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July 29, 2014


a very texas weekend.

i’m not gonna lie just for the sake of my Aggie pride; Austin is awesome. i went a few times in college but didn’t experience its full glory until last summer when we got to spend a few days there with some friends of ours in a cute little house off South Congress. it is full of amazing restaurants and beautiful parks and lots of live music and we were just really thrilled to have an excuse to go back for a few days. so we did, two weeks ago…

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our dear friends courtney and andy moved from nyc to houston back in may. they were going to a wedding in austin this same weekend so it worked out perfectly for them to come a little early and meet us for dinner. we met at the Odd Duck - amazing meal - and were soooo thrilled to get a few good hours to catch up with the raymonds. we love those guys :) 

other austin foodie-faves: gordough’s, jo’s coffee, elizabeth st. cafe, easy tiger (amazing bakery), hillside farmacy and seventh flag coffee. of course, there are millions of other places, but these are the one’s we managed to hit in our 30 hours there. our friend Keenan lives there, right near the UT campus, so it was great to get to stay at his place. 

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but enough about Austin, the real reason for the trip was to head south to New Braunfels, TX to see my older brother get married! on Friday afternoon my parents and younger brother flew into Austin, we picked them up, and drove on down. Mike & Krysta hosted the entire weekend at this incredible (& huge!) home right on the Guadalupe river. it was pretty epic. we arrived just in time for dinner. the following day was spent taking it easy, floating on tubes out in the river, enjoying the hammock, eating a bunch of watermelon, drinking quite a few coronas and just enjoying being with family and friends. their wedding was a very special, small ceremony hosted right on the banks of the river that night. it was really wonderful to see how they’ve blended their families together so well and all their kids were included in the ceremony. really special :) afterward we had BBQ, some dancing, lots of shuffleboard and cornhole playing and just general merriment. good stuff!

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the weekend was really relaxing in general and it was very wonderful to get to be there to support these guys! we have a pretty cool family i’d say. congrats, Mike & Krysta

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austin new braunfels guadalupe river

July 28, 2014


humansofnewyork:

"You can make about 75% more money with a cat on your head than you can with a cat on your shoulder."

humansofnewyork:

"You can make about 75% more money with a cat on your head than you can with a cat on your shoulder."

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July 26, 2014


well, there’s no easy way to say this. and i could’ve said this 2 months ago. i could’ve said it a year ago, to be honest, because it’s been a long time coming. but really.. there’s no easy way to say this so i am just going to say it.


we’re moving away from newyorkcity. 

…and on top of that, we’re opening a restaurant in missouri.

holy shit. i am sorry but shit is the only appropriate word here. 

as much as i try to slam on the breaks or drag my heels or just completely stop time (because of course i am very capable of doing just that) the time is coming and it’s inching closer with every minute that passes. september 2nd, 2014… here it comes. 


want to know more? 

my parents own a restaurant, as most of you probably know, and we’re going to open the second location (the 1st franchise) of neighbor’s mill in springfield, missouri. if you know us at all then you already know this and it’s not big news in the slightest. we’ve actually been talking, planning and praying for this for two years now. so, like i said, a long time coming…

maybe now everything is coming together for you? it’s why i’ve been in culinary school and why clif has been working at a bakery and why we’ve been trying to check off all this “bucket list” stuff from our agenda. 

it’s coming and we can’t slow it down. we’re excited and hopeful. we’re terrified and anxious. we’re prepared in a million ways and not prepared in a million and one. we definitely believe this is where we’re being called and it’s amazing to see all the things that have just fallen into place for this. but we’re also sad to leave nyc and our amazing community of friends. my blog has basically been one long love-story to new york city for the past 7 years (i mean, SEVEN YEARS?!!!) so I don’t think I need to explain any more here about why i love nyc or what it has meant to me. i have grown up here, fallen in love here, made a home here, and learned to thrive here… the day of september 2nd will most definitely see a bucket-full of tears as we leave behind our beloved home. 


but once we get past those emotions and get up in the air and make it down south and get settled a little bit…after we figure out how to actually move our cat without him having a heart attack, after we buy a car, after we start training at neighbor’s mill in harrison… after all those big monuments are in the rear-view mirror, THEN i think we’ll be really thrilled and really ready! but, ask me again in two months.

