Tag Archives: birthday

Birthday Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Thursday was my friend Ian’s birthday, so I made some vegan cupcakes to celebrate!  Baking often intimidates me (lots of exactness and food chemistry) so I googled “basic vegan cupcakes” and came upon a recipe for Golden Vanilla Cupcakes from Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero’s vegan baking book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. You can find the recipe online here,

Other than substituting almond milk for soy milk, I followed the recipe exactly, and they cupcakes were perfect!  Light, “butter”-y, and fluffy.  Everyone loved them!

I iced them with Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting (also from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, recipe is online here).  Again, I substituted almond milk for soy milk.  I also added cocoa powder and cinnamon to give the frosting a little color and pizzazz.  I was really impressed with the frosting!  It was dense but easily spreadable, and so creamy!

Overall, these cupcakes were a hit, and I would definitely make them again!  Two things I would note about the recipe is that the batter yields 12 cupcakes…maybe 13 if I had been more conservative with my batter sampling ;).  The frosting recipe made more than enough too give each cupcake a very thick layer of frosting (not a problem for me because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want extra frosting in the house?).


Do any of you own Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World?  What are your opinions on vegan baking?


High Tea at the Talking Teacup

Emma and I LOVE tradition. We have been neighbors and best friends since middle school, so we’ve had a lot of time to develop special things that we always do together!  One of our most treasured traditions is going to The Talking Teacup, a wonderful little teahouse in Chalfont, Pennsylvania.

Christmas 2010 at the Talking Teacup!

Last weekend we visited again, the occasion being Emma’s 20th birthday (a little belated, I know, but this was the only time that we could do it! Check out Emma’s other birthday festivities here and here). My mom got her a groupon for 2 high teas for her birthday, and surprise, she decided to ask me to go with her.

Happy Belated Birthday, Emma!

We started out by selecting our teas, I got a vanilla chai and Emma got an immunity booster. Each pot has about four or five cups, which is great! Way better than the Willow Tea Room in Scotland that I just recapped.

Our first course was scones, hot out of the oven!

Walnut Cinnamon and Chocolate Chip Scones w/ Jam and Devonshire Cream

I LOVE Devonshire cream, I could lick it right out of the bowl!!

Then came the soup of the day. We were in luck, it was tomato bisque! (Actually, every soup I’ve had there has been out of this world, but the tomato bisque is one of my favorites!)

Tomato Bisque Soup

Then the sandwiches! Emma got vegetarian, I got omnivorous.
So many yummy sandwiches
I always forget what kind of sandwiches there are, but I distinctively remember cucumber with herby mayo spread on white bread, ham and dijon mustard on cinnamon swirl bread, egg salad on wheat, chicken salad, artichoke, sundried tomato, and lots of other yummies! I would rather eat a million different mini-sandwiches than one amazing big sandwich. There’s just something about mini food that really excites me!! Especially mini food shaped like teapots…

Something Emma and I love about the Talking Teacup is all of the little details, like the mismatched dishes…
We love the mismatched dishes and cutlery!
and the scone tray that is really just a plate hot glued to a candlestick!! I gotta get on that craft.


Lastly, dessert. I told myself I’d just eat half of each, but I couldn’t help but eat the whole thing! High tea only happens twice a year, after all 😉

Trio of Desserts (Sugar Cookie, Chocolate Chip Pound Cake, Vanilla Cake with Marmalade Layers)

Overall it was a great time at the Talking Teacup as usual (and even better because we didn’t have to pay! Thanks mom!). I already can’t wait to go again!!

If you want to read Emma’s recap, you can here!


Emma’s 20th Birthday: Riverflow Hot Yoga

For Day 2 of Emma’s birthday, I had scored Groupons for us both to attend a hot yoga class at Riverflow Yoga in Lambertville. Riverflow Yoga is a hot yoga studio, which meant we would be practicing Bikram yoga (90 minutes of 26 poses peformed in a 105 degree room at 50% humidity). Emma had already done Bikram yoga before, but I only have experience in Hatha yoga. I was excited, but also very nervous! I had read accounts of people passing out or feeling extremely nauseous while practicing Bikram, and I wasn’t sure I was strong or flexible enough to handle it.

I decided that the best I could do to quell my Bikram-anxiety was to make sure I was well prepared. I drank 2 bottles of water before I went to bed, and then another 3 when I woke up in the morning. Two and a half hours before the class, I ate a hearty but clean breakfast of eggs with tomato, spinach, and onion, and a banana. The website advertised “the less clothes, the better”, so I donned my sisters volleyball compression shorts and a sports bra, picked Emma up, and we headed to Lambertville.

