Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday Quotable

Today's quote was almost "Be the gift.," I thought this one by Charles Dickens conveyed the spirit of Christmas a little more eloquently. People take extra time to be kind at this time of year. It is a beautiful thing to witness and participate in. As the holiday approaches, try to remember that you are a gift and can be a gift to others. Take that feeling with you into and all through next year. Happy holidays!! Cheers. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Artist Spotlight

This week, the spotlight is on Hozier. If you look at my other artist spotlight posts, this comes as no surprise. You know I have a thing for singer/songwriters with the type of bluesy sound you get on Take Me To Church. That said, until this week, that was the only song of his I'd heard. I have all kinds of love for that song but after consuming everything I could find on YouTube, I found a lot of other favorites. I can listen to his entire debut album (Hozier) without skipping a moment but my urge to repeat was at its peak with Angel of Small Death & The Codeine Scene, Sedated, To Be Alone, and Work Song. Work Song is my favorite. 

Hozier also released two EPs in the last two years (Take Me To Church and From Eden). Most of the songs on both made the album. You can read more about Hozier by visiting his site and by checking out the interviews and songs below.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


For many it is the holiday season and whether or not you're prepared, there will undoubtedly be a moment over the next few weeks when you need to pause or go postal. Because of that, this week, I'm suggesting Yoga. Whether you're a beginner or advanced, nothing helps bring peace to the forefront like some deep yoga breathing (Pranayama) and some quiet time spent essentially stretching. I could get all spiritually technical and talk about opening chakras and such but let's just keep it basic. Yoga relaxes you. Draw on it in stressful holiday moments. I'm not saying you should launch into Warrior Pose while in line behind a beligerent toddler who is throwing a tantrum over sold out Frozen dolls. I'm suggesting taking time after you wake up or before you go to sleep to do a few poses and come back to your center. Happy Thursday! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Love List

1. If you hate using a track pad, I am not sure the EvoMouse is for you, but I find it incredibly cool. I'd love it for my desktop. (Celluon)

2. The 3Doodler is another cool tech toy. This pen allows you to bring your doodles to life.(MoMA)

3. If you are shopping for someone who is into photography (or for yourself), the Petzval Portrait Lens is a great gift. It combines historic craftsmanship and new technology to create a great lens. (MoMA)

4. If you're entertaining this holiday season, you're undoubtedly looking for yummy desserts that give pumpkin pie a run for its money. I know I'm kinda done with pumpkin season. Why not try this Ellise Pierce's Pecan Salty Caramel Tart? (Design Sponge)

5. If you read the blog regularly, you know I am really into salt. I love artisan salts (white truffle salt is my favorite). When I saw a DIY project with instructions for making my own rosemary infused salt, I was super excited. It's great for home and for gifting your foodie friends.  (Katlyn's Kitchen)

6. I'm a reader and lately, I've been using  my audible account like crazy. Listening on my traffic filled commute makes for at least 2 hours of listening a day. I'm killing my own book list pretty quickly so the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014 is right on time. It will keep me with plenty to read in the year to come. (New York Times)

7. Let's go back to our foodie friends. Infused oils, like this hot pepper oil, also make a great gift. In fact, infused foods are a great gift period. You can infuse alcohol, sugar, salts (as seen above), vinegars, etc. This makes for a great winter project. (A Beautiful Mess)

8. If your friends love statement jewelry, why not make it this season. You can guarantee no one else has the piece and customize it to incorporate elements your friends love. I love this tassel necklace but possibilities with jewelry are virtually endless. (P.S. I Made This)

9. With all the DIY gift suggestions, I had to include some DIY wrapping ideas. You can find a lot of options all over the web but I love these curated by I Spy DIY. (I Spy DIY) 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Food Tuesday: Red Lentil Cakes with Coconut Brown Rice

While browsing the grocery aisles last week, I found Veggie Patch's Moroccan Red Lentil Cakes. I thought they'd make for an easy dinner (and they were on sale) so I grabbed them. Based on their spice profile, I decided to pair them with a ginger coconut rice I saw on Saveur. To finish the dish, I tossed in some shredded carrots and pomegranate arils  for color and texture. The meal was delicious. You can find the rice recipe below. Enjoy! 

