Saturday, January 30, 2016

Day 30: Roasted sweet potato salad

As I've posted before, I'm trying to increase the amount of veggies in my diet.  I tend to stick to veggies I love, and sweet potatoes are one of them.  Instead of eating them "straight up" I've added them to salads, and enjoyed the outcome!  Whether they are hot or cold, roasted sweet potato salad is a new favorite of mine.  It doesn't even require a dressing.  In fact I found that dressing, even a light vinaigrette, takes away from the sweet potato taste.  You can pre-roast the veggies and serve them warm or cold with the salad.  


2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper
8 oz baby spinach leafs
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut them into quarter moon chunks.
2.  Toss them in the olive oil, sprinkling salt and pepper to taste.
3.  Spray a glass or metal pan with non-stick cooking oil and spread the sweet potatoes evenly.  Roast at 400F for 60 minutes, stopping at 30 minutes to flip the sweet potatoes to the other side.
4.  Cut the bell pepper into thin strips.  Line them in a pre-treated pan, and roast at 400F for 25 minutes.
5.  Add the sweet potatoes and bell peppers and toss.  Add a honey mustard, balsamic vinaigrette dressing if desired.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Day 25: Dirty works works!

The older I get, the more I realize that taking care of my skin is incredibly important.  Since the age of twelve I've been using the Clinique 3-step system religiously.  But for more intense up keep, like exfoliating, I've been experimenting.  

I recently came across these British products in a grocery store, of all places.  I wanted to try an at home weekly mask to clean my pores.  A quick search on my phone from the aisle told me that these were quality products, so I tossed them along with the rest of my groceries and decided to try them at home.

Dirty Works Pore-fect Face Scrub has anti-oxidant properties that reduced skin's aging.  Touting pomegranate and raspberry extract, this scrub was light and easy to apply.  Immediately after I put a thick layer of my Kiehl's moisturizer on and felt like my skin was smooth and soft to the touch well into the next day.  

The following evening I tried Dirty Works Detox Mud Mask.  This one claims to have blueberry and willow bark extract.  Honestly I hate using masks, but this one was so easy to take off, I didn't even need a rag like it recommended.  A generous amount of water washed all of it off.  

Since it was the first time I used these products, I used them one at a time.  But next time I will use them together.  It will definitely be a staple in my skin care regime!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Day 22: Good and easy chocolate buttercream frosting

I had resigned myself to the fact that my homemade buttercream frosting was meant to be chalky.  No matter what I did - cream the butter more, add vanilla, add cream cheese - it still had that consistency where you could taste where the confectioner's sugar met the butter instead of being melded together in buttercream perfection.

Yesterday I happened across this recipe to frost cupcakes, and I was skeptical at first.  I was supposed to melt the butter?  It seemed like more work, and I was hesitant since I had guests coming over and these cupcakes were my plan for dessert.  However, this recipe is one I'll repeat again since it came out so wonderfully!  I made a few changes to the original recipe, lowering the amount of vanilla and confectioner's sugar.  


1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk 

1.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low to medium heat.
2.  Add the cocoa powder and vanilla, and stir.
3.  Put the confectioner's sugar in a mixing bowl.  Add the chocolate mixture and stir on a stand mixer or with hand mixer.  The mixture will be crumbly and dry.
4.  Add milk one tablespoon at a time to desired consistency.

Even after I put the chocolate mixture into the sugar, I was worried.  It was looking dry and crumbly - not at all frosting-like.  I was about to have my husband run the grocery store to pick up a tub of store made frosting.  But after I added the milk, like magic it became this silky milk chocolate frosting which turned out to be the highlight of dessert!  I added the first tablespoon just to have it mixed in and ready.  When my cupcakes had cooled sufficiently and were ready for frosting, I added the other tablespoon.  It spread easily, and after about 20 minutes the frosting had become more firm atop the cupcakes.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Day 19: live. laugh. love.

I've always loved birds on a wire pictures.  One Friday night at home I decided to do this with pastels.  It didn't take too long, about an hour an a half.  I sized it so that it will fit a frame at IKEA.  For this meme, I added the text.  It seems to fit perfectly with the picture of two lovebirds, sitting together, watching the sun set.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Day 17: Winter flower bouquet

Have you ever been at the grocery store, ready to rush out the door, but were tempted by the pre-made bouquets in the floral department?  

It seems so easy right?  To grab an okay looking bouquet, feeling like you're getting a deal even though you are just getting a few flowers you really like, surrounded by a bunch of filler flowers you really don't like.  

It seems silly to spend $15 to $20 on something that's going to wilt die in a weeks times.  It seems even sillier to only like a fraction of the flowers you are buying too!  After all my years of buying pre-grocery bouquets, I have found a better way to make the most out of my floral budget.  

I don't get flowers that often - it's usually when we guests coming to visit, or if I'm throwing a dinner party.  But now, I bypass the easy pick-up flower section and go straight to the florist.  Now, this doesn't mean you have to skip the grocery story altogether.  Stores like Wegman's or Harris Teeter have a pretty good selection, and their staff is knowledgable enough.  

