Friday, October 26, 2012

25 Best Blogs of 2012

Time Magazine released its list of the 25 Best Blogs of 2012 this week.

Some of my favorites (Design*Sponge and Bon AppĂ©tempt) made the list but there were several that were new to me (The Billfold, Wandering Earl and Awesome People Hanging Out Together) and are now saved to my reading list.

Which on the list are your favorites?

Anything you love that didn't make the list? For me, it's Humans of New York. I only happened upon it recently but could literally look at the blog for HOURS. Seriously, lost in it...kind of like how I get lost in Pinterest.

Friday Playlist: Halloween

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that I’ve been adding a lot of new regular features. One of those features is going to be the Friday playlist. I listen to music—all kinds of music—all the time. At work, I have headphones on. In the car, the volume is all the way up (or at least as loud as I can take it). I do switch over to the news every now and then but generally, it’s all about the music. It helps me through rough times and provides the soundtrack for the good times. I can fix a song to most parts of my life. Ok, you get it.

I was creating a Friday playlist last week for the drive home (it’s a long commute) and when I got home, I continued listening to the playlist while I got ready for date night. As usually, the music helped me shake off the week and allowed me to dance like no one was watching (very freeing—try it if you haven’t). I decided after that to start a Friday Playlist feature on the blog.

This week, the theme is Halloween. I’ve done playlists for many a Halloween party. Usually, I pepper the Halloween themed songs in with good party songs and current hits. For the Friday Playlist, it’s all about the theme. So, here is the dark, creepy playlist with a little Halloween kitsch and classic thrown in for good measure. I mean really…what’s a Halloween playlist without Thriller, Rocky Horror and Monster Mash??

Life Lately

Mommy, can we play now? Please, please, please???/Hand-painted menu at Charrito's in Hoboken/Stuffed pizza in Chicago/Kisses from Storm

E-card on Pinterest that made me laugh and encouraged me at the same time/A seriously full glass of wine at a bar in Hoboken/Wine and popcorn in Chicago/Encouragement to keep pursuing my passions.

Quick upsweep for date night/Cloud Gate/Mismatched boots (need a nap)/Lola in her new sweater

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lessons from the Inside of a Mayonnaise Jar

Working full time, volunteering and doing the work to pave the way for the life I want to live has gotten a bit overwhelming. I can't remember the last time I went to sleep before 3 a.m. and I am always up by 7:30--though I may hit the snooze button for 15 minutes or so. I'm truly burning the candle at both ends and lately I see my passions taking a back seat. 

Feeling overwhelmed and in need of a reality check about what was important, I started sorting through my daily inspirational e-mails. Among them, I found the story of the professor with the mayonnaise jar. You may have heard it before but for the last month, I've continually returned to it for a reminder that I can't put the small things first. When I do, there is no room for what's truly important. I begin to feel uncomfortable and frustrated. When I put the important things first, I can generally shuffle the smaller things around and make it work.

For whatever reason, this story--though I've heard things like it before--really focuses me. Seriously, I'm thinking of getting a mayonnaise jar for my desk. If I do, I'll let you know. In the meantime, read (or re-read) the story. I'm going to do the same and then have a cup of hot chocolate (too late for coffee) with the husband. It's been a crazy, hectic week for both of us and we need to catch up. It's a golf ball kinda thing (you'll get that after reading the story).


A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and fills it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – God, family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.” he said.
“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you…” he told them.

“So… pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shout Out: The Body Love Blog

Chances are you've heard of Stella Boonshoft but if you haven't you need to check her out on The Body Love Blog.

Her blog started just about a month ago with a simple quote by Marilyn Wann.

"The only thing that anyone can diagnose, with any certainty, by looking at a fat person, is their own level of stereotype and prejudice toward fat people." Since then, she's been on a mission to get people to stop hating their bodies. 