Coconut Brown Rice

1  1" piece peeled fresh ginger
1 cup brown rice
3⁄4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1 teaspoon cilantro

1. Using the back of a large knife, pound the ginger until it becomes bruised and somewhat stringy and releases some of is juice. This will take a few good whacks.
2. Rinse the rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. Transfer the rice to a 1 1⁄2-quart saucepan and add the coconut milk, 3⁄4 cup cold water, and the salt.
3. Add the ginger to the pan and stir well to combine with the rice, making sure that the ginger is as fully submerged in the rice as possible. Place the pan over high heat and bring the liquid to a boil while stirring with a large spoon to prevent the rice at the bottom of the pan from scorching or burning. (Don't worry if the liquid thickens considerably as it comes to a boil; that's a result of the combining of the fats in the coconut milk with the starch in the rice.)

4. Allow the rice to boil for 15 seconds, while continuing to stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the liquid is completely absorbed and rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the pot from heat; allow the rice to continue to steam, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and garnish with sprigs of cilantro.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Quotable

"What do you want for Christmas?"

I've asked this question so many times over the last couple of weeks. This is the first year I haven't planned well. Usually, I have a list for each friend or family member I exchange gifts with. I don't have to ask what people want because I have ideas based on conversations throughout the year. I'll admit I've had some gift card years but usually, I put thought into my choices.

Because I'm down to the wire, I've found myself obsessed with things. As I shop, I see all kinds of stuff I want too. Stuff I DO NOT NEED. I am in the middle of a purge project for goodness sake. I took a screen shot of today's quote months ago and today, it finally seemed appropriate. I'm going to reconnect my mind to the things that matter most and not worry so much about finding the perfect gift and a timely delivery date.

It's really about the love and the intention behind that fancy new coffee maker and not being perceived as perfectly planned Polly.

Happy Monday! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Artist Spotlight

I heard "Stronger Than Ever" on a television show and immediately hopped online trying to find the artist. First, let me pledge my love to Google. You really can find anything. Next, let me pledge my love for Raleigh Ritchie (Jacob Anderson). The actor/singer has been acting for a while and has 2 EPs: The Middle Child (2013) and Black and Blue (2014). As for the acting, he's been in quite a few things but you likely recognize him as Grey Worm from Game of Thrones (I really gotta get into that show). You can download his latest EP at his website and you can enjoy an interview and a mini playlist of his music below.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


There is so much going on in my life these days that the gym is the furthest thing from my mind. I know this is hypocritical considering my blogging is largely meant to push for a life well lived. At the same time, life happens and sometimes the choice is between 3 hours of sleep and an hour at the gym. Lately, I've been choosing sleep. That said, I haven't been totally inactive. I try to squeeze in some yoga to relax at bedtime and in the morning. Some days, I try to crank up the intensity in the morning. It helps me wake up, when a shower just doesn't seem like it will be enough--especially since I am off caffeine for now. Today's workout is my go to for waking up. It gets the blood (and the sweat) flowing. Credit to @exerciseprograms on Instagram. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Love List

1. Ever have that "where are my keys/phone/wallet??" panic moment while walking out the door? I have someone in my life  (and by someone, I mean my husband) who chronically suffers from lost-key-itis. The Tile is the answer and will absolutely be in his stocking on Christmas morning. (Tile App)

2. I got a bonsai tree as a gift when I started my career but my hours were so crazy back then, I neglected it and it ended up in the garbage. If I ever try again, I'm going for the Dawn Redwood Bonsai Forest Kit. It's so pretty and would be the perfect complement for my office. (National Geographic)

3. The Mighty Purse combines fashion and function by providing you with a cute, date night clutch and a phone charger in one. Great gift idea. (Might Purse)

4. I love Compleat's Silicone Lunch Bag. You can pack it or use it as a replacement for Tupperware and eat right out of the container. (Compleat or Grommet)

5. These leather wrap bangles are are a chic and simple complement to any outfit. They can be a pop of color or you can stick with black and wear them with anything. (Grommet)

6. If you live in a winter wonderland (or an icy hell depending on your perspective), you can benefit from a little extra traction. Nordic Grip's mini grippers are your solution. They come in black, pink and blue and slip right over your shoes. (Grommet)

7. Cartoonist, Josh Hara (@yoyoha on Instagram) is getting a lot of attention for his #100CoffeeCups project. I look forward to each new post. (Mashable)

8. I know we're not at the new year yet but it's time to start thinking about what you want for 2015. I know I am looking for a fresh start. This article suggests 10 Things to Let Go Of Before the End of the Year. (Mind Body Green)

9. Bond harnesses robot power to hand write notes for you. I love the concept and totally think its nice to send handwritten notes over texts and e-mails. If you don't have time, Bond is for you. (Hello Bond)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Food Tuesday: Everything But the Kitchen Sink Salad

I got home tonight and wanted nothing more than a big, yummy salad. I didn't feel like cooking, which is good since I'm trying to stick to a mostly raw menu this month. I'm still trying to cleanse a bit after the gluttony that is Thanksgiving (though holiday parties are making that a bit difficult. 

