Saying Goodbye

Friday, December 31, 2010

proposal shot.2

Today was probably up there with one of the hardest days of my life thus far. For the past two days, Tobey needed to pee constantly. When he wasn't standing by the door for us to take him out, he was hiding in his cage because he had peed inside. Today, we decided to take him to the vet because we thought he had a bladder infection. When we got there, the vet did an X-ray and determined that he had some pretty serious stones in his bladder. If they didn't do emergency surgery, he was going to die over the weekend. The surgery cost thousands of dollars.

So, we made the very difficult decision that at this point in time, we couldn't pay for the surgery. We said goodbye to Tobey. Saying goodbye to a three year old dog that you have raised from the time he was a puppy was so incredibly difficult. He was an amazing dog and we loved him so, so much. I know nothing will ever be able to replace him. I just keep remembering him run through the door with my engagement ring tied around his neck and then Adam getting down on one knee. I thought he was going to be the dog that our kids played with someday.

I know it's going to be really hard for a while. Even coming into the apartment was really hard, but I know it was the best thing for us at the moment.


Apartment Living

Saturday, December 18, 2010

For the past seven years, I have been living in an apartment of some sort. In that amount of time, I have enjoyed the benefits of apartment living (people come and fix things for free, no maintenance, my amazing roommates in college, etc.). Unfortunately, the negatives of living in an apartment outweigh the positives and over the past six months, we have had the feeling the some greater power is trying to tell us that it’s time to purchase our first house.

Currently, we live in a three bedroom, two bathroom apartment on the second floor of our building. We’ve been living there for about 18 months now. The first year was going great until Stanley moved in above us and became our very first sleep disturbance. Once per week, Stanley and his lover found it necessary to have steamy love making sessions for hours (I am NOT exaggerating, it was hours). These sessions did not take place at 10:00 PM when I was still awake and watching TV in the living room, no, these sessions happened at 3:00 AM and the creaking and screaming was loud enough to wake me up (that’s how we found his name was Stanley). No amount of banging on the ceiling with the broom would shut those two up.

When Stanley moved out, Adam and I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, we could go to sleep without being disturbed by middle of the night sexcapades. Then, the new neighbors moved in…two women, and their four children, all under the age of eight. Suddenly, it seemed like a rodeo was going on above us at all hours of the day. Jumping on beds, running laps around the living room, dropping who knows what heavy objects and children’s screeches have become a part of the ambiance in our apartment. Then, they got a puppy. A six week old, poofy, small, whiny puppy. This puppy is not a quiet puppy, it yips its head off…ALL. NIGHT. LONG.

Wednesday night, however, was the last straw. On Wednesday, I left work early with a stuffy and pounding head. After resting for most of the afternoon, I headed to bed around 9:30, hoping I would feel better in the morning. At 12:30 AM, a car alarm started going off. This happens frequently, and usually the owner of the car shuts the alarm off within five minutes or so. Not last night. The car alarm kept going and going. Finally, I called the local police station. Around 1:45 AM, the police officer showed up, ran the plate, walked up to one of the apartments, knocked on the door and the owner came out and turned off the alarm. How in the world can you be so ignorant, that you don’t notice your own car alarm going off for over an hour?

And so, it has been decided that we will save every single penny we can in an attempt to buy a house when this lease is up, because I cannot take it anymore.

One Year

Monday, December 6, 2010

Yesterday was our first wedding anniversary and we had a wonderful weekend to celebrate! For the past month or so, Adam has been planning our anniversary weekend. He managed to keep it a surprise (which is very hard to do) until Saturday morning when he told me we were going to stay for the night at an old plantation called Antrim 1844. We packed our suitcases and drove the 45 minutes our getaway.

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When we got there, it was gorgeous and I thought it was really sweet that he had picked something that is so my taste. We got to our room, which was the old barn of the plantation and discovered that the bed was up in what used to be the hay loft.