this blog will probably end (it just wouldn’t feel appropriate to keep it going) but my goal is to launch a monthly “newsletter” where we keep friends and family updated on progress of the restaurant and what’s happening and how you can pray for us. if you want to be on that, send me an email to let me know (laurenbrown.6411@gmail.com). 

i hope you’ll come along for the ride…

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July 21, 2014


a recipe and a trip to Belvedere Castle

on the 4th of July I made these pretty amazing things. they’re essentially peanut butter & chocolate no-bake bars, with a saltine cracker base. i found the recipe on Food 52; it was a Community Pick winner. (great community-contributed recipe website, by the way, moderated by former NYTimes Food Writer Amanda Hesser). they turned out delicious and make a ton, so I had to share. it’s been a while since i’ve shared a recipe here anyway so it was about time :) 

the only note I would make is that the recipe calls for an amount of chocolate that just felt like too little to cover the entire pan, so I doubled my chocolate and it was just right. plus, I like the chocolate coating a little thicker on top so the additional chocolate amount was perfect. ENJOY! 

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something that i’ve wanted to do is go check out Belvedere Castle in Central Park. there’s nothing entirely special about it but it just felt weird that I’ve lived here almost 7 years and had never been. so, on a lovely Saturday Clif and I wandered into the park and spent a few minutes giving it the once-over.

I am realizing now we didn’t take any pictures of the exterior but you can see it here. it was built in the mid-1800’s and now it’s just used as a weather tower and is home to the NY Meteorologist society. there’s all sorts of bells and whistles at the top of it and when you see on the news that "it’s currently 85 degrees in Central Park," you can know that they’re taking those readings from right here at Belvedere Castle. 

verdict: not all that exciting so don’t go out of your way to see it. but if you find yourself next to it, take a few minutes to enjoy the nice vistas from the top. 

^^just enjoying central park and making a flower crown. flower crowns are so in right now, aren’t they? Clif just doesn’t understand. (ps. don’t Clif’s new sunglasses make him look like FDR? I just really think so :))

^^oh you mean not this kind of flower crown made out of weeds? whatever!

^^lucky 4-leaf clover found in Central Park!^^

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good eats central park belvedere castle flower crowns

July 16, 2014


TOTALLY.
cute series of “Summer is…” answered by famous chef’s on Tasting Table. 
mine would be similar to this, but…. something more like: sun on bare shoulders, cool breezes, bike rides, swimming pools, coronas with a lot of lime, burgers, corn, berries and ozark sunsets. ahhh yeah!

TOTALLY.

cute series of “Summer is…” answered by famous chef’s on Tasting Table

mine would be similar to this, but…. something more like: sun on bare shoulders, cool breezes, bike rides, swimming pools, coronas with a lot of lime, burgers, corn, berries and ozark sunsets. ahhh yeah!

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July 13, 2014


that one time i graduated from culinary school

well, a few weeks ago i graduated again. from culinary school, that is. didn’t know i was even in culinary school? well, i was. for almost a year. one of the best years of my life, too. so thankful to have had this opportunity. the things i’ve learned and experienced and the group of friends i made while doing it all is so priceless. we truly became a family and i miss these folks like crazy already. 

the “graduation” was really just a small celebration in one of the classrooms at ICE (Institute of Culinary Education). a speech was made (by me), there were lots of good eats and drinks, some awards were given out and it was a neat opportunity to meet everyone’s family and friends. a speech? you might be asking. well, yes. before we graduated our teachers told us someone typically gives one but no one in our class was feeling particularly led. so, i suggested we all collaborate on writing one together and i would read it. everyone gave me two or more sentences about our time together this past year and i worked them all together. miraculously it all flowed together quite amazingly. it was fun to read it and have everyone know that we’d really all taken part in writing it together - it felt like an appropriate close to our time as a class (i will paste the speech below, if you care to read). 

^^not a great photo but this is my wonderful class. there were nine of us and i love every single person in this photo. everyone is so different and creative and driven in their own way. i look forward to seeing everyone step out in their own ventures soon!^^ 

^^i felt honored (and slightly awkward) to be awarded the “top student” award, which was voted on by my classmates and teachers. two other awards were also given out - Leadership award to Shawn and Most Likely to Succeed to Dyanne, who already has her own pastry business and makes the most amazing desserts! 

