Thursday, April 28, 2011


one of my favorite magazines is whole living.  they always have such great tips, advice and articles that encourage balanced, healthy living for both the body and the soul.  if you haven't ever picked up a copy, it's worth perusing...
the may 2011 issue had an interesting article about happiness - "it's time to flourish".  the piece said that there are 5 key components that constitute the relative level of happiness in our lives.  interesting.

positive emotion - "happiness's useful core [...] an energizing force that drives us toward the sweeter things in life"

engagement - "when we're truly engrossed in a task that demands our attention, our sense of self recedes and times feels as if it has slowed"

relationships - "our bonds with others are the best antidote to the downs of life"

meaning - "belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than the self"

accomplishment - "doing something notable and being acknowledged [...] for others it means setting and achieving purely personal goals"

credit {here}
i never really dissected happiness like it was something logical and scientific.  it often seems more elusive than that...but the above breakdown seems to make sense.  too often, it can feel like our happiness is out of our control.  but, if you think about it keeping in mind the 5 elements, happiness is completely within our control.  we define our happiness - and our lives for that matter - by what we engage in, the people we spend our time with and the meaning we give to it.  it's our creation.  how inspiring.  so, be happy : )

how do you create your happiness?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

the secret to seared tuna

last night on my way home from work, i stopped at this great little fish market.  they always have beautiful fillets of the freshest fish and seafood.  we've fallen in love with their chilean sea bass, tilapia and decadent lump crab.  (see crab cake recipe here)  but, last night, their massive tuna steaks caught my eye...

despite being very comfortable in the kitchen, fish used to scare me.  it seemed difficult to cook, and i would psych myself out of buying it.  but, i've realized, since frequenting the little fish market, that the freshness and quality makes a huge difference.  their fish is sooo much better than what you'll find at the grocery store counter.

the players:

2 sushi grade tuna steaks
soy & teriyaki
grainy mustard
brown sugar
orange marmalade
vidalia onion
olive oil
(romaine & avocado)

anyway, when i got home, i marinated the tuna steaks in a bit of soy & teriyaki mixed with grainy mustard, brown sugar, garlic and orange marmalade.  not too much, but enough to flavor it.

then i sauteed some vidalia onions in a teaspoon of olive oil...and then flavored them with some soy and teriyaki as well. 

once the onions were done, i pushed them to the sides of the pan to make room for the tuna steaks.  i drizzled in a bit more olive oil and then added the tuna.  i seared the steaks for about 1 minute on each side.  they didn't need much time, because they were "sushi grade" tuna, meaning better eaten super rare.  so, DO NOT overcook high-quality tuna steaks.  it destroys their texture and flavor.  (tuna actually tastes fishier the more you cook it.  strange, but true.)

once done, i served them with shredded romaine and mashed avocado seasoned with minced garlic.  (and with skinny girl margaritas...) omg.  yum.

see, cooking fish isn't that bad after all...  plus, it's delicious & super healthy!  bonus!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the art of letting go

“let go of the parts of life that you honestly don’t want”

what a simple statement.  so elegant in its poignant conciseness.  yet how many of us really & truly embrace this concept?  whether it’s that ugly teapot from aunt mildred or a bad habit that’s compromising our health, letting go is hard.  we feel guilty.  we feel stuck.  we feel comfortable with the way things are…even if we know a change would serve us better.

credit {here}
just think how freeing it would be if we rid ourselves of all the crap that is holding us back and weighing us down.  our cluttered closets, our addiction to junk food, our incessant worries.  we all know that these things inhibit us.  they strap us down and keep us from our fabulousity – our full potential of happiness & health.  so, why don’t we just let go?  because we’re scared?  probably.  because change is hard?  well, yes…sometimes.  but, if you let go of the things you honestly don’t want, it makes space in your life for all the wonderful things you love and enjoy.  and with all the junk cleared, you can begin to appreciate the beauty that was already there, waiting to be uncovered.
credit {here}

so, take a (mini) leap.  donate the teapot and try an apple instead of a bag of chips for your afternoon snack.  i guarantee you’ll feel better, and you’ll begin to tap into your inner maven as you move one step closer to being effortlessly fabulous…

what are you going to let go?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

easter eggs-cellence {guest post}

Hello all!  I'm Janet, Cailen’s Mom.  Cai truly works on designing a beautiful life, and she inspires me daily.  Many of these past moments that I share with you reflect her love of tradition and all things family.   Thanks to Cai, once again, for allowing me to write another blog.  xo to her!