I started this salad with a base of mixed greens, which included kale, chard, arugula and baby spinach. I added almost everything in my fridge: marinated artichoke hearts, pomegranate arils, baby bella mushrooms, slices of red pear, marinated banana pepper rings, sliced campari tomatoes, fried onions, chickpeas, and for a little extra hit of protein, I chopped up a Quorn chicken patty (meat free). I topped the salad with a mustard based vinaigrette (1 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp. dijon mustard, 1/2 clove garlic (minced), 1-2 tbsp. olive oil, a touch (about 1/2 teaspoon) of honey to balance the acid and salt and pepper to taste). The result was a yummy, filling salad that hit every taste and texture note I could have asked for. I highly recommend doing this with your favorite ingredients. Think beyond the cheese and croutons! Happy Tuesday and bon appétit!   

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday Quotable

I have been working like a fiend lately and my life has slipped out from under me. The deal I was working on finally closed and I used the weekend to take a breath and figure out how to put my life back on track. Part of that means getting ready for the holidays. I haven't done a lick of shopping or menu planning. Getting the house clean and ready for guests? Laughable.

As I started to trade work based to do lists for personal ones, I could feel anxiety rising. I had to take a second and remind myself that the most important part of the season isn't in the perfect, impeccably wrapped gift or the delicious (IMHO), lovingly prepared meals. It isn't in the refreshing, hand crafted cocktails or the right holiday party dress. It is about the time. Living and loving those you're blessed to have and being present in the moment with them. So get wrapped up in each other this season. If ever there was a time for love and light, this is it.

Happy Monday!  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday. It is a global day for giving back. We tend to flow quickly from giving thanks for what we have to scouring the internet and brick and mortar stores for shopping deals in the pursuit of more. Think of Giving Tuesday as a way to detox from Black Friday, Cyber Monday. Use today to give back to the charities you love and encourage your friends and family to do the same. To learn more, visit the Giving Tuesday site

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Quotable

Today is World AIDS Day.The theme this year is "Focus, Partner Achieve: An AIDS free generation." It would be amazing if there is an AIDS free generation in our lifetime. There have been so many advances in medication. Yet, the disease persists. Despite today's quote, it is not just a disease for the poor or one that runs rampant in other countries. 

Awareness, protection and testing remain important. Statistics show that people are relaxing on protection because of available medication. Statistics also show If we're going to get to an AIDS free generation, that can't be the case. You can never be too careful when it comes to your life. Stay on top of your status and learn more wherever you can. 

You can find all sorts of resources on the World AIDS Day home page. Spread the word! 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Love List

Image from Overstock

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Today's love list is about the most priorities in my life. Next week, the Love List will be back as a "Best Of" edition and then, it will be all about the holidays. In this moment, however, I am with my family and so grateful to be around them surrounded by love and laughter. I hope you are all in the same place. Cheers! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Quotable

This week, the quote says it all. If you're having trouble seeing it in spots because of the color, it says:

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." -Melody Beattie

As you prepare for Thanksgiving (if you celebrate), try to leave the stress of preparation, managing family or even feelings of loneliness and grief behind. Focus on what makes you grateful-no matter how small you may think it is--and celebrate that.

Cheers and best wishes!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Artist Spotlight

This week I'm spotlighting 4 newer artists. They don't have big catalogues but I think huge things are coming. I'm playing any little piece of music I can find from each one of them. Check them out on YouTube and happy dance your way into the weekend. Cheers!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


When I first saw this workout, I honestly thought, I can do this in my sleep...except the burpees. I was wrong, friend. Dead wrong. This is a toughie for a  fitness novice and you will break a sweat and feel the burn. You will also feel awesome when you're done (just before you melt into a pool of sweat). Seriously though, great workout.

p/s If you're more advanced, try adding sets or getting through each set in a limited amount of time.  

