Monday, April 22, 2019

Vaca Recap ~ FL Feb 2019 Part 2

Hi there! I’m back with a recap of the 2nd half of our FL vacation.

On Sunday we woke up to some pretty heavy rains. After a super fun Disney character breakfast, I purchased a poncho at the hotel gift shop and we were off to Epcot.




I’ve only been to Epcot a handful of times in the past but I have to say I think the rain worked in our favor. The entire first half of the day we were able to get on just about any ride with minimal wait times. Also the rain made for cool weather conditions which I would take over hot and humid any day.

We had the very best time riding the rides (David’s favorite was the Figment ride, mine was the Frozen ride in Norway), trying lots of snacks (nachos in Mexico, the artist palette cookie and frosé, and a German pretzel and grapefruit beer), and truly enjoying each others company. We were so happy to be there for the Epcot International Festival of the Arts and enjoyed looking at all the interesting artwork. We walked over 8 miles around the park and were ready for some dinner around 8:00.





We headed to Buca di Beppo for dinner for some very much deserved carbs and then stopped in Walgreens for some more supplies before heading back to the hotel. We rented a movie from the DVD rental, A House With a Clock in it’s Walls-one of my favorites, before crashing for the night.

Monday started with a leisurely morning getting ready and having breakfast. We chilled at the pool for the day and enjoyed some tropical cocktails-we tried one that was served in a mini bucket for 2! Around 3:30 we went back to the room and get ready for dinner at Fleming's. We had a romantic evening there and then checked out the Mall at Millenia and walked off dinner a bit. After that it was back to the hotel to pack and get some shuteye since our flight Tuesday was at 6am!



We had the best time in FL and hope to return soon for another quick weekend escape.

Thanks so much for reading, have a fabulous day!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Happy Easter!



To everyone who celebrates, I wish you and your loved ones a very blessed Easter!

If you're coloring eggs, might I suggest you pick this up. I used it last year and again this year and can't believe how easy it is. You load an egg into the spinner and use the different color markers provided to make swirls. It is so much fun to use and gives your eggs such a unique look. It's also a nice change from the food coloring and vinegar method.  


The EggMazing Easter Egg Decorator Kit




I am so pleased with how mine turned out!


Our Easter table all set!

Thanks for reading, hope you have a fabulous weekend! :)

PS-My dogs got their spring haircuts this week and I had to share! Zero's bow tie is just so adorable! 




Monday, April 15, 2019

Vaca Recap ~ FL Feb 2019 Part 1



I thought I’d do a little recap of a long weekend trip David and I took a little while back to Florida. David’s childhood best friend’s sister got married and we decided to make a long weekend out of it!

We flew out of Newark down to Orlando on Spirit and made a necessary stop for lunch at David’s favorite, Del Taco. I was pleasantly surprised at how many healthy options they’ve added to their menu recently. I tried the avocado bowl and bean tostada and both were excellent. It’s a good thing we don’t have Del Tacos in NJ, I’d be eating mucho mucho tacos. ;-)

We then headed to our hotel and got checked in. We stayed at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace on Disney property and I would definitely recommend it. The rooms were clean, the staff was so friendly and helpful, and the pool had an island resort vibe. There’s a wonderful buffet breakfast with everything you can imagine, a 24 hour Starbucks and marketplace on the ground floor, they sell discounted park tickets and have Disney shuttles, and they have a fireworks view in certain rooms (we lucked out with a suite on the 26th floor-room 2642-and had an amazing view of Epcot). There’s also a sky bridge that connects the hotel to Disney Springs. 

After getting situated in our room we immediately got changed and headed down to the pool for a cocktail and quick swim. There’s something so refreshing about ditching the dreary, cold NJ weather for a few hot days under the palm trees. 




When we were good and prune-y we headed back to our room and got changed. We headed out for a quick and light dinner at Sweet Tomatoes and then checked out Disney Springs. 

David shopped at the cigar shop, we walked around some of the souvenir shops and stopped to listen to some live music and then we tried the Coca Cola experience. 

