This goes out to all my fantastic friends and family in the soaked and partially underwater yet still fabulous city of Austin. Some fake sand, a couple lawn chairs, this tropical mango banana smoothie and bunch of mini umbrellas are all you need to be transported to one of those all-inclusive resorts in Cabo or the Bahamas. ...
Let’s face it. Water is boring. 64 ounces of it a day can get old quickly, so why not mix it up, change it up every now and then? I mean, you wouldn’t wear the same black pencil skirt and white blouse all day every day, would you? No. You add pizazz, sparkle, and fun to your wardrobe – and probably to your desk, your home, and your food. So, let’s give boring water a face lift. You could go out and buy lots of different fancy waters from specialty grocery stores, but that might end up costing you just as much as an actual face lift. For the cost your morning latte and in the amount of time it takes you to shave, you can make a gallon of water a day for a week. Yes, you heard me right; $5 and 5 minutes are all you need. I’m talking about infused water. I have long made lemon water (I think most of us have). But why stop there? Again with the boring and monotonous. Pick up your favorite produce item, slice it up, drop it in water, let it sit for a few hours to overnight. Presto – delicious, fun, refreshing water that just might have you craving it in the afternoon instead of that 8th cup of joe. Oh, and when you've finished the water and are ready to move on, toss those citrus slices down the drain (except the limes, they're too tough), turn on the water and the garbage disposal, and let it run for about 30 seconds. Take a deep breath: your sink and drain now smell fantastic! Some of my favorite infused waters (all quantities assume 1 gallon of water):
- Strawberry (about 10 – 12 strawberries sliced vertically)
- Lemon Lime (½ of a lemon sliced, 1 lime sliced)
- Cucumber (1 cucumber sliced)
- Cucumber Lemon Lime (½ of a lemon sliced, 1 lime sliced, ½ of a cucumber sliced)
- Cucumber Mint Lemon (½ of a cucumber sliced, 8 – 10 mint leaves, ½ of a lemon sliced)
- Berry (about 5 – 8 strawberries sliced vertically, about 10 blackberries halved)
- Orange (1 orange sliced)
Dear Muffins, I love you. I really do. Let me count the ways. I love that you're just sweet enough without sending my glucose levels into overdrive. I love the specks of fruit littered throughout your soft and airy dough. I love your slightly crunchy top and delicately soft bottom. I love that you taste fantastic with coffee or iced tea. I love the endless combinations that make you infinitely malleable to my mood and desire....
It is absolutely amazing to me just how much my slow cooker can do. For example, in a few hours time it can take a pile of veggies, spices, beans, and chicken stock (above) and turn it into scrumptious black bean soup (below). The only thing I have to do is be patient enough not to lift the lid mid-cook cycle....
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a slight obsession with small appliances – toasters, coffee pots, ice cream makers, blenders, food processors, slow cookers, and mixers. I even have a Keurig in addition to my coffee pot. Some of these stay out consistently – coffee pot, blender, toaster – while others come out as a craving hits. Normally this time of year, I crave homemade strawberry ice cream and cantaloupe sorbet. But, with the gloomy and rainy weather, I have had a consistent hankering for carbs, namely bread. We're talking good bread, not that white stuff they sell at the store and serve at all-night diners that has been stripped down of all nutrients and flavor. Part of what makes great bread so great is the smell. It’s irresistible. When my home is filled with the smell of freshly baking bread, it is like a big hug to my olfactory system. So, I figured, why not kill two birds with one stone? In came the bread machine from the garage (urge to use bread machine, check) to satisfy my need for the sweet aromas of homemade bread (not to mention a indulgence in the preservative-free freshness of the loaf). I filled it up, turned it on, and six hours later had the most delicious rosemary kalamata olive loaf you can imagine. Toasted with a little butter the next morning made for the perfect (if not most nutritionally balanced) breakfast. I’ve had my bread machine for nearly eight years now and have worn out the recipe book that came with it testing all the different provided ideas. At first I was wary to stray from the recipes and instructions included in the provided manual, but I have tried modifying the recipes to suit my tastes with much success. I’ve even taken other bread recipe ingredients, ignored the instructions, put them in my trusty bread machine, and ended up with a delicious end results (though I’m not sure if this is recommended).
