Monday, October 31, 2011

om monday: carpe diem

first of all, happy halloween!  i hope that the snow hasn't inhibited any of your spooky plans.

craig and i are just 5 days from our big day.  and with that wonderful event within our sights, we're trying (and succeeding to a large degree, i might add) to savor every single moment leading up to our wedding day.

this past saturday, we were surprised with quite a bit of snow - driving was a no-go, my yoga teacher training was cancelled and we lost power at our house.  instead of freaking out because we couldn't get things done, we made the most of our quiet time.

our final bottle of "countdown" champagne
we started a fire in the fireplace, uncorked a bottle of champagne and planted ourselves fireside while we reminisced about the past 6 wonderful years of our relationship together.

it's funny how it often takes big, life-altering moments to get us to slow down enough to truly savor what a gift life is, but, in truth, every day is a one-shot deal.  you can make the most of it and really "carpe diem", or you can busy yourself with all the inconsequential stuff that too often rules our lives and governs our days.

credit {here}
as our wedding countdown moved from months to weeks and eventually to days, we've done our best to slow down and really savor every little moment before we become mr. & mrs.

i hope that you, too, will take the time to notice the beauty that's all around when you slow down enough to see it.

carpe diem : )

Friday, October 28, 2011

happy hour: halloween cocktails

in case you didn't realize, we're suddenly at the end of october...and you know what that means.  halloween time!  in honor of that spooky holiday, i've rounded up some yummy (yet sinister) cocktails to enjoy with your candy.

credit {here}
sundown cocktail

3 ounces orange juice
1 1/2 ounces light rum
3/4 ounce grenadine

combine o.j. and rum in a hi-ball glass filled with ice. drizzle with grenadine. serve.

this cocktail is two-toned when first poured.  after it sits, the ingredients start to mix together into an intense orange color.  (adapted from {this} recipe.)

credit {here}
bloody cider punch 

2 cups brandy
1/2 cup black currant schnapps
1/8 cup superfine sugar
4 cups apple cider
1 1/2 cups seltzer

pour all the ingredients into a punch bowl and stir well until all the sugar is dissolved - this works best if the liquids are at room temp.  refrigerate until  cold and then, if you really want to add some creepy-goodness, drop in a block of dry ice to create some spooky fog!  (adapted from {this} recipe.)

cheers to a creepy halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

foodie wednesday: dad's red sauce

craig and i have been enjoying heaping bowlfuls of my dad's scrumptious marinara sauce for dinner for the past two days, so i couldn't help but share my dad's awesome recipe with you all.  below is the "typical" version, though he tends to improvise every time he makes it, so i encourage you to get creative too!  (for instance, in this most recent batch, he roasted the fresh tomatoes prior to incorporating them into the sauce to add richness and left out the ground turkey.) 

credit {here}
mangia, mangia : )

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
5-7 fresh garden tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup good red wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 dried bay leaves
1 lb cooked ground turkey or chicken sausage (optional)

credit {here}
1. in a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

2. add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

3. add the tomatoes, wine, parmesan, and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.

4. remove and discard the bay leaf. (add cooked ground turkey meat or chicken sausage if desired.) season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.

i love this sauce so much. i don't even need pasta...or even enjoy it.  i eat it like a hearty tomato stew.  yum!

oh, and on another note, i enjoyed an amazing lunch with my dad yesterday at le bec fin in philly.  he was so sweet and requested a father-daughter lunch date before my wedding (in a week and a half!!!).

Monday, October 24, 2011

om monday: still waters run deep

a few days ago i watched a new yoga documentary called yogawoman.  the film highlighted the expansion of women-dominated yoga in the west - especially interesting because yoga originally began as a supremely male practice.

they delved into many aspects of how yoga affects our bodies, self-esteem, thought-processes and helps us cope with fluctuations throughout our lives.  very cool film.

credit {here}
one particular metaphor lingered with me, and  i want to share it with you.  i feel it beautifully communicates how yoga works on the mind & body.

they compared our physical bodies to an ocean.  for many of us, the ocean is often turbulent, constantly churning the elements below; making it impossible to glimpse into its profound depths.  by working the physical body and concentrating on breath and alignment, yoga begins to calm the surface of the water.  and once the surface is calmed, we are able to behold the immense depths beneath the surface.

that metaphor completely resounded with me, because i have experienced that shift first hand.  by working on my physical body with yoga, i have begun to experience positive changes in my mood, temperament and overall experience of life.  fascinating and wonderful.

