Let's talk food.


Sunny skies.  Laundry's DONE (a big feat if you're new around these parts).  New color.  New cut.  Finally reached L3 of the 100 30-Day Shred.  A 3-day weekend (with a kid-free night mixed in... & Bridesmaids)! Between Oprah & the Biggest Loser finales, I'm chalk-full of inspiration.  Life is good. 
[Thank God the rapture didn't come along last weekend and screw it all up.]

We've been cooking machines around here.  To the point where I could devote an entire blog to the topic.  But that would require pictures.  And I have absolutely none to share.  With Ryan buried in homework (not to mention, work), it's nice to enjoy (rather than "capture") our meals- creating them, and partaking in themSlowly working our way through the weekly produce box, mastering the game of simplicity-yet tasty-light-yet-hearty-healthy-yet satisfying- has brought a sense of resourcefulness... of order... of rhythm... of novelty.  In the midst of play dates, homework assignments, birthday parties, and drama (never a day goes by without a "healthy" dose of drama)- turning shelled peas into a savory pea pesto- apriums into a fresh pitcher of margaritas- asparagus into a surprisingly luscious soup- somehow erases the lines between weekdays and weekends, spring and summer, work and play.

Other than Hailey's most anticipated night of the year (She has a friend sleeping over, and is beyond thrilled.), Jacob's wish granted- to see the 4th Pirate movie, and a Memorial Day BBQ at my grandma's, I'm not sure exactly what this weekend will entail, but a few things I know FOR SURE.

  1. Strawberry Summer Cake (pure bliss)
  2. Aperol Cocktails (been on the "to-try" list for far too long)
  3. Tuna & Ginger Burgers + No Fry Fries (burgers/fries = date night tradition)
  4. And maybe even this perfect [steak/asparagus/roasted potatoes] meal (made last night- simple, healthy, delicious)...
  5. And this equally perfect dessert (made it 2x already- in an effort to work our way through an entire case of apriums)... Believe me, it's as good as it looks. No, better.

I'll report back next week.  

Until then...

Hope you enjoy each & every bite of your weekend.  

Power pellets {Listography 2011}.

Each Wednesday, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.
snack machine & video games
  Image via 

This week's list: 
List your favorite snacks.  
If I included "indulgent" snacks here, this list would be quite long- & I'm sure not too exciting, I might add.  Healthy, 'guilt-free' snacks are a little harder to come by, and I'm still in the midst of developing a nice repertoire of go-to's... so I can go to them rather than the Lays, the Skittles, the Peanut Butter, the Ben & Jerry's, the Choc- Oh, sorry. HEALTHY is the list I'm going for here.  In that case...

{Disclaimer: these aren't necessarily low-fat, but they're much better alternatives than those above.}

  1. Protein Plate from Starbucks.  I often need a protein-fix, & this always does the trick.
  2. As do these Special K Protein Bars (thanks to Danielle).
  3. One more "protein" snack... Smoothies w/ protein powder (more on this in a future post).
  4. My 2-second guacamole- avacado + salsa + s&p + olive oil- smeared on whole grain bread.
  5. Iced coffee, iced lattes, or a Doubleshot Light.
  6. Popcorn w/ olive oil & sea salt (can't believe I haven't yet written about popcorn... soon).
  7. Not exactly healthy, but just not right leaving it out... CHEESE (any & all- except Swiss).
  8. Hummus with veggies or cooked edamame with a little olive oil, s&p.
  9. Any type of healthy power-packed muffin (just made these, + Eating Well has some great recipes).
  10. Greek Yogurt, topped with fruit, honey, & almonds or homemade granola.

And there you have it. 

What about you??  What are your favorite foods to snack on?  I'm always looking for new ideas... anything to keep me away from the CHIPS.  Let me know in the comments or visit Danielle to link up a post of your own. 

*Next order up...

Taste of summer.

17 more days...

...until I get to see this little watermelon-lovin' cutie in a perfectly-suited suit.

Image via

Just right.

I have a cousin who never fails to put a smile on my face with her thoughtful, simple, perfect presents.
{thank you, Heather! i wore it on my date last night & i love it.}

Give & get.

Have you heard about Gap's current Let It Go promotion with Goodwill?  All you have to do is bring a clothing donation (one or more... not brand-specific), and you'll receive 30% (35% with your Gap card) off of your total purchase. 
When I woke up and saw this message yesterday, I did a quick closet sweep, grabbed my $10.00 rewards card that I earned a while back, and headed to the mall.  A positive impact for both the community, and my closet. Win-win. 

