Life lately

Last week was filled so many fun memories.  Selfishly I have to say that my birthday really is a gift to everyone.  Honestly.  You’re welcome, world.  Between the pre-drinks veggie pizza and spicy eggplant caponata with the girls last weekend, strawberry and cream-cheese cupcakes at work and the delicious and incredibly decadent birthday feast with my family, I can safely say that we were all well fed last week.  Let me know if I should provide an address for thank you cards**.

In reality, I felt so blessed to have the support of the wonderful people in my life on my birthday, and yes, I promise this is the last I will mention of it; my final comment being that there are some days that make a person stop to say a brief “thank you” to whomever or whatever it is that one might pause to appreciate in their private, personal moments of reflection, and I’ve certainly experienced my share. 

2_E12_e.jpg

81_e.jpg

10_e.jpg9

3_E.jpg7_e.jpg

613_e.jpg

411_e.jpg

**I’m registered for thank you gifts at Bed Bath & beyond.  Oh!  And TJ Maxx where I’m waiting for some really cute Cynthia Rowley throw pillows to go on sale.

a-sig11

Shrimp, Turkey and Red Pepper Wraps

I am still fighting off the cold that never ends. Way to ring in 2012! Since the gym is pretty much out right now, I’m trying to make healthier lunch and dinner choices. Tonight inspiration struck (beyond the boring chicken breasts and spinach salads that I’ve been eating many weeknights) and I was so happy with the way this turned out, I thought I’d share the recipe!

So good!

  • 1 sm red onion
  • 1 lg red pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 oz ground turkey breast
  • 8 oz cooked shrimp, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 Tb Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 1 Tb reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • Cabbage or lettuce for wrapping
  • Sesame seeds for topping
  • Cilantro for topping
  • Peanut sauce for dipping
  1. Dice onion and garlic into small pieces and saute in olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add diced red pepper until just beginning to soften, then remove vegetables from pan and set aside.
  3. Add turkey breast, Chinese 5-Spice, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar to pan. Saute until turkey is cooked through.
  4. Add vegetables back in to turkey mixture, then add shrimp. Stir to evenly coat vegetables and shrimp with spices.
  5. Cook until shrimp is just heated through; remove pan from heat.
  6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve in lettuce or cabbage cups.  Wrap then sprinkle with sesame seeds, add chopped cilantro and dip in peanut sauce.
  7. Enjoy!

Easy, please!

queso

Some nights just need to be productive.  And before you say anything, ignore the blurry photo.  Tonight was my first re-entry at the gym in over a week, and in an attempt to make up for the sins of the past week, I seem to have ruined my arm muscles.  Weak arms mean shaky arms, and shaky arms do not take pictures that do my delicious and healthy quesadillas justice.

Make this incredibly easy weeknight dinner for one with just a tortilla, some reduced-fat cream cheese (flavored!) and some shaved turkey.  I use my misto (thanks Mom and Big!) to lube a regular sized frying pan that will warm and crisp the tortilla with a spritz of olive oil.  Spread a thin layer of cream cheese (again, seriously – flavored: garden veggie, onion and chive, jalapeno…trust me) on the tortilla and heap with turkey.  Cook over a low to medium-low flame until the tortilla crisps on the outside and the innards turn warm and delicious.  Did I ruin it by using the word innards?  Too much?

Anyway.  I highly recommend serving with a healthy dollop of salsa.  I prefer Garden-Fresh, Jack’s Special medium salsa; I don’t know what they put in it, but seriously, it’s crave-able beyond what’s usually normal for a thing like salsa.  

Other tried and true (but slightly more effort-intensive) innards combos?

  • Home-made-refried-without-the-fried black beans and grilled peppers (now you want the recipe, hmm?  Needy).
  • A spread of light cream cheese, a bit of goat cheese and pesto topped with thinly sliced apples.  I swear, it will convert even those people who squirm at the sweet and savory combo.
  • Light, veggie cream cheese with sautéed portabella mushrooms and fresh spinach.

