Tag Archive | celebrations

Lately: smiles and celebrations

Hello, hello, long time, no talk! I didn’t intend to be absent for so long, but things got a little exciting around here last week…Brandon came home! Lately there’s been a lot of smiles and celebrating going on around these parts : –)
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Obviously I couldn’t resist making a sign, and because I’m a secret poet I had to rhyme Winking smile

I wish I could bottle-up the emotions I felt as I saw him walking towards us; it is a feeling I’ll never forget. Having him home is so surreal! Simple things like getting coffee and bagels together, going to the grocery store, watching t.v.; it’s these little things that I missed the most. I’m so happy to have him back.  Even just being in the same time zone is SUCH a treat because we can actually communicate throughout the day. This may not sound major, but it was something we couldn’t do as a result of the Australian/U.S. time difference so it’s a wonderful feeling.
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We met my best friend Julia’s newborn baby boy, Jackson, the day after B arrived home…he is so precious!

Brandon planned a Vermont getaway for us over the weekend which was unforgettable. A fun road trip with just the two of us was the perfect way to celebrate his homecoming together. We toured (and gorged on ice-cream)  at Ben & Jerry’s, visited Lake Champlain Chocolates and Cabot Cheese, had (too many) drinks, danced and sang the night away at a David Nail concert, and mostly just enjoyed being together again.  I don’t think I stopped smiling all weekend!
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Is there anything better than free ice-cream samples? I think not.
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What a small world…we even saw friends at the concert! Hi girls : –)
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This would be my hang-over cure bagel. Maple walnut cream cheese for.the.win.

To top off the weekend, I headed to Connecticut to celebrate my sister & the bride-to-be at her bridal shower hosted by her future sister and mother-in-law. To say this shower was beautiful is an understatement. It was EXQUISITE. The decorations, décor, food, festivities, and people were amazing. What a special day for my sister. Love you Deb and Lauren!
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Future sisters!
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It is truly the season of bridal showers! Last week I also attended my friend Suzanna’s shower and it was such a fun day. Can’t wait for that wedding!
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There’s one more thing that’s been celebrated around here lately:
Last week I received my acceptance letter into the Master of Science in Food and Nutrition program at Framingham State University in Massachusetts, beginning in September of this year. I am BEYOND excited. This program acceptance is what I’ve been working towards for the last year-and-a-half, and besides that, it also means that Brandon and I get to move back to Massachusetts this fall. Hip-hip-hooray!  Thank you all for the kind words and support <3
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The celebrations will be continuing this weekend, too! I’m off to Atlantic City for Kimmie’s bachelorette with 8 beautiful ladies. It’s her last fling before the ring and I can’t wait! GET ME TO FRIDAY. Have a great rest of the week, friends. xo

Ever been to Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in VT?
What’s your favorite B&J flavor?
I am a die-hard cookie dough lover, but I tried the ‘candy bar pie’ flavor this past weekend and now I’m hooked!
 
New Jersey friends, any recommendations of fun, girly, day-time activities in Atlantic City in case the weather isn’t conducive for bathing suits?

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Simple Pumpkin-Spice Date cake

Hello and happy Veteran’s Day, friends!
Thank you to all who protect our country. We are truly blessed.

How was your weekend? I knew my weekend would be great when a lunch  with my boss on Friday concluded with homemade apple pie and chocolate-decadence cake. How could it not be a great weekend when you start it off with those two things??!
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After that epic lunch on Friday, the wonderful weekend continued thanks to family-time and birthday celebrating. My twin sister, her fiancé, and the puppies were home for the weekend to celebrate my Mom’s birthday a few days early, and we had a blast.  Plus, having today off from class is pretty great, too.
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These puppies melt my heart.
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Anyway, I’ve been doing a bit more baking lately, and whether it’s because I’m using the oven to get warmer or it’s just the cold weather inspiring me to bake, any excuse works for me!  I’ve  meaning to share this  recipe for months, and since I baked it just last week for my little Mem’s birthday, I had the perfect opportunity to take some photos in order to do just that!  This recipe is an oldie, but seriously a goodie. It originates from my Grammie’s recipe box and it’s from many years ago (just check out how old this recipe card looks!), but since the first time I tasted it, I loved it.  My Grammie was the sweetest little thing, but she sure knew how to make a mean dessert. This Pumpkin Spice Date Cake is definitely one of her best.
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I don’t know about you, but one of my most favorite things about fall is the abundance of pumpkin-foods sold everywhere. Candies, coffees, baked goods; you name it, I love it. However, buying these pumpkin treats in stores and coffee shops isn’t always the most waist-line friendly option, which is why I love this recipe.  I get my pumpkin-dessert fix, but as a healthier option. This cake has zero oil, zero eggs, and zero butter, and a cool-whip-inspired frosting makes it an even smarter choice.  Plus, it’s super simple to make and bake in no time.  You’ll use a boxed spice cake mix as your base, to which you’ll add pumpkin, skim milk, baking soda, walnuts, and dates. Then voila, make your cool-whip frosting and you’re done.  My Mem has always declared this as her favorite cake and for a non-dessert person like her, that says a lot!

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Two Layer Pumpkin-Spice Date Cake
Recipe from my Grammie Rowden

Ingredients for cake:
1 box 2-layer size spice cake mix
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1 cup canned pumpkin (Not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dates

For frosting:
2 cups cool whip ( I used Lite, but regular or fat-free would be fine too!)
1 TBSP. molasses
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 Celsius). Spray two round cake pans or one 13x9x2 cake pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2) Combine cake mix and baking soda, then add milk and pumpkin.
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3) Blend at low-speed with electric mixer until moistened. Then beat at medium speed for two minutes.
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4) Fold in nuts and dates. (BEWARE, the dough is extremely delicious!)
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5) Pour mixture into greased pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 25- 30 minutes. Once baked, set layers  aside to cool.
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6) Once cooled, remove the cake from the pans, and set the first layer in the container that you plan on storing the cake. Now you are ready to frost!
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7) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, gently stir molasses and nutmeg into cool-whip topping. IMG_5094IMG_5096
8) Spread cool whip mixture onto first cake layer, covering it completely. Then place the second cake layer on top of the first, covering this layer completely as well. (Now you have frosting sandwiched in-between the layers, even better!)

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9) Refrigerate immediately and enjoy asap! (Don’t forget to add candles for a birthday cake!)
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If you’re looking for a healthier pumpkin treat, I think this will fit the bill! Mem’s face lit up when she saw the cake and as she ate it, too. Cake at 10 a.m.? Hey, you are only 87 once. I would do this all day everyday for her <3
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Cake + hugs + laughs + love…highlight of my month right there.

What’s your favorite pumpkin dessert?
Mine has to be this spice cake, or pumpkin chocolate-chip bread…it’s a close call!
I’m also obsessed with candy-corn pumpkins, but technically I’m not sure if that counts.

What did you eat this weekend? Any good desserts? Please share!

P.S. Happiest birthday today to my second-Dad, Brad! xoxo
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