And the ritual begins:
Remove tablecloth from kitchen table, if one is in place
Layer the table with newspaper or a blanket’s worth of paper towels
Gather waxy crayons, stickers, paints, empty egg cartons & rubber bands (you’ll see why)

The Players:
A few dozen hard boiled eggs - or more than probably necessary
Teacups or coffee mugs, half full with the vinegar/water/dye-tablet concoction at the ready
Spoons to try to rescue the eggs

cailen.  many moons ago...
I guess that you can tell what’s going to happen here.  We dye eggs for an Easter Egg Hunt every year, whether it’s inside or out, for 4 people or 24.  The cast of egg-decorating artists changes from year to year, but it always includes family of varying ages, and often a good friend or two.

This can be a lot of fun for a group of any age – you don’t need a child in place to make this ok.  There’s usually an adult that can ‘fit that bill’ as they say, and we have a few.  Put on some great sing-along music, have a Springtime inspired soup and some crispy breads and herbed butters at the ready nearby, and hand out the aprons.  Yes, everyone should wear one. 

austin's rubberband egg
The understudies to these finished “finely decorated, perfectly dyed and gloriously detailed” (smile here because this is said in jest) Easter eggs are the plastic cuties in rainbows of colors that had been waiting in a large bin on a basement shelf for a year.   They get filled with jelly beans and maybe a ‘peep’, or a tiny, silly toy and some pennies.  Chocolate never goes into these in case our Labs, Duncan and Colby happen to be the ones that find them first.   Long time ago, our old (huge) lab mix named Taz climbed onto the dining room table and ate 2 Easter baskets worth of candy, chocolate and all, while we were out.   Thus, the name Tazmanian Devil. -

After the hunt:  In younger years,  when all the family kids were little, we’d gather up  a couple of quilts to put in the tractor’s wagon to provide a bumpy-but-fun ride for anyone willing to climb in.  Usually it would be the 10 and below group, but you’d never know.  Down the long drive, out onto the country road and into the field they’d go, squealing most of the way.  Those were very good times! 

Not Easter related, just bunny related:  There’s a 1950 Oscar winning film called “Harvey” about a gentle, odd sort of guy who takes life one minute at a time.  He thinks the very best of everyone and says so.  Nothing bothers him.   Now, here’s where the bunny part comes in… this mild mannered guy, Elwood P. Dowd, happens to have an invisible 6’ rabbit-friend named Harvey.  Harvey, being invisible, made Jimmy Stewart’s acting all the more finessed and appreciated.  Implausible and yet entertaining, this simple old movie may take a bit of patience to get through now, but has a real honest-to-goodness moral.   It’s sort of what Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. “   I like that.

So, enjoy the Springtime, thanks again for reading and I look forward to sharing with you next month! 

My best to all, Janet

thanks, mom!  another fabulous post.  speaking of posts...did you see my mom's last post about her favorite whole-in-the-wall bar called the boat house?  it's totally worth a read.  you'll be jealous of this little gem : )

Friday, April 22, 2011

craig cooks chicken curry

the other night, craig ventured into the kitchen again.  i love cooking, so i tend to hog the kitchen, but, once again, craig impressed me with his cooking savvy.  ...must be from watching me  : )

my handsome fiance made chicken curry with chickpeas.  yum!  inspired by both his love for thai massaman curry and a men's health recipe from the march 2011 magazine.  we invited my sis, han, over to share his creation and watch 127 hours.  (and, bonus!  she arrived with some lovely desserts from a nearby caterer.)

chicken curry with chickpeas
serves 4

1 vidalia onion, sliced
1 tbsp red curry
1 tsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into tenders
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed
3 cups spinach, chopped
salt & pepper

1.       in a large pan, sauté the onion and curry powder in oil.  season with salt & pepper.  cook until onions are translucent and softened.

2.       season the cubed chicken with salt & pepper and nestle them into onions.  add chicken broth and cover pan with lid and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes.

