Thursday, August 27

Restaurant Review: Magnolia Bakery

I'm so torn.

The banana pudding B brought home for me a few weeks ago was like a 4++! But the cupcakes I've tried have all been solid 3 star quality.

The cupcakes were too dry and the buttercream frosting was just OK. I like my cupcakes to taste really dense and moist. And the buttercream should be rich but not too fatty or sugary tasting. Magnolia cupcakes just didn't do it for me.

I wish I could give a separate rating for just the banana pudding.

Light, fluffy and yet still rich and creamy.

I would probably eat this every single day if I could.

But it's a bakery, not a banana pudding boutique!

Overall: 3 stars

Wednesday, August 26

Feeling less than enthused by Federal Work Study Guidelines...

What’s the point of having a federal work study program if it’s actually limited to within a state?

Sorry if that’s confusing..but I’m rather annoyed.
I am finishing my degree @ Hopkins but am working in New York.
My program requires that we work as interns for at least 4 months.
They don’t care where you work, or really what you do (as long as it’s reasonably on-point).

So I picked up and moved to NYC to live with B.
Why would I stay in a city that’s 4 hours away by bus from my boyfriend, when my program is practically begging me to leave?
Anyway, I am 2 weeks away from finishing part 1 of my internship experience.

My supervisors here at internship # 1 seems to like me.
He offered me a part-time position for this fall.
I accepted, and will be working here 2 days a week. I’m also taking a rather large hourly pay cut due to budget constraints.
I also accepted a position at a local non-profit (internship #2).
I am very excited about this position, but less excited about the $500 stipend available (for 4 months of work).

I asked if they would consider crafting a work study agreement.
Work study has an organization put in ¼ of the funding, and they match the amount.
That way the $500 stipend would become $2000.
Not exactly a windfall (it works out to around $6/hour for 19 hours of work a week), but better than 500!

Well, it turns out that I’m back to $500 for the semester from internship #2.
Hopkins can’t approve a work study position in another state.
Somehow “federal” work study seems less…well…federal.

You’d think a nationwide program would allow students to accept positions outside of their geographic area.

So now, despite being more than 50% done with my master degree I’m starting to think about finding a 3rd job. Which, given the current economic climate, is unlikely to materialize.

I think I still have my tuxedo..anyone in catering need a server?!

Restaurant Review: Convivium Osteria

Poked around on yelp to find this restaurant.
Mix of Spanish and Italian?
Yes, please!

Since it's in nearby Park Slope I thought it might make the perfect place for a date with B.
After a long-ish wait (with a reservation!) I ended up feeling rather torn about the review!

B's cinnamon and apple ravioli w/ duck ragu was incredibly good.
My pork ribs with polenta was also very tasty.I noticed that a few people on yelp complained about the polenta being watery, but I found that it was light and delicious. True, the polenta wasn't loaded down with cream and butter like it is at some places but that just makes for a different and equally delicious eating experience!We also shared the grilled octopus salad as an appetizer. I thought it was beautifully grilled, but a little bland.

So why the internal debate and ultimate 3 stars?
They were paradoxically slow and rushed.
Slow to get to us for anything (order, meal, drinks, check) but rushing around like maniacs at a full but not overly so restaurant.
We felt kind of abandoned our entire meal..and we didn't even order dessert (my FAVORITE course!) because we simply did not want to wait another 30 minutes for it to arrive. I'd be willing to overlook the rustic overload for the food if the service weren't so darn bad!

Overall: 3 stars

Tuesday, August 25

Monday Night Menu: The Recipes

Despite the fact that I read a lot of food blogs and own a nice stack of cookbooks..I rarely ever follow all of the steps in a recipe! Since I tend to add/remove/change quantities like crazy, I'm not sure of anyone else will be able to follow..but figured it was worth a post!

Here's what I ended up making last night (see previous post for recipe inspiration).

Salmon w/ Honey Mustard and Herb Crust
Preheat oven to 450

1. Pat 2 salmon fillets dry
2.Lightly blend (I used a mini food processor):
olive oil, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, and fresh parsley.
3. Pulse and add enough oil so that mixture looks wet but not liquid-y.
4. Smear honey mustard on salmon
5. Spoon the breadcrumb mixture onto the salmon, and create a nice top coat.
6. Cook for 15 minutes (uncovered)

Watermelon & Feta Salad
1. Chop into large bowl:
--Approx. 2 cups watermelon
--A few handfuls of bell pepper (I used yellow)
--6-7 fresh mint leaves
--A small handful of green onion
--2 medium sized tomatoes

2. Stir in:
--Approx. 1 cup feta cheese
--Enough olive oil to coat

Monday, August 24

Monday night dinner deliciousness (I hope!)

