Wednesday, April 10, 2013

First Harvest

Last month I planted some spinach and lettuce--my first attempt! They're growing like crazy. Last weekend I used my first harvest to make a fresh salad with EVOO, vinegar, garlic, and pepper. I'm very excited to try growing some more veggies now that the frost seems to have passed. What are you growing this season?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Weekend Shots

What a wonderful St. Patty's weekend! I celebrated with an early birthday party from my family since I  won't get to see them on my actual birthday. My Mammol had a super cute and festive St. Patty's set-up! She and my mom painstakingly made me some iced petit-four cake bites and they were delicious. We paired it with Graeters mint choco chip (OMG good) and some lime sherbert. Love spending time with my family!

Next I headed to a local Irish Festival to hang with one of my best buds, Jessica. It was bittersweet as we remembered and celebrated the life of her father, Dave. He truly loved St. Patty's Day and was absolutely there in spirit.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Atlanta Hyatt

Last week I visited the beautiful and historic Hyatt Atlanta (est. 1967). Jim Morrison called the elevators "Victorian rocket ships"-- an appropriate and creative description. A recent renovation created an ideal blend of vintage and modern design. Music-inspired photography and artwork decorate lobby walls and range from close-ups of guitar pics and record collections to abstract art inspired by the Allman Brothers. Hotel bar Twenty-Two Storys (the height of the hotel) features dark woods and a make-your-own burger menu (try the falafel). For breakfast at hotel restaurant Sway, I had a mushroom/goat cheese/spinach omelet, homemade tomatillo salsa, and an amazing cup of grits with cheese. This is a great Atlanta hotel!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pizza + Beer = Awesome

Last weekend, Mom and I attended the premier pizza and beer pairing event hosted by Pure Pizza. I've raved about this awesome establishment before, but as a reminder, Pure Pizza is housed in the 7th Street Public Market, and makes pizzas with as much local and organic ingredients as possible. As an added plus, they use sprouted grains in the pizza crust, and even offer a gluten free option. Triple C Brewing Company provided the beer for this fabulous event, and I can't say enough good things about both businesses. 

Guests were allowed to choose their own seats; Pure Pizza staff set up some adorable tables with mason jars full of cucumber water and plenty of tasting glasses for the beer. They upcycled old tomato cans (large) and used them as pizza stands (creative!)

The beer was served generously throughout the event--pitcher style. We started light and worked our way up to the darks. My absolute favorite is Triple C's Smoked Amber. The menu went like this: (appetizer) thin and crispy garlic breadsticks with marinara and Golden Boy Ale, (salad) local arugula with parmesan and hot peppers, (pizza #1) chicken, hummus, roasted red peppers, onion, and tzaziki sauce and Light Rail Pale Ale -- Note: Pure Pizza was very hospitable and made me a vegetarian version of both pizzas, (pizza #2) steak, potatoes, rosemary, onion, and alfredo sauce with Smoked Amber -- Note: OMG this was good, (dessert) chocolate panna cotta with mint and raspberry and Up All Night Breakfast Porter. Needless to say, we left feeling completely stuffed! This event was so fun, and the company was even better. Peter Reinhart, chef, pizza connesiuer, and co-owner of Pure Pizza, made an appearance to introduce the food. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fresh Starts

List-making keeps me organized and sane. If I tried to remember all the bits and pieces running around my head I'd go crazy! I always keep a small notebook in my purse and this week I started a new one. There's something so satisfying about a fresh notebook. I fancied up the cover and filled the first page up with the week's to dos.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend Nostalgia

My weekend was brightened by the arrival of Abby, a best friend from college. We ate, laughed, gabbed, gossiped, and watched the entire first season of Girls. It was much needed girly time!

Brewskies at Triple C! Smoked Amber is my favorite.

Sweet treats at Amelie's French Bakery. I had a cinnamon macaroon with chocolate filling and a chocolate raspberry petit four. Amazing!