Fashion Spotlight: Toms + Target

Toms launched its collaboration with Target on Sunday (Nov. 16) and as per usual with limited edition designer Target lines, people went nuts and lined up for first dibs at pretty little (sustainable) loot. The line is simple and consistent with Toms normal aesthetic. If you love Toms regular offerings, you will love the shoes, clothes and accessories (for you and your home) from this collaboration...and the reasonable prices don't hurt.

BONUS: For every Target + Toms gift you buy, Target will give a blanket, shoes or meals to those in need.

Prices range from $10-$48 (see what I mean about the reasonable prices!). Get your shop on!!

Here are some of my faves.  (All images from Target)






Shoes and Accessories






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Love List

1. I repost Danielle LaPorte's Truthbombs a lot. Sometimes, they are that little bit of inspiration I need to get through the day. Imagine my delight when I found out they are for sell in a deck of positive, beautiful Truthbomb cards. I think I found a stocking stuffer for my loved ones. (Danielle LaPorte)

2. Sweater season is upon us (unless you're across the world and experience Summer or in a place where its constantly warm--in which case, I am SOOO Jealous. But I digress.) Madewell put out the perfect guide for taking care of your precious, cozy, get-you-through-the-cold-months faves. (Madewell)

3. Ever tasted your tears? Salty, right?  Hoxton Street Monster Supplies is capitalizing on that with its genius new gourmet salt line called (what else) Salt Made from Tears. As you may know, I have a love affair going with gourmet salts. I can't wait to try them all. (Hoxton Street Monster Supplies)

4. I love Lark & Linen's the idea of a popcorn bar for a movie night. Great party idea. (Lark & Linen)

5. I love makeup as much as the next woman but I am bad about throwing products out at the right time. This guide from Harper's Bazaar will keep you on track. (Harper's Bazaar)

6. If you've ever tried to carry a bunch of grocery bags in the house (with your laptop bag, gym bag and ever present bottle of water), you can use the Mighty Handle. You may even have a hand free to open the door. (Amazon)

7. I created trays for a party earlier this month and I loved the finished product. When I saw this decorative tray DIY, I knew I had to make some more. (The Everygirl)

8. We've been on a bit of a mission to get organized. In looking for tips, I found the NEAT Method. They are professional organizers and if you can't hire them, you're sure to find some major inspiration on their site. I long to be this organized. (NEAT Method)

9. Have you been to a restaurant that offers you the option of rounding up your total to the next dollar for charity? Spare NYC created an app for that with the goal of ending hunger in NYC. Read more about the charity here. (Spare NYC)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Food Tuesday

Well, folks, they can’t all be winners. Where should I start?

I eat veggie sushi a lot. I watch the sushi chef (itamae) prepare my “cuke and avo” inside out roll each week with awe inspiring precision. Brown sticky rice spread evenly on 4x6 sheets of delicate nori. A sprinkle of sesame seeds. A quarter avocado split into three and placed in a perfect line down the center of the roll. Next, come perfect cucumber matchsticks (julienned). Then, the roll is formed and pressed in a sushi mat but we’re not finished yet. A sharp knife dipped in a bowl of hot water and lemon cuts through the sushi roll like butter until its eight perfect little cuts of yummy.

After months of watching, I was like, “Yeah. I can do that.” Oh, me of big faith.

So, I went shopping and got nori. I had everything else at home. I found a sushi rice recipe labeled the “Perfect Sushi Rice” recipe. By the way, did you know how many “perfect’ recipes there are on the web? 

Anyway, I got to work on the sushi rice. After the allotted cooking time, it was still crunchy so I doubled the cooking time and it was, actually kinda perfect.

I spread the rice onto the nori evenly. My hands were a mess but I managed to get it evenly spread. BOOM! Next, I sprinkled on some sesame seeds. Easy peasy. Then, I added the avocado and cucumber. I also added a few carrots. Look at me! All fancy and feeling myself.

Then, I tried to roll it up. WITHOUT A SUSHI MAT. I know, I know. I thought I would be fine with my hands and a little parchment paper. As I rolled the then soggy nori into what became a fairly decent roll, I thought everything might turn out ok. Then I tried to slice it and my heart dropped. 

It was nowhere as easy as I expected. The knife smashed the roll and I had to reshape the sections a bit. In the end, I was able to salvage a few decent pieces but overall, it was U-G-L-Y!!

