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Sunday was hot. Saturday was hot, too. Today is 90 degrees. 

Might I remind you that it’s APRIL!? In NEW ENGLAND? What is going on here kids?

Anyway, the obvious solution to the heat problem is to bake. And boil. Cuz that’ll cool ya right off. Which is what I chose to do on Sunday. On waking up and checking the blogs, Pioneer Woman‘s adventures with Smitten Kitchen led to… Pretzels! I’d never made them before and they seemed like a fun project (minus, ya know, the HEAT). So I zipped over to the grocery store for some yeast and spent the next few hours proofing yeast and dough, boiling pretzels, and baking on salt and sugar. Then I spent another hour stuffing my face (although luckily there were some hungry boys milling around the house that helped)! Now THAT’S a Sunday!

For the full recipe, click here!

Some people, when invited to a potluck-type gathering, have a tough time figuring out what to bring. Others have a stand by that proves to be no-fail, delicious, and easy. I suggest that if you’re in the former category, you switch to the latter with my little gem here.

I present… the Guilt-Free Brownie Trifle Mush of Wonder:

Ohhh. Emmm. Geee.

Ohhh. Emmm. Geee.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to make, and yes, it’s really (mostly) guilt-free. You’ll see how.

trifle1Gather the supplies:

1 Large Tub Fat Free Cool Whip (in the teal container)
1 Quart Skim Milk
2 Pkgs Instant Sugar-Free Fat-Free Chocolate Jell-O Pudding
1 Pkg Family-Size Brownies (whatever variety is on sale ;))
Eggs and Oil as needed for Brownies

Then, make the brownies and the pudding as directed on the packaging. Let the brownies cool, then use a fork to crumble them all up. Now you’re ready to assemble! (I told you this was EASY).

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¬†Start with a layer of cool whip, then add layer of crumbled brownies. Then pudding–and so on, until you run out. Really, people, I don’t mess around with my potluck recipes. trifle3

When you’re done, refrig until you’re ready to go! (Bring some bowls and spoons. This can get messy… in a good way!)

Enjoy!

I actually can’t believe it’s taken more than 10 posts before I’ve talked about my hair (sorry, is that shallow?) because it’s pretty much one of my favorite topics to discuss. But here goes.

I’ve had curly red(ish) hair all my life, and have hated it for just as long. Most people’s reaction is “Really? I’d love to trade my hair for that!” When in reality, if they experienced what I do every time I get out of the shower, they’d take that right back. Because naturally, my hair is sometimes straight, sometimes curly, always frizzy, and never smooth. About four years ago I started getting the Japanese straightening done and things have been happier ever since (that’s a story for another time…). But it definitely does a number on my ends.

The good stuff.

The good stuff.

Enter, Dove Intense Therapy shampoo and conditioner! I’ve been seeing the commercials on TV for a while now with the girls saying they punish their hair by doing things like twirling and straightening (check and check!), so I thought I’d try this stuff. And it actually works! Which is nuts because I haven’t spent less than $25 on a bottle of shampoo in the last four years and here comes this $7 bottle that’s just as good if not much better than the fancy stuff. And you know I love deals like that.

So if you’re like me and you pull and twist and twirl and fry and dry and otherwise take out your anger and frustration on your poor, poor locks, definitely check this stuff out.

For some reason, in my head, this post sounded a lot less like an ad for Dove. But anyway, just sharing my unsolicited advice cuz I’m feeling nice and it’s FRIDAY, and it’s supposed to be 80 DEGREES in BOSTON this weekend.

80 DEGREES. In BOSTON. Might I remind you that it’s APRIL.

In other news, we leave for Vegas a week from tomorrow and I need vacation books! And shoes! And teeny tiny make-up and shampoo containers! And! And! And!

See what a week of work does to me? Brain: officially fried.

As alluded to in my last post, I tried my hand once again this weekend at cake pops… this time, of the non-cute-furry-or-otherwise-be-feathered-variety. Just regular old delicious cake pops. Also, without the sticks! By the end anyway. I made a beautiful white cake on Saturday let it cool overnight, only to mush it all up and mix in half a can of chocolate frosting on Sunday. Yum! Used less frosting this time and the texture of the balls was a little better… tee hee. I went with regular old chocolate flavored chocolate, and then got some peanut butter flavored chocolate to mix it up:

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I used the sticks to dunk the balls, but then removed them afterward so they could sit nice and pretty on the counter to decorate and plate.