Then, two weeks ago, she put up the post that went viral. Here it is:

WARNING: Picture might be considered obscene because subject is not thin. And we all know that only skinny people can show their stomachs and celebrate themselves. Well I’m not going to stand for that. This is my body. Not yours. MINE. Meaning the choices I make about it, are none of your fucking business. Meaning my size, IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.

If my big belly and fat arms and stretch marks and thick thighs offend you, then that’s okay. I’m not going to hide my body and my being to benefit your delicate sensitivities.

This picture is for the strange man at my nanny’s church who told me my belly was too big when I was five.

This picture is for my horseback riding trainer telling me I was too fat when I was nine.

This picture is for the girl from summer camp who told me I’d be really pretty if I just lost a few pounds

This picture is for all the fucking stupid advertising agents who are selling us cream to get rid of our stretch marks, a perfectly normal thing most people have (I got mine during puberty)

This picture is for the boy at the party who told me I looked like a beached whale.

This picture is for Emily from middle school, who bullied me incessantly, made mocking videos about me, sent me nasty emails, and called me “lard”. She made me feel like I didn’t deserve to exist. Just because I happened to be bigger than her. I was 12. And she continued to bully me via social media into high school.
MOST OF ALL, this picture is for me. For the girl who hated her body so much she took extreme measures to try to change it. Who cried for hours over the fact she would never be thin. Who was teased and tormented and hurt just for being who she was.

I’m so over that.


and FUCK YOU ALL who tried to degrade my being and sense of self with your hurtful comments and actions.


Standing ovation! Now, Stella is in the process of changing her blog a bit to make it more about her mission and less about her personal life.

Do yourself a favor and follow her blog. We should all be this brave and not just when it comes to our bodies. The courage to be all of who you are is the most beautiful thing in the world. Loving yourself first allows you to be the gift you are to the world. In short, one of my favorite books says it best: "What you think of me is none of my business." Live your life free of worry about what others think.

Also check out Gala Darling: The Radical Self Love Project.

Know of other blogs about proud self acceptance? Share them in the comments section.

Stepping Out of the Box

I wouldn’t say I have an issue with control but I am a maker of to do lists and I like to have a plan most of the time. Ok…honestly, I do like to be in control. I don’t like being the weak one in a situation and I like to know what’s coming. For better or worse, life just doesn’t allow that to happen.

If I’ve learned anything this year, it is that a to do list is fine but plans aren’t guarantees. It’s just a mental list of how we want things to go. You know that old saying that we make plans and God laughs? Yeeeaaahhh. Totally true.

Because of this year, I’ve learned to step out of my tidy little mental box and let go of plans. I could have gotten extra rigid considering all of the medication I have to take, the doctor appointments to make and the health/rest considerations that are now ever-present in my life.

Instead, when I’m not working, I go where the moment takes me. Ash played a big part in that because that is what he does. He is not a list maker and has no idea what he’s doing 6 weeks from now unless it involves date night or a shoot. That used to frustrate me but I learned to just go with the flow.

Life is so much easier because I left the rigidity in the box. I use my list making love where it’s needed to minimize stress (paying bills, projects at work and for my blogs, packing for a trip). For the rest of my life, it’s all about being present in the moment. Every day contains the opportunity to do and learn something new. No bucket list here. Just enjoying life as much as I can through random times of the fabulous kind.

Why share that? Well, it has decreased my stress level and opened me up to some awesome experiences. I think anything that lends itself to greater happiness is worth sharing.

Let’s start a movement. Anyone feel like dropping the reigns with me?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happiness Set Point

Happy times--guess this is the 40%.

Have you heard of the Happiness Set Point?

I’ve heard the term “set-point” used with reference to weight many times (so I’ve been on lots diet in my life—don’t judge) but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve heard it used repeatedly when talking about happiness.

The guiding force behind the theory? Happiness is based on temperament. Events like winning the lottery (good) or losing a limb (bad) only affect happiness levels for a few months. Then, we return to our set-point.

This shook me a bit because I always felt that my outlook and certain life events had the power to change my level of happiness.