^^Nandie, Sam, me and Dyanne 

^^with Julian, my french friend & fellow Harlem-dweller. 

^^with Marian and Shawn. 

^^this is Brian, our amazing teacher. we had another teacher, Alan, who was also wonderful and sadly couldn’t be at our graduation. Brian is such an amazing guy who’s a true fixture in the NY restaurant scene. he’s been a chef, worked everywhere in NYC and France, and has his own restaurant consulting firm. we learned so much from him and he is hilarious on top of it all. (seriously he used to also do stand-up comedy in NYC in his earlier years) 

^^we were given a limited number of “tickets” to invite people to our graduation. most people who were local invited lots of family but I felt lucky to have my husband and my close friend Sarah Jo come and support me. 

^^another classmate, Joe. love this guy! 

afterward some of us headed to a nearby bar called Lillie’s for more celebration. it was such a special, fun night and i am so sad it’s all come to a close. this past year flew by…i remember thinking that my program would feel like an eternity but, now that it’s over, it felt like just a flash. funny how the best things always go by too quickly… 

^^Katrina, Marian and I. these two girls are now some of my closest friends. so thankful to know them :) 

^^and here’s a photo I stole off the ICE twitter page. love these people!

speech below… 

The end of class marks the beginning of a new adventure in our lives. Interestingly, we are never limited to what we learn and know but we’re actually limitless in what we do with it. It’s been many years since I’ve been in school, so when I first started management class I was really scared and nervous. Now, 9 months later, besides learning a lot I feel like I have new friends for life. For three hours, three days a week, we sat in a classroom and learned. Learning consisted of a bit of ServSafe, some menu design, tons of financials, a bit of wine..well, actually tons of wine and pizza from Lombardis, experiencing the day to day activities of a staple like Le Cirque, Union Square hospitality group, delicious Malaysian food and a graduation dinner that we’d only be able to afford once we’re established. Great lessons, great classmates and even better teachers. After nine long months of stress, hard work and endless laughs, we became a family.

The real value in education comes when we truly test it out in the real world environment and adjust it to our benefit. Then, the seed of that knowledge can truly blossom into successful endeavors in the future. This course gave us all the knowledge and courage we need to pursue a career in this industry. We especially loved our outings, everywhere from going to see an indie movie about the restaurant business to dining at the fun and exciting Hakkasan. You are all an amazing bunch of people, with heaps of motivation, inspiration & courage. Unique individual’s, strong in character and a dream in store.  I am truly happy to be a part of this class and will miss each one of you even more.

We are a bunch of crazy nuts that fit well together. Speaking of nuts, how much cheese do you think we consumed this year? We learned that Marian loves a cheese called “explorateur” and can’t say her V’s. Julian loves his dumplings and hey, where’s the duck confit? Dyanne and Nandie kept us all fat and happy with their delicious confections throughout the year. Katrina is well on her way to becoming the next Danny Meyer and Shawn, what can we say? Except that our meals without your connections would’ve been dire. Joe has a heart of gold and we look forward to his future pig roasts and Sam, though she may be young, much courage and passion she can boast.

It has been an amazing nine months with you guys. I can’t wait for the time when I walk into your restaurant and we laugh about our rookie days.

Oh, and… When the pressure hits, sake bombs!

Three nights a week for 41 weeks, we met here in our room, number 602. We talked about our weeks, our dining experiences good and bad. We learned about some diseases that hopefully none of us ever have. At times we might’ve wondered if we would make it through, but here we are today, we’re all well on our way, and I know we would say that we’re a little bit richer from spending this time together. To our fantastic teachers, Brian and Alan, the experiences you’ve shared with us will stay with us for a lifetime. Brian’s jokes got us through, Alan’s stories… are they all true? To our wonderful teachers and a very special class, thank you for your friendship and congratulations to all of us, at last…

(Clif just testing the camera light but I kind of love this one of me and Marian <3)

Farewell, ICE. thanks for the memories! 

