Painting (and the Chobani Giveaway WINNER)

This is what my room looks like as of yesterday:

(…chaos!!)

The bed has managed to move to the middle of the room as of last night, a dresser has left the room altogether, and the base board, ceiling, door, and window frame have officially been painted white.

It took about 4 hrs to complete all of this, but Friday is the fun part.  Colors are going up!  I’m so excited to see my room transform, as it hasn’t been changed since I called it mine (about 16 years ago…eeps!)

I’ll be shooting for a “natural” feel.  I’m happiest when I’m outdoors, and I want to bring the outdoors in.  With natural colors and a warm, relaxing atmosphere.

Inspiration:

I’m also on a budget.

I remember watching Design on a Dime a long time ago, and how much they emphasized the simple changes that can make such big results.  Like changing the knobs on dressers, doors, etc.  Cheap but effective.  I’m also all for bright, cheery accent pillows, but that will come later. 😀

Needless to say, it’s been busy around here.  Home decorating shows make this look easy.

Don’t let them fool you. 😉

Thank goodness for quick and healthy lunches from Whole Foods during times like these. 😀

Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Lemon Garlic Olives

Medjool Dates

Everything Bagel

Starbucks Tazo Passion Tea (unsweetened)

Anyways…

…on to the good stuff!!!

Chobani Giveaway Winner

Thirty-five of you were hungry for some Chobani Yogurt!

I loved reading each and every one of your stories, memories and reflections from the Christmas weekend.  I wish I could send a big package of yogurt to all of you. 😀  Unfortunately, I had to pick just one.

…thank you Random.org for making this job easier on me!!

True Random Number GeneratorMin: Max: Result: 27

The winner is #27, which goes to blog-reader Kellie.  Kellie, let me know where you would like the Chobani shipped to, and it will be out ASAP! 😀

QUESTION: Painting…love it or hate it?  I find it therapeutic, as long as there is some good music playing (Beatles, anyone?)  But I’m not one for painting the ceiling.  What a mess!!  I have an entirely new respect for Michelangelo. 😉

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high-five weekend.

This weekend, I…

1. Ate meat for the first time in 6 months.

If you’re wondering how I know that it’s been exactly 6 months since I last ate meat, it’s because on April 16, I decided to go without.  I don’t know.  Something about the weather, the fresh seasonal vegetables.  I had a love affair with vegetables and I didn’t want to miss out on one single fresh tomato.

So.  I just decided that I didn’t need meat, although I still cooked it for the family.

Until this weekend, that is.  That’s when Dad made his beer can chicken and I felt the familiar return of a longing for heartier, autumn inspired meals.  Butternut squash.  Kale.  Chicken stew.  A little meat with a preference for produce.  And that’s that.

2. Cooked with wine for my very first time.

I realize that I’m far, far behind in this avenue, but I do try my best to be honest with you guys.  So there you have it.  I have never before cooked with wine (or any alcohol, for that matter!)

But after tonight’s dinner, there may just be a new trend on the rise.

3. Ran six strong miles.

This is a very big deal for me.  I haven’t been running the distances since my half marathon, really.  To feel strong (pain free!) is huge.  No injuries in sight!  Feeling good.  Who knows where this will take me? 😉

4. Ate a muffin for each and every breakfast.  

That’s how I role.

(Stay tuned for the uber easy, uber delicious recipe!)

5. Fell in love with parsnips.

Gosh, I never thought I’d hear myself saying that.

I really did hesitate before throwing that one pound bag of parsnips into my shopping cart.  Not only do they look like very pale and sickly carrots, I have a horribly bad experience with them.  I first tried them in a casserole dish and (apparently) I hadn’t washed them thoroughly.  The result was a very bitter, very gritty dinner.  You can see why I hold such a grudge?

But I threw that little ninety-nine cent bag into my cart and told the eager little vegetable that I was giving it one more shot (don’t worry, I don’t actually talk to my vegetables…not usually, anyways.)

Maybe it was the white wine that went into the dish, hitting just the right note.  Or the very bright and seasonal kale mixed with caramelized onions.  Who knows?  All I know is that I found myself picking away at the bottom of the cooking pan after all was said and done, just to get one more last bite of sweet and tender parsnips.

So yes.  I’d call that love.

Pasta with Kale, Caramelized Onions and Parsnips–modified recipe, based on the original Cooking Light recipe.

This recipe is easy to throw together.  The most time consuming part is the chopping, which can be done the day before if you’re in a hurry.  Enjoy the leftovers for a quick lunch the following day.  Enjoy!

(serves 4-6)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups (1/3-inch) diagonally cut parsnip (about 1 pound)
  • 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh (or dried) thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 8 cups trimmed chopped kale (about 3 bunches)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add parsnip to pan; cook 12 minutes or until tender and browned, stirring occasionally. Place in a large bowl; keep warm.

2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium-low heat. Add onion to pan; cook 20 minutes or until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in thyme and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in kale and broth; cook, covered, 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Uncover; cook 4 minutes or until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a sieve over a bowl, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Add drained pasta to kale mixture. Stir in parsnips, 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper; cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Add remaining 1/4 cup cooking liquid if needed to moisten. Pass around extra cheese at the table.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: What did you do this weekend?

a walk through the woods.

Today I felt like walking.

There’s something pure and magical about the woods in my backyard.  I swear I know it by heart (“yep, like the back of my hand!”)  

(ahem…as a side note, not the best walking shoes, but I wasn’t planning on going out as far as I did!)