Take winning the lottery (since that’s the example the study used) for instance. I don’t want to speak for you but I’ve certainly had a fantasy about winning the lottery or coming into some other large sum of money that would take me from a working Jane to private jets and secluded islands. But really, it’s not because I want the money for the status it provides. Rather, it is about having the financial security that will afford me the ability to truly choose my path and live my dreams without worrying about earning and paying bills.

Freedom + Financial Security=Happiness

And there are other events after which I don’t think I could return to a set point (good or bad).

Having a baby.

Losing a family member.

Owning my own business and thriving off of it.

There have been other studies testing the theory. One says genetics make up 50% of happiness. Experience/Intentional Activity makes up 40% and outside circumstances make up 10%.

Before I bore you too much (if I haven’t already), I’ll just say maybe happy should just be about a feeling and not about the science behind it. I guess it is whatever gets me there. If 50% of it is pre-determined, I’m pushing to fill up the rest of my experience and circumstances with as much joy as possible. If the set point is anything like the body during weight loss, it can shift. Here’s to shifting!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Quotable

"A man who is a master of patience is
master of everything else."
--George Savile

Truth moment? I'd planned another quote for today and then I needed to look up quotes about patience because it has been one of those mornings. I commuted for an hour and a half to get to an appointment aimed at getting me on the right dose of blood thinners. When I got there, the parking garage attached to the building was full and I had to find an alternate, which led to me having to run (which is pretty hard with the PAH compromising my lungs) to make my appointment. As fate would have it, I got there just as the nurse did and she had to calibrate the machine before seeing me. I was in the waiting room for 20 minutes, they saw me for 2 minutes to prick my finger and then said I'd have to come back next week. Third week in a row. I used to go to a clinic 5 minutes from my house. Now, I have to...ok, I'll stop with my litany of complaints about going to the doctor. You get it.  

I left the office in a rush to get to work as I was already 30 minutes late at this point. It took me 45 minutes to get across town...six blocks to be exact. LOVE that NYC traffic.

As I was about to get into the tunnel, this happened.

Yes, the truck just stopped at an angle in the middle of the street to make a delivery blocking everyone behind him. I felt myself hitting the end of my patience. Once he finally moved, I pushed forward like a typical New Yorker--honking horns, zooming around people and trying to make it through crosswalks before people started walking. After I exited the tunnel, I discovered there was a building fire causing a lot of the traffic. I felt terrible for my short fuse. There are people out there going through real issues and there I was letting traffic and being late ruin my day.

I made a note to myself to get a friggin' grip and focus on something that makes me happy. I said a quick prayer for the people impacted by the fire and turned on some good music to get through the rest of the drive. The first thing I looked for when I had a free moment was quotes about patience.

Mastering patience is a lifelong process--or at least it seems like that to me. This quote seemed to fit though I don't know if you really become master of everything else once you master patience. I think you just develop a tolerance to get through everything else.

The quote I was originally going to use?

"If you aren't living on the edge,
you're taking up too much space."
--Marshawn Evans

When I first heard the quote (at a great conference I went to last week), I thought "who wants to live on the edge all the time?" It sounds stressful. Then, as is usually the case, I changed my mind after sitting with the quote for a while. It's not necessarily about living a life of constant drama or running head first into stress. It's about taking the risks that will get you to the next level...about living your dreams and running on whatever is the cutting edge of your life to you can get to the next level. At the same time, if you're going through the motions each day and staying in a rut (which I've been guilty of many times during my life), you're off the edge and you're not contributing whatever gift you are meant to give to the world.

As a couch potato, I'm taking up space no matter what justification I use (tired, mentally blocked, stressed, etc.). I'm that much further from my dreams and further from jumping from the proverbial edge up to the next level. That quote was the inspiration I needed to keep teetering on the edge of something new for my life rather than resting on my laurels (or my comfy, cozy couch).

