Monday, June 28, 2010

On Vacation

I'm on vacation this week,taking some time to relax before I start my new job on July 6. I usually refer to time off from work as a "vacation," however it seems that some people refer to it as a "stay-cation," especially if they aren't traveling anywhere in particular. I think that this term really became popular when the economy took a turn for the worse awhile back and people began spending less money on travel and vacations. While I would certainly have enjoyed going out of town this week, after much thought, I decided that staying close to home and planning some day trips around the Bay Area would be perfect.

So far, my "stay-cation" has been wonderful. On Sunday, I spent the afternoon at Santana Row in San Jose. It was the perfect afternoon to stroll the "Row" - the weather was sunny and warm...actually it was quite hot. The best remedy for the heat was enjoying a frozen yogurt at Pinkberry. Hands down, I think Pinkberry has the best frozen yogurt - and I've tried a lot of frozen yogurt over the years. I discovered Pinkberry in Southern California a couple years ago, and now stores are finally opening in the Bay Area. Not only does their frozen yogurt taste great, the prices are reasonable, too. If you enjoy frozen yogurt and have an opportunity to try Pinkberry, I guarantee that you will like it!

As you might have noticed in the "My Favorite Things" list (on the sidebar of my blog), I enjoy baking. Earlier this month I took a class at Sur La Table in Palo Alto to learn how to make French macarons - a cookie that is quickly becoming quite the rage, much like cupcakes have become popular over the past few years. I enjoyed the class and during the past couple weeks I have been gathering the necessary supplies and ingredients to make my own batch of these cute cookies. Today was baking day, and I am thrilled to say that the macarons turned out spectacular, and quite honestly, they really are not too complicated to make. I am glad that I did take the class because the instructor provided some great tips, which certainly made a difference as I was making the macarons. Some of you won't be surprised to know that I chose to make raspberry macarons. Why raspberry you might ask? Well, my favorite color is pink - enough said!

Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo above, my raspberry macarons have a slightly peachy color to them. While they were a wonderful shade of pink prior to baking, I believe the heat had an effect on the food coloring. Next time I will modify the amount of coloring to achieve a deeper pink. Regardless of the color, these little cuties still taste delicious!
And what better way to display the macarons in a photo, than on the beautiful glass serving stand that I recently purchased at Marshall's...for $4.99! I could not pass up this stand. While it might not be apparent in the photo, it's actually a small serving stand, which is perfect for cookies and other petite sweets. This has become one my favorite "kitchen" items and I am so happy that I came across it at the store - it was the only one left on the shelf.
So, although I am staying close to home during this particular vacation, I was able to experience the excitement of baking something that I would certainly have come across if I were visiting a French patisserie. Speaking of which, I'm hoping to travel to Paris early next year so I can visit some French patisseries and also see the Eiffel Tower in person while experiencing all of the exciting things that Paris has to offer.

Without a doubt, most of us treasure our vacation time, whether we travel to a far-off destination or stay close to home. For me, having one "travel" vacation and one "stay-cation" each year is the best of both worlds. Speaking of vacations, here's a quote to think about:

A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.
-Robert Orben

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