Stopped by the Rat's Nest, a quirky thrift shop. This giant doll disturbs me...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Valentine Flashback

Valentine's Day brought visiting friends en route to NYC. We had a big group dinner and some delicious eclair and macaroons from Amelie's. They were perfectly sweet, buttery, and creamy with killer ganache (on the eclair). 

Lunch was at Berrybrook Farm, the first natural foods store in Charlotte. They have a completely vegetarian menu and juice dream menu! It's a walk-up counter with to-go food only, so a friend and I had lunch outside on a porch swing. The veggie chili was spicy and warm, perfect for a sunny yet chili winter picnic. I paired it with a grilled cheese on sprouted grain bread. The store has so many interesting natural products, I hope to spend more time exploring during my next visit. 

My thoughtful husband surprised me with a bouquet of blue-tipped hydrangeas (my wedding flower) and roses! Hydrangeas are so delicate and dreamy. Saturday was snowy--a big fluffy beautiful surprise. Alas, it was farmer's market weekend, so we bundled up and braved the cold for some fresh veggies and homemade-that-morning melt in your mouth donuts. A bunch of farmer's market kale inspired me to try a recipe I've been eyeing, the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad, from 101 Cookbooks. Fresh kale tossed with olive oil, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper, and breadcrumbs (made from farmer's market bread by the way); this salad is simple, yet filling, and paired wonderfully with baked maple salmon

What a delicious weekend! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Back to Cali: The Food (Part 2)

Well, it happened. I hit another winner in my eternal quest for the most delicious pizza on the planet. Michael's Pizzeria in Long Beach will now join the ranks of Serious Pie (Seattle), Domenica (New Orleans), and Cibo (Phoenix). According to their website, Michael's is ranked the #1 pizza in Los Angeles. Owner Michael Dene opened Michael's on Naples (fine dining, Italian) several years ago. In 2010, He got tired of having disappointing pizza, and decided to open his own pizzeria! Michael's is a small restaurant with BIG flavor. They bake Naples-style pizza in a wood fired oven and offer homemade sauce, cheese, and sausage among other toppings. The pizza is served with a fork and knife--the way they do it in Naples--with slicing by request. Bite by bite I savored my exquisite margherita pizza topped with arugula, paired with Mama's Little Yellow Pils (yum), and drifted off into a pizza trance. Somehow I saved room for a chilled goblet of homemade chocolate gelato. I was perfection. I would go back to Long Beach solely to visit Michael's Pizzeria. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Back to Cali: The Food (Part 1)

Although my food experience in Long Beach didn't come close to my time in New Orleans last summer, there were some definite palate pleasers! Breakfast at the trendy Berlin Coffeehouse was delicious. I had a veggie bagel with hummus, avocado, cheese, sprouts, tomato and onion. For me, one of the best aspects of California is that most produce is local and fresh! The fruit was juicy and delicious and avocados are never far. If you grab some food at Berlin, be sure to visit Fingerprints Music next door. They have lots of music on CD and vinyl and a variety of cool toys, gifts, and cards. Tequila Jack's has a great waterside view, delicious salsas and veggie tacos, and giant beers at happy hour.

One of my favorite Long Beach spots is the Belmont Shore neighborhood. The streets are bustling with people and pups; cute flower shops and creative restaurants dot the street. Orange, lemon, and avocado trees grow in front yards and parakeets flutter among the tops of palm trees. Lunch at Simmzy's was delicious! Since it was packed I ended up in the back bar by a window looking right into the kitchen. It was mouth watering watching all the delicious food come out. I had the vegetarian Whole Grain Jane burger (quinoa/farro/tofu) with apple slaw, avocado puree, and cheddar on a ciabatta roll. It was delicious and tangy, but a little messy. I turned it into a fork and knife sandwich! On the side we shared shoestring fries served with homemade blue cheese, ketchup, and a special fry aioli. I paired it with a Mad River Brewing Company - Jamaican Red Ale (yum) and stuffed myself with goodness. After lunch we strolled along the beach walkway for 3.5 miles back to the hotel. I was still full!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Back to Cali: The Setting