Tonight's menu:

1. Mustard and herb encrusted salmon
2. Watermelon, feta, and tomato salad
3. Veggies slices

I'm going to start posting more of my dinner menus! I try to cook 4-5 nights a week and am always looking for new recipes.

Tonight I'm trying a salmon recipe from tastykitchen and the watermelon & feta dish from smittenkitchen.

Tasty kitchen in the cooking brainchild of Ree from Pioneer Woman &
Deb writes smittenkitchen here in NYC.

I want to be friends with both of them.

Anyway, they both post great recipes (and awesome) pictures!

So here's my try.
Hope it turns out ok!

Perhaps I'll follow up with reactions from B post-meal.

Tuesday, August 18

Yet another reason to hate BOA

I know I ranted and raved about Bank of America a few weeks.

I swore that as soon as I paid off my credit card I would close all of my accounts.

Well, the credit card is now paid off and I'm switching this week.

Which makes the $4 finance charge on my account so..ironic? funny? expected?

No idea why it appeared.

When I close my account later this week and switch I'll be asking them to remove it completely.
I refuse to pay them one more dollar.
Especially a magically appearing finance charge on a now totally paid-off credit card.


Cake decorating class 1!


Just returned from a weekend at the beach!

Guess I'll have to update my summer adventure list sometime soon..

Anyway, also just had my 1st cake decorating class!

I've been baking for ages but I've always wanted to really learn how to decorate!

The Brooklyn Kitchen offers these great 1 night classes, so I thought it might be fun to learn more about buttercream and all of the piping techniques.

I had a ton of fun, and wish that I could take a longer class.

We also did not get to fondant, which is another medium I'd like to learn more about.

I know the basic idea and have played with it once or twice..but I think I need at least a few class sessions or a really good tutorial.

Unfortunately most of the longer cake decorating classes are also REALLY expensive.

For some reason most of them also have weekday class hours only.

When am I ever going to be able to take a cake decorating class from 9-2 for a week??

Maybe when I'm retired??

In any case, I'm still trying to figure that part out..because I definitely enjoyed all the decorating!

We were kind of forced to go in the leaves/flower route for the top of the cake but I think it still turned out pretty nicely!

Thursday, August 13

Adventure update & a foodie presentation of B's handiwork!

Part I:

I think I am going to add something else to my adventure to-do-list.

To be totally honest, I had never even heard about the High Line until very recently.
According to the website, the High Line:
"The High Line was originally constructed in the 1930s, to lift dangerous freight trains off Manhattan's streets. Section 1 of the High Line is open as a public park..[w]hen all sections are complete, the High Line will be a mile-and-a-half long elevated park..."

Neat, right?
An elevated park with views of NYC.

(And yes, I borrowed this picture from the official website)
Also, there's a neat/kooky lady who serenades high line park goers with songs from musicals and operas from her balcony.
I think it sounds like an awesome place for some meandering on a nice night!

Part II:

B made himself an awesome impromptu dinner last night!

Most nights I cook us both dinner after I get back from the gym.

But I was feeling lazy, and B was feeling creative.

So I lounged on the couch while he taught himself how to poach eggs!

I think they came out really nicely!

He completed his poached egg experiment with some bacon, toasted bagel, and a very cute green salad on the side.

Doesn't it look awesome??

I was so impressed by his cooking skills that I ended up feeling kitchen I made a huge batch of spicy eggplant and lentil stew.
I'll post pictures of that creation tomorrow.
I'm also thinking that it might make a really fabulous Thanksgiving side dish for my mom. High in protein & low in meat (ok, 0 meat actually..but low in meat sounded cooler).
It's also really good cold, as I discovered today during my lunch break.
Anyway, now that B has a new egg-related cooking skill I think he's going to have to figure out hollandaise sauce.
Then he can make us eggs benedict on the weekend!!

Tuesday, August 11

Movie sets abound..but at least this one does not include a fake farmer's market!

Seems that they're filming Eat, Pray, Love right around the corner from my apartment.

I have yet to see Julia Roberts (she's starring in the movie)..but I think I've seen her trailer.

I'm assuming that the HUGE TRUCK that has windows is actually a private trailer of some sorts:

Since it's also the biggest in a long line of trailers, I am also assuming it's Julia's on-set area.

At least this time I didn't get confused and wander onto the set..!

Monday, August 10

Sunday adventure: Trip #1 to the Brooklyn Flea

B doesn’t know it yet, but I think it would be fun if we have an ‘adventure’ every weekend!

I’m going to be pretty liberal in my use of the term.