There, two for the price of one. Happy Monday!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Encouragement

Long week? Me too! But, it is Friday and as I prepare to dive head first into the weekend, I wanted to leave you with Danielle LaPorte's latest gift. This poster is awesome encouragement. You can download it for yourself here. Have a great weekend!

Danielle LaPorte's Credo For Making It Happen Poster.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

An Ordinary Day

or•di•nar•y, adj.
1. Commonly encountered; usual. Synonym: common
2. Of no exceptional ability, degree, or quality; average; Of inferior quality; second-rate.
While Ash and I were in Chicago, I noticed several large, colorful banners on a building across the street from Millennium Park. They all said “I WANT TO BE ORDINARY.”

Forgive the quality. It was taken with an iPhone from across the street.

My initial thought was, “Why would I want to be ordinary?” The whole point of pursuing my dreams, helping others, and thinking positively is not to be ordinary. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not to gain acclaim or recognition but it is to live a life that leaves a positive impact on the people I love. I don’t want a headstone when I die but if I did, I wouldn’t want it to say, “Here lies Nicole. She was ordinary.” I mean, just look at the definition! Second-rate? No thank you.

I walked away from the signs and into the park to see Cloud Gate/The Bean but I was still thinking about why I had such an adverse reaction to the phrase. Something strange happened. Thinking through it actually changed my mind a bit.

Sometimes, ordinary isn’t ordinary. Sometimes, it’s an awesome alternative. So much has gone on in my life this year health wise. To be ordinary (read: healthy) honestly doesn’t seem bad at all. In fact, it would be a blessing. The signs suddenly took on new meaning for me (and made me want one of the banners for my house).

Having accepted that the big banners weren’t so off base after all, I went to Google for the meaning behind the “I AM ORDINARY” project. Industry of the Ordinary wasn’t hard to find. Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson are the artists/educators behind the project. Their mission is:

“Through sculpture, text, photography, video, sound and performance Industry of the Ordinary are dedicated to an exploration and celebration of the customary, the everyday, and the usual. Their emphasis is on challenging pejorative notions of the ordinary and, in doing so, moving beyond the quotidian.”

The organization has been around since 2003. It started with 75 performers dropping 163 pounds (the weight of an average American adult at the time) in Daley Plaza in Chicago and they’ve been celebrating the ordinary through various projects ever since. Pretty cool.

In any event, it made me re-evaluate my perception of the word and realize that sometimes, ordinary isn’t so bad after all.

A Quick Getaway: Chicago

I had to go to Chicago for a conference last week. It was awesome and uplifting and at the end of a long week, Ash joined me for a quick weekend getaway. We didn't have the best weather but we made the best of it and all in all, we had a fabulous time...umbrellas, rain boots, no visibility at the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and all. Here's a boatload of iPhone photos showing some of the highlights of the trip. Forgive the quality. Low light and iPhone don't make for the most super photos.

You may think a corridor with lights rapidly changing color would be far from relaxing but this is my favorite feature in O'Hare. There is calming music and soft ambient lighting on the walls. If I could have a room like this, I'd stay in it. Much better than a white room with padded walls. LOL.

The husband's stop at  Portillos.

Love the Chicago River/Riverwalk. If the weather was warmer, I'd hang out with a book and some food for hours.

The Chicago Tribune building. Iconic.

Entrance to Millennium Park.
Cloud Gate/The Bean...not quite sure why but I was obsessed with it.

We found our reflection!

These were all over the city as part of Chicago's Idea Week. Of the ones I saw all over the city, these were my favorite--particularly because of where I am in my life's journey.

The Pritzker Pavillion lit up at night.

The grid over the Great Lawn at Millennium Park.

We knew we wanted deep dish pizza but weren't sure where to go. We fell into Giordano's, had great pizza and met a cool bartender that gave us some suggestions for where to hang out on a Friday night.

Super veggie pizza. Delish and worth the 45 minutes it takes to cook.

We decided to take refuge from the cool weather and catch a movie. Not as scary as we'd hoped but
still a fun date night.

