Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Cupcakes

Hey everyone!

The royal wedding may be this Friday, but this past Sunday was one of my favorite holidays - Easter! I love Easter because it involves going to church, getting together with family, and eating good food. :) In honor of my first Easter in Minnesota, I decided I was going to make cupcakes for our family gathering. I have never made cupcakes from scratch before, and I have probably only ever made them a couple times from the box, but I got inspired after watching several episodes of DC Cupcakes and the Cupcake Girls (which is what happens when you're not working and have On Demand). I like to challenge myself when I'm learning new recipes, so I went with two different recipes (a la Martha Stewart, of course) that involved fresh fruit - strawberry cupcakes with strawberry meringue buttercream frosting, and banana cupcakes with honey-cinnamon frosting. Even the icing was made from scratch! Here are links to the recipes I found on Martha's website:

Banana cupcakes

Strawberry cupcakes

And here are my finished cupcakes (still working on my icing skills...):

Even though they kinda looked like a kid made them, they actually tasted amazing. Fresh fruit really does make a difference! The family really enjoyed them as well, especially the kids. :) Cupcakes just make everyone happy.

After hearing about my cupcakes, my brother-in-law's girlfriend (who also bakes) got me a book of 200 cupcake recipes! I'm SO excited to try them - there is everything from lavender to strawberry margarita to camomile to crazy savory cupcakes that have corn, chili, and bacon in them. Who knows, maybe now I'll open up a cupcake shop here in MN haha. ;) Either way, I can't wait to bake more! Once I make my cake plate, I'll really be legit!

That's all for now - time for this girl to catch up on some crafting while Mr. G is away at a baseball game. :)

I hope you all had a lovely Easter as well. Feel free to comment with any of your Easter recipes!

<3 Mrs. G

P.S. Georgetown Cupcakes (of DC Cupcakes on TLC) has made royal wedding cupcakes! So cute. Check them out here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Guess who's a Royal Wedding Guest... Blogger, that is :)

Hello, fellow subjects!

As you all know, this is a very special week for those of us who obsess over weddings and event design, and it's a very historic week that has captured the attention of the world.

I wrote a blog entry about the royal wedding that has actually been featured on a website! Check it out at

Hope you're all as excited as I am for Friday to get here. I am a hopeless romantic after all, and I wish William & Kate all the blessings in the world - they're going to need it!

Happy royal wedding week!

<3 Mrs. G

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Art of the Fancy Sandwich: Croque Madame

Hi everyone!

It's recipe time! This was one of the last meals I made in Connecticut, and it turned out to be one of the most challenging I have ever attempted. Surprisingly enough, it was a sandwich - but don't let that fool you. The croque madame is a beast, though it is definitely worth the patience required to make it. Mr. G had to help me with this one, and thank goodness he did... I don't see how it's possible to make it with less than 4 arms. Timing is everything for this dish. After nearly burning the bread AND the sauce (which also seemed too thick), it was still the most delicious sandwich I have ever tasted.

I got inspired to make it after a wonderful date night in NYC with the husband. You see, once we made the decision to move to Minnesota, I told Mr. G we had to do 2 more things before leaving the East Coast - see a Broadway show in New York, and go to Boston for the day. Mr. G came through, of course, and New York was first up - my Valentines Day present this year was tickets to any show of my choice. :) I decided on Wicked, and it ended up being an all-around incredible night that started off with a surprise carriage ride through Central Park! For those of you who don't know, Central Park was where Mr. G proposed last January, and it was supposed to be after a romantic carriage ride; however, it was too cold for the carriages to run that night (1 degree too cold, in fact - they are unmerciful), so he promised me he would eventually take me on the carriage ride I was supposed to have. Thankfully, he remembered even though I had almost forgotten... I have a very romantic husband. :)

Anyway, after our chilly but sweet carriage ride through the park, we went to a cute little French restaurant called Maison. I had mushroom ravioli, and Mr. G had croque madame. My pasta was good, but his sandwich was out of this world! It looked easy to make, too, so I was determined to do it. Little did I know that sometimes the simplest meals can have the most complicated recipes...