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institute of culinary education ICE graduation culinary school

July 12, 2014


our lovely 4th of July included lots of good friends on our rooftop, an evening on the cooler side, delicious pulled pork sandwiches and actually not seeing any fireworks and being okay with it. we had a low-key day and a relaxing weekend overall. thankful to have spent it with so many friends. 

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^^Brendon, Theresa, me, Clif, Christian and Chris. (Kate, Paul & Charlie left a little earlier)^^

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^^charlie bear loves doggies^^

on Saturday, July 5 Clif and I enjoyed an amazing meal at Wallse. the parents of one of Clif’s students gifted us with a meal out at their favorite restaurant. we’d never been here before so it was fun to get dressed up and try something new. the food was really outstanding and the desserts were even better. the restaurant was in the West Village so afterward it was just a quick walk over to the Hudson River where we sat outside for a while and reveled in the cool breezes.

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on Sunday we enjoyed a bike ride through our neighborhood and brunch with some friends on the upper west side. 

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fred says to tell you guys that he’s thankful for his freedom and also that he’s doing just fine. holler! 

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July 4, 2014


Happy Birthday, America!

a few weeks ago when Clif’s family was in town, we took a Saturday morning to go out to see the Statue of Liberty. in my time here I had actually never done this, so it was really cool to experience the statue close up and get to walk inside it up to the pedestal. they had free audio tours that you could take with you, which i found really informative.

we left via boat from battery park, which was crowded with tourists and really rocky, but the view of manhattan once we got out into the bay was amazing. 

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^^this cracks me up. this must be my these tourists are killing me face.^^

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^^finally off the boat and on solid ground on Liberty Island. ready to explore!^^

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^^super windy from the statue’s pedestal, as you can see^^

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it really was so moving to be so near the statue and to think about what this symbol meant to so many immigrants coming to the USA for the first time. the audio tour had some interviews with people who had come to New York by boat and seen the statue… I almost teared up hearing some of their memories. just that symbol of freedom and opportunity, and after such a long and gruesome journey by boat, for so many people and their families. that feeling of what seeing this statue meant to them is just so profound.

i found out that I had a few ancestors who came through Ellis island — we didn’t get to the Ellis island part but I look forward to going back and trying to find some of their names in the immigration books. so amazing! 

Happy 4th of July, everyone! 

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liberty island statue of liberty happy 4th of july happy birthday america

July 3, 2014


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(what I’ve read and enjoyed since January 2014) 

where’d you go, bernadette?

eating the dinosaur (short stories; very strange) 

the goldfinch (love, love, love so much)

salt: a world history 

love in the time of cholera (really tough read but forced myself through and enjoyed it in the end) 

divergent series (all 3…don’t judge)

the great gatsby (for the 7th time)

good to great 

I read a lot of non-fiction this past 6 months. that’s pretty rare for me but somehow they were the books that I was most drawn to. I think I’m diving back into some novels this summer. here’s what I have queued up next: Rules of Civility; Provence, 1970; The Interestings; The Hundred Foot Journey

Let me know what you’re reading, too! I am always looking for new books to add to my reading list. 

happy reading! 

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July 1, 2014


June 26, 2014


life as of late, according to iPhones

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we have been basking in the glory of summer and of finally being at home for more than 3 consecutive days. so thankful to have the bulk of our traveling and chaotic summer days behind us (just one more busy weekend to go…) 

we’ve been enjoying things like our rooftop, having friends over, morning coffee on our “patio” and a tiny bit of world cup soccer. in my culinary class we’ve been doing our wine appreciation section, and we had our graduation dinner out at Hakkasan. three classes left and i can hardly believe it. i cherish my classmates and our last 10 months spent together. 

some of our other good meals out have been at The Smile (with Clif’s sis and bro-in-law while they were in town) and at Minetta Tavern. helloooo, black label burger. additionally, we’ve already managed to hit up the Boat Basin twice since May so that feels like a win. my good friend Kristen was in town for a few days with her sister and cousins and I loved getting to see her a few times over the course of their visit. Clif had his final recital for some of his guitar students at Riverdale Music Studio two weekends ago and my big work event, our volunteer appreciation dinner for lots of people, was super successful. 

somewhere in the last 6 weeks i did manage to come down with strep and then get another virus in which my throat felt on fire and i needed to stay pretty much hopped up on advil 24/7. thankfully i am past that, i think with the aid of an immune booster which i proudly bought from a health food store called health nuts. i just felt healthier even being in that store so, placebo effect maybe… ?? all that to say, we’ve been going non-stop and it’s been a grand ‘ole time but i am thankful to have some days of rest and leisurely summer plans ahead of us. welcome, summer! 

