every once in a while, you need a super relaxing evening at home. you know the kind i'm talking about. simple meal. favorite show. pjs on. well, that's exactly what craig and i needed the other night. so we turned to our time tested formula - the couch picnic.
craig - the couch picnicker
our couch conveniently converts futon-style into a lovely full size bed. so, when we're feeling especially lazy, we lay it down and enjoy our dinner picnic-style. it's really a wonderful arrangement. we sit, cross-legged with the food spread out before us and chat, chow down and enjoy some quality tv as we take a mini-vaca from reality.
the other night we enjoyed simple salads - 1/4 head ice berg lettuce still in its wedge form, fresh tomato, avocado with an avocado/balsamic vinaigrette. yum. to flesh it out a bit (and make it fun) i also put out a small spread of interactive options. homemade bread (yes the leftovers from the party) with my mom's basil pesto and erin's cauliflower curry as toppings.
this set-up totally classes up traditional couch potato behavior. there are no plastic trays of previously frozen food. no open pizza boxes with a massacre inside. our couch picnic included actual plates, real (fabric) napkins and utensils (gasp!).
the next time you're in need of low-key night at home, couch picnic it up. let me know if you like it. (but i have a feeling you will...)
last night craig and i had 4 of our very best friends - cate, chad, erin & brian - over for dinner. with summer weekends numbered, we decided to get together for one last warm weather hurrah before the fall craziness sets in. erin & brian are getting married the end of october, so needless to say, they have a lot of busy weeks coming up. (just to catch you up to speed, cate & chad are getting married in june of 2011, and craig & i are getting hitched november 5th, 2011!) fun times ahead : )
well, back to the party. we actually invited them over for a "bbq", but since i was working until 6pm, i had to make all the food in advance. i decided to make sausage with peppers and onions. ok, ok, i know that doesn't sound all that gourmet, but it turned out pretty good, if i do say so myself. (i actually got caught squeegeeing my own plate last night to savor the last few remnants of sauce - good thing they're good friends!)
i opted for chicken and turkey sausages - a spinach & feta, a mild italian and a white wine, parsley & garlic. i sauteed chopped vidalia onions and red peppers in olive oil in a large pot. i pan seared the sausage separately, chopped them and then added the sausage and pan drippings to the onions and peppers, added a jar or so of good marinara sauce as well as a can of chopped tomatoes and presto! pot-o-sausage&peppers&onions. to really make it a homerun, i made homemade bread. (it's much easier than it sounds - but it always impresses. thank you, hannie!) i made a pesto loaf and also a garlic loaf. yummy! cate brought a fresh, delicious green salad with countless farmer's market toppings and erin made super good cauliflower & curry dip that she served with whole grain tortilla chips as an appetizer. we ate well. and drank well too...
i greeted my guests with two pitchers of fun summery drinks. a simple sangria (and when i say simple, i mean simple) - one bottle of red wine plus (don't laugh) two 24oz cans of mike's hard lemonade. yes, that's right. i'm classy, i know. but it did the trick. i added fresh squeezed orange slices and added fresh peach slices and ice. it was good and went down a little too easy. the other pitcher was spiked iced tea. sun tea + (don't laugh, again) two 24oz cans of twisted tea. (don't judge, the large cans were leftovers from a fun trip to ohio to see my sis.) again, i classed it up with some fresh lemon slices. both drinks were refreshing and the guests had no complaints.
since i was at work all day, craig was at the helm for the day-of-party prep, and boy oh boy, did i train that boy well! the cottage and yard looked beautiful. the lights were on, candles were lit, dinner was simmering, music was playing, the yard was prepped with table and chairs and the fire pit was awaiting a match. well done, craig. well done.
after drinks & appetizers accompanied with wedding talk, girl talk and a few rounds of quoits (a yard game kind of like horseshoe but better), we enjoyed dinner at the dining room table inside. the dinner was enjoyed by all and yes, as i mentioned, i did a hostess "no-no" and practically licked my plate clean. (i know you've done it too at one time or another.)
on to dessert. the boys headed outside to light the fire pit and we "prepped" dessert. meaning i got the marshmallows, hershey's bars and graham crackers out of the pantry : ) i mean, honestly, is there anything better than s'mores on a cool summer evening?! dessert was paired with champagne. we uncorked the veuve clicquot that my parents gave craig and me when we got engaged and toasted to the inexplicable twist of fate that we're all engaged at the same time. (erin, cate and i have been friends for years - i've known cate since i was two, and erin is my cousin.) i don't think we ever would have imagined in all our childhood discussions that we'd all be at this life step at the same time. it's wonderful and has been a lot of fun!
so what's the only thing that can make s'mores and champagne and summer and hanging with good friends even better? raspberry jell-o shots. chad seemed especially appreciative, but come on, what says "party!" and "fun!" more than good old-fashioned jell-o shots?! it was a fun time. a really fun time.
me, cate, erin
well, thanks to a brilliant team effort on all fronts, the party was a huge success. the only one who didn't enjoy it (unfortunately) was little olive, our dog. she hid in her crate all night.