Remember my trip to Long Beach, CA last October? Last week I went back to manage the conference I was planning. Flying away from chilly 30-degree East coast weather to sunny 70-degree breezy California sunshine was a major mood booster! Long Beach definitely isn't the type of beach I'm used to; it's a big bustling city right by the sea, oil rigs dot the horizon off the shores, and a big shipping dock (with giant giraffe-like cranes) looms directly beside the shoreline. The water is cold, but beautiful, and has almost no waves due to a break wall built in 1949 to thwart submarines and torpedoes during WWII (random fact). A sidewalk stretches for miles along the beach, giving way to roller bladers, walkers, runners, bikers, and all sorts of interesting beach transportation. I was brave and took my Canon 60D with me (eek); I'm always afraid of something happening to it, but always regret not having it! First up, some shots of the beautiful scenery. Next Cali post covers my favorite!

Friday, January 25, 2013

This Week

I've been obsessed with these beet hummus collard wraps this week. They are so flavorful and delicious! My favorite combo is: collard leaf + hummus + avocado + sprouts + a bit of Bubbies sauerkraut. It was my first attempt at hummus and I was surprised at how easy it is! Recipe from Food Babe.

LOVING this cabbage bouquet I got at the farmer's market last weekend!

The frigid air lately is just too cold for Murphy in the mornings. I've been warming the car up and also warming a towel in the drier to wrap him in. Yes, I'm nuts! Happy weekend!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Party Time

We had a wine, cheese, meat, bread, and fruit party for my Mammol's 75th birthday last week. It was quite the spread! The idea was to have light fare so we could save room for dessert, but that didn't happen. I brought in homemade bagels from a local deli, mom made homemade crackers, there were five types of cheeses, three types of meat, and some yummy sweets! I wish I could have this meal every day. It was so nice to spend time with family!

Mom also made this beautiful purse-shaped limoncello cake. It was so tasty!

It was very painful to cut her masterpiece.

She also made some candied pecans. Seriously Mom is amazing! Did I mention she has a full-time job plus a million other things to do every day? These pecans are insanely addictive and not too difficult to make!

Turner. Want. Cake.

And of course, you-know-who had to help open presents!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Office Redo

My office at work has two sides: one where my desk/computer/files live and the other, which used to be storage, has been empty for some time now. I've been making plans in my mind for  that side of the office. Ya know how a big blank canvas can be freeing but totally overwhelming at the same time? A couple Christmases ago my boss gave us the option to get our offices professionally painted so I jumped at the chance and chose a pear-ish green...I absolutely LOVE it. Little by little I've done projects here and there. Recently, everything has been coming together so I want to share! I made the To-Do board above with an unused IKEA frame (contact paper instead of a photo + glass = decorative dry erase board).

After inheriting two red IKEA chairs and this awesome lamp from a coworker, my red and pear green color scheme was born! Usually I write off red and green as Christmas colors, but these particular shades really agree with me. 

Next I brought in an unused IKEA Poang chair from home and bought some new red cushions.

My boss gave me an old wooden bookshelf to paint...and paint...and paint. I think it took about 5 coats of white! And that's including a primer coat! I love how it turned out.

I decorated it with some plants and my tiny plastic animal collection.

For years I've had my sights on owning a bar cart. During an antique hunt several years ago my mom and I stumbled across a mirrored bar cabinet that opened up to be a magnificent serving piece. I have ALWAYS regretted leaving that bar cabinet. This year at an antique fair I found this beauty for $15! The potential was screaming in my face. While she's not the gorgeous 1970s mirrored bar cart of my dreams, she's a close second. Oh yeah, and she's a she too. How could something so cute not be? I took the cart apart, and painted each piece. A nice employee at Lowe's helped me "MacGuyver" a plan to add wheels and new screws. My husband and I painstakingly screwed the cart back together (WAY harder than it looked), and VOILA! I have an adorable tea cart in my office. 

These iPhone pics are super blurry but you get the gist. I got some antique decanters, added my tea pots, honey, and lemons. Yet to be added: colorful IZZE soda, Perrier, and of course some wine! There are still several final touches to add to the office, and I plan to bring my nice camera for some grand finale shots. It finally feels like "me" in here!