3.       stir in yogurt and cook for 1 minute more, uncovered, then add the chickpeas and spinach.  cook until the spinach is wilted and the chickpeas are warm.

we enjoyed our chicken curry over quinoa (keen-wa), but it would also be great over couscous or rice.

no chickpeas?  no problem.  any canned bean will do, just be sure to rinse them well before cooking to eliminate excess salt.

we enjoyed some bully hill red with our meal.  smooth & slightly sweet.  this wine complemented the spicy curry fabulously.

and then, it was time for dessert.  thank you, hannie!

pb brownie, chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream & dark chocolate mousse!  oh my!
original recipe from men's health march 2011
like craig's menu?  check out his crab cake recipe {here}.  they were some of the best i've had.  seriously.

we're leaving this afternoon to head up to craig's parents' house in ny for the holiday weekend.  then we're driving back down to nj on sunday afternoon to enjoy easter dinner with my family.  should be a fun (and busy) weekend.

i hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and a very happy easter!  tgif

Thursday, April 21, 2011

adventures in love & happiness {guest post}

PhotobucketHello everyone!

I'm Cole, the girl behind Adventures in Love and Happiness, the blog where I share my adventures in being a newlywed, dog ownership & home restoration along with everything lovely.

Cailen & I decided to swap blogs for the day to give our readers a look at a day in the life of another blogger. Cailen's fabulous day is being featured on my blog while I'm here, sharing with you.

Just a note- this is a boring, old, normal day in my life.

7:02 AM Alarm goes off. I hit snooze approximately 4 times and finally drag myself out of bed at 8ish. 

8:05 AM Let the dogs out. We have two dogs, Layla, a rescued mutt & Edie Sedgwick, a Basset Hound. We've had Edie since she was 5 weeks old and she's as spoiled as they come.

8:10 AM Try and convince Edie to come inside. Run around the yard alternating who's doing the chasing & who's doing the escaping. Finally trick her into chasing me inside, feed the dogs & kiss them goodbye.

8:20 AM Arrive at work.

My family owns a diner that was featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives four years ago. Since then I have taken over the baking responsibility in addition to being a waitress.

Every morning I spend about 3 hours baking pies, cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, brownies & whoopie pies. 

I spend that time catching up with my dad, listening to NPR and guzzling coffee.
Lemon Meringue on top, Cherry Red Raspberry on the bottom

11 AM Head upstairs to starting waiting tables. This summer will mark 12 years of waiting tables for me. While it can be trying at times I thoroughly enjoy the people I work with and love getting to spend a significant part of my day with my parents.

11:30 AM Squeal when I see my husband, Jus, walk in the back door. His job requires him to travel around our area so I'm always excited when he's able to come in for lunch. I could never get to see Jus enough, he's pretty fabulous.
Cheer up, Jus, I promise to let you eat in peace & not take your picture anymore.

11:30-2 PM Wait on tables. Hopefully customers will be happy and lunch will be busy. Following our appearance on Food Network we get a ton of tourists through the restaurant but also have lots of regulars.

2 PM Following my lunch break the rest of my coworkers leave and I'm left to run the restaurant by myself. I cook, serve, tidy up & make sure the pie tray has enough options.

3:30 PM The afternoons are usually slow so I'm able to sit down and start getting ready for Friday evening. While I write up the menu I check Twitter to make sure I'm not missing anything.

4:30 PM Night crew arrives & I make a break for it. 

4:36 PM Arrive at home. Twenty days before our wedding Jus & I bought a new house we lovingly call "The Behemoth." A foreclosure that was built in 1890 we have lots of work to do but love the projects that come with a project.

4:40 PM Jump in the shower & scrounge around in my closet figuring out what to wear & settle on my go-to uniform (dress, tights, boots & belted cardigan) all the while keeping an eye on the clock so I'm not late for a 5:30 meeting.

5:15 PM Say bye to Jus. He's getting ready to head to the radio station he volunteers at to fill in for another DJ.

5:20 PM Last check in the mirror. If somethings astray it's too late, I have to get going!

5:30 PM Arrive at the local coffee shop for said meeting. Following our October wedding I've started coordinating weddings. A florist friend got in contact with me when a bride she is working with was looking for help with decor. 

7 PM Meeting wraps up & I'm feeling excited about helping the bride make her day wonderful. The only concern? Her wedding is 6 weeks away and the reception space needs a ton of work. After the meeting I catch the start to Jus's radio show while in the car.

7:15 PM Meet my mom at the local auction house. We go every week in hopes of finding treasures to fill the Behemoth. When Jus & I upgraded from our 1100 square foot first house to the 4200 square foot Behemoth we realized just how little art & furniture we actually have.

