Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

[Perfect together // Barbados]

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The Ultimate Dessert

Earlier this year I saw this “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie n’ Oreo Fudge Brownie Bar” recipe here. The second I laid eyes on this decadent treat I know who I had to make it for. My brother, Matt, absolutely loves sweets and he is one of my favorite people to bake for. His birthday was the perfect excuse to give him this outrageous combination of his favorite sweets. A layer of chocolate chip cookies, topped with a layer of double stuffed Oreos, topped with a layer of fudgey brownies, topped off with classic vanilla ice cream. Anyone with a sweet tooth needs to try this out.. and I need to get this insane dessert out of my house so I will stop eating it!

Underwater Art

Since we returned from Barbados, I can’t stop thinking about our snorkeling adventure. The underwater world is so different from anything I have ever seen before. A while back I was watching a discovery channel special on unique art around the world, and they spent some time discussing Jason deCaires Taylor. He takes real people and does molds of their entire bodies and then sculpts them into cement! The sculptures are then submerged into the sea creating an underwater gallery that later doubles as a home for marine life.

“With this range of experiences he was equipping himself with the skills required to execute the ambitious underwater projects that have made his name. Carving cement instead of stone and supervising cranes while in full scuba gear to create artificial reefs submerged below the surface of the Caribbean Sea, the various strands of his diverse life resolve themselves convincingly in the development of his underwater sculptures. These ambitious, public works have a practical, functional aspect, facilitating positive interactions between people and fragile underwater habitats.”

Being an art major in college and having such a love for the sea makes these exhibits twice as enticing to me. I can’t imagine how breathtaking these must be in person… I hope I find out for myself one day.

The Process:

The finished products:

all photos via

White Pizza

As I mentioned here, my boyfriend is obsessed with pizza. As I continue on with my pizza challenge, I decided to make one of my favorite pies: white pizza.I have gone through many “pizza stages” in my life. From extra cheese to no cheese, from no sauce to only sauce, and so on and so forth. I drove my parents crazy with my insane eating habits. When I used to remove the cheese from my pizza, they used to say I was the best person to eat with because they would grab all of my scraps (aka the best parts!) But now, I’m not exactly the best eating buddy because I seem to love all pizza thrown my way – leaving basically no scraps. Eating this pie made me wonder why I have been unintentionally neglecting white pizza for so long. I am definitely going back on a white pizza kick.

This was relatively easy to make, although I didn’t follow a recipe and just hoped for the best. Here’s what I did:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. I used a 9″ round greased pan (since I don’t have a pizza tray yet) and stretched the dough to fit the pan.
  3. Mix together a few tablespoons of olive oil and garlic- put into a pan and bring it to a slight boil.
  4. Brush the garlic oil onto the pizza dough everywhere except for a half an inch around the border.
  5. Mix together ricotta cheese with your favorite seasonings – I just used salt and pepper.
  6. Scoop generous amounts of the ricotta mixture onto the pizza dough- spread evenly. I usually see pizza places doing globs of ricotta, but I wanted to spread it. This way, every bite has mozzarella AND ricotta!
  7. Add as much or as little shredded mozzarella (or any cheese mixture) on top as desired.
  8. Place into preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  9. Enjoy

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

[Leaving St. Thomas // U.S. Virgin Islands]

This is my first time participating in the Weekly Photo Challenge – as soon as I saw the topic, I was inspired. I couldn’t even pick one, so here are a few of my favorite pictures that I have taken revolving around the sun.

[Rooftop Bar in New York City]

[On a private beach in Laguna Beach, CA]

[The sun reflecting off of a building in New York City]

[Nassau, Bahamas // Sunrise]

New York, From Above

One of my favorite things about working in Manhattan is that I will never run out of things to do. During my lunch breaks I love to wander around and find hidden gems of the city. However, every once in a while I like to head to an old classic as well. My favorite [touristy] place to go is the top of Rockefeller Center. This is hands down, my favorite view of the city. Every time I see it, it baffles my mind… How is it that in a concrete jungle like New York, there is a perfectly rectangular forest directly in the center of it. I guess with all of the madness around, people need a place to retreat. A few pictures, from above.

Flying Above the Clouds

Skydiving has always been at the top of my bucket list. I’m not exactly an adrenaline junkie, but I knew this had to be something I did before I died. We headed out to the ranch, a two-hour drive from where I live, just to find out that it was too windy for us to jump. I kid you not, this happened to us 3 times (I have to admit it was slightly comforting to know they wouldn’t push it and let people go in improper conditions.)  We were beginning to think it wasn’t meant to be. So when we finally got the go-ahead, we couldn’t have been more excited. After getting a brief training session, watching a short video, and signing our lives away, we were finally ready to board the plane.

