Friday, June 29, 2012

The Merry Monk in Albany, NY.

On Saturday, Tim and I went on a date to the Merry Monk, located on Pearl Street in downtown Albany. Belgium experienced several plagues in its history, rendering the drinking water unsafe. During the brewing process, the water used in beer is sterilized, so everyone was wasted basically.
But no, seriously, people just started drinking a lot of beer and getting really into it. Monks became experts in the brewing process.

The Merry Monk is known for its Trappist beers, a fancy term for beers brewed by monks. The term "Trappist" originated from the La Trappe monastery in Soligny, France. This is where one of the earliest monastery brewhouses existed. Now, only 8 official Trappist breweries exist and the Merry Monk imports its beers from these rare locations!

We were particularly craving their burgers. They make a mouth-watering bacon, cheddar, and ale burger that is nothing less than orgasmic. I was even able to swap out my burger's side of fries with a delicious serving of spinach and bell pepper. 

I love the decor of the Merry Monk. It's eclectic without being sloppy. The red stained wood decor and exposed brick wall bring so much warmth to the bar/restaurant.


Have a great weekend and thank you for reading!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DIY mugs and some beautiful teacups.


The other night, I had an urge to do a simple DIY project I had read about on A Beautiful Mess: making some plain mugs more fabulous!

I loved the design done by the blogger Oh Hello Friend.

This is such a simple DIY. All you need are some sharpies (I especially like the metallic paint sharpies) and some plain mugs. You can find mugs for super cheap at Goodwill or the Salvation Army, which is where I found mine. Just give 'em a good scrub and dry them well beforehand.

To start...

 Now the best part... Get creative! (:

I made girlfriend/boyfriend mugs! I want to have a craft night with my best friend Erika and make some best friends mugs. It'll bring me back to old times with friendship necklaces, key chains, etc.

A Beautiful Mess shared that baking the mugs at 350 degrees for 30 minutes after you're done drawing will help the sharpie stay on the mug even longer.

I also thought I'd share some adorable teacups and saucers I stumbled across at the Salvation Army while I was there looking for mugs to use for the DIY project above. I couldn't pass these beauties by. I love the Tiffany blue and rose pink color scheme. 

These were on the pricier side for Salvo, so I left two of the cups and two of the saucers behind, but I love them so much I may go back and see if I can buy the other half of this set!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

mini business cards by moo!

Yesterday, my mini business cards came in the mail. I ordered them from a company named MOO, believe it or not. MOO allows you so much flexibility on your business cards for a decent price. I got a pack of 100 and if I wanted to, I could have had 100 different photo printed on the cards, at no extra cost. I chose to go with 10 copies of 10 different photographs I'd taken.

When they arrived in the mail, I was so pleased with everything, even down to the packaging:

In my opinion, the cards themselves came out really well and look of high quality. The cards are thick, which I like, and the photographs printed upon them are beautiful and true to the originals.

I also like how much flexibility they gave me with how I wanted the back of the cards to look.

Honestly, I don't know if I could be more satisfied with how these cards came out! They make me so happy just to look at. It's going to be hard giving them away... lol

Friday, June 22, 2012

a neighbor's space.

A Neighbor's Space

When arriving home Wednesday evening, I bumped into my neighbors, two girls who live downstairs from me. I had seen them both before and we exchanged hellos, but we hadn't yet had the chance to really talk. Cathy was helping Brianna out the door with her bike and then Cathy and I walked upstairs to our respective apartment doors. Their wide-eyed cat named Raja sat in the hallway staring at us and their apartment door was open. I couldn't help but notice the beauty and light of their apartment entryway.

We got to talking and she graciously allowed me to take a few photos of their adorable apartment. What was striking was that a lot of the most interesting elements of their decor were actually DIY and recycled projects they had done themselves.

For instance, the two interesting shelves shown above under the window were actually made from a chair they accidentally broke.

Cathy told me that this beautiful bathroom wallpaper was already in the bathroom when they moved in. Lucky! I think it is absolutely stunning and almost has a Victorian feel to it.

Above all, these girls have amazing stories and goals. Cathy is currently finishing up her undergraduate degree, but she hopes to eventually open up her own center for children and teens to use as a creative outlet. She told me that Brianna traveled to India, developed a term called "food culture" there, and wrote about poverty in Mumbai. She's even been published!

And here is the lovely Cathy playing footsy with Raja!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

recipe: chocolate chip banana bread.

1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup softened salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups overripe bananas
at least a 1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Baking tools:
1 set of measuring cups and spoon
1 electric beater
1 liquid measuring cup (optional)
1 large spoon
1 spatula
2 large bowls
1 9"x5" bread loaf pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together the brown sugar, softened butter, and eggs. Add a dash of natural vanilla extract. Add the overripe bananas to this wet mix. Add the dry mix to the wet mix and mix together with a large spoon. Next, add the chocolate chips and fold them into the batter until evenly spread throughout. You can alter the amount of chocolate chips to suit your taste. Rub a light layer of butter onto the bread loaf pan to prevent sticking and empty the batter into it. Spread out evenly.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for an hour. Test that the loaf is thoroughly cooked by inserting a knife or fork and removing it. If there is batter on the knife, cook for another 15 minutes and test again. In order to prevent the bread from crumbling when cutting a piece for the loaf, allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

Et... voila!

Yummy. :)


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

5 things I love Tuesday.

This past week has been so enjoyable. I haven't slept much, but I've been doing loads of things that I enjoy. I wish I could live on less sleep on a regular basis. I'd like to abide by the saying "I can sleep when I'm dead," but my body is totally addicted to sleep... and plenty of it.

