Monday, October 21, 2013

These are a Few of my Favorite Things...

 Sorry for the lack of recipes lately, you all know why. But, to fill up the space I thought I'd 1. Share this awesome picture of my makeup job for Northampton Zombie Pubcrawl this weekend--I did all makeup except the guy on the right, and my friend Emma requested makeup-only, no latex or added pieces--and 2. Share some random things I've been taking pictures of with my phone as I think of them. There is SO MUCH I'm going to miss about the valley of Western Massachusetts, but it'll be nice to come home to on the holidays!

BEWARE: a lot of these pictures are phone quality and therefore crap.

For the past year or two I've been following the blog, Patch & Will, and Facebook-friendshipping Kristen, who writes/photographs for it. At the end of the summer, with her move to PA and my move to TX looming, we decided it was time to meet. Meeting blog friends is SO much fun, even if a little awkward at first! Sadly we didn't get an Instagram Selfie, but we shared some incredible appetizers at High Horse in Amherst. I really, REALLY hope I get to return here before the move, but unless the Amherst Dishcrawl makes it a stop, I'm not sure I'll be able to.

The poutine was probably the best I've ever had, and the nachos are seriously tasty and spicy and everything a good nacho should be. I also got a Mr. Pink cocktail (I don't think they have much in the way of spirits, just wine and beer) and it was very satisfying. A few weeks later I was lucky enough to watch a cooking demo from their head chef at Chilifest about how to cook thai curries. That chef knows his stuff! All in all, a great first-meeting with a blog friend, and a great appetizer dinner. Check out High Horse if you're in the Amherst area!

Taken on an airplane

I absolutely LOVE GoPicnic meals. They're like adult Lunchables to me, and I always keep a bunch on hand for quick to-go lunches or for travel snacks. You best believe I am stocking up on these amazing little meals for my cross country move! $3-5 for a full, healthy meal sure beats $5 for drive through. Plus, their social media team really impressed me recently: I Facebook messaged them to share my disappointment that my favorite meal, turkey pepperoni and cheese, no longer had the delicious toffee as the dessert. To make it up to me, they sent me an ENTIRE BAG of them. What great service! They've definitely secured my customer loyalty. 

This is a stock photo of the product. Why is it a stock photo and not a photo of me stuffing my face? Because I'd only had three before noticing my boyfriend had devoured the rest. Oh well. These are the dark chocolate version. While I am not a huge fan of dark chocolate, I think it worked REALLY well here, with the sweet toffee. I'm keeping my eye out for these in stores and going to stock up for my trip as well.

One of my last "Date Nights" with Cory before he left for Texas was to Munich Haus in Chicopee. I'd never really had German food before and didn't really give it a thought, and I had no idea what I'd been missing. I'd gotten a gift certificate during a sale, so we figured we better use it before the move. We started with pierogies, a Polish staple that all my friends growing up loved but I'd never had. They were amazing. Crispy, flavorful, stuffed with potato and cheese and served with sour cream to dip them in. Om nom nom nom. Next, I had the Jager Schnitzel with spatzle. I am still DREAMING of this dish, it was that good! The mushroom sauce and crispy pork tenderloin was just heaven. This is one of those dishes that I really, REALLY want to recreate at home. Cory got the duck, which was on special and not really German. I teased him for not ordering German food at a German restaurant, but one taste of the duck and I shut right up. It was delicious. The entire evening was incredible--they had an accordion player and everything--from the beer/wine/cider selection to the meal to the atmosphere. I hope to make it here just one more time with my German-food-loving roommate before I leave!

Another Groupon place that ended up being more than worth the price--Lhasa Cafe in Northampton. My roommate had the Groupon and shared it with me and another friend. She had never had Tibetan food in America (she DID sample some while in Tibet) but encouraged us all to try the Yak. As you may know, I'm always up for trying bizarre meats, so I gave it a go. Had you not told me it was yak, I would have no clue. It tasted just like beef to me, but apparently it's leaner and lower in calories and fat than beef. The dishes had the perfect amount of spice. My roommate was pleased with her meal, too, and said it was pretty authentic in comparison to the food she had in Tibet.

One of the things I'll miss about home--trivia nights with Emma and Lauren. This is Lauren and I at our local 99 Restaurant, though we also frequent a more intense trivia at a local brewery. We won 2 of the 3 rounds, and the theme was SPORTS. Pretty exciting, considering we guessed on every round. Last week I won the grand prize--a $50 gas card, which will serve me well on my trip!

I'm not the best at apps, but when I was offered a free download of Cook4Lyfe, I was intrigued. With my grocery shopping on a standstill while I eat down my pantry, I haven't actually been able to use this, but poking around and testing out this app has been a lot of fun. Basically, you tell it what's in your pantry, what you need to buy for groceries, and it suggests recipes you can make. It also tells you how close you are to a grocery store. The tagline pretty much sums it up: THE ALL-IN-ONE COOKING UTILITY THAT WILL STREAMLINE AND SIMPLIFY YOUR "MEAL CYCLE"--yeah, it sure is! I feel like this is going to be an AWESOME tool for me to use in Austin, when I am re-building my pantry (and can update my pantry page as I build it) and help me stick to a meal budget. My biggest issue is remembering what's in my pantry when inspiration strikes mid-grocery-trip. This app will definitely help with that!