After streamlining my closet the past 6 months... purging & revamping, I've slowly stocked up on basics and versatile pieces.  For once in my life, I know exactly what I have and what I need.  For this trip, I needed white, and shorts.  I only had 3 pairs, which I decided to donate yesterday- all 3 of them.  For me, shorts are always difficult to come by.  They're either too short, too long, too high-waisted, too something or other.  Each summer, I manage to find a couple of new pairs, more by process of elimination than choice.  So, I was happy to find a style that fit perfect, and I actually liked.  Not too short (haven't exercised enough to get to the "short-shorts" point... maybe today's spinning class will get me closer- or maybe those days are simply long gone), not too 'Bermuda-ish' (although these can be rolled down), and not too high in the waist.  {Sorry if this was entirely way TMI.}

Here's my reward for cleaning out and donating a few items in my closet...
Left to right; top to bottom:

shrunken cardigan, tie neck top (they're out of stock online, but there's a couple of similar items here, and here), white shorts, boardwalk shorts, linked belt, burnished edge belt (couldn't find the one I purchased online, but these 2 are fairly similar), ribbed tank

If you need a push to clean out that closet, or just an excuse to go shopping, here's your chance.


Good scents {Listography 2011}.

Each Wednesday, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.

Right off the bat, I'll tell ya... I read this week's topic all wrong.  I blame it on end-of-school [non-stop] projects (assigned to the kids, I might add),  & well, that's my excuse & I'm stickin' to it. 

So, this week's list topic was, "List your least favorite smells."  I read right past the "least" part, and wrote a favorite smell list instead.  As much as I feel like I'm attending school with all these projects I've been assisting with... I needed to remind myself that this isn't a homework assignment.  I make the rules here, right??  Or, I can at least bend them a bit!

Who wants to hear about vomit & pee & poop & my dog's farts &- other than my kids- anyways??  (actually, i kinda look forward to the other gal's lists)  Until then, here's mine...

My favorite smells.

Now your turn.  Link up a post of your own below, or share in the comments... Favorite OR least favorite scents??

Staying the course.

 Image via
Since you were all so generous in your comments a while back in response to my utter frustration of inactivity, I thought it only appropriate to give a little update...

Two months past boot camp, and I'm still plugging away at the "30" Day Shred.  Catch the irony there.  Um... yeeeaaah.  Well, I started off really strong.  Then, after chatting with a trainer, I decided to tackle it a bit differently.  I'm as goal-oriented as the next girl [prepping to slip into that bikini- in a mere 3 1/2 weeks], and of course I want to get results pronto.  But, I've played the "lose 10 lbs game" before...  And this time, I'm considering long and short term.  I'm not really looking for a quick fix- start/stop approach.  I want to be active, and stay active.  I'm all for a healthy, well-balanced diet- but I'm just not willing to cut all carbs... to forgo that glass of red.

So, I started doing the 'Shred' every other day, and alternating it with long power walks and Wii workouts.  Early on, I found that my workouts are most effective if I'm not working the same muscles on consecutive days, doing the exact same routine.  I'm able to 'dig deeper' into the exercise, maintain better form, and push myself further.  This was a huge takeaway from boot camp.  The sessions were every other day, and as grueling and intense as they were, each workout was unique.  Entirely different.  Muscles had time to heal, motivation remained intact.  Yet, there's definitely something to be said about mastering a routine... getting your rhythm down... gaining strength after each consecutive workout- which is why I can definitely see myself sticking with a 30-day dvd, or any routine for that matter.  As long as I mix it up a little.

With this 'alternating approach,' and a brief fall-off-the-wagon during my endless birthday celebration & spring break- I'm still shreddin' away, strong & steady.  Although I'm seeing results on all levels, I'd never claim this to be the ONE correct path.  For me, it appears that the key is a mixture of routine & variety, indoor & outdoor, structure & surprise... Long term targets of weight loss and muscle tone, but also short term goals of increased resistance or higher speed- even just on a particular exercise.  It's still early on, and time will continue to tell.  There's a couple classes (spin, core conditioning) that I plan on signing up for.  Other dvd's to tackle.  But one thing I've learned for sure:  It's all about momentum, and after months of dormancy, I've finally got it goin' on.

Full exposure.

I’m sick.

My eyes are watery.

Nose, runny.



But thanks to Stephanie

I’m tan.

And really, isn’t that what matters most in the big scheme of things?

…a self tanner that doesn’t smell (a huge step up from the last one- that worked well, but according to my kids, smelled like a diaper), doesn’t blotch or streak, and doesn’t have to be applied every day.  In fact, I need to reapply mine before it fades.  But that would mean I'd have to shower.  And when I’m this frail, that’s a lot to ask.

*Note to Stephanie:  
I seriously miss your posts.  I know you’re busy with real life and all, but honestly, throw me a bone here.
{stole that last part from Austin Powers}

a shining star {Listography 2011}.

