A Post-Grad's Attempt at a Healthy, Joyful, and Blissfully Sweet Life

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ready, Set...EAT!

let me begin my blog post with this ad:

Rhode Island Food Fights hosts events all year long, each with a different food theme.  They ask bakeries in the surrounding areas to set up a booth and hand out samples of their baked good to people who paid admission to the event.  With your ticket ($10), you get an all-you-can-eat access to so many different bakeries, plus coffee and milk, and then you vote for the best bakery.

with the theme of the event being cupcakes, you know there was no way i was going to miss this.  i called my best friend kayla, and she was more than down too so we anxiously awaited the day thousands (try 10,000) cupcakes would be ours for the inhaling.

march 10 was actually daylight savings day, so we lost an hour that previous night.  i was more than ok to loose an hour if it meant it would make me one hour closer to the cupcakes.  as luke said, "the universe must have known."

kayla and i had no clue what to expect out of this event.  i was a little nervous i would die of happiness once i saw all the cupcakes and never get to try any of them, but thankfully that did not happen.

when we walked in, we saw this:

and about 2.3 seconds after i snapped this picture, i dove head first into the table.

the event was in a huge room with tables lined along the perimeter.  we were there right when the doors opened, which was good because things soon got hectic.  to say the room got congested would be a gross understatement.  i'm surprised i left with all my limbs.

there were so many people and it got very overwhelming.  there was lots of pushing and shoving to get to the cupcakes.

a little overwhelmed about all the people!
the cupcakes themselves, however, were incredible.  it was SO MUCH FUN to go up to a table, grab a sample, and stuff it into my face.  in the beginning kayla and i each took a cupcake from the a table and ate the whole thing, but we quickly changed our game plan.  with so many cupcakes to try, we didn't want to fill up too soon!

but fill up we did.  the cupcakes were mini, but man were they filling.  we actually had to take a few breaks and sit down to recover! our bodies were going into shock from all the sugar and we soon looked like this:

our favorite place we came across was "Patticakes" because they had the most unique and intriguing cupcakes we've ever seen! for instance, they had a chocolate peanut butter cupcake, but it was served in an egg shell and you were given a little spoon to scoop the cupcake out with:

 the cupcake was chocolate cake on the botton, a layer of peanut butter frosting, peanut butter, then a rich chocolate ganache and wow was it delicious.

they also had a champagne cupcake kayla loved:

with a cookie champagne bottle on top, how cute!?!
a delicious salted caramel cupcake with a shot of caramel you could squirt onto the top:

how fun are those!?
and a s'mores one that was divine.  what is especially impressive about this cupcake is that everything, from the graham cracker to the marshmello is all homemade.  inside was a marshmello filling as well!

we tried so many cupcakes...some were good:

a chocolate coconut cupcake with an almond joy candy bar on top! sooooo gooooood
and some were not:

a caramel late cupcake that was just gross. 
another highlight from the day was getting to see Aimee from Aimee's Bakin'! She and I went to high school together and she went on to graduate from Johnson and Wales as a pastry chef! she now has her own buisness and i got to try some of her delicious cupcakes finally!! I highly recommend her if you are looking for a good baked good!

Hi Aimee!!
eventually the inevitable happened: we got full.  i am a little disappointed in my body for not being able to consume dozens of cupcakes in one sitting.  not yet ready to admit defeat, we took a break and just took pictures of the cupcakes until we felt prepared to eat them:

a cannoli cupcake that tasted JUST like a real cannoli. 
i had also brought a little container with me, so as the cupcakes turned into a nauseating taunt, i just put them in my tupperware to eat at a later date.  mind you, mine fit seven but there were people there with sheet cake boxes that were piling them in.  needless to say, about two hours after the event opened, the booths were cleared out even though the event still had two hours to go.

my parting token which i enjoyed all last week
 as we were leaving, we were handed free flour!

kayla is super excited about the flour
and we saw Cupcake Charlie's van!