Anyways, here are five things that I've really enjoyed this week.

1. Sundresses

It's been so hot and sunny this week in Albany. Sundresses are a great way to keep cool while still look put-together and feminine. The side cut-outs in this dress also offer additional ventilation.

2. Mini iPhone lenses

Last night, my boyfriend surprised me with two mini lenses he found online. One is a macro lens which can take incredibly close-up shots in great detail (shown below) and the other is a wide-angle lens which can capture up to 40% more of a space in a photo. It's amazing how great the camera is for the iPhone and these lenses make the iPhone camera's potential even greater.

3. My goofy pets

My mother and stepfather traveled to Chicago this past weekend to participate in some kind of bike marathon event, so I was in charge of "house-sitting," which basically consisted of taking care of our two pets. Blinky, our 15-year-old shih-tzu, is such an old grandpa and yet such a puppy at heart. Yes, he is laying with his legs stretched out behind him like a human. Mystery, our ~13-year-old cat, is quite antisocial, but still so very entertaining. (:
Since moving into an apartment downtown, I don't go home very often and when I do I'm mainly just stopping by to pick something up or drop something off and run. It was so nice to get to spend some time relaxing back at home with our awesome pets.

And now, a couple Albany-specific gems.

4. Fuzz Records on Lark Street

When I first saw this place, I didn't really understand how it would be able to stay in business. There are only about 100 or so albums being sold at any given time, if I had to guess. However, when I entered the place and looked around I realized that this record shop perfectly embodies the concept of quality over quantity. Also of importance, Fuzz Records is the only record store in Albany that specializes specifically in new music (new vinyl records). I really appreciate the fact that records are coming back into popularity. I still maintain that no song sounds as good as when it is played on a record.

5. Dove & Hudson on... Dove and Hudson

This used bookstore in Albany never ceases to entertain me. I could spend hours in this shop and not get bored. They're selection is broad, yet refined. They focus on classics rather than "fad" novels. Also, they seem to only purchase used books that are in extremely good condition. For every $10 you spend, you get a purple dollar to use towards your next purchase.
Don't forget to bring your purple money!

So, these are things that have been particularly amusing to me this week. Hopefully, this week will be as epic as this past one!

Cara xoxo

Monday, June 18, 2012

saratoga farmers' market and mrs. london's bakery.

This past Saturday, my best friend Erika and I voyaged to Saratoga Springs for the acclaimed weekly farmers' market. I figured this would be a new experience and that the photo opportunities would be abundant. There were so many interesting colors and color combinations. Also, it was just so nice to be surrounded by people looking to eat fresh meat and produce and who genuinely care about keeping our community healthy. Here are some photos from our excursion:

These cinnamon buns were out of this world. I bought one for Tim as a little treat for his birthday. They were practically the size of a frisbee and about three inches deep.

On our way to Mrs. London's, a bakery on Broadway, the main street in Saratoga, we came across the eclectic shop that sold the most seemingly random things. Very entertaining.

We also found this cart filled with awesome cigar boxes. Apparently, the corner cigar shop / smoke room  in Saratoga sells their cigar cases once they're empty.

I decided to buy a Living Social coupon for Mrs. London's a few months ago after reading some stellar reviews on the place. The deal was $10 for $20, so you can probable guess that I was super thrilled to spend $20 on beautiful and scrumptious pastries.

It was one of the best weekends I've had this year! It was also Tim's birthday on Sunday, so we celebrated Saturday night over many delicious beers at Bomber's on Lark Street and then by playing Dance Central with his roommates back at their place. On Sunday, we went to the record store, Dove and Hudson, and Caffé Vero. Then, he finished off his three stamps for a birthday tee-shirt at Wolff's Biergarten and the Olde English. I might post some pictures from Sunday at some point this week.

I hope you're all having a lovely Monday and thank you so much for reading!

Cara xoxo

Friday, June 15, 2012

some healthy choices.

So, I've been making a concerted effort to live a happier and healthier lifestyle. This of course includes eating healthier. While kind of a ritual-based person when it comes to my diet, I do like to change things up every now and then or build upon meals and snacks I eat frequently.

Below is the recipe for a delicious smoothie I made the other day. In my opinion, this is a delicious and nutritious breakfast and a great way to kick-start your metabolism in the morning. I only use a half cup of the yogurt.

Inside the blender (blend-ah!).

Yummy. :) Smoothies always taste better through a straw. Well, I mean... what doesn't?

I've also been trying to come up with ways to liven up my salads in a way that spans an array of vitamins. This has been my favorite salad spruce-up method as of late.

1. Choose your salad.
Try to choose something other than romaine or iceberg. Although these do have fiber, they possess less nutritional value than say mesclun mix, spring mix, or baby spinach. I like to mix my salads: half mesclun, half spinach.

2. Shredded carrots!
Carrots are rich in fiber and vitamin A. They also carry beta carotene which serves as an immune booster and antioxidant. My mother attributes her youthful glow to all the baby carrots she eats on a daily basis!

3. Chick peas!
Chick peas are great because they're loaded with fiber and iron and they also taste great! It's also to have them in a salad because they really fill you up. If you're not into chick peas, try some kind of marinaded chicken or lean meat.

3. Salad toppers!
I throw these salad toppers in because I think it adds more interest to the taste of my salad. I also love the crunch. It's important not to go overboard on these, though, because they contain a relatively high amount of fat and sodium. A small amount of fat in your meal will help you absorb certain kinds of vitamins and vitamin precursors (like beta carotene!).

 I hope you enjoyed this post and I especially hope that you all have a fantabulous weekend!!

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