A sig

Before & After

tablepic

A few weeks back I had the idea to make a bar cart, or bar table, or liquor cart – I couldn’t really settle on an appropriate name.  The fact that I don’t own a single liquor bottle aside, I had my mind made up.  Laura and I trekked to the local Brown Elephant to see what was available.  After practically stalking a man for a red-metallic martini shaker and budging a woman for a set of wooden badminton rackets we found the perfect supplies.  We snatched up a  vintage, ornamental serving tray and tapered but metallic table legs for the components.  The table legs were rumored to have a turquoise table top as their final complement, but a bit of innocent eyelash batting and shoulder shrugging gave us enough advantage to avoid that purchase.  All told?  $23.00

Now before you say that the original design and coloring of the tray was unique and pretty and should have been showcased, I thought so too.  However, it did seem to smudge when I tried to clean it.  Yes, yes, it’s possible that the ornamental design wasn’t intended to withstand Windex, but still.  I can’t have a streaky, dirty tray.  Laura and I debated on paint colors and after purchasing more gold paint than one person will likely ever use, I decided it had to be a glossy white.  Anyone in the market for gold paint?

The cart pieces made truly horrible (and awkwardly painful at certain points) companions on busses, trains and a long, chilly walk home but we eventually made it back to my humble abode where they, some glue and an absolute cloud of paint fumes became my new bar cart.  Well, just to clarify: considering I’m not really a hard alcohol drinker (last weekend aside…ahem) it will likely become an empty wine bottle cart.  Who are we kidding, wine doesn’t really stand a chance in this apartment!  At least now my empties will have a lovely, glossy display.

A sig

Happy birthday to ME!

It’s no secret that I have great taste, I mean, look at my shoes:

photo2

Okay, okay, in all seriousness, it’s no secret that my sister is a creative genius.  I mean, who else has the ability to give amazing gifts like this?  For a perfect combination of Christmas and my 26th birthday, Laura generously gave one of the the coolest unique presents I’ve ever gotten; a suite of matted and framed photos designed after me!  Possibly just FOR me, but I like it my way better.  Her talent doesn’t surprise me anymore – I know it’s there – but I love that it still manages to impress me every time.  A big thank you to the greatest sister there is!

photo3

photo1

A-sig_thumb1

Take me away!

This post unofficially sponsored by Spirit Airlines – zero legroom and mildly consistent arrival and departure times at best! But – the home of $9 one-way fares. They also name their weekly travel deals things like “The Get MOASS Sale” – a.k.a. the Mother of All Spirit Sales Sale. Just… amazing. Sign up.

I’ve always loved to travel and dream of seeing the world some day. But, with work schedules and budgets, its always seemed overwhelming to plan the trips I dreamed of. I was reminiscing about what a great year 2011 was with JB and was shocked to realize that I was lucky enough to rack up five fun weekend getaways (plus one Chicago staycation!) last year; far more than previous years. Thanks, Spirit!

And while its not as relaxing as a week on the beach or as culturally enlightening as the week in Italy I envision someday… there’s nothing better than having something to look forward to. I don’t know about you, but trying new restaurants and exploring a new city definitely does just that. I hope I’ll be able to make these little getaways a big part of 2012 as well!

On the books for 2012:

  • San Diego, February
  • Dallas, April

In my dreams for 2012:

  • Montreal, August
  • Miami, October
  • Breckenridge, December

Who’s with me?! Ali, this means you!

Suspense!

I found a hardware store the other day.  Ordinarily not a very exciting discovery, but as someone who thought she didn’t live close to one – and coincidentally used to trains, planes and automobiles it to Home Depot – it was really a very good day.  I filled up a basket with random items and more than a few copper trinkets, mostly because I liked the color.   I lugged my spoils home and processed down a creativity path that could only be described as a relative mess of wire, wood and mesh, and a hacksaw scare a Hollywood director would be proud of.  I’m swearing off wood projects in the near future.

It took more glue than I’ll ever admit, but eventually came up with two very different, but hopefully sturdy suspended wine glass holders. Now I just need a few new wine glasses to fill out my shiny copper prongs…good thing my birthday is coming up Smile

IMG_1058

My collection of goodies!

img

The wine glass rack in my apartment hangs in the space created by the window-style pass through from my kitchen to my living room: over head but still readily accessible.

