Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals - January!

As I mentioned earlier this month, I participated in a Foodie Pen Pal through the Lean Green Bean. I was paired with my friend Nikki to send a box and then paired with Christine over at Oatmeal in my Bowl to send me a box. Nikki will be guest posting (see next post!) on my blog as she is not a blogger herself. For what Ms. Christine sent me, see below. If you are interested in participating, see the bottom of this post.

Ms. Christine sent me a fabulous box full of yummy snacks! She and I clearly had the same thought in what to put in our boxes (I packed a very similar box for my friend Nikki) with lots of goodies from Trader Joes and other fun places. Almonds, chocolate, nut snack bars, three types of mini peanut butter, sweethearts, cranberries, tea, wasabi seaweed snacks, this girl has got me loaded up with awesome stuff!! I have been enjoying the almonds (they were the individually packed ones from TJ's) at work with a little bit o' chocolate. I am a happy girl!

My foodie box!!

Sweet note!

Look at all that yumminess!!

Close-up! Sweethearts, Chocolate, Almonds, OH MY!

Snacks for work and cranberries for my oatmeal!

Thanks Christine!!

Here's some info from Lindsay over at the Lean Green Bean if you are interested in participating with Foodie Pen Pals!

And now it's time for some details about Foodie Pen pals.  In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your pen pal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your pen pal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your pen pal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Pen pals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your pen pal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

If you’re interested in participating for February, please send  an email to Lindsay at and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
-WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. - this is SUPER important so I can get you on the right list!

I will need to hear from you by February 4th as pairings will be emailed on February 5th!

Foodie Pen Pals - January - Guest Post!

Nikki was my Foodie Pen Pal this month. She's written up today's guest post. Check it out!

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Hi there!  I'm Nikki and was luckily the recipient from Andrea for January Foodie Pen Pals.  Both Andrea and I were pleasantly surprised that we got paired up since we are friends and basically live in the same city.  I had done Foodie Pen Pals for the first time in December and knew that Andrea would love the idea since she is a blogger who often writes about the joys of food.  I, however, am not a blogger...........yet.  I'm really hoping to join the blogging community at some point, but life is pretty busy right now and I want to be sure I can dedicate my time to writing a worthwhile blog. :)

Andrea and I both enjoy good food and have been able to experience it together a few times dining out together.  I was very excited to receive my box from Andrea and she didn't disappoint.  First of all, she didn't just sent it in a plain cardboard box-Nope, she actually took the time and effort to line the box with cute papers, fill it with cute shredded paper and wrote a little message within.  Once it was open, I found homemade granola (which is amazing and I'm trying to savor it-hoping my hubby doesn't get to it all first), homemade strawberry jam (love!), protein bars-which are perfect to throw in my drawer at work, always needing snacks throughout the day, mini hazelnut biscottis from Trader Joe's, which is perhaps my favorite place to grocery shop and finally, an assortment of chocolate and what girl doesn't love chocolate!!!  Of course, she sent a beautiful card with a great quote from James Beard.


Thank you Andrea for sending such a wonderful assortment of yummy treats and for letting me guest blog.  It was fun to be paired with you and also such a crazy coincidence!  If you love receiving packages in the mail, especially ones filled with yummy surprises, you should check out Foodie Pen Pals, I think you'll have lots of fun like Andrea and I have!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Italian Adventure Continued

Nothing like a snow day (more like week) to remind you of projects you haven't finished. Like finishing your blog posts about your trip from SEPTEMBER. Oh yeah, that one! Well, here we go, day 5!
September 20th, 2011
Vernazza to Firenze

Travel day for us. We were sad to leave Vernazza but exciting to move on to Florence and adventures beyond. We managed to eat breakfast one more time with the Canoli Brothers. The pastries were amazing just as before. Our timing was perfect because just as we were about to leave a tour group of Australians came in and took over the store. Nice people, just A LOT of them.

We got our train from Vernazza to La Spezia without too much issue but ended having to wait almost two hours (due to train delays) to catch our train from La Spezia to Pisa and then Pisa to Florence. In theory and perfect train schedules, Vernazza to Florence is about 2.5 hours. But of course theory and perfection (at least as it relates to transportation) rarely occurs in Italy. So 4 hours later we made it to Florence. By this time we were starving, but we took a taxi to our hotel and got checked in and bags dropped off. I then took Pete to my favorite kabab (basically a gyro) shop near Piazza Santa Croce (very near to where my apartment was when I studied in Florence). We inhaled them while people watching at the Piazza.

After we finished eating we decided to head over to another favorite spot, this time for GELATO! It was just down the street up Via deNeri to Gelateria deNeri. They make all of their own gelato and is a more quiet out of the way type shop. Pete had Lemon and Coconut and I had Hazelnut and Chocolate. We headed back to our hotel to relax on the terrace until dinner.

The Duomo peaking out behind some buildings.

Il Bargello (on the left)

For dinner we went to yet another favorite from my time in Florence, to Trattoria I' Che' C'e' C'e'. Lovely little whole in the wall place in between Piazza Santa Croce and Piazza Signoria. We had two kinds of primi, one pasta ala Limone and pasta blognese. Both were lovely and simple. Secondo was Vitello all Limone (Veal with Lemon) which was fantastic. This place also serves as a almost apertivi small fried balls of dough (maybe two per person). As the bread in Florence is famously without salt, these little guys fried and sprinkled with salt fresh out of the frier were amazing.