Each Wednesday, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.

I was a ball of nerves.  She was ball of energy.  I was shy... quiet... self-conscious.  She was bold... gregarious... confident.  I was an enthusiastic student, ready to learn.  She, an enthusiastic teacher, ready to empower.  Passion like no other.  Silly, yet professional.  Always a story to tell, an example to share.  Approachable.  Authentic.  And just what I needed.

{Hired as a Starbucks barista in 1996 by Sandy; led to a 12-year career...  Although I had many great leaders along the way, she was the *spark.*}

~Visit my pal Emily if you have a 'co-worker' post to link, & to read the others.  Surely some good stories to tell.~

Share & tell.


Ever since my re-post the other day, I've been reminded of the fact that so many bloggers have some prettttty good stuff buried away in that ol' archive collection.  I'm definitely one to do a little digging when I come across a new blog, especially the 'very first post' or others that catch my eye.  And if a 'LinkWithin' looks interesting, I'll click & read it for sure.  But of course, none of us have the time to read everyone's entire archive. 

If you're like me, you have a hard enough time managing all of the new blog posts in the reader each day.  None-the-less finding the time to do any sort of 'back-reading.'  Well, I've got something to share.  I read this post (written by Sarah, @ whoorl) last week, and let me tell you- this is a must-read.  Blog reading has once again become simple, efficient, & FUN.  Now, I'll even have a little time to head over to those archives once in a while. 

 So, I'm curious.  If you're a blogger... what is one of your favorite posts?  I'd love to read it.  I've made it simple and included a link-up below.  Think of it like blogger share & tell... perfect for a 'back to reality' Monday (after a lovely mother's day weekend).  And a little way for me to dig through your posts-of-the-past without having to do any digging.

Link up a post that you'd like to share by entering the URL for that particular post below!  Do you have more than one to share?  Go for it.  Because sometimes picking just one- or even two, is just way too difficult.

Hello sunshine.

Image via

A happy day.  

Husband's home...  R&R in my immediate future...  A little welcome home fiesta... Guacamole & {"healthy"} strawberry margaritas...  Simply glorious weather.  But better yet, my *real post* is over @ one of my very favorite blogs~ Under a Pink Moon.  And of course it's got summer written all over it.  I'd love it if you visited me over there, & I'm sure Estelle would too.  It may even have you whipping up a batch of your own strawberry margaritas, on this lovely 'Seis de Mayo.' 

Fiesta time.

Is it tacky to do a re-post?  Well, I'm justifying it since this was posted way back when I had less than 5 readers, so it's new material for the rest of you... right?  Right.  Now that that's settled, HAPPY Cinco de Mayo!!!  As you know, any holiday that encourages us to eat, drink, & be merry (& wear sombreros), is right up my alley.  Today, I'm headed to a little fiesta potluck with friends, and my contribution?  This salad.  Ryan's been out of town this past week, so our fiesta will be delayed until tomorrow night... a celebration of me not having to be a single parent anymore :).

He gets home late tonight, but the kids & I will still be partying it up- just not in my kitchen.  We're goin' out.  Hope you enjoy your day, and whether you're cooking for the occasion, or not, try and squeeze in a little margarita at least.  Without further ado, a "perfect salad"~
See?  I mention my love of food and now the floodgates are open for food posts galore.  Actually, for one- it's been a busy week, in which I've needed to cook various dishes for different events, and for another- my garden post represented me getting back in the kitchen after a little cooking hiatus.

This sugar snap pea and radish salad is my other favorite salad to make for picnics, potlucks, parties, you-name-it.  It goes perfect with Mexican cuisine, in which I typically have a hard time incorporating "green" side dishes that are lighter (and healthier) than the main course, but complimentary to the overall menu and just as tasty.  For example, this past Cinco de Mayo, I made this meal (with the exception of the dessert and cocktail), but wanted to include a healthy side dish... hence the discovery of the easiest, prettiest, make-ahead salad that I've ever made.  And very tasty too. {*added note: don't let the simplicity fool you. every time I've shared this, I've received RAVE reviews- men & women alike... always a highlight- even if surrounded by scrumptious cheesy, saucy, hearty dishes. sure case of 'less is more.'}
Images via press article in Women's Health

As you have probably noticed at this point- if you have clicked on any of the above links- I am a fan of Katie Lee.  Given that she entered the celebrity food scene in the midst of, or due to, her [former] marriage to Billy Joel, and that she is a mere 32 years younger than he, her reputation is varied.  Personal life aside, her unpretentious style (simple yet classy) of cooking and entertaining has strongly resonated with me over the past couple of years.  I've made countless recipes from both of her cookbooks, watched all of her cooking segments on CBS, and read many of her articles.  Her passion for cooking is inspiring and she (and her recipes) has definitely held her own in the food world, and in my kitchen.