Ash and I both ate it and it was, despite its looks, edible and kinda tasty…with a little pickled ginger. I’d try again. Actually, Ash has put a challenge on the table and my competitive side can’t say no. 

This time, I’m going to buy a sushi mat first.


The sushi rice recipe I used was Alton Brown’s version. You can find it here.

For beginners like me, I’d suggest using smaller sheets of nori and not spending so much time spreading the rice that the nori gets slimy and soggy (read: hard to cut and harder to chew).

Get a sushi mat. Yes, you really need one. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Quotable

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, you are probably starting to think about time with family and all the yummy food that comes along with the day. Maybe, you're just thinking about the peace that comes with a day off even if you have a house full of noise. If you're like me, you are taking extra stock in the things you are thankful for. 

As you plan menus, make travel plans or prepare to honor the personal traditions that make the day special for you and your loved ones, make further plans to live as many days in the warm light of gratitude that tends to envelop the season...then, share it.

If the holidays bring emotions of a different kind, try to get away from anxiety, sadness, stress, etc. by reaching out to others. Tell  people how you're feeling or try to step outside of it by reaching out to others who need a shoulder. Maybe you can lean into each other.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Quotable

I practice mindfulness and try to focus on the things I’m grateful for each day. It helps me make it through when I am stressed or a little blue. That said, I am totally guilty of wishing for better days. This happens most often when I am struggling with a work issue, a health issue or trying to think about how to move up the ladder closer to my goals. In those tough or tiring times, it’s all too easy to fall into that “I can’t wait until this week is over!” habit. Today’s quote is inspiration to fight that habit and enjoy life--even the less than awesome bits. None of us know what’s ahead. Why not cash in on the joy at your disposal right now! Live and enjoy your life. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Food Tuesday

Fall weather means Fall flavors for me and today's recipe screams fall with its apple-y, sweet potato-y goodness. The original version of the recipe from Food 52 was for Roasted Sweet Potato and Apples with Pearl Onions and Crispy Sage. See what I mean about it screaming Fall. You can practically smell the crisp breeze in the air. 

I riffed on the recipe a bit and decided to saute everything rather than roasting. I loved the dish but would roast in the future because I think it would further bring out the sweetness in the onions. This time, I went with a quick saute after par-cooking the potatoes. 

Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Pearl Onions
4 cups sweet potato chunks (about 2 average-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks)
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 1 large apple, chopped into chunks (does not need to be peeled, but can be if you prefer!)
1 clove garlic
2 cups halved white pearl onions
Salt and pepper to taste
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne

Rinse the sweet potatoes and poke holes into them with a fork (all over the potato). Cook them in the microwave or convection oven for about 5-7 minutes. Once potatoes are slightly softened, remove them and let them cool. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add onions and allow to cook with garlic for about 3 minutes. While the are cooking cut the potatoes into chunks. Add potatoes and apple into skillet with onions. Toss in spices and stir until well combined. Taste. Add salt and pepper if necessary.

Enjoy as a meal by serving over quinoa or with a salad. You can also serve it as a side dish like I did. The main course was roasted spaghetti squash tossed with roasted tomatoes and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Yum!! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Quotable

I heard today's quote while watching TV last week and loved it so much I wrote it down and repeated it to a couple of friends. It's only right that it gets featured on NCL too.

I think we go through things in life (at least I certainly have) that try our patience, test our emotions and leave us feeling beat up. Those feelings can come from people, jobs, hurtful self-talk, etc. At some point, if we're lucky, those things and people causing strain fall away.

Yet, the nature of people is to avoid failure. So, we pick up the pieces and try to hold on to them-- crumbling and flaky as they may be. We hold on to people with both hands though they're only extending a finger. We hold on to stories of past failures and tell ourselves we can't get better because of them.

It's unhealthy and more importantly, it blocks growth, blessings, and joy that may otherwise enter our lives.

That's why today's quote is so important. The leaves that fall off and away from the trees of our lives are meant to stay on the ground. They are the dead stuff of our past and the only way to heal and grow is to let them blow away. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014


The "Work.Out." posts over the past several weeks have been pretty intense. I thought I'd change things up a bit this week and focus on relaxation. Whether you're stressed or not, my guess is like me, you welcome any chance to relax. So today, we're doing yoga for relaxation and stress relief. I'm also including a tutorial on breathing techniques, as it's arguably one of the most important parts of yoga practice. Enjoy and Namaste.