The first thing I start with is my budget.  I let them know how much I want to spend, and then pick the flowers I mainly want first.  I ask for their advice, and usually they will throw in some filler flowers and green foliage at no extra charge.  

You don't even need that many flowers for a centerpiece.  Once I got a few orchards, some sticks, and a long banana leaf that made a very nice and modern looking centerpiece.   

Below is my latest floral arrangement that I picked out last weekend.  They had fresh peonies that I couldn't resist, and I accented them with some white hydrangeas, my favorite and go-to flower.  And the best part - it was under my budget!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Day 13: Not your average candy bar

Lucky for me, candy aisle temptations at the grocery store are few and far between.  But over the holidays I couldn't resist this trio of organic chocolates near the register at Whole Foods.  

Lake Champlain chocolates are gourmet chocolates from Vermont.  This chocolate company prides itself on it's bean-to-bar chocolate production, even harvesting their own bee's to make honey to sweeten the chocolate.  They have also collected accolades for their Fair Trade practices.

I couldn't decide what flavor to get, so I decided on all three:  Fruit & Nut, Peanut, and Granola.  Peanut butter was by far my favorite!  Besides Whole Foods, you can find them at other organic grocery stories like Roots and Mom's Organic Market.  Or you can order it online here.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Day 12: Inspiration

I usually don't like inspirational boards.  I kind of laugh to myself when I see so many at every boutique, and home decor store.  But, lately I've been finding a few that hit me a way that is endearing.  Some of them I would like to put in my house where only I would see, like in my walk-in closet or mud room.  Not all of them apply 100% to me, but I like this one the best.  Good reminders for every family!  

"In this house:  we laugh...a lot, 
we try our best, we are patient most of the time, 
we tell the truth, we support each other, 
we hug often, we make mistakes, we never give up, 
we always forgive, we keep our promises, we always have fun, 
but above all we love"

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Day 11: Mo' Butter Blues

If you asked me fifteen years ago if blue nail polish was here to stay I would have said no.  Who knew that would become so ubiquitous?  And with some many shades?

My personal favorites come from the butter London line.  When I was pregnant, I was extra careful about what nail polish I used, making sure it had no formaldehyde, no toluene and no DBP.  Depending on my mood and the season,  I can go from the darker shade of "Big Smoke" to the teal shade of "Slapper" and the more subtle "Poole."  In any case, these shades will be sure to chase away the blues.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Day 6: Read more books

I found this book at a local bookstore and couldn't resist!  I have to admit, towards the end of 2015 I found myself reading more.  I was reading before bedtime, and not just from an eReader but from actual real books!  It felt more soothing to hold paper and read a non-electronic screen to help ease me into bedtime.  For book club this month we are reading The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Safak.  Hopefully it'll re-introduce me to the poetry of Rumi and make for some lively discussions!

Other books on my to read list:


What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion 

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

Euphoria by Lily King

Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev


The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

House on First by Julia Reed

Building Moral Intelligence by Dr. Michele Borba

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Day 3: The key to Tiffany's

Though Christmas may have past, the warmth of the holidays still lingers on. As does the glitter of it as so many towns and business every year seem to lengthen the holiday season into the new year. I myself am still drawn to this seasons offerings from Tiffany's. The keys are such a timeless addition to the collection. Not to mention the charms which add a sense of playfulness to such a legendary jewelry store.  Visit for prices and availability.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Day 1 of 2016

One year ago I started this project, not knowing how it would go.  My goal was to make a journal, or catalog if you will, of the creative and lifestyle ambitions in my day-to-day life.  I wanted to make note of the small changes in my life, something that over the course of a year you can't really appreciate or sometimes even remember!  I especially like that it is a quick catalog of my frequent recipes, and I can easily access them from wherever I am.  

How was 2015 for me, you might ask.  As my toddler would say, "It was great!" (This is his typical response for everything).  I fine-tuned a few of my go-to recipes, and though my health and wellness initiations were at times short lived, I lost just over 10 pounds.  I traveled to cities I'd never been before like Prague, Vienna, and Hong Kong.  I also traveled to some of my favorite cities like New York, Paris, and Hyderabad, India.

So here we are at the start of the a new year.  I'm going to try to divide my categories into the following, alternating through them.

1.  Recipes (Knives and Whisks):  I will continue to provide easy to make recipes, that aren't too indulgent, and including dinner, entertaining and snacking options.

2.  Health and Wellness:  this will continue to include fitness, and living well tips.

3.  Style and Beauty:  I'm going to try to work on this section.  Many things when it comes to style and beauty I gloss over because I feel like it is redundant.  And style is so subjective, everyone has their own personal preferences.  I don't want to impose my sense of style over someone else's.

4.  Home decor and organization:  after reading the book about the KonMarie method, I'm going to try to implement it this year!

5.  Literal:  I started a local bookclub, and will be logging my favorite reads through that.

6.  Travel:  again, I'm going to try to focus on this more, maybe shifting my travel writing to this blog.

Here's wishing you health, wealth and happiness in the new year!