I’m Back…Wednesday’s with WinniE’s ( May 29th)

Hello everyone! I couldn’t be happier to be back, here with you all and sharing the time I spend developing and creating new recipes or designs for cakes, cupcake and more! Today in the WinniE’s Bakery “test kitchen” something incredibly personal is going on. I know I mentioned before, but my brother David and his fiancée Heidi are getting married. And, you may ask, who might be the lucky one doing the wedding cake? You guessed it, me…eek! So today, I will show the “demo cake”. A “demo cake” or “concept cake”, essentially is an idea that puts to form the design you conceptualize between your client and yourself. Whatever is agreed-upon, can then be displayed through the medium of a styrofoam cake. I absolutely love doing a “demo cake”! The key inspirations for Heidi’s demo cake: rustic, simplistic, small, floral accents (white roses and sunflowers) and all buttercream. All of my favorite things to have in a cake! So here’s a look and how it turned out…
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and after…
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This is the finished product. I couldn’t have more excited to be back at trying to create beautiful baked goods. And Heidi was so excited to have a chance to see how the concept we had been discussing and tweeking looked. That way she would feel calm, confident and completely at peace with her desicion to have this style of cake at one of the most important days of her life!
Thanks again guys, see you next week for “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s”! By the way, if you want to follow the happenings of my bakery between each week “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s” you can follow our bakery on Instagram @winniesbakery. Be well!
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G !

All That’s Happened and the Healing Wonders of Sarah Addison Allen!

Sarah Addison Allen has done it again! I just finished reading her second most recent novel, “Lost Lake”. Most of you should know that my favorite author is Sarah Addison Allen, (i.e.: 50 facts about me post). But, I don’t believe you know just how much she’s meant to me and my journey through my recent years of life. I first discovered Sarah Addison Allen’s literary work in the summer of 2009. That was the summer I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, my official diagnosis was papillary carcinoma with follicular variant. That was one of the longest years of my life. From the FNA (that said I didn’t have cancer. What they didn’t know was they got a sample of a cystic nodule, that sat atop the cancer), the initial surgery, to the follow-up surgery (as they found out after the first surgery that I did in fact have cancer), radiation, a blood infection (due to a weakened immune system), going into a hypocalcemic episode and then justing to thyroid hormone replace therapy. It was a lot for me and my family to endure given my already complicated medical history. But honest to God, I can say one of the things that tied me back to myself was the wonderful stories told by Sarah Addison Allen. She gave me a unwavering sense of hope, faith in the extraordinarily ordinary everyday and reaffirmed my belief in the power of a great story!

