Thursday, February 9, 2017

February Self Portrait

The short time I spent in Thailand has and will continue to shape my life. I learned so much not only about a whole other side of the world, but about myself.

I spent some time this week looking back at the photos from my trip and I think, "who was that girl?" Was I so different then and have I changed so much that the sense of adventure and carefree nature are just non-existent?

The answer is absolutely. My priorities have changed. I have changed. And for the most part, I'm okay with it. We have to grow, develop and accept change as a part of life. But one thing that shouldn't have changed is my desire for adventure. A impromptu wandering. The road less traveled. A random act of kindness. Whatever it may be, it is my goal for the month. Do one thing. See one thing. Experience one thing that challenges me, surprises me or surprises someone who knows me so well.

Now, the next question. What will it be?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Vegetarian Chili

In need of a quick, healthy and pretty easy chili recipe? I'll forward the thanks to my overseas chefs who always have the perfect recipe when I need it. This was also a huge hit for our Super Bowl party last weekend!

What you need:2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon spicy paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 can navy beans, rinsed and drained
cilantro, cheese, greek yogurt, taco chips and onions for toppings

What you do:
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned. 
2. Add spicy pepper, chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt. Stir to blend. 
3. Add tomatoes and 1 cup water. Gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes. 
4. Add beans and simmer an additional 30 minutes. 
5. Garnish with your desired toppings and serve.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Portobello Pizzas

Super easy lunch for this productive Monday off from work. The original recipe was vegan, but I couldn't pass up a handful of cheese. It was totally worth it.

What you need:
2 portobello mushroom caps
pizza sauce
veggies of your choice, I used red, yellow and green bell peppers and jalapeños
shredded cheese
olive oil
basil, crushed red paper, garlic salt

What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the olive oil onto the top and bottom of the portobellos.
2. Place the mushrooms cap-side down on a baking sheet and season with herbs. Bake for 5 minutes.
3. Remove the caps and top with sauce, toppings and cheese.
4. Bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are your desired consistency.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

January Self Portrait

I decided after a cleansing run late this afternoon to do my monthly self portraits a little different in 2017. Instead of posting at the end of the month and reflecting on the previous 30 days, I'm going to capture my goals for the month within the first few days. This seems only fitting I start January with a few resolutions not only for 2017, but January as well.

Personal  Stay Bright in 2017. Follow through with promises and obligations, keep in touch with friends and family, and commit to little acts every day (more on this coming soon).

Professional  There are a few skills I'd like to add to my repertoire. Maybe take a few classes and definitely focus in on my volunteer role I've put on the back burner these last few months.

Physical  Keep up my (almost) daily drive to workout - or be active, fuel my body with smart foods and do what feels right.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Easy Ramen Soup

I'm kinda obsessed with this easy ramen recipe I stumbled upon...and modified due to the lack of ingredients around the house.

What you need:
1 pound shrimp (I used pre-cooked and frozen - defrost in cold water)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Sriracha
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
3 cups veggie broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 packages ramen noodles
1/4 cup scallions

What you do:
1. Simmer the olive oil and Sriracha in a wok over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and cook until it becomes soft.
3. Add the carrots, garlic and seasonings and cook for another 2 minutes.
5. Stir in the veggie broth and bring to a slight boil. Add in soy sauce and ramen noodles.
6. Cook until the noodles have softened. Add shrimp.
7. Pour into bowls and top with the scallions.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

December Self Portrait

While last month I gave a word that summed up my feels at the time, this month I am picking a word for all of 2017. I first heard about this project on this podcast. Ali Edwards began the tradition of choosing one little word to focus on, to live with, to investigate, to write about and so on. And I love this idea. I love making lists, setting goals and seeing progress - in all aspects of my life. So, I see this endeavor as an on-going target that can move with me throughout the year.

The first word that came to me was Positive. It's been so easy getting caught up with all the bad news of the world, and I've noticed how all that bad energy has affected my mindset. In the past couple months, Mike has had to remind me to "think positive" on several occasions...which is very concerning. So naturally, positive was the front runner. But, that word was just too cheesy for me. I needed a word that sounded happy. The word needs to help me to focus on the positives of the everyday, but be flexible enough to lend itself to many avenues in 2017.


I still wasn't in love with any of them. Then, tonight, I decided to give another look at my words. And it came out of nowhere.


giving out or reflecting a lot of light; shining. giving an appearance of cheerful liveliness.

That sums it up perfectly. So, here's to a Bright 2017. Let's do this.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Room with a view

For our second anniversary, which falls just a few days after Christmas and a couple weeks before my birthday, we decided not to do presents. Instead, we gave our guest room a makeover!

We gave the room a fresh coat of yellow paint when we moved in and I bought furniture that met all my crafty needs, but the room has always been sort of a dumping ground for other random things. Mismatched lamps, an old dresser, childhood mementos. The desk (which was half a table we found in the trash), was unpractical and the room was really in need of a purge of stuff.

After a few quarrels over colors and possessions, we went with a grey/green color (which in some light looks exactly like the master bedroom, a very sad and too late realization) and rearranged the layout. We picked up a new table, lamps, three frames and a Buddha head. Oh, and we finally bought a grown up bed frame! But what I love most about this room is we were able to use a lot of pieces I have picked up - or received - over the years.

My sister-in-law found the newspaper printing plates (above) at a swap meet a few years ago. I resurrected them from our basement and we bought the center frame for the plate that was in the best condition. We purchased the two smaller frames when we first moved our house, but never used them, so we cut the other plates down to fit.

These are my beloved tapestries I bartered for when I was in Myanmar. The work is actually called a Kalaga, which is an appliqué of silk, flannel, felt and wool on cotton or velvet. This artform was very popular in the mid-19th century and worn by the royal court...who knew! I think I ended up paying the old ornery Burmese man $6 for both elephants and another one with horses (which I can't seem to find). While that sounds very inexpensive, for $6 I also could have bought lunch - for the week! Since the pieces are at least a half inch thick, we had to buy new frames with a raised mat. We found these at Michaels - and they were on sale.

The antique scales, letterpress drawer, trinkets and knick knacks have been collected over the years and all hold a special place in my heart. For less than $400 we were able to transform the room into a mature place we both can appreciate. Now we just need some guests to come and stay!