cinnamon roll joy

Ok, so I might have had two of these for breakfast this morning:


Every Saturday, Andrew and I do a special breakfast together, and I usually keep what I’m going to make a surprise. This morning, it was cinnamon rolls from Joy the Baker’s cookbook. Susy gifted the book to me last year and every time I open it I want to bake my way through it, a la ‘Julie and Julia.’ Seriously, everything in the book is mouthwatering.

Let’s just say these were a hit, filled with a cinnamon, sugar, maple syrup mixture with chopped pecans and golden raisins. The gooey liquid was bubbling away as I pulled them out of the oven.  The picture above was taken before they were iced; I actually incorporated Pioneer Woman’s addition of maple flavor into the milk and powdered sugar icing.

*Note: I’ve been using PW’s cinnamon roll recipe since I got her cookbook awhile ago.  They are amazing and wonderful and to die for.  Her recipe also makes about 50, but she offers helpful freezing directions, so it’s all good.

The best part: the other half of the cinnamon rolls are in the freezer, just waiting to be devoured another day 🙂

reason number 5,937 I love my husband

He takes me to foreign countries and does 100% of the planning.


Yes, that is our schedule. All seventeen days are planned down to the minute.

I realize that it appears overwhelming and a bit much, but in truth, the overly planned schedule allows us to have the most flexibility possible. Basically, we have all the information at our fingertips, like bus and train schedules, as well as the locations and hours of all the places on our itinerary, which means we can decide to stick to the schedule, or fly by the seat of our pants, should we change our minds, need a coffee break or encounter a rainstorm. And plus, when you’re in these amazing places, it seems like such a waste NOT to make sure you see as much as you can. Andrew has planned all our trips this way and we get the best of both worlds; we see tons of stuff, but if we’re tired and need a change of pace in the middle of the afternoon, he’s prepared with the information we need to take a different train or go see something else instead.

I tell you what; for a girl who lives 365 days a year in constant ‘plan-every-moment-of-her-day-and-waste-no-time’ mode, a 17-day break in which Andrew takes over is absolute heaven.

Oh, and did I mention he’s working on his Italian?


Yeah, I got a keeper. In college, I thought I knew what I was in for, marrying Andrew. Just barely! I think his passion for travel makes up for the clothes he leaves on the floor…

maple weekend

Andrew and I participated in the first of two ‘Maple Weekends‘ here in Western New York this past weekend.  Maple producers all over the state banded together about 20 years ago and started opening their doors to the public for one (and then expanded to two) weekends each season to demonstrate maple syrup production.

I covered a local family–Weber’s Maple–last weekend for the Advertiser.  They operate a landscaping business during the warmer months and have recently gotten into maple syrup.

After learning all about maple syrup myself and more about the weekend activities, I thought surprising Andrew with a maple pancake breakfast and then some stops at syrup producers could be fun.  The breakfast at the Gowanda Fire Hall was recommended to me, so that’s where we went.


I wish we could say we got up bright and early, but we didn’t.  Our maple ‘breakfast’ turned into a maple lunch by the time we reached our destination, where they served pancakes (incredibly good–could not stop eating them!), eggs, bacon, sausage and–of course–lots of real maple syrup on the tables.



Gowanda is about 35 minutes south of East Aurora…  Along the way, I mentioned to Andrew that it was getting ‘pretty rural’ out here.  He replied, “No honey, we left ‘rural’ two towns ago.”  Let’s just say that the sleepy ‘hamlet’ of East Aurora is a bustling metropolis compared to towns and villages just miles to the South.

After breakfast, we stopped at Maple Glen Sugar House, just a mile or so down the road,  to check out their production.


They had tours just outside the sugar house, in the midst of trees bearing old sap buckets, which have been replaced by vacuum tubing nowadays.


Horse cart rides for kids…


And we got to see sap boiling away in the evaporators.


After Maple Glen, we headed back home and visited Weber’s Maple again, where they had a sled dog team.


Dean Weber was on hand to demonstrate how the evaporator works and explain the process to visitors.


Andrew had a great time and left with more maple ‘cotton candy,’ maple candies (where is this sweet tooth coming from??) and we also got a small container of Grade B syrup.  Grade B is the darkest and has the most ‘maple’ flavor.  It’s hard to find in stores and I really like it, so I wanted to stock up while I could.

All in all, we had a great time spending all morning (and into the afternoon) together on a ‘day date’ taking advantage of local activities.  It was pretty cheap, too; we spent $14 on breakfast (it’s a fundraiser, after all) and $20 on maple stuff, both of which supported local businesses.

For anyone in the Western NY area, it’s going on next weekend, too.  Highly recommended for families 🙂