namaste : )

Friday, October 21, 2011

happy hour: creamy caramel apple martini

credit {here}
i'm not usually one for martinis with a cream base, but this one jumped out at me as a delicious after-dinner cocktail for fall.  the sweet creaminess of the caramel baileys paired with the tart apple vodka would make for the perfect autumnal treat : )

credit {here}

  • 1 ounce(s) baileys caramel irish cream
  • 1/2 ounce(s) smirnoff green apple vodka
  • 1 slice apple
  • 1 teaspoon caramel

  • credit {here}
    1. in a shaker, add baileys & vodka.
    2. shake with ice and pour into a martini glass.
    3. garnish with an apple slice and a drizzle of caramel.

    original recipe {here}

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    foodie wednesday: haddock en papillote

    first and foremost, i want to wish a happy anniversary to my parents!  today is their 37th wedding anniversary and the 6th anniversary of the very first day that craig and i met.  coincidence, i think not ; )

    ok, now time for some good food!  one of my favorite ways to cook fish is "en papillote", meaning in a pouch.  i put olive oil, a fish filet and some yummy seasonings in a foil packet, bake it and voila! - moist, delicious, perfectly cooked fish.

    for my rendition of haddock en papillote, you'll need:

    1 lb filet of haddock
    1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
    1/4 cup dry white wine
    1 cup hearty marinara
    1 tbsp olive oil
    salt & pepper

    preheat oven to 375.

    1. place foil in pan and drizzle with 1/2 the olive oil.  (make sure you have enough foil to wrap up and around the fish and toppings to seal in all the yumminess.)

    2. place haddock on foil and season with salt & pepper and sprinkle with olives.

    3. in a bowl, mix together the marinara and white wine.  pour over fish.

    4. bring edges of foil together and fold over a few times to create a seamless packet.

    5. bake for 25 min.  remove from oven and open the foil - allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

    we enjoyed our hearty haddock with a fresh garden salad and wild rice.  the rice was great for soaking up all the delicious juices.

    bon appetit!

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    time flies

    i'm sure you've all heard the expression "time flies when you're having fun".  well, i'd like to modify that to "time flies when you're planning a wedding".  all my now-married friends forewarned me that the final few months whiz by, and i believed them, but i didn't know they were going to go this fast!  and now, we're just 18 days away from the big day, and i continually am bewildered by the calendar date.

    when we got engaged over 18 months ago, it felt like we had all the time in the world to enjoy the planning process.  luckily, we made good use of our time, and now with mere days between us and "i do", we feel well-prepared and are more excited than anything else.

    credit {here}
    i've also been warned that the actual wedding day flies by too, and unfortunately i'm sure that will be true as well.  but, even though i'm certain that our special day will go by more quickly than i would like, i'm going to try my darnedest to savor every...single...moment.

    with wedding (obviously) top-of-mind these days, craig and i have joked about what we're going to fill our days, minds and to-do lists with post-november 5th.  and, to tell you the truth, i have no idea!  i guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

    so, mavens - any tips about how to slow down wedding day time?

    one tip craig sent me said to remember that you're getting married not weddinged.  there's so much more to look forward to after the big day : )  check out the article {here}

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    om monday: our storyline

    in yoga class today, we were encouraged to examine the storyline we craft for ourselves.  you know, the things you say, or think, about yourself.  i'm good at math.  i'm a horrible cook.  i have no patience.  i'm great at tree pose.  i suck at warrior 3. 

    credit {here}
     we all craft storylines for ourselves, our lives and our futures.  but what if we stopped self-perpetuating the negative things we've "written" for ourselves?  what if, instead of saying, thinking, feeling that you'll never get a new (and better) job, you focus on the positive of your current position and then delve into what actionable steps you can take toward remedying the situation.  so you move from "victim of your storyline" to "crafter of your destiny".

    credit {here}

    negative thoughts, words and feelings breed more of the same.  if you're constantly going around focusing on how fat (you think) you are, you're only going to produce more negative thoughts and experiences.  drop your storyline that you're playing on repeat.  and take action.  be curious and approach the situation with fresh eyes...and you may see things clearly for the first time.

    so mavens, what story are you ready to re-write?

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    happy hour: cran-spice martini

    last night, for thirsty thursday, i decided craig and i would enjoy some fireside cocktails.  inspired by fall, i wanted something spicy with autumnal ingredients - like cranberry.

    so, i came up with the cran-spice martini...and it was pretty darn good, too!

