Monday, January 28, 2013

Pumpkin French Toast Bake

I have a coworker who every year around the holidays brings in homemade goodies for everyone in the office. Pumpkin loaves, cookies, strudels, etc., she spends countless hours on the weekends slaving away to make individualized bags of homemade goodness for everyone. I am alllll about home baked goods. If I'm ever bringing anything to work or to a party, homemade is the way to go.

Anyway, last year she gave me a baked pumpkin loaf, along with a jar of the dry ingredients with instructions on what to add to make my own loaf. I finally made it this past Thanksgiving because I was tired of looking at it in my pantry. So this weekend, I thawed it out, cut it up into little pieces and made, if I do say so myself, an amazing French Toast bake with it.

I followed this recipe for Baked French Toast Bake from Mormon Mavens in the Kitchen, found on pinterest. This recipe was great with the pumpkin bread and I'm sure would be equally amazing with just about any other bread. 

I was very busy in the kitchen this weekend making this french toast as well as: 
and 
Single Serving Chocolate Chip Cookies from No. 2 Pencil  which I made last night so we wouldn't have a whole batch of cookies lying around this week. 
Every single thing was a hit, and I'll post more about them soon!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I can SEE! (Intralase Recap)

Well, I did it!! I survived my Intralase surgery and am happy to report that my surgery went perfectly! I am healing more and more each day and most importantly, I can SEE amazingly well without the help of any contacts or glasses. Modern Medicine/Technology truly is amazing.

On Saturday morning, I woke up excited and ready to get to my appointment. We got to the city earlier than expected so we grabbed coffees (decaf for me, didn't need more jitters than I had) and breakfast before my scheduled time of 10:15. When I actually walked into the office, I started to get really nervous. And as I was being prepped for the procedure, I started shaking and my stomach was doing flip-flops. I took an Ativan to calm down, but I'm not entirely sure how much it helped.

The actual procedure is really hard to describe. It was super quick and in retrospect, really easy...but I will say that the first part where they cut the cornea, was really uncomfortable. It lasts about 15 seconds per eye but the whole time I was thinking "What the HELL am I doing?!" But...at that point, where the machine is, you know, cutting your eye, I couldn't exactly back out.
 If you're interested in seeing a video of my doctor doing the same exact procedure he did on me, click here and start at 4:00. This is exactly what I experienced, down to the doctor, the blanket, and the teddy bear they give you to hold onto during the surgery. If you are thinking of getting Lasik or Intralase, I don't advise watching this video until after you've had it done. The numbing drops were amazing, and I really couldn't feel anything (other than a slight discomfort during the cutting of the cornea)
I'm glad I didn't freak out because the rest of the surgery was easy-peasy. I just had to stare at a blinking red dot and before I knew it, the doctor told me to sit up, and look at the clock. I could see perfectly clearly!! I stood up (still shaking from adrenaline and nerves), walked out to meet Chris and ten minutes later was told I could go home. Our entire walk to the car I kept saying "I can't believe I just did that" "I can't believe I just had Lasik done" "I can't believe this" etc, etc. But just like that, I went home with practically a brand new set of eyes!

I came home and spent the rest of the day on the couch with my eyes closed. I only slept for maybe an hour or so throughout the day (I've never been a napper). So I just listened to movies while Chris tried his best to explain what was going on...it was pretty funny.
Quite the looker...Eh?!
I really wasn't in that much pain, I would describe it more as discomfort. Oddly enough, I only felt discomfort in my right eye. It was tearing like crazy and I couldn't keep it open without having to squint. If I didn't know I also had the procedure done in my left eye, I never would have guessed by how normal it felt. My left eye felt perfect all day, and I really haven't had any pain or dryness in that eye. Each eye had the exact opposite reaction to the procedure as the other. Very strange.

It also helped that I had this little cuddle-monster lie in my lap all day to help nurse me back to health. Zoey crawled into my lap as soon as I got home, and really didn't leave my side for the rest of the day.

By the time I woke up on Sunday, I was feeling 100 times better. Getting a really good nights sleep had helped tremendously. I had my check-up with the doctor that morning, which was just to make sure there was no sign of infection, which there wasn't. We grabbed brunch after my appointment and by the time I came back home, I was feeling even better, keeping my eyes open more and more, with very little discomfort. My eyes literally continue to feel better and better each hour. They don't even look that bad, except for the little red dot in each eye.