Ever have one of those days when you're feeling a little overwhelmed? When everything seems to be hitting all at once and there don't seem to be enough hours in the day? Well today was one of those days. I was out of town over the weekend and came back to quite a bit of work, and (I must admit) I was allowing it to get the best of me. I kept trudging forward, but my energy and enthusiasm were waining. I was making cold calls for my business and wasn't making tremendous headway (or so it felt).
Yet, when these moments come, they are undoubtedly followed by something positive. It never fails. Just when all seems to be weighing on you, stopping you in your tracks, something comes through - no matter how small - that makes you feel better, pushes you further in the right direction or brings a smile to your face. My last call today came through. I found myself on the phone with someone who was genuinely pleased I had reached out to them. They needed my assistance and I needed theirs. Kismet.
Just as I was feeling downtrodden, I was handed my silver lining because I kept moving forward. I didn't let my doubts get the best of me. And because of that, I was given a chance to make something happen. A chance to move forward in a positive direction that will better myself and my business. Funny how one small positive thing can make everything come into perspective in a new, uplifting, empowering way.
Ever wonder what it takes to improve your health, achieve greater happiness and live the life of your dreams?
Well, there are three principles which will help you reach all of your dreams (and they’re free!). You ready for them? Drum roll please... They are: intuition, simplicity, and beauty.
Sure, that all sounds well and good, but how do you get from here (the cave of self-consciousness, stress and dieting) to there (the land of self-appreciation, happiness and health)?
Well, these three principles will be your guides and aid you in all of your lifestyle decisions. They'll ground you and remind you what's truly important as you strive to create your best life. With intuition, simplicity and beauty as you guides you will begin to move along the path towards well-designed living.
If you trust your intuition, your innate wisdom, you will discover what you truly want in your life and what you no longer need. You will naturally begin to seek greater simplicity in both your lifestyle and home.
And, when you simplify your lifestyle and home environment, the innate beauty that was there all along begins to shine through. If you follow and trust these principles of well-designed living, I guarantee your life will become richer and more fulfilling. Not to mention, you’ll wind up taking better care of yourself, your family and your home.
You are the designer of your life. For better or worse. The only person keeping you from reaching your dreams is you. Now, I know that sounds a bit "in your face", but sometimes we need to be hit with the reality in order to make a change.
So often, we stand in our own way. (I know, I hate when people tell me that, too.) We self-sabotage our best efforts and then give up, feeling like a wounded victim. But, just like we have a choice in our happiness, we have a choice with the direction our life course takes. We are the designers of our lives. Designing is a creative process, but not a haphazard, caution-to –the-wind kind of artistic endeavor. Design requires planning, thought and, yes, a bit of creativity never hurts. Also, design is meant to be fun. So often our lives become so serious, so adult. Did you know that the average adult laughs just 15 times a day? The average child laughs more than 400. Kinda sad, isn't it?
How often have you written a life list with all the wonderful things you wish for yourself with as much gusto as you compose a grocery list? Do yourself a favor and recognize your role as the designer of your life. Write down your goals, and share them with friends and family. Do anything you can to make them more real and tangible right now! It’ll take some time, but once you see yourself in this role and begin to accept it, you’ll be gifted with an amazing power. You’ll be able to craft the life of your dreams (and also recognize what dreams are truly vital for you to follow your bliss). Our life paths are not random. We all have a gift and a purpose. Our purpose is not always clear, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking for and exploring. And remember, your life mission can shift, morph and change. It’s OK if what satisfied you in your twenties no longer works for you in your forties. Reevaluate and redesign. Design is an evolution. It’s constantly shifting and developing. There is no “start” and “finish”.
Did you know that you have everything you need within you at this very moment to be happy? You just have to recognize it and choose it. Yes, happiness is a choice. Sure, if you had a bit more money or weighed a bit less, maybe you’d convince yourself (or allow yourself) to be marginally happier for a short time, but what it really comes down to is your attitude.
Every day we are faced with a thousand little things that we need to take care of. We all have to go to the grocery store, walk the dog, go to work, make dinner, pay bills, etc., yet some people just seem to enjoy the ride more than others. Some people see life as a journey, enjoying each precious moment; others see it as a destination, always waiting for the future moment when they can “enjoy” life. When you think about it, doesn’t it seem a bit wasteful to put happiness on hold until some future date when the stars align, you magically lose 20 pounds and win the lottery? Because, chances are, that day will never come, or even if it does, I’m sure your hair will be frizzy or you’ll get in a fight with your husband… If you can’t be happy now, what makes you think you’ll be “happy when…”?
Happiness grows from the inside out, not the outside in. Choose happiness. Choose it now. When something starts to bother you, and you feel yourself slipping into that negative, dark space, take a deep breath and smile. It may seemed forced, but over time that smile will transform into a genuine grin : )