Here is the recipe I used - I got it from the Epicurious app on my iPhone:

  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk (we used 1%)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (we just used slices of swiss cheese - no Gruyere at Stop n Shop)
  • 8 slices firm white sandwich bread (wheat and flimsy is also fine, but firm bread adds more texture)
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 lb. thinly sliced cooked ham
  • 4 large eggs
  • Make sauce first:
    • Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a 1 to 1 1/2 quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, for 3 minutes.
    • Whisk in milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
    • Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes.
    • Whisk in salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 1/3 cup cheese until cheese is melted (this was challenging with sliced cheese... definitely get grated).
    • Remove from heat and set out wax paper to make sandwiches.
  • Make sandwiches:
    • Spread 1 1/2 tbsp. sauce evenly over 4 slices of bread, then sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese (1/4 cup per slice, or just slap on a piece of swiss like yours truly).
    • Spread mustard evenly on remaining 4 bread slices and top with ham, then invert them onto cheese-topped bread to form sandwiches.
  • Cook sandwiches on skillet:
    • Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately low heat
    • Cook sandwiches on skillet (we could fit 2 at a time), turning over once until golden - 3-4 minutes total.
    • Remove sandwiches from heat and transfer to baking pan.
  • Cook sandwiches in the oven:
    • Preheat broiler.
    • Top each sandwich with 1/3 cup sauce, spreading evenly.
    • Broil sandwiches 4-5 inches from heat until sauce is bubbling and golden in spots for 2-3 minutes (ours took longer - depends on your oven).
    • Turn off broiler and transfer pan to lower third of oven to keep warm.
  • Fry eggs:
    • Heat remaining tablespoon of butter in nonstick skillet over moderate heat.
    • Crack eggs into skillet and season with salt and pepper.
    • Fry eggs, covered (?), until whites are just set and yolks are still runny - should take 3 minutes.
  • Take out sandwiches and top them all with fried eggs. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
See what I mean? Not as easy as it looks. But so worth the wait, trust me. Also, fun fact - if you leave off the egg, the sandwich is called a Croque Monsieur!

In other news, my DIY projects are coming right along. I've bought all my supplies (see below), and I've even painted 2 tiles already for the kitchen! And would you believe it - they look awesome! Hope everything else turns out as well. I'll post pics of the tiles once I finish them all.

I also went thrift shopping for the first time ever, and it was so much fun! I had a great day all by myself haha. Check out these cool things I found at Unique Thrift:


Unique is actually a pretty popular thrift store in the Twin Cities area. I was there yesterday, and it was PACKED - in the middle of the day on a Tuesday! People sure love their bargains here. I will definitely be going back, though. As for what I bought, the mirrors I plan on hanging in my kitchen (in place of the window/mirror I saw at T.J. Maxx - I actually like these better!). They have the look of cathedral windows, which I feel goes along with the Mexican-esque theme I'm going for in the kitchen. The blue candlestick is what I'll use as the base of a cake plate I'm going to make - yet another DIY project haha. I guess I can now go on the record to say that I am crafty... and thrifty! Everything in that photo cost a total of $7. Can't beat that!

I hope I'm not turning into one of those budget-crazy women who obsess over finding the best deals. There is no harm in being budget savvy, but extreme couponing? Really?? Come on, now. (I do kinda want to watch that show, though.)

That's all for now. Can't wait to finally get our couch tomorrow! Yay!


<3 Mrs. G

P.S. I start work next week at the Mall of America, so (sadly) I probably won't be posting quite as often as I am now. But I'll try! Wish me luck at the new job! Still interviewing for others. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Crafting my Nest

Hello all!

So as you probably know by now, I just moved into a new home in the fabulous state of Minnesota. If you read my last post, you also know that it's my first house (yay!) and... it needs some work. I can't do anything about the big stuff right now, but I can use what's left of my birthday money to decorate the place. However, after buying bar stools and an area rug, my decorating budget has diminished significantly, so I'm left with no other option - I must craft.

Let me be the first to say that I am not a crafty girl. I can follow instructions as well as the next person, but that by no means makes me a natural talent. You don't even want to know how long it took me to make the escort cards for my wedding, and while they were cute, they definitely weren't professional quality. So, crafting isn't exactly my thing, but I'll do it when it saves me money, satisfies my creative urges, and fills up my expansive wall space (thank you, vaulted ceilings).