IMAG0491

The second wine glass was a gift to Laura, and hangs by her kitchen window and…well, frankly, a slightly sad looking plant.  No offense.

A sig

The Dreaded Brussels Sprout.

sproutsinwater

Look at those brussel sprouts!  Or, as I just learned via spell-check, “Brussels” sprouts – who knew?  They’re so happy, bobbing there in the boiling water.  Like little kids in a swimming pool – a temperate swimming pool obviously, not at all boiling.  I may have had a glass of wine prior to boiling the sprouts.  Either way.  There they are.

While Brussels sprouts may get a bad rap, I think Laura and I are firmly in the thumbs up category.  As a versatile vegetable that goes swimmingly (har…har….get it?) with bacon, butter, parmesan cheese and pasta, really what isn’t there to like?  Brussels sprouts are commonly known for their distinctive shape (tiny heads of cabbage!) and their repulsivity to kids, but they should be better known for their health benefits and delicious taste.

Deemed a cruciferous vegetable, this tiny dense veggie packs a punch with its incredible dose of vitamin K and vitamin C, clocking in at upwards of 120% of your daily recommended intake of these specific nutrients*.  Brussels sprouts provide digestive support by supplying nearly half of the daily recommendation of fiber from only 200 calories worth of the greens.  They are also rumored to provide multi-faceted assistance with your body’s necessary detox through the same sulfurous quality that gives sprouts their bad reputation (IF overcooked – take note).  If you’re interested in learning more, our good friends and personal mecca workers over at Whole Foods have provided some pretty convincing support in favor of Brussels sprouts that may just get you over the hesitant hump.

Tonight I chose to eat the delicious little veggie as a cold salad, with chopped dates, slivered almonds and toasted parmesan cheese.  Add a light, sweet honey mustard or vidalia onion vinegarette and you may just have a change of heart, or head…little heads of cabbage…no?  Okay I’m done.

salad 2

A sig

*In case any one of our 4 readers (ahem, family members) are actually fooled into thinking I can give qualified medical or health advice, I should clarify that, quite obviously, I can’t.  Last night’s dinner of sour, gummy lifesavers can testify to that effect if things get ugly.

Picture frame makeover

photo5

 

Last fall our mom decided to host a garage sale anticipating the sale of our old house.  It was….interesting, to say the least…to see the things she drug up from our basement and our past.  When we were younger, my mom had an affinity for cherub pictures, and while I can’t imagine who wouldn’t love this chubby face:

photo6

the cherub photos weren’t the hottest ticket at the garage sale.  So Laura and I each happily collected a bag-full of thoughtful, pensive angel pictures and immediately thought of the fun picture collages we could make.  While I didn’t mind the gold picture frames after some thought I decided they needed a little modernization.  I went with a warm, dark-chocolate color possibly just because I was craving dark-chocolate.  The pictures inside were taken from a National Geographic coffee table book – it was almost hard to cut up, but I’ll definitely enjoy the photos this way, too!

photo2

photo3

photo7

A sig

Vindication

Ali would tell you I have a problem.

I honestly don’t even realize I’m picking up yet another coral top until Ali swats my hand and says, “Laura, think about what you’re doing.”

But good news! I’m totally and completely vindicated.

You can read Pantone’s full write-up here if you’re a big color nerd like I am, but here’s my favorite quote:

“Tangerine Tango is a bit exotic, but in a very friendly, non-threatening way.”

Coincidentally, that is also how I think of myself. :) In honor of this momentous occasion and a whole year’s worth of excuses to shamelessly purchase more coral (or “tangerine”), here are some more things I’d like to add to my collection.

Color of the Year!

Madewell striped tee, $48
By Malene Birger high waisted skirt, £73
Rebecca Minkoff shoulder strap bag, $350
Roberta Chiarella teardrop earrings, $58
Marni gold tone jewelry, $395
Marni gold tone jewelry, $275
Alexander McQueen cashmere shawl, £280
Delia Chair, $699
Design*Sponge At Home, $35
Rothko, Untitled 1949, $149

Its like summer all year. I love it.

all images via pinterest