    1 shot captain morgan's spiced rum
    1 shot vodka
    2 shots cranberry juice
    squeeze of fresh orange
    seltzer (or ginger ale)

    1. in a shaker with ice add the rum, vodka, juice and fresh orange.  shake.

    2. pour concoction into a martini glass and top off with seltzer (or ginger ale).

    3. garnish with a wedge of orange.

    the captain morgan's adds a spicy vanilla quality to this drink, and the cranberry juice adds just the right amount of sweetness.  the fresh orange brightens the flavor a bit, which is just lovely.  (if you're looking for a lower calorie option, go with the seltzer.  if you're looking for something sweeter, add the ginger ale instead.)

    cheers, mavens!  happy friday : )

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    foodie wednesday: chicken for a crowd

    a few weeks back, craig and i entertained 12 for dinner.  the menu?  chicken with mustard cream sauce, spanakopita and a garden-fresh salad.  it's not always simple to cook for a large group, but with proper planning...and the right can be stress-free.

    enter "chicken for a crowd".  growing up, i always loved when my mom would make chicken with mustard cream sauce.  there was just something about the simple goodness of chicken paired with the decadent creaminess of the sauce - yum!  so, when it came to cooking for a dozen, i defaulted back to my childhood favorite.

    what you'll need...

    1 quart heavy cream (not a low-cal recipe, by the way...)
    1 13oz jar of grainy dijon
    4 lbs chicken tenders
    salt & pepper

    preheat oven to 375

    1. whisk together cream and mustard in a pot on the stove over medium-low heat.  bring to a gentle simmer.

    2. arrange chicken tenders in 2 large oven safe dishes and season with salt & pepper.

    3. pour 2/3 of sauce evenly over chicken and roll the chicken in the sauce to fully coat it.

    4. reserve final 1/3 of sauce to put out when serving.

    5. bake for 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and sauce is bubbly.  allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.  (and remember to put out the extra sauce!)

    this recipe is extremely simple and totally delicious - can't beat that!  also, you can prep this dish up to a day in advance and just cover it with foil and keep it in the fridge.  if you've had it in the fridge, i recommend bringing it out of the fridge 30 min prior to cooking to take the chill off before putting it into the oven.

    mmm...mmm gooood!

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    good food week

    the past 7 days have been filled with many, many delicious meals, so (being the food-lover that i am) i thought i would share some of my magnificent meals with you all.

    tuesday, october 4th, 2011 - dinner at sprig & vine

    sprig & vine is this totally awesome little vegetarian/vegan bistro not far from our house.  i went with my friend, laura (a fellow yogi), and my sister, hannah, for an inspired meal.  without the protein staples we so often rely upon to provide the foundation for our entrees, sprig & vine opens up a totally new world of mealtime possibilities.  i totally loved the encrusted tempeh with honey mustard sauce, the bbq eggplant and the zucchini & black eyed pea cakes.  it was a totally awesome meal!

    laura & hannah
     friday, october 7th, 2011 - date night at home

    october 5th marked the one-month countdown to the wedding.  in true celebratory fashion, craig and i popped open a bottle of bubbly friday evening to revel in the less-than-one-month-til-we're-married.  we ordered pizza and sipped champagne, as pizza & wine has always been our go-to date night.  hard to believe the wedding the just over 3 weeks away!!!

    saturday, october 8th, 2011 - girls' lunch & sisters' dinner

    saturday morning found me (accompanied by my mom and sis) at the bridal salon for my dress fitting. it was amazing to see what i thought was a well-fitting dress turn into a custom gown, tailored oh-so-precisely just for me. 

    my turkey heaven...i mean reuben
    after the fitting, my mom, hannah and i enjoyed a casual lunch at a quaint old tavern.  my turkey reuben on butter-saturated toasted rye was heaven in my mouth, and the side of super-crispy seasoned sweet potato fries with vermont maple syrup for dipping didn't hurt either : )

    mom's crab cake
    han's chicken quesadilla
    my reuben...again...
    for dinner, han and i decided to enjoy a sisters' night out while we still share the same last name.  we went to honey, a small plates restaurant with artisan cocktails and innovative cuisine.  they recommend 2-3 small plates per person, so we opted for 4 shared plates and were not at all disappointed with our choices...or the portion sizes...