I’ve read everything from “Garden Spells”, “Girl Who Chased the Moon”, “The Sugar Queen”, and “The Peach Keeper”. Each and every book unlocked a piece of myself I never knew I had or had neglected or had forgotten about. Ms. Allen has woven tale after tale of strong female characters, good and honorable men, the importance of friendship, a since of faith, community and beauty and magic that arises not only in nature but in the people that we encounter in life; who help us become who we are. I couldn’t be more grateful for Sarah Addison Allen or her talents as a storyteller. I honestly believe that she is a gift that I was given. And I know that many of her other fans will feel the same exact way!
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“Lost Lake”, was exactly what I needed, and I didn’t even know it. At the end of each of Sarah Addison Allen’s books I part with such bittersweet sorrow. The feeling of saying goodbye to those characters after she make you fall in love with them is like no other feeling. I’ve never been in love and so the characters that resonated with me the most were, Devin and Lisette. Devin reminded me so much of myself as a child. She was mature and intuitive enough to know what was going on in the worlds of the adults around her. But, still very much a unique, free spirited and silly little girl. As for Lisette, I found small instances when I realized that was something I had either done or would have responded quite simularly. She was stubborn, was a skilled chef and baker and she was guarded and reluctant to love. There was such peace as I turned to the next page and the page after that, until it was finshed.
I very vaguely mentioned to you all a couple months ago the new medical issues I was dealing with. But, I was reluctant to give full details. I am so grateful for this blog. A part of me is so willing to open up different facets of myself and share them with you all, knowing that you’ll appreciate or understand those things about me. But, I’ve had a very different upbringing than most with my extensive medical issues. It’s made me guarded, I didn’t know how to share with you all everything that I’ve been going through. So here it is, I have something called a thymoma. A thymoma is a mass that grows within  or surrounding your thymus gland. It was discovered back in August, after returning from a trip to California. And since I’m being more open I might as well tell you that was the worst trip of my life. During that trip to California, the day after arriving I was notified that one of my dearest friends had been murdered. It was during a string of shootings in Baltimore, involving innocent bystanders. His name was Devin Cook.
This is Devin (last year at the lacrosse “Final Four”)
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Devin was a wonderful, lively and passionate soul I met at school. He was only 20 years old. I only knew him a year and a half, but that was long enough to know 4 things for certain. 1. I loved him very much as a dear friend, 2. I will be forever grateful I ever had the chance to know him and call him my dear friend, 3. A part of me will miss him for the rest of my life and 4. His favorite song was “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. I decided to return home from California a week early, and I hadn’t been feeling well. I chalked it up to being depressed given what I just found out. But, upon my return I was experiencing sharp pains in my back that wouldn’t let up. My mom being the intuitive person and persistent nurse that she is decided I need to go to the hospital. They told me I had a kidney infection and that I needed to receive IV antibiotics. To diagnose the kidney infection they needed a CT scan and that’s how they discovered I had the mass in my chest. So, as heartbroken as I still am that I lost my dear friend Devin, every fiber of my being believes that it is because of him that I found out about my diagnosis. He saved me. These past months of receiving IVIG treatment to treat an associated illness called Mysthenia Gravis, that is commonly linked with thymoma have been tough and intense. At times I have felt lost and less than myself. But, I took time to rediscover everything that I had learned in the books of Sarah Addison Allen. I reread each that I own, so although I never lost faith, I found hope. I carried the books to doctors appointments, treatment sessions and fell asleep with them by my pillow. The meaning that I have gained from reading the books of Sarah Addison Allen stand at the apex of some of the greatest treasures of my life. I anxiously await the paperback release of her newest literary work, “First Frost”!! As I normally destroy a hardcover book…lol! I haven’t reached the end of the road on my newest journey, but I see it in sight! And I am going to reach it with grace, faith, hope and love from the support of family, friends and knowing I have the works of the Sarah Addison Allen to light my way!
Do yourself a favor and go purchase all of her literary works ASAP! Your heart, mind and soul will not only thank you for it but reward you in turn!
You can find info about the author herself and where you can find and purchase her books at: www.sarahaddisonallen.com
Here’s some quick high points to update you on:
1. My brother and his love of 10 years, Heidi and the mother of my nieces Mia and Emi, are getting married!!!
2. I am doing the wedding cake…eek! And I am a bridesmaid…one life goal down, check!
3. I will be having the surgery to remove my thymoma the first week of June at University of Maryland Medical Center.
4. I turn 25 on April 20th. I am officially a quarter of a century old, oh how exciting…no REALLY!!!
5. I couldn’t be happier for the beginning of spring and the summer to come! So, look forward to lots of blogging!
6. I too am writing a full length novel. And although I expect nothing to come from it, it’s been one of the most therapeutic and glorious endeavors I’ve ever pursued.
7. I have now added to my “Happen List” to meet Sarah Addison Allen!!
8. Here some pics of me in treatment from the past months…
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Be well loves!
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G !

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself…Getting Reaquainted!

Hey guys, how has everyone been?! I know I have been away for awhile, but now I am back and I hope to never lose touch with this blogamy (blog + family)…it that a thing or did I make that up? Anyway, if you all forgot, that is proof of just how weird I truly am. Admittedly, I hope my “weirdness” comes across in the most sincere and endearing fashion. Did I mention I have missed this…just sitting down, committing and connecting through my blog. Setting loose whatever new inspirations, FOOD and personal pieces I have to share, out into the blogesphere to each and everyone of my supporters! I could not be more grateful for this space to be my most authenic self, especially after the trials I have been through in the last 3mons. But, with conscience effort to play on the positive side, I just wanted to take this time to share a little more of silly and WAY oversharing tidbits about myself.