i have eaten at this bakery before and they have a slogan i live my life by:


by the end we were stuffed to the brim with cupcakes and decided that as fun as the event was, it would be better to just grab a tupper ware (or sheet cake box...) and fill it with cupcakes to take home and eat leisurely.  as it turns out, too much a good thing can lead to a stomach ache!

when i got home, all i wanted was a salad.  luckily i had one already waiting for me in the fridge, and so as i tried to figure out exactly how many spinach leaves i could fit into my mouth without suffocating, i told my mom about the day.  i actually think i literally had leaves hanging out my mouth as i talked to her.  only a mother's love is so deep that she didn't judge me.

all that embarrassing stuff being said, the day was so fun.  when are you ever brought into a room and told "go eat as much as you want of your favorite food!"?!? i felt very lucky to have been there and able to try everyone's work.  it's nice to know your passion is shared with others!

notice my thumb.  things got messy that day...
all last week i loved getting to eat the cupcakes i took home, and it definitely inspired me to make more of my own! maybe i will have a booth at the next Great Cupcake Championship...

also, i've heard whisper about a Great Ice Cream Championship...kayla, you ready?!?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hit the Jackpot

hey there!

i hope you are doing well!  i am-i joined a gym!

while i was in college i took full advantage of their gym and exercise classes.  my best friend robyn and i took many together, like zumba (LOVE), step, yoga, and kick boxing.  i love working out on my own, and running will always be my favorite form of exercise, but there is something addicting about exercise classes that always gets me.

when i graduated college, i no longer had a membership to the gym so could no longer take their classes.  i instead did workouts at home but it wasn't the same.  i craved group exercise something fierce.  with the winter weather seriously getting me down, i figured now was the best time to get a little hit of endorphins to cheer me up!

i joined my town's gym yesterday and took a yoga and spin class.  yoga and i have a love/hate relationship.  mentally, i loveeee it.  physically, it makes me want to die.  which oddly only makes me want to do it more, so i get better at it and strengthen my body.  so bring it, yoga!

spinning i was so excited for.  i have heard it is a fast, heart pounding, sweaty kick in the butt and have wanted to try it for years.  and i must say: i'm addicted.  hear that? addicted.  i have strong legs from running, so pushing them to their limits in spinning felt almost too good.

my mantra i repeated to myself when i wanted to slow down? Munson's.


let me paint you a picture:

get it now?

Munson's, my friends, is the best chocolate place ever.  luke lives right by one of their stores and introduced me to this little shop of heaven in the summer.  i have never been the same since.

luke has learned:
is julia upset? munson's.
are we celebrating an anniversary? munson's.
do i want to get boyfriend points? munson's.
is it a friday? munson's.

most recently he gave me this box of everything that is good in the world for valentines day, along with a chocolate rose because let's be honest, a chocolate rose is way better than a real one.

and as i was on that bike last night convinced my legs were going to fly off my body and my heart was going to burst and all i wanted to do was stop, i thought to myself "MUNSONS!! DO IT FOR YOUR MUNSONS!!"


it worked.

i must say, suddenly having all these classes open to me feels like i hit the jackpot.  today i am trying two other classes and i could not be more excited.

maybe YOU should try it!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pancake Pile Up

Hello chickadees! i'd like to invite you to breakfast!

if we were having breakfast this morning, i'd give you a stack of pancakes like this one. breakfast foods are my favorite by far, so i always have fun experimenting with new creations.  if i could, i'd have breakfast for every meal of the day.

i would also give you some of my chocolate truffles.  they are delish, and at my breakfast restaurant, dessert is mandatory!

i would tell you about how yesterday was day two of being snowed in, and how i decided to use my time wisely and lay around doing nothing put my skills to use.  i'd show you the homemade granola from Jenna's cookbook White Jacket Required that i made, and how it made the whole apartment (all three feet of it!) smell of cinnamon and maple syrup.  yum!