But then, despite my boastful confidence in the woods, a new season comes along–summer to autumn, autumn to winter, winter to spring–and (oh my word!) everything changes.  Suddenly and drastically.

It’s like a wild and vibrant slide show, where you just never know what’s coming next.

So, of course, the only thing you can really do is…

(a) Sit back, watch, listen and enjoy.

…and…

(b) Try to remember where you came from so as not to get lost. 😉

…Yep…

I may like to think that I know my backyard like the very back of my hand.

But.

Really.

The woods are magical.  Always changing.  Always unique.  Always something new to find.

QUESTION: Do you live near forest/woods?  Are you in the city?  Near the ocean?  I live smack dab in the middle of the woods…and I love it!  I definitely need my ocean/city time too though. 😉


returning back to normal.

If you’re like me, you completely forgot it was September 1st.

You forgot that summer would ever come to an end.

You forgot that garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and corn don’t last forever (or maybe you just wished it out from your memory.)

And.  If you’re like me.  You have a very difficult time readjusting to real life after vacation.

In fact.

This is about the extent of my creativity over the past 3 days.  Aside from that fancy schmancy bowl of cereal that I had for dinner last night.

(Don’t every say that I’m not honest.)

(I think my parents are missin’ the simplistic joy of vacation too…)

I’ve been trying my hardest to remember what life was like beforehand.  You know.  Six days ago.  Way, way back in August.

So, I went out for a run, in an attempt to “bring me back.”

But I think I might still have some of that remaining Toll House Cookie Pie sitting in my stomach, because I may or may not have been passed by a speed walker.  True story.

And.

Well.

I really would rather be here.

But.  Here’s another confession.

You can’t beat home.

You can’t beat your own bed.

You can’t beat waving hello to the neighbors who call you “that girl who’s always running.”

You can’t beat that steamy morning cup of coffee in your favorite mug.

As much as I love vacations and just being away.  As much as I crave that time to escape and explore.  Even as much.  I love my home even more.

And that’s an honest confession.

QUESTION: What is your favorite vacationing spot?

“Life in the Imperfections”: A Photo Essay

I hope you enjoy this very raw, very real (i.e, no editing, cleaning, or fixing) walk through my home as much as I enjoyed taking the shots.  Each picture is meant to have some sort of flaw or imperfection.  I think that, as is true with many things in life, there is a lot of beauty and life to be seen in the cracks, dents, (dust) and the imperfections.

Welcome to my home.  

QUESTION: What are your plans for the weekend?

the effects of warm weather.

The heat and humidity have packed up and left, being replaced with a cool, dry breeze that makes you feel as if you’ve just jumped out of a very hot steam room, right into a cool shower.  Refreshing.  Absolutely.

And this is a very good thing.  Yes.  The temperature switch came just in time.  Why, you ask?  Well.  The heat does funny things to me.

For example—and I think you will agree—it’s not entirely normal to laugh hysterically while making silly poses for no apparent reason in the middle of a frisbee game.

(although it WAS kind of fun)

And, it is very unlike me to wake up grumpy in the morning.

It’s not normal for me to laugh so hard that I cry, ending up in a fit of hiccups.

Well.  Okay, okay.  This actually, honestly, really is kind of normal.

It’s not normal for me to not have an appetite.  To want nothing to eat but salads and yogurt and ice cream.

That’s not to say that I couldn’t eat ice cream every day of my life and not be happy, of course.

And it’s completely unacceptable to always wake up with frizzy hair every. single. morning.  Not even the blow dryer and flat iron with a gazillion products could have protected me this week.

Thank goodness for hair ties and hats.

Yes.

The cooler weather came just in time.

As did breakfast.

I love oats after they’ve sopped up all the liquids and delicious flavors!

I have been eating breakfast out on the deck every single morning this past week.  There’s something special about dining al fresco with nothing but chickadees, robins, and the little black cat next door for company.

A deliciously refreshing start to my day.

This weekend has been a pretty active one.  I went canoeing and swimming on Friday.  Biking (for my first time this YEAR) on Saturday.  And hiking yesterday.

I think today I need a nice long walk and some yoga to stretch out those hamstrings and arms. 😀

Spicy Breakfast Cookie (serves 1)

  • 1/2 cup uncooked, old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 banana, mashed (save the other 1/4 for a topping)
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed flax
  • plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves (adjust to preferences)
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. milk (as needed)
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together oats, banana, peanut butter, flax, spices, and salt if using.  Add small amounts of milk, if batter seems too dry.  Smash well with a fork.
  2. Transfer batter to a plate and spread out to the edges, creating a “cookie pattern.”  Cover plate and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next morning, uncover, slice the rest of the banana on top and serve.  Top with coconut or sliced almonds if desired.  ENJOY!

QUESTION: Are you a cold weather person or a warm weather person?  I’d much rather be pleasantly cool than too hot.  But I also hate being cold.  I’m horribly picky! 😀

Canada, I miss you already.

I ate too much.

I laughed too hard.

I ran my heart out through the streets of Richibucto, New Brunswick.

I thought a lot.

I spent seven full days with my parents, my brother and my Pepere.

Kayaking and lobster rolls and wine tastings and beaches and searching for clams.  No internet or cell phones or clammering televisions. Deliciously quiet moments spent alone, overlooking the ocean.  My vacation was rejuvenating, unwinding, and even—really, maybe-–spiritually fulfilling (more on this later!)

Canada, I miss you already.

The full recap with a TON of pictures is coming soon!!!

For now, I need to be productive and finish my unpacking. 😉