So, I guess here I go…

I am ambidextrous

I write poetry and have been since I was 9
I think it’s magical when the sun is out and it rains at the same time
I make wishes on the moon and daydream constantly
I own my own bakery…duh! WinniE’ Bakery specializes in traditional, edible floral infusion, glutenfree, diabetics and allergen sensitive baking. We do Weddings, Special Occasion, Birthdays, Holiday/Seaseonal and Corporate orders (all of which can be customized)
I know ASL and am currently obtaining my degree in it
I graduated high school a year early
My parent’s have been married for 2 yrs. short of 30yrs. Can you do the math, because it is utterly amazing! And are my greatest examples of “true and unconditional love”!
I have 2 brothers, the eldest Corey gave me my nephew Juel and next David gave me my niece Mia (+ a little one on the way!). I am the BABY + only girl
When I was a child I honestly thought my brother David was my third parent
I’m a shorty only 5’1″. 5’1 1/2″ on a good day!
I am a cancer survior…specifically papillary carcinoma with follicular variant. I wear my scar PROUD!
I wish I was a runner..alas I jog.
I have never been in love. And allthough I am optimistic about it potencial, I don’t focus on “it’s” absence.
I love reading and a good film with equal but separate passion
I decided (…we’ll see) to have a Youtube channel after being inspired by my fave british vloggers(Tanya Burr, Zoella, Jims Tweetings, Pointlessblog (Alfie), JacksGap (Jack and Finn) and Sprinkle of Glitter (Louise)

More YouTuber’s I enjoy: Shameless Maya, HeyFranHey, SunKissAlba, Tyler Oakley, Kandee Johnson, LEAFtv and Diabetic Danica!
I am a Type 1 diabetic I was diagnosed when I was 12 and I now wear an insulin pump (OneTouch Ping!…and it’s name is DK-aka. Dark Knight!!!)
I love the idea of makeup, but rarely wear it
I love meeting new people but large crowds of strangers make me nervous…except when I walk around in NYC!
I am a homebody, who loves to travel
I wash my feet every night before bed…MAJOR overshare
I was a springboard and platform diver for 5yrs
My room is filled with candles, just everywhere
I love disney movies
I thoroughly enjoy movie soundtracks and Hans Zimmer is my fave theatrical composer
Aside from my mom and dad I have had the same best friend since I was 12 (who I affectionatly refer to as my “chosen sister”
I have a “bonus sister” my sister-in-law Heidi, She is kind, lovely and the mother of my beautiful niece Mia (she’s David’s fiance)
I am double jointed
I have a dream of catering a small dinner for the “First Family”. The giving Sasha and Malia a baking lesson.
I read 50 shades!!! Scandalous
Scarfs make me feel safe and calm
Brunch is my favorite meal
I own over 30 different cook books, of which I have cooked almost everydish. I now am writing my own cook/lifestyle book
My father and I have a long standing Sunday morning coffee date…as you may know!
I am obsessed with perfume and sadly 1 of my fave scents has been discontinued 😦
I love wearing beanie hats year round
1 of my favorite possession is my Michael Kors leather jacket I got for  Christmas in 2011
Weird but no one has a softer face than my Mommy
From the time I was about 5-8 i asked Santa for a twin each year…so thanks for that influence Mary-Kate and Ashley.
I love both coffee and tea, both hot and cold
I love baths, but I always shower. When I do take a bath I always shower after…that was the “overshare” tipping point.
I had the same Golden Retriever since I was 7yrs old, her name was Zoe. But my beloved puppy of 17 yrs. passed and the whole family misses her
Nutella is #BOSSSAUCE, foreal! Oh, and CHEESE is the business!
I like teeth. I find a nice smile very attractive
My bedroom is moroccan/middle eastern decor inspired
Whenever I go to a beach, I enjoyed the ocean so much I usually get dehydrated
My shoes size is 6 1/2
I love maxi dresses in the summer
I LOVE JOSH GROBAN! And he always reminds me of autumn/winter. I have incredibly eclectic musical taste. I like jazz, cuban music, old rock like Led Zepplin, 90-00’s, Neo-Soul, folk/indie
I was a child ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network representative of DC Children’s National Medical Center
I am a FFK (former fat kid)
I love jewelry!!! I always wear 5 rings, a necklace, a watch, 4 braclets, an ankle bracelets, and 6 earrings
I have 7 piercings and 1 tattoo (as of now)
I wore my hair medium to long length my entire life. Then chopped it off on a whim and absolutely love it
My favorite time to read is Sunday mornings, during the rain or before bed
Williams-Sonoma is my weakness and a wonderland to me!
I love flat sandals I find them flattering and practical
I utterly love seafood, which brings me to my next fact. I am now (have been before) a lacto-ovo pescatarian
I write all my own recipes and cook and bake from scratch. I strive to buy local, sustainable and organic ingredients.
Just found out the flesh dip above your lips is called a cupids bow
I once bought a boy liked jewelry from a foreign country only to find out he liked my friend…note to my 13 year old self
Fell in LOVE with Kina Grannis’s music! And after writing a blog post about her performance at The Birchmere, thanks to this teenie, tiny, little blog she followed me on Twitter which made my life
My mom being the “most amazing” woman she is, started teaching me how to drive at 14. We’d practice in her 2000 “Midnight” blue Volkswagen Jetta, on the back lot of United Artist movie theatre.
And lastly, I am writing a series of children’s books and I would like to write 1 autobiography…one day.
So, there is a littlesomething…just kidding a WHOLE lot about me. I hope you have enjoyed my oversharing and if you’d feel take a minute to share something about yourself in the comment section below.
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G

