Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Address

I'm moving A Blog Of One's Own to Wordpress — check me out, as always, at or at

See you there!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1 Day Until Christmas

I double-dog dare ya not to get sucked into the marathon of A Christmas Story on TV today. It's the best Christmas movie ever!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2 Days Until Christmas

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

I borrowed a coworker's recipe and baked double chocolate walnut biscotti this month for Have The Cake. I'm bringing them to my mom's house for Christmas tomorrow. Todd is a chocolate addict, and much of our holiday desserts are cocoa-free, so I thought I'd throw him a bone with this one. No one has tasted these yet, but I have sampled them thoroughly, and deem them a success!

I tried to take pictures throughout, but the pile of raw dough really doesn't look appetizing in the photo, so I'm not posting it. Below is a view of the logs, pre-baking.

Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the logs post-baking but before cutting. They basically looked like steaming loaves of chocolate bread. Nothin' wrong with that.

And here are a couple of shots of the biscotti cooling on the cookie sheet right after they came out after the second bake. I could have baked them a minute or two longer the second time around to get a real crunch, but I was afraid to over do it. They are quite good, so I won't complain.

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup walnut, chopped
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 350 F and butter and flour a large baking sheet.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined well. Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

On prepared baking sheet with floured hands form dough into two slightly flattened logs, each 12 inches long and 2 inches wide, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Bake logs 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet 5 minutes.

On a cutting board cut biscotti diagonally into 3/4 inch slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool biscotti on a rack. Biscotti keep in airtight containers 1 week (frozen, 1 month).

3 Days Until Christmas

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 Days Until Christmas

Sunday, December 20, 2009

5 Days Until Christmas

Saturday, December 19, 2009

6 Days Until Christmas

Friday, December 18, 2009

7 Days Until Christmas

Thursday, December 17, 2009

8 Days Until Christmas

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

9 Days Until Christmas

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 Days Until Christmas

Monday, December 14, 2009

11 Days Until Christmas

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12 Days Until Christmas

Saturday, December 12, 2009

13 Days Until Christmas

Friday, December 11, 2009

Small Successes

Yesterday was a day of accomplishments. A huge project at work met a major milestone, and it was such a relief! Naturally, some projects are tougher than others, but this one really was trying at times! I also finished one of my two classes. My group gave our final presentation in market research. For the last 15 weeks we've studied Whole Foods, and last night we shared our findings, insights, and recommendations. I'm very happy to say that the whole thing came off swimmingly.

It's Friday, I'm getting my haircut this afternoon, and I'm off to see my mom and sister for a quick pre-Christmas visit tomorrow. All in all, things are pretty good.

14 Days Until Christmas

Thursday, December 10, 2009

15 Days Until Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

16 Days Until Christmas

I need a little Christmas

I hate Captivate, the television in elevators. Just about everything they post is irrelevant, stupid, biased or a combination of the three. That said, they had a poll this morning that I thought was a little interesting (They're big fans of polls over at Captivate, because it drives traffic to their site which adds up to more advertising dollars for them. I never go to their polls). The question was:

What holiday song best captures your mood this season?

Without a doubt, for me it's "We Need a Little Christmas." Tomorrow night marks the final session for one of my classes. Next Thursdays is the last day of my other. And starting on 12/19 I'm away from work for two weeks for vacation. Never have I felt like I needed a break more. I'm pooped! I can't wait to sleep in, read lots of novels, see season 3 of Dexter, and bake. It's going to be glorious.

What song captures your moods?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

17 Days Until Christmas

Monday, December 7, 2009

18 Days Until Christmas

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I got [a] fit!

Well, you all know this isn't about me getting healthy — not at this time of year! No, this is about me getting wheels!

You know how much Todd and I have considered a car, a moped, a scooter, a motorcycle: something to help us get out of the city more. We got a bee in our bonnet about it again a few weeks ago and started looking around on Craig's List. I thought we'd stumbled upon a good used car. It was old and definitely well used, but the woman selling it seemed completely legit, and the car seemed good for what it was — something just to get us from point A to point B. We took it to a garage to have it looked at, because that's what you're supposed to do with used cars. But I really believed it would check out and we'd buy it for a song. Unfortunately, the mechanic said that it wasn't worth it, there were too many things that needed fixing, and that he'd never recommend buying it. So, back to the drawing board. The same mechanic did have a VW Beetle that he was storing for a woman who was looking to sell, though. It was also several years old, but he said he'd worked on it for ages and knew it was solid. Unfortunately, by the next weekend when our schedules allowed us to go back to the mechanic, it had already sold. Back to the drawing board again.