After we dropped our stuff off, we headed up to the main house for afternoon tea, complete with scones and little tea sandwiches (very manly). After tea, we went back to the room, Adam lit a fire in our own fireplace and we relaxed until dinner. At 7:30, we headed back up to the main house for a six course dinner that ranks up there with some of the best food I've ever had. We sat right in front of an old fireplace and talked for two hours over dinner. At the end, we got a personalized dessert.

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Yesterday we got up, ate breakfast and headed home. After visiting my sister, brother-in-law and nephew for a little while, we headed home to enjoy the rest of our anniversary. Adam grilled some steaks and I made some salad and we topped it off with the top tier of our wedding cake, which had held up amazingly well in my parent's freezer for the year.


Overall, it was a wonderful anniversary and I felt so lucky to have a husband who listens to what I like and plans a weekend full of surprises that he knows I will love. Our year as newlyweds went so quickly, but it was filled with so many wonderful memories. I can't wait to see what is in store in the next 60 years with him.


Thanksgiving and the beginnings of Christmas

Monday, November 29, 2010

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend spent with family. We headed up to Boiling Springs on Wednesday night to spend and had a wonderful Thanksgiving on Thursday. My parents and grandmother were invited to Adam's parent's house for dinner and it was so nice to be able to spend time with everyone without having to eat two meals. The food was great and I must say that I did a pretty good job on the pies!



On Friday, I got to help watch my adorable nephew Jacob while my sister went to the spa. I made cookies and visited with everyone and of course we all admired the baby. We finished up that day with dinner at my parent's house.

On Saturday, we were those crazy people who sit at freezing cold football games while it's snowing. We went up to the last Penn State game of the season, froze our butts off and watched the football team lose. I'm not sure I'll ever need to attend a football game in the snow again.

Yesterday we woke up and headed back to Baltimore bright and early. We had planned on stopping at a tree farm on the way home to get our first live Christmas tree, but then we passed a little nursery with trees ready to go, so we purchased one there. Not only did they have really nice trees, they also had lights, wreaths and poinsettias so I got all of my decorations in one place. They tied our tree to the roof and we were ready to go.


We got home, unloaded the car, set up the tree and dug out all of our ornaments. The apartment looks so festive now and we really got in the Christmas mood. It's hard to believe that last year at this time, we were frantically doing last minute wedding things. It is so nice to have a live tree to admire while we're watching TV and hanging out in the living room!


I am not dead...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No people, I am not dead...just extremely, extremely busy. Since I last posted, some exciting things have happened:

1. My new nephew Max was born at the end of October. I went down to Atlanta to visit last week and he is adorable! It was great seeing the whole Davis family, getting to cuddle with Max and play with Charlotte. The best memory of when I was down there was when my sisters and I were all singing Bon Jovi with Charlotte while we played pretend instruments.

2. Fall semester is almost over which means that I only have one more year of graduate school left. Next December, I will officially be a Master of Public Administration and a Penn State graduate.

3. It's almost my first wedding anniversary. I can't believe how fast the year has gone. We're hoping to make 2011 a year to remember by finishing grad school and possibly buying a house.

Those are just a few things happening in the Cianfichi household. I know I've been slacking on recipe ruts, but I'm hoping to get back to them after the holidays. Hope you all are doing well.

Recipe Rut Solution #8

Monday, October 4, 2010

Yesterday I made chicken chili and it was YUMMY!! The recipe was a bit complicated (and made a mess of our kitchen), but it was well worth it. I apologize for the lack of pictures, but I got really caught up in making the chili.


For the Roasted Garlic:
  • 12 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the Chili:

  • 12 shallots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Anaheim chile peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 7 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 15-ounce can navy beans, undrained
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese, for garnish
Make the roasted garlic:

1. Toss the 12 cloves garlic with the olive oil and 1 teaspoon water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover, leaving a vent, and microwave until soft, about 90 seconds. Let cool, covered.

Prepare the chili:

2. Cook the shallots in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until caramelized, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, place the chiles on a foil-lined broiler pan and broil until charred on all sides, turning, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel the peppers with your fingers or a paring knife. Stem, seed and chop.