Forgive the glare but I loved this sign for the wine bar in our hotel. I had to post it.

Saturday brunch at West Egg Cafe.

California Crepe with avocado, broccoli, sprouts, cheese, and mushrooms. Cheesy potatoes. English muffin. Yum.

Ash's brunch: 2 ginormous pancakes, the Bacado (omelet with cheese, bacon and avocado), potatoes and an english muffin. There was fresh squeezed juice too.

Normally, I plan better for a trip but I only packed a pair of heels and a pair of flats in my attempt to pack light. We got caught in a rain storm so I went shopping on State Street for some rain boots. I stopped in about 3 stores (I had a budget) and couldn't find anything that didn't look like it was made for a 5 year old. I finally gave up, grabbed these boots and some new (dry) socks, changed in the store and moved on with the day. Five minutes later, I was standing in front of a Target. I decided not to go in because I knew there would be $20 rain boots in the perfect color just waiting to mock me. Oh well. I like the new boots anyway...and they kept my feet dry.

After a bit of walking around (and getting lost courtesy of Apple Maps), we stopped in Streeter's Tavern for a quick drink and a break from the wind and rain.

After Streeter's, we hopped in a cab and headed towards Willis Tower (after being taken to the wrong part of town in an earlier cab). On the way, we hopped out and grabbed popcorn from Garrett.

Chicago Mix. Delish caramel cheesy goodness.

There are cool sculptures all over the city but I loved the way this one looked and how
 its reflection beamed off of the wet sidewalk.

Inside Willis Tower. Yes, it was raining. Yes, I knew there would be no visibility but after trying to walk there and getting lost and then taking 2 cabs (one that took us to the Water Tower shopping center on the complete opposite side of town), I decided that we were going to spend the money to go up. Sure we only saw the fog (see the next picture) but at least we can say we went up. Surprisingly, tons of people were just as determined as we were.

Yeah....I know. Waste. Of. Money. Ash made sure to note that a couple of times.

Chicago Theatre sign. Iconic despite my blurry image capture.

Back in the hotel room. Pre-dinner snack and a moment to unwind. Popcorn and Pinot. Hit the spot.
Dinner at Volare. We were walking and looking for a place and we ran into a couple who highly recommended it. It did not disappoint. I started with a caprese salad with balsamic reduction (in the ramekin). Ash had a chopped salad that I didn't get a photo of.  

Ash's sea bass. I had tortellini but the picture didn't do it justice so I'm leaving it out. It was yummy though.

Apple strudel with cinnamon custard. So heavenly that we ate it despite being stuffed. It was so good that the slightly drunk guy at the table next to us tried to trade us a piece of apple strudel for some of his chocolate mousse cake. He made for a very entertaining dessert...and left some of his cake on our table. No, we did not eat it.

New (to us) Italian beer that has been added to Ash's roster of favorites.
Walking back to the hotel, we decided to make another stop along the Chicago River.  

Pigeon hanging out in the airport by baggage claim. No one batted an eye. Such a suitable welcome home.
Only in New York.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Quotable

Photo courtesy of
Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson

I was at a conference last week and there was a large focus on harnessing your power, following your dreams and pursuing your passions. I enjoyed (and felt empowered by) many of the speakers. One of the keynote speakers ended her speech with this passage. I've heard excerpts from it several times during my life (usually the first two lines) but it is most impactful in its complete state. It encouraged me and I hope it does the same for you. Happy Monday!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Abundance Test

Photo from
When you look at your life, do you feel like you have all you need? That your "cup runneth over?"

Today, I took a test to figure out my “abundance score.” The test is part of a course called The Real More by Robert Holden (Author of Happiness NOW!, Shift Happens!, Success Intelligence and Be Happy). You can take the abundance test herehere or here.

The test is geared towards finding "real" abundance by looking at how much you accept yourself, relationships, knowing what you want out of life, your relationship with money, your ability to give and receive, forgiveness, gratitude, being present in your life and knowing your purpose.