You know those weeks where nothing super exciting happens and you don’t have plans every night? No? Me neither. That’s probably why this past weekend’s lack of planned engagements and requirements was so special – the perfect way to spend Mother’s Day. The hubby and our little man just hung out at the house, cooked, played at the park, walked the dog, and drank some great wine (the little man stuck with his milk – but tells me it was great). The combination of a relaxing weekend, gorgeous sunny skies, and some much needed rain, reminded me that opposites attract and one isn’t necessarily better than the other.
- All the rain coming down in Austin, TX makes my heart happy. With the drought keeping the city parched – the lakes were at 34% full at the start of the year – it is great to see it finally getting some much-needed moisture. Hopefully the lakes will be full by the time we get back! Craving lake time and wakeboarding.
- Staying on the rain theme, the rainfall in Cali has been a blessing. The gloomy weather doesn’t exactly represent spring, but I’ll take whatever moisture Mother Nature is willing to share (even if it means a couple days of fall clothes mid-spring.)
- I went to a much-needed and really awesome networking event for entrepreneurs in Santa Monica. It’s amazing how talking to people about their ideas is just as inspiring and invigorating as chatting about yours. Plus, the extrovert in me needed the conversation!
- We busted out a bottle of wine that had been driven from CA to VA to TX back to CA (2002 J. Lohr Carol’s Vineyard Cab Sav). With that much travel – all in unconditioned space in the back of a Uhaul – we didn’t have high hopes. Much to my surprise, it was really smooth and delicious. That’s a pretty good testament to the quality of the grapes and final product of the wineries in Paso Robles.
- My aunt is graduating from her MBA program this weekend! So freakin’ proud of her and cannot wait to celebrate with her on Saturday. I’m so grateful we get to be a part of these family events and milestones. It wasn’t possible until our move back to SoCal.
Some things just scream Spring. You know, like pumpkins in Fall and cinnamon in Winter. Well, Spring always has me dreaming of and craving all things yellow and green, especially lemons and cucumbers. From fish and salads to infused water and muffins, these items make their way into just about everything in my home (including the linen - check out these fantastic dish towels! There's a matching table runner and tablecloth, if you're so inclined.) But when we want something on the sweeter side, it's all about the lemon poppy seed bread. This stuff is magic. Incredibly rich (thank you, buttermilk), each bite melts in your mouth. We call it bread, but it is probably more closely related to cake. For a treat, try nuking a slice in the microwave for a few seconds and then layering on a good helping of cream cheese. I believe this is called heaven. I've never been so I can neither confirm nor deny, but it's gotta be close. I can usually only manage one slice before the sweetness overwhelms, but it is a fantastic treat. After a long day, a slice of this and a glass of bubbly makes sliding out of "work mode" and into "summer days mode" a piece of cake (pun intended). The best part about this whole endeavor is that all I have to do is toss all the ingredients into my trusty bread machine and a few hours later - lemon poppy seed bread. No joke. It's like a slow cooker that caters to my carb addiction. Brilliant. *** Sips champagne, eats lemon poppy seed bread, and licks fingers. ***
I love purses, but haven’t invested in many the last few years. I believe this began right around the time I gave birth to our son. Suddenly, everywhere I went I had a large bag (or 2!) that needed to go as well. Carrying an additional tote just for my items seemed like a royal pain and a major hazard (spit up has a way of landing in the worst places) so small wristlets that could be stored in the diaper bag replaced my gorgeous bags....
As a teenager I suffered from oily skin prone to breakouts. We're talking Acutane levels of skin insanity. Over the last decade or so, it has settled down and now I'd say I run closer to “normal” – not too dry and not too oily. I have gone through what feels like a million face cleansers trying to find one that will cleanse the oily areas without making the dry parts worse. I wasn't looking for a magic eraser or cure-all pill ...
Since our move to California, we have cut our living space in half and quadrupled the number of kids’ toys in our possession. With zero outside space, we've had to get creative with incorporating kid-friendly spaces into our home without looking like a daycare. ...