It really is amazing to me that I can just wake up and see. No glasses, no contacts. When I went to get in the shower on Sunday out of habit I reached to take off my glasses, only to remember...they weren't there. These were my eyes. I was seeing this clearly without anything!

I am so happy I decided to go through with this, and would definitely recommend this procedure to anyone thinking about getting it done. Thank you to all the well wishers and people who checked up on me this weekend. Talking on the phone was really one of the only productive things I felt I could do on Saturday!
Beautiful flowers from my dear friend Molly!
If you're thinking of getting this done and have any questions about it, please don't hesitate to ask! 
Did you or someone you know have Lasik/Intralase? Was your/their experience as good as mine?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Intralase Surgery

This is it! Tomorrow I say "Goodbye" to my glasses and contacts forever! (Hopefully....at least until I need reading glasses someday). I am going under the laser tomorrow for Intralase Eye Surgery! I have a 10:15 am appointment at Diamond Vision of Manhattan.
Source

I am nervous...but mostly, I'm not thinking about it. It won't feel weird or real to me until I'm actually in the room getting onto the operating table. I know countless people who say that getting Lasik was one of the best decisions they ever made, and I want to be one of those people too! So horror stories be damned...(must. continue. to stay. away. from LasikComplications.com!) I'm doing it!

Goodbye glasses



Goodbye contact lenses


Goodbye contact lense case and solution



See you on the flip side! (Teehee, see what I did there?)

Wish me Luck!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Firmoo + FREE Glasses

A few weeks ago I was asked to review a free pair of glasses from firmoo.com. Since I'm having Lasik surgery on Saturday, I opted for a free pair of sunglasses instead. They can change any pair of glasses on their site to sunglasses, by choosing the tint color and percentage.


It's kind of funny, but now that I'm about to say goodbye to my glasses for good, I kind of want to get fun, "fashionista" glasses to wear just for fun. The grass is always greener right? I feel like having a couple of signature non-prescription glasses on hand could instantly change or upgrade a certain look I'm going for.
And so...I plan to purchase 2 or 3 more pairs of non-prescription glasses from firmoo to have on hand for such occasions. Not sure IF I could pull this off...but, I can certainly try.
firmoo.com


Any glasses/sunglasses frames you could possibly imagine can be found on Firmoo, and all are available for both prescription lenses and non-prescription lenses. I ordered this pair of fashion glasses #2299 and had them adjusted to sunglasses with a gray tint at 80%. They were so easy to order and the shipment came really quickly.


I haven't been able to actually wear these outside yet because I've had to wear my prescriptions glasses since January 1st in preparation for my Lasik surgery. I am so looking forward to wearing these for real next week, but for now, I had to settle with trying them on in my house, and blindly taking shameless photos of myself, in the hopes that they came out ok.

And of course, the requisite kissy face

I love my new sunglasses and I love that their First Pair Free program. Are you desperate to have a new look? Here is your chance. Firmoo has launched a First Pair Free Program to people worldwide. You will absolutely fall in love with the excellent quality, affordable prices, fashionable designs, fast delivery and the good service after trying them with paying shipping only! You even can get a refund/exchange if you are not satisfied with them. It's totally Risk free, so why not have a try?
If you decide to order your first pair free through firmoo.com, let me know how your experience goes! Everyone should definitely take advantage of this special offer!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mississippi Mud Brownies and FOOD

I've been busy in the kitchen lately.  It is bad when what constitutes an "amazing" weekend for me is one in which I don't leave the house at all and spend the better part of both Saturday and Sunday in the kitchen? Cause that was this past weekend, and it was basically amazing. I've been busy trying out new recipes, tweaking old ones, using a rice cooker for the FIRST TIME, loving the rice cooker,  then deciding to use it to cook a large amount of dried chickpeas so I can finally start getting away from using canned beans. Cans be damned! Unfortunately, I get so busy in the kitchen, and then get so excited to EAT, that I rarely remember to take pictures of my food anymore!

And so, here is a collection of the recipes I've tried over the past few weeks:
  • I also made a pound cake for Christmas, but I can't find the recipe. Plus, though it was good, it was a "heavier" pound cake, leading my father-in-law to dub it the "two pound cake".