By now, Todd and I had had a week to think about driving around in an adorable little Beetle. So cute, and so easy for parking on these mean streets! So it's back to Craig's List just for Beetles. There was one that looked REALLY promising way out east bumble Brooklyn. We made our way out there last week, which was no easy accomplishment in and of itself. The car seemed ok, but I got a terrible, awful, no good, very bad feeling from the guy selling it, and we walked away. Another trip to Craig's List, another used Beetle later, we thought we found another one we liked. We ran the Car Fax, though, and saw that it was a salvaged vehicle, which was not a game we wanted to play.

At this point, Todd and I both felt soured on the used car hunt. So many of the people we were dealing with seemed shady, and there were so many opportunities for us to be taken for a ride (no pun intended). And given the low price point we started out with, it seemed really unlikely that we'd be able to find something that wouldn't suck. It was time to reassess.

We did some online research, found some cars we liked, and visited a couple of dealers. I hated the guys at the Toyota place, and the Prius wasn't really in our price range anyway. The guys at the Nissan dealership completely ignored us, so we ditched them, too. Honda was always at the top of our list with three cars we were really interested in: the Insight (their hybrid), the Civic (I know a lot of people who have these), and the Fit. We went to their dealership out in Queens and test drove all three. We loved the Insight because it was better for the environment and in terms of gas mileage. But driving it taught me that hybrids are pretty sluggish out of the gate. Once you're going their fine, but they may not be the best for quick city maneuvers. More important, it was the most expensive of the three. They had some deals on the Civic, but the new model is much bigger than it used to be, and I kind of hated it. It really felt like something some suburban dad would drive on his way to the office every day. Its big sedan-ish-ness also made me remember my days in Chicago driving that boat of a Ford Taurus. The car was fine, but it's not something I've ever missed.

The Fit I liked, though. I've always been partial to hatchbacks, and this was somehow both small and roomy at the same time. The mileage is pretty good, it drove well, and the price was right (especially after my mad negotiation skillz kicked in. Todd was impressed!). We walked out with a lease on a brand new car!

So now I'm looking forward to many more trips. That means many of you will have me on your couches in 2010!

19 Days Until Christmas

Saturday, December 5, 2009

1 Day: 2 Birthdays

Todd and Dylan share a birthday, and that birthday was today. Dylan really outgrew his bike this summer; by August he basically looked like one of those clowns who ride teeny-tiny bikes for comic effect. He hated it. So we got him a new bike, cherry red, for the big 1-0, and he seemed very pleased.

The kids and I gave Todd a new pair of shoes that he picked out himself a few weeks ago, so no big surprise there. But we did catch him off guard with the new pasta machine we gave him, too. We had such fun making pasta at Rena's a few months ago that I decided to really take advantage of his innate Italian talents and see what we could make here at home. He was both surprised and very excited. And I'm excited for all the good eats.

I also baked a couple of cakes. Todd's of course, was chocolate: a devil's food cake with chocolate pudding mix, chocolate chips, and chocolate frosting. It was too much chocolate for me, but he loved it. I'll confess (and I feel somewhat ashamed, given our Have The Cake-ness), the cake was one of those boxed cake adaptations. This is the second time I've made it, and both times it's been delicious. It's so moist and fluffy and good. I know I should be doing it all from scratch, but this was better than my coconut cake! I also made a cake for Dylan's party tomorrow (no girls allowed!). I went for the straight out of the box version for that, and didn't even bother adapting it to make it better. I just couldn't pull off two amazing cakes along with everything else that's going on right now. I'm sure he and his friends will like the cake regardless of its Betty Crocker origins.

Here's Todd's cake all frosted and ready to go. Sofia has become my baking apprentice, eager to help with every project. As I was frosting this, she started narrating everything I was doing as though we were on a cooking show. It was hilarious, and I have no idea where it came from. And what she's doing in this photo is anyone's guess. She had a lot of various poses going on as I was photographing the cake — there's also a zombie picture and a pretend sleeping picture.

20 Days Until Christmas

Friday, December 4, 2009

Is it stealing when it's from your own family?

My sister Veronica does a very fun count down to Christmas each year on her blog. Basically it's a graphic advent calendar with fun holiday pictures and an announcement of how many days there are until Christmas.

My family is not religious, but I still love Christmas with all my heart. I loved it for the obvious reasons when I was a kid — presents! Now I love it because it's often the only time in a year when my whole family is together (and still a little for presents!). My mom, sisters, and I usually manage to see each other one-on-one here and there throughout the year, but it's never quite as much as I want. And with busy schedules we're a full group all too infrequently.

So in a countdown to the gathering, I'm shamelessly copying my sister's blog advent calendar idea. A few back-dated posts will be coming soon, too, to make up for the first few days of December.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

22 Days Unti Christmas

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

23 Days Until Christmas

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

24 Days Until Christmas