4. Add the minced garlic to the shallots and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until toasted, about 3 minutes.

6. Increase the heat to high and add the wine; simmer 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the pan.

7. Add the roasted chiles, 6 cups broth, the chicken, chili powder, cayenne, beans, and salt and black pepper to taste. Return to a simmer.

8. Squeeze the soft pulp from the roasted garlic into a blender or food processor. Add the remaining 1 cup broth and process until smooth.

9. Add to the chili and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes, adding the spinach during the last 5 minutes.

10. Add the paprika and cream and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the cheese.


Again, this recipe was awesome and we now have a huge Tupperware full in the freezer which will be perfect to pull out on a cold day later this fall.

Total Meal Cost: $20.00

Adam's Rating: 10 out of 10

Next Day Lunchability: It was even better the next day for lunch!

Quarter of a Century

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Last Sunday was Adam's 25th birthday. I invited everyone down on Saturday night for dinner, cake and the Penn State game. Adam's present was a 60" plasma TV and he was in heaven watching the first big weekend of football. It was so nice having everyone there to celebrate another wonderful year in the life of a pretty great guy!




Recipe Rut Solution #7

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mexican food is a favorite of mine, so this week I decided to make fish tacos with homemade guacamole. When I've had fish tacos in the past, the fish has been breaded, but this recipe calls for plain, grilled fish with just a bit of lime juice. Adam loved the tacos, but unfortunately, the textures of the fish and the guac weren't my favorite.

  • 4 pieces fresh halibut, steak or filets, 6 to 8 ounces each (we used tilapia because it was much cheaper)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 small to medium ripe Haas avocados, pitted and scooped from skins with a large spoon
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, eyeball it
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1 heart Romaine lettuce
  • 12 soft (6-inch) flour tortillas


1. Drizzle halibut with extra-virgin olive oil to keep fish from sticking to the grill pan or grill. Season fish with salt and pepper, to your taste.

2. Grill fish 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until opaque.

3. Squeeze the lime juice over the fish and remove from the grill pan or grill. Flake fish into large chunks with a fork.

4. In a blender or food processor, combine avocado flesh, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, yogurt and salt. Process guacamole sauce until smooth.

5. Remove guacamole sauce to a bowl and stir in diced tomatoes and chopped scallions.


6. Break up fish and pile some of the meat into soft shells and slather with guacamole sauce.


Total Meal Cost: $30.00 (this was the most expensive meal we've made, mostly because of the fish)

Adam's Rating: 9 out of 10

Next Day Lunchability: I would not necessarily recommend saving the leftover fish, and please, don't bring it in to work the next day and stick it in the microwave so that the entire office smells like fish!

Recipe Rut Solution #6

Sunday, September 5, 2010

So I officially suck at updating the blog with new recipes...sorry! Life has become incredible hectic with classes starting again and mandatory overtime implemented at work. I have lots going on, but nothing interesting enough to blog about.

Since it's Labor Day weekend, I had some time for another recipe rut solution. This one comes compliments of my Dad (thanks Dad)! Without further is Kung Pao Chicken!

  • 2 Tbsp wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in bite size pieces
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, cut in chunks
  • 1/2 cup broccoli, washed and cut up
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 medium green onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, dry roasted and unsalted


1. Mix together vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar; set aside.

2. Coat chicken pieces in corn starch. Heat oil in large skillet or wok.

3. Add chicken, green pepper, broccoli and red pepper and stir-fry 5-7 minutes until chicken is cooked. Remove from skillet and keep warm.


4. Stir-fry onion, garlic, and ginger for 30 seconds.

5. Add vinegar mixture and return chicken and vegetables to pan, stirring to coat chicken.


6. Mix in peanuts and heat through.



Total Meal Cost: $15.00

Adam's Rating: 8 out of 10

Next Day Lunchability: I am imagining it will be really good for lunch tomorrow or Tuesday.