For a book club meeting I hosted last Friday I made:

Our book this month was Gone Girl and since it took place in Mississippi, I decided to make Mississippi Mud Brownies from Bev Cooks for the ladies. Let me tell you, these were amazzzing, and a huge hit.

Mississippi Mud Brownies:
Taken from Bev Cooks

What it took for 12 servings:
for the brownies:
* 2 sticks butter
* 2 cups sugar
* 4 eggs
* 4 Tbs. cocoa
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 1 cup chopped almonds, plus more for garnish
* 1 cup marshmallows
for the sauce:
* 3/4 cup powdered sugar
* 1/2 stick butter, room temp
* 3 Tbs. cocoa
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 1/4 cup evaporated milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.
In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add one egg to the mixture at a time, beating after each one.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt and cocoa. Stir into butter mixture and combine well.

Add the vanilla and chopped almonds to the mixture. Stir to combine.

Lightly grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour brownie mixture into pan and bake 40-45 minutes,  or
until a toothpick comes out clean. Bring out of the oven, sprinkle the marshmallows over the top, and stick
back in the oven for 5 minutes. You don’t want the mallows to brown, just starting to soften.

While it’s baking, whisk together the powdered sugar, butter, cocoa and vanilla in a bowl. Add the evaporated milk to create a wonderful chocolate sauce. If you need to add more, go for it.

Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the brownies, let cool at room temperature for at least an hour.

Pure Heaven....

Monday, January 14, 2013

Disney World Holiday Vacation!

Finally, I can share with you our amazing trip to Disney World over the holidays. I had a fun time with imovie and created a little trailer video of our trip: (video)

Before we left for Disney I wanted us to all have matching luggage tags specifically for our trip. So I ordered these mickey luggage tags from Howddode on Etsy.
We arrived in Disney on Wednesday, December 26th and stayed at the Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. I love this resort, it's beautiful, serene and it brought back great memories from staying there when I was younger.
The view from our room
Once we settled into our rooms, we headed out to Hollywood Studios for the night. We were excited to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
We then spent the next few days doing all of the Disney Parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot! Unfortunately, it was COLD that week in Florida. Low 50's and 40's at night. I didn't pack warm enough at all and matching sister Disney World hoodies were a MUST...as well as new hats :)

Cinderella's Castle was beautifully decorated for the holidays:


On my Birthday (12/30), I got to wear my very own personalized Disney Birthday pin! Everywhere we went, people wished me a happy birthday and it was great!

That night we went to Teppan Edo, the Hibachi restaurant at the Japan pavilion in Epcot. I LOVED this restaurant. The chef was great, and the food was amazing. Hibachi is always a fun time, and it was the perfect place to go for my birthday!


After dinner, we closed out the night watching the Epcot Illuminations fireworks show. The perfect end to a perfect vacation!


The Family!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dave Matthews Band Concert

I'm finally getting to my Holiday break recaps! I had a fabulous week and a half off of work around the Holidays. On Friday, December 21 my break started out by attending the Dave Matthews Band concert at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn with Chris, my father-in-law, brother-in-law and a bunch of friends. This was my first time at Barclays Center and I have to say it was amazing! Beautiful on the outside, and fabulous on the inside. Great food and drink options, and a large but intimate arena.
The Lumineers opened for DMB and they were great!


Then I got a piece of L&B Spumoni Gardens pizza one of my favorite Brooklyn pizzas, I was so excited to see they had a food stand there. We went down onto the the main floor for Dave and enjoyed the concert!
We had a great time! Have you ever seen Dave Matthews Band in concert?


Monday, January 7, 2013

New York Wine Expo

Happy Monday! I feel like I am still catching up on life right now, and battling a cold to boot. I have so much to share...and very little time to put it together. So today I'm sharing some more luck I experienced after winning a trip to Napa Valley a few weeks ago. Shortly before the holidays I won two tickets to the New York Wine Expo at the Javits Center in March. I received two tickets to the Friday Grand Tasting.

My Tickets To The New York Wine Expo Includes:
« As you walk into the Grand Tasting, you receive a souvenir glass that is yours to keep.
« Access to wines samples from over 150 producers 
« You will also receive a 4-color glossy show program outlining all the exhibitors that are present and where to locate them, plus schedules for the guided tastings/seminars along with other show facts.

I can't wait to share this experience with you all after I attend in March! I'll be back again to share some great product reviews and a recap of my Disney World trip over the Holidays!