also thinking about some overnight oats for breakfast...


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas '09

Merry Christmas everyone! I woke at 6:17 am this morning and was surprised to find that I was the last one awake. I suppose the excitement of Christmas morning never goes away.

My mom bought this new coffee that she was raving about last night, so before digging into presents I brewed up a pot.
Oh my gosh was this good!
A few minutes later I found a bag of my own under the tree :)

It's hard to believe that last Christmas I was sipping on coffee at a Spanish cafe with my friend Dana. She was teaching English at a Spanish elementary school and I went to visit while she was on her Christmas break.
We woke in Granada and after partaking in sparking cider and spanish cookies left in our room by the owners of the hostel, we headed to the Alhambra. Unfortunately we weren't able to go inside since it was Christmas day and it was closed, but the view around was breathtaking and unforgettable.

After yesterday's bus debacle I'm glad to keep my traveling to a few hours this year, and I get to play with the doggies.
What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace."
~ Agnes M. Pahro