* All videos are from Yoga With Adrienne. Check out more of her videos on her YouTube channel.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Love List

1. If you're into perfume, you'd likely adore having a signature scent. That's a little more possible with Jo Malone's fragrance combining service.  (Jo Malone)

2. Hollaback is working to end "street harrassment" and had a woman walk around Manhattan for 10 hours while recording her experiences being hit on/cat-called/harassed by men. Check out the video here. You can see more about my thoughts on the topic on my Tumblr feed. (YouTube)

3. I give myself a manicure at least once a week. Love this spill proof nail polish holder that keeps polish stable while your working. (Whatever Works)

4. I saw this mini elliptical trainer publicized as exercise equipment for the lazy. I think it's genius when you sit at a desk for most of the day. Just slide it under the desk and get your workout in while you work. (Amazon)

5. Beyonce is collaborating with TopShop on an active wear line. Maybe that will help energize my workout routine. (TopShop)

6. St. Jude is close to my heart and I have been donating and participating in fundraisers to help them for a while. Last year, I did the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and I plan to do the same this year. If you're in NYC, sign up/donate here. If outside of the City, look for walks in your area. They have them all over the country. (St. Jude/Elvis Duran)

7. Who doesn't need a good shoe hack? I'm all for anything that can make heels more comfortable. (Buzzfeed)

8. The MICA is the latest in wearable tech from Opening Ceremony and Intel. It will debut this Winter. Who said tech couldn't be fashionable? (New York Times)

9.I have been doing lots of designed and ombre manicures lately but for the past 2 weeks, I've been wearing a beautiful shade of purple for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. No other embellishments and I love it. I think purple may be my Fall go-to color. Maybelline Color Show has some pretty shades. What are your favorite fall colors? (Maybelline)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Food Tuesday

PANTRY RAID!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today's meal is bought to you by a long day. We've all had them. You work, you go to meetings, you come home and want to order takeout more than anything. Yep, that's the one.

I had that kind of day yesterday but instead of ordering high sodium lo mein or greasy pizza, I opted to take a bunch of staples out of my pantry and make something happen. This pasta is the result.

Instead of providing a recipe (because making it really depends on what you keep as pantry staples), I will just encourage opting for compatible flavors. I went for Mediterranean flavors and added olive oil, chickpeas, marinated artichokes, spinach, and roasted tomatoes with garlic to 2 types of pasta (to clear out small amounts of each).

All of the ingredients are staples of mine. What do you keep your pantry stocked with? What's your favorite pantry raid meal? 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Quotable

Today's quote is about the potential in everything and the sculptor's gift to give it to the world. It strikes me at a place just beyond its plain meaning. See yourself as the block of stone and the sculptor. It is never to late re-carve your story and present a new gift (your new, happy self) to the world. Want a new direction in life, start re-tooling today!!

Happy Monday!  

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Today's workout focuses on the lower body and is taken from XHIT. You can see demonstrations of each exercise here. XHIT is also a great resource for all kinds of workouts. Check out their YouTube channel here. Here's to sweating it out, whatever it may be for you (stress, excess weight, built up emotions, fatigue, etc.). 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

love list

1. I'm always amazed when I watch today's "kids" movies. They are just as entertaining for adults as they are for kids because we totally get the jokes. Here are more that are sure to make you raise an eyebrow. (Buzzfeed)

2. Halloween is coming and if you're like me, you're woefully behind on decorating and candy shopping.  Lucky for me, Costco is now selling decorative mini pumpkins in their produce section. These suggestions on carve free pumpkin decor are just what I need. (Cosmopolitan)

3. I just found Tanesha Awasthi's Girls With Curves blog a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love it. Great tips and beautiful fashion. You can't go wrong. (Girls With Curves)

4. Cookie butter? It doesn't fit into my workout routine but I don't see that stopping me. Everything in moderation. (A Beautiful Mess)

5. These are great tips for making the best out of less expensive bottles of wine. (Cupcakes & Cashmere)

6. Brit + Co.'s collection of Halloween costumes is sure to provide inspiration if you need it like I do. (Brit + Co.)

7. The story behind Wishbone Letterpress is great inspiration to live the life you want...the life that makes you happy. (Design Sponge)

8. It's squash season. Why not learn how to cut the larger ones properly? (Pure Wow)

9. I love this DIY thumbtack art. Going to try my hand at it this weekend. (Life in Velvet)

100 Happy Days Fallout

I announced a little over a month ago that I was starting on the #100HappyDays challenge again. I was so excited about focusing on gratitude and encouraging others to do the same. The website chided me. “Can you be happy for 100 days in a row? You don’t have time for this, right? 71% of people who tried to complete this challenge, failed quoting lack of time as the main reason.”
“PFFFFFFFT! I can be happy,” I thought. 100 Days? Bring it on!