My other moms (Listography 2011}.

Each Wednesday, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.

List # 19... an ode to Mother's Day.

My 'mom hat' is worn pretty thin this week, which translates to:  Short on time, & short on energy.  So, I'm just going to go ahead & jump right in...
List your favorite t.v. moms.

Clair Huxtable~ She had her career. She loved her children. But her marriage remained at the top of her list.

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Lucy Ricardo~ She didn't take herself too seriously.  Each day was a new adventue, & perfectionism was never on the agenda.
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June Cleaver~ She made perfect look easy, which we all know otherwise... but it's still fun to fantasize. 
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Livia Soprano~ I gotta kick outta her.  Plus, this passive-aggressive, guilt-trippin' mom made me feel a little better about my own mothering skills.

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Lucille Bluth~ Never a dull moment with this 'vodka-for-breakfast' mama.  
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Marion Cunningham ("Mrs. C")~ She was a mom not only to her own children, but to all of the kids... Always patient, non-judgmental, knew when to be naive, when to be tough, & never a witty comment left behind.
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7, 8, 9, & 10.)
Julia, Sarah, Camille, & Kristina (the Parenthood crew)~ It's only fitting that the best show on the air, would also have the best t.v. moms of all.  I could not pick a favorite if I tried.  They are an 'as-true-as-you-can-get' representation of determination, confidence, insecurity, love, fear, strength, charm, talent- and they're all pretty darn cute.  Hot mammas.

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And I can't forget about my own {real-life} mom who made it possible for me to watch & be inspired by many of these shows in the first place.  Yes, the t.v. & I were pretty tight.  But hey, I turned out okay- maybe even better for having lots of moms, rather than just the one.  Good thing, since my kids had a "healthy dose" of t.v. tonight, as I intended to power through my post... but instead fell asleep on my computer.  Which means, I'm up at 1:29am writing it instead.  At this point, any mom that can put dinner on the table, get their kids in bed at a decent hour, & keep up with their laundry is my personal hero.  Oh, the woes of motherhood...
So, please share.  Which television mamas touched your heart?  Let us know in the comments, or head on over to Danielle's to link up your post.

{*Next up...............}

Sweet success.

The air in our home is thick with tension.  A night that was "supposed" to be easy... fun... a smooth segue into the dreaded Monday- turned into a night of fighting children and unnecessary drama.  Finally sorted my way through the tears, gave my final "this has to stop" speech, and tucked them in bed... and what's this??  Bin Laden's dead?? 
The post can wait, I tell myself- while tuning into the news.

An hour later, sitting here in contemplation over a few of the week's highlights (or "lowlights")... a massive tornado strike, an ironically just-as-massive royal wedding, and now this.  Somehow, my "macaron recap" has lost it's oomph.  But I'm going to share anyways- at least a little- because after all, I don't have enough energy left in my brain to conjure another damn post these little gems have been known to "fill your soul with warm, fuzzy happiness" (said here).

So, from me to you:  a little 'warm & fuzzy'- in the midst of 'hot & heavy'...


As I shared a few weeks ago, my sister-in-law & I went to a macaron workshop, and planned on putting our newly learned skills to practice over Easter weekend.  We did, and overall, our first attempt was a success.  It took us a couple of batches (we made vanilla bean, lemon, mint, & cardamom) to get the batter consistency right, but once we figured it out- it was really pretty simple. 
{batch #3- "gold" lemon,with buttercream- store was out of yellow, & the gold looked more orange than yellow, so we used very little}
We bought a few ingredients while we were at Surfas (where the workshop was held) that we couldn't buy at a typical grocery store... including almond flour, dried egg whites, and food coloring power).
{batch #4 (before going into the oven)- mint. Consistency was good, but we couldn't taste the flavor "infusions." Although we flavored the sugars a few weeks ago, they all tasted the same!}
Once out of the oven and cooled, we filled the lemon and cardamom with buttercream, and the mint and vanilla with chocolate ganache.

{the cardamom & vanilla not seen... too busy trying to figure out what we were doing wrong at that point, since the batter seemed too thick, and they weren't holding their shape while baking}

Pretty darn cute, yeah??  Still a few "issues" to resolve- the main ones being- 1. figuring out how to add flavors that are a little less subtle- that we can actually taste without ruining the consistency, & 2. weighing all of the ingredients first (less room for error).  Will definitely make again.  Soon.  With a little practice, and patience, they are absolutely doable- for those in search of a little culinary challenge.     

Speaking of cute- isn't this little macarons necklace (from my SIL) adorable??
 Now let the week begin................
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