For $10 you get a tasting flight of 16 soft drinks from around the world. We tasted everything from lychee flavored soda from Indonesia to a grapefruit flavored sports drink from Spain. Our favorites were an East African ginger flavored soda called Stoney Tangawizi, and the grapefruit rind aperitif from Italy called Beverly. Most people think Beverly is too bitter but we loved it. After that we were off to bed because we had a wedding to attend the next day!








Saturday was sunny and breezy, a beautiful day for a wedding. After getting gussied up and breakfast we started what turned out to be nearly a 3 1/2 hour drive from Orlando to Santa Maria Island. It was only a 90 mile journey but we didn’t realize Disney and beach traffic would be so brutal. We literally had to pull into a Wendy’s so I could drive the rest of the way and David could change into his dress clothes so we were on time for the ceremony. It was my 1st time driving a GMC Yukon XL and it’s like driving a boat! I was white knuckled the rest of the way making sure I stayed in my lane. Way too big of a car for me, but a gorgeous truck nonetheless.

We arrived just in the nick of time for the ceremony and it was absolutely gorgeous. 
The bride’s family rented a palatial beach house on the water and we were seated under a tent facing the ocean. Porpoises were playing in the water behind the ceremony as the couple said their vows and I was honored to be invited to such a lovely affair. 

Every little detail from the menu to the centerpieces to the cakes (amazingly baked by the bride’s uber talented friend) were so beautifully executed. We had a blast catching up with old friends, walking on the beach, and laughing way too hard until our stomachs hurt. 

David was asked to be best man at his best friend’s upcoming wedding in Michigan in September! It was a really special moment we’ll never forget. It truly doesn’t matter how far away you live from special people in your life, when you get together it’s like no time at all had passed. At the end of the evening it was sad saying our goodbyes, but we had a long drive back to Orlando. 







That’s the first half of our trip recapped, I’ll be back soon with the second half. Thanks for reading, have a fabulous day! :)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Meditation



Mediation has become such a huge part of my life in the last few years and I thought this would be a great space to speak about something that I am so passionate about. I am by no means an expert on the subject, but I feel like anyone and everyone could benefit from the power of meditation. 

It all started December 2015 when my husband David booked a private yoga lesson at a local studio for us. I tried it and loved it and pretty soon was practicing yoga 3 days a week. It quickly evolved into reiki sessions and training for myself, massages, ear candling, sound baths, drum healing, chakra work, and meditation. 

I went on to take 2 levels of meditation training, even interning as a teacher assistant during a course. It was life changing to say the least. It was if I was seeing the world for the very first time. 


It took an incredible amount of work to be able to quiet my mind and meditate but I was able to go from 1 minute to 5 minutes and work my way up to an hour or more. 

I could go on and on about the topics of self awareness and meditation for days, but here are a few brief points I've learned along the way that I find most valuable in my every day life:

*That I could quiet my mind and that my mind tries to tell me stories as a human defense mechanism and that I could simply say “no thank you” to them was such a new concept for me.

*The idea of staying “interested but not invested” to drama or gossip or things that simply didn’t serve me was a revelation.

*The only person I need to please in this world is myself and that I am all I need and how it’s better to rid yourself from toxic things and people was a very valuable lesson learned.

*I was suddenly paying more attention to the smaller details such as where my food was coming from, TV shows that I once thought I enjoyed I now saw as senseless drama, and being stuck behind the worse driver suddenly didn’t bother me anymore. I feel more tuned in to myself, both in mind and body, and can honestly say my meditation practice has me feeling the best I’ve ever felt.

*No matter what the world may throw at me, death, illness, job losses, heartbreak, I know that I will be OK. If I'm not OK, that simply means I am dead (morbid, but true) and it won't matter.

*I don’t need to make dialogue up in my head about what may happen or go back over what has happened. What’s in the past is in the past and cannot be changed and what’s in the future hasn’t happened yet so there’s no sense in worrying over it. Worrying or going back over past events is creating suffering for yourself, and that can be harmful. Glen Turner said it best when he said “Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere.” There are so many studies out there on stress and anxiety and how they’re linked to illness both mental and physical. 