On the journey, however, I noticed something startling. I was stressed out about being happy! Sounds crazy right?  Let me explain .

Each day, I would have moments to be thankful for (being alive, the softness of the bed at the end of a long day, a good meal, date night with Ash, time with friends, a fun workout, no traffic, etc.).  Half can’t be photographically documented and everything else would be a daily repeat. So then, it becomes about taking pictures of nature:

“Oh! I am so happy about the changing leaves! #autumn #leaves #foliage #colors #100HappyDays”


 “What a gorgeous sunset.  #100HappyDays #nature #sunset #beautiful”

After a while, I was spending more time looking for something tangible to be grateful for and freaking out about the daily photo deadline. It all became a bit exhausting so I stopped…and I was grateful for that though it couldn’t be captured in photos (unless I snapped a pic of a stop sign).
I did confirm some lessons through the process:  

1. My time is better spent living in the moment rather than on Instagram documenting it. 

2. My gratitude practice is better left for journaling and talking. 

3. Pictures are great when the mood hits but sometimes, it’s just about a feeling and that is perfectly fine.

Maybe that was the point all along? 

No matter what works for you, I hope you’re finding your happy today!  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Food Tuesday

The cold weather set in and so did my craving for hearty, warm comfort food. Rather than opting for soup, I decided to go for Mushroom Stroganoff and of course, I veganized it (super simple). The recipe is adapted from Williams-Sonoma's "Food Made Fast" series. 

Mushroom Stroganoff

6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb. mixed fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster and cremini, sliced or diced
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti)
2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 lb. wide egg noodles or grain of your choice (I added new potatoes to the recipe so I didn’t use a grain or pasta)

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the margarine. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add the shallot and sauté until lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they have softened and released most of their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir to incorporate. Stir in the wine and broth and cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vegan sour cream. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and stir until well incorporated. 

If you are cooking pasta, cook it according to package instructions while the mushrooms are cooking. Toss the pasta with the sauce and top with parsley before serving.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Quotable

Change tends to be overwhelming. Even small change like eating differently or working out can seem impossible when looked at in the wrong way. It is somehow easier to change activity levels by replacing 30 minutes of your couch time with a nightly walk than to think about a laundry list of how much weight you need to lose, what you need to buy from the store, what exercise program you should be on, and how much money everything is going to cost.   Today's quote is all about making the changes of life more manageable.

You certainly cannot change everything that makes you unhappy or stressed. BUT you can change something. Make one positive change that will make your life or someone else's better. Let me know in the comments what you changed and how it helped.

Happy Monday! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Magnus Tingsek

I always talk about good leading to good. For instance, gratitude leads to more things to be thankful for (whether tangible or not). Sometime, it could just be a change in focus. Other times, it's an actual additional something. Enough of this musing. Last week, the NCL Artist Spotlight was on Allen Stone. In learning more about Allen, I found Magnus Tingsek. 

Tingsek is a Swedish singer/songwriter/producer who has been releasing his own music since 2005 (yep, way late on this one too). Before that, he was in or collaborating with a slew of different bands. He’s spent the last couple of years producing music for other artists and touring with Allen Stone. His discography includes five albums and his latest effort is due out November 7.  Get into Tingsek with the playlist below. If you want to look up his other albums, here are the links:

Tingsek (2005)

Thursday, October 16, 2014


The last thing I want to think about today is working out. My arms and legs hurt so much from training this week that the thought of a bicep curl or a lunge makes me want to hide under the bed. BUT, so it goes when you take time off from the gym. This week's workout is the training routine I did on arm day this week. I will say the boxing was pretty fun!


You can find boxing demonstrations on several YouTube accounts. This video shows the basic punches.

You can find demonstrations for each of the arm/shoulder exercises on Expert Village's YouTube page. Look for the How to Work Out Properly section.

To learn more about increasing reps vs. increasing weight, check out this article. I tend to increase weight for each set but it's really up to you. The important thing is training safely with proper form. The weight/reps depends on your fitness goals.

Here's to good health!