These are all of the things I know I should focus on in my quest to live my best life and I feel like I do focus on. My score on one site was and 84 and on the other site, I was in the "68 to 83" point group so I figure I am on the cusp.

Here's the breakdown of what that means:

If you scored 84 to 100 points:

At this level, you experience an inner shift in which you realize that true abundance is much more about "being" than it is about "having," "going," "doing" and "getting." Here, you discover to your great delight that your unconditioned self is made of everything you are trying to find in the world. Joy is your spiritual DNA, love is your original energy and your true nature is already free. As you manifest more of your true nature, you naturally experience a life that is rich in every way.

If you scored 68 to 83 points:

To increase your abundance score, invest more time identifying the "real more" that you really want. Ask yourself, "What do I really value?" And, "What is sacred to me?" And, "What do I love?" The more honest you are with yourself, the more you will realize what you truly want and what you already have. "You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy," philosopher Eric Hoffer said. The clearer you are, the less obstacles and distractions you will meet.

I can agree with both assessments. There are some areas like gratitude, giving and relationships that I have put high priority on and have seen great results in my well being. At the same time, I recognize that I can work a lot more on being present (rather than worrying about tomorrow) and on being firm in my purpose and what I want out of life--and actually taking the steps to get there. In many ways, I am doing that but not to the exclusion of spending hours on things I'm not passionate about.

I don't like speaking for others but I'd venture to say that we all have room to grow. This test was a good way to remind me of how I can grow. There was also an article with helpful exercises in getting to true abundance (at least on Oprah's site). Check it out here.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Beyond Date Night: San Gennaro Festival

I am way behind on this post but our most recent "Beyond Date Night" adventure was the Feast of San Gennaro. It is in NYC’s Little Italy (this was the 86th annual celebration) and lasts for 11 days each September. The atmosphere is somewhere between crowded carnival and street food festival with a little fine dining mixed in. I'd been the first year I moved to the city (over a decade ago) and Ash had never been so it was something different for both of us. We had a blast and along the walk to the festival, we made two new (to us) discoveries.

First, we spotted a line of people waiting outside of a little booth (or actually a little window cut into a wall). Above them was a colorful sign for Baked by Melissa. Generally, if some baked confection is worth lining up for, I (and my insatiable sweet tooth) want to try it. Ash and I stood in line for some of the tiniest mini cupcakes I've ever had (they are about the size of a quarter). That said, they packed a flavor punch and we weren't disappointed. We got the box of 6 ($5.50) and tried peanut butter cup, cinnamon, red velvet (2 because the Southern girl in me loves red velvet cake), smores and cookies and cream. Everything down to the box is super cute and I see why people line up for these tiny bites. There are nine locations in the city. I may not line up in the future but I'd definitely call ahead and order them for an event.

Not more than two minutes after walking away from Baked by Melissa, my eyes fell upon a set of 10 large canvases and a few painted mirrors propped against the side of a building. The artist was sitting on the street corner (Spring Street and Mercer Street if you're interested) selling his works. The work is made from a series of lines and it is stunning--at least to me. I’m saving for a large scale beauty for my living room.

So, we tried new sweets, viewed an outdoor "art gallery" and then, we headed to the festival. After about an hour of pushing through the crowds, window shopping, sampling food and visiting various vendor booths, we ended the night with a nice dinner at a gingham covered table for two outside. We had our fill of calabrese salad, rice balls, huge portions of homemade pasta, tiramisu and, of course, really good wine. Fun times.

The Baked by Melissa logo. The tie-dye cupcake was on the sign that attracted us.
There is also a tie dye cupcake on the menu.  

Our assortment of minis.

The crowd!

This was one of the attractions in the kids area.
It reminded me of the movie Big so I had to take the shot.
Rice balls. Cheesy, rice goodness.

Beautiful and fresh calabrese salad.

Sweet end to a great meal.