Riverflow Yoga Studio in Lambertville, NJ

Upon seeing the yoga studio, I got a bit more relaxed. It was pretty small, cute, and homey looking, with art on the walls and full length mirrors lining the walls. The class was small (about 10 students) and diverse in age and fitness level. I rolled out my mat (with a bath towels on top, of course) and lay down, as the instructor turned up the humidifier and the heater.

Halfway through the first pose, Pranayama (Standing Deep Breathing), I was already sweating BUCKETS. Literally, sweat was pouring from my forehead, the tips of my fingers, and the backs of my knees. I was weirdly fascinated by it, and proud of it. Other than experiencing some slight lightheadedness (which is to be expected in 105 degrees), my body felt strong and flexible in the heat and humidity.

26 Pose Series

Our instructor, Arielle, was wonderful! She didn’t take herself too seriously, but gave helpful adjustments and tips to get through each pose. The non-stop instruction really helped me be able to put my always racing mind on auto pilot and just be able to focus on breathing my way through all of the poses for the duration of the class. My favorite standing pose was Triangle, and my favorite pose on the mat was Locust (who could have thought I could lift my leg that high? I definitely attribute this one to the heat and humidity).

At the end of the class, Arielle told us to “lay in the bliss we had created for ourselves”, and man, what a true statement. I was totally blissed out! I don’t think my body has EVER felt better than it had at the end of that class. I felt so relaxed, positive, energetic, and cleansed. I was also starving!

Later in the day, after I ate, I felt a bit low energy (in a good way). All I wanted to do was sit on the couch and stare at the wall. I’m not sure if that was from lack of sleep during the week or the yoga class, but I was totally spent! The next day I woke up feeling pretty sore in my shoulders, back (Bikram has a series of poses that work ever part of the upper, mid, and lower back, and mine is already pretty weak), and hips. I took it easy (on the beach!).

I would recommend hot yoga to anyone who is in good health. The poses aren’t difficult at all, and you don’t even have to have practiced yoga before to follow along. It is a great way to increase strength and flexibility, and it is a cool experience to sweat so much (seriously, I didn’t even know that it was possible!) and to get all of those toxins out of my body. The class is what you make of it, and if you go in with a receptive mind, you will definitely get a good workout and leave feeling relaxed, renewed, and fabulous!  As a student, it’s not convenient or cheap enough for me to practice on a regular basis, but it’s definitely something that I’m looking forward to doing again.


Let’s Chat

  • Have or would you ever try Bikram yoga?  If you have, did you enjoy it?

Emma’s 20th Birthday: 86 West and Deep Dish Cookie Pie

Excited birthday girl and Andy

My bestfriendinthewholeworldever Emma turned 20 last weekend, so of course I planned tons of fun surprises for her birthday!  First on the list was going out to dinner in Doylestown.  We went to 86 West, which is actually where Andy cooks!

86 West is a hip bar/restaurant specializing in steak, seafood, and sushi.

We decided it would be more fun to order some small plates and sushi to share.
a tuna crunch roll (my personal favorite, just the right combination of spicy and sweet, crunchy and smooth, and hot and cold. YUM!)

a lollipop roll (the presentation of this is great)

fried calamari

wok-fried brussel sprouts in ginger soy sauce

and vegan sushi (with black beans, guacamole, mango, and lots of other good stuff…it tasted like sushi burritos!)

It’s fun to go places with another blogger because you don’t feel weird taking pictures of everything!

When we went back to my house, Andy presented Emma with his present to her…Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Deep Dish Cookie Pie!! When we made it before, we were really just testing it for Emma’s birthday cake. It was a success, she loved it!

After eating cake we went to bed early because the next day I was taking Emma to do Bikram yoga. Stay tuned for the next post to see how that went!


What I’m Looking Forward To…Summer 2011 Style

As I am a planner/think type personality, a lot of my life is spent “looking forward”.  That mindset definitely has it’s pros and cons…it’s fun to get excited for things, but it’s also sometimes hard for me to live in the moment!  Lately though, it’s just generated a lot of good excitement.

In celebration of today, the first day of summer, I thought I’d share with you some things that I’m looking forward to this summer (in chronological order, of course).

1.  Our annual family vacation to Myrtle Beach! I’m so ready just relax with a good book on the sand, swim in the ocean, get a nice tan, eat my grandma’s raviolis and pierogies, and play games as a family.  It’ll be my first (much-needed) break from work since literally the day I got home from college!

My grandparents have a timeshare, and we always stay at the SeaWatch resort!

2.  Seeing KiD CuDi in concert at the Mann Center with Andy!  We saw him last spring and it was amazing.  We’ve had these tickets since winter and have been so excited ever since!