as i piled the pancakes onto your plate, layering each with a slab of peanut butter, sliced bananas, greek yogurt, and granola, i would tell you about how after the granola was done i sat around the apartment all day, wisely saving all my energy because i knew i'd be needing it once katherine and i summoned up the courage to tackle finding our cars under the mountains of snow

we'd laugh about how this is what i found when we went outside:

the neighbors clearly had their priorities in order. gotta keep the beer cool! cheers to that.

i'd tell you about how pretty the neighborhood looked as the sun was going down, and how i was struck by this scene when i took a pause from shoveling:

and how much fun katherine and i had trecking up and down the huge snow drifts just to get in and out of our house.  i'd show you pictures of this awesome hidden fort we found right next to our doorstep:

as i poured you a cup of coffee from my favorite grocery store ever, Fresh Market, (i love you, too, Trader Joe's!) i'd reassure you though that i still vehemently hate the snow and the cold, and would reenact one of my 5 or 6 thousand hate rants i went on last night to katherine about how i NEED TO GET OUT OF NEW ENGLAND AND OVER TO WARM, SUNNY CALIFORNIA RIGHT THIS INSTANT!

i'd regain control once you then gave me a chocolate and told me to stop yelling.  chocolate usually calms me down, this luke has learned.

as we finished our last bites of pancake and last slurps of coffee, i'd tell you about my conspiracy theory that luke is hiding a puppy in my apartment somewhere for me to find on valentine's day.  he denies this theory, but we'll see who's right on thursday...

luke, i better be right.

so, want to come over for breakfast?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside

Hello, hello!

it's been a WHILE. and i am so sorry about that!  but i am currently stuck in my house due to a blizzard, so i figured this would be the perfect time to write a blog post!

it's a shame that all the roads are banned and flights are cancelled because my roommate showed me this this morning and i had my bag almost completely packed before i realized....i can't leave my house.  thanks a lot SNOW, for ruining my plans once again! i hate you.

clearly i need a happy pill.


seriously though, is this not a genius idea?!? i think we could all use a good sugar high every now and again!  sugar highs for everyone!!

so what does a girl do who has approximately three feet of living space to entertain herself with all day and night? make my OWN candy.

can't stop me now, snow!

 i found this post the other day, and knew this would be the perfect day to make them.  wine and chocolate? i don't think i know of anything more important to my survival.  amen? amen.

i would, however, love some ice cream to go with my chocolates and unfortunately i don't have any.  so that means i have to drive to the store, and thereby risking one year in jail (the threat the governor gave if anyone was found driving.) is ice cream worth one year of jail time? we all know the answer to that question.

i'm foreseeing this blog going in a different direction soon...

a ninja mask for ice cream expeditions! they'll never catch me
the chocolates needed time to cool in the fridge, so while i waited my roommate and i decided to tackle the blizzard ourselves, but not before putting on 14 layers of clothing each.  we could barely move down the stairs to get outside, but moving proved not to be too much of an issue once we entered the tundra.

MAN, that wind was strong! and the ice pellets that hit my face-that hurt.  but jumping into the huge snow banks and being the first to make tracks in the snow was quite enjoyable.  i felt like a kid again! i miss that feeling.

but then i got back to the apartment and ate a wine-infused truffle.  then i was very, very happy to be over the legal drinking age.  i'll stay a kid at heart, but not on paper, thanks.

and now, back to wishing i was in california, where the weather forecast is 60 and sunny...wouldn't that be nice.

stay safe if you're in the blizzard territory, friends! and have a glass, on me-it's not like you'll be driving any time soon...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cooking for a Crowd

hello hello there!

i hope you all had wonderful thanksgiving, full of delicious eats! this year mine was quite eventful-i was hired to be the head baker for an inn and all the desserts were up to me to create! which is basically  my dream come true.