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Please notice my other addictions in the background... This American Life streaming from NPR and Coke Zero. Really this was a perfect afternoon!

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With my newly-acquired squeezie bottle I drizzled the peanut butter flavor over the coated cake bites, and beautified them as much as possible. Then I mixed it up a little and drizzled chocolate over peanut butter. Either way, they came out looking great and tasting even better.

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And let me just say that eating these was a lot easier than eating all the little lambs and bunnies and chicks from the previous cake pop adventure. The boy agreed, and everyone at work also seemed to love these little guys. It made working on Patriots Day/Marathon Monday a little bit easier. (Still not easy, but ya know, take what you can get and all…).

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Nom nom nom nom nom...

Thanks again, Bakerella, for bringing these tasty little treats into my life. And onto my thighs :) Until next time…

If you live in a big city like Boston or New York and pay out the butt for housing, food, activities and entertainment, it’s awesome when you can find a way to save some money on a weekly basis. I’ve been budgeting my money and keeping track of every penny spent since January (it was my New Years Resolution). I keep a calendar of what I spend every day and a spreadsheet to see how I am doing on my budget. Turns out I spend a lot more on food than I ever thought!

The boy and I like to eat well and usually shop with recipes in mind. We end up with ingredients for 6-8 recipes each time. Which means lots of fresh fruits, veggies and herbs–often the most expensive part of our list. With that in mind, I always mean to make two separate lists and go to Haymarket for the fresh stuff. If you’ve never heard of it or been, Haymarket is a market in Bostons which runs on Fridays and Saturdays with various vendors selling grocery store seconds. It’s like the “B Team” of fruits and veggies. Stop and Shop will buy up strawberries and sell them for $2.50 or $3 in season (if you’re lucky). Then the vendors pack up the leftovers and head down to haymarket, where they’ll sell you a box for $.75 or $1. Avocados? Same price. Leeks? $4 for 3 at the grocery store, $1 for 3 at Haymarket. See the trend? It’s easy to get all the items on our list for $15 at Haymarket, where as getting them at SnS could run us $30-$35.

Aside from the savings, Haymarket is usually hustlin’ and bustlin’ early on Saturday morning and it’s a great way to start the day. They have everything from herbs and fruits and veggies to fish-seconds from the pier, pizza in one of the permanent shops, a cheese shop, and a Halal shop selling everything from spices to goat heads!

Anyway, Haymarket runs year round, but this weekend was my first trip since the winter. Everything was in full swing for spring, and I’ve renewed my dedication to a second shopping trip there whenever possible.

Check out the goods:

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Apples, Oranges, Lemons, Brie Cheese, Fresh Bread, Cilantro, Leeks, Scallions, Strawberries and Grape Tomatoes - $15.

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Pile O' Leeks. I'll show you what I plan on doing with these in a future post...

Our fruit pile. Jealous? ;)

Our fruit pile. Jealous? ;)

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More on this adventure tomorrow...

To come:
I think I have an addiction…

As I mentioned before, the girls and I are headed to Vegas in two weeks (!!!) for 5 days of fun in the sun and general over-the-top-ness. Most of us have never been, myself included. We’ll be seeing a show or two, doing some sightseeing, lounging by the pool, scoring free drinks from casinos, and last but not least, hitting the dance floor. Which brings up our latest dilemma – the Vegas dresscode. What does one wear to such a place? We all sort of realized that our bar-hopping go-tos for hitting up Harvard or downtown weren’t really gonna cut it in Vegas, aka Sin City, so I hopped on the net and started googling. This is what I found (shudder):

Are you kidding me?? Are these girls going to the club or the street corner? Do girls really dress like this in Vegas? Help me out, people, because I am starting to feel that we might be looking seriously out of place. Collectively the 5 of us have probably purchased 30 new dresses in the last month (and returned about 20…). We’ve tried the baggy look, the super short look, the tight look, and the boobs-in-your-face look. The only thing this experience has left me with (besides a shiny purple sack that looks kind of like a shrunken 80s prom dress) is the question – why are girls like us dressing up in clothes like that?