    1. porcini-parmesan risotto cakes with a lemon-vanilla emulsion, black garlic puree, crushed hazelnuts & arugula sprouts

    2. spice-rubbed scottish salmon, soft corn tortillas, sweet corn & charred poblano relish with black truffle cream

    3. duck samosas - sweet & salty braised duck wrapped in flaky pastry and fried, finished with spicy aji amarillo creme fraiche and apricot chutney

    4. lobster in a tomato and miso broth, served gratin-style with bubbly mozzarella over korean rice dumplings, topped with bonito flakes

    credit {here}
    is your mouth watering yet?

    and then for dessert we ventured over to bobby's for pumpkin mousse sponge cake with a side of pumpkin ice cream filled with chunks of gingerbread cookie dough.

    as you can see, i was blessed with a week of amazing cuisine, and i thoroughly enjoyed every single mouthful.

    so, mavens, have any super good food lately?  you know i'm all about a good meal...

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    om monday: what we avoid

    in yoga, we're often told that the poses that we dislike or avoid are the poses that we need the most.  interesting concept.  so what is it that head-to-knee pose or warrior 1 can offer me?  what secrets can i unlock through them that will ultimately better me and my practice?

    credit {here}
    in head-to-knee, my balance is really challenged.  so perhaps, i don't like feeling unsteady and shy away from things that make me feel vulnerable.  in warrior 1, seemingly opposing forces are at work - keeping the back heel down, while squaring the hips parallel to the front edge of your mat.  so maybe in that case, i can learn that opposing movements/events can ultimately work together to achieve something greater.

    these are just some musings that i've had with this notion of examining "what we avoid" in mind.  there are many more poses that challenge me and countless moments that occur on a daily basis that i'm sure could benefit from further contemplation about this idea.

    so, mavens, i encourage you to think about what you avoid that you think could ultimately serve you.  do you talk yourself of going to the gym regularly?  have you been avoiding confronting a colleague, friend or family member about an issue that needs resolving?  whatever it is, think about it, and perhaps you'll draw the conclusion that some of the things that you're avoiding could make your world better if you embraced them.

    namaste : )

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    happy hour: fall sangria

    i saw this recipe the other day and have been dying to try it.  in the fall, i always (want to) like mulled wine, but sometimes hot, spicey wine just doesn't cut it.  i think is autumnal take on a classic sangria might just do the trick!

    credit {here}
    fall sangria

    3 apples
    3 pears
    3 clementines
    2-3 cinnamon sticks
    2 tbsp honey or agave syrup
    6 oz triple sec or cointreau
    2 bottles of red wine (something fruity works best)
    optional: fresh cherries

    1. core and cube all fruit and put into a pitcher or carafe
    2. add 2-3 cinnamon sticks & 2 honey, stir
    3. add liquor and wine, stir and let sit.

    it's best if you make this drink a few hours or even a day in advnace and let the flavors mariante in the fridge.  garish with fresh, ripe cherries : )

    cheers & happy weekend!

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    foodie wednesday: farmhouse meals

    food tastes better on a farm.  a few weeks ago craig and i had the pleasure of house sitting at a bucks county farmhouse – taking care of horses, donkeys, dogs and chickens.  but, despite the extra chores, that week was one of simple pleasures, good conversation and quiet moments.

    one simple pleasure being food.  uncomplicated, delicious dishes that allow the true essence of the thoughtfully chosen components shine through.  farm food is simple food, fresh food, hearty food. with that in mind, I wanted to share a few recipes that will hopefully offer farm-like appeal, whether you can see grass from your window or not.

    overnight oats

    this is my breakfast almost everything morning. there’s something so comforting about hearty oatmeal that never fails to speak to my sense of “home” and my longing for something comforting.

    ½ ripe banana

    ½ cup oats

    ½ cup soy milk (any milk will do)

    1 tbsp peanut butter

    cinnamon & nutmeg to taste
    1. in a cereal bowl, mash banana with the back of a fork.
    2. dust banana with cinnamon & nutmeg and add oats.   mix and mash some more.
    3. add in soy milk and stir.
    4. cover and leave in fridge overnight (hence the name “overnight oats”).
    5. in the morning heat oats in the microwave (i usually opt for 2 minutes on power level 50), and then add in the peanut butter and sprinkle with a bit more cinnamon.  the warm oats will start to melt the peanut butter.  yum!

    rustic quiche

    quiche is often a go-to in my house, and when you’re privy to fresh-laid eggs, it’s a must!  to some it may seem intimidating (since it’s “french”), but this one-dish meal is really a great last-minute, no-frills dinner.   