To meditate for me gives me inner peace and that is priceless. Especially in today’s fast paced world training my mind to be quiet and still and not be a constant whirl of thoughts is so valuable.

I hope to keep meditation a topic on my blog, just little bits of food for thought, since I am so passionate about it. I am no authority on the matter, but if you have any questions shoot me an email, I’d be more than happy to help!


Thanks for reading, enjoy your day. :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

It's My Birthday!





Today is my 33rd birthday and I can't wait to see what this year has in store. 
I hope to enjoy a glass (or two) of bubbly and celebrate. 
Cheers!



Thank you for reading, have a fabulous day. And to all my fellow April Babies-Happy Happy Birthday! :)




Friday, April 05, 2019

Recent Bakes

I love baking in general but also find it such a stress reliever. Something about methodically following a recipe allows me to zone out and relax. These aren’t anything new, but here’s 2 things I’ve baked lately that have been delicious!

Boozy Brownies-

I have to thank lifestyle YouTuber Christopher Allen for this revelation. You take brownie boxed mix (I love Ghirardelli) and make it according to the package directions except you switch out the water for red wine! It is such a subtle but elevated flavor, and it’s a wonderful way to use up an open bottle of vino.




❤️❤️❤️ PS-loving this inexpensive Portuguese red!


Magic Cookie Bars aka Hello Dollies-
These are such a classic cookie and aren’t much fuss. You crunch graham crackers, mix with butter and push down in a pan to form a crust. Pour over layers of a few more ingredients, bake for 15 minutes, let cool and slice into pieces. I prefer to cut these pretty small and put into mini muffin liners. These are also wonderful to freeze and take out a few at a time when a sweet craving strikes.





Have you baked anything tasty lately? Let me know down below, I’d love to try a new recipe.

Thanks for reading, have a fabulous day. :)

Monday, April 01, 2019

Williams-Sonoma Mr Jiu's Chinatown USA Cooking Class

It's April Fools' Day! Did you pull a good prank on anyone? Hope no one fooled you too badly! :)




Anywho, a few Sunday’s ago my husband David and I attended the Chinatown USA pop up cooking class at our local Williams-Sonoma. 





Mr Jiu’s is a famous San Francisco Chinatown restaurant, opened by Brandon Jew in 2016. What makes it so unique is Jew’s ability to combine California fresh ingredients and a lightness to his cuisine paired by Chinese traditions learned from his grandmother. 

His new collaboration with Williams-Sonoma brings all the freshness and authentic Chinese flavors to an array of finishing sauces. For the class we recreated recipes with 2 of his sauces, the Sweet and Sour Wok Sauce as well as the Ginger Scallion Wok Sauce. Both were incredibly tasty and not too overpowering or sweet and are full of high quality, all natural ingredients. We were also gifted with a wok to take home so we can try the recipes out ourselves!

Chef Lauren made for us the Vegetables with Ginger Scallion sauce over rice, as well as the Sweet and Sour chicken. I love that she added broccoli to the chicken dish so it can truly be a one pan (rather one wok) dish for a quick weeknight meal. 







We always enjoy these classes, I feel like I walk away with great new recipes as well as little tips and tricks from a professional that I can use in my own kitchen. (I was fascinated to learn that the easiest way to clean a cast iron skillet is to use a cut potato, kosher salt, and some olive oil!)

It’s also nice that Williams-Sonoma offers a punch card for their classes (I actually used one of mine to make this class free) as well as a 15% discount for anything you purchase during the class. 

It was a wonderfully cozy way to spend a Sunday afternoon with my hubby and I cannot wait to try another class again soon. 



Thanks for reading, have a fabulous day!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Martenitsa



David’s coworker kindly gifted these bracelets to us, Martenitsa, on Baba Marta Day, March 1st. They are made from red and white yarn woven together and placed on your wrist in Bulgarian culture. 