The evening was of course not complete without gelato (again at Gelateria deNeri). Pete had spicy chocolate and hazelnut and I had nutella.

No trip to Florence is complete without a pictures with David.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I HAVE MADE BREAD**said in the voice of Tom Hanks from Castaway alla "I have made fire!**

Just baked my first loaf of bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

My sister-in-law Emily, got me this book for Christmas and I've been aching to try it out. Thank goodness for three snow-days to bake! I decided to make the Light Whole Wheat Loaf (as in it has a light amount of wheat not that's light in calories although it's not super caloric but it is bread... but anyways).

I only remembered half way through the process to actually take pictures (thanks hubby for reminding me).

Here's the halfbaked in the oven shot (ew gross dirty oven door, sorry!).
The bread was remarkably easy to make. No kneading or machines required. I just put all the ingredients in a big bowl and stirred until combined, let rise for 2 hours, then into the fridge to bake at my leisure.

Dough in the fridge.
I, of course, wanted to actually bake a loaf today so I pulled out about a quarter of the dough (the recipe I choose made 4 small loaves), shaped it lightly, let it rise one more time (for about 40 minutes). Into the oven on my handy pizza/bread stone with a steam bath underneath (just my broiler pan with a cup of water) and voila! Home made bread!

Delicious! Nice crispy crust and soft moist crumb inside. Would be great for grilled cheese or a sandwich. YUM!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review!

Just realized I’d been meaning to post about some of the books I’ve been reading but never got around to it! Eeek! Well, here’s to THAT New Year’s resolution!

I just finished two books over the holiday break (ok well into the new year, but pretty close right??). The first I started was 52Loaves by William Alexander. Non-fiction, foodie with a bit of travel book. Basically, it is the story of a gentleman who is out to bake the perfect loaf of bread and goes about it by baking a loaf a week for a whole year. He’s trials and errors are quite amusing. He even grows his own wheat, and travels to Paris to learn to bake and then eventually to a monetary in Normandy to teach the monks to bake! If you are interested in baking bread or have baked before, I think you would find it very amusing. I can’t say that I’ll go to the lengths he has to bake bread, but I am certainly more educated (I know what NOT to do!). Mr. Alexander also wrote The$64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured anExistential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden. I haven’t read it yet, but strikes me as very similar and equally amusing.

The second book I read was Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard. Also non-fiction, foodie, travel type of book (can you tell what type of books I enjoy?). It was lovely and sweet and full of delightfully delicious recipes. I tend to live in a wanderlust of romanticism about living abroad and this book certainly brought to light some of the more complicated things you don’t really think about when just moving to a new country (French Health care for example!). Regardless, lovely little read!

On a related note, I’ve been getting my reading in with my Kindle! Peter bought me one for our anniversary (I returned the favor for him for Christmas!). I’m loving it! Pete got me the KindleKeyboard 3G+WiFi. Seriously, wonderful. The 3G is great and we were able to use it while we were traveling in Italy back in September. I could download books at without having to find a Wi-Fi spot!

Next on my book list is WineWars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revengeof the Terroirists. My sweet momma bought it for me for Christmas. I actually had this on my private wish list on Amazon (unknown to my mother), but it turns out the author teaches at University of Puget Sound (where my little brother attends) and she was able to get us a signed copy!

Another book I’ve got on my list is a Kindle Deal of the day I got earlier this week Longitude:The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem ofHis Time. This book has also been on my private wish list for some time, so when it came up for $0.99, I had to grab it!

Funny image, I just had to repost. Image found on Pinterest but from here.

Would love to hear what books you have on your bookshelf! Leave me a comment, pretty please!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals & 30 Day Yoga Challenge Update!

This month I am upping my bloggingness by participating in Foodie Pen Pals. I read about it the first time on a friend of a friend’s blog, Yums and Loves. Foodie Pen Pals, is basically a blogging/food pen pal (I guess the title states that doesn’t it?). We get paired up at the beginning of the month with two other people, one who I send to and another who sends to me. We each have until the 15th of the month to send a little foodie package to the other person. Then at the end of the month, we all post on our blogs (or guest post for the non-bloggers) about what we received. Fun way to get to know other bloggers and folks! If you are interested in participating next month (January is already set), you can check out the following link. You don't even have to be a blogger to participate! Although if you get paired with someone who does have a blog, you are encouraged to do a guest post on their blog. Sharing is caring!

This is my first month participating and I ended up getting paired with my friend Nikki (the lady pairing had no idea we were friends!). So I’ll be sending her a box of goodies later this month. Nikki is actually the one who introduced me to Yums and Loves (one of her BFFs). Fun little connection! Look for a guest post from Nikki at the end of the month (we’ll all be posting on the 31st!), in addition to my post about what my Foodie Pen Pal (Christine from Oatmeal in my Bowl).

In other news, I’m in day 4 of my 30 day yoga challenge! Overall, I like it fairly well although due to my schedule I haven’t been able to attend the type of yoga (Vinyasa Flow or Power Yoga) classes I usually like. That said it’s been a good exercise (and a challenge!) to let go of my expectations and just breathe and be present in each class I attend. There is actually a whole group of folks from the studio participating in the challenge, so I’m hoping to get to know a few folks (maybe make new friends?!). This week I've taken, Vinyasa II (Power Yoga), Hatha, and Restorative. I may try a Candle Flow tomorrow, sounds soothing! Next week will mostly be a repeat of this week's schedule although I may try to get in another flow class somewhere.

Blessings to you in the New Year!