E

 

A Splendid Afternoon in Secolari!

Hey guys, happy Thursday!

How many of you guys are foodies? Ok, now how many of you all like the nickname “foodies”? I personally love it! Call me whatever you like, food connoisseur, palate adventurer, appreciator of sustenance, etc. It doesn’t really matter what you claim, all that really matters is that you know that you love all things food. When it comes to food, I love learning and trying new and different things. The tasting, to smelling and even seeing where it all comes from. I want to know from which farms, to the different artisan ship that goes into crafting or making the food, to the chemical reactions that happen when you’re cooking. It’s all home to me, there’s something so innate about not only eating food, but creating and sharing food with others. And even though each culture has its own customs, the emotions that can be evoked, when you sit down at a table to share a meal of food with those someone is…UNIVERSAL!
Last week, I went out to dinner with my mom and our family friend Ms. Enor. I’ve known her since I was about 4years old…geez it’s been 20 years! Anyway, before we went to dinner we noticed a new shop across from our restaurant, called Secolari. None of us knew what to expect when we walked through the door, I was certainly surprised. It was a vast space hidden away in this tiny storefront. As I walked through the doors, I was greeted with the sweet aroma of rich vinegar, floral notes and the fruity accent of olive oil. Secolari, is an artisanal Vinegar + Olive Oil shop. So obviously I was immediately in love, and on top of that I had the opportunity to chat with the loveliest manager, her name was Erin. My mother, Miss Enor and I browsed around, tasted vinegars and olive oils and we sampled pairings of flavors; just the most delightful on the palate! Erin informed us of the farms they source their olives from for the oils and about the aging and infusing of the vinegars. It was also exciting…(I definitely geeked out!!!) The stores name itself means aged or ancient in Italian.
Here’s a look…

 

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A tasting…

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Inufused Salts

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They also carry infused honey!

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They carry pasta as well.

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Bottling up my chosen olive oil

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Gorgeous!

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And this is Erin! She was so interesting, engaging and welcoming! It was lovely to meet and chat with her.

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Here is Erin with one of the owners, Bart. He was friendly and said he would check out my blog! Thank you for a great experience in your shop. I will be back…SOON!

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This is what I got, Black Truffle Sea Salt, ‘GLUTEN-FREE’ Garlic Chive pasta, Champagne Mimosa Vinegar and Blood Orange Olive Oil…GLORIOUS!

Adventures in New York City: My Parents Pre-Birthday gift to me!

Hey everyone, happy Saturday!