7:30 PM After striking out at the auction my mom & I head to Target to get Easter supplies. 

9 PM Arrive home after a non eventful dinner at a chain & park myself at my computer for the rest of the evening. Blog & watch Netflix for a couple of hours.

12 AM Turn off the TV and start reading, I read every night before bed, sometimes I fall asleep with the light on and other times I stay up into the wee hours reading.

Thanks so much for joining me on my (not so exciting) adventure of every day life. I'd love if you stop by Adventures in Love & Happiness, head over now to see Cailen's day!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

food philosophy

effortless eating.  doesn't that sound nice?  no diets.  no rules.  no "bad" foods.  when it comes to food & eating, it’s taken me a lot of time (and patience) to develop my personal food philosophy.  i, by no means have it all figured out, but i think in large majority the principles i strive for will work for everyone, if they give them a shot.  so, here goes nothing…

1. trust my body’s intuition.  we’re so bogged down by diets and “good” and “bad” foods and calories and “shoulds” and “should nots”, no wonder our nation has a weight problem.  i finally came to the realization that it’s much more pleasant to work with myself rather than against myself.  diets put so many restrictions on our food and our bodies, it’s tiring, and we always feel the need to rebel…and often do.  that’s why diets (based upon deprivation) don’t work.  they offer no long-term solutions.  no sustainability.  your body is not out to get you, i promise.  develop some trust and listen to what it’s saying…which leads me to my next point.

2. listen to my body.  first and foremost, i always try to listen to my body when it comes to food and eating.  if i’m thinking about food, i ask myself:  am i really hungry?  if so, what am i truly hungry for?  yeah, sometimes it’s “disappointing” when your mind wants cake, but your body wants an apple or, maybe, isn’t even really hungry at all.  but believe me, in the end, you’ll definitely feel better for not eating the cake and listening to your true hunger instead.  and sometimes, when you ask your body what it needs when you think you’re hungry, it might not be food at all.  maybe you need some alone time, a nap or are really thirsty.  it’s fascinating how much more in-tune with your needs you become when you cultivate the art of listening to your body’s wisdom.

recipe {here}
3. eat healthy, nutritious food 80-85% of the time.  this isn’t something that i strictly enforce – it’s more like the byproduct of the previous two principles.  i find that if i really listen to what my body is asking for, most of the time, i really and truly am craving something healthy.  fresh fruit, hearty roasted vegetables, yummy oatmeal, hot tea.  then there’s the night (or two) when we want to go to happy hour, and i enjoy a sugary cosmo, or we order pizza because i don’t feel like making dinner or am craving something super cheesy.  but, undoubtedly, after a day or so of not-so-healthy options, my body is asking for cereal with soy milk for breakfast.  trust that balance will come if you listen.

recipe {here}
4. quality vs. quantity.  i love to cook.  and i find that if i cook with quality ingredients (i.e. fresh, organic, wholesome) the calorie/fat content naturally stays in-check.  instead of obsessing about the quantity of food on my plate or the quantity of calories it contains, i prefer to think about how to prepare a delicious and wholesome meal.  then, i (try to) take my time, really taste my food and enjoy each delicious mouthful.  feeling stuck in a food rut?  for inspiration check out “less fat, more flavor”.

5. food is meant to be savored & enjoyed.  food should be a pleasurable experience.  not a test of how "good" you are or how strict you can be with yourself. diets strip food of pleasure.  it becomes about work and will power.  if you enjoy your food...slowly, deliberately and consciously, you'll reap all the benefits of it (nutritional & pleasurable).  being present when you eat and really focusing on the food you're consuming changes the game.  no longer is your mind bombarded with incessant thoughts about calories and rules and fat grams.  instead, space is created for you to appreciate food on a new level.  an effortless level.  free of external regulations.  you begin to find what works for you.  and that's what it's all about, my friend.

on my quest to be effortlessly fabulous, a poor relationship with food (we’ve all been there) can be an enormous obstacle.  that is why i consciously strive for a healthy balance.  and, the thing that’s really cool is that the principles i’ve outlined above all help to develop your consciousness with regard to food.  and, better yet, they don’t feel like work!  instead of a short-term diet of restriction, deprivation and frustration, you can begin a lifestyle shift that will bring you closer to your best self.  and, if you remain open-minded and curious, you’ll learn a lot about yourself.
Related Posts with Thumbnails