Guys. Have I mentioned my new fall obsession? McKenzie's Seasonal Reserve Cider. THIS IS APPLE PIE IN A CUP. Delicious cold or warm, it's the ultimate fall beverage. People keep telling me Angry Orchard or Woodchuck have comparable fall ciders but I think they're crazy. Nothing holds a candle to this awesome sauce. I'm going to try to buy out my local liquor store of the stuff before I leave, just in case it's scarce in Texas.

Oh Zen. How I will miss you and your incredible sushi. Especially the Rock n' Roll lunch special. You are the place that showed me what sushi is SUPPOSED to taste like. Before Zen, I wasn't sure I even liked sushi. Now, it's my favorite food. What will I do when I'm land-locked and hours from the shore? Will I ever love [a sushi place] again? $13, 3 of their best basic rolls. I could eat here every day and never get sick of it. I will miss it so. I've converted TWO sushi haters with just one order of Rock n' Roll. Sadly my current boyfriend was not one of them. Regardless, I promise to drag him here every holiday we're home visiting. That's a promise.

Another Western Mass place of note is Mimmo's Pizza. For $3, you get a slice that is bigger than your head. The late hours mean that this is the BEST drunchies spot in town (drunken munchies). Cory and I grabbed a quick bite here while in town for a tattoo consultation. Despite being 6'5 with a never-ending appetite, Cory had trouble getting this down. I've, admittedly, only been here after many drinks, but the large, greasy slices have prevented many a hangover. And 1/4 of a pizza for $3 is the best deal in town.

Herrell's is another spot that holds an important place in my heart. I've been going here for years, and the owner's daughter was even my roommate in college. Hands-down, the best ice cream I've ever tasted. Pictured is a kiddie sundae with chocolate whipped cream. The flavor was chocolate pudding, which is such a rich yet silken chocolate that it's almost like mousse. All of their flavors are incredible, and I'll probably die never having made a dent out of trying them all. They just introduced an "ice cream sampler" option, and I may just have to make one last stop to try that out before I leave.

Before I left for my interview a few weeks ago, Cory and I went to my favorite Boston restaurant: Addis Red Sea. Ethiopian food is spicy, yet a little milder than its Indian counterpart. The flavors are fresh and complex, and the soft bread it's served with takes the place of any utensils. I frequented the place in college, and it's just as good today. Cory's aunt assures me there's a great Ethiopian place in Austin, but Addis Red Sea has so many memories that it'll probably be a very different experience either way.

And now, for the non-food.

 I follow a few fashion blogs, and one morning someone posted a frantic post telling us all to sign up for Mod Cloth's Stylish Surprise before they were sold out! Thanks to a coupon, I was able to afford THREE of the $15 surprise packs. Here is how it works: You give them your dress size, and you get a mystery item in that size that has a retail value of $30-$300. Above, are my spoils. Overall, I was really happy with them! The sash dress was the perfect thing for the fall wedding I was invited to, the blue flower dress is great for work (with a blazer and belt, too!) and the lacy green dress is my new favorite thing to wear and I ROCKED it all over Austin with my ankle boots and a chunky belt. I googled the prices of the dresses and it looks like the sash dress was originally $100, and the other two were around $60 each. That means I saved a bundle for some wicked cute outfits. I am SO doing this again when they do it again (it sold out within a day) and I'm keeping my eye out for their accessories surprise next time it comes around, too!

After two months of being a little disappointed in my Ipsy bags (twice there were coveted items that only a select number of subscribers got, and the alternate products were not very comparable), this month came through with some great products. While I'm going to have to gift the hair product--spray clay texture won't be great on my frizzy, curly hair--the rest of them I'm really excited to try! And I am really pleased with my "bonus" eye shadow gift for using their referral system. The lip glosses included in the eye shadow pack remind me of little kid dress up kits, but I've already gotten a ton of use from the eye shadows themselves. If you'd like to check out Ipsy, use my referral link above!

And finally here are my friends and I being dorks on Zombie Pub Crawl night again. I am not sure what we're doing but apparently it's Star Wars related.


  1. I'm jealous of your new clothes and that poutine! omg!

  2. I LOVE all those dresses on you!! The red one with the sash is by far my favorite. Cutie.

    1. The flower has been lost unfortunately, but it's still a really cute dress. Just a bit fancy for daily wear!

  3. OMG you'd never tried pierogies??? I make them on the regular and cover them in BBQ sauce, because that's how unauthentic I roll with my heritage.

    Also, you took a lot of pictures for Force choking (I'm *pretty* sure that's what it's called?) considering you don't know what it is!

    1. I feel like it had a different name? But yeah, it's a star wars thing. It looked funny so I kept doing it :P

  4. So much good stuff!! I love Addis Red Sea, too! And those dresses are awesome!


  5. 1) yeah poutine. mmm. . .poutine. 2) I am now forever forward using the word drunchies. 3) I love Modcloth but never went for the $15 surprise bag, after seeing your dresses I'm doing it next time. And when I say Modcloth, I mean obsesses as in half my summer wardrobe is from there.

    1. Drunchies is a great word. I am glad you'll be using it. Supposedly the next Stylish Surprise is in March!

  6. That picture of fries and gravy made me so homesick for the East coast. Good luck with your move!