We’re not aiming to attract men, or get male attention as I’m guessing most of the girls wearing those clothes are. We all have boyfriends awaiting our safe return and who we love very much. Is the prospect of a free drink worth whoring oneself out for? No, I don’t think so, anyway. And yet, I have enjoyed the hunt for the perfect cute/sexy-but-not-overly-so/comfortable/shiny/beer-belly-hiding Vegas-appropriate dress! Why might this be?

I really think that half the reason girls dress like they do is because it’s still fun to play dress-up. Even when we were little and put on mom’s heels and old dresses and smeared lipstick on our faces, we loved the idea of using clothes and props to feel fancy for a day. Proms and balls and homecoming dances in grade school were another opportunity to do more of the same. To show ourselves and our peers that we are capable of some serious fancy. And sorority events and formals? Yes, please! Any excuse to get hair and nails done. Freshman year a bunch of us organized a whole dance just so we could dress up for a couple hours (no lie!).

I think another big part of the reason we like fancy-ing ourselves up is competition. Other girls. Not to get the guys’ attention, but to get the girls attention–we want other girls to think “hey she’s a competitor/threat”. I don’t know if this is a built-in behavior or not, although it certainly seems like it could be.

Now, dressing for the clubs is quite different from proms and formals. But I think the idea is the same–to put yourself in a new light for a few hours, to feel glammed-up, and to compete (for what? I am still not sure. instincts.). Whatever it is that drives us, we are prepared to be one good-looking bunch of ladies. And although I might rather wine and dine amongst ourselves and go to bed at bedtime, I have a feeling I’m in for some long nights of high heels and hairspray. Gotta do it while we’re young, eh?

Yesterday, for work, I ended up in Concord (MA) returning products from our summer fashion photo shoot. How awesome is it that I get to check out cute towns on the North Shore and visit all kinds of fun (and way too expensive for me) boutiques? It only happens every other month or so, but still! Cute towns! Sometimes, I really love New England. It’s another way in which it’s so different from New York. I mean, don’t get me wrong, if I could I would move back to Manhattan in a minute. But it sure is nice to drive(!) 20 miles from Boston and be in New England. Last time I went to Marblehead, Salem, and Hamilton and all are equally cute. But Concord. Oh. I am in love.

I really, really want a few old frames. Anyone want to donate??

I really, really want a few old frames. Anyone want to donate??

After dropping off the goods, I stuck another quarter in the meter (half an hour! for a quarter! unheard of) and snooped around a bit. I skipped the pricey boutiques and headed for the home goods store. So! Cute! Also expensive, but I did actually buy a little grow-yourself-some-herbs kit so I could add Mint to my little windowsill collection (speaking of which, I’ll have to do a post. My Basil is finally sprouting and I’ve been spending too much time going blind trying to find sprouts in my other containers). Anyway, I moved on to the antique stores and looked through their collections. Someday, when I have lots of money, I will buy up some antiques and redecorate. Why does old stuff cost so much? I’ll never really get that. Like, who decides something is worth more because it’s a collector‘s item? Antiques Roadshow? I love you, but c’mon.

Caution: Google search for "Olive oil spout" may produce serious longings for a trip to Italy.

Caution: Google search for "Olive oil spout" may result in serious longings for another trip to Italy.

Then! (Can you tell I’m excited?) The kitchen store!! Ohmigosh. Every non-electric item you could ever, EVER need for your kitchen. Glass jars, and plastic stoppers and carrot peelers and lemon zesters and cutting boards and snack trays and muffin tins and and and… just. everything. I believe it was called “The Concord Shop” or something like that. It’s a good thing I am already stretching my budget this month, or I would have made several uncalled for purchases. As it was, I bought just an olive oil bottle stopper spout thinger.

Nom nom nom nom.

Nom nom nom nom.

Last but not least I bopped into a tiny innocent looking cheese shop. Wow. I got in line and the girl gave me 5 or 6 cheeses to taste and holy crap. Cheese! So delicious!! So of course I bought some cheese and a couple rolls and some chocolate (obvi.) and had myself a nice little snack on the way home. I left and drove around a bit and found at least ten houses I could happily grow old in. Life was good. I was officially in love.

Then I got home and went online out of curiosity and checked the average price for a 3-bed house. Half a million. FML.

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