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June 21, 2014


my brother’s wedding: Cary + Kelsey Rehearsal Dinner

we threw the rehearsal dinner down by the barn at my parents house. we’d never done anything down here before but my parents worked so hard all spring to clean this area up and it really paid off. it was such a beautiful spot and all the little details of this dinner, from the rustic barn, the lights in the trees, the hay bails with blankets draped on them, bbq for dinner and s’mores over an open flame, just made this a really special and fun night. 

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June 11, 2014


a blog post about the minutiae of life

this blog post is dedicated to those small moments that happen every day. the things that don’t usually get documented but are responsible for making the minutes fold into the hours…

thankful for pets and coffee and friendships and birthdays. for good food, chances to travel, muffins from neighbor’s mill and my funny husband. for tree swings with my mom, my yoga-lovin’ best friend and for that huge jug of laundry detergent that literally lasted us three years…

these are the small moments of life that make all the big, special and fun moments work. thankful for these things and so many more… 

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June 3, 2014


and so, with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, i had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

f. scott fitzgerald, the great gatsby 

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June 1, 2014


all of the memorial-day-beachy things (aka Newport and Cape Cod)

our time on Cape Cod and Newport, RI was fantastic. the weather turned out to be just amazing, after an all-rain forecast was predicted. immediately upon arriving on the Cape we headed to the Falmouth Yacht Club, where we met up and had lunch with Brendon’s cousin and niece. eventually the Paik’s made it into town (Kate, Paul and our favorite little one, Charlie). Charlie was such a hoot in her little sun hat, she was so excited to be there and kept doing a little tap dance all over the place. it was the perfect backdrop to visit, soak up some sun and enjoy the views. 

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^^our hotel in Falmouth was directly across the street from this old school DQ that only sold ice cream. we definitely partook in a blizzard before leaving town, don’t worry. also, Kate had never had Dairy Queen so that was fun :)^^

that evening was Alice and Kyle’s wedding. i didn’t take my big camera so as not to be super annoying so I will include a few iPhone photos at the end of this post. their wedding took place outside on the water and the reception was held inside the Flying Bridge. Alice looked so beautiful and it was really special for some of our community group to be there. the reception was tons of fun, good food, major dancing and sweet toasts from their friends and family. 

the next morning we headed out for Newport, which was a short 1-hour trip from where we were. Newport is amazing and I had always wanted to take a trip there. I’d still love to go back and stay in a cute B&B there and do the proper Newport things, since we only spent the day. but I still felt like we got a good feel for this adorable town. 

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^^we had delicious lobster rolls, because…when in Newport, right? 

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^^this was Charlie’s first taste of lemon. SOO cute! she loved it.^^

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^^beautiful old church in Newport where JFK and Jackie O were married (interestingly enough on my birthday)^^

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^^the sweet Paik family :) they headed back a little before us since they had a little one they needed to get to bed at a decent time. i guess i understand ;) here we are parting ways and Charlie is trying to blow us all a kiss^^

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^^The Breakers was beautiful. this picture does not do it justice and the view of the ocean from right here was stunning^^ 

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^^had an awesome weekend with these three dorks: clif, brendon & theresa. brendon grew up outside of Providence, RI so we drove back to his parents house and stayed the night, which proved to be uber convenient.^^

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^^i guess this was a pretty self-explanatory sign^^

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…and yes, here I am doing my thing on the “cliff walk” in Newport.

iPhone shots (ps. Del’s Frozen Lemonade is a famous (& delicious) Rhode Island treat)

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happy memorial day (very belated) and thank you to all of our troops who have served and are currently serving for our county and the freedoms that we are beneficiaries of. 

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cape cod newport memorial day lobstah roll