after much deliberation and recipe pondering (probably the most fun homework ever), i decided on making pumpkin pie, pecan pie, pumpkin biscotti, spice cupcakes with chai buttercream frosting, and a flourless chocolate torte. YUM!

the kitchen i made a mess of baked in!
I brought over a test run of the pecan pie to Luke's family, and knew the recipe was a keeper when his dad declared it was officially his favorite thing I ever made him. Guess he couldn't tell that the main ingredient was tofu ;)

most of the time i had that whole kitchen to myself, which was wonderful.  once i learned my way around i was zooming like a mad woman from stove burner to oven to mixing bowl to timer.  i am pretty sure the guard who kept "dropping by" one of the nights i was baking was actually legitimately concerned for my well being. which made a lot more sense once i got home and looked at myself in mirror, where i noticed my hair was falling out of my pony tail, i had frosting on my face, and my arms were covered in chocolate.

hey, i could be covered in worse.

actually, i am pleased to say everything came out great, even if i did happen to burn the first attempt at the chocolate torte. after making 24 pies, 70 cupcakes, frosting, 120 biscotti, and a (non burnt) large chocolate torte, my job was complete.  that is by far the most i have ever made in my life! the chef said everything was enjoyed on the big day, and i even got offered a job to do the Christmas baking! just call me Head Baker Julia...

the pumpkin walnut biscotti dipped in chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate i made. a must for any Thanksgiving coffee drink :)

my thanksgiving was a bit nontraditional this year, in that i ran a 5 mile turkey trot and then got together with just my cousin, where the start of the meal was grapenuts.  that might sound weird to you, but for us, it was the perfect holiday!

bridget is my younger cousin, but is more like my sister/best friend. i am SO thankful for her in my life, and honestly don't know what i would do without her! therefore, it was very fitting to spend the day dedicated to thankfulness with her :)

and we celebrated by indulging in all our favorite traditions! grapenuts is an inside joke that was started years and year ago, but basically it's our favorite food and we put it on everything. so, we started the day with yogurt, strawberries, and grapenuts, a meal that can't be beat!

the day was spent doing all of our favorite traditions, like taking pictures, playing dog monopoly, and dancing around like goons. 

eventually we got very hungry and made our other traditional meal-brownie sundaes. we do not hold back on these, and add everything and anything to make them the best! 

this delicious creation would be a brownie (taken out of the oven early so it was still gooey, obvioulsy), half ben and jerry's phish food ice cream and half cookies and cream ice cream, crushed sugar cone, chocolate coated candy pieces, chocolate chips, a cherry, whipped cream, and grapenuts! i absolutely enjoyed every bite!

that would be me, holding up the grapenuts box rafiki style while singing "the circle of life" yes, we love grapenuts that much
needless to say my thanksgiving this year was very out of the ordinary, from baking for a huge crowd, to never actually eating any turkey or stuffing (i don't like either....seriously, give me ice cream for every meal.)

what was YOURS like?

*also!!! i am now just like every other person on the planet and have an iphone, and clearly the first app i downloaded was instagram. follow me!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Taste of Fall

Hey friends!

it's been a while! i hope you are all enjoying fall-i know i am! since it's been a hot minute since i've last written, i thought i'd give you a quick slide show of my fall so far!

most of my days are spent at the bakery i work at, and i could not ask for a better job! nothing beats being surrounded by freshly baked treats!

we are located right on the ocean-this view was taken from our porch.  for a while i was getting up at 4:30am to make it to the bakery for 5:30 in order to bake everything and open up the shop. many people have asked me why on earth i do that, but isn't this sunrise enough of an answer?!