According to tradition once you see a stork or blossoming tree you take off your bracelet and tie it to a tree. All around Bulgaria the trees will be covered with Martenitsa. 

Anyone gifting you these bracelets are wishing you wisdom (the white) and health (the red) throughout the year, and the bracelets also symbolize the anticipation of warmer weather ahead. 





David and I have been on the lookout for birds and blossoming trees all month long and finally found a tree with buds this past Sunday. We tied our bracelets on it and are hoping for good luck and health this year as well as a wonderfully warm springtime. 




I find it so fun and fascinating to learn about different cultures and traditions, don't you? 

Thanks for reading, have a fabulous day. :)


Monday, March 25, 2019

Loving Lately ~ March 2019

Hi there and Happy Monday! 

Here’s a few things I’ve been loving this month:


Unicorn roses-
David found these in a flower shop in Chicago by his office and I was so surprised when he whipped them out of his bag! They’re hand dipped and so fun and cheery.





OPI nail color in What Time Isn’t It-
This is one of the most unique nail polish colors I’ve ever tried. It’s from the Alice Through the Looking Glass collection and is a dark grey color with silver strip glitter and is a jelly consistency. It is so different from any other shade I own and I've really been enjoying this dark yet sparkly color!







Wacky Cake-
This classic WWII era cake is vegan being that it’s completely dairy free, and is made using basic pantry ingredients. It’s mixed and baked in the same pan making for easy cleanup. A win win! This is the recipe I tried but there are tons of versions out there. Also, I cut the baking time to 25 minutes, and it came out perfect. 



That’s all for now! What have you been loving lately? Comment down below, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading, have a fabulous day. :)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Big City Chefs-

Instead of going out for a fancy dinner to celebrate our 10th anniversary, my husband David and I thought it’d be so much fun to hire a private chef to come to our home and cook a lovey meal for us as well as my parents. 







We used Big City Chefs and I couldn’t be more pleased with our experience. After filling out some information online we were matched with a chef. After a few emails and a phone call we chose a Tuscan Wine Dinner theme, finalized the menu, paid a deposit and that’s it, so easy!

We were matched with the lovey Chef Aranai, and she was an absolute pleasure to work with. She showed up with all the supplies she needed, food prepped, and served us 4 amazing courses. She even cleaned up afterward and left my kitchen spotless! The food was incredible and I so enjoyed asking questions and chatting with her while she prepared everything. I’m hoping (fingers crossed) she’ll come back and cook for us again soon!





Here’s some pictures and a description of each course:

First Course-
Fresh Market Vegetable Salad-
A salad of micro greens, Persian and English cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, as well as a hybrid parsnip-carrot that Chef Aranai found at the market. It was topped with an orange blossom white balsamic vinaigrette. So fresh and crunchy and delicate. 




Pasta Course-
Wild Spinach and Parmesan Risotto-
A risotto full of spinach, Parmesan, as well as asparagus and peas. This was so creamy and rich but had a freshness from the vegetables. I am so happy she made leftovers of this for my fridge!




Main Course-
Pork Tenderloin Florentine-
Pork tenderloin stuffed with spinach and mozzarella cheese, served with roasted potatoes and garnisheed with a cream sauce, roasted tomato and a Parmesan tuile. 




Dessert-
Chianti-Poached Pears with chocolate ganache and vanilla gelato-
After such a meal this was the pièce de résistance. The pears were tender and sweet with a hint of cinnamon. The sauce and gelato were the perfect compliments to such a delicate fruit. 




We had such a lovely evening getting dressed up, putting on some jazz, sipping champagne and relaxing-and to think we didn’t even have to leave the house! I can’t wait to have Chef Aranai cook for us again soon, it was truly an evening I’ll never forget. 

Thanks for reading, have a fabulous day. :)

Vaca Recap ~ FL Feb 2019 Part 2

Hi there! I’m back with a recap of the 2nd half of our FL vacation. On Sunday we woke up to some pretty heavy rains. After a super fun ...