First of all, here is the wonderfully inexpensive area rug I bought from IKEA that serves as my "inspiration" for the living room:

Have I mentioned that I love IKEA? Because I do. I also plan on getting my window treatments and light fixtures from there, as well as eventually our new bedroom furniture. Basically, I want my house to look like an IKEA catalog. But who doesn't?

At our old place, the color scheme for the living room was black and brown with accents of red. Not a fan,  but you work with what you've got. Now that we have a new couch and a new rug, though, I'm going for a more sophisticated look with a touch of whimsy - that is, if my DIY projects work out; otherwise it may be whimsy with a side of trashy. The color scheme I'm planning is neutrals with splashes of blue and green. I want it to feel romantic and relaxed while still being clean and modern. If that makes no sense, just bear with me.

Here are my (anticipated) DIY projects for the living room, as well as the websites that inspired them:

Book Page Wreath

Mossy Monogram

Pillow Covers - found this one on Etsy, but Martha Stewart will help me make mine

I plan on hanging the wreath above our fireplace (yes, we have a fireplace!) with a pretty ribbon, the moss-covered letters above our couch - also with pretty ribbon - and the pillows will obviously go on the couch. Martha will be proud.

The other room that I am focusing on is the kitchen. I was inspired by these little Mexican tiles I brought back from our honeymoon, and I've decided to make them the focal point of my kitchen. My project is to find four large, white tiles and paint them in different colors and patterns evocative of Mexican talavera tiles. I'll hang them or put them on display shelves next to my table. I would also like to find a pretty mirror to go with them and eventually install a fun light fixture. I saw a beautiful rustic window-turned-mirror today at T.J. Maxx that would be perfect, so I'm hoping it will still be there when I have enough money to buy it... It's a little unusual, so nobody was really fighting over it.

Here are some other random decor items I love:

Borrby lantern from IKEA

Ikat chair from Urban Outfitters


Maskros lamp from IKEA

Vintage tile-inspired wall art from Etsy

If you have any ideas to add, or suggestions as to where to find some of the craft materials for cheap, please comment! I would love some input. In the meantime, I hope I've inspired you to make some fabulous decor of your own. ;) I'll report back on how everything turned out, and I'll post pics - good or bad.

Happy decorating!

<3 Mrs. G

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hello, Minne-snow-ta!

Hey guys!

Back by "popular demand" (ie: family, friends, and mom's co-workers), I have decided on a new venture of internet ramblings inspired by my very recent move to the arctic tundra (ie: Minnesota). For those of you who followed my previous blog, New England Newlywed, please forgive me for the lack of posts... I realized a little too late that devoting a blog entirely to cooking was not only too one-dimensional for me, but also pretty boring. I can assure you, though, that I still love cooking as well as trying new recipes, and some of that will definitely make its way into this blog. But seeing as recipe writing is laborious and generally unexciting, I think I can safely say that this is not Julie & Julia.

So, to catch you all up on the lives of Mr. and Mrs. G, here is a brief recap of the past 6 months:

Connecticut is lame, so we moved.

Now that you're all caught up, let me tell you a little about why and how we came to live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. For those of you who don't know, Minnesota is Mr. G's homeland. And if you know him, you know that he thinks Minnesota is God's gift to the world, and he has been ready to move back as soon as he left a year and a half ago. I am from Nashville originally, but I visited Mr. G often in MN when he lived here, and while I didn't quite think it was heaven on earth, I did really like the place. I knew we would probably come to live here eventually since he felt so strongly about it, but I never though it would happen only 6 months after I moved to CT. But while I was here in January, I realized I didn't want to go back home, and I felt a sudden and strong desire to live here. It was as if God knocked me over the head, and I knew I could make the decision to change our lives and make my husband the happiest man in the world. At that point, I realized what I had to do - admit to Mr. G that he was right. He predicted I wouldn't like CT, and I stubbornly tried to, but I just didn't. It never felt like home.

