Back from our yoga and meditation retreat in the desert.
I miss my desert family so much I could burst.
More on that later.
It’s been awhile, and there have been changes…new hair and new spectacles!!
Big ups to my homegirl Adrian for the chop!! I love my shorter hair. It takes 8 minutes to dry and style my hair in the mornings, and it’s glorious.
Having fun styling it slightly Audrey Hepburn 😀
On a slightly sour note, my glasses were either swiped or pulled out their invisibility cloak. Who steals prescription glasses? It sounds kooky, but after three weeks of searching every nook and cranny of the car, house, and office, I gave up trying to solve the mystery. A few days ago my new specs from Warby Parker arrived. I decided on the Marcel in Plum Marblewood. When you turn the frames into the light, you see lavender swirls.
Trolling through Gilt Group a couple of months ago, I found myself in GiltCity and was intrigued by a listing for a service called Blue Apron. It’s a kind of grocery service – they deliver you three recipes and the exact ingredients for each. You pick whether you want 3 meat or vegetarian dishes, and the number of people being served (2, 4 or 6). I checked out some reviews and sample recipes, and since the listing was 40% off for new members, I figured we’d try it out for a week and see what we thought. Cost is typically 9.99 per person per meal, so approximately $60 per week for three meals. The produce and meats come fairly local to us, luckily – though this may differ for each state they are available in.
Our first box arrived and I jumped up and down with excitement. The week’s recipes were: 1) emCoconut-Poached Tofu with Lemongrass and Red Curry, 2) Chickpea, Quinoa and Vegetable Cakes with Watercress salad, /emandem 3) Eggplant Lasagne with Bechamel Sauce and Spinach Noodles. /emThe ingredients came packed in a giant box filled with ice packs to keep the food fresh. When I signed up, the site said they assume you have salt, pepper and olive oil on hand – but nothing else. So, the packet of flour I needed for the bechamel was included, and a tiny bottle of red wine vinegar for the watercress salad. I liked that there were ingredients from small artisanal food companies – the spinach lasagne noodles came from Santa Cruz Pasta Factory, for example. The recipes for the week are sent on full-page cards with precise instructions.
Between the prep work (washing, chopping, mincing, slicing, etc) and the cook time, the recipes take about 45-50 minutes to prepare. I didn’t find any of the steps to be difficult, but I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t already enjoy cooking. For some reason, the new recipes and delivery method sparked a little strength in the kitchen partnership for Tim and I. Usually, I shoo him away from the food and he does the dishes. But he was so curious about it all that I let him help me with the prep (though I still was a bit of a Nazi with the remainder of the process, even plating). I tried to minimize the number of bowls, tools, etc that I used to the bare bones but it wasn’t always easy.
Tim and I were both pleasantly surprised with the first recipe we tried – the Chickpea, Quinoa and Vegetable Cakes. The recipe makes four cakes, which is meant to serve 2, but I found with all three recipes that the servings were fairly generous – we had leftovers for lunch each time (oh darn!). After eating, we both decided it would be a perfect alternative for me during the summer when everyone likes a good burger. It would be great with mustard and a slice of tomato….mmmm
The second day we made the coconut-poached tofu. I love tofu. It’s a great source of protein, takes on flavor very easily, and as long as I get the firmer varieties, I don’t have a texture issue. So, I was pleased to find another outlet for my tofu love. We were so excited by this – the fragrances coming from our kitchen were so enticing! Lemongrass! Curry! Garlic! Oh my… I ended up using only half the red curry paste, because I wasn’t sure how much equaled too much. In the end I think I made the right choice – especially as I ended up with the bottom of the pot and got most of the spice, ha ha! My sinuses were quite clear. 😀
For the last recipe – eggplant lasagne with bechamel sauce. A couple of mishaps here – we were shorted one small carton of milk, the word mozzarella was misspelled (‘mozzerella’) and the cheese itself was unfortunately sent in small slices. Since the prep asked me to grate the cheese, this was quite impossible. Luckily, I had shredded mozzarella in the fridge. In the end, I also would have preferred a little more eggplant – there wasn’t quite enough to fill the layers of lasagne. Overall though – a very tasty lasagne dish. The bechamel sauce was a delicious savory alongside the sweeter tomato sauce.
We are about to start our seventh or eighth week now, and Tim is stoked. It is giving me a chance to try new ingredients and methods – nopales tacos, anyone!? the answer is yes! – and overall, we are actually saving a little on our weekly grocery bill. One final happy note – the calorie counts on each meal is pretty low. Most of the meals are listed at 500-600 calories per serving. Since we are generally getting three servings per meal, I’m assuming we’re looking at approximately 300-400 per serving – and we both feel perfectly sated.
If this service is available to you, definitely try it out!
Last summer Tim and I were sucked in to the amazing show ‘House of Cards’.
The best part of it? All episodes were available right away, so we watched the entire first season over the span of five days. Damn work, getting in the way! Then, the sad part – we would have to wait until 2014 to enjoy the next season. Talk about harshing my vibe.
But we made it through the long, lonely months without Frank and Claire, and on Friday the second season was released. Valentine’s Day. Oh, happy day! Perfectly coinciding with the three day weekend, Tim and I planned a romantic weekend around food and HOC. Of course, we do have a three and a half year old, so our tv time is scheduled around naps and bedtime. No matter, we’ve already flown through 9 episodes since Friday night! I envy those that already finished but I want to savor the time spent in this twisted, sharp look at D.C. politicians.
It’s actually a frightening and extremely shocking show – because it’s Netflix, and not a regular network, the writers guide the story line to a limit you don’t expect. From the very first, you understand that none of these people are good – but there are qualities in them that draw you in anyway. There have been times where Tim and I are shouting at the screen “HOLY *expletive*!” and others where I’m grinning and repeating “Dude, I love her!”