    1 (pre-made) pie crust

    6 eggs

    ½ cup half & half

    1 red pepper, chopped

    1 cup baby portobello mushrooms, sliced

    1 shallot, thinly sliced

    1 tsp garlic, chopped

    ¼ cup shaved parmesan

    ¼ cup feta

    salt & pepper

    1 tsp curry

    1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary

    1 tsp fresh chopped thyme

    1 tsp olive oil
    1. preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. in a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and red pepper, mushrooms and shallots. mix in garlic and season with salt & pepper. cook until mushrooms and peppers are tender and shallots are translucent.
    3. in a bowl, scramble eggs with half & half, curry, herbs and salt & pepper.
    4. press pie crust into 9 inch pie plate.
    5. pour cooled veggies into crust and pour egg mixture over top. sprinkle with feta and parmesan.
    6. bake for 30 minutes until eggs are solid and top and crust is lightly browned. allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing.

    farmhouse cocktail

    this “cocktail” is a sure-fire winner!

    1 bottle red wine

    1 corkscrew

    2 glasses

    1 person to “cheers” with
    1. put bottle in fridge for 20 minutes prior to opening to settle the temperature.
    2. uncork.
    3. pour into 2 glasses.
    4. sip.
    5. smile.
    i hope these recipes offer you the sense of hearth and home that i was totally soaking up during that week on the farm.  perhaps it’s the few chilly days that we’ve been graced with lately or the fact that fall is approaching, but as i write this, i’m ready to hunker-down and pour myself a farmhouse cocktail right about now.

    {this piece was originally written for new jersey life health & beauty}

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    wedding shower in review

    this past saturday, on 10.1.11, craig and i had our wedding shower at my parents' house.  our co-ed affair was a "charcuterie", which thoroughly confused some of our guests.  in the end, though, they all loved the affair, which highlighted rustic meats and cheeses, fresh breads, homemade soups, quiche and tons of yummy accoutrements.  oh yeah, and lots of wine & beer!

    photo by chad
    cheese platter - photo by cailen
    my mom, sister (the maid of honor) and my bridesmaids outdid themselves, and the party was a complete success.  the weather saturday was fall-perfection - slightly overcast and slightly chilly.  it really felt like autumn had arrived with the house glowing and the delicious smell of home cooked food filling every nook and cranny.  craig and i were shocked (and pleased) by the number of shower gifts we received, and we were especially surprised by my bridesmaids' lovely joint present - 12 gift cards for 12 dates for the first 12 months of marriage.  what a fabulous gift!!!  we cannot wait to use some of them.

    my bridemaids - photo by dad
    photo by cailen
    in addition to all the amazing registry items we received, my aunt gave a me truly precious great-grandmother's engagement ring from 1910, set with a brand new blue topaz.  she said it was something old & something blue, but i think with the new stone and the fact that it was my great-grandmother's then passed to my great-aunt then given to my aunt and then finally handed down to me, it is also something borrowed.  that beautiful little gift encompasses all of the time-honored elements of that tradition.  something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.  trust me, the tears were flowing when i opened that one.

    me opening ring - photo by dad
    nana's ring - photo by cailen
    after i composed myself, craig and i concluded our gift opening with a round of the "almost newly wed game".  craig and i each got a small white board and were seated back to back.  then questions followed: "where was your first kiss?", "what date did you meet?", "what's craig's dream car?" - we got most of them right and the ones that we differed on brought some laughs.

    photo by dad
    me taking pics of the food - photo by dad
    then, dessert was served - cheesecakes (one with caramel and toffee and ginger snap crust, the other with a subtle orange zest and a buttery graham cracker crust), brownies (double chocolate and chocolate peanut butter), cream puffs and homemade apple pie.  after dessert i had to take my belt off.  haha.

    dinner food - photo by cailen
    game time - photo by chad
    it was so wonderful to visit with our friends and family and see how excited everyone is getting for our nuptials in just over a month.  we're glad we're not the only ones looking forward to it ;-)

    alys, me & cait
    after the party, we stayed the night at my parents' and sunday was spent in pjs by the fire watching father of the bride (the one with steve martin) until mid-afternoon when my hair/makeup stylist stopped by the house for my trial session.  i loved what she did, but it felt kind of weird being all glammed up in my yoga pants...

    won't be long now til i'm a "mrs."
    the wedding is starting to feel very real and very close!!!  11.5.11 will be here before we know it!

    hope you all enjoyed your first october weekend as well

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