Overall, it was an awesome recipe, healthy and really light. In the future, I might try making it with shrimp and maybe adding some snap peas or water chestnuts. Also, it was had a bit of a kick, so if you don't like spicy, you could skip the red pepper.

Something New

Monday, August 16, 2010

Right before I bought my Hyundai Santa Fe, I test drove an Audi A3 and absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, the one I test drove had a ton of miles on it, which is why I ended up not purchasing it. Since then, Adam has been researching and has been on the look-out for a nice A3 at a good price.

Last weekend, we found one. At first, I thought it was crazy to even go look at another car because being spontaneous is totally not my personality. However, he talked me into going and looking at the car on Saturday afternoon after I was done working overtime.

Well, I fell in love and so... we bought it! I know, it's crazy! We even traded the Santa Fe for what I bought it for!

Since we drove it home on Saturday evening, we've had a blast driving around with the sunroof open, singing to the radio and figuring out our new toy. Rest assured, I WILL NOT be trading this one for something else anytime soon.



Recipe Rut Solution #5

Sunday, August 15, 2010

This week's recipe rut solution was a real winner! Last summer, my mother-in-law gave me a bunch of Cooking Light magazines. Last weekend, I sat and went through all of them to see if they had any good recipe rut solutions. I gave Adam some options, and he picked lamb-burgers for tonight. They are a healthy version of a Gyro and they were incredibly easy and tasted great!

Here's the recipe:

  • 3/4 lb. ground lamb
  • 3/4 lb. ground turkery
  • 1 container feta cheese
  • 2 tsp lemon rind
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pack of pitas

Mix all of these ingredients together to make the burger mix, then form them into patties and they are ready to grill! For me, it made eight patties and I wish we would've invited people over to help us eat all of them, but we will take them for lunch tomorrow and I'm assuming they'll have good lunchability.


For the Tzatziki Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tbsp grated peeled seeded cucumber
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
Mix all of these ingredients together and it turns out to be really tasty sauce.

Once your lamb-burgers are done, shove them into a pita with some lettuce, tomatoes and sauce and you're ready to go! I paired them with french fries and some homemade pickles that Adam's grandma sent us home with a few weekends ago.




Total Meal Cost: $25.00

Adam's Rating: 12 out of 10

Things I Saw Today

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Today I saw the inside of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. We were only there for six hours, and yet I saw so many things that really affected me.

I saw a soldier be medically discharged, ending his military career.

A veteran took her first steps on an artificial leg.

I met a hopeful quadruple amputee that is one month younger than me.

I learned how doctors at Walter Reed are able to reconstruct soldier's skulls in 4 hours, when it used to take 12.

I saw pictures of double amputees who were able to do all of the things that they used to do, including hunting, fishing and skiing.

I met the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and siblings who give up everything in their life to stand by the soldier that they love.

I heard stories of toddlers taking their first steps as their mothers and fathers begin to walk again.

On the way out, one of my coworkers said that on the way home, we should really stop and a church and pray for all of the healing that is going on in that place, and he was completely right because it really is a remarkable place.

We are so incredibly lucky to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, but it's so easy to forget that people fight for that every single day.

Jacob's Baptism

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Today we celebrate my nephew Jacob's baptism! He was perfect throughout the entire church service and Sally and Andrew hosted a wonderful lunch for everyone.




Recipe Rut Solution #4

Last week was crazy and I can't believe I wasn't able to post my recipe rut solution. I kind of flaked on the recipe this week and did two deserts for my nephew Jacob's baptism. I made vanilla cupcakes with strawberry icing and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. I promise this week I will do another dinner recipe!

For the cupcakes, I made a basic yellow cupcake batter (you could use boxed cake mix). The frosting was REALLY easy, light and fresh for summertime.

  • 1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy.

3. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners’ sugar; beat until well combined.

4. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended.

I didn't take any pictures while I was making them because I was making them at 6:30 AM on a Saturday morning, but here is the final product:



Here is the recipe for the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies (which also happen to be Adam's favorite):

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 package white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

    1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.