But at some point I would also like to:

1. Visit:
Staten Island
(It’s embarrassing..but I’m pretty sure I’ve been to 2/5 boroughs. At least in recent memory..)
2. Go to Hoboken and buy a cannoli from Carlo’s bakery.
3.See the cloisters.
4. See a concert/play/something outdoors and free. This might be surprisingly tricky because B does not like picnicking. And outdoor activities of this type usually involve a picnic. I will have to very persuasive.
5. Go to the beach!
This should be very easy! We already have plans to go this coming weekend..

This past weekend our ‘adventure’ was a visit to the Brooklyn Flea Market in DUMBO.
I think we were both a little disappointed when we first arrived. It seemed smaller than I imagined. The website promised 100+ vendors. Maybe they meant 100+ vendors total between the two days/locations?

Anyway, despite our initial disappointment we ended walking away with: 2 chairs, and 2 small tables.
We packed everything into the back of a large cab and carried it all up to our apartment ourselves.

Thanks to the addition of a rug from a nearby store, we now have a much fuller living room!

Sunday, August 9

The Raymour & Flannigan saga…FINALE

Our couch (FINALLY) arrived this past Saturday!

(Isn't it cute?)

I had a fitting with my designer, Stacy, @ FIT so poor B had to sit at home for 5 hours during our ‘delivery window.’
Which they missed by an hour…since it was only supposed to be a 4 hour waiting window.

But after the month of waiting and being annoyed, 1 hour wasn’t the end of the world. Although, I wasn’t the one stuck at home. Perhaps B feels it was a more cataclysmic experience?

Anyway, I think it was actually really good I was out when the couch arrived.

Apparently the delivery guys had just finished unloading 40+ pieces of furniture at another location.
When they tried to move our couch from the truck up our 3 flights of stairs, they basically ran out of energy half-way up.
The guy fixing the buzzer tried to help.
Not by doing anything useful like lifting or pushing.
B says he just stood there and gave ‘helpful’ suggestions.

The moving guys also told B they were both ex-army. Or ex-special forces? Or ex-something.
I think he was supposed to feel even worse that they had served our country AND were now very tired from moving someone else’s furniture.
My thought when I heard this nugget of info? Basic camp must have been harder! No excuses!

Anyway, after trapping our neighbor in the stairwell for a bit and trying valiantly not to kill the buzzer guy, the movers were able to get the couch all the way up to our apartment.

B gave them an extra tip and some water.Isn’t he nice?

By the time I arrived home, the old couch was already in our new and improved ‘media room’ (it has all the books & DVDs) and the new couch was sitting in our living room!

Next up: chairs chairs chairs!

Wednesday, August 5

Boundaries please!

I would like to begin this post with a quick disclaimer: I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST ONLINE DATING.

Really, I don’t.
I even perused jdate for a bit. I couldn’t make myself commit, but I browsed.

So again, I have nothing against online dating.
Date away.

BUT, don’t bother random people on sites that are not expressly made for dating.

For example, do not send a message like this to someone on yelp:

Beautiful what do u do for fun??hows NY?

(from user A)

Yelp is not a dating site. Yelp is a peer review site with a heavy emphasis on food and restaurants.

I’m sure that a few yelp relationships have transpired, but any online forum with messaging has the potential to connect potential partners.

I keep my personal information to a minimum on the site, but they require all Yelp elites (I have a badge, woohoo!) to use at least their real first name and last initial. I also have a picture available, but it’s similar to what you would see if you searched for me randomly on Facebook. Unless you’re my friend, you just get a headshot and basic stats.

Anyway, I think I moved beyond mildly annoyed to outright irritated when the conversation continued..

Hi A, Thanks! you can imagine..I'm a big fan of eating out with my boyfriend!

I would recommend to meet me In BAltimore...and I can show u the best time ...Treat u like the princess u are..... u have an email or #?I heard that Manhattan up there gets good reviews for music....

Hi A, That's very nice, but I don't give my phone number or email address out via yelp. Hope you understand!

its what do u do anyway?

I work for the gov’t.


And what do u do there besides bringing a lovely sight to the Fed Buildings everyday??

I stopped responding after the last message.
I’m just not sure what to do now.

I think part of the problem is that I really dislike being rude and confrontational.
But I do not want to be friends with this guy, and I do not need his totally random and vaguely creepy compliments.

I think I’m going to nicely explain that I’m not comfortable giving out personal information online and see if he goes away.
Or I’ll just block him.
Maybe I’ll just block him now..

Either way, I think my next post might have to about internet etiquette.
Perhaps I should phrase it as a question.
Internet Etiquette, does it exist?
or Why coming on to strangers on random websites is tacky:

Either title sounds promising.

Tuesday, August 4

A super quick..

Job & Internship Update

1- internship interview
1- 60% job interview

1-internship interview
1-2nd round interview for the 60% job!