Mrs. G's mom suggested that we write down all the things that God did to make it possible for us to move, so that's exactly what I'm going to do, and then some. I've made 3 lists - everything that went right, everything that went wrong, and an intro to Minnesota culture. Let's start with the good stuff.

Everything that went right:
  • The renters living in Mr. G's house (which he owned previously) decided to move out right as we started discussing the possibility of moving. They left about a month ago, and now we are living in our first house. :)
  • Mr. G's company allowed him to keep his job and work from home in MN, so we didn't have to worry about both of us finding work out here.
  • In addition, they gave him a major promotion AND a raise... Crazy, right?? Especially in this economy! We needed the extra money for the move as well as to cover expenses while I search for a job, so that was a completely unexpected but very helpful blessing.
  • I got more interviews before even moving to MN than I ever got while living in CT. I've had 2 so far, and I have 2 more lined up.
  • Our car insurance is less than half the cost out here, and our expenses as a whole are reduced significantly.
  • We got a very large tax return that we used to help fund the move as well as buy our dream couch. :)
Everything that went wrong:
  • When we started moving into the house, we realized that the renters didn't leave it in as good of shape as we had anticipated. In addition, I realized that there was more work to be done than I had planned for.
  • We were supposed to pick up our couch the day we moved in; we planned it that way because we had the moving truck and thus wouldn't have to pay to have it delivered. However, when Mr. G called the store, they said someone broke ours and that we would have to wait a week for the replacement to come in. They never called to tell us, so of course we didn't bring our couch from CT. We have been sitting on the air mattress in the living room.
  • Comcast installed a faulty cable box, so we returned it for a new one. That one didn't work either. So for a couple days we had no TV to watch from the air mattress.
  • We also haven't had wireless internet since our router hasn't come in yet. This means that we are going over on our data plans this month because I've been using 3G on my phone to keep from going stir crazy, and Mr. G's brother used his phone to play games the entire drive out here.
  • Our precious dog, Molly, was perfect the whole road trip, but as soon as she got here, she started acting CRAZY. She has always been a mild-mannered, well-behaved dog, but this move has messed with her head. She now humps anything and everything, and she even got a little aggressive with a friend's dog. I swear she has gender confusion.
  • Our friend's dog (Kenzie) also has a ton of energy, which she harnessed to run full-speed at our screen door leading to the porch. We now have a lovely Kenzie-shaped hole there. In return, Molly decided she would scratch up their screen door, so I guess we're even now.
  • We locked ourselves out our second night in the house. We had replaced the lock on the door, but I didn't realize you could open it while it was still locked... Oops. Thankfully, Mr. G is skilled at breaking and entering...
  • We got an inch of snow already. :( Hopefully the weather will improve soon!
Minnesota Culture 101:
  • There is nothing better than a Minnesota accent. It's a hilarious blend of Norwegian and Canadian with long o's and flat a's. Plus, there are the awesome colloquialisms: "ohhh man," "you betcha!" and my personal favorite: "uff da."
  • Since pretty much everyone out here is of Scandinavian origin, they are pretty much all blonde and fair-skinned. This is the opposite of Connecticut, where Mr. G and I were lonely Anglo-Saxons in a sea of Italians.
  • There are also quite a few large families out here, especially in the rural areas. Mr. G actually hails from a family of 9 including his parents. A neighboring family is somewhere in the teens.
  • Homeschooling is more common here, or at least more than I've seen. Mr. G was homeschooled for most of his education, as were all his siblings. Most of his friends were homeschooled, too. I never knew a single person growing up who was homeschooled. But then again, maybe that's because I met everyone at school...
  • Much like the South, people tend to marry young out here. I've also seen a lot of short engagements, which is interesting to me. Although mine wasn't exactly long, but that was mostly due to Mr. G's urging!
  • Last but not least, all the women out here are pregnant. Seriously. There must be something in the water.
  • These are all very large generalizations, of course, but are all based on my observations as an "outsider," though I guess I'm one of them now! I've been polishing my accent...
Well, I think that just about sums it up for now. You can anticipate forthcoming posts about decor, crafts, and job hunting, all of which consume my life right now. Plus maybe a few recipes from CT that I was particularly proud of. :)


<3 Mrs. G


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