Today I’m off on a pre-birthday adventure with my friend Taylor. But before I do that I thought I would share with you the excitement that was my Wednesday and Thursday…I went to New York City! I haven’t told you all this before but, I share this deep-seated affinity for the city. Maybe it’s cause my mom was born in Brooklyn, it’s the complete opposite of where I grew up (in the suburbs), the fact I still have family that lives there or that from the time I was 12 until I was 16, I would go and visit my aunt Angie; anywhere from 2 to 4 times every year…LOVE! Although, I don’t visit as often as I would like, this week I was fortunate enough to go up with my parents. It was a lovely gift for them to share with me. It’s obvious not only to my family but to everyone, how much I love New York. I know it’s been said before but it’s so true, New York City is the epitome of unique and the very definition of eclectic! I find myself so excited whenever I go there, that for the first day or two I can barely eat or let alone consume anything but coffee (which probably doesn’t help…lol). But, I will say it helps with all the walking I do, you know, for arguments sake.
New York City has its own rhythm, it’s own beat and the people, they vibe on a different wavelength then in any other place on earth. If you’re lucky and if you’re open that vibe will pick you up and carry you into the rapture that is the true New York City experience!
We went up on Wednesday and left on Thursday, we really only stayed for the day. But with New York City, oh what one day can become. I was so excited I could barely sit still, honestly, it was a really chill, laid-back, concrete plans, kind of day. Just ideas of what I was open to seeing, doing, experiencing…whatever.
• I knew I wanted to visit the Dominique Ansel Bakery
• Go to Shake Shack and get a milkshake!
• Walk around Greenwich Village
• And the rest was up to the day…and that had some pleasantly unexpected outcomes!
I met some of the loveliest people, just entirely unique cast of characters they were and I couldn’t of been more thrilled and charmed to share my day with them.
Here’s a glimpse into how I spent my day in New York City…
Our hotel and introducing Mom + Dad
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That chandelier!
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Soho:

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Parents…aren’t they cute! FYI: my mom was FREEZING…in truth it wasn’t that bad, chilly at best.

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This is Anna. She indulged my presence as I talked her ear off about baking and my blog.

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CUTE

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Words to live by

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And these lovely people are: Katrina and Timothy (he was in training). They both were kind and graceous enough to allow me to take their photo.

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The Ansel logo

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The other gem…aside from the pastries and food.

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And lastly, this is Daniel, he was in charge of the dough sheeter.

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Mom chose this.

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I on the other hand was too nervous for food and stuck with my old faithful…COFFEE!

There were two other lovely individuals I met, that I forgot to ask for their photos. Their names were Devon and Rachel.

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 A big THANK YOU to the Dominique Ansel Bakery family!

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BYE-BYE Soho.

Greenwich Village:

 

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On our way to Greenwich Village, I passed by Engine Company 24 Ladder 5. I came across a beautifully profound memorial to firefighters “brother” they had lost in 9/11. I found it moving and reassuring in a personal belief I hold, “To a great degree, we as humans are resposible for one another.” They put each others lives on the line and in the hands of their fellow firefighters, to save the lives of others. Pessimist like to say humanity is gone, but it’s NOT, it’s just damaged. It’s our responsiblilty to make sure it’s presence is NEVER lost!

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We made it!

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For the well kept/metrosexual in every man

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So there is 2 main things I have been wanting for some time now, 1. my next tattoo and 2. get my tragus pierced. At the suggestion of my Dad to go in and check it out, my encouraged me to have my tattoo done there. I explained that wasn’t practical nor ideal and we settle on my TRAGUS!

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The guy is, Evan and the girl was who placed my piercing, her name is Saw.

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Pay no mind to my wind blown hair. This is my tragus BEFORE…

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And AFTER!

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What an awesome shop, talented artist, skilled piercers/body mod. and all with a wram and welcoming disposition. I’ll be back Moon Sheen Tattoo!

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YUMM!

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Lunch was at the Rivera Cafe + Sports Bar. This lovely individual is Maurcio, he was our waiter and unofficial historian of this family owned and run business. The food was delicious, I had a Salmon salad with Raspberry Champagne Vinaigrette.

Washington Square:

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NYU or New York University territory and mom sneakying out of the photo

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How wicked cool does this playground look. All I could think about when I saw it was how much my nephew and niece would enjoy it!

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How creative are these chalk affirmations! They were everywhere.

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Did I ever tell you guys I am a ‘bit’ of a “movie buff”!

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That’s Shelby, she is an artist and employee of The Grey Dog. I caught her doing amazing work, painting the benches outside of her workplace.