    2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy.

    3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

    4. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

    5. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

    6. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

    7. Bake at 350 degrees until brown


Shoe Explosion

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The entry to our apartment can be quite hazardous by the end of the week, due to none other than the SHOE EXPLOSION!!!

Since I ride the metro everyday, I usually wear sneakers on the metro and then change into sandals/heels when I get to work. Therefore, I am usually carrying a pair of shoes in my work bag.

Each morning, when I'm getting my bag ready, I toss the shoes that are in there from the day before into the small entrance way of the apartment and put in the pair of shoes for the current day. Of course I never think about picking up the shoes later and putting them back in my closet.
By the end of the week, the entrance to the apartment looks like this:

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Perhaps a shoe rack would be a good Christmas present this year?

Recipe Rut Solution #3

Monday, August 2, 2010

All of the craziness from last week prevented me from posting my recipe rut solution! Adam LOVES chicken, so I am always looking for ways to spruce up a plain chicken breast. The recipe for this week is called Roman Chicken.

Here's the recipe:

  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 package Fontina cheese


1. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.


2. Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the peppers and cook until the peppers have browned, about 5 minutes.


3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

4. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs.

5. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.


6. Add the capers. Stir to combine and serve. If making ahead of time, transfer the chicken and sauce to a storage container, cool, and refrigerate. The next day, reheat the chicken to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the capers and the parsley and serve.


Total Meal Cost: $20.00

Adam's Rating: 8 out of 10

Next Day Lunchability: Still good the next day, just a bit dry.

Walking on Broken Glass

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I've come to learn that just when you think your day is as bad as it's going to gets worse.

After a particularly crappy day at work, I went to the store in pursuit of the ingredients needed to make my Recipe Rut Solution tonight. I was able to find all of the ingredients I needed and then stood in line for about 20 minutes while some old lady used a coupon for all 150 items in her cart ('re retired, why can't you shop for groceries at 10:00 AM?!?!).

I arrived home, took the dog out, unpacked the groceries, changed and was preparing to relax for an hour or so when I happened to notice the huge sliding glass door that leads onto our patio. The entire thing was cracked and splintered, precariously still standing and threatening to tumble into the dining area.




It's always something, isn't it?

Recipe Rut Solution #2

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This weekend, Adam and I are going to Rehoboth Beach. Every time we go, I try to bring something for breakfast (banana bread, muffins, etc.) because I love to bake and everyone usually eats breakfast together.

For this week's recipe rut solution, I made peach muffins with a pecan crumb topping. I figured they would be summery and semi-light for the beach!

Here's the recipe:

  • 2 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen peaches
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly Grease 24 (2 3/4-inch by 1 3/8-inch) muffin cups.

2. Place the peaches in a bowl and cover with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Mix thoroughly. Allow the peaches to sit for 1 hour.

3. Cream the butter and remaining 3/4 cup of sugar.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fluffy.

5. In a mixing bowl, combine 3 1/2 cups of the flour, baking powder, and salt.

6. Alternately fold in the milk and flour mixture.

7. Fold in the peaches.DSC_0663

8. Spoon 1/4 cup of the filling into each prepared muffin cup.

9. In a small bowl, combine the remaining flour, brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add the butter.

10. Using your hands, mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumb like mixture.

11. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the crumb mixture over each muffin cup.DSC_0664

12. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with butter.

These turned out to be quite tasty (Adam tried one after they came out of the oven). One trick I learned while watching TV last night is to use an old ice cream scooper to put the batter in the muffin tin. It worked really well and puts just the right amount in. Also, after the peaches marinate in the sugar, it makes a ultra sweet peach syrup that would be great in some iced tea.

Total Cost: $25 (I had most of the ingredients, but pecans and peaches were kind of expensive)

Adam's Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Next Day Breakfastability: These muffins could be frozen and thawed anytime you want, they are also supposed to last for a few days in an air-tight container.