We were flying at 13,500 feet when they opened the door to the airplane, and they told me I was going first! We walked to the edge of the plane and the view was unlike anything I have ever seen. I didn’t have much time to take it in (the said they would count to three and then we should jump), but  I don’t really think I “jumped,” as much as I think the awesome guy I was attached to just shoved me out the door. It is impossible to describe how I felt while I was falling from the sky that day. I was falling so fast, yet I felt like I was stuck motionless in time. It’s not that I couldn’t breathe, it’s just that I was forgetting too. Seeing the world from above – literally flying through the clouds… Falling at speeds faster than I drive.

The scariest part for me is when he ejected the parachute and it seemed like we jolted back high up into the air, when in actuality all it did was slow us down. I’m pretty sure the only words I screamed were “holy shit!” over and over. As we were slowly descending, it was a completely different feeling — like a feather slowly falling to the earth. While some people had a hard landing, we seemed to glide at the perfect angle to drop me off right on my feet. This couldn’t have been a more perfect day. This is definitely something I will, without a doubt, do again.

[my friend Jen and I // our reactions right after we landed]

Fading Pink Layer Cake

This was a serious cake. I was celebrating a 14th birthday this past weekend… The birthday girl’s favorite color is pink, so I decided it was the perfect time to try out the fading layer cake which I have been dying to make.  This cake is actually really simple. The main thing you need to know is that you need to make white (not yellow) cake, and you need to only use egg-whites (instead of full eggs.) The colors won’t be as pure if your cake is off-white in any way. I used this food coloring for the “electric pink” color (this color paste was also used here.) Basically, you want to start with a drop or two of food coloring, and continue to add more for each batch. The downfall to the coloring paste was that it didn’t come out in drops, so I was guestimating — I also only have two circle pans, so this process took kind of a long time, and it was a tad more difficult not being able to see the 6 batches of dyed cake batter next to each other. But all in all, I think it came out great and it was completely worth the work and huge mess it made in my kitchen! She was completely shocked to cut into the cake and realize it was so much more on the inside then it seemed from the outside.

Meet Me in Ecuador

Let me start by saying that last year I was lucky enough to take an amazing vacation to Ecuador with my boyfriend and his family. This was one of the best vacations of my life, and while we were there for a very short period of time, I was privileged to see so many amazing places, experience so many new things, and make memories that will stay with me forever. I can not wait to take another trip to South America.

Guayaquil. This is where our nomadic vacation started. Guayaquil is one of the largest cities in Ecuador. We spent most of our time here visiting famous landmarks and places of the families past. They spent this time slowly breaking me into the culture…

[the fish at the airport // a tower of live crabs!]

[past leaders]

[the 444th stair, that lead us to a breathtaking view of the city // the lighthouse at the top // the Church that Ruben’s parents went to when they were little]

[overlooking the city of Guayaquil]

[the famous Ecuadorian breakfast // a “bolon” which is made of plantains and cheese. It was so delicious, and if you are a fan of plantains, they come on the side of everything here!]

[the Iguana park which was basically filled with exhibitionist animals]

[Monument depicting the meeting for the independence of South America]

Salinas. We headed to Salinas for a few short days to visit some family. I was extremely excited to finally head to the coast! Guayaquil is mainly inland, so the first site of ocean practically made me scream.

[an amazing “sand castle” welcoming people to the beach]

[I was told we were going to the best oyster restaurant in Salinas. I was not expecting to walk into this place. However, it really did live up to its name. They would literally dive into the ocean (which was less the 100 yards away), bring up the oysters, clean them and prepare them right in front of you. They could not be fresher]

[part of the oyster prepping process]

[the beach at night]

[soup you ask? no that bowl is actually filled with thousands of baby SHRIMP // enjoying some science at an amazing shrimp farm]

[a coconut stand on the drive home from Salinas // aka a guy on the side of the road with a machete]

Puerto Lopez. I won’t touch on this too much, because I already have another post dedicated to it. Here are a few pictures to sum it up, but check out  more details of our quick day trip/adventure whale watching.

[Whale Watching]

[the water, once it finally calmed after the mini-storm that was going on during whale watching!]

[birds feasting on a dead fish]

[Montanita // Also known as “Hippie Beach”]

Quito. Quito was a definite must see for me during our trip to Ecuador. It was around 8 hours from where we were staying in Guayaquil, so we ended up flying there for a day, since the flight was under an hour. One day was not nearly enough time, but for one day we managed to see a lot!

[the middle of the world]

[the Equator]

[Me in the Northern Hemisphere and Ruben in the Southern Hemisphere]

[A church made almost entirely of gold // the statue of “Virgin of Quito” which overlooks the entire city]

[view of Quito]

[altitude- this is why it was semi-hard to breathe here]

[another gorgeous church]

I can’t wait to go back. Next time I will definitely be heading to the Galapagos Islands!