3.  Seeing my best friend Emma for the first time since January 2, and celebrating her 20th birthday together!  Emma’s been studying abroad in New Zealand spring semester, and won’t be getting back until I’m in Myrtle Beach.  I absolutely cannot wait to see her again!!!!  I already have 3 fabulous birthday events planned for her, so she better be ready for fun. 😉

Before she left we went for Christmas tea at one of our favorite places, The Talking Teacup!


4.  Touring Scotland with my family! 10 (or was it 11?) years ago my family went to Scotland for a family reunion (my Pop-pop immigrated to the US from Scotland!), and now we’re going to take it by storm again!  I’m so excited for the opportunity to travel and to be able to see so many new places!!

We'll be spending some of our time in the quaint Campbeltown, which I can't wait to explore!

5.  Spending the weekend in New York City with one of my best friends, Jamie!  She’s interning there for the summer.  I’m hoping to hit up some great restaurants and a comedy club.  I know we’ll have a blast!

Gonna be living it up in the (bright lights) big city!

6.  Opening up my Pittsburgh house with my mom!  Technically the house becomes ours August 1st, but due to work August 6 will be the soonest I can make it up there.  We’re planning on cleaning, painting, and semi-furnishing as much as we can in a weekend.  Can you say DIY?  We can!!

At 100 years old, it could definitely use some TLC...

7.  Moving back to Pittsburgh for the school year, and seeing all my friends again!  As much as summer is a nice break, I am such a student at heart.  I miss living in a city, and I miss my college friends!

WHEW!  Does that sound exciting or what?  It does to me!  Bring it on 😉


Let’s Chat!

  • What are you most excited to do this summer?


A Healthy Holiday Afternoon

After I got home from The 50’s Diner with my dad, I decided to get my chores out of the way.  I weeded the front beds outside (not bad because I’ve been keeping up with them) and cleaned the upstairs bathroom!  I tidied up my room too, but it’s already back to it’s slightly messy state due to some craft ventures I’ve been getting ready (stay tuned for that!).

Then, because I skipped yoga class at the Y to eat breakfast with my dad (family time is important!) I did a light half hour practice by myself that included lots of hip openers (my favorite!) and hamstring stretches (working on it…), and of course, Sun Salutes.  The air conditioning in my house is broken, so I sweat a lot more than I expected during the Sun Salutes, but that’s fine by me!  I also threw in 2 songs worth of ab work because that’s always easy and fun for me.

After my little workout I was getting hungry so I decided it was time to rustle up some lunch, when Andy called me and asked if I wanted to go get some coffee with him before he had to work!  I of course wanted to, but I thought it would be better to eat at home (for free!).  I whipped up one of my go-to lunches when we have leftover grilled chicken in the fridge…

Grilled Chicken and Spinach Whole Wheat Pita Pocket with Hummus

I was also craving some frozen yogurt, and didn’t want to be tempted to buy it in town, so I ate some Greek Yogurt while I waited for Andy to come pick me up.  It definitely satisfied the craving!


We drove into town and got some iced coffees from our go-to coffee destination, Saxby’s.  Sitting on the porch and soaking in the rays was definitely a treat; I love eating/drinking/BEING outside!  We were only there for about a half hour and I already developed some tan lines.  I wasn’t expecting that!  As you can see, I love a lot of cream in my coffee 😉

Enjoying the beautiful weather in Doylestown!

I came back home, worked a little, and then got ready for dinner.  My dad was grilling up some burgers so I asked him to throw on a Morningstar burger for me.  Actually , I asked for a Boca burger, but Morningstar was all we had!  Definitely not as good.  I find Morningstar burgers to be thinner and drier.  On the side I had a ton of green grapes, and some Baked Herr’s Cheddar and Sour Cream Chips (which I’ll be talking about in a later post, because they were fabulous!!!).

Morningstar Burger and Chips!

After dinner, my family had a “meeting” to go over what’s happening tomorrow…it’s my little sister Gigi’s 11 year old birthday party!!  My parents invited a lot of girls thinking that only half would show because of the holiday weekend, but most of them can actually make it.  Doesn’t that ALWAYS happen?  Anyways, the party is at a local park, and we had to brainstorm some games and relays for the kids to do to pass the time.  Definitely more on that tomorrow…

Finally, when the sun started to go down, I decided to go on a bike ride with my mom and my sister!  My parents got me a new bike for my birthday (which was last week), and I absolutely ADORE it.  It’s so cute!

Best Birthday Present!

I bought a bell for it the other day at Target, and my dad surprised me and put it on this morning…

New Bell!

Thanks Dad!


Let’s Chat!

  1. How is your holiday weekend so far?  Do you have any big plans?
  2. What was the best gift you recently received?
Leave your answers in the comments 🙂