Madison Square Park:

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And now we wait.

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While I was waiting, I noticed these two feeding birds, out of their hands…cute!

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The best way to end a wondeful day. I got a swirl NON-MALTED milkshake…DELISH! Don’t worry, I bolused for this baby! New York City, you were glorious and I can’t wait to come back to you soon!

 

I really hope you all enjoyed seening New York City through my eyes. I’ll see you again tomorrow!

 

P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G

 

E

My Weekend (Apr. 12 + 13) Fun, Friends, Family and FOOD!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

I know I haven’t posted much in terms of “lifestyle” on this blog, as you can see my most avid passion in life is food, cooking and baking! But I want to take some time to refocus. I will try to post a lifestyle focused piece, each week. Like a lot of others out there, I have fought very hard in life to be where I am now. Not only emotionally and mentally, but physically and medically; I have fought very hard. I would not be where I am now without (the 3F’s) faith, family and my dearest friends.
Truth be told, my friends and family are some of my greatest sources of inspiration! They love and support me through all of my passion pursuits and dreams. I think it’s important to connect with and support them as much as possible.
My weekend may seem ordinary to some but for me, it was peaceful, beautiful, restoring, fun and most importantly shared with people I love!
So here is a look at my weekend…
Every month for about the last 7 or 8 years, my family get’s together with “The Chan Clan”…oh, I’m so cheeky! Anyway, we come together, cook delicious food and find out what been happening with everyone; since we last saw each other. This past Saturday was my family’s turn to host, as we go back and forth. I particularly enjoyed this past dinner, because my mom and I had a chance to do something we don’t often get to…BAKE together! I prepared dinner and she was my lovely baking assistant.
Saturday evening, our dinner:
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THAT is my mom’s homemade “Spiced Apple Cake”! She wrote the recipe for it just after she finished nursing school. It has been adapted to “Gluten-Free”, since her diagnosis in 2005. It’s always a hit…even if the people proclaim they hate, don’t like or don’t eat “Gluten-Free”.
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All done.
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On the menu:
Lemon Oil infused Linguine w/ Arugula + Shrimp (Both Regular + Gluten-Free pasta) ‘Giada DiLarentiis’
Kale Salad w/ Lemon Honey Vinaigrette topped w/ Feta + Slivered Almonds
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This is “Gluten-Free” pasta.
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Always feed the “little one” first.
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DIG IN!
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My plate…Bon Appétit!
Sunday: Part 1
I started the day by joining my dad for our usual coffee. Then, I decided to go watch his youth lacrosse team play, while I was there I got some great shots of my dad doing one of the things he loves most…LACROSSE!
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Capturing the beauty of our ride, as we passed trees with Cherry Blossoms.
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“It’s just a ride, it’s just a ride, no need to run, no need to hide, it’ll take you all round, sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, it’s just a ride, it’s just a ride, don’t be scared, now dry your eyes, it may feel surreal inside, but don’t forget enjoy the ride” JEM- Just A Ride
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Arrived.
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Dad, Steve and Nate.
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This tree had so much character…just incredible.
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Coaching.
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Dad doing what he does best…”coaching by example”
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They “WON”
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Me taking a photo of a photographer. He was nice enough to give me some “action/sport shooting photgraphy” advice.
Sunday: Part 2
After, coming home from the lacrosse game, I wanted to continue to savor the rest of the beautiful weather we were having. My sister-in-law and I decided to take my niece to the park and then for a little ice cream and snow cones!!!
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It’s so beautiful from the top!
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As you can see, we weren’t the only ones appreciating the weather!
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Vollyball sands were even open.
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Prettiest pigeons I have ever seen…just struting around.
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A little snack.
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Bye-bye park.
Now off to a local staple of Spring/Summer “Cindy’s”. You can’t go wrong and who dosen’t love a tasty cold treat on a warm day.
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Baby cone, for the “little one”!
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Us girls, sitting curbside and something sweet!
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I’ll end this blog with photos of blossoms.
Fun Fact: I have spent many a warm day, layed out underneath a tree, watching petals fall and feeling then dance across my face.
I hope you all enjoyed this “mass-post” and see you on Wednesday for “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s”!
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G