Are you watching?
Here’s a couple of goodies for you – some old, some new. In a mood.
First heard this on an episode of Gilmore Girls – yep, that’s the town troubadour.
Cool story about this tune – heard during KFOG’s weekly Sunday “Acoustic Sunrise” segment (LOVE) and thought, Great song. The singer sounds like the guy from Snow Patrol. I went home, added all their stuff to my Spotify account, and played it for Tim. He ended up adding them to his Google Play account, where it noted that the lead singer is indeed, Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol. Skills = I has them.
This one is for Timmy. This song was on the list of possible wedding songs, as we love to slow dance to it. Also, that is how good David Gray’s voice is – he sings along to his recorded song in the video and HE SOUNDS AMAZING. Tim and I try to get tickets to his shows, but they sell out in about a second. His new album comes out in the next month or so – CAN.NOT.WAIT.
Didn’t listen to these guys until I had a conversation with a friend whilst walking to our car after a Mumford & Sons concert, whereupon he insisted I give The National a fair shot. Glad I did.
A few days before the New Year, I decided to check out my plank. Then I checked it again the next day…and the next. Pretty soon, I decided to make myself a 30 day plank challenge. Every day, I held a high plank as long as I safely could. Turns out, I actually have a darn good core.
Day 1 – 00:03:05
Day 2 – 00:03:22
Day 3 – 00:03:25
Day 4 – 00:03:31
Day 5 – 00:03:51
Day 6 – 00:03:52
Day 7 – 00:03:47
Day 8 – 00:03:54
Day 9 – 00:04:07
Day 10 – 00:04:18
Day 11 – 00:04:20
Day 12 – 00:04:27
Day 13 – 00:04:47
Day 14 – 00:05:04
Day 15 – 00:05:11
Day 16 – 00:05:20
Day 17 – 00:05:26
Day 18 – 00:05:31
Day 19 – 00:05:27
Day 20 – 00:05:31
Day 21 – 00:05:43
Day 22 – 00:05:46
Day 23 – 00:06:04
Day 24 – 00:06:04
Day 25 – REST DAY
Day 26 – REST DAY
Day 27 – 00:06:10
Day 28 – 00:06:20
Day 29 – 00:06:24
Day 30 – 00:06:31
During the plank, I required music to keep me going. I would like to thank Jimmy Eat World, Erykah Badu, Mumford & Sons, Jay Z, Bastille, and Justin Timberlake for their efforts.
I’m thinking side plank next…
A few of my December culinary experiments
Tamales and a guajillo-based salsa! My first time making them – I wanted to make this year special for my grandmother, so I thought making a traditional Mexican food would do the trick. It’s a simple but time-consuming process. I made both vegetarian and chicken tamales, and a salsa with just enough kick 😉 They were a huge hit! I was so happy with how they turned out.
Speculoos stars for Santa Claus. Of course, I had my adorable assistant to sprinkle sugar on them for me.
I was again given the honor of preparing the New Year’s Eve dessert, and as we were also going with a Mexican theme for dinner – oh my, the margaritas – I figured a Dulce de Leche inspired cupcake was a good fit. In fact, I blended two traditions – I started with a browned butter vanilla cake base (from the Chanterelle dessert cookbook ‘The Sweet Life’ , which I then turned into a Tres Leches cupcake by soaking them overnight in a tres leches mixture (condensed milk, whole milk and heavy cream). Then, I made dulce de leche and added it to a basic butter cream for the frosting. My final flash of inspiration – the rose technique of decorating! First time successfully making a rose – so exciting! They were inhaled with gusto.
More to come – I’ve been a busy bee in the kitchen lately.
‘Tis the season to be by turns stressed, tired, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated…you get the idea. Occasionally, though, the beauty, joy and love floods the heart and I am moved to tears by warm hugs, Johnny Mathis, twinkle lights and Peanuts cartoons. Enough to make me throw myself into the whole thing and go balls out, so I overload myself with lists and end up stressing out. It’s a cycle.
But back to the merry part. It all begins with a tree…
Marco’s on the lookout for Santa already!
Stabler, so handsome in his festive bow tie. I thought he would rip it off but he’s preening constantly and meows loudly if I take it off of his neck.
Marco and I shopped for food and toys for my office’s annual donations! It was so fun to share this experience with him; I want Marco to understand the importance of giving.
Decorating my wreath
Stockings hung by the chimney with care
Off to decorate the gingerbread house! Like I said…balls out. Ornament balls, I mean. Ahem.
Here’s a few faves I’ve been rocking recently
From left: Fiona brown oxfords – Payless / Vince Camuto multi colored strappy cage – Nordstrom / Penny Loves Kenny black studded oxford bootie – Ross / Tom’s desert wedge bootie in Taupe – toms.com / Sam & Libby camo studded flats – Target
For my birthday this year, a few Napa people got together and gave me the best gift in the world: a bookstore…
Ok…so maybe it wasn’t just for me, but the opening coincided with my birthday weekend! I was so flipping excited, I decided that my birthday afternoon would be best spent acquainting myself with the new shelves and the lovely used books.
I brought my family so they could enjoy it with me. Marco had fun inspecting the giant wooden Stegosaurus (“Oh no! He’s eating the books!”) and picking out a new I Spy book. After completely geeking out and making a nuisance of myself, I traded in some titles and, of course, selected a giant stack to take home.
Between the comfy chairs, the large selection of used (and new!) books, and the sweet owners, I fell in love. Happy birthday to me!
If you’re in the area, go visit Napa Bookmine. I’ll probably see you there. 😀