i've also enjoyed forming friendships with the regulars.  i know most of the people who come in in the morning by name, and love chatting with them, sharing stories, and learning about their lives.     i even got a job doing the baking for Thanksgiving morning at an inn one of my new friends cooks at!
One night, after a long day at the bakery, i was at home and feeling quite bored. i (being the awesome person i am) settled on tossing kettle corn into the air and trying to catch it in my mouth. eventually i grew tired of that game and called to luke to tell him about how his super cool girlfriend now had a stomach ache from too much kettle corn, to which he replied "well come downstairs then. i'll bring you to get ice cream!" i ran down the stairs, opened the door, and there he was! he had decided spur of the moment to surprise me so drove up when he got out of work! "get your coat, i'm taking you for ice cream!" he said. 

i was so shocked! no one has ever surprised me before! my night quickly took an upturn and i felt like the luckiest girl as i ate my favorite ice cream flavor ever, pumpkin oreo.  i had tried this new flavor a couple weeks before, and hadn't stopped talking about it. actually, i am still talking about it, a month later.  pumpkin oreo ice cream?!? sent straight from the heavens, i am telling you.

as if i wasn't already convinced i was dating the best guy in the world, the next day i came home to what you see below. while i was at work he took the time to cook me dinner! and this is huge, because before this meal, he had never cooked a meal before. ever. in fact, he once tried to make easy mac in the microwave and forgot to the add the water. he also once made the girl he was babysitting cry because he burnt her popcorn. true stories.

so, the fact that he even attempted anything in the kitchen is awesome enough.  but he took it a step further by making my favorite meal, salmon.  and guess what? he rocked it! he made a delicious salmon salad, and as you can see, took lots of time in the presentation. he explained that he knew i would pick up on how it was displayed, since i'm very into decorating my baked goods, so he wanted to step up to the plate (punny!) oh, and the flowers? yeah, he also got me those. i have NO clue how i get to date this kid, but let's just say i plan on keeping him. sorry, ladies.

some other fun happenings include my best friend from childhood coming to visit, liz! we have known each other since we were 6 and in the same first grade class, but we became best friends in seventh grade when we both had crushes on the game guy.  that guy, of course, was harry potter.  since then we have been through many, many interesting times, from awkward middle school phases (she has some of the most incriminating and embarrassing photos of me known to man kind. and likes to remind me of so ;), to awkward high school phases, and even through awkward college phases even though we went to different colleges.   basically what i am saying is that our awkwardness keeps us together, and what's stronger glue than that?

me and liz the night of our high school senior prom!
she is actually a beautifully talented photographer, and asked if she could photograph me baking for her website. getting to hang out liz, bake something yummy, AND get professional photos?!? sign me up!! i baked a pumpkin pie and then we went out to one of my favorite cafes around to get dinner.  we got the most outrageous mac and cheese ever-it was bursting with goat cheese and roasted red peppers and was insanely delicious.

we came across this sign in the city we ate in. i love finding words of wisdom in random places!
 most recently, i went with a few friends to see my college best friend robyn complete her first half marathon!! as you know, i love a good half marathon and so was pumped to see robyn run hers! she trained much better than i did, and was very diligent and dedicated in preparing for this race.  i actually joined her on a few of her runs, which was super fun! running buddies are the best, am i right? i couldn't wait to see her cross the finish line! i made her a sign saying "robyn runs like a kenyan" and was so proud of her as i saw her coming to the end, looking confident and strong even after 13 miles!

celebratory hugs!! 
i would just like everyone to know that as robyn and i posed for the picture above, she whispered "cupcakes" in my ear, since we have a date to bake some later. clearly, the girl keeps what's important in the forefront of her mind at all times.

we also made friends with the larabar lady who was passing out free samples.  we ran up to her and both said, at the same time, "we LOVE larabars, we eat them all the time!!!" her boss also snapped this pic-i'm pretty sure we'll soon be featured in their new ad campaign. don't worry, i'll hook you all up with the goods ;)

new friends, old friends, baking, celebrating, and overall just absorbing all of this beautiful season while it lasts-my fall has been a good one so far. i hope yours has been as well, and you've eaten as much pumpkin as you can!  i will leave you with this word of wisdom i found at the